Inter-organisational cooperation and network influences in destination marketing: the case of www.purenz.com
Bhat, Sushma Seth
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Individual businesses from a variety of sectors network and work together to create a successful tourist experience. The interdependencies of organisations producing this experience make cooperation a necessity in destination marketing. Despite the centrality of cooperation and networking in tourism marketing relatively little empirical research has been conducted in this area. This thesis uses the case of the development of the official NZ website www.purenz.com (purenz) to examine the role, form and process of inter-organisational cooperation in destination marketing. Drawing on in-depth interviews with thirty- five industry members involved in establishing and managing www.purenz.com between 1999 and 2006 this thesis makes a number of contributions to both the marketing and tourism literature. The thesis confirms that there are considerable difficulties in broadening the marketing role of the national tourism organisation (NTO) beyond destination promotion. The study also finds that destination marketing and destination management are still perceived as separate processes in the NZ tourism industry. In addition, the results of this study provide support for the view that the social networks in which firms are embedded have a considerable influence on inter-organisational alliance formation. This thesis contributes to the development of theoretical approaches to the study of cooperation in destination marketing by identifying five levels of cooperation in destination marketing: passive acceptance, support, alignment, contribution and pooling. The levels are based on the different types of input that may be required from stakeholders by the NTO. The level of cooperation desired in a particular context is a strategic choice to be made by the destination marketing management. This choice is affected by the existing characteristics of the tourism network; the NTO leaders’ perception of the need for and value of cooperation in destination marketing and also by the extent of shared understanding of the scope of destination marketing management among tourism stakeholders. The research points to the need to develop further the network characteristics affecting cooperation in destination marketing. Further work is also needed to develop a more complete profile of the five levels of cooperation identified by this study and the investment required to achieve each level of cooperation.