Instructor, Tourism Faculty, Semnan University
Building destination emotional attachment is a key tourism marketing issue in today׳s tourism market which has received considerable attention due to increased competition. Based on Brand relationship theory, this study was aimed to investigate the influential factors on tourists׳ destination satisfaction. Although numerous researches have studied tourists׳ destination satisfaction from different perspectives, it should be noted that few of them have investigated the relationship between satisfaction and destination attachment and personality. To this end, the relationships between destination image and destination personality, their influence on tourists׳ attachment to destination as well as the influence of attachment on satisfaction were investigated. Using simple random sampling, 274 questionnaires were distributed among Iranian tourists visiting Isfahan. Based on structural equation modeling, the conceptual model was tested using Lisrel. Structural equation modeling results revealed that destination image is a key determinant of tourist-destination relationship, having positive significant effects on destination personality, destination attachment and destination satisfaction. However, the influence of personality on attachment and satisfaction was not confirmed. Destination attachment׳s influence on satisfaction was also confirmed.
Most recently, different aspects of branding in customer behavior literature regarding brand credibility, brand image and brand attachment have been well-examined. However, it has largely been ignored in the tourism management literature. As the tourism marketplace is becoming more highly competitive, destination marketers are adopting branding techniques to craft an identity which focuses on the uniqueness of their products, namely destinations. Similar to those marketing consumer products, destination marketers have had to turn to branding to distinguish their destinations to convey a positive message that will motivate tourists to visit them. However, evidence to support the successful implementation of destination branding is mixed. A combination of destination image and destination personality has thus been used as a strategy by destination marketers to differentiate their brands from other competing ones. The creation of brand saliency- the development of an emotional relationship with the consumer- can hold the key to destination differentiation.
Although destination image and destination personality are essential parts of powerful brands, the relationship between the two remains vague. More importantly, more efforts are needed to fill the research gaps in the literature on the links between destination image and destination personality with regard to the tourist-destination relationship (i.e. satisfaction, trust and attachment), which plays a pivotal role in destination branding and the formation of the emotional relationships that can increase customer loyalty.
Due to the key roles satisfaction and attachment have in improving destination competitiveness, conducting research about influential factors on them will help to fill the existing theoretical gap as well as guiding destination managers. Reviewing the existing literature shows that the relationship between attachment and satisfaction and more importantly their relationship with destination image and personality hasn’t been adequately studied. Moreover, reviewing Iranian studies represents lack of researches about destination personality and attachment. To clarify the association between destination image and destination personality, address the research gap related to brand relationship in tourism, and investigate the antecedents of destination satisfaction, this study aims to investigate the effects of destination image on destination personality, and their roles in collaborating with destination attachment in building destination satisfaction.
Materials and Methods
Iranian tourists visiting Isfahan were targeted in this study. The questionnaire was designed using the items mentioned in Chen & Phou (2013), Veasna et al (20103) and Saeedi & Heidarzadeh (2011) studies.300 questionnaires were distributed among tourists visiting "Imam Square", "Si-o-seh bridge" and "khaju Bridge" as three most visited attractions in Isfahan. The respondents were asked to answer the questions about Isfahan on a five-point Likert -type scale, ranging from "strongly disagree"(=1) to "strongly agree"(=5).
A pilot test was performed to assess how well the survey instrument captured the constructs it was supposed to measure, and to test the internal consistency and reliability of questionnaire items.
Confirmatory factor analysis and SEM were utilized to analyze the validity and reliability of the constructs and test the conceptual model of destination branding.
Discussion and Results
CFA was conducted and the goodness-fo-fit was acceptable. A maximum likelihood estimation method was used to test the predicted relationships among the constructs in the proposed conceptual model. According to the statistical results, the hypothesized model fit the empirical data well and except for the path: personality-satisfaction and personality-attachment, all the hypotheses were supported.
The results of the structural relationship analysis revealed that Destination image plays a very important role in building destination brand, and has a direct effect on destination personality. Moreover, destination image has significantly positive effects on tourists attachment to destination and their satisfaction. Destination attachment also has a direct positive effect on destination satisfaction.
Keywords: Tourism Destination Marketing, Destination Image, Destination Personality, Destination Satisfaction, Destination Attachment.
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