Destination image and its effects on marketing and branding a tourist destination: A case study about the Austrian National Tourist Office - with a focus on the market Sweden
Independent thesis Advanced level (degree of Master (One Year)), 30 credits / 45 HE creditsStudent thesis
In a tourism context, the image potential customers have of a destination is a very important issue. Images play an essential role in destination choice matters and in this regard, as tourism services are intangible, images are said to become even more important than reality.
The concepts of destination image and destination marketing and branding are closely interrelated. The ultimate goal of any destination is to influence possible tourists’ travel-related decision making and choice through marketing activities. Although it is not possible to influence all aspects of image formation, tourism marketers try to strategically establish, reinforce and, if necessary, change the image of their destination by communicating a strong destination brand. Hence, image studies are considered to be a vital part of marketing and branding strategies. However, not everyone has the same image of a destination, as image perception changes according to different influences, such as personal, cultural and psychological ones.
The purpose of this thesis was primarily to give an overview of destination image theory and its interrelationships to destination marketing and branding. In this respect, the study aimed at finding out in how far a DMO can achieve to develop a marketing strategy that is consistent and somewhat standardised, and yet adapted to the individual market and culture in which it is operated. Furthermore, the study wanted to investigate whether marketing approaches should be changed for people with different images of a country as a destination, or if alternatively a “one-size-fits-all” approach should be employed.
In addition to a literature review, a case study made it possible to show how a real organisation handles those questions. The case of the Austrian National Tourist Office ANTO provides a good example of an internationally operating destination marketing organisation that uses market research, and among others also image studies, to adapt its marketing mix and branding approach to the individual markets’ characteristics and the image held of the destination Austria. By means of applying the qualitative method of personal in-depth interviews and thorough analysis, interesting data concerning the topic of destination image and marketing could be collected and compared to the findings from literature.
Results indicate that destination image studies are the foundation of successful marketing strategies and that in times of ever-increasing competitiveness, image is one of the few points of differentiation from other tourist destinations. It is necessary to be aware of the fact that customers’ cultural differences have an influence on how different they perceive images. Therefore, DMOs should have a powerful overall strategy which globally leads into one pre-defined direction, but then locally adapt this common strategy to regionally differing cultural specifics. Even though destination brands should be strong and consistent, it is not advisable to communicate the exact same image to all customers.
Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2011. , 100 p.
destination image, destination marketing, destination branding, Austrian National Tourist Office
IdentifiersURN: urn:nbn:se:sh:diva-9271OAI: oai:DiVA.org:sh-9271DiVA: diva2:424606
Subject / course
2011-06-08, ME 452, Södertörns högskola, Alfred Nobels allé 7, Huddinge, 12:52 (English)
UppsokSocial and Behavioural Science, Law
Steene, Anders, Högskolelektor
Svallhammar, Stig, Docent