Heritage, Image and Branding…

So the first week of the Spring semester has come and gone.  We have skimmed the upper ice berg of the definition of tourism, and now diving below the waterline to see all the complexity associated with that definition.  Today, my 8am class (I know, ugh 8am), was awake and raring to go.  I had taken the time to map out some of the concepts we had been talking about, and diagram out the pieces we needed to start to examine before they arrived.

Mapping out tourism
Mapping out the definition of tourism, tourism umbrella, and diving into the tourism system

I posted the tourism umbrella, leading to the three environments in which resources, tangible, intangible are drawn from.  From those three environments we also derive our stakeholders, guests, host community, employees, governments, investors, and other.  These stakeholders have a vested interest in our industry, even if they are arm-chair travelers.  In today’s globalized knowledge economy, our industry has three drivers, information, money, and promises.

Now I hinted at some of the impacts on those three environments, controllable and uncontrollable.  That we have this moment of truth for all of our stakeholders to fulfill (keep our promises), and if we don’t manage these relationships long-term, more than likely our stakeholders will shift their loyalty from one destination to another.  Tourism is a highly competitive global industry.

Introducing the first concepts of tourism to class
The rest of the map…mapping out the initial discussion of tourism…Introducing the first concepts of tourism to class

The rest of the morning was spent on dissecting the rest of the map as well as defining these first important concepts.

Now, Friday will be devoted to a discussion online in terms of understanding value.  What does it mean?  How important is it to our industry and the stakeholders.  They will accomplish this online, and I am looking forward to the lively debate.

Next week, we slip along the currents into the history of tourism, and the development of heritage.  Scotland is my area of expertise, and use it in all of my examples.  Modern tourism can be traced to Sir Walter Scott, and his quest to design a grand experience for King George IV in 1822.  Scott had a major hand in organizing all the activities, and what the King would see.  It is the demarcation line (the end of something, and the beginning of another) when Scotland began to turn away from its rebellious nature, and was beginning to be incorporated into the socio-cultural landscape.  It is also a point where Scotland realized what it had in terms of ‘tourism’, whether they understood tourism at that time or not. Scotland was emerging as a brand.

VisitScotland has derived three adjectives (action and non-action) to describe its brand:

  1. Enduring ~ in the buildings and architecture, history, culture and tradition
  2. Dramatic ~ in the scenery, beautiful light and the drama of the changing weather (you can have all four seasons in one day.
Isle of Skye, Scotland
Isle of Skye, near Neist Point

3.  Human: The Scots are seen as a down to earth, innovative, solid, and dependable, but full of integrity and pride. Tourist express that they ‘got’ the genuine article when they came to Scotland, and that they was nothing synthetic about Scotland.

Two seminal works I use when I’m discussing branding…

Imagining Scotland
Imagining Scotland: Tradition, Representation, and Promotion in Scottish Tourism since 1750 by Gold and Gold.
The point at which a destination becomes a brand...
Scotland the Brand: The Making of Scottish Heritage by McCrone, Morris and Kiely.

Yet, Scotland has a disparity, or disgruntled attitude towards the icons that represent its brand. Most notably tartan. The tartan you see today, is a manufactured representation by Scott, based on traditional plaids (though not completely the design). But it isn’t the only aspect of the Scottish Culture that tourist should understand.  Tourist expect such icons to be slathered about and in the public view.  But there is more that is Scotland.  More to the brand.

Pudliner (2006) and Hamilton (2000) articulate that the Scottish brand is easily recognized on a global scale. It has a distinctive nuance in the tourism industry.  But all information, all imagery can be highly interpretative.  From a marketing standpoint, these icons, this representation have been developing for hundreds of years, based on the enduring landscape, and the people who inhabit it.

Neil Oliver argues in his work, “A History of Scotland” (2011) that history and time of a landscape, creates a mystique, a mythos that pulls, and pushes tourist towards a destination.  I can’t argue that Scotland has a good foothold in our popular consciousness.   Braveheart helped boost Scottish tourism in 1995.  The television success of Starz’s original series, Outlander, has again drawn fans to the country.  VisitScotland, the nation’s tourist board is designing and developing themed experiences about that show, and its filming locations.  Diana Gabaldon has ‘played’ with history and transformed it much as her contemporary Sir Walter Scott did in the early 19th Century.

These interpretation of the iconographic, or image of a destination is important for the marketing to tourist as well as meeting their needs and wants.  We can see how other destinations have benchmarked against others.  One of Minnesota’s own TV stations has ‘creatively’ swiped a Pennsylvania tagline associated with Penn State.  “We are” is an iconic representation of that institution and its alumni base.  Yet, the slogan is transferable.  Pure New Zealand the brand existed well before Pure Michigan.  So branding is a tricky processes and function of tourism.  What is truly a genuine article?

So we move on to the next elements in the effort to understand a destination, understand how a destination becomes a brand.

Pudliner, B. (2006) Analysis of Technology Facilitated Relationship Building in the Context of the Scottish Tourism Industry. Scottish Hotel School. Glasgow, Scotland, University of Strathclyde. PhD.

Hamilton, K. (2000) Project Galore: Qualitative Research and Leveraging Scotland’s Brand Equity.  Journal of Advertising Research. January-April, 2000; 107-111

Oliver, N (2011) A History of Scotland: Look Behind the Mist and Myth of Scottish History.  Phoenix.  (as well as DVD) BBC



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