Academic journal article International Journal of Management and Marketing Research

Relationship Marketing and Destination Loyalty: Evidence from Penang, Malaysia

Academic journal article International Journal of Management and Marketing Research

Relationship Marketing and Destination Loyalty: Evidence from Penang, Malaysia

Article excerpt

ABSTRACT

Relationship marketing is a strategy to obtain a competitive advantage in tourism destinations. The term is defined as marketing activities for creating and maintaining customer loyalty. Despite the fact that creating customer loyalty is the main objective of relationship marketing, there is little agreement on which antecedents could be used to achieve it. This is particularly true in the competitive market of tourist destinations. This study attempts to examine the level of international tourists ' satisfaction with basic elements of destination (attraction, amenities, accessibility, image, price, people working in tourism), as well as the relationship between 'overall satisfaction ' and destination loyalty in terms of revisit intention and recommendation. The results support the existing relationships between overall satisfaction and destination loyalty. We find that overall satisfaction is significant for revisit intention and recommendation. Finally, the paper discusses managerial implications as well as potential for further research in light of the findings.

JEL: M30

KEYWORDS: Relationship Marketing, Satisfaction, Basic Elements, Destination Loyalty

INTROUCTION

Economic and technological changes as well as services sector growth provide a ground for strong and considerable competitive market in the tourism industry. Tourism destinations operate in competitive markets. Customers (tourists) have many choices. Most people like to try a new place. Due to the increased competition between destinations, the major way to grow market share is to build long-term relationships and create loyal tourists. It is argued that "with increasing global competition owing to newly-emerging destinations and tourists becoming more exacting in their choice and desire for a variety of options, relationship marketing arguably offers considerable potential to achieve competitive advantage" (Fyall et al. 2003:645). In the words of Flambard-Ruaud (2005), globalization of markets, competitive pressure, brand multiplication and, above all, changing life styles and consumer behaviors have forced companies to develop strategies to keep their clients, create consumer loyalty programs and thus carry out relationship marketing.

Kotler et al. (1999) make the point that customer satisfaction is the core issue in relationship marketing and a requisite for loyalty. Several scholars note that tourist satisfaction is a crucial factor to generate destination loyalty (e.g. Oh & Mount, 1998; Yoon and Uysal, 2005; Chi &Qu, 2008; Meng et al., 2008), although a few studies assert that satisfied tourists may not return to the same destination. Therefore, it is imperative to evaluate tourist satisfaction to achieve a definite and significant competitive advantage. The aims of this study are to assess international tourist satisfaction with basic elements in Penang as well as its relationship with loyalty in terms of revisit intention and recommendation. The study also identifies significant factors that contribute to international tourist satisfaction and subsequently destination loyalty.

Penang is located in the northern region of Peninsular Malaysia. It is approximately 1,030 square kilometers, consisting of two separate areas, the Penang Island and Seberang Perai in the mainland with 1,773,442 inhabitants in 2010. On 7 July 2008, George Town, the historic capital of Penang, was formally inscribed as a United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) World Heritage Site. Tourism is the second largest contributor to Penang's economy (OECD, 2011). Direct international tourist arrivals increased from 39,357 in 1970 to 583,097 (through international airport and Port Swettenham) in 2008. Major disembarkation countries for Penang were Indonesia, Singapore, China, Japan, Taiwan and Thailand in 2009. Penang is known as the 'Pearl of the Oriented' for its various attractions such as white sandy beaches, beautiful landscape and unique and diverse culture. …

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