Destination Brand Love: Tourists' Relationships with the Places they Visit

  • Kathryn Swanson

Student thesis: Doctor of Business Administration


AbstractThe University of ManchesterKathryn Louise SwansonDoctor of Business AdministrationDestination Brand Love: Tourists' Relationships with the Places they Visit2016The overall aim of this thesis is to explore the concept of brand love within thecontext of places as tourism destinations. Three main objectives emerge from this aim:1) To examine the utility of the concept of brand love within the context of tourismdestinations; 2) To examine how brand love is manifest among tourists in a variety ofdifferent tourism destination products; and 3) To develop, and analyse the implications of,a conceptualization of brand love within the context of tourism destinations, from bothpractical and academic perspectives.These objectives are met through research involving the cases of three tourismdestinations in the United States: Orlando, Florida; Minneapolis, Minnesota; and LasVegas, Nevada. A variety of methodological techniques, including semi-structured touristinterviews, volunteer-employed photography (VEP), and tourist collage creation, wereimplemented to achieve the research objectives above. However, emerging as aconsequence of the research process, an evaluation of these techniques as means ofstudying tourism and tourists is included in the thesis as well, and this in effect acts as afourth objective and outcome of the study:4) To examine the potential for data collection from virtual platforms, or put moresimply, "virtual data," in tourism research.The topic of this thesis is multidisciplinary and draws from literature in the fieldsof marketing, psychology, tourism, and geography. Within these broad fields, areas ofliterature of particular relevance are branding and consumer behaviour.I chose to submit my DBA thesis in an alternative format due to my interest inpublishing work in outlets that are read by tourism academics and practitioners with theintent that the findings of my research may be useful in academia and practice. The threepublications that form its central basis are: a research note on place brand love which putsthe project in its broader theoretical context; an academic journal article outlining andcritically evaluating the methodological approach to the work; and a book chapter in aforthcoming edited collection on the topic of place branding which reports and analysesthe empirical findings of the work. A fourth publication is included as an Appendix in thethesis. This comment piece reports on an Oxford-style debate that I organized at the 2014American Marketing Association Summer Educators' Conference.Theoretical contributions of the thesis include: 1) An extension of the brand loveconcept to destination brands through the identification of 13 place-related themes; 2) Anidentification of the different types of love the participants experience for destinations,namely philia, storge and eros; 3) The development of a theoretical model of destinationbrand love, in terms of how and why it forms amongst tourists; and 4) An analysis ofvirtual data collection in tourism. Through key informant interviews, contributions topractice were identified in terms of the potential of the research findings to contribute totourism businesses, and particularly destination management organizations.
Date of Award1 Aug 2016
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • The University of Manchester
SupervisorDominic Medway (Supervisor) & Gary Warnaby (Supervisor)

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