Swimming against the Tide-Integrating Marketing with Environmental Management Via Demarketing

By Beeton, Sue | Journal of Hospitality and Tourism Management, August 2003 | Go to article overview

Swimming against the Tide-Integrating Marketing with Environmental Management Via Demarketing


Beeton, Sue, Journal of Hospitality and Tourism Management


This pager examines the integration of environmental management with marketing through the application of demarketing in the marketing mix. The marketing material of a commercial tourism business based in a national park and the park itself is examined in terms of the (unconscious) application of demarketing strategies and instruments. It is proposed that, by moving to consciously incorporate such strategies into the marketing mix, greater management efficacy and sustainability can be achieved. The paper also contributes to the demarketing and environmental management discourse through recommending methods to increase the effectiveness of demarketing as a tool to limit the environmental excesses of competitive marketing strategies,

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Marketing, a term that has moved rapidly into our daily lexicon, is still one of the least successfully applied elements in tourism and hospitality businesses, especially the small to medium enterprises (SMEs). When surveyed about their main training needs, tourism and hospitality, businesses regularly cite "marketing", seeing it primarily as a technique that will increase their sales (see Beeton & Graetz, 2001). This focus on increasing sales is compounded by marketing's almost slavish devotion to the customer at the expense of other "bottom line" considerations. The emerging recognition of social and environmental (as well as economic) sustainability in the form of triple bottom line accountability is at last acknowledging that all elements are crucial to a business's long term success. Marketing is in a position to embrace these philosophies and enhance the overall sustainability of the tourism industry. Convincing some SMEs of their long-term responsibilities and the benefits of taking such a view may not be as easy.

Improvements in transport and communications on the supply side, and increased disposable income and leisure time on the demand side, have resulted in travel and tourism evolving into a highly competitive product. However, many SMEs remain focused on the sales promotional aspect of marketing, occluding other elements of the marketing mix, such as target marketing strategies that reduce the appeal of the product to certain "undesirable" tourists. In other words "demarketing" the product. Marketing is so much more than merely increasing sales and within the marketing concept are tools and possibilities not yet realised. As Middleton and Hawkins state:

   Modern marketing, which is as much concerned
   with communicating the benefits of ideas, people
   and places as about selling products in the high
   street, is the only proven set of continuously developing
   management techniques for influencing
   behaviour. (Middleton & Hawkins, 1998, p. xi)

Not only do specific attractions or activities compete for visitors, but also countries and regions of the world. The tide of cries for tourism as the "Saviour of the countryside" (see World Tourism Organisation, 1996) has seduced many nations and regions into chasing the tourist dollar with the type of enthusiasm given to the prophets of the past. In the marketing stakes, the Australian Tourist Commission (ATC) has won numerous awards for its effective, competitive international marketing campaigns, including two Pacific Asia Travel Association Awards (PATA) Gold Awards in 2000. The various Australian states have also undertaken extensive research and marketing campaigns, competing with each other for domestic and international tourists by focusing on what the potential visitors say they want.

Tourism promotion in Australia has traditionally relied heavily on the country's natural environment, unique flora and fauna and clean image. Tourism Victoria (the tourism marketing agency for the state of Victoria, Australia), continues to use recognisable nature-based icons such as the Twelve Apostles, the little penguins at Phillip Island and Mount Buffalo Chalet ("the island in the sky") to promote the state. …

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