Tourism Management 30 (2009) 857–866

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Tourism Management
journal homepage: www.elsevier.com/locate/tourman

Destination brand positions of a competitive set of near-home destinations
Steven Pike*
University of Queensland, School of Tourism, Building 39A, St Lucia Campus, Brisbane, Queensland 4072, Australia

a r t i c l e i n f o

a b s t r a c t

Article history:
Received 17 June 2008
Accepted 3 December 2008

Although the branding literature commenced during the 1940s, the first publications related to destination branding did not emerge until half a century later. A review of 74 destination branding publications by 102 authors from the first 10 years of destination branding literature (1998–2007) found at
least nine potential research gaps warranting attention by researchers. In particular, there has been a lack
of research examining the extent to which brand positioning campaigns have been successful in
enhancing brand equity in the manner intended in the brand identity. The purpose of this paper is to
report the results of an investigation of brand equity tracking for a competitive set of destinations in
Queensland, Australia between 2003 and 2007. A hierarchy of consumer-based brand equity (CBBE)
provided an effective means to monitor destination brand positions over time. A key implication of the
results was the finding that there was no change in brand positions for any of the five destinations over
the four year period. This leads to the proposition that destination position change within a competitive
set will only occur slowly over a long period of time. The tabulation of 74 destination branding case
studies, research papers, conceptual papers and web content analyses provides students and researchers
with a useful resource on the current state of the field.
Ó 2008 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.

Keywords:
Destination branding
Consumer-based brand equity
Short breaks
Destination image
Destination positioning

1. Introduction
Ever since the brand literature commenced in the 1940s (see for
example Guest, 1942), there has been consistent recognition that
branding offers organisations a means for differentiation in
markets crowded with similar offerings (Aaker, 1991; Gardner &
Levy, 1955; Keller, 2003, Kotler, Brown, Adam, Burton, & Armstrong,
2007). For destinations, effective differentiation is critical given the
increasingly competitive nature of tourism markets, where many
places offering similar features are becoming substitutable (Pike,
2005). For example, around 70% of international travellers visit only
10 countries, leaving the remainder of national tourism offices
(NTOs) competing for 30% of total international arrivals (Morgan,
Pritchard, & Pride, 2002). The pursuit of differentiation is explicit in
brand definitions, which have most commonly been variations of
that proposed by Aaker (1991, p. 7):
A brand is a distinguishing name and/or symbol (such as a logo,
trademark, or package design) intended to identify the goods or
services of either one seller or a group of sellers, and to differentiate
those goods from those of competitors.
However, in the foreword to the first issue of Place Branding and
Public Policy, editor Simon Anholt (2004, p. 4) suggested ‘‘almost
* Tel.: þ61 7 31382702.
E-mail address: sd.pike@qut.edu.au
0261-5177/$ – see front matter Ó 2008 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.
doi:10.1016/j.tourman.2008.12.007

nobody agrees on what, exactly, branding means’’ in describing
place branding practice as akin to the Wild West. There has been
a lack of consistency in defining what constitutes destination
branding, both within industry and within academia (see Blain,
Levy, & Ritchie, 2005; Park & Petrick, 2006; Tasci & Kozak, 2006).
The most comprehensive definition to date has been that proposed
by Blain et al. (2005, p. 337), which followed Berthon, Hulbert, and
Pitt’s (1999) model of the functions of a brand from both the buyer
and seller perspectives:
Destination branding is the set of marketing activities that (1)
support the creation of a name, symbol, logo, word mark or other
graphic that readily identifies and differentiates a destination; that
(2) consistently convey the expectation of a memorable travel
experience that is uniquely associated with the destination; that (3)
serve to consolidate and reinforce the emotional connection
between the visitor and the destination; and that (4) reduce
consumer search costs and perceived risk. Collectively, these
activities serve to create a destination image that positively influences consumer destination choice.
Branding is therefore considered mutually beneficial from both
the supply and demand perspectives. Enhancing the ability of the
brand to differentiate effectively can generate advantages for
products and services, such as increased purchase intent (CobbWalgren, Beal, & Donthu, 1995), lower costs (Keller, 1993), increased
sales, price premiums, and customer loyalty (Aaker, 1991, 1996).

increased destination loyalty and increased yield for stakeholders such as local tourism businesses and travel intermediaries. 1997). destination positioning (Chacko. The aim of this study was to track the brand positions held by a competitive set of near-home destinations between 2003 and 2007. and destination slogans (see Klenosky & Gitelson. 12. & Piggot. Crockett & Wood. 1999. Saura. The focus of most research reported to date has been concerned with the development of destination brand identities and the implementation of campaigns (see for example. when an estimated 766 major publications by 789 authors were published (Papadopolous. 2008). who argued academics have been slow to follow what has been a practitioner-led domain. 2002. 2002). Pritchard. Simon Anholt (2004). historical. and Prebezac’s (1998) analysis of the appropriateness of Croatia’s brand. 2003. ii) conceptual papers. 4–5). for which the journal Place Branding and Public Diplomacy was launched in 2004. the extent to which destination brands’ positioning and repositioning campaigns have been effective in enhancing brand equity consistent with that intended in the brand identity. The focus of the paper is the field of tourism destination branding. 2001. 2004) edited volumes of predominantly case studies and conceptual papers. economic development. Conference papers are not included. 2002). Destination branding texts did not emerge until the new millennium. The purpose of the review was to analyse the range of topics covered in refereed journal articles and edited book chapters. 1982. and possibly enhanced brag value. 2. The 2005 initiative of Macau’s Instituto De Formacao Turistica (IFT). The first journal special issue on destination branding was published in the Journal of Vacation Marketing (1999. it is timely to review the nature of the first 10 years of research published. These provide rich insights to the real world of brand development . Given the increasing level of interest in this emerging field. Such cases are valuable for bridging the ‘divide’ (see Pike. 2007). Woodside. In terms of metrics for DMOs in general. Vol. published between 1998 and 2007. & Garcia. 1999. export trade. 2003). Pritchard. During the same year. iii) research-based papers. in comparison to the academic perspective. Beattie. Hong Kong and Shanghai in the context of tourism and film traditions. at the time these were not explicitly in the context of branding. The first journal article explicitly concerned with research relating to the branding of destinations was Dosen. 2002). Prior to this time research related to aspects of what is now regarded as destination branding had been reported. 2000). see Dinnie (2004). Pritchard and Morgan’s (1998) analysis of the brand strategy for Wales. and Baker’s (2007) practitioner perspective on branding for small cities in North America. However. 2007). The following year. in conjunction with Perdue University. It has been argued that branding destinations for tourism purposes limits inclusivity of the wider range of stakeholders of place (see for example Kerr. featured a destination branding track. Destination marketing texts that include destination branding chapters include Pike (2004a. & Rosemann. 2006). who is also an experienced branding practitioner. This paper does not include place branding research publications. 5. Morgan. This has since been followed by Tourism Analysis (2007. & So. 3). which was themed ‘Branding the travel market’. However. which attracted four papers. 2005. Sheehan & Ritchie. 2005). the potential of CBBE for destinations has only recently attracted the attention of academic researchers (see Boo. such as in Australia (see Carson. The literature search identified 74 destination branding publications by 102 authors. North America (Masberg. 1997. 1999. and iv) web content analyses. & Baloglu. & Gove. For a brief overview of the emerging place branding literature. May. In 1999 the conference of the TTRA’s European Chapter. represented the first meeting of practitioners and academics on the topic. Pritchard. one of the strengths of this section is the collection of papers written from the practitioner perspective. a special issue on place branding was published in the Journal of Brand Management (2002. 1942). Reich. Nonetheless. 9. Braithwaite. 2002). Gnoth (1998) suggested that the special track on ‘Branding tourism destinations’ he convened at the 1997 American Marketing Science conference. featured eight destination branding papers. Busser. attracted 100 delegates from 22 countries. 1993). iii) the complex political nature of DMO brand decision making and increasing accountability to stakeholders (see Pike. and iv) the long-term nature of repositioning a destination’s image in the marketplace (see Gartner & Hunt. although Gnoth (2002) developed a model for leveraging export brands though tourism destination branding. editor of Place Branding and Public Diplomacy. CBBE was first promoted by Aaker (1991. The rationale underpinning CBBE as a brand performance metric is that consumer perceptions of the brand underpin any financial estimate of future earnings estimated in the financial measure of brand equity. Vransevic. It should be noted that these papers are not necessarily reporting a rigorous case study methodology as proposed by Yin (2002). was published. 1987). the first destination branding case study journal article. These were categorised as: i) case studies. ii) the increasing level of investment by destination marketing organisations (DMO) in branding since the 1990s. These have since been followed by Donald and Gammack’s (2007) research-based analysis of city branding for Sydney. The most popular type of destination branding paper has been cases. In this regard. Table 1 summarises 33 papers that can generally be categorised as case studies. Richardson & Cohen. Vol. in Anholt. and Pride’s (2002. Benefits for the traveller include ease of decision making through reduced search costs. Vol. 7–8) that exists between tourism practitioners and academics. Prosser. as opposed to place branding per se. pp. 2009. This is an important gap in the tourism literature. 1996) and more recently by Keller (1993. That is. The first were Morgan. The growth in interest in the field was evidenced during the second half of the 20th century. Hunt. Konecknik & Gartner. to convene the first conference dedicated to destination branding. has described the real world of international branding as a ‘‘bloody business’’. themed ‘Destination marketing’. One area requiring increased attention is that of tracking the performance of destination brand positions over time. Hall.858 S. and in doing so identify potential research gaps. sporting and cultural dimensions of which nations are constituted. The field of place branding encompasses a broader scope outside tourism. 2002. Literature review The first papers on branding appeared in the marketing literature during the 1940s (see for example Guest. 4). such as: destination image (for reviews see Gallarza. 1997. For this purpose the efficacy of a hierarchy of consumer-based brand equity (CBBE) was trialled. 2003) to supplement traditional balance sheet brand equity measures. Najarro. 2008. Since a financial balance sheet brand equity measure will be of little practical value to destination marketers. Pike / Tourism Management 30 (2009) 857–866 Advantages for destination marketing organisations (DMO) include increased potential to differentiate against places offering similar benefits. the Tourism & Travel Research Association (TTRA) conference. Pritchard. a number of researchers in various parts of the world have pointed to a lack of market research monitoring effectiveness of destination marketing objectives. Also. 1982). given: i) increasing competition (see Morgan. 1997. the concept of CBBE is worthy of consideration by DMOs. The conference was again staged in 2007. such as public policy. with the intent to hold the meeting biennially (see Dioko. and Europe (Dolnicar & Schoesser. & Piggot. Pike. reduced risk.

Jago. Chalip. & Benckdorff. 2001 Scott. year DMO Country Focus Author perspective Pritchard & Morgan. RTO NTO RTO Students Consumers. 2003 Foley & Fahy. 2002. 2000a. 1999 Shanka. 2005 Scott & Clark. which deal primarily with issues related to brand development. USA and Australasia. state tourism organisation (STO). Senegal. Ethiopia. academics DMO practitioners Tourism practitioners Visitors RTO NTO RTO RTO RTO NTO STO NTO Visitors Consumers Tourism practitioners Residents Residents Visitors Visitors Secondary data Tasci.S. Hong Kong Slovenia Australia . 2002b NTO STO NTO Ireland Australia Central & Eastern Europe Morgan. 2007 Phillips & Schofield. New Zealand Scotland Australia Australia. 2006 Woodland & Acott. Miller. Austria England Australia Turkey China Italy. 1999 Crockett & Wood. 2007 Woodside. year Focus Country Level Participants Dosen et al. Moscardo. 2007 Ekinci. 2007 Niininen. Pike / Tourism Management 30 (2009) 857–866 859 Table 1 Cases. 2002 Cai. 2006 Peirce & Ritchie. China. 1999. 2002 Konecnik. 2002 Morgan. Author. the most common focus of interest has been reporting brand strategy development. 2004 Morgan & Pritchard. Table 2 summarises 28 research publications. 2002 Hall. & Cavusgil. 2000 Henderson.. Zambia Australia USA Slovenia Slovenia Australia International International International International England Australia STO RTO NTO NTO RTA CVB NTO N/A NTO. Egypt. 2007 Cai. Author. in the UK. & Moscardo. Hosany. 2007 Kendall & Gursoy. Gartner. STO RTO RTO DMO & event practitioners Consumers Tourism practitioners Consumers Visitors DMO practitioners Travellers Practitioners. Spain. 2006 Tasci & Kozak. Sirakaya-Turk. 2007. 1999 Williams & Palmer. Cruikshank.. 1999. New Zealand USA England New Zealand USA Brand strategy development Brand strategy development Role of electronic media in brand development Brand strategy development Brand strategy development Developing a national identity for newly independent nations Brand strategy development Brand strategy development Brand effectiveness evaluation Brand strategy development Brand strategy development Brand strategy development Brand strategy development Analysis of imagery Quality measurement Influence of corporate brands Logo design Politics in decision making Brand strategy development History as a retrospect for the future Brand strategy development and tracking Brand strategy development Brand strategy development Brand strategy development Brand positioning research Rebranding post-disaster at national. McMahon-Beattie. Morocco. 1998 Nickerson & Moisey. 2000b. Qiu. Malawi. 2007 Daniels. & Zehrer. Malta. 2007 Nuttavuthisit. 2007 Contribution of event branding Conceptualising destination branding Brand image analysis Brand equity Image formation Definition. & Baloglu. practitioners Consumers Consumers Brand netnography Negative imagery Umbrella brands Host community image Host community image Brand personality Brand image analysis Brand positioning Italy Thailand Italy. which feature international studies at national tourism organisation (NTO). 2007 Curtis. & Li. 2004 Konecnik. 2006 Park & Petrick. As can be seen. state and local levels. & Chura. 2002 Pride. 2007 NTO NTO STO RTO NTO STO NTO NTO RTO RTO RTO NTO NTO NTO RTO RTO CVB RTO NTO RTO Australia Singapore USA Australia Wales USA New Zealand Ireland France Canada Denmark Denmark Wales. 2001 Brand image analysis Identifying positioning attributes Positioning slogans NTO STO NTO Visitors. Australia Australia Academics Academics Academics Buckley. Logos Brand personality Definitions Definitions Stakeholder consultation Brand personality Croatia USA Botswana. 2005 Blain et al. 2003 Woods & Deegan. Turkey Turkey Australia. Burkina Faso. Benckdorff. 2005 Ekinci & Hosany. 1998 Morgan & Pritchard. regional tourism organisation (RTO) and convention and visitor bureau (CVB) levels. 2007 Pechlaner. and the demand side of market perceptions. 2003 Williams. These studies Academic Practitioners Academic Academic Academic Practitioner Academic Practitioner Academic Academic Practitioner Academic Academic Academic Academic Academic Academic Practitioner & academics Academic & practitioner Academic Academic Academic Academic Academic report aspects of both the supply side interest in brand development. Durie. 2007 Murphy. 2004 Hem & Iversen. & Smith. Gill. Raich. 2006b Hanlan & Kelly. students Visitors Tourism practitioners Brown. 2004 Ooi. & Mules. 2002 Slater. 2007 Konecknik & Gartner. Greece. & Palmer. Morocco. Cyprus. Murphy. 2007 Merrilees. 2005 Yeoman. & Dehuang. & Piggott. Nigeria. 2007 Pike. & Airey. 2007 Pike. Madagascar. 2006a. 2007 Donald & Gammack. Herington. 2002a. Mauritius. An emerging area of destination branding research in recent years has Table 2 Research publications. In doing so these provide rich insights into the complexity and practical challenges inherent in the branding of places as destinations. 2007b Gotham. Table 3 summarises the focus of 10 conceptual papers. Ekinci. 2007c Image bias Film imagery Brand equity Brand equity NTO NTO. Pritchard. 1999 NTO NTO STO Wales Wales.

2002 Mundt. & O’Leary. which will be meaningful in heterogeneous markets. Zimbabwe NTO NTO and STOs/RTOs. Author. 1. Morocco. 2002 Palmer. and there has been a lack of research testing this proposition. 13). which features destination loyalty as a latent variable. South Africa. 2007 Brand building elements Place name domains Brand personality dimensions USA STO Global NTO Angola. and whether or not they have been successful. Hultman. p. Involvement and ‘buy-in’ of the host community. with whom they do not have any direct contact. amenities and geography. The extent to which destinations are able to generate different brand positioning strategies to suit the needs of different markets. The rationale for CRM as a potentially efficient use of scarce marketing communication resources has been well documented in the marketing literature. While there has been a small stream of research in this area (see for example Klenosky & Gitelson. Ghana. and as occasional local tourists. 2007). and also between the DMO and stakeholders. year Focus Flagestad & Hope. Pike / Tourism Management 30 (2009) 857–866 Table 3 Conceptual papers. The move towards the development of corporate websites for dissemination of information by DMOs to stakeholders has created a new resource for researchers. However. Kenya. both as hosts of visiting friends or relatives. 2001 Ryan. & Spyropoulou. there is a need to understand the extent to which destination brand campaigns enhance the competitiveness of business-related stakeholders by representing their often diverse perspectives and interests. In depth case studies of the politics of destination brand decision making. Umbrella branding refers to the linkages and synergies in the development of strategies by the Table 4 Website content analysis. later described by Prime Minister Kevin Rudd as a ‘‘rolled gold disaster’’ (see Russell. as well a predictor of future performance. and not effectively differentiate the destination from competing places offering similar benefits. However. One of the greatest challenges facing DMOs is navigating the often fiercely parochial local tourism industry politics in the design and implementation of a narrow brand positioning proposition. There has been little attention given to the issue of the extent to which umbrella brand strategies are being implemented. there continues to be a lack of understanding. Cai. Abratt. Opoku. 2006 Pitt. 6. 2006 Gertner. 2007 Regional umbrella brands Politics in destination branding Contextualising destination branding Myths of branding destinations The role of high speed technologies Destination branding success factors Destination brand slogan effectiveness criteria Destination branding complexity Framework for destination brand management Structure of destination brands been content analysis of DMO websites. none were able to implement such initiatives due to the practical challenges of engaging in meaningful dialogue with so many visitors. 2007 Gnoth. The first relates to brand identity development. The extent to which customer relationship marketing (CRM) is used to stimulate increased loyalty and repeat visitation. 2000b. These activities are therefore the most high profile in terms of representing the public face of the brand. which is the first stage of the destination branding process. 3. Lee. Berger. Zambia. The effectiveness of brand slogans and logos. 2007). Destination brand umbrella strategies. However. The 2006 Australian ‘Where the bloody hell are you?’ brand proposition. This issue has been raised by Henderson (2000a. One way forward in this regard however is the recent interest in the structural modelling of CBBE (see Konecnik. 1994). Brand positioning 4. 2002 Gilmore. is one example of a generic theme that proved unsuitable in a number of important markets. it is critical that a brand identity is truthful. Activities primarily have an internal focus on clarifying the desired image in the market. 2002 Morgan & Pritchard. and that most campaigns fail to achieve anything more than ‘ephemeral indifference’ (Gold & Ward. and was ditched in 2008. as highlighted in Fig. Botswana. Swaziland. Three sequential streams of literature were apparent. The first decade of destination branding literature provides a rich resource for practitioners and researchers. Brand equity is both a measure of the success of the brand positioning in achieving the desired brand identity. 2006b. from a diverse and often eclectic range of attractions. Involvement and ‘buy-in’ of the tourism industry. 2005 Hankinson. while much progress has been made in the past decade through the 74 publications. in that they are likely to be short lived. both in terms of access to secondary data and opportunities for content analysis of destination brand documentation. Konecknik & Gartner. .860 S. such as at DMO board of directors’ meetings and DMO/ advertising agency briefing sessions. is a major barrier to ethnographic studies of decision making in practice. It has been suggested destination promotion has seen few creative ideas. 1997. cultures. the field remains in its infancy. A further complication is that those attributes determining destination preferences might differ between different travel situations. The second stage in destination branding is positioning the brand in the market to achieve the desired brand identity. In addition to researching consumer-based brand performance. 2004b. These include local tourism businesses as well as key travel intermediaries such as wholesalers and specialist retail agencies. Table 4 summarises the focus of three such papers. Since Oppermann’s (2000) well cited observation that there had been a dearth of research about destination loyalty. gaining access to key decision makers. Admittedly. The review identified nine potential research gaps: Brand identity 1. Brand equity 5. 2004b Pike. 7. whose analyses of Singapore’s destination branding found a disconnection between the DMO’s new theme and the views of the local community. 2008. Malawi. The host community should generally be regarded as active participants of local tourism. little has been reported to enhance understanding of the effects of local industry politics in the governance of organisations that are in many cases public–private partnerships. 2002 Pike. 2007a) found that while the destination marketers acknowledged the potential of visitor relationship marketing (VRM). The third stream of literature is that related to measuring the performance of the brand. To what extent does the tourism brand identity represent local residents’ ‘sense of place’? After all. 2. & Gertner. Pike. particularly in the area of destination brand identity and strategy development. an exploratory investigation of RTOs in Australia (Pike.

For example. 2006b. 1991. Vanhove’s (2005) analysis of gross holiday participation data for countries in Europe between 1990 and 2002 identified a trend towards a decrease in general holiday participation. 337). 1993). At the foundation of the CBBE hierarchy is brand salience. more attention is required to effectively test Gold and Ward’s proposition. Short breaks have emerged as one of the fastest growing travel segments in many parts of the world in recent years. 1996). 1996) and Keller (1993. such as that proposed by the Florida STO (see Marketing News 29/9/97) might be such a proprietary asset with potential that warrants attention by researchers. The latter point dictates the measurement of associations needs to be within the context of a competitive set of brands (see Hooley. which has recently attracted interest as a destination brand performance measure (see Konecnik. 2008). 109). Therefore it is important in destination positioning research to explicitly identify the travel situation in which the research participant is expected to make judgements. & Peircy. For example. Destinations not positioned in the consumer’s decision set are therefore at a competitive disadvantage. and provides a link between past marketing efforts and future performance. proposed by Aaker (1991. For DMOs. 2003). be it by way of government grants or bed taxes.S. travel intermediaries Performance measurement models: o brand salience o brand associations o perceptions of quality o brand loyalty Place history Fig. Konecknik & Gartner. A characteristic of a latent variable from a research participant’s perspective is that it is not constant (DeVellis. given almost every destination uses a slogan as the focus of positioning. 2007) is likely to have increasing appeal in the future. have been defined as ‘‘anything ‘linked’ in memory to a brand’’ (Aaker.3 nights in 2020. Richardson & Cohen. 1996) and championed by Keller (1993. 1982. 1991. which represents the strength of the brand’s presence in the mind of the target. Pritchard. DMOs are usually at the mercy of political masters for longterm funding. defined as a trip of between 1 and 4 nights away. which is representative of the brand associations component of CBBE. Tourism Research Australia predicted average domestic trip duration to further decline from 3. with a noticeable trend towards shorter stays (Tourism Research Australia. 2004). Brand licensing revenue as an alternative funding source. in that order. local travel trade. Pike / Tourism Management 30 (2009) 857–866 861 RESEARCH STREAM 1 RESEARCH STREAM 2 RESEARCH STREAM 3 Destination brand identity development Destination brand positioning Destination brand equity measurement and tracking Key issues DMO politics Brand vision Brand personality Brand hierarchy Umbrella brands Place brand Domain names Brand champion Brand community Rebranding Key Issues Key Issues Place name Slogan Logo Marketing communication tactics Potential licensing revenue Electronic media and place name domains Repositioning Stakeholders’ equity: host community. The aim should be to increase familiarity with the brand through repeated exposure and strong associations with the product category (Keller. which manifests in intent to visit. (2005. visitors. The highest level of the hierarchy is brand loyalty. The opportunity to develop brand licensing revenue.9 nights in 2006 to 3. domestic tourism growth has stagnated over the past 20 years. they will limit serious consideration in the decision process to a small set of four plus or minus two destinations. 9. This is particularly important for strategies involving rebranding and repositioning. given Gartner and Hunt’s (1987) proposition that image change for a destination takes place over a long period of time. given the difficulties of membership-based funding schemes (see Bonham & Mak. p. The concept of consumer-based brand equity (CBBE). A more practical method of analysing destination brand performance by DMOs is the CBBE hierarchy. Measurement of destination brand performance effectiveness over time. proposed by Aaker (1991. CBBE places emphasis on market perceptions. some aspect of the destination’s image will change over time. This research was concerned with addressing the lack of research reported about benchmarking and tracking brand positions over time. Also. alternative revenue sources are of interest. and is one of the most published topics in the tourism literature. Brand associations. favourable and unique. Destination branding research streams. 1992). repeat visitation and word of mouth referrals. Keller argued brand associations need to be strong. 8. Saunders. but an increase in short break activity. for an individual consumer–traveller. as well as between different travel situations (Barich & Kotler. Crompton. which was included in the introduction. does the destination come to mind when thinking about a given travel situation? Studies have shown that of all the destinations an individual is aware of. 1996). the hierarchy addresses the key aspects of the destination branding definition by Blain et al. . The travel situation of interest in this project was a short break holiday by car. 2003). The traditional corporate approach to measuring brand equity is estimating the intangible financial net-present-value of future earnings. The focus of the project is destination brand equity. It might be expected that. p. 1. non-visitors. 2003). Financial valuation is irrelevant if no underlying consumer-based value of the brand has been established (Keller. 2003). in Australia. The goal should be more than achieving general awareness per se. but to be remembered for the right reasons (Aaker. A key construct of interest in this regard is ‘destination image’. and therefore guide DMOs on slogan success factors. 1993). Similarly. which aid the consumer’s information processing.

3 4. The first asked participants to indicate whether they had previously visited each destination.8 4. Sunshine Coast.7 238 163 44 445 53.7 4.4 4. In a separate section participants were also asked to rate the importance of each attribute.3 6.2 5.5 5.8 5.6 13. The second.5 4.1 4.7 4.7 6. Brand associations were measured by asking participants to rate the perceived performance of each destination. and encourages local tourism businesses to target the Brisbane market directly.5 5. This aspect of the research has been previously reported (Pike.3 4.4 5. The purpose was to investigate characteristics of short breaks. The destinations elicited represent a mix of established and emerging destinations. with two questionnaires distributed three months apart.5 46.000 $78. across 22 cognitive scale items. and two affective scale items.2 5.3 5.1 5.0 5.9 5.4 5.0 10.8 a seven-point scale.0 5.8 5.4 4. The first was to analyse the association between stated destination preferences and actual travel. The cognitive items were selected from a combination of literature review and group interviews with Brisbane residents.0 5.9 3. except for one open ended question asking participants if they had any comments to offer on how Table 6 Brand associations.3 12.5 6.3 6.7 13.5 5.6 37.9 5.6 9.8 3.0 4.1 40. 1977).3 3.2 26. on the basis they would: i) be more familiar to research participants. The first questionnaire was mailed in April to a systematic random sample of 3000 Brisbane households selected from the telephone white pages.6 4.9 5.0 6.3 75.7 6. Method The research involved two questionnaires distributed to Brisbane residents in 2003.3 5.0 5.5 36.4 4.2 5.2 5.6 5.9 Age 18–24 25–44 45–64 65þ Total 16 212 244 50 522 3. much of which has been directed towards destination branding initiatives.7 5. asked participants to indicate the likelihood of visiting each destination in the following 12 months.5 5. Fraser Coast.2 5.2 5. Tourism Gold Coast prefers to direct resources to more distant markets. Cognitive items Importance 2007 Sunshine Coast Gold Northern Coast NSW Fraser Coast Coral Coast Suitable accommodation Good value for money A safe destination Affordable packages Beautiful scenery Pleasant climate Within a comfortable drive Uncrowded Good cafes and restaurants Friendly locals Lots to see and do Good beaches High levels of service Places for swimming Not touristy Places for walking Family destination Good shopping Historical places Marine life Water sports Trendy atmosphere 6. Brand salience was measured by two unaided awareness questions to identify i) each participant’s top of mind awareness (ToMA) destination.9 Marital status Single Married/permanent partner Separated.6 2.9 75.0 4.0 5.7 9.0 4.2 5. Affect was measured using seven-point semantic differential scales. A total of 523 completed questionnaires were received.1 5.6 5.1 34.6 5. using Table 5 Sample characteristics.1 6.2 149 101 147 48 445 33.2 4.4 4.1 5. and one by Tourism New South Wales.1 43.2 5.0 5.6 5. divorced. and another in 2007. representing a useable response rate of 63%.9 4.1 4.4 5.5 4.6 3. This generated 308 completed questionnaires. The 2003 study was undertaken longitudinally. Brand loyalty was measured by three questions in 2007. Pike / Tourism Management 30 (2009) 857–866 The aim of the study was to benchmark the market positions of a competitive set of destinations at one point in time (2003). Australia.2 4. The CBBE hierarchy was operationalised similarly in 2003 and 2007. ii) provide realistic opportunities for repeat visitation.6 16 166 205 56 443 3.3 4.4 4.6 23.8 3.1 4.1 5.4 5.6 5. representing a useable response rate of 19%.7 6. and then compare their positions at a later point in time (2007).1 5.1 6.5 5.862 S.0 5. Four of these RTOs are officially recognised by Tourism Queensland the state tourism organisation (STO).1 4.0 169 275 444 38.3 5.5 5.1 61.7 6. The third. selected from Baloglu and Brinberg (1997).1 2. and attribute importance.9 5. widowed Total 57 395 70 522 10.4 5. to enable importance–performance analysis (see Martilla & James. using a seven-point scale anchored at ‘Definitely not’ (1) and ‘Definitely’ (7). Northern New South Wales. These were measured using a sevenpoint scale.5 4.9 5.8 5.5 22. The second questionnaire was mailed in July to the 486 participants who indicated a willingness to participate in further research.1 5.1 4.1 5.9 Highest level of education High school TAFE University graduate Other Total 211 123 164 22 520 40. For brand performance measurement purposes they have been defined by regional tourism organisation (RTO) boundaries: Gold Coast.1 6.0 4.9 5. 2003 n 2003 Valid % 2007 n 2007 Valid % Gender Male Female Total 199 324 521 38.8 5.8 5.8 5. and iii) represent a realistic decision set from which actual consumer choices are made.4 5.2 3. and Bundaberg and the Coral Coast.0 4.0 5.1 5.0 3.000 or more Total 372 136 508 73.4 50 335 58 443 11. and ii) the other destinations in their decision set.4 5.2 6.4 4. The 2007 questionnaire was again mailed in April to a new systematic random sample of 3000 Brisbane households selected from the telephone directory. It should be noted that the Gold Coast RTO does not target the Brisbane market in marketing communications.1 3. which is the state capital of Queensland.6 46.6 4.7 5.4 5. which was not used in 2003.1 Number of dependent children 0 1–2 3þ Total 283 182 56 521 54.4 4.5 .9 3. The second question was to identify brand equity benchmarks for the five destinations.7 5.8 243 190 433 56.4 5.7 33. including unaided destination preferences to identify the competitive set of destinations. which was used in 2003.3 5.6 4.5 5. The back page of the questionnaire booklet was left blank.0 62.7 31. 3.7 3.7 4.1 6.3 3.2 5.9 4.1 5.7 3.9 3. 2006).8 10. A ‘don’t know’ option was provided alongside each scale item.1 4. The purpose of this stage was twofold. Brisbane is the main source of visitors for each of the five destinations.3 6.2 4. The geographic market of interest is Brisbane. asked participants to indicate the extent to which they would recommend each destination to friends.5 5. Tourism Queensland provides financial assistance to these four RTOs.6 Annual household income Less than $78. A competitive set of near-home destinations was selected for the study.

2.929 10. Escape Uncrowded Not touristy Friendly locals .6/4.1/6.3 4.74 . In 2003.60 Comm.4%).78 .81 . the characteristics of the 2003 and 2007 samples were similar.56 .72 . 4.3 4. The implication is that those destinations not included in decision sets are less likely to be selected in the short term. on a seven-point scale. ‘Within a comfortable drive’.854 Factor 5 Affordable Factor 4 .1.7 5.58 .1%.64 4. 7.53 Total Variance Factor 3 Outdoors 3 9.59 . Pike / Tourism Management 30 (2009) 857–866 Table 7 Exploratory factor analysis.52 4 5 6 7 Performance Fig. representing a useable response rate of 17%.45 .2. 6 4.84 5. Beach Places for swimming Good beaches Good climate .3% .54 .66 1.02 5. Following in popularity were: Gold Coast (18.640 . The mean importance for taking a short break each year. as shown in Table 5. and show little change in preferences between 2003 and 2007. Following Child (1970). while the 2007 mean was 3. 5.80 4. 16.38 5.65 .55 1.50 .8% .89 5.62 . Factor Imp.1%. 4.21 Upmarket Beach Outdoor activity Escape Affordable Table 9 Affective images. the cleanest rotated solution was obtained by omitting four variables: ‘Suitable accommodation’.66 5.65 . While this was not a longitudinal study. 86% had taken a short break in the previous 12 months.20 5.3%).3 5.81 4.44 5.3/4.81 4.3/5. Fraser Coast (6. Destination brand associations Table 6 shows the 2007 importance and performance ratings for the cognitive scale items.67 .3/5.83 .7% .78 . Factor-analytic importance–performance analysis. 4. Outdoors Marine life Historical places Walking tracks Water sports .78 4.0/4.51 5.4%. The 2003 longitudinal stage identified a positive relationship between stated destination preferences and actual travel. For example. The Cronbach alpha for attribute importance was .02 4.4% in 2007).57 6 Factor Loadings Eigenvalue Variance 3.70 . .38 6. This solution generated five factors that explained 59. Affective items Sunshine Coast Gold Coast Northern NSW Fraser Coast Coral Coast Sleepy/arousing Unpleasant/ pleasant 5.8. and also generally comparable to the characteristics of the 2001 Brisbane Census population.3 level. while in 2007.8/3.1% . ‘other’ (16. Destination brand salience In both 2003 and 2007.5%).82 4. and to provide more meaningful positioning analysis. factoranalytic importance–performance analysis was used.1 6.42 . The 2003 and 2007 data sets were pooled to enable independent samples t-tests for the attributes common to both questionnaires. 3.24 4. 5. and ‘Lots to see/do’.14 4.8% in 2003. Results The 2007 survey generated 447 completed questionnaires.0 5.7 . was 6. Value for money Value for money Safe Affordable packages Family destination .69 5.72 3.72 . 62% had taken a short break in the previous three months.290 GC SC NSW FC CC 5 Importance Factor 863 59. The difficulty for a destination to stand out from so much local competition is summed up by the following comment: Most holiday places are based nearby the beach.5%. All participants were offered the opportunity to enter a prize draw for accommodation at a mystery short break destination.73 4. The exceptions were a higher ratio of females and lower ratio of those aged 18–24 years.59 .38 4. elicited by 45. Given the closeness of many of the destination performance items.66 . This makes them very similar (Participant #3).66 .9% in 2007.82 .64 . both the 2003 and 2007 samples indicated taking an average of three short breaks by car per year. which was similar to the 19% obtained in April 2003.73 . In the initial exploratory factor analysis using Principal Components Analysis with a varimax rotation only one variable (Suitable accommodation) did not correlate with any other variables at the .71 .41 1.82 4. 4.73 2. In 2003 the mean number of destinations elicited in participants’ decision sets was 3.62 1.29 4. 4.3 in both 2003 and 2007. The characteristics of short breaks by car were similar in 2003 and 2007. In both studies the most popular destination was the Sunshine Coast.60 .6 5.1% of variance.50 4. The data shows that such trips represent an activity of interest to participants. 14.0/4. Upmarket Good cafes/restaurants High level of service Shopping Trendy atmosphere .87 5.Escape Factor 2Beach Factor 1 upmarket 4 10. ‘Beautiful scenery’.1% of participants in 2003 and 43. 16.1% Queensland destinations could improve. Coral Coast (2.00 4.62 . The Kaiser–Meyer–Olkin Measure of Sampling was .2% .43 6. Again the results were consistent. over 120 destinations were elicited in response to the unaided preferred destination question.79. Northern NSW (11.5%).S.2 3.05 5.90 3.93 4. Gold Coast Sunshine Coast Northern NSW Fraser Coast Coral Coast 1.925 21. 2. 1.47 2.78 .75 and Bartlett’s Table 8 Destination performance by factor.2/5. Alpha 1.1. There was no significant improvement in perceived performance for any of the destinations on any item.4/5.

their short break market positions remained constant during this period. The results in this study of near-home destinations found that their short break market positions did not change over a four year period. Managing brand equity.4). Gold Coast (4.8% 6.8). However. Pike / Tourism Management 30 (2009) 857–866 Table 10 Previous and future visitation. on a seven-point scale. The five factors. It is hoped that more attention will be directed by academic researchers to the nine potential research gaps proposed. New York: Free Press. There was little evidence of any change in brand equity components for each of the five destinations between 2003 and 2007. It is anticipated the tabulation will provide tourism students and practitioners with a practical guide to the progress in research related to the development. The objective of any brand positioning should be to reinforce the one or few determinant attributes for which the destination is already perceived positively and competitively. While there were 102 authors associated with the 74 publications tabled in the literature review. 2 to highlight positions held by each destination on each factor. the results were again consistent with the other data. local taxpayers. implementation and measurement of destination brands. These results highlight differences between the Sunshine Coast and Gold Coast as being more arousing than the other destinations. the Coral Coast. Building strong brands. This has implications for those destinations with low levels of previous visitation. this was the only section where results were inconsistent between the 2003 and 2007 samples.5 and 4 hours. The lack of study replications in this field is symptomatic of a wider problem in the tourism literature. and the extent that a destination’s umbrella theme must somehow represents the interests of a diverse range of active stakeholders. The means for the importance and destination performance for each factor are shown in Table 8. D. Editor of Tourism Management.864 S. recently raised this issue with the TRINet discussion list (30/7/08). ‘family needs’ and ‘touristy/ overdevelopment’.6% 93. The first figure is the 2003 score. (1991). Professor Chris Ryan. Table 9 shows the mean affect scores for each destination. justifying changes to a destination brand is challenging due to the complex nature of stakeholder relationships and DMO decision making at a governance level. For example.5% 72.9% 42. Sunshine Coast Gold Coast Northern NSW Fraser Coast Coral Coast 2007 Previously visited 2003 Likelihood of visit in next 12 months 2007 Likelihood of visit in next 12 months 94. while the Coral Coast rated first for Factor 4 (Escape).7 Test of Sphericity was significant (p ¼ . Conclusions It has been argued destinations are tourism’s biggest brands (Morgan. 3 (Outdoor activity). Given the increasing levels of investments being made by DMOs at NTO.000).7 3. The Gold Coast rated first on Factor 1 (Upmarket). This emerging destination attracted around 30% ‘don’t know’ usage for each destination performance item. there was a low level of usage of the ‘don’t know’ option provided in the attribute ratings scales. Participants were asked to indicate the extent to which they would recommend each destination to friends. A. while the other three are between 1. (1996).4% 64. As shown in Table 10. the magnitude of the challenge will increase exponentially for more distant and lesser known places. clear platform for enhancing the depth and breadth of research in this area.9). A total of 95 of the 447 participants (21%) in 2007 provided comments. a leadership position is held in the ‘Escape’ dimension. The second question asked participants to indicate likelihood of visiting each destination within the next 12 months. STO. . 5. by citing comments by Professor Doug Pearce in 1991 that there had been a general lack of comparative research in the tourism field. The literature review highlights the narrow focus and lack of depth of research across branding issues and therefore creates a strong. Other themes elicited from at least 10 participants included ‘advertising’. Nevertheless. For example the Gold Coast and Sunshine Coast are within a one hour drive of many Brisbane residents. are highlighted in Table 10. anchored at ‘Definitely not’ (1) and ‘Definitely’ (7).3 3. This represents a positioning approach that is not explicit in the brand launched in 2003. & Pride. Politically however.1 5. many of who will have different viewpoints that are not necessarily based on the holistic perspective expected by DMO management. are highlighted in Table 7. References Aaker.5 4. and 5 (Affordable). As can be seen. the Sunshine Coast rated first on Factors 2 (Beach).1 3. followed by Northern NSW (4. while the emerging destination in this study. These results are plotted onto an importance–performance grid in Fig. the majority contributed to only one paper. RTO and CVB levels around the world. Independent samples t-tests again identified no significant improvement for any destination between 2003 and 2007. which is consistent with the low level of previous visitation relative to the other destinations. which were consistent with the destination ratings.3 2. the findings suggest that whatever marcom was used by each RTO. For example. The highest mean was for the Sunshine Coast (5. D. New York: Free Press. Researchers should be careful about recommending the use of rebranding and repositioning strategies for DMOs at all levels.8). In this study the destinations of interest included four well known destinations and one emerging destination. A. Aaker. This indicated a lack of awareness of the destination’s features. which is Take time to discover Bundaberg and Coral Coast.9 3. Previous visitation levels. It is suggested then that if position change is difficult for such contiguous destinations. However. and government. each within a comfortable driving distance for a short break. except in the case of the Coral Coast.8). Researchers and students should be encouraged to build on aspects of the previous studies to enhance our understanding of key concepts and models across different geographic settings and travel contexts. it is surprising that academic interest in the field has not been stronger. each of which represents a positioning option. The issues were generally consistent with those raised by the 2003 participants. and Coral Coast (3. Basic content analysis identified ‘pricing/packages’ (32 comments) and ‘accommodation issues’ (21 comments) as the most popular themes.3. DMOs are accountable to a diverse range of active and passive publics such as a board of directors. Destination brand loyalty The number of participants who had previously visited their ToMA destination was 92% in both 2003 and 2007. Each of the five destinations had launched a new brand positioning theme during the 2003–2007 period. 2002). tourism sector groups. 4.9 3. space prohibits a separate analysis of the strategies and tactics employed by the RTOs. Fraser Coast (4. rated lowest in terms of previous visitation and decision set membership. Rebranding and repositioning a destination’s image in the marketplace is therefore likely to require a significant and long-term investment in resources. It is proposed that these represent positioning opportunities for each destination. Pritchard.0 5. but in particular for those with limited resources.

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