Aaron Tkaczynski, Dr Sharyn R. Rundle-Thiele, Dr Narelle Beaumont
University of Southern Queensland
Tourism segmentation research has focused on (1) developing tourist segment profiles using primary and secondary tourist data and (2) understanding which segmentation bases can accurately predict future tourist behaviour. Researchers have not considered how tourism stakeholders are segmenting their tourist markets. This paper presents evidence to suggest that the use of combined segmentation variables to develop tourism profiles is warranted and that a ‘one size fits all’ approach is not suitable because different tourism stakeholders within a single destination attract different tourists.
Furthermore, this research identified that the segments used by the destination marketing organisation failed to holistically describe the tourist groups using the different services provided by tourism stakeholders within a single destination.
Destination marketing is complex involving many stakeholders each likely to be attracting different tourist segments and future research endeavours must acknowledge this complexity.
Keywords: Segmentation, tourism stakeholders, destination marketing, case study
Tourism marketers are faced with a complex environment resulting from unprecedented growth in the tourism industry over the last fifty years. As the phenomenon of tourism has grown, so have the interests of destinations in attracting their share of visitors
(Sheehan, Ritchie & Hudson, 2007). Destination choices available to consumers have proliferated (Pike, 2005). Today’s tourism marketers must influence consumer decision making in an increasingly complex and competitive global marketplace. Tourism is a complicated setting involving a diverse group of active stakeholders (Sheehan et al.,
2007) who each have different interests in the tourism market (Pike, 2005). For destination stakeholders such as Destination Marketing Organisations (DMOs), accommodation providers, and activity operators to survive in an increasingly competitive environment, it is essential that a consistent approach is used by all tourism stakeholders operating within a single destination (Sheehan et al., 2007).
The importance of segmentation in tourism is widely acknowledged (e.g. Bieger &
Laesser, 2002; Kastenholz, Davis & Paul, 1999; Cha, McCleary & Uysal, 1995). To date research has assisted us to understand which bases can be used by tourism destinations to effectively segment tourism markets (e.g. Dolnicar & Leisch, 2003;
Johns & Gyimothy, 2002; Laesser & Crouch, 2006). Further, these efforts have largely centred upon building tourist profiles for a destination using visitor data (e.g. Frochot,
2005; Hudson & Ritchie, 2002; Laws, Scott & Parfitt, 2002). Little research attention has been directed towards understanding how the tourism stakeholders segment their markets. As a result we do not know how tourism stakeholders segment a market for managerial and marketing purposes and whether tourism stakeholder segments mirror
the segments defined by DMOs. This case study will contribute to the literature by presenting tourism stakeholder views for one tourism destination. It will identify similarities or discrepancies between the segments defined by the DMO and the segments used by tourism stakeholders for managerial and marketing purposes.
2. Literature Review
It is not always possible for destination marketers to tailor messages for each and every tourist. Tourism marketers require tools to assist their decision making and marketing and refine their thinking. Segmentation is a management strategy (Smith, 1956), which assists in framing management thinking (Aguas, Costa & Rita, 2000). Segmentation has been used by managers to market a destination effectively (Pike, 2005) assisting organisations to maximise financial resources