With or without Sun: if Italian hoteliers sue the weathermen…

31/07/2014 § Lascia un commento

Massimo Giovanardi

 

The influence of weather forecast on tourism

Wich is the influence of weather forecast reports on tourism?

The hoteliers of the most visited seaside tourist destination in Italy, the Romagna Riviera, intend to bring an action against weather forecast websites. Of course, since ever the climate has strongly influenced the character of many tourism places. Sometimes the weather has even become one of the crucial selling points for making those places appealing to visitors. Without doubt, the rhythm of seasons is crucial not only for the Romagna Riviera, but also for other destinations in which the presence of natural elements, such as the sun in the Summer or the snow in the Winter, makes a difference for visitors willing to fully enjoy their vacation.

The move of Italian hoteliers is, according to them, a necessary reaction to weather forecast websites unreliability. “Terroristic weather reports”, so the argument goes on, exert a negative impact of tourism revenues every weekend, because reports announcing clouds and rain discourage tourists to come to the beach, while encouraging cancellations of booking., causing a 15 mil. € loss per weekend. This is happening during a Summer season featuring a more-than-usual number of rainy days. And during a year in which the manifestations of the economic downturn have slightly increased. This sets the anxious context within which the announcement has been received and discussed among tourists and inhabitants.

A quick look at international news websites would immediately show that these are not unprecedented events. Two years ago Belgian tourism officials took legal action against a private weather bureau that had announced persistent rain and very low temperatures for the upcoming season. A similar story took place in Wales last year, when the boss of one of Wales’ oldest and most popular attractions, the National Showcaves Centre, was threatening to sue the weathermen who had announced five days of snow over Easter, causing hundreds of cancellations. Thus, no surprise if also Italian hoteliers intend to act in line with what foreign colleagues in the tourism and hospitality industry have already done before. But being the Romagna Riviera is my birth-area I have the temptation to dig in this case a little bit more.

It is inspiring to look at the readers’ comments on the newspapers’ websites reporting the news story. What we witness is animosity, indignation and derision both towards the weather forecast websites, accused of being unprofessional, and the hoteliers, accused of “outsourcing the entrepreneurial risk”. This latter allegation leads to the point I want to make. While it is true that, on the one hand, the weather still remains a factor that the tourism industry cannot control and that, on the other hand, companies releasing weather reports should comply with professional standards in delivering their forecasts, it is also true that very few people in the Romagna Riviera are brainstorming on how to make part of the tourism offerings less dependent on the contingent weather conditions.

What is missing in the debate is a reflection on how, and to what extent, would it be possible to nurture the tourism appeal of the area regardless the absence of the clouds above the heads. What kind of events, for instance, could be arranged (or rearranged) in order to avoid weather-related cancellations? Sport competitions, such as the stunning flying disc tournament organised for Easter every year in Rimini, is  just one example. It is worth noting that tourism trade associations in neighbouring areas are facing the same problem but with a different attitude, by combining forms of protest with the elaboration of constructive ideas to tackle the online “weather terrorists”. For example, in the Venice area the association “Tourism Jesolo” intends to offer customers who book tourism services online the chance to purchase an insurance and, thus, be refunded in case of bad weather conditions during their stay. Similar ideas came up in the Romagna Riviera as well in 2006 and maybe the time has come to bring them further.

The risk is that the ‘colossal’ narrative of the legal action performed in the Romagna Riviera might sound like a collective lament, thus negatively impacting on the brand of its main epicentres, such as Rimini, Riccione and Cesenatico. What’s more, the story of the legal action does not resonate with the entrepreneurial attitude of the small and medium firms that have always successfully driven the development of the Romagna Riviera even in spite of dramatic events, such as the eutrophication of the Adriatic sea in the late Eighties. Besides suing the weathermen, the tourism industry representatives should also communicate their commitment to keep up with investing in innovation. With or without Sun. Why not, for example, to launch a weather app to be distributed to inhabitants and tourists in order to engage with them in a more informed conversation about the weather and the attractions delivered in the area? I do believe that the real enemy against which the Romagna Riviera hoteliers are fighting today are much worse than the weather.

Annunci

Place Branding in Italy. “4th International Colloquium on Place Brand Management: Strategic Marketing of Cities, Regions and Nations” – Aosta (Italy) – Post-conference thoughts

30/11/2013 § Lascia un commento

Massimo Giovanardi

[For the English version see below]

 

Aosta Place Branding Colloquium

Se ho capito qualcosa nel mio peregrinare per conferenze è che la nazione che ospita un congresso – in questo caso l’Italia – finisce sotto i riflettori. I suoi paesaggi, il suo cibo e, soprattutto, i suoi abitanti. Infatti, un numero significativo di partecipanti viene di solito proprio dalla nazione ospitante. Vuoi che magari il passaparola generato dagli organizzatori sia particolarmente efficace tra colleghi e amici in madrepatria, vuoi che le spese di viaggio siano un poco inferiori per i nativi che per chi viene da oltreconfine. Ma può anche essere che l’argomento stesso della conferenza possa rivestire una tale importanza per quel determinato paese e in quel preciso momento storico che mancare sarebbe semplicemente un peccato per qualsiasi accademico mediamente motivato di quello stato. Questo è probabilmente il caso per il branding territoriale in Italia a metà del 2013.

Il quarto “International Colloquium on Place Brand Management” organizzato da TC Melawar (Middlesex University), Charles Dennis (Lincoln Universities) e Chiara Mauri (Università della Valle d’Aosta) ha destato l’interesse di numerosi ricercatori al lavoro su questioni che ruotano intorno al place branding ed è stato caratterizzato da un buon bilanciamento tra delegati nostrani ed esteri. Il fatto di essere un ricercatore del Bel Paese che lavora per un’università svedese mi ha conferito una sorta di status ibrido, che forse mi consente più liberamente di fare il punto sia sugli aspetti positivi come sulle tematiche sottorappresentate che ho visto emergere durante i due giorni di lavoro. Se non altro, questa sensazione particolare di essere sospeso tra le due identità mi ha dato maggiori motivazioni a interrogarmi sul seguente quesito: in quale misura il mio paese può fornire ad accademici di tutto il mondo (a) materiale empirico interessante e (b) spunti teorici utili allo sviluppo dell’area di ricerca in oggetto?

Ciò che segue è un primo sommario tentativo di evidenziare i principali temi di discussione emersi dalle presentazioni di Aosta.

– L’importanza del vino e del cibo come perno per la gestione dell’immagine territoriale e l’attrazione di turisti internazionali. Certo, era prevedibile la ricorrenza di un simile tema. Ma ogni volta che realizzo come il vino o il formaggio italiano siano considerati molto meno dei rispettivi giacimenti gastronomici francesi, penso che questo tema dovrebbe avere molta più priorità nelle agende di politici e place manager.

– La rilevanza del concetto di ‘newtork’ per comprendere le dinamiche di branding territoriale. Molte presentazioni hanno messo in luce come le pratiche di management turistico rivelino uno scenario che viene continuamente co-costruito e negoziato dagli stakeholder, e che è studiabile e misurabile attraverso la metafora del network. In particolare, grande attenzione è stata rivolta al ‘network contract’, uno strumento legislativo innovativo e flessibile adoperato da alcune aziende italiane in ambito turistico. Questo rinvia alle peculiari relazioni tra pubblico e privato nel contesto imprenditoriale italiano, con gli attori pubblici che non rientrano in queste alleanze tattiche tra imprese.

– Sebbene siano state considerate differenti unità d’analisi (città, regioni e nazioni), solo sporadicamente l’attenzione è ricaduta sulle relazioni tra i differenti livelli amministrativi. Come sostengo in un articolo che spero di pubblicare presto, è tempo di dedicarsi a uno studio più approfondito su come il branding territoriale implichi spesso processi multi-scalari. Non è per nulla facile, ma questo aspetto non è da trascurare per lo meno in un paese che come l’Italia è contraddistinto da un elevato grado di complessità in termini di sovrapposizioni tra confini amministrativi e competenze a vari livelli sub-nazionali.

– Solo un esiguo numero di presentazioni ha dischiuso le specificità culturali, sociali e politiche dei luoghi come esempi più che particolari di prodotti spaziali. Questo può essere accaduto per due ragioni: (a) questo è già stato messo una volta per tutte nero su bianco dalla letteratura; (b) è difficile combinare un approccio socioculturale al marketing con una prospettiva practice-oriented al problema. In altre parole, non è subito chiaro come si possa trarre beneficio da questi insight nella complessità dei luoghi in modo tale da trasformarli in fonti di informazioni preziose nel momento in cui si va a fare un intervento sulla piattaforma di un brand territoriale.

Tutto sommato, il Colloquium di Aosta è stato per l’Italia un palcoscenico meritato. Tuttavia, sebbene questo non fosse uno degli obiettivi della conferenza, le specificità delle pratiche di branding territoriale in Italia (e, dunque, gli insegnamenti tratti) avrebbero potuto emergere più distintamente. Tra le possibili cause, vi è forse ancora l’inerzia per la quale gli scholar italiani continuino a preferire la disseminazione delle loro ricerche attraverso i libri, piuttosto che confrontarsi con riviste accademiche internazionali come invece accade in Nord Europa. D’altro canto, questo rinvia al potenziale inespresso che è possibile rintracciare nelle pratiche degli operatori italiani soprattutto nel turismo e nell’hospitality management. Un potenziale che potrebbe giovare alla messa a fuoco del branding territoriale a livello internazionale. Sono convinto che caratteristiche come il rapporto sui generis tra pubblico e privato e l’assetto politico instabile che ci caratterizza abbiano la possibilità di mettere in crisi molti degli attuali modelli di place branding esistenti. E di contribuire a raffinarli significativamente.

 

– – – –

 

What I understood in my getting around as a conference traveller is that the country that hosts a conference – Italy in this case – gets under the spot. Its landscapes, its food and, above all, its people. Indeed, a remarkable number of participants usually come from the hosting country, since either the ‘word of mouth’ activated by the organisers about the event is particular effective within their closer circles of friends, or travel expenses might be cheaper for ‘natives’ than for foreigners. And yet, it might also be that the conference subject possesses such a significant importance for that specific country in a specific moment that the ‘not to go’ option would simply be unconceivable for any averagely committed scholar. This is the case for place branding: a scientific subject that cannot be missed in the current social and economic situation in Italy.

The “4th International Colloquium on Place Brand Management” organised by TC Melawar (Middlesex University), Charles Dennis (Lincoln Universities) and Chiara Mauri (Università della Valle d’Aosta) sparked the interest of various researchers working on place branding-related areas and was characterised by a good balance of Italian and foreign researchers. Being an Italian researcher working for a Swedish university gave me a ‘hybrid status’, which maybe helped me to make sense of strengths as well as under-represented topics during the two-day conference. At least, this particular ‘status’ boosted my motivation to understand whether or not Italy can provide international scholars with interesting empirical material and/or theoretical ideas about this area of research.

What follows is a first attempt to summarize the main themes emerged from the presentations and discussions.

–       The importance on wine and food as cornerstones for reputation improvement and attraction of international tourists. Sure, this was something expected. But every time I realise that Italian wine and cheese are less considered than French equivalent, I think that this theme should score much higher on Italian politicians and place managers’ agenda.

–       The relevance of the network concept for understanding place branding dynamics. Many presentations unravelled the significance of the co-created nature of tourism management practices through network-based methaphors. In particular, attention has been paid to the ‘network contract’, an innovative and flexible legal tool referring back to peculiar connections between private and public stakeholders in the Italian context. Indeed, public bodies do not play a significant role in this private network configurations.

–       Although different units of analysis were taken into consideration (cities, regions and countries), sporadically the relationships between and among them were considered. As I argue in an article that hopefully will be published soon, the time has come to dig more deeply into the interrelationships between urban, regional and national place branding mechanisms. Not easy at all, but this aspect must not be overlooked at least in a country such as Italy, where we witness a high complexity in terms of overlapping of administrative boundaries and responsibilities.

–       Only a small minor number of presentations acknowledged the cultural, social and political specifities of places as particular spatial ‘products’. This might have been due to two reasons: (a) this is already clearly acknowledged in the place branding literature; (b) it is difficult to combine a sociocultural approach to marketing with a practical-oriented perspective.  In other words, it is not obvious how to leverage the ‘complexity of places’ and turn these insights to improve the quality of intervention on place brand platforms.

All in all, the Aosta Colloquium provided a deserved stage for Italy.  However, even though this was not the aim of the conference, the specificities of Italian place branding practices (and, thus, the lessons to be learnt) could have emerged more outstandingly. Among the many possible reasons underpinning this, Italian scholars often still prefer to disseminate their research through books rather than through peer reviewed academic journals as it more frequently happens in Nother Europe. As a consequence of this, no shared published knowledge work as a basis for more fruitful exchanges. Furhtermore, this also hints at the unfulfilled potential that Italian practices, especially in the field of tourism and hospitality, may have for the development of place branding. I am sure that many Italian features, such as the fuzzy relationships between public and private and a remarkable political instability, have the potential to challenge the existing place branding knowledge and to contribute to refine it significantly.

“My Destination”: technology, tourism and franchising

30/06/2013 § Lascia un commento

Massimo Giovanardi

mydestination

Over the last couple of years, we have been witnessing a rapidly increasing number of companies and start-up businesses at the intersection between technology and tourism. Of course, the Internet and mobile technologies have a great potential in terms of providing new ways to access tourist services and destinations in general. For example, Wi-fi, wide touch screens, smartphones and tablets allow users to collect and exchange information before, during and after their consumption experience.

“My Destination” is a good example of this new generation of businesses. What is it about? It is an online platform where people are supposed to find first-hand information about a certain destination. As its creators put it, we live in “a post-Lonely Planet era” where “people want the information live, they want it up to date, they want it current”. In order to address this pressing need, MyDestination relies on several teams of local people in every destination covered by the service. Each local team is affiliated as a franchisee and is supposed to own and operate local websites that provide travel advice and information to potential visitors, while giving local business owners a chance to advertise their businesses on the online platform.

The most fascinating feature lies in the franchising business model. An idea which is in line with a two-fold purpose: having “natives” providing fresh information about what’s going on in their tourism place; and building an efficient and profitable business model for the company. I believe that these two aims are not easy to fulfil simultaneously. The sponsored attractions may appear right below what are supposed to be tips from natives, thus potentially hampering the credibility of the “unrivalled local knowledge” which is said to be offered.

If you select “Italy”, only Florence is listed as a featured destination. Regarding Germany, no destinations at all yet. Thus, Berlin is not on the list. Why are these key destinations missing? For a relatively brand-new tourist site, this could be a shame, as first-time users like myself may be disappointed. The absence of big destinations is linked to the characteristics of the business model: the practice of franchising. Evidently, no franchisees have been found in these well-known cities yet.

Let’s give a cursory glance at the information pack or FIM, Franchise Information Memorandum. Not on the MyDestination website, because the information is available only on request. We can use http://www.theukfranchisedirectory.net/page/my-destination/eoejls.php where we discover that the initial investment is “only” 20.000 £ + VAT. Quite demanding for an activity that does not require to rent an office, as you are told that you can easily “work from home”. It s true that the company has been able to expand across many countries. But now I think that the franchising package should be revised if MyDestination intends to win the key destination whose absence clearly affect the trustworthiness of the entire project.

Lifestyle segmentation in tourism and hospitality marketing

31/03/2013 § Lascia un commento

 

Massimo Giovanardi

 

[For the English version see below]

 

arkleisure-model

 

Senza alcun dubbio, prodotti, servizi e marchi legati all’esperienza turistica sono particolarmente significativi per il consumatore in termini di espressione identitaria. Una crociera alle Bahamas, un’esperienza da backpacker attraverso il Vietnam, il logo “I love New York” su di una maglietta. In breve, dimmi dove viaggi e ti dirò chi sei. Pianificare e acquistare la nostra prossima vacanza ha valenze chiaramente sociali ed espressive, che si palesano ogniqualvolta si avvicina Natale o Pasqua e ne parliamo con colleghi e amici. In altri termini, comprare il viaggio della vita o prenotare un tranquillo weekend in una città d’arte europea è per molti aspetti una questione di lifestyle.

 

Una domanda, dunque, sorge spontanea. Esistono strumenti di lifestyle segmentation sviluppati in maniera specifica nell’ambito del marketing turistico? La lifestyle segmentation descrive un insieme di strumenti molto comune nella marketing research. L’analisi degli stili di vita cataloga i consumatori non in base a parametri demografici, ma in base a come essi utilizzano il loro tempo, le loro energie e il loro denaro. Dunque, che cosa possiamo dire riguardo agli stili di vita come metodo di segmentazione nell’ambito di un settore, come il turismo, in cui ogni piccola scelta d’acquisto diventa un pezzo fondamentale del nostro modo di vivere?

 

Arkleisure® è uno strumento di segmentazione basato sugli stili di vita specifico per il settore turistico. Sviluppato dall’agenzia britannica Arkenford, Arkleisure® è stato pensato nel 2002 su misura delle esigenze di “Visit Britain” e “Visit England”. Lo scopo era quello di  ottenere un metodo di segmentazione per l’intero mercato del Regno Unito del turismo e del tempo libero, per essere d’aiuto a tutti i marketing manager del settore. Il modello identifica otto robusti segmenti che appaiono in figura. Le due dimensioni che organizzano l’illustrazione sono “mass-market – independent market” and “sustainers – innovators”. Come funziona? Molto semplice.

 

I cosmopolitan, per esempio, sono un segmento con alta propensione alla spesa ed è composto da persone che apprezzano l’arte e la cultura, non smettendo mai di cercare esperienze di viaggio nuove e stimolanti. Gli abituali, d’altra parte, sono fortemente restii al cambiamento e sono guidati da valori tradizionali, oltre che da una limitata disponibilità economica.

 

È utile questa categorizzazione per fornire insight preziosi sui consumatori di viaggi e turismo? Una risposta ardua, che forse potrebbe trovar risposta esauriente solo in una tesi di dottorato. Ad ogni modo, tante critiche sono state rivolte alla lifestyle segmentation. Alcuni hanno evidenziato come questo strumento non sia fondato su un corpus teorico sufficientemente autorevole. Altri hanno segnalato, invece, come sia molto difficoltoso individuare stili di vita simili in paesi o continenti differenti (questa critica non è applicabile a Arkleisure®, visto che si riferisce solo al mercato del Regno Unito).

 

Dobbiamo a questo punto specificare come la figura dalle linee sinuose riportata sul sito dell’agenzia sia solamente una parte di un più strutturato kit di strumenti analitici. Questi comprendono anche dati demografici e mettono in condizioni il cliente di interrogare il database per gruppi di età o posizione occupata all’interno del lifecycle. Ecco perché Arkleisure non offre una segmentazione puramente value-based, come evidenziato sul sito. Diciamo che sicuramente l’illustrazione degli otto segmenti può risultare uno degli elementi più intriganti di tutto l’apparato. Un elemento che potrebbe rivelarsi quello decisivo per acchiappare l’attenzione dei clienti e condurli più piacevolmente verso la sottoscrizione dell’abbonamento con i servizi dell’agenzia. Anche questo, del resto, fa parte del marketing.

– – – –

We can certainly agree that tourism products, experiences and brands are particularly meaningful for consumers in terms of self-expression. A cruise to Bahamas, a backpacking tour across Vietnam, the “I love New York” brand on T-shirts. In a nutshell, tell me where you travel to and I will tell you what kind of person you are. Planning and buying our next vacation can have inherently social and value-expressing purposes, which becomes obvious, for example, when we chat with our colleagues or friends during the weeks leading up to Christmas or Easter. In other words, purchasing a special vacation or an ordinary city-break in European art city is, to a great extent, a matter of lifestyle.

One question, thus, may spring to mind: have tourism marketers developed a specific lifestyle analysis tools to analyse and segment tourism consumers? This type of tool is very common in contemporary marketing research. Lifestyle analysis divides consumers into different lifestyle groups that are defined not according demographic traits but according to how people allocate time energy and money. So what about lifestyle and psychographic analysis in an industry that is inherently meaningful for people’s lifestyle choices?

Arkleisure® is a specific marketing tool of this type. Developed by Arkenford, Arkleisure® was created in 2002 by this English company to fit the needs of “Visit Britain” and “Visit England”. The aim was to have a method of segmenting the entire UK leisure and tourism markets, in order to support tourism and hospitality managers. The model identifies eight robust segments that are represented in the figure. The two main dimensions that organise the illustration are “mass-market – independent market” and “sustainers – innovators”. How does it work? It’s very easy.

Cosmopolitans, for example, constitute a high-spending segment composed of people who appreciates art and culture and desire to be constantly challenged by new products and services. Habituals, instead, are strongly resistant to change, hold traditional values and may have a very limited income.

Does this categorisation offer valuable insights to understand tourism consumers? A tough question, which might be replied with sufficient gravitas maybe only in a PhD thesis. Many criticisms have been raised against lifestyle segmentation practices. These criticisms point, for example, to the fact that lifestyle segmentation is based on a too weak set of theories and that it is difficult to identify similar lifestyle segments across different countries (the former does not apply to Arkleisure®, as it focuses only on the UK market).

We have to point out that the eye-catching figure illustrated on the agency’s website is just one part of a more well-structured sets marketing tool that encompasses also demographic data and enables tourism firms to interrogate the data segmenting by age group or lifestage. That’s why Arkleisure® does not offer a ‘pure’ value-based segmentation, as stressed on the website. Let’s say that the illustration of the eight value-based segments turns out to be Arkleisure’s most intriguing element. The element that, maybe, may result the key one in order to capture managers’ imagination and make them subscribe to the Arkleisure® system. By the way, this is part of marketing, too.

Tra Stoccolma e Tallinn: sulla “via dell’alcool” / From Stockholm to Tallinn: following the “alcohol road”

01/02/2013 § Lascia un commento

Massimo Giovanardi

[For the English version see below]

IMG_2244

È il tardo pomeriggio di un venerdì quando lascio il porto di Stoccolma. Sono su di una nave da crociera diretta a Tallinn, la capitale dell’Estonia. La composizione dei passeggeri è la più eterogenea in cui io mi sia mai imbattuto: alcuni stanno  andando verso lo stato baltico in visita parenti; altri sembrano backpacker; altri ancora sono giovani coppie in viaggio per l’Europa. Ma una parte dei viaggiatori rimane, almeno per me, difficile da inquadrare a prima vista.

Qualche miglio dopo capisco che tra le tante attrazioni offerte dalla nave vi è anche quella di accompagnare i passeggeri lungo una sorta di “via dell’alcool”. Un percorso emozionale a forte gradazione che connette la Svezia, dove vige il monopolio degli alcolici, a varie città del mar Baltico, nella zona Euro. Sull’imbarcazione c’è un duty free abbastanza fornito che offre declinazioni di Bacco provenienti da varie nazioni del mondo. I bar e i ristoranti somministrano alchool a prezzi molto più ragionevoli che in Svezia e un mojito costa incredibilmente “solo” 6 euro. E un bicchiere tira l’altro.

Arrivati a Tallinn, la via dell’alchool continua lungo un percorso di cartelli pubblicitari che segnalano la presenza di tutti gli alchool store disponibili nei paraggi. Le commesse del primo negozio che incontro intercettano i “pellegrini”, dicendo loro che alla fine del loro giro sarebbero poi ritornati lì, perché prezzi più bassi in città non esistono. Così non è, perché molti viandanti camminano già di ritorno carichi di lattine e bottiglie.

Un evento di moda cui assisto all’interno di un centro commerciale distoglie completamente la mia attenzione, portandola sulla “via della seta”. Alcuni giovani designer sono i protagonisti di una piccola mostra e intravedo nelle loro creazioni alcuni spunti molto interessanti. Per il resto, la città appare tranquilla e laconica, con l’aria un po’ assente di chi deve ancora assorbire il forte contraccolpo di un cambiamento appena avvenuto.

Rientrati in nave, molti riempiono completamente i trolley con le provviste liquide che verranno buone per i sabati sera a venire. Non appena la nave di ritorno attracca a Stoccolma, di tutte le valigie che scattano dai blocchi di partenza provo a indovinare quali contengano liquori e quali vestiti. A giudicare dall’incedere cauto del suo proprietario, la grande valigia blu è quella più piena. Chissà come sarebbe stato, mi chiedo, approdare a Tallinn con l’aereo. Forse, la via dell’alcool non sarebbe ora una delle immagini che più mi ricordano la capitale baltica, sebbene non esista una strategia deliberata di place branding di questo tipo.

IMG_2235

– – –

It’s a Friday, late afternoon, when I‘m departing from Stockholm’s port. I’m on a cruise ship heading to Tallinn, the capital of Estonia. The assortment of passengers is as much heterogeneous as I have ever seen: some are going to Estonia to visit their relatives, some others seem to be backpackers; some others are young couples travelling across Europe. But a part of them remain, at least for me, difficult to size up.

Some miles later, I understand that among the various attractions offered by the ship there’s also what can be termed an “alcohol road”. A high proof experience connecting Sweden, where alcohol trade is controlled by a national monopoly, to many Baltic destinations, which are within the Euro zone. On board I notice a well equipped duty free shop, offering a great deal of alcohol-related products from all over the world. Bars and restaurants hand out drinks at a more reasonable price than in Stockholm and a mojito costs “just” 6 euros. And one glass set the ball rolling.

Upon arrival in Tallinn, the alcohol road goes on following many billboards that reveal the presence of the alcohol stores available in the area. The shop attendants of the first shop I encounter entice the “pilgrims”, warning them that, right now, they’re passing in front of the cheapest wine shop in Tallinn. That’s not the case, as a couple of people are already coming back towards the ship carrying out shopping bags full of bottles and cans.

My attention is diverted a little bit from the alcohol road towards the “silk road” by a fashion event that I walk through inside a shopping mall. Some young designers are the main characters of an exhibition that shows off their creations, displaying some interesting ideas. Apart from that, the city appears to be quiet and laconic, being lost in thought like someone who hasn’t yet absorbed a big shock caused by a recent change.

Once back on board, many people fill up their baggage with the alcohol supply that will turn out to be useful the coming Saturday. As soon the ship docks in Stockholm, passengers start guiding their suitcases towards the main exit. I try to guess which ones contain bottles and which ones clothes. Judging from the prudent way of walking displayed by his owner, that big blue suitcase seems to be the most filled one. I ask myself: who knows what it would have been like to get to Tallinn if I had taken, for example, an airplane. Perhaps, the alcohol road wouldn’t now be one of the place images that, more than others, reminds me of the Estonian capital, even in absence of any deliberate place branding effort emphasising this element.

The Brand and the Real Thing: Kenya – Shining for Some

30/11/2012 § Lascia un commento

Places.

by Renard Teipelke

An amazing landscape, wild animals, beautiful sunsets, white beaches, traditional tribe villages, mountains and valleys…one could easily continue the list of things for which Kenya is famous for. This country in East Africa is one of the prime tourist destinations in Africa and equally depends on the revenues from this large economic sector (678 mio. Euro revenue earnings in 2010). The country is well branded internationally and has established very clear pictures as images of Kenya in many people’s minds (see another article on this blog here).

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Il futuro del turismo: l’agenda di Cohen & Cohen / The future of tourism research: the agenda of Cohen & Cohen

31/10/2012 § Lascia un commento

Massimo Giovanardi

 

[For the English version see below]

Quali sono i trend del momento nell’ambito degli studi sul turismo? Che cosa studieranno ricercatori e practitioner tra un anno? E, infine, che spazio ci sarà per il branding territoriale in queste tendenze? Per rispondere a queste domande, si può dare un’occhiata all’articolo pubblicato sull’ultimo numero di Annals of Tourism Research – la più autorevole rivista accademica di turismo – da Erik e Scott Cohen (http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.annals.2012.07.009)

Prima di rispondere alla terza domanda, ecco una lista delle “current issues in the study of tourism”:

–       giustizia sociale (una value-led research agenda; riduzione della povertà; turismo sociale);

–       sostenibilità ambientale;

–       disastri naturali;

–       terrorismo;

–       heritage (beni culturali e loro preservazione);

–       embodiement e affect (i rulo del corpo e dei sensi, ben oltre la vista);

–       mediatizzazione (rulo pervasivo dei media nella società e anche nell’esperienza turistica).

Il branding territoriale è menzionato in relazione a due di questi temi: il primo è il terrorismo, il secondo è la mediatizzazione. Per quanto riguarda il primo, il branding occupa un ruolo marginale (e antipatico), essendo considerato un possibile strumento per manipolare la definizione di terrorismo a scopi politici e per proteggere l’industria del turismo. Per quanto riguarda invece il secondo tema, la mediatizzazione, il place branding ha uno spazio più rilevante. Citando Ooi e Stoeber, i Cohen sottolineano come il branding possa essere considerato una parte dell’emergente autentiticà dei luoghi, piuttosto che una fonte di autentica corruzione.

Delusi? Credo che i “place branding scholar” abbiano ora un chiaro indizio su come scrivere per pubblicare le loro ricerche su di un importante giornale di turismo che dà spazio alle scienze sociali.

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Which are the hottest trends emerging from tourism research? What will tourism scholars and practitioners be dealing with next year? And, finally, what will be the role of  place branding? To respond this question, we could have a look at the invited article published on the last issue of Annals of Tourism Research – the leading journal of the “field – by Erik and Scott Cohen (http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.annals.2012.07.009)

Before tackling the third questions, I would like to present the list of the “current issues in the study of tourism”:

–       social justice (a value-led research agenda towards greater social justice; poverty reduction; social tourism);

–       environmental sustainability;

–       natural disaster;

–       terrorism

–       heritage tourism;

–       embodiement and affect (the role of the ‘body’ and the senses, far beyond the sight)

–       mediatisation (pervasive role of the media within society and tourism experience)

The branding of places is mentioned in relation to two issues: the first is “terrorism”, the second is “mediatisation”. Regarding the former, branding holds a supporting (and disagreeable), since it is intended here as a possible tool in order to manipulate the definition of terrorism for political purposes and protect the tourism industry (p. 2190). With regard to the latter, branding deserves more attention. By citing Ooi and Stoeber, place branding is considered to be a part of the emergent authenticity within tourism places rather than a source of authentic corruption

Disappointed? At least, “place branding scholars” have now a clear clue on what to write about if they want to publish their research in an important tourism journal that welcomes contribution from social scientists.