Academic journal article European Journal of Tourism Research

Bridging Perceived Destination Image and Market Segmentation - an Application to Golf Tourism

Academic journal article European Journal of Tourism Research

Bridging Perceived Destination Image and Market Segmentation - an Application to Golf Tourism

Article excerpt

Destination image: An Introduction

Market analysis has become pivotal in developing tourism destinations in the current atmosphere of competitiveness. As gateway to gain competitive advantage, the destinations have been developed likely brands that have been managed as such. As Kotler, Haider and Rein (1993) suggest, the competitive advantage of tourist regions is contingent upon the capacity to strengthen its features in the global market. Therefore destinations need to be managed from a strategic perspective in which the brand image plays a crucial role for the positioning process (Calantone, Benedetto, Hakam and Bojanic, 1989). According to Beerli (1998), the definition of a strong, coherent, differentiated and identifiable image creates a favourable opinion towards the destination. This opinion is one of the underpinnings for strategic development.

The importance of the tourism destination image is well-documented in scientific research (Pike, 2002). The destination brand aims at prompting the tourist desire of travelling to a given destination (Gallarza, Saura and García, 2002). The destination brand is grounded in the perceived image about the potential quality of experience at destination. Image is a mental construct formed by a set of attributes perceived and evaluated by tourists. The first stage is activated by the arousal of motivations. Those motivations start the learning process that leads to the stage of uncertain intensity of expectations which influence perceived image, too.

This paper addresses the lack of handful research on the build-up of golf destination image from an expectancy value theory perspective. In line with Selby and Morgan (1996), we endeavour to understand the implications of motivations, expectations and perceptions for the destination image more precisely in golf resort areas. In this study, we propose a multidimensional taxonomy of the interplay of motivations, expectations and perceptions as components of destination image. We put forward the hypothesis on the inter-correlation of the previous three constructs, the existence of various market segments regarding the perceived image, and the heterogeneity of golf destination image among those segments.

The corner stone for scholarly research is the idiosyncratic perceived image held by individuals. The literature has pointed out that destination image differs from the reality (Guthrie and Gale, 1991). Previous research provides modest answers on this question though.

Literature review

The importance of tourist destination image is universally recognized as it affects the subjective perceptions and the behaviour of the individuals, as well as, the choice of the destination (Gallarza, Saura and García, 2002). The image has been seen as a mental representation formed by a set of attributes that defines the destination. Literature is consensual abouth the strong influence of image on tourist behaviour (Beerli and Martín, 2004). The destination image is even defined by reference to resorts areas which play an important role for the overall image (Prideaux, 2000). Therefore, some questions arise as the perceived image is contingent upon the individuals' motivations and expectations held towards the destination. According to the literature, the expectations may be understood as the consequents (Prebensen and Abelesn, 2003).

Concept of destination image

Destination image is a multidisciplinary field of research (Ahmed, 1991) which brings together contributes from several disciplines, such as Anthropology (Selwyn, 1996); Sociology (Meethan, 2001) and Marketing (Dann, 1981). As it is patent in numerous studies, destinations with strong and positive image have a greater probability of being chosen by tourists (Pearce, 1982; Woodside and Lysonski, 1989; Beerli and Martín, 2004, Silvestre and Correia, 2005) as well as, successfully developing loyalty strategies (Bojanic, 1996, Moutinho, 1982).

The build-up image process is inherently a process of social influence which by its turn is contingent upon the faculty of the destination to provide experiences that meet the feautures of the image that has been previously held about that destination (Chon, 1989; Bigné, Sánchez and Sánchez, 2001; Beerli and Martín, 2004). …

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