http://jvm.sagepub.com Image formation, information sources and an iconic Australian tourist destination
Janet Hanlan and Stephen Kelly Journal of Vacation Marketing 2005; 11; 163 DOI: 10.1177/1356766705052573 The online version of this article can be found at: http://jvm.sagepub.com/cgi/content/abstract/11/2/163
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Journal of Vacation Marketing
Volume 11 Number 2
Image formation, information sources and an iconic Australian tourist destination
Janet Hanlan* andStephen Kelly Received (in revised form): November 2004 Anonymously refereed paper
*Marketing and External Relations, Southern Cross University, Hogbin Drive, Coffs Harbour, NSW 2457, Australia. Tel: 02 66593063; Fax: 02 66503051; E-mail: email@example.com
Janet Hanlan is a marketing practitioner at Southern Cross University, Australia, with professional marketing experience in the hotel,airline and travel industries. Dr Stephen Kelly is a senior lecturer in marketing and management at Southern Cross University, Australia and is director of the SCU Centre for Sales Process Research Centre and director of the Asia Paciﬁc ICT Enterprise Development and Research Institute.
should go beyond traditional mainstream media to communicate their brand message. Additionally, ﬁndings suggestthe need for DMOs to provide leadership within the destination’s tourism industry to improve service delivery and exceed the ‘brand promise’.
ABSTRACT KEYWORDS: brand, positioning, destination image, information sources, tourism
Tourist destination brand image is a major inﬂuencing factor in traveller destination choice. This exploratory research into the information sources from whichdestination brand image evolves provides insights which have the potential to improve tourism destination brand development strategies. In-depth interviews with 21 international backpackers on Australia’s northern New South Wales coast indicate that mainstream media play little or no part in the formation of respondents’ image of the coastal destination of Byron Bay. Rather, word of mouth andautonomous independent information sources were the key media through which respondents formed their image of this iconic Australian tourist destination. Findings also show the importance of destination experience in the image formation process and suggest that destination marketing organizations (DMOs) can and
INTRODUCTION AND LITERATURE REVIEW Past qualitative and empirical research has showndestination brand image plays a major role in leisure travel behaviour,1 with Morgan et al.2 stating that ‘branding is perhaps the most powerful marketing weapon available to contemporary destination marketers confronted by increasing product parity, substitutability and competition’. This research extends this body of knowledge by examining the role of information sources in the creation of destinationbrand image. Early theories of brand creation tended towards a product orientation, with an emphasis on the intentions of the branding entity.3 Consensus has since emerged, however, on the crucial role of the consumer in the brand creation process,4 with the logic being employed that if brand image is held in the mind of consumers5 then successful brand development requires branding practitioners...