Quality Management Practices and Tourism Destination Branding: Inter-Relationship and Preferential Study of the Components

Article excerpt

Quality Management Practices (QMP) are already popular in engineering sector and it has enormously benefited both the manufacturers as well as the consumers. Due to globalization, especially in tourism sector, the trends have shifted towards providing Quality services and Quality experiences to tourists visiting several tourism destinations. Hence, the present study was done to build a framework for providing Quality tourism services as well as tourist experiences which could help the destination management organizations (DMOs) to gain competitive advantage. The main purpose of the study was to identify Quality Management Practices (QMP) as well as the components of Tourism Destination Branding. The preferences-wise study both in the QMP dimensions as well as in the Destination Branding Components (DBC) will help the tourism service providers or DMOs to prioritize their quality constructs and branding components to deliver the memorable experiences to tourists. Furthermore, the inter-relationship between the branding components was also analyzed to judge the psychology of the tourists visiting the tourism destinations. The Sample Area of the study was two important tourism destinations of North India viz. Jammu and Shimla. In this study, respective Destination Management Organizations (DMOs) were chosen. The Stratified Sampling Technique was applied for sampling purposes and total responses were 392 out of 500. The Statistical techniques of Mean, Standard Deviation, Correlation and Multiple Regression were used to analyze the ranking and inter-relationship between QMP and DBC. It has been concluded that the continuous approach to deliver the QMP leads to satisfied customers, which in turn could be utilized by the tourism service providers to contribute towards the strategic branding of the tourism destinations. Moreover, the results of the study suggest that DMOs should prioritize the implementation and practice of the Quality Management Practices (QMP) and Self- Actualization as a prominent Branding Components for effective implementation of Quality construct.

Introduction and Background of the Study

Quality" as a term and as a practice is both crucial and important for long term success and for survival in tourism industry, and with the passage of time, it has become the decisive competitive instrument in tourism. According to 'Evaluating the Quality Performance of Tourist Destinations and Services' (2003) quality should be treated as a continuous process to ensure the constant improvement in quality of a tourist destination as a whole or of the individual attractions and services within it.

With the help of Quality Management, several efforts are being made to take account of the growing importance of individual aspects of quality. Any tourism destination which maintains and continuously improves high quality supply would easily achieve the leading position as a destination in world tourism. It also helps tourism destinations to meet the challenges from competing destinations and also helps in increasing the market share.

The concept of branding has been used extensively in the context of products and services, however it is a relatively new concept when applied to destination or places (countries, regions, cities, etc.). According to Pike (2004), destinations are places that attract visitors for a temporary stay and range from continents to countries to states and provinces to cities to villages to purpose built resort areas.

Heath (2002) and Ritchie and Crouch (2003) have defined destination brand from a destination management perspective. According to them it can be a name, symbol, logo, word, mark or graphics that both identifies and differentiates the destination. Furthermore, it conveys the promise of a memorable travel experience that is uniquely associated with the destination and it also serves to consolidate and reinforce the recollection of pleasurable memories of the destination experience. …