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Destination management: thinking laterally
Article Type: Editorial From: Tourism Review, Volume 63, Issue 2.
The idea of contributing to the present special issue originated during discussions with colleagues and the editor of Tourism Review who participated at the 2nd Advances in Tourism Marketing Conference (ATMC, 2007) held in Valencia, Spain, 10-12 September 2007. While focusing on networking at destinations, the conference theme targeted new research into “Destination management and marketing”. The width and breadth of interest in the conference resulted in some 80 accepted submissions of which 22 deal with an interesting variety of pertinent challenges faced by destination managers. Subsequently, and after the double-blind review process, the conference organisers and editors of this special issue began reading all of these 22 submissions again in order to select the best ones targeting this particular issue. By taking into account various criteria such as the quality, purpose, originality and methodology, the value of the research, as well as the practical implications, the six submissions presented here were selected.
The reason for identifying the theme of “Destination management: thinking laterally” refers to the fact that, in today’s growing competitive environment, tourism destinations rather than individual attractions have become central to the management and marketing of national tourism assets. This highlights the importance of destination management and marketing. Its role is to direct tourism supply and ensure that operators treat the needs of visitors as complex streams of expectations which are directed at the destination’s heterogeneous offerings (see Gnoth, 1997). It is our hope therefore that papers accommodated in this special issue may help marketing and management in reflecting on their strategies of segmenting, targeting and positioning as well as in process and product development.
The topics of this special issue are thus wide-ranging. They cover the problem of seasonality, segmentation and market saturation, as well as the effectiveness of DMOs and their strategies to attract tourists via the web. The first paper is entitled, “Seasonality in rural tourism destinations: the case of north Portugal”, by Elisabeth Kastenholz, and António Lopes de Almeida from Portugal. This paper tackles the well-known problem of seasonality by comparing those visitors arriving during the low season with those coming during the destination’s high season. Any differences amongst these groups could offer new opportunities for more efficient target marketing that would help overcome reoccurring low occupation levels. The authors employ a substantial sample (n=2,280) in order to conduct their study of visitors to the rural north of Portugal. The results show that the profiles of tourists across seasons differ considerably, suggesting further marketing opportunities.
The second paper is entitled, “Golf in mass tourism destinations facing seasonality, a longitudinal study”, written by Joan B. Garau-Vadell and Lluis de Borja-Solé of Spain. The island of Mallorca is one of the most successful destinations in the Mediterranean Sea. It no longer pursues the goal of overall market growth but rather the penetration of existing markets, the improvement of capacity utilisation, and value-adding to increase expenditure. The authors describe the evolution of Mallorca’s golf-market and extrapolate future trends by also considering different forms of travel (e.g. package versus free and independent tourists) and emerging segments in the accommodation sector (e.g. hotel guests versus holiday-home renters), as well as more recent phenomena such as the influence of low-cost airlines on the profile of golf-tourists.
The title of the third contribution is, “Assessment of destination performance: a strategy map approach”, by Manuela De Carlo, Antonella Cugini and Fabrizio Zerbini from Italy. The authors adapt the balanced score card approach (Kaplan and Norton, 1992) to assess the success of Turin’s destination marketing organisation to satisfy its multiple stakeholders. The difficulty here lies with the lack of direct indicators as the DMO neither sells directly to tourists, nor is it in any way responsible for the levels of satisfaction visitors experience when using tourism providers. Rather, this work seeks to understand the DMO’s success by measuring the satisfaction of Turin’s tourism providers with their own performance. The discussion thereby surrounds the methodological challenge of comparing different levels of interest and participation by heterogeneous providers.
Contribution number four focuses on the “Influence of politics and media in the perceptions of Turkey as a tourism destination”, by Maria D. Alvarez and Meral Korzay from Turkey. In this cross-cultural study, the authors seek to understand the influence of political views and opinions of Spanish citizens of Turkey as a holiday destination. Using a web-based survey instrument, respondents were asked about their perceptions and evaluations of Turkey’s hospitality services and tourism infrastructure on one hand, and their views of political issues related to Turkey’s achievements in terms of human rights issues and foreign policy vis-à-vis its closest neighbours on the other hand.
The penultimate submission contains the development of a theoretical model outlining the effect of internal and external supply networks on the formation of what has become known as the induced tourist image, in other words, the image the tourist holds as part of the commercially supplied and generated destination image. In the effects of “Destination networks and induced tourism image”, Raquel Camprubí, Jaume Guia and Jordi Comas explore the notions and effects of bonding and bridging social capital as influencing the supply networks both inside the destination as well as outside of it in the external supply chain (e.g. the network effects of wholesalers and retailers’ activities and interactions). They further adapt the construct of knowledge creation as used in the management literature (Cohen and Levinthal, 1990) to highlight further effects on the formation of those messages that are finally received by the tourist and forming the induced image. While wide-ranging, the novelty of this contribution lies with the verbalisation of effects that occur in communication between network members on image formation hitherto neglected.
The last paper is entitled “Farm attractions, networks, and destination development: a case-study of Sussex, England” and written by Antonella Capriello, Italy, and Ian D. Rotherham of the UK. The paper provides insights into the management of farm attractions within both the competitive and cooperative environment of a rural destination. In particular, the study involved ten in-depth interviews with members of a network in Sussex, England, and with local tourism information office managers. In terms of destination development, the cross-comparison reveals trust and commitment dependent on strong common goals among network members. Communication and group-experiences such as problem solving, information dissemination, and opportunities to learn from each other were vital for members to staying with a network. As for its originality, the study has the potential to contribute to debates on visitor attraction marketing with a focus on a theory of co-operation in marketing networks.
All in all, this special issue of the Tourism Review has much to offer in terms of stimulating managerial thought as well as extending and deepening the research introduced here. Taken together, all contributions offer a new perspective on the complexity of tourism destination management which has hitherto either neglected network effects or focused on phenomena in artificial isolation by insufficiently addressing the real and existing complexity that is the destination. It is the aim of this special issue to sensitise the reader to appreciate this complexity and make it part of the background on which managerial decisions are taken or research questions are considered in order to create more effective and relevant decisions and results.
Metin Kozak, Juergen Gnoth, Luisa Andreu
Cohen, W.M. and Levinthal, D.A. (1990), “Absorbtive capacity: a new perspective on learning and innovation”, Administrative Science Quarterly, Vol. 35, pp. 128-52
Gnoth, J. (1997), “Motivation and expectation formation”, Annals of Tourism Research, Vol. 24 No. 2, pp. 283-304
Kaplan, R.S. and Norton, D.P. (1992), “The balanced scorecard - measures that drive performance”, Harvard Business Review, January-February, pp. 71-9