Destination Benchmarking: Concepts, Practices and Operations

Benchmarking: An International Journal

ISSN: 1463-5771

Article publication date: 1 December 2004



Alstete, J.W. (2004), "Destination Benchmarking: Concepts, Practices and Operations", Benchmarking: An International Journal, Vol. 11 No. 6.



Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2004, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Destination Benchmarking: Concepts, Practices and Operations

Destination Benchmarking: Concepts, Practices and Operations

Metin KozakOxford University Press: CABI Publishing2004208 pp.ISBN 0851997457$80.00 (hardback)

Benchmarking is continuing to be recognized as a technique for facilitating improvements in a variety of industries, ranging from manufacturing, service and even education (Alstete, 2000; Alstete, 1996a, b). Even though benchmarking has been practised for many years in its current form, on occasion it still makes entry or proposed admission for use in new areas of endeavour. The book, Destination Benchmarking, makes the case for using benchmarking in the tourism industry, examining different approaches, and their function within tourism destinations. The author, Metin Kozak, from the School of Tourism and Hospitality Management, Mugla University in Turkey, has a number of previous publications on this topic including journal articles and a PhD thesis from Sheffield Hallam University. While books that are based on doctoral dissertations often make a poor transition due to the difference between academic writing and trade books, this monograph on applying benchmarking concepts to tourism destinations is an informative and interesting hardback worth reading by professionals in the travel industry or anyone interested in benchmarking as a process to study.

The book begins with an overview of benchmarking theory, and contains a comprehensive review of classic benchmarking definitions, approaches and terms (Camp, 1989; Spendolini, 1992; Watson, 1993). While the other books generally typify benchmarking as internal, competitive, functional/industry, or generic, Kozak writes that benchmarking can be primarily divided into two types: internal and external. With competitive and functional classed under external benchmarking. Along with the overview of benchmarking theory and its proposition for performance improvement and competitive advantage, the author also addresses several weaknesses in past studies of benchmarking. After examining the theories, the book then evaluates benchmarking studies in tourism, particularly with regard to organization and destination benchmarking analyses. Throughout the book there are useful tables and figures that summarize the concepts being examined, and places the current discussion in the larger context of established benchmarking and tourism research.

As in a typical thesis format (literature review, problem definition, study methodology, results, discussion, study limitations, and conclusion), the initial broader examination of benchmarking and its application to tourism is followed by measures of destination benchmarking, usage of internal, external and generic benchmarking, data collection, analysis, and a conclusion. The chapter on measures of destination benchmarking looks at the additional development and assessment of qualitative and quantitative measures of destination performance as ideal models, as the chief source of the proposed model of destination benchmarking. This includes an excellent list of measures particularly related to the examination of overall destination performance and recommends how to assess each in the context of internal and external benchmarking processes. Practical data collection procedures are then proposed, with advantages and disadvantages of each methodology clearly delineated.

The book is loaded with insight, founded on thoroughly researched benchmarking theory and practice. It not only methodically examines benchmarking and its usage in tourism, it proposes very practical applications, suggestions for users, and even includes forms such as a questionnaire that could be used in a benchmarking survey. The writing is well-documented with numerous secondary sources, and ends with a comprehensive reference list and subject index. In summary, Destination Benchmarking is a well-written, informative, and useful examination of benchmarking theory and practice, and its application to a specific industry. This reviewer highly recommends this book for readers who seek to better understand this important tool of organizational development and improvement.


Alstete, J.W. (1996a), Benchmarking in Higher Education: Adapting Best Practices to Improve Quality, Jossey-Bass, San Francisco, CA

Alstete, J.W. (1996b), “Competitive benchmarking of non-credit program administration”, The Journal of Continuing Higher Education, Vol. 44 No. 2, pp. 23–33

Alstete, J.W. (2000), “Association-sponsored benchmarking programs”, Benchmarking: An International Journal, Vol. 7 No. 3, pp. 200–5

Camp, R.C. (1989), Benchmarking: The Search for Industry Best Practices That Lead to Superior Performance, ASQC Quality Press, Milwaukee, WI

Spendolini, M.J. (1992), The Benchmarking Book, AMACOM, New York, NY

Watson, G.H. (1993), Strategic Benchmarking: How to Rate Your Company’s Performance against the World’s Best, John Wiley & Sons, New York, NY

Jeffrey W. Alstete Associate Dean and Assistant Professor of Management, Hagan School of Business, Iona College, New Rochelle, New York, USA