tourism destination branding
TOURISM DESTINATION BRANDING
Tourism Destination Branding
IntroductionIn the contemporary society, there is evidently a challenging future for the tourism destinations because of the increased globalized competition for the tourists by the ever-increasing number of destinations. It is essential to note that various destinations struggle with the concept of differentiation in pursuit of competitive advantage. On the other hand, other destinations have the tendency of facing decline because of the habit and decision by tourists to travel elsewhere. This calls for adoption and integration of the concepts of destination branding with the objective of enabling tourism destinations to achieve differentiation from the competition. In addition, branding should also focus on developing, as well as maintaining or revitalizing a desirable image with the intention of attracting more visitors or tourists. These aspects should focus on enabling the destinations to gain the competitive advantage in the highly competitive industry. In this research essay, the focus will be on evaluation of the importance of destinations branding, as well as the exploration of the theoretical perspectives of branding. Furthermore, the essay will examine the influence of social and cultural factors on destination branding. Similarly, the essay will examine the relevant examples of destination branding, which have positive and negative implications in the global tourism industry. Reasons for Destination Branding
Since tourism is one of the largest industries in the global context, there is the massive increase in the level of competition. From this perspective, one of the most significant aspects for a destination is the process of branding itself to achieve differentiation in the midst of the enormous competition. It is the obligation of the managers and marketers in the tourism industry to enhance their awareness of the existence of other destinations, which have the ability and potentiality to attract the potential tourists in a similar manner. Categorically, it is valuable for the destinations to demonstrate what they have to offer under the influence of words, as well as symbols. In the course of branding, destinations have the ability to incorporate diverse mechanisms and forms such as logos, symbols, names, and trademarks. Branding provides the platform for the tourists to understand what the destination has to offer. Also, branding provides the opportunity for actual and potential tourists to have adequate information or knowledge of the destination of interest over all other destinations. In this context, it is the duty of the destinations to brand as communicators (Morgan, Annette, and Rachel 2003; 289). The fundamental intention of destination branding is the production of consistent, as well as engrossed message strategy, which focuses on exploiting core intangible values by the expectations and needs target audiences, consumers, or stakeholders. In addition, branding focuses on enabling destinations to portray themselves as entities. According to this perception, the intentions or objectives of a tourist to travel tend to reflect the destination’s level of traveler awareness, as well as the propensity to become an element of the choice set. Also, tourists focus on the investigation of the affective associations or emotional attraction of the destination, thus the need for the destinations to consider branding as perceptive entities in line with the expectations of the consumers or tourists. Consequently, destination branding is valuable in enabling destinations to overcome increased competition among destinations through effective and efficient communications of the competitive advantage of the relevant destination (Morgan and Annette 2004; 70). The approach is essential in facilitating marketing of the destinations as brands in agreement with the needs of the tourists. Destinations should focus on branding for identification, quality assurance, status/prestige, product differentiation, loyalty, and integration or generation of market segmentation. These aspects are essential in the course of urging destinations to brand in attempts to realize the competitive advantage in the highly competitive tourism industry. Destination branding is also valuable in the process of enabling marketers to communicate the unique identities of the destination by the expectations of the tourists in the highly competitive tourism industry. Destination branding contributes to improved effectiveness and efficiency in convincing the target audiences to visit relevant destinations because of the unique features and provisions, the thus realization of competitive edge in the tourism industry. Issues/Problems of Destination BrandingIn spite of the existence of success factors and aspects or rudiments of destination branding in the tourism sphere, there are also issues or problems, which emanating from the approach by the destinations to the brand. In certain instances, these issues make it difficult for the destinations to brand their operations concerning the preference of the consumers in the industry. In the first instance, it is valuable to note that destinations are not a single product, but composite products, which consist of a mixt of diverse components. This generates challenges to the marketers seeking to differentiate destinations as the single component rather than the composite product. Similarly, there tends to be the diverse range of entities and partners engaged in the designing and delivering of the brand. The challenge is evident in the reduced effectiveness and efficiency concerning handling the needs of the consumers. Additionally, there tends to be limited financial resources or insufficient funds to execute branding strategies for the relevant destinations in the tourism industry. In other instances, destination branding might also experience political implications and influences, which might reduce the fruitfulness of the approach or practice by the demands and expectations of the consumers or tourists in the tourism industry (Pike, 2009; 860). Destinations are far more multidimensional in comparison to the consumer products and other services. From this perspective, the realization of effectiveness requires reaching the minds of the busy tourists, thus the need to incorporate succinct message on the brand associations. In the course of achieving effective and efficient destination branding, there is the need for the marketers to focus on integration of the natural resources, built attractions, activities, amenities, and accommodation. This makes the approach to be complex, thus the need for effectiveness and efficiency in planning for the branding of the destinations in the modern context (Qu et al., 2011; 470). Another critical challenge in understanding the concept of destination branding is the tendency of the marketplace interests of the various groups of vigorous stakeholders of being heterogeneous. From this perspective, branding of the destination proves to be different from the market orientation in which products and services focus on suiting the needs of the market. The marketers have the obligation of targeting multiplicity of the geographic markets in the course of attracting diverse segments, which might interest diverse tourists or consumers. Like in the aforementioned statement, politics of the decision-making has the tendency of rendering destination branding irrelevant (Jago et al., 2003; 8).
This relates to the issues of who decides the theme of the brand, as well as essences of accountability prove to be critical towards realization of the goals and targets in the market and tourism industry. Most of the entities are also reliant on the government funding. Nevertheless, the DMOs have the tendency of evolving into public-private partnerships, which makes it a critical debate on the membership of the board of directors. There tends to be element of mistrust on the composition of the board because of unfair influence. This challenge affects the image and reputation of the destinations, thus ineffectiveness and inefficiency in the branding process. Similarly, there is an element of fine balance, which must exist between the civic agreement and product theory. From this perspective, a top-down approach to the brand destination implementation is possible to fail. From a critical perception of the challenge, destination marketers lack direct control about the distribution of the actual brand promise to the local tourism community. There is the need for the marketers to buy-in from the stakeholders to ensure that the strategy succeeds by the expectations and needs of the tourists or consumers (Hankinson 2005; 30). Another critical challenge relates to the issue of brand loyalty. Brand loyalty comes out as one of the cornerstones of consumers about the brand equity models. The approach by the destination to stay in touch with the previous visitors proves to be powerful, but untapped mechanism towards enhancing the destination brand. Nevertheless, it is ideal to note that the destination marketers have limited access to the various visitors’ contact details at the accommodation recordkeeping desks (Brooker and Jason 2008; 280). It makes it difficult for the marketers to consider or contemplate engaging tourists in a dialogue in the course of enhancing customer relationship management. Categorically, it is essential for the marketers to focus on understanding these aspects or challenges to enhance effectiveness and efficiency about the destination branding. Furthermore, elimination of these challenges will enable marketers to enhance or improve the image and reputation of the destinations by the demands and expectations of the target audiences. Social and Cultural Factors vs. Destination BrandingDestination branding focuses on the generation of identity, which is a social aspect towards offering a vision to the brand while looking at the future. In this context, brand image has the tendency of creating strong, as well as favorable and unique associations to the brand. From this perspective, there is the need for the organizations to focus on the generation of strong positive associations towards creating uniqueness and differentiation while increasing competitive advantage. Brand personality attributes the human characteristics to a product, which users can relate to under the influence of the product interactions. In the process of branding the destinations, there is the need for the marketers to consider cultural and social factors. In the first instance, there is the need to focus on the gender factor. Gender factor determines the perception of the tourist about the destination within the tourism industry. For instance, certain destinations might appeal to feminine aspects of the society while others might appeal to the masculine sphere of the society. This makes it essential for the brand marketers to understand the target audience effectively and efficiently in accordance to their perceptions and expectations in the services. Failure to understand these aspects might lead to the inefficient branding of the destinations (Balakrishnan 2009; 620). In addition, marketers have the objective of understanding and considering cultural factors such as norms, taboos, beliefs, and ideologies of the location or destination. These attributes have the tendency of appealing to specific groups in the tourism industry, thus the need to focus on adhering to the cultural factors in the marketing process. Similarly, the involvement of the stakeholder is a critical social factor in the course of branding the destination. In this context, the participation of the stakeholders plays the critical role in enhancing effectiveness and efficiency in the delivery of quality services by the demands and expectations of the consumers or tourists in the market. Destination branding must also relate to the political elements such as decision-making or involvement of the stakeholders in the board of directors. The approach is valuable in improving effectiveness and efficiency in handling the needs and preferences of the consumers. Another social factor is the place identity. Tourists have the tendency of adhering to the place or destination identity in the course of making their decisions on visiting the location to address their demands and expectations (Pike 2005; 259). From this perspective, the quality of a destination depends on its image and reputation, thus the identity in the perception or mind of the tourists. Heritage is also valuable in the destination branding. In this context, it is valuable for the consumers and marketers to have the adequate understanding of the heritage in the destination as one of the perfect platform for attracting tourists in the highly competitive industry or market of operation. Heritage tends to play diverse roles in improving the image and destination in the highly competitive tourism industry. On the other hand, failure of the marketers to maximize heritage might lead to ineffectiveness in branding the destinations by the demands and expectations of the consumers or tourists in the global context. Social and cultural factors have massive roles to play in the destination branding, thus the platform for the marketers to focus on the utilization of such factors to maximize benefits while reducing costs in the tourism industry. Theoretical PerspectivesIn the conceptualization of destination brand, various researchers have focused on the integration of diverse theoretical perspectives. In the first instance, researchers have focused on perceiving destination brands as communicators. This indicates that the organizations or destinations have the obligation of formulating, adopting, and implementing the branding strategy towards communicating intentions to the target audiences or tourists. In addition, such research practitioners tend to view destination branding as an executive process, which facilitates strategic planning in the course of constructing brand uniqueness. The identity must incorporate destination attributes in relation to competitiveness, uniqueness, and desired elements. Categorically, this perspective notes that destination branding focuses on expressing the making of engrossed communication approach in relation to the gathering of fundamental incorporeal values existing in the perceptions of the consumers. In other instances, researchers have focused on integrating the concepts of communicator perspective with the relationship perspective. This is because of the need to utilize the approach to ensure that consumers have the reason to believe with reference to the differentiation of the destinations within the highly tourism industry. In the course of growing product uniformity, it is ideal for the destinations to focus on the construction of unique identities, thus the platform for differentiation from highly competitive operators. Moreover, there is need for the destinations to integrate brand equity inclusive of the expansion of a personality while focusing on the consumer relationships with the relevant demands (Puczko, Tamara, and Melanie 2007; 28). In the second instance, researchers have focused on the integration of perceptive entity in the course of understanding destination branding. From this perspective, it is valuable for the destinations or marketers to note that brand reputation, as well as perceptual perspectives have massive influence in the determination of the decision by respective tourists to visit specific destinations. According to this theoretical perspective, intentions or objectives to visit tend to reflect on the destination’s level of traveler awareness, as well as the propensity towards becoming an element of choice set. Besides, it is essential to focus on the affective and level of perceived emotional attraction of the destination in the course of branding. Categorically, destination image or reputation is an essential component in the decision-making by the tourists to travel to the specific destinations in the tourism industry. The tourists have the tendency of generating satisfaction or dissatisfaction from their perception on the destination in the tourism industry. Moreover, the decision tends to depend on the comparison of the tourists’ expectations concerning the destination or previously held destination reputation, as well as the perceived performance of the relevant destination. Thirdly, researchers and practitioners have focused on the exploration of destination branding from the relationships’ perspective. According to this theoretical perspective, the destinations’ environment has the ability and potentiality to influence or facilitate formation and generation of the stereotypic images of the kind of individuals or tourists who visit the destination of interest. From this perspective, the propensity of the tourists to visit the destination relates to the relationship between the self-concept and visitor image or reputation in relation to the destination of interest. This theoretical perspective notes that brands have the tendency of generating meaningful relationships with the relevant consumers to provide the platform towards securing higher profits. Destination branding comes out as an element of the growing reception of the interpersonal theory of exchange. This demonstrates the fact that exchange is an incessant process, which relates to the creation of value under the influence of relationships with the consumers, as well as other stakeholders. Some of these stakeholders include suppliers, employees, shareholders, government entities, and alliance partners among others. This theoretical perspective focuses on putting brands at the focal point in relation to understanding marketing activities. Furthermore, the theory is valuable in widening the focus on branding activities towards including behaviors rather than utilization of communication perspective only. This demonstrates the influence of behaviors and communication as elements of relevance to the concept of destination branding. These attributes are essential towards understanding the concept of destination branding as a consistent mix towards identifying and differentiating the destination through building or development of the positive reputation and image in accordance with the perception of the consumers. In addition, destination branding refers to the ability and potentiality of the marketers in exploring or assessing how consumers perceive, as well as view the destinations in their minds. From this illustration, destination branding is valuable in capturing discrete rudiments of the destination in the brand while also sharing these elements under the influence of the mechanisms of the brand. Examples of Good and Bad Destination BrandingIn the course of building effective and efficient destinations, there is the need for the marketers to concentrate on the integration of ingredients. Lack of these ingredients will obviously lead to ineffective or bad destination branding. In the first instance, there is need for the destination branding to incorporate a strong brand and retail focus. For instance, Disneyland’s slogan is ‘the happiest place on earth.’ In spite of this appealing destination branding, people have the tendency of visiting the destination because of what they know and feel about it, as well as perceive the theme park (Henderson 2007; 268). Integration of the appealing slogan is valuable in the course of reinforcing the feeling among the tourists. Some of the good slogans, which might reinforce the feeling among the tourists, include ‘Game On’ (Round Rock, Texas), ‘Artfully Yours’ (Salado, Texas), ‘the Grand American Experience’ (Rapid City, South Dakota), and ‘Jump in’ (Moses Lake, Washington. On the other hand, some of the bad slogans in relation to destination branding include ‘East Texas, Pure and Simple’, ‘Unique by Nature’ (McKinney Texas), ‘Naturally Connected’ (Peoria, Arizona), and ‘Every Path Starts with Passion’ (Gainesville, Florida). Furthermore, destination branding should focus on the integration of the mall mentality, which will be one of the perfect platforms for the attraction of the tourists in the highly competitive industry. In the contemporary society, consumers have the tendency of addressing their needs and expectations on the go, thus utilization of the mall mentality will be able to attract tourists in the industry. Good destination branding must also incorporate the concept of quality merchandise. Categorically, it is valuable to note that people are spending at the top of the market. This trend will continue in future, thus the need for effectiveness and efficiency in planning through the incorporation of quality merchandise. There is also need to incorporate good first impression, as well as sense of place to attract consumers. This is through evaluation and exploration of the gateway signage on reflection concerning the destination. From this perspective, it is valuable for the marketers to consider placing the gateway signs in appropriate locations to make the first best impression on the target audiences (Chapman, Anya, and Janet 2011; 486). There is also the need for concentrate on integration of quality names under the influence of the cultural heritage and social identities concerning the destination. Good destination branding should also incorporate good retail signage and way-finding systems for effectiveness and efficiency in the locating of the destination by the target audiences. Other attributes of the good destination branding include convenient, long-term parking, quality gathering places, 24-hour visitor information, public restrooms, activities and entertainment, invitations rather than rejections, and enthusiastic engagement of the target audiences. Conclusion
Conclusively, it is essential to note that destination branding is a consistent mix towards identifying and differentiating the destination through building or development of the positive reputation and image by the perception of the consumers. Destination branding enables marketers to incorporate diverse mechanisms and forms such as logos, symbols, names, and trademarks. Branding provides the platform for the tourists to understand what the destination has to offer. In spite of these benefits, tourism practitioners have the objective of adhering to and addressing diverse challenges such as politics, complexity of branding, and insufficient financial resources towards the achievement of the goals and targets. In addition, there is the need for the marketers to consider and assess diverse cultural and social factors. These factors include gender, place identity, the involvement of the stakeholders, heritage, and culture, which have the massive role to play by the conceptualization of the destination by the tourists.
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