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Experiential marketing as focus differentiation: linking hospitality product to place

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Version 2 2024-03-07, 03:20
Version 1 2023-05-27, 18:49
thesis
posted on 2023-05-27, 18:49 authored by Belhaj, M
It is widely acknowledged that hotels have become more than just a place to eat, drink and sleep. The transition to an ‚ÄövÑv=experience economy‚ÄövÑv¥ has meant that hotels are in some ways now considered destinations themselves. The challenge for modern hotels is that, while their traditional roles remain, they now need to continually innovate, and provide a personalised and memorable hotel experience. At the centre of this challenge is the changing nature of consumers and how their needs and expectations as knowledgeable and experience-seeking consumers can shape hotel operations. There are major changes that have affected the way hotels now operate within the highly competitive 21st century marketplace. In order to stand out amongst the competitors, hotels actively seek to offer an ‚ÄövÑv=escape‚ÄövÑv¥ from reality through various strategies. They look to engage and connect with guests, with a view to turning them into loyal customers and brand ambassadors. Given the continuous dynamics in the hotel marketplace, one approach to differentiation is to use experiential marketing, where the firm employs various tools and tactics to fully immerse the visitor in the hospitality offering. Arguably, this approach is particularly appropriate when the basis for the differentiation of the hospitality product is the nature of the ‚ÄövÑv=place‚ÄövÑv¥ or location. Noticeably, the use of experiential marketing as a differentiation strategy in the context of a place-based hospitality offering has received little attention in the academic literature. This thesis proposes that developments in the hospitality industry are best explained using a narrative approach. The structure of the thesis is such that each chapter builds on the preceding, with each carrying the narrative forward, from the overview of the tourism and hospitality sectors to the subsequent data analysis of the single case study hotel. The hotel used is MACq 01, located in Hobart, Tasmania, which is a greenfield project conceived and designed to utilise ‚ÄövÑv=place‚ÄövÑv¥ as the core of its brand and product offering. As such it is an ideal hotel for the purposes of this research. With this in mind, this study applies a qualitative and interpretivist approach to the overall research aim, which is to investigate the extent to which experiential marketing strategies are perceived by hotel stakeholders and how they influence guests‚ÄövÑv¥ perceptions and experiences of a place-based hospitality offering. Data are drawn from online interviews with hotel managers and hotel guests, online focus groups with frontline staff, field visits, including the analysis of internal documents, marketing collateral and website from MACq 01. The thesis, then, analyses the case study hotel from a marketing perspective, where secondary data is used to provide a valuable context for the hotel‚ÄövÑv¥s strategy. It also seeks to uncover different stakeholder perspectives on the importance and effect of various elements of an experiential marketing strategy within a place-based hotel by critically analysing and reporting the primary data obtained from interviews with hotel guests, management and frontline staff. Stakeholders‚ÄövÑv¥ perspectives are summarised in the concluding chapter, which discusses the research questions in light of the findings. In addition, the final chapter addresses the extent to which the study has provided insight into the overall aim of the research. The thesis makes a significant contribution to hospitality marketing research by identifying the important interconnections between the use of experiential marketing and its effectiveness in terms of the perception and experience of hotel guests evident. This knowledge could be used to adapt marketing strategies in the creation and management of guest experiences. The research also provides industry professionals and marketing managers with important insights into the development and management of successful experiential marketing strategies that leverage the affective side of consumer experiences and place-based brands. Finally, the findings will be important to a wide range of businesses, especially those based on ‚ÄövÑv=place‚ÄövÑv¥ and seeking to enter or succeed in the experience-driven market, such as the tourism and hospitality industry.

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Tasmanian School of Business and Economics

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Copyright 2022 the author

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