Academic journal article International Journal of Sports Marketing & Sponsorship

Event Image Perceptions among Active and Passive Sports Tourists at Marathon Races

Academic journal article International Journal of Sports Marketing & Sponsorship

Event Image Perceptions among Active and Passive Sports Tourists at Marathon Races

Article excerpt

Executive summary

Sports events can be used as tourist attractions by destinations and develop their own event image. Weed and Bull (2004) conceptualised sports tourism as a phenomenon arising from the spectrum of unique interactions between people, place and activities. Event images (i.e. the perceptions of an event held by tourists) may vary among active (participants) and passive (spectators) sports tourists given the nature of the activity, place and people involved (Shamir & Ruskin, 1984), as discussed by Kaplanidou and Vogt (2007; 2010).

Given the interaction of sports events with destinations, sports event images can bear similarities to the concept of destination image, which has been defined to include cognitive (beliefs), affective (emotions), conative (behavioural) and holistic components (e.g. Baloglu & McCleary, 1999; Li & Vogelsong, 2006). The purpose of the study was to examine whether the sports tourist type and the type of destination can create differences in the perception of sports event images. A survey was conducted at four different marathon races in Germany in 2008. The sample consisted of a total of N =1,191 respondents, which included both active and passive sports tourists. In order to elicit the event image perceptions, the respondents were asked to name three words that came to mind concerning the event. The word sample consisted of a total of 3,253 words. The data for all events was coded using content analyses. Seven encompassing themes were identified including organisational, environmental (with two dimensions), physical, social, emotional, and historical/political attributes. The themes found within the data can be categorised into affective (emotional and social) and cognitive (environmental 1 and 2, historical organisational, political, physical) components, which are congruent with research on the meaning of destination image (e.g. Baloglu & McCleary, 1999; Beerli & Martin, 2004). Correspondence analyses were employed to understand the relative distance of the event and the image components. Different analyses were conducted for active and passive sports tourists. The emotional theme was perceived differently for active and passive sports tourists. Active sports tourists linked emotions more closely with physical and organisational aspects, while passive sports tourists see more similarities with social and historical aspects of the host location. Moreover, the results showed that sports event images are perceived differently in diverse destinations. For marketers, it is recommended that the unique aspects of sports event image are used in marketing communications based on the seven identified themes. These can be used to attract more active and passive sports tourists and to create a distinct positioning of the event in the mind of sports tourists. Event organisers can also customise their programmes for active and passive sports tourists based on the different perceptions of the sports event image.

Introduction

Sports tourism is a phenomenon that arises from the unique interaction of people, places and activities (Weed & Bull, 2004). It has attracted a lot of attention among scholars and practitioners such as destination and event marketers. More and more destinations bid for sports events to stimulate tourism in their respective communities (Schneider, 2009). The hosting of sports events can encompass marketing benefits related to awareness, image improvement and future inbound travel (Dimanche, 2003). First time and repeat sports tourists can be drawn to a destination that hosts sports events (Dimanche, 2003), which can help destination marketers to enhance and differentiate the destination's image and its tourism products (Chalip & Green, 2001; Chalip, Green & Hill, 2003; Chalip & McGuitry, 2004; Dimanche, 2003; Jago, Chalip, Brown, Mules & Ali, 2003; Kaplanidou & Vogt, 2007; Xing & Chalip, 2006). …

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