Tag Archives: branding

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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The Customers’ Brand Identification with Luxury Hotels: A Social Identity Perspective

This is an excerpt from one of my latest papers.

How to Cite: Rather, R.A. & Camilleri, M.A. (2019). The Customers’ Brand Identification with Luxury Hotels: A Social Identity Perspective. In Harrison, T. & Brennan, M. (Eds.) 2019 AMS World Marketing Congress. University of Edinburgh, Scotland (July 2019). Academy of Marketing Science (Download Now).

 

Relevant theoretical underpinnings on the social identity theory (SIT) suggests that the consumers’ self-expressions are somewhat associated with their relationships with firms and brands (Rather & Hollebeek, 2019; Fujita, Harrigan & Soutar, 2018; Elbedweihy, Jayawardhena, Elsharnouby & Elsharnouby, 2016; So, King & Sparkes, 2014; So, King, Sparks & Wang, 2013; Bhattacharya & Sen, 2003). For this reason, this paper relied on the SIT perspective to explore the consumer-brand relationships (Elbedweihy et al., 2016; Lam, Ahearne, Mullins, Hayati, & Schillewaert, 2013; Ahearne, Bhattacharya & Gruen 2005).

The individual consumers form part of a social group who regularly experience the delivery of services (Fujita et al., 2018; Huang, Cheng, & Chen, 2017; Elbedweihet al., 2016; So et al., 2013; Kuenzel & Halliday, 2008; Bhattacharya & Sen, 2003). Hence, the service brands can be considered as the facilitators of the consumers’ social identity and expression as individuals can identify with brands if they perceive that they match their self-concept (Stokburger-Sauer, Ratneshwar, & Sen, 2012; Homburg, Wieseke & Hoyer, 2009). In a similar vein, the customer-brand identification (CBI) concept describes the relationships between the brands and their customers, as it explicates how the brands relate to the individuals’ self-concept (Martinez & Rodriguez del Bosque, 2013). Many brands are increasingly looking after their existing customers by satisfying their various needs, wants and desires (Chaudhuri & Holbrook, 2001; Martinez & Rodriguez del Bosque, 2014). They do so to retain their existing customers. The loyal customers are usually willing to pay more, spend more and recommend more than new prospects (Martinez & Rodriguez del Bosque, 2014; Harris & Goode, 2004).

The subject of brand loyalty has been explored extensively in the marketing literature. Past studies have often focused on the antecedents of loyalty, including;  customer satisfaction (Popp & Woratschek, 2017), trust (Martinez & Rodriguez del Bosque, 2014; So et al., 2013), perceived service quality (So et al., 2013), commitment (Narteh, Agbemabiese, Kodua, & Braimah, 2013; Su, Swanson, Chinchanachokchai, Hsu, & Chen, 2016), customer engagement (Rather, Hollebeek & Islam, 2019; So et al., 2014), as well as perceived value (So et al., 2013), among other constructs. Notwithstanding, CBI has been investigated in different research contexts, and has often yielded contradictory results. For instance, Su et al. (2016) indicated that brand identification was not significant in predicting customer loyalty. While other studies suggested that the relationship between customer retention, word-of-mouth and loyalty were positive and significant (Kuenzel & Halliday, 2008); other research reported that there is a correlation between CBI and customer loyalty (Rather & Hollebeek, 2019; Martinez & Rodriguez del Bosque, 2013; 2014). However, the literature did not devote sufficient attention to discover the antecedents of CBI, albeit a few exceptions (Su et al., 2016; So et al., 2013; Keh & Xie, 2009).

 

Research Question

Previous theoretical underpinnings and empirical studies have contributed to advancing our knowledge on brand loyalty and customer-brand relationships (Ahearne et al., 2005; Bhattacharya & Sen, 2003; Fujita et al., 2018; He, Li, & Harris, 2012; So et al., 2013). However, there is still a gap in the extent literature that explores CBI by using the social identity perspective (Ahearne, et al., 2005; Choo, Park, & Petrick, 2011; Elbedweihy et al., 2016; He et al., 2012; Martinez and Rodriguez del Bosque, 2014; Popp & Woratschek, 2017; So et al., 2013; Su et al., 2016). Hence, this paper addresses this lacuna in academic literature. The aim of this study is to provide further empirical evidence on the CBI construct (Keh & Xie, 2009; Su et al., 2016). To the best of our knowledge, few studies have combined the social identity theory with social exchange factors to explain the determinants of hotel brand loyalty. Many researchers maintain that by incorporating the social identity (Rindfleisch, Burroughs, & Wong, 2009; Homburg et al., 2009; Tajfel & Turner, 1986) and the service dynamics (Harris & Goode, 2004; Martinez & Rodriguez del Bosque, 2014) they would better understand the psychological processes that are linked to brand loyalty. Prior empirical studies in the hospitality context did not incorporate certain aspects of brand loyalty, including the mediating effects of commitment, satisfaction and trust. Hence, this research differentiates itself from other contributions; by building on the foundations of previous research on the social identity perspective of customer-brand loyalty. However, it considers the direct and indirect effects of social exchange variables from the marketing science literature, to explore the causal path from CBI to brand loyalty. In sum, this study addresses the following research questions: (i) How is CBI related to customer satisfaction? (ii) How is CBI related to trust? (iii) Is CBI different from customer commitment? (iv) Are CBI, customer satisfaction and commitment influencing brand loyalty?

 

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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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My Latest Edited Book on Destination Marketing

An Excerpt from the Preface of “Strategic Perspectives in Destination Marketing” (forthcoming):

The marketing of a destination relies on planning, organization and the successful execution of strategies and tactics. Therefore, this authoritative book provides students and practitioners with relevant knowledge of tourism planning and destination marketing. The readers are equipped with a strong pedagogical base on the socio-economic, environmental and technological impacts on the attractiveness of tourist destinations. At the same time, this publication presents contemporary conceptual discussions as well as empirical studies on different aspects of the travel and tourism industries.

The readers of this book will acquire a good understanding of the tourism marketing environment, destination marketing and branding, pricing of tourism products, tourism distribution channels, etourism, as well as on sustainable and responsible tourism practices, and among other topics. They will appreciate that the tourism marketers, including destination management organizations (DMOs) are increasingly using innovative tools, including; digital media and ubiquitous technologies to engage with prospective visitors. Hence, this book also sheds light on the latest industry developments in travel, tourism, hospitality and events.

Chapter 1 introduces the readers to the tourism concept as it describes the travel facilitators and motivators. Afterwards, it explains several aspects of the tourism product, including; the visitors’ accessibility, accommodation, attractions, activities and amenities. It categorizes different travel markets; including; 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 examines how foreign tourist intermediaries perceive Portugal as a tourist destination. It analyzes the promotional information that they use to attract visitors to this Southern European destination. This contribution recognizes that the tour operators have an important role in intermediating the relationship between the tourists and the tourism service providers. The authors suggest that tourism relies on the destination’s image that is often being portrayed by the foreign tourism intermediaries.

Chapter 3 explores the cruising consumers’ behaviors and their decision-making processes. The authors maintain that the destination, the social life on board as well as the cruise features are very important factors for consumer loyalty. In conclusion, they recommend that cruise lines should create synergies with local institutions in tourist destinations.

Chapter 4 investigates the Spanish inhabitants’ opinions on the tourism industry’s seasonality issues. The findings suggest that the local residents who live in the coastal destinations were in favor of having tourism activity throughout the year; as opposed to other host communities from urban and rural destinations (in Spain) who indicated that they would enjoy a break from tourist activity during the low / off peak seasons.

Chapter 5 provides a critical review about the pricing and revenue management strategies that are increasingly being adopted within the tourism and hospitality contexts. The authors introduce the readers to the concept of “rate fencing”. This proposition suggests that businesses ought to differentiate among various customer segments, as they should attract and develop relationships with the most profitable ones.

Chapter 6 appraises the use of qualitative reviews and quantitative ratings in interactive media. The authors also engage in a discussion on the content analysis of the online users’ generated content (UGC). They posit that it is in the interest of tourism and hospitality businesses to respond to positive and negative word of mouth publicity in reasonable time, as they may have to deal with fake and unverified reviews.

Chapter 7 clarifies how online travel businesses, including; AirTickets, AirBnB and TripAdvisor among others, are continuously investing in their communication technologies and infrastructures to improve their online users’ experience. The author contends that innovative technologies, such as recommender systems and control frameworks are supporting the travel businesses’ in their customer-centric approaches.

Chapter 8 discusses about the concept of the brand identity of destinations from the suppliers’ perspective. The author puts forward a case study on the city of Porto, in Portugal. She explicates how this tourist destination has used an authenticity-based approach to leverage itself as a distinct brand identity among other destinations.

Chapter 9 proposes an ambitious plan to attract visitors to Buxton, Derbyshire. Firstly, the authors focus on the marketing endeavors of a local renovated hotel. Secondly, they provide relevant examples of how other wellness and spa towns in Britain, including; Bath and Harrogate are organizing events and festivals to attract international tourists throughout the year.

Chapter 10 explains how a perceived (positive) image can provide a sustainable competitive advantage to tourism destinations. The authors argue that the historical events as well as other socio-political factors can possibly affect the visitors’ (pre-)conceptions of the Gallipoli peninsula in Turkey. However, they imply that the tourists’ positive experiences could translate to positive publicity for this destination.

Chapter 11 elucidates the notion of destination branding in the rural context. The author maintains that there are both opportunities and challenges for tourism policy makers to preserve the traditional farms and rural dwellings, in order to safeguard their distinct identity. He posits that the rural environment can add value to the tourist destinations and their branding.

Chapter 12 posits that today’s tour operators are highly driven by technology as prospective travelers are searching for online information about their destinations prior to their visits. The authors describe the digital marketing strategies and tactics that are used to promote Malawi, in Africa. They suggest that the inbound tour operators are increasingly using relevant content marketing through interactive technologies and social media to engage with prospective visitors.

Chapter 13 evaluates potential strategies that could be used to develop the tourism product in Adiyaman, Turkey. The authors identify the core responsibilities of the tourism stakeholders and put forward their key recommendations for the branding of this rural destination.

In sum, this authoritative publication is written in an engaging style that entices the curiosity of prospective readers. It explains all the theory in a simple and straightforward manner. This book reports on the global tourism marketing environments that comprise a wide array of economic, socio-cultural and environmental issues. It explains how technological advances have brought significant changes to the tourism industry and its marketing mix.

This book was written by academics for other scholars, researchers, advanced under-graduate and post-graduate students; as it provides a thorough literature review on different tourism topics, including; destination marketing and branding, sustainable and responsible tourism, tourism technologies, digital marketing, travel distribution and more. 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.

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