Category Archives: Hospitality

Why should hospitality businesses care about their stakeholders?

Image by Rob Monkman (React Mobile)

The following text was adapted from one of my latest articles that was published in Wiley’s Sustainable Development (Journal).

Suggested Citation: Camilleri, M.A. (2021). Strategic attributions of corporate social responsibility and environmental management: The business case for doing well by doing.  good! Sustainable Development. https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/full/10.1002/sd.2256

Introduction

The corporate social responsibility (CSR) notion became popularized during the latter part of 20th the century (Carroll, 2021; 1999; Moon, 2007). At the time, businesses were becoming more concerned on how their activities affected legitimate stakeholders and the development of society at large (Phillips, 2003; Freeman & Reed, 1983). Hence, various authors posited that CSR is a fertile ground for theory development and empirical analysis (McWilliams, Siegel & Wright, 2006).

Without doubt, the clarification of the meaning of CSR is a significant strand in the research agenda (Owen, 2005). CSR has developed as a rather vague concept of moral good or normative behaviors (Frederick, 1986). This construct was described as a relativistic measure of ‘the economic, legal, ethical and discretionary expectations that society had of organizations at a given point of time’ (Carroll, 1979). CSR tackled ‘social problem(s)’ to engender positive ‘economic benefit(s)’ to ensure ‘well paid jobs, and … wealth’ (Drucker, 1984).

CSR has continuously been challenged by those who expected businesses to engage in socially responsible behaviors with stakeholders, to adhere to ethical norms in society, and to protect the natural environment (Camilleri, 2015; Lindgreen & Swaen, 2010; Burke & Logsdon, 1996). Previous research reported that CSR practices can result in improved relationships with different stakeholders (Camilleri, 2017a; Moon, 2007; Sen, Bhattacharya & Korschun, 2006).

Various commentators contended that it is in the businesses’ interest to engage in responsible behaviors to forge closer ties with internal and external stakeholders (Ewan & Freeman, 1993; Freeman, 1984). In addition, many researchers reported that there is a causal relationship between the firms’ stakeholder engagement and their financial performance (Henisz, Dorobantu & Nartey, 2014 Pava & Krausz, 1996). This relationship also holds in the tourism and hospitality industry context (Rhou, Singal & Koh, 2016; Camilleri, 2012; Inoue, & Lee, 2011).

Various hotels and restaurants are increasingly communicating about their responsible activities that are having an effect on their stakeholders, including their employees, patrons, guests, suppliers, local communities, the environment, regulatory authorities and the community at large (Camilleri, 2020a). Like other businesses, tourism and hospitality enterprises are always expected to provide decent employment to locals and migrant workers, health and safety in their workplace environments, adequate compensation and recognition of all employees, ongoing training and development opportunities, work-life balance, and the like.

Various studies suggest that, in normal circumstances, when businesses engage in responsible human resources management (HRM), they will boost their employees’ morale, enhance their job satisfaction and reduce the staff turnover (Asimah, 2018). However, an unprecedented COVID-19 and its preventative measures have surely led to a significant reduction in their business activities.

The pandemic has had a devastating effect on the companies’ social metrics, including on their employees’ conditions of employment, financial remuneration and job security, among other issues (Kramer & Kramer, 2020). It has inevitably led to mass redundancies or resulted in the workers’ reduced wages and salaries. On the other hand, this situation has led to a decrease in the companies’ environmental impacts, such as their greenhouse gas emissions and other unwanted externalities.

Several businesses, including hospitality enterprises are becoming more concerned about their impact on the environment (Kim, Lee & Fairhurst, 2017; Elkington, 1998). In many cases, hotels and restaurants strive to reduce their environmental footprint by offering local, fresh, and sustainable food to their patrons. Very often, they are implementing sustainable models including circular economy systems to use and reuse resources, and to minimize their waste, where possible (Camilleri, 2020b). Alternatively, they are decreasing their electricity and water consumption in their properties, by investing in green technologies and renewable energy sources.

These sustainability initiatives could result in operational efficiencies and cost savings, higher quality, innovation and competitiveness, in the long term. As a matter of fact, many studies confirmed that there is a business case for CSR, as corporations engage in socially responsible and environmentally sound behaviors, to pursue profit-making activities (Porter & Kramer, 2011; 2019; Camilleri, 2012; Carroll & Shabana, 2010; Weber, 2008). Notwithstanding, CSR and sustainable practices can help businesses to improve their reputation, to enhance their image among external stakeholders and could lead to a favorable climate of trust and cooperation with internal stakeholders (Camilleri, 2019a).

In this light, this research builds on previous theoretical underpinnings that are focused on the CSR agenda and on its related stakeholder theory. However, it differentiates itself from other contributions as it clarifies that stakeholder attributions, as well as the corporations’ ethical responsibility, responsible human resources management and environmental responsibility will add value to society and to the businesses themselves.

This contribution addresses a knowledge gap in academia. For the time being, there is no other study that effects of stakeholders’ attributions on the companies’ strategic attributions, as depicted in Figure 1. In sum, this study clarifies that there is scope for businesses to forge strong relationships with different stakeholders. It clearly indicated that their engagement with stakeholders and their responsible behaviors were leading to strategic outcomes for their business and to society at large.

Figure 1. A research model that sheds light on the factors leading to strategic outcomes of corporate responsible behaviors

(Source: Camilleri, 2021)

Implications to academia

This research model suggests that the businesses’ socially and environmentally responsible behaviors are triggered by different stakeholders. The findings evidenced that stakeholder-driven attributions were encouraging tourism and hospitality companies to engage in responsible behaviors, particularly toward their employees. The results confirmed that stakeholders were expecting these businesses to implement environmentally friendly initiatives, like recycling practices, water and energy conservation, et cetera. The findings revealed that there was a significant relationship between stakeholder attributions and the businesses’ strategic attributions to undertake responsible and sustainable initiatives.

This contribution proves that there is scope for tourism and hospitality firms to forge relationships with various stakeholders. By doing so, they will add value to their businesses, to society and the environment. The respondents clearly indicated that CSR initiatives were having an effect on marketplace stakeholders, by retaining customers and attracting new ones, thereby increasing their companies’ bottom lines.

Previous research has yielded mixed findings on the relationships between corporate social performance and their financial performance (Inoue & Lee, 2011; Kang et al., 2010; Orlitzky, Schmidt, & Rynes, 2003; McWilliams and Siegel 2001). Many contributions reported that companies did well by doing good (Camilleri, 2020a; Falck & Heblich, 2007; Porter & Kramer, 2011). The businesses’ laudable activities can help them build a positive brand image and reputation (Rhou et al., 2016). Hence, there is scope for the businesses to communicate about their CSR behaviors to their stakeholders. Their financial performance relies on the stakeholders’ awareness of their social and environmental responsibility (Camilleri, 2019a).

Arguably, the traditional schools of thought relating to CSR, including the stakeholder theory or even the legitimacy theory had primarily focused on the businesses’ stewardship principles and on their ethical or social responsibilities toward stakeholders in society (Carroll, 1999; Evan & Freeman, 1993; Freeman, 1986). In this case, this study is congruent with more recent contributions that are promoting the business case for CSR and environmentally-sound behaviors (e.g. Dmytriyev et al., 2021; Carroll, 2021; Camilleri, 2012; Carroll & Shabana 2010; Falck & Heblich, 2007).

This latter perspective is synonymous with value-based approaches, including ‘The Virtuous Circles’ (Pava & Krausz 1996), ‘The Triple Bottom Line Approach’ (Elkington 1998), ‘The Supply and Demand Theory of the Firm’ (McWilliams & Siegel 2001), ‘the Win-Win Perspective for CSR practices’ (Falck & Heblich, 2007), ‘Creating Shared Value’ (Porter & Kramer 2011), ‘Value in Business’ (Lindgreen et al., 2012), ‘The Stakeholder Approach to Maximizing Business and Social Value’ (Bhattacharya et al., 2012), ‘Value Creation through Social Strategy’ (Husted  et al., 2015) and ‘Corporate Responsibility and Sustainability’ (Camilleri, 2018), among others.

In sum, the proponents of these value-based theories sustain that there is a connection between the businesses’ laudable behaviors and their growth prospects. Currently, there are still a few contributions, albeit a few exceptions, that have focused their attention on the effects of stakeholder attributions on CSR and responsible environmental practices in the tourism and hospitality context.

This research confirmed that the CSR initiatives that are directed at internal stakeholders, like human resources, and/or environmentally friendly behaviors that can affect external stakeholders, including local communities are ultimately creating new markets, improving the companies’ profitability and strengthening their competitive positioning. Therefore, today’s businesses are encouraged to engage with a wide array of stakeholders to identify their demands and expectations. This way, they will be in a position to add value to their business, to society and the environment.

Managerial Implications

The strategic attributions of responsible corporate behaviors focus on exploiting opportunities that reconcile differing stakeholder demands. This study demonstrated that tourism and hospitality employers were connecting with multiple stakeholders. The respondents confirmed that they felt that their employers’ CSR and environmentally responsible practices were resulting in shared value opportunities for society and for the businesses themselves, as they led to an increased financial performance, in the long run.

In the past, CSR was associated with corporate philanthropy, contributions-in-kind toward social and environmental causes, environmental protection, employees’ engagement in community works, volunteerism and pro-bono service among other responsible initiatives. However, in this day and age, many companies are increasingly recognizing that there is a business case for CSR. Although, discretionary spending in CSR is usually driven by different stakeholders, businesses are realizing that there are strategic attributions, in addition to stakeholder attributions, to invest in CSR and environmental management practices (Camilleri, 2017a).

This contribution confirmed that stakeholder pressures were having direct and indirect effects on the businesses’ strategic outcomes. This research clearly indicated that both internal and external stakeholders were encouraging the tourism business to invest in environmentally friendly initiatives. This finding is consistent with other theoretical underpinnings (He, He & Xu, 2018; Graci & Dodds, 2008).

Recently, more hotels and restaurants are stepping in with their commitment for sustainability issues as they comply with non-governmental organizations’ regulatory tools such as process and performance-oriented standards relating to environmental protection, corporate governance, and the like (Camilleri, 2015).

Many governments are reinforcing their rules of law and directing businesses to follow their regulations as well as ethical principles of intergovernmental institutions. Yet, certain hospitality enterprises are still not always offering appropriate conditions of employment to their workers (Camilleri, 2021; Asimah, 2018; Janta et al., 2011; Poultson, 2009). The tourism industry is characterized by its seasonality issues and its low entry, insecure jobs.

Several hotels and restaurants would usually offer short-term employment prospects to newcomers to the labor market, including school leavers, individuals with poor qualifications and immigrants, among others (Harkinson et al., 2011). Typically, they recruit employees on a part-time basis and in temporary positions to economize on their wages. Very often, their low-level workers are not affiliated with trade unions. Therefore, they are not covered by collective agreements. As a result, hotel employees may be vulnerable to modern slavery conditions, as they are expected to work for longer than usual, in unsocial hours, during late evenings, night shifts, and in the weekends.

In this case, this research proved that tourism and hospitality employees appreciated their employers’ responsible HRM initiatives including the provision of training and development opportunities, the promotion of equal opportunities when hiring and promoting employees and suitable arrangements for their health and safety. Their employers’ responsible behaviors was having a significant effect on the strategic attributions to their business.

Hence, there is more to CSR than ‘doing well by doing good’. The respondents believed that businesses could increase their profits by engaging in responsible HRM and in ethical behaviors. They indicated that their employer was successful in attracting and retaining customers. This finding suggests that the company they worked for, had high credentials among their employees. The firms’ engagement with different stakeholders can result in an improved reputation and image. They will be in a better position to create economic value for their business if they meet and exceed their stakeholders’ expectations.  

In sum, the objectives of this research were threefold. Firstly, the literature review has given an insight into mainstream responsible HRM initiatives, ethical principles and environmentally friendly investments. Secondly, its empirical research has contributed to knowledge by adding a tourism industry perspective in the existing theoretical underpinnings that are focused on strategic attributions and outcomes of corporate responsibility behaviors. Thirdly, it has outlined a model which clearly evidences how different stakeholder demands and expectations are having an effect on the businesses’ responsible activities.

On a lighter note, it suggests that Adam Smith’s ‘invisible hand’ is triggering businesses to create value to society whilst pursuing their own interest. Hence, corporate social and environmental practices can generate a virtuous circle of positive multiplier effects.

Therefore, there is scope for the businesses, including tourism and hospitality enterprises to communicate about their CSR and environmental initiatives through different marketing communications channels via traditional and interactive media. Ultimately, it is in their interest to promote their responsible behaviors through relevant messages that are clearly understood by different stakeholders.

Limitations and future research

This contribution raises awareness about the strategic attributions of CSR in the tourism and hospitality industry sectors. It clarified that CSR behaviors including ethical responsibility, responsible human resources management and environmental responsibility resulted in substantial benefits to a wide array of stakeholders and to the firm itself. Therefore, there is scope for other researchers to replicate this study in different contexts.

Future studies can incorporate other measures relating to the stakeholder theory. Alternatively, they can utilize other measures that may be drawn from the resource-based view theory, legitimacy theory or institutional theory, among others. Perhaps, further research may use qualitative research methods to delve into the individuals’ opinions and beliefs on strategic attributions of CSR and on environmentally-sound investments, including circular economy systems and renewable technologies.

A free-prepublication version of this paper is available (in its entirety) through ResearchGate.

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Filed under Business, Corporate Social Responsibility, Corporate Sustainability and Responsibility, COVID19, CSR, Hospitality, Human Resources, human resources management, Marketing, Strategic Management, Strategy, Sustainability, sustainable development, tourism

How to reduce food loss (and waste) from the hospitality industry?

This is an excerpt from one of my latest academic contributions.

(C) Travlinmad.com

Hospitality businesses can implement a number of responsible practices. The very first step for them is to develop ‘sustainable’ menus. The restaurants’ menus can offer a choice of different portion sizes to satisfy the requirements of different customers. They may feature fewer items in their menus to operate their business with a reduced inventory of food products to decrease storage costs, minimize waste and spoilage. It is in the interest of restaurant owner-managers to procure fresh ingredients from local businesses including farmers, bakers, butchers, et cetera, to ensure that they are preparing good food for their valued customers. Local products including organic items like fruit and vegetables, will have a longer shelf life than imported ones.

The hospitality businesses ought to forge close relationships with dependable, local suppliers to implement just-in-time purchasing systems (Camilleri, 2015a; Camilleri, 2017a). There is scope for them to purchase regularly and in smaller quantities to reduce the probabilities of food spoilage and dehydration. They are expected to continuously monitor the expiration dates of their food items and ingredients to minimize waste and to respect relevant hygienic standards. Owner-managers may apply the first expired first out (FEFO) principles in their kitchens, to avoid any stock-outs.  Moreover, they can use food tracking devices to identify the types of food waste they are generating.

Their monitoring and control of food waste should be carried out on a day-to-day basis, as it can lead to significant operational efficiencies and cost savings.  Practitioners may keep a track record of their waste in a spreadsheet. They can measure the quantity of organic waste that is generated from their premises. They may include details like the dates (and times of events), which ingredients or recipes were wasted, the name of the employee(s) who was (or were) responsible for the waste, et cetera. Furthermore, practitioners can estimate the composition of their organic waste and identify whether it is derived from vegetables, bread/pasta, specific meats, etc. This will allow them to make adjustments in their food menus (if possible).

Such food trackers may also help the hospitality business to detect irresponsible behaviors in their kitchens and to minimize food waste from their properties. It may indicate that certain employees are not engaging in responsible food preparation behaviors. There is scope for hospitality businesses to train their human resources, at all levels, particularly new employees, on circular economy approaches [Camilleri, 2014). This way, they will be in a better position to improve their efficiencies in terms of reducing, reusing and recycling resources, and responsible waste disposal practices (Camilleri, 2019a; Camilleri, 2020). They have to be supported and educated on the best practices to ensure that they are improving the (economic) sustainability of their businesses’ food and beverage operations whilst minimizing their impact on the natural environment (Camilleri, 2015b; Camilleri, 2016a; Camilleri, 2017). Table 1 illustrates the responsible behaviors that can be implemented by hospitality businesses to reduce food loss and the generation of waste from their premises:

This research shed light on a number of laudable circular economy initiatives that were drawn from the hospitality industry. It also made reference to a sustainable enterprise that utilizes a sharing economy platform that links consumers with hospitality service providers. Mobile users can purchase surplus food from hotels, restaurants and cafes at a discount. At the same time, the app enables the businesses to make revenue out of their perishable food and to minimize their environmental footprint by reducing their waste. Moreover, it reported that businesses can benefit from tax deductions and credit systems, in different contexts, if they donate surplus (edible) food to charities and food banks.  Alternatively, if the food is contaminated or decayed it may be accumulated and turned it into animal feed, compost or transformed into energy through methanation processes. The case studies indicated that the re-utilization of non-edible leftovers may be monetized if they are used for such secondary purposes.

Key Takeaways

The implementation and execution of the circular economy’s closed loop systems ought to be promoted through different marketing channels. Hotels and restaurants can use marketing communications through different media to raise awareness on how they are capable of generating less waste (Camilleri, 2016b). They should promote sustainable production and consumption behaviors through different media outlets, including traditional and digital channels (Camilleri & Costa, 2018; Camilleri, 2018a; 2018b; 2018c).

The hospitality businesses responsible initiatives can raise their profile among different stakeholders, including customers and suppliers, among others (Camilleri, 2015; 2018d). The customers will probably appreciate the hospitality businesses’ efforts to reduce their impact to the natural environment. Some of their sustainability measures are dependent on the active commitment of hotel clients and restaurant patrons. Therefore, it is very important for them to raise awareness about their waste prevention campaigns and on their environmental achievements so that they may feel part of the responsible initiatives. This way, they become key participants in the reduction of generated waste. Hence, businesses can educate customers about responsible consumption behaviors to help them in their endeavors to curb food loss and the generation of unnecessary waste [Camilleri & Ratten, 2020; Camilleri, 2019b). The food and beverage servers could engage in conversations with their clients to better understand their food requirements.

In a similar vein, this research suggests that the hospitality businesses ought to forge closer relationships with their suppliers including farmers and other retailers, to implement responsible inventory management systems and just-in-time purchasing. Suppliers must continuously be informed and updated on their procurement policies. Their ongoing communications may facilitate collaborative practices that may translate to positive outcomes, including the sourcing of better-quality products with extended lifecycles and longer expiry dates. 

This contribution reported various preventative measures and recycling practices that may be taken on board by hospitality practitioners and their stakeholders, to reduce food waste and its detrimental effect on our natural environment and biospheres. There is scope for trade unions and industry associations in tourism and hospitality, to promote the responsible behaviors, among their members.

Notwithstanding, regulatory authorities and their policy makers can encourage hospitality practitioners to invest in environmentally friendly systems to minimize their food loss and waste. They can offer them financial incentives like tax deductions or exemptions when they donate surplus food. Alternatively, governments can support them by providing adequate infrastructures and resources including on-site composting facilities and/or methanization processes that are aimed to minimize the accumulation of food waste that finishes in landfills. Such responsible investments will ultimately result in a sustainable value chain in tourism cities, as they add value to the hospitality businesses, to the environment and to society, at large (Salonen & Camilleri, 2020; Camilleri, 2017b).

Suggested citation: Camilleri, M.A. (2021). Sustainable Production and Consumption of Food. Mise-en-Place Circular Economy Policies and Waste Management Practices in Tourism Cities. Sustainability, 13, 9986. https://doi.org/10.3390/su13179986 (OPEN ACCESS)

References

Camilleri, M.A. (2014). The business case for corporate social responsibility. In Marketing & Public Policy as a Force for Social Change Conference. Proceedings pp. 8-14 (Washington D.C., 4th June), American Marketing Association (AMA), Available online: https://www.researchgate.net/publication/273131156_The_Business_Case_for_Corporate_Social_Responsibility.

Camilleri, M.A. (2015a). Re-conceiving CSR programmes for education. In Corporate Social Responsibility: Academic Insights and Impacts, Vertigans, S. & Idowu, S.O. (Eds), Springer: Cham, Swtizerland, http://www.springer.com/gb/book/9783319350820

Camilleri, M.A. (2015b). Environmental, social and governance disclosures in Europe. Sustainability Accounting, Management and Policy Journal, 6, 2, 224-242. http://www.emeraldinsight.com/doi/abs/10.1108/SAMPJ-10-2014-0065 

Camilleri M.A. (2016a). Corporate sustainability and responsibility toward education, Journal of Global Responsibility 7, 1, 56-71, http://www.emeraldinsight.com/doi/abs/10.1108/JGR-08-2015-0015

Camilleri M.A. (2016b). Reconceiving corporate social responsibility for business and educational outcomes. Cogent Business and Management, 3, 1 http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/23311975.2016.1142044

Camilleri, M.A. (2017a) Corporate citizenship and social responsibility policies in the United States of America. Sustainability Accounting, Management and Policy Journal, 8, 1, 77-93. http://www.emeraldinsight.com/doi/abs/10.1108/SAMPJ-05-2016-0023

Camilleri, M.A. (2017b). Corporate sustainability and responsibility: Creating value for business, society and the environment. Asian Journal of Sustainability and Social Responsibility, 2, 1, 59-74. https://ajssr.springeropen.com/articles/10.1186/s41180-017-0016-5

Camilleri, M.A. (2018a). The promotion of responsible tourism management through digital media. Tourism Planning & Development15, 6, 653-671. https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/21568316.2017.1393772

Camilleri, M.A. (2018b). Unlocking corporate social responsibility through digital media. In Communicating Corporate Social Responsibility in the Digital Era.  Lindgreen, A., Vanhamme, J., Maon, F. and Watkins, R. (Eds), Routledge: Oxford, United Kingdom, https://www.routledge.com/Communicating-Corporate-Social-Responsibility-in-the-Digital-Era/Lindgreen-Vanhamme-Watkins/p/book/9781472484161

Camilleri, M.A. (2018c) Unleashing corporate social responsibility communication for small businesses in the digital era. In Academy of Management Annual Conference Proceedings: Improving Lives, Chicago, 11 August 2018, Academy of Management. Available online: https://journals.aom.org/doi/10.5465/AMBPP.2018.10467abstract

Camilleri, M.A. (2018d). Theoretical insights on integrated reporting: The inclusion of non-financial capitals in corporate disclosures. Corporate Communications: An International Journal, 23, 4,  567-581.  https://doi.org/10.1108/CCIJ-01-2018-0016:

Camilleri, M.A. & Costa, R. A. (2018). The small businesses’ responsible entrepreneurship and their stakeholder engagement through digital media. 13th European Conference on Innovation and Entrepreneurship (ECIE) (11 September). University of Aveiro, Aveiro, Portugal. Available online: https://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=3233528 (accessed on 24 August 2021).

Camilleri, M. A. (2019a). The circular economy’s closed loop and product service systems for sustainable development: A review and appraisal. Sustainable Development27(3), 530-536. https://doi.org/10.1002/sd.1909

Camilleri, M.A. (2019b). Measuring the corporate managers’ attitudes towards ISO’s social responsibility standard. Total Quality Management & Business Excellence, 30, 13-14, 1549-1561. https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/14783363.2017.1413344

Camilleri, M. A. (2020). European environment policy for the circular economy: Implications for business and industry stakeholders. Sustainable Development28(6), 1804-1812.https://doi.org/10.1002/SD.2113

Camilleri, M.A. & Ratten, V. (2020). The sustainable development of smart cities through digital innovation. Sustainability, Available online: https://www.mdpi.com/journal/sustainability/special_issues/Smart_Cities_Digital_Innovation (accessed on 24 August 2021).

Salonen A.O. & Camilleri M.A. (2020). Creating Shared Value. In Encyclopedia of Sustainable Management, Idowu S., Schmidpeter R., Capaldi N., Zu L., Del Baldo M. and Abreu R. (eds), Springer, Cham, Switzerland. https://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=3683975

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Filed under Circular Economy, Corporate Social Responsibility, Hospitality, Marketing, tourism

Call for Chapters: Consumer Engagement in Tourism and Hospitality (pre, during and post covid-19)

This academic book will be published by Goodfellow Publishers (Oxford, UK)

consumer interactive engagement in tourism and hospitality

Editors
Prof. Dr. Mark Anthony Camilleri
University of Malta, Malta.
Email: mark.a.camilleri@um.edu.mt

Dr. Rather Raouf
University of Jammu, India.

Prof. Dr. Dimitrios Buhalis
Bournemouth University, UK.

Important Dates
Abstract submission: 31st July 2020
Full chapters due: 31st January 2021
Final submission date: 15th March 2021

Introduction
The customer engagement concept has received lots of attention in different academic disciplines including: organisational behaviour (and employee engagement), psychology (and task engagement), sociology (and civic engagement) as well as in marketing (and branding) (Brodie, Hollebeek, Jurić, & Ilić, 2011; Chu & Kim, 2011; Taheri, Jafari, & O’Gorman, 2014; Buhalis & Foerste, 2015). In a similar vein, the tourism industry practitioners are also recognising the importance of customer engagement as they are increasingly delivering enjoyable, transformative activities that improve the customers’ experiences (Walls, Okumus, Wang, & Kwun, 2011; So, King & Sparks, 2014; Ali, Ryu & Hussain, 2016; Harrigan, Evers, Miles & Daly, 2017; Camilleri, 2019a, 2019b). The latest trends comprise the adaptation of new technologies, interactive service delivery and offerings, and service personalisation (e.g. Hollebeek, Shrivastava, & Chen, 2019; Rather & Camilleri, 2019; Rather, Hollebeek, Islam, 2019; Hollebeek & Rather, 2019).

In tourism research, there are different drivers, antecedents, and/or determinants of customer engagement (So et al., 2014). These may comprise: the customers’ perceptions of authenticity, prior knowledge, mood regulation, brand sincerity, cultural capital, perceived intimacy, and desire for social interaction, among others (Taheri et al., 2014; Ram, Björk & Weidenfeld, 2016; Camilleri, 2018; Liang, Choi & Joppe, 2018; Rather et al., 2019; Fan, Buhalis & Lin, 2019). Existing research has also indicated that there are positive consequences if tourism service providers or destination management organisations engage with their customers, including; loyalty, satisfaction, self-brand connection, co-creation, commitment, positive word-of-mouth and online reviews, as well as purchase intentions (Litvin, Goldsmith & Pan, 2008; Bilgihan, Okumus & Cobanoglu, 2013; Harrigan et al., 2017; Rasoolimanesh, Noor, Schuberth & Jaafar, 2019; Buhalis & Sinarta, 2019; Buhalis, Andreu & Gnoth, 2020). In recent years, there has been a growing focus on the topics of customer engagement and customer experience, as academics started to investigate how customer interact with the businesses through different marketing channels and touch-points (Walls et al., 2011; Lemon & Verhoef, 2016). These stimuli can have an effect on the customers’ purchase decision (Fang, Ye, Kucukusta & Law, 2016). Similarly, the tourism practitioners are using the digital media and mobile technologies to engage with customers to improve their experience (Sigala, Christou & Gretzel, 2012; Camilleri, 2018; Buhalis, 2020). For example, tourism service providers are increasingly using high-fidelity, interactive channels (e.g. virtual reality, social media, online and mobile booking systems) in an attempt to enhance their customers’ experience (Sigala et al., 2012).

However, despite the concepts of customer engagement and customer experience have received significant attention from the industry practitioners, there are gaps in academic knowledge, as there are still limited theoretical and empirical studies that have explored these topics in the tourism context, including; tourist destinations, airlines, cruises, tour operators, travel agencies, accommodation service providers, like hotels, Airbnb operators, timeshare, etc. Moreover, there are even fewer contributions that have explored the effect of the 2019-2020 corona virus pandemic (COVID19) on these sectors. The closure of the international borders as well as the latest travel ban and lock down conditions have inevitably led to grounded air planes, docked cruise ships, idle tour buses, shuttered tourism businesses and tourist attractions. This dramatic situation has resulted in a sudden downward spiral in international tourism arrivals and receipts. In this light, this timely publication will feature high impact research on consumer engagement within the tourism and hospitality: pre, during and post COVID-19.

Detailed Synopsis
This prospective title shall offer a thorough understanding about why there is scope for the tourism service providers and destination management organisations to successfully create, manage, and market tourism experiences. It will also provide theoretical and practical evidence of how, where and when they can seize the opportunities and address the challenges for effective consumer engagement in the tourism arena. Therefore, this book will include conceptual and empirical chapters covering the themes of Tourism Customer Engagement: Dimensions, Theories, and Frameworks; Tourism Customer Engagement: Key Antecedents and Consequences; Tourism Customer Experience: Theories, Structure and Frameworks; Customer Engagement in Evolving Technological Environments; Open innovation Technologies, Co-creation Experiences and Customer Engagement Approaches; and Emerging Issues. It is very likely that the tourism and hospitality businesses will be operating in the context of a “new normal” in a post COVID19 era. The editors are committed to enrich the existing body of academic literature on “Customer
Engagement and Experience in Tourism: pre, during and post COVID-19” by consolidating the marketing topics in the form of a comprehensive volume. Hence, this book will be accepting contributions that are related to the following themes:

• Customer Engagement in Tourism: Dimensionality, Theories and Frameworks
• Tourism engagement conceptualisations
• Dynamic framework of consumer engagement
• Dimensionality (cognitive, emotional, behavioural, and social dimensions) of consumer engagement)
• Typology of consumer engagement
• Employee engagement (emotional, cognitive and behavioural)
• Customer Engagement: Key Antecedents and Consequence
• Key antecedents and/or drivers of consumer engagement
• Customer engagement behaviours in tourism, travel and hospitality
• Key consequences of consumer engagement in tourism
• Tourist engagement and its impact on their satisfaction and behaviours
• Tourism Customer Experience: Theories and Conceptual Frameworks
• Conceptualisations of tourism experience
• Evolution of tourism experience research
• Dynamic framework of the tourist experience
• Key drivers of tourism experience
• Key consequences of tourism experience
• Cognitive, emotional, sensory, social and spiritual dimensions of customer experiences
• Role and measurement of emotions in tourism experiences
• Typology of tourism experience
• The essence of memorable experience
• Service employees and customer experience
• Tourism experiences in the light of global trends
• Issues and opportunities in customer journey mapping in tourism & hospitality experiences
• Open Innovation Technologies, Co-creation Experiences and Customer Engagement
• The role of technology in engagement and service experience
• Virtual reality, augmented reality in tourism engagement and experience
• Games and gamification in tourism, travel and hospitality
• Social media, online brand communities, and mobile applications in tourism engagement and experience
• Co-construction of the tourist engagement and experience in social networking sites
• Role of themes and stories about tourist engagement and experiences
• Role of customer touch points in smart tourism destinations and experiences.
• Open innovation and co-creation approaches
• Co-creation of tourism experience
• Key drivers of co-creation
• Key consequences of co-creation
• Co-creation through service dominant logic (SDL)
• Role of tourists and visitors in service experience for innovation
• Service innovation and value co-creation processes
Emerging Issues
• The socio-economic effects of COVID-19 on tourism and/or hospitality services
• Diversification of tourism and/or hospitality services during/after COVID-19
• The use of digital media during/after COVID-19
• The consumer engagement in a post COVID-19 era

Aims and Objectives
This academic book differentiates itself as it covers consumer engagement and experience in the realms of tourism, Moreover, it will include both theory and practical cases from around the globe.
• This academic book aims to explore and critically investigate the current debates, questions and controversies in the rapidly growing disciplines of Consumer Engagement and Experience in Tourism.
• It brings together leading specialists, including experienced academic researchers from various disciplinary backgrounds and geographical regions, to offer state-of-the-art theoretical reflection and empirical research on contemporary issues and debates in these timely topics.
• It also encourages constructive dialogue among academia across marketing-related fields of study.
• It will be international in its focus, as it transcends national boundaries.

Target Audience
• The book shall be a comprehensive reference point and source for academics who are interested on contemporary concepts, ideas and debates relating to consumer engagement and experience in tourism.
• The target audience of the book will be composed of experienced academic researchers, Ph.D. candidates, post-graduate researchers and advanced under-graduates in the field of consumer engagement, consumer experience and relationship marketing in various disciplines including tourism, hospitality, leisure, festivals and events.
• Furthermore, the book will offer good insights to prospective tourism industry practitioners including managers, executives and other employees who are willing to broaden their knowledge to better engage with consumers.

Submission Details
Academics and researchers are invited to submit a 300-word abstract before the 31st July 2020. Submissions should be sent to Mark.A.Camilleri@um.edu.mt. Authors will be notified about the editorial decision in August 2020. The accepted chapters should be submitted before the 31st January 2021. Their length should be around 7,000 words (excluding references, figures and tables). The manuscripts have to be typed double spaced in Times New Roman, font size 12, in an A4 paper. The contributions should feature the text, in the following sequence: title, abstract, keywords, introduction, literature review, methods, data analysis or interpretation of the findings, conclusions and implications, recommendations for future research, acknowledgements, references and a figure/table captions list in the same Word document. The references should be presented in APA style (Version 6). All submitted chapters will be
critically reviewed on a double-blind review basis. All authors will be requested to serve as reviewers for this book. They will receive a notification of acceptance, rejection or suggested modifications –before the 15th March 2021.

References
Ali, F., Ryu, K., & Hussain, K. (2016). Influence of experiences on memories, satisfaction and behavioral intentions: A study of creative tourism. Journal of Travel & Tourism Marketing, 33(1), 85-100.

Bilgihan, A., Okumus, F., & Cobanoglu, C. (2013). Generation Y travelers’ commitment to online social network websites. Tourism Management, 35, 13-22.

Brodie, R. J., Hollebeek, L. D., Jurić, B., & Ilić, A. (2011). Customer engagement: Conceptual domain, fundamental propositions, and implications for research. Journal of Service Research, 14(3), 252-271.

Buhalis, D. & Foerste, M. (2015). SoCoMo marketing for travel and tourism: Empowering co-creation of value. Journal of Destination Marketing & Management, 4(3), 151-161. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jdmm.2015.04.001

Buhalis, D. & Sinarta, Y. (2019). Real-time co-creation and nowness service: lessons from tourism and hospitality. Journal of Travel & Tourism Marketing, 36(5), 563-582. https://doi.org/10.1080/10548408.2019.1592059

Fan, D., Buhalis, D. & Lin, B. (2019). A tourist typology of online and face-to-face social contact: Destination immersion and tourism encapsulation/decapsulation, Annals of Tourism Research, 78, https://doi.org/10.1016/j.annals.2019.102757

Buhalis, D. (2020), Technology in tourism-from information communication technologies to eTourism and smart tourism towards ambient intelligence tourism: a perspective article, Tourism Review 75(1), 267-272.

Buhalis D, Andreu L. & Gnoth J. (2020). The dark side of the sharing economy: Balancing value co‐creation and value co‐destruction. Psychology and Marketing. Vol. 37(5), pp.689–704..https://doi.org/10.1002/mar.21344 or https://www.academia.edu/42133651

Camilleri, M.A. (2018). Travel marketing, tourism economics and the airline product. Cham: Springer.

Camilleri, M.A. (Ed.) (2019a). Tourism planning and destination marketing. Bingley: Emerald Publishing.

Camilleri, M. A. (Ed.). (2019b). The Branding of Tourist Destinations: Theoretical and Empirical Insights. Bingley: Emerald Publishing.

Chu, S. C., & Kim, Y. (2011). Determinants of consumer engagement in electronic word-of-mouth (eWOM) in social networking sites. International journal of Advertising, 30(1), 47-75.

Fang, B., Ye, Q., Kucukusta, D., & Law, R. (2016). Analysis of the perceived value of online tourism reviews: Influence of readability and reviewer characteristics. Tourism Management, 52, 498-506.

Harrigan, P., Evers, U., Miles, M., & Daly, T. (2017). Customer engagement with tourism social media brands. Tourism Management, 59, 597-609.

Hollebeek, L. D., Srivastava, R. K., & Chen, T. (2019). SD logic–informed customer engagement: integrative framework, revised fundamental propositions, and application to CRM. Journal of the Academy of Marketing Science, 47(1), 161-185.

Lemon, K. N., & Verhoef, P. C. (2016). Understanding customer experience throughout the customer journey. Journal of Marketing, 80(6), 69-96.

Litvin, S. W., Goldsmith, R. E., & Pan, B. (2008). Electronic word-of-mouth in hospitality and tourism management. Tourism Management, 29(3), 458-468.

Rasoolimanesh, S. M., Md Noor, S., Schuberth, F., & Jaafar, M. (2019). Investigating the effects of tourist engagement on satisfaction and loyalty. The Service Industries Journal, 39(7-8), 559- 574.

Ram, Y., Björk, P., & Weidenfeld, A. (2016). Authenticity and place attachment of major visitor attractions. Tourism Management, 52, 110-122.

Rather, R. A., & Camilleri, M. A. (2019a). The effects of service quality and consumer-brand value congruity on hospitality brand loyalty. Anatolia, 30(4), 547-559.

Rather, R. A., & Hollebeek, L. D. (2019). Exploring and validating social identification and social exchange-based drivers of hospitality customer loyalty. International Journal of Contemporary Hospitality Management. 31(3), 1432-1451.

Rather, R. A., Hollebeek, L. D., & Islam, J. U. (2019). Tourism-based customer engagement: the construct, antecedents, and consequences. The Service Industries Journal, 39(7-8), 519-540.

Sigala, M., Christou, E., & Gretzel, U. (Eds.). (2012). Social media in travel, tourism and hospitality: Theory, practice and cases. Farnham, UK: Ashgate Publishing.

So, K. K. F., King, C., & Sparks, B. (2014). Customer engagement with tourism brands: Scale development and validation. Journal of Hospitality & Tourism Research, 38(3), 304-329.

Taheri, B., Jafari, A., & O’Gorman, K. (2014). Keeping your audience: Presenting a visitor engagement scale. Tourism Management, 42, 321-329.

Walls, A. R., Okumus, F., Wang, Y. R., & Kwun, D. J. W. (2011). An epistemological view of consumer experiences. International Journal of Hospitality Management, 30(1), 10-21.

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Post-COVID19: The hoteliers’ shifts in beliefs, behaviours and their outlook for the future

The 2019-2020 coronavirus pandemic (COVID19) is currently having a devastating effect on the global economy at large. At the time, its impact is even more conspicuous in certain service industries including the travel and tourism sectors.

The closure of the international borders as well as the latest travel ban and lock down conditions have inevitably led to grounded air planes, docked cruise ships, idle tour buses, shuttered tourism businesses and tourist attractions. This dramatic situation has resulted in a sudden downward spiral in international arrivals and receipts in many tourist destinations.

The hospitality enterprises including hotels, bed and breakfasts, pubs, cafes, restaurants and the like, that are usually run by family businesses, are experiencing an unprecedented crisis unlike other entities in the private sector.

Currently, there is no demand for their services. COVID19 has changed some of the practitioners’ attitudes, policies and behaviours as they have adapted themselves to: enhance digital collaborations; engage with remote working technologies;  increase their workplace hygiene; and to find alternative sources of income by diversifying their services, among other issues. Hopefully, there will be better prospects for them when the current crisis ends. It is very likely that they will be operating in the context of a “new normal” in a post COVID19 era.

(This is an excerpt from my latest research project)

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Filed under Coronavirus, COVID19, Hospitality, Human Resources, human resources management, Market Research, Marketing

Delivering service quality to increase brand loyalty

IMG-5907(C) M.A. Camilleri

This is an excerpt from my latest academic article.

How to Cite: Rather, R. A. & Camilleri, M.A. (2019). The effects of service quality and consumer-brand value congruity on hospitality brand loyalty, Anatolia: An International Journal of Tourism and Hospitality Research. https://doi.org/10.1080/13032917.2019.1650289

This study has proved that the combined effects of value congruity and service quality can have an impact on consumer-brand identification and engagement. The results from this study indicated that the consumer-brand identification as well as consumer-brand engagement were predicting the consumers’ loyalty toward the brand. The findings also reported that consumer-brand identification, perceived service quality as well as value congruity were significant antecedents of consumer-brand engagement. In addition, the service quality and value congruity had moderate, direct effects on consumer brand identification. Furthermore, the empirical results revealed that consumer brand identification has mediated the relationships between value congruity and brand loyalty, and between service quality and brand loyalty.

In a similar vein, a critical analysis of the relevant literature revealed that consumer-brand relationships are dependent on the customers’ identification with their favorite brands (Çifci et al., 2016; Rather & Camilleri, 2019; Rather, 2018; Tuskej & Podnar, 2018; So et al., 2013; 2014). Specifically, the consumer-brand identification is related with the consumer-brand value congruity (Rather, 2018). As a matter of fact, past research also reported that consumer-brand identification has a positive effect on customer behaviors and attitudes (in terms of loyalty and commitment) (Rather & Camilleri, 2019). However, in this case, the findings of this study suggest that both the consumer-brand value congruity and perceived service quality are the significant antecedents of consumer-brand identification and engagement.

The consumer-brand identification will inevitably trigger supporting behaviors like increased purchase / repurchase intentions (e.g., Kuenzel & Halliday, 2008) or positive word-of-mouth recommendations (Tuskej et al., 2013), among other positive outcomes. Therefore, hospitality practitioners ought to nurture physical and virtual relationships with their stakeholders via a multitude of approaches, if they want them to remain loyal to their business (Dedeoğlu & Demirer, 2015). Public activities such as sponsorship, charity events, social campaigns and so on can be used to enhance the brands’ image among interested parties, including customers (Bhattacharya & Sen, 2003). For this reason, several hospitality brands are increasingly engaging in interactive communications either individually or in groups, via digital technologies, including social media, blogs, v-blogs, video clips, review sites, etc. (Camilleri, 2018a; So et al., 2017; Su, Mariadoss, & Reynolds, 2015). Very often, individuals are intrigued to share their travel experiences, including their hotel accommodation (Camilleri, 2018b).

In a nutshell, this contribution posited that the hotel guests will probably engage and remain loyal to particular hospitality brands if they feel and perceive that their values reflect their own values. This study reported that the consumer-brand value congruity had a very significant effect on the consumers’ identification and engagement with the upscale hospitality brands. It indicated that the hotel guests who have experienced excellent service quality are more likely to share their experience with other individuals. Hence, hospitality managers need to ensure that their brand consistently delivers high levels of tangible and intangible service quality (at all times) to their valued guests in order to create long-lasting relationships with them.

The hotels’ provision of the service quality and brand experience ought to meet and exceed their guests’ expectations to satisfy their self-enhancement needs and their sense of well-being.

 

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Announcing Emerald’s latest academic textbook, “The Branding of Tourist Destinations”

This authoritative book was edited by Mark Anthony Camilleri. It provides students and practitioners with a good understanding of different tourism products, marketing strategies and tactics on destination branding, as well as useful insights on sustainable and responsible tourism practices, among other topics. The readers are equipped with a strong pedagogical base on the attractiveness of tourist destinations as this publication presents contemporary conceptual discussions and empirical studies on several aspects of destination branding.

 

Tourism marketers, including destination management organizations (DMOs) are formulating strategies and tactics to attract prospective visitors. Hence, this book also sheds light on the latest industry developments in travel, tourism, hospitality and events in different contexts around the world.

Chapter 1 introduces the readers to different aspects of the travel, tourism, hospitality and leisure industries, including; the visitors’ accessibility, accommodation, attractions, activities and amenities. The author explains how tourist destinations are capable of customizing their products to customer segments and individuals, by offering; adventure tourism, business tourism (including meetings, incentives, conferences and events), culinary tourism, cultural (or heritage) tourism, eco-tourism (or sustainable tourism), educational tourism, health (or medical tourism), religious tourism, rural tourism, seaside tourism, sports tourism, urban (or city) tourism, wine tourism, among other niche areas.

Chapter 2 provides an explanation of destination marketing, place branding and their related notions. The authors critically review the conceptual developments on the branding of tourist destinations.

Chapter 3 suggests that destination management organisations ought to engage in fruitful relationships with internal and external stakeholders. The authors maintain that there are several factors that can affect the strategic management of these organisations.

Chapter 4 explores how Sweden is branding its destinations by improving its cultural identify and by providing multi-sensory experiences to its visitors.

Chapter 5 sheds light on the agritourism businesses in Italy’s Campania region. The author analyses the main critical success factors for a thriving rural tourism market.

Chapter 6 explains the key elements of cultural tourism, including the destination’s heritage, lifestyle, and “Made in Italy”. The authors put forward a tourism development model. They suggest that it represents a functional framework for the benefit of tourism practitioners.

Chapter 7 explores the consumer-based brand equity of events. The authors explain how the organization of events, including music festivals could add value to the destinations’ image. They imply that the visitors’ positive experiences and their word-of-mouth publicity can contribute to the destinations’ branding.

Chapter 8 explores the destination branding of Porto in Portugal. The authors analyze the visitors’ attitudes on Porto’s largest wine festival. They assess their visitors’ level of satisfaction with the event and their intention to return.

Chapter 9 identifies the key elements that serve as drivers for the development of oleotourism in Jaen, Spain. The authors suggest that there is scope in stakeholder engagement amongst the main actors and drivers in the sector.

Chapter 10 investigates the environmental behaviour of three-, four- and five-star hotels in Azuay, Ecuador. The authors explored the relationship between environmental responsibility and stakeholder engagement. Their findings suggest that the hotel managers strive in their endeavours to implement responsible environmental practices to avoid regulatory pressures.

Chapter 11 examines the relationship between the destinations’ image and brand equity. The author contends that the tourists’ hedonic and monetary values can have a moderating effect on the country-of-origin’s image and brand extension.

Chapter 12 investigates the relationship between the customers’ satisfaction, commitment, trust and loyalty toward hospitality brands. It develops and empirically test the social identity construct (customer brand identification and other critical social exchange constructs (satisfaction, trust, commitment).

This publication was written by academics for other scholars, researchers, advanced under-graduate and post-graduate students. However, it is also relevant to the industry practitioners, including consultants, senior executives and managers who work for destination management organizations, tourism offices, hotels, inbound / outbound tour operators and travel agents, among others. The book explains all the theory and the empirical studies in a simple and straightforward manner. It describes the various marketing environments that comprise a wide array of economic, socio-cultural and environmental realities.

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Filed under Business, destination marketing, digital media, Hospitality, Marketing, tourism, Travel

Tourism Futures: Targeting Customers in the Digital Age

This is an excerpt from: Camilleri’s latest book on Travel Marketing (2018)

How to Cite: Camilleri, M. A. (2018). Market Segmentation, Targeting and Positioning. In Travel Marketing, Tourism Economics and the Airline Product (Chapter 4, pp. 69-83). Springer, Cham, Switzerland.

The advances in technology have enabled many businesses to reach their potential customers by using digital and mobile applications.

Google, Facebook, Ebay and Amazon, among others are dominating digital marketing; and are pushing the entire field of advertising to new levels. The use of personal info, web-browsing, search history, geographic location, apps and eCommerce transactions have gone mainstream. For example, Google has begun using transaction records to prove that its ads are working, and are pushing people to make more online purchases. This allowed the technology giant to determine the effectiveness of its digital ad campaigns and to verify their conversion rates.

All individuals leave a “digital trail” of data as they move about in the virtual and physical worlds. This phenomenon is called, “data exhaust”. Initially, this term that was used to describe how Amazon.com has used predictive analytics as it suggested items to its customers. However, pre­dictive analytics cannot determine when and why individuals may decide to change their habitual behaviours, as the possibility of “one off” events must never be discounted. Yet, a firm with sufficient scarce resources could be in a position to exploit big data and analytics to improve its businesses operations.

For instance, Deloitte Consulting have developed a mobile app that has enabled Delta Airlines’ executives to quickly query their operations. For instance, when users touch an airport on a map, the system brings up additional data at their disposal. Executives could also drill further down to obtain granular information on staffing requirements. and customer service levels, as they identify and predict problems in their airline operations.

Nevertheless, business intelligence and predictive analytics could possibly raise a number of concerns. Many customers may be wary of giving their data to the businesses and their stakeholders. Very often, the technological advances anticipate legislation, and its deployment. These contingent issues could advance economic and privacy concerns that regulators will find themselves hard-pressed to ignore. Some academics argue that the digital market and its manipulation may be pushing the limits of consumer protection law. Evidently, society has built up a set of rules that are aimed to protect personal information. Another contentious issue is figuring out the value of data and its worth in monetary terms. In the past, companies could have struggled to determine the value of their business; including patents, trade secrets and other intellectual property.

Targeted Segmentation through Mobile Devices

The mobile is an effective channel to reach out to many users. Portable devices, including smart phones and tablets are surely increasing the productivities and efficiencies of individuals as well as organisations. This has led to the growth of mobile applications (apps). As a result, the market for advertising on mobile is still escalating at a fast pace. Moreover, there are niche areas as new applications are being developed for many purposes on different mobile platforms.

Recent advances in mobile communication and geo-positioning technologies have presented marketers with a new way how to target consumers. Location-targeted mobile advertising involves the provision of ad messages to mobile data subscribers. This digital technology allows marketers to deliver native ads and coupons that are customised to individual consumers’ tastes, geographic location and the time of day. Given the ubiquity of mobile devices, location-targeted mobile advertising are increasingly offering tremendous marketing benefits.

In addition, many businesses are commonly utilising applications, including browser cookies that track consumers through their mobile devices, as they move out and about. Very often, when internet users leave the sites they visited, the products or services they viewed will be shown to them again in retargeted advertisements, across different websites. Several companies are using browsing session data combined with the consumers’ purchase history to deliver “suitable” items that consumers like. There are also tourism businesses who are personalising their offerings as they collect, classify and use large data volumes on the consumers’ behaviours. As more consumers carry smartphones with them, they may be easily targeted with compelling offers that instantaneously pop-up on their mobile screens.

Furthermore, consumers are continuously using social networks which are indicating their geo-location, as they use mobile apps. This same data can be used to identify where people tend to gather. This information is valuable to brands as they seek to improve their consumer engagement and marketing efforts. Therefore, businesses are using mobile devices and networks to capture important consumer data. For instance, smart phones and tablets interact with networks and convey information on their users’ digital behaviours and physical movements to network providers and ISPs. These devices have become interactive through the proliferation of technologies, including; near-field communication (NFC). Basically, embedded chips in the customers’ mobile phones are exchanging data with the retailers’ items possessing such NFC tags. The latest iPhone, Android and Microsoft smartphones have already incorporated NFC ca­pabilities. The growth of such data-driven, digital technologies is surely adding value to the customer-centric marketing. The latest developments in analytics are enabling businesses to provide a deeper personalisation of content as they use socio-demographic and geo-data that new mobile technologies are capable of gathering.

For example, mobile service companies are partnering with local cinemas, in response to the location-targeted mobile advertising; as cinema-goers may inquire about movie information, and could book tickets, and select their seats through their mobile app. These consumers who are physically situated within a given geographic proximity of the participating cinemas may receive location-targeted mobile ads. The cinemas’ ads will inform prospects what movies they are playing and could explain how to purchase tickets through their smart phone. The consumers may also call the cinemas’ hotlines to get more information from a customer service representative. Besides location-targeted advertising, the mobile companies can also promote movie ticket sales via mobile ads that are targeted to individuals, according to their behaviour (not by location). Therefore, companies may direct their mobile-ad messages to those consumers who had previously responded to previous mobile ads (and to others who had already purchased movie tickets, in the past months). Moreover, the cinema companies can also promote movies via Facebook Messenger Ads if they logged in the companies’ websites, via their Facebook account. Mobile users may also receive instant message ads via pop-up windows whenever they log into the corporate site of their service provider.

It is envisaged that such data points will only increase in the foreseeable future, as the multi-billion dollar advertising monopolies are being built on big data and analytics that are helping businesses personalise immersive ads as they target individual customers. The use of credit card transactions is also complementing geo-targeting and Google Maps, with ads; as the physical purchases are increasingly demanding personalisation, fulfillment and convenience. There may be consumers and employees alike who out of their own volition, are willing to give up their data for value. Therefore, the businesses need to reassure them through concise disclosures on how they will use personal data. They should clarify the purpose of maintaining their consumer data, as they are expected to provide simple user controls to opt in and out of different levels of data sharing. This way, they could establish a trust-worthy relationship with customers and prospects.

Companies are already personalising their shopping experience based on the user situation and history. Tomorrow’s tourism businesses are expected to customise the user experiences of their mobile applications and web interfaces, according to the specific needs of each segment. Big data and analytics capabilities are increasingly allowing businesses to fully leverage their rich data from a range of new digital touchpoints and to turn them into high impact interactions. Those businesses that are able to reorient their marketing and product-development efforts around digital customer segments and behaviours will be in a position to tap into the hyper-growth that mobile, social media and the wearables markets are currently experiencing.

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Filed under Airlines, Analytics, Big Data, digital media, Education, Hospitality, ICT, Marketing, tourism, Travel

The Segmentation of Demographics in the Travel Industry

This is an excerpt from: “Market Segmentation, Targeting and Positioning”

How to Cite: Camilleri, M. A. (2018). Market Segmentation, Targeting and Positioning. In Travel Marketing, Tourism Economics and the Airline Product (Chapter 4, pp. 69-83). Springer, Cham, Switzerland.

Demographic segmentation involves dividing the market into groups that are identifiable in terms of physical and factual data. The demographic variables may include; age, gender, income, occupation, marital status, family size, race, religion and nationality. These segmentation methods are a popular way of segmenting the customer markets, as the demographic variables are relatively easy to measure. For example, the age range for business travellers may usually span from their late twenties to their mid-fifties.

Younger employees are travelling for business purposes and their buying habits are completely different than their older counterparts. On average, millennials took 7.4 business trips in the last year, compared to 6.4 for Generation Xers and 6.3 for baby boomers (Skift, 2018). Younger travellers are less likely to book air travel based on loyalty programme perks. They are more likely to book their flight according to the airline service and the customer experience they offer. Moreover, young travellers are more likely to use room share services like Airbnb, than other segments (Skift, 2018). However, for the time being, major hotel brands are not under any serious threat.

At the same time, Uber and other ridesharing services are becoming mainstream across all age groups, as they may be cheaper than taxis (Pew Research, 2016). The age range in the leisure market is a very broad one and quite different to that in the business market. Children particularly can play an important role in leisure travel, as they travel abroad on holidays with their families. Young people in their early to mid-twenties too are prepared to spend their disposable income on travel before they take on the responsibilities of family life. At the other end of the scale, we have those who are retired from work, are in a relatively good health and in good financial position which allows them to travel.

In the past, middle-aged males dominated the business travel market. However, recently, the advertising and promotion of airline services have increasingly targeted female business travellers. This market controls 60% of U.S. wealth and influences 85% of purchasing decisions (Skift, 2014). The female gender is high-tech, connected, and social. They represent 58% of online sales (Skift, 2014). To maintain their competitive edge, travel brands must start focusing their campaigns to better target women. The leisure travel market is far more balanced in terms of gender. In fact, in older categories of leisure travellers, that is over the age of sixty, women outnumber men due to their longer life expectancy (Boston Globe, 2016).

The ability to travel for leisure purposes greatly depends on an individual’s income. Leisure travel is a luxury which may be foregone when times are financially difficult. Generally, as personal income rises, the demand for air travel increases. However, should there be a recession, money belts are tightened, and less leisure trips may be taken. This is an example of a concept known as income elasticity (this topic will be discussed in Chapter 8). Income elasticity can be defined as the relationship between changes in consumers’ income level and the demand for a particular item.

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The political environment of marketing

 

This is excerpt from: Camilleri, M.A. (2018). Travel Marketing, Tourism Economics and the Airline Product, Springer, Milan, Italy. ISBN 978-3-319-49849-2


To be successful, companies must adapt to ongoing trends and developments in their macro and micro environments. Therefore, it is in the interest of organisations to scan their marketing environment to deal with any possible threats from the market and to capitalise on any available opportunities. This chapter explains the external environmental factors, including; political, economic, social and technological influences. It also considers the internal environmental factors, including; capital structures, resources, capabilities and marketing intermediaries; as it identifies competitive forces from differentiated or low-cost service providers.

A sound knowledge of the customer requirements is an essential ingredient for a successful business. For this reason, companies should consistently monitor their marketing environment. The marketing environment is continuously changing, as it consists of a number of unpredictable forces which surround the company.

The regulatory and competitive conditions as well as other market forces, including; political, economic, social and technological forces, could affect the organisational performance of the tourism businesses. Hence, this chapter will look into some of these issues. The tourism industry is highly influenced by economic factors, including; strong exchange rate fluctuations, the price of oil and other commodities, among other matters. Moreover, social factors including global concerns about safety and security could influence tourist behaviours. Notwithstanding, the regulatory environments will also have an impact on tourism and airline businesses. For instance, the airline industry’s deregulation and liberalisation has created numerous opportunities for many airlines, including low-cost carriers. At the same time, it has threatened inefficient airlines who have been protected by regulation.

Competition is a vitally important element in the marketing environment and it should not be under-estimated. The businesses competitors comprise suppliers of substitute products. They may be new entrants in the marketplace. Alternatively, they may include customers and suppliers who were stakeholders of the business. In this light, tourism marketers should be knowledgeable of different business models as competition can take different forms, like for example, differentiated, full-service companies or low-cost service providers. For these reasons, organisations should have effective mechanisms to monitor the latest developments in the marketing environment.

Environmental Scanning

Environmental scanning entails the collection of information relating to the various forces within the marketing environment. This involves the observation and examination of primary and secondary sources of information, including online content from business, trade, media and the government, among others. The environmental analysis is the process of assessing and interpreting the information gathered. An ongoing analysis of the gathered data may be carried out by marketing managers or by researchers who have been commissioned to conduct market research (as explained in the previous chapter). Through analysis, marketing managers can attempt to identify extant environmental patterns and could even predict future trends. By evaluating trends and tendencies, the marketing managers should be able to determine possible threats and opportunities that are associated with environmental fluctuations. When discussing the ‘marketing environment’ we must consider both the external environment (i.e. the macro-environment) as well as the internal environment (i.e. the micro-environment) (Kotler, Armstrong, Frank & Bunn, 1990).

The Macro Environment

The tourism businesses must constantly assess the marketing environment. It is crucial for their survival and achievement of their long-term economic goals. Therefore, marketing managers must engage in environmental scanning and analysis. Most firms are comfortable assessing the political climates in their home countries. However, the evaluation of political climates in foreign territories is far more problematic for them. Experienced international businesses engage in political risk assessment, as they need to carry out ongoing systematic analyses of the political risks they face in foreign countries. Political risks are any changes in the political environment that may adversely affect the value of any firm’s business activities. Most political risks may result from governmental actions, such as; the passage of laws that expropriate private property, an increase in operating costs, the devaluation of the currency or constraints in the repatriation of funds, among others. Political risks may also arise from non-governmental actions when there is criminality (for example: kidnappings, extortion and acts of terrorism, et cetera). Political risks may equally affect all firms or may have an impact on particular sectors, as featured hereunder. Non-governmental political risks should also be considered. For example, Disneyland Paris and McDonalds have been the target of numerous symbolic protests  who view them as a convenient target for venting their unhappiness with US international agricultural policies. In some instances, protests could turn violent, and may even force firms to shut down their operations, in particular contexts.

Typical Examples of Political Risks

Type                                                   Impact on Firms
Expropriation Loss of future profits.
Confiscation Loss of assets, loss of profits.
Campaigns against businesses Loss of sales; increased costs of public relation; efforts to improve public image.
Mandatory labour benefits legislation Increased operating costs.
Kidnappings, terrorist threats and other forms of violence Increased security costs; increased managerial costs; lower productivity.
Civil wars Destruction of property; lost sales; increased security costs.
Inflation Higher operating costs.
Repatriation Inability to transfer funds freely.
Currency devaluations Reduced value of repatriated earnings.
Increased taxation Lower after-tax profits.

 

References:

Camilleri, M. A. (2018). The Marketing Environment. In Travel Marketing, Tourism Economics and the Airline Product (pp. 51-68). Springer, Cham, Switzerland.

Kotler, P., Armstrong, G., Franke, G., & Bunn, M.D. (1990). Marketing: An Introduction, Vol. 1. New Jersey: Prentice Hall.

 

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Key Elements of Travel Websites

website

The travel and tourism businesses are increasingly using corporate websites as they help them improve consumer leads and sales conversions. In addition, their clear, differentiated pricing information on service-tiers provide product options to online prospects. The tourism products ought to focus on the benefits they provide, by highlighting their value propositions; rather than simply illustrating their features. Despite the fact that so many transactions are carried out online, the travel websites could lack in their provision of personal interaction. This means that even the smallest thing that’s out of place on the ecommerce pages could possibly rapidly erode the customers’ trust in products and services. Therefore, tourism businesses could build consumer confidence and trust by using an SSL certificate to make transactions secure, particularly if they are processing credit cards.

The travel businesses’ corporate websites are expected to articulate their terms and conditions, including any relevant cancellation and refund policies. They should also feature their contact details (including an address, telephone and emails) to customers and prospects. Many sites could offer live chat facilities on their site, to help online customers in their queries, or to address their concerns.

If the businesses do not offer such interactions in real time, they still need acknowledge their online prospects’ message(s), and inform them that they will be responding to them in reasonable time. Moreover, the use of testimonials from consumers, including; reviews and ratings will serve as proof that the tourism business is providing an adequate level of service to customers. The positive experiences from customers themselves, will help to improve conversions and sales.

The tourism web sites should underline the true benefits of their product. Hence, they should present relevant written content which will make the product stand out from the rest. In this day and age, attractive web sites should be well-designed to entertain visitors. The travel sites have to feature a good selection of images and videos. This allows prospective visitors to become familiar with the tourism product. Destination management organisations are increasingly allowing online visitors to zoom in high-res images and video clips in their websites. The interactive images and videos should load as quickly as possible. Any delays of even a couple of seconds would turn off dissatisfied visitors. The speed with which a page loads can be a critical determining factor as to whether visitors may (or may not) commit themselves to lay down their credit card. When designing product pages, it is important to consider load speeds, particularly if there are large images, rich interactivity or other media in web pages.

Very often, different product pages may clutter up web pages with excessive calls to action. These pages may contain customer photos, complicated pricing options, unnecessary details on customer support, too many reviews, et cetera. Without good web designs, these calls to action could easily blend into a confusing mess.  While it may be tempting to utilise web pages with many actionable steps, the online sites should be as clear and focused as possible. A good call to action could include high-contrast buttons, call-outs and actionable elements which leave plenty of breathing room, to make them stand out.

Online users might not be willing to commit themselves in buying products straight away. Therefore, businesses could entice visitors to fill in their subscriber list to receive exclusive offers, via email.  This way, the businesses will be in a position to send newsletters and promotional material to their online prospects, at a later date.

Businesses ought to facilitate their online purchase and transaction confirmation. A complicated funnel could deter the conversion of prospects. The customers who are in the businesses’ checkout page(s) should be allowed to finalise their purchase as quickly and efficiently as possible. If their customer experience of their online purchase involves an unnecessary effort to check out from the website; they may have second thoughts on the businesses’ quality of service. Therefore, users should not be distracted with anything that will take them away from the businesses’ purchasing funnel. It is important to let customers finish their transaction before taking them anywhere else on the website.

This article was drawn from Springer’s ‘Travel Marketing, Tourism Economics and the Airline Product: An Introduction to Theory and Practice‘ by Mark Anthony Camilleri

 

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