Destination competitiveness: An Analysis of the characteristics to differentiate all-inclusive hotels & island destinations in the Caribbean

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Title: Destination competitiveness: An Analysis of the characteristics to differentiate all-inclusive hotels & island destinations in the Caribbean
Author: Chambers, Leiseth
Abstract: Purpose - Tourism is the mainstay of most islands within the Caribbean encompassing a great segment of their services industry. However, despite increasing maturity in the research literature about destination competitiveness, analyzing it from the hospitality professional's perspective remains a novel concept in research for destinations in the Caribbean region. In light of this, the purpose of this study is to identify the distinguishing factors determining the competitiveness of Small Island Destinations within the Caribbean. Specifically, the research examined the features, experiences and strategies that all-inclusive hotels and resorts use to differentiate themselves from other properties within their island and throughout the Caribbean. Another aim of the study is to ascertain hotel managers' perceptions regarding the characteristics which differentiate their island as a destination from others within the Caribbean. Importance- The all-inclusive concept is an important experience invention for the Caribbean market place. However, if each island is not able to adequately differentiate itself from its competitors, there is cause for concern - these small Caribbean islands might end up in a situation of fierce competition among each other, while competing individually with other larger destinations. This places each destination (and the region as a whole) in an unfavorable position. Design/Methodology/Approach- Data were collected by means of a self-completion survey administered preliminarily via air mail then by e-mail to hotel managers and professionals of all-inclusive hotels throughout the Caribbean. The survey solicited their perception of the distinguishing features, experiences and strategies that all-inclusive hotels use to compete as well as their opinion about the characteristics that makes their host destination distinct. The study was exploratory in nature and followed a combined descriptive-comparative design. Findings- Hotel Professionals believe that employees play an important role in differentiating their all-inclusive hotel from other properties within the Caribbean. Secondly, according to tourism experts in the region, the natural beauty of the destination and the destination's favorable climate are the main distinguishing characteristics that influence a traveler to visit their island over other destinations within the Caribbean. Since this study highlights these as common resources among all Caribbean destinations, it, therefore, follows that each destination's ability to distinguish itself lies in its volume, range and quality of supporting factors and resources, its destination management strategies, its destination policy, planning and development as well as how it manages its qualifying and amplifying determinants. Research Limitations/Implications- The sample size for this research was relatively small, but was adequate for statistical analysis. The results should be cautiously interpreted as a generalization of the Caribbean and serve more as a springboard for further research and analysis into this vital area. Since this study was focused on one element in the model of destination competitiveness, future research should seek to test all the elements in the model thereby, presenting more comprehensive, systemic view of Caribbean destination competitiveness. The research may also be conducted from other stakeholders' viewpoints such as tourists and travel agents. Practical Implications- In order to ensure that individual strategies are tied into the broader competitive strategy for each destination, this study can be useful to tourism planners as it helps them to better understand the approach employed by all-inclusive hotels to differentiate themselves from other properties as well as their perception of host islands' differentiation strategies. This understanding of all-inclusive differentiation within the region would also help travel organizers and marketers, like the Caribbean Tourism Organization, to plan, design and deliver products and services that cater to the specific needs of the all-inclusive market, while aiming to highlight the unique attributes of each island destination. This will further help to strengthen the image of each island destination, in particular, and the Caribbean Destination, in general, as they seek to gain complete advantage over other hospitality destinations within the Hospitality and Tourism arena. Originality/value- Destination Planners and particularly Hotel Associations and Professionals will benefit from this study as little research has been carried out to study the topic of destination competitiveness from hotel professionals' perspective within the Caribbean. Academic researchers can also build on this for future studies in the Caribbean as there are many more missing rungs in the ladder of literature for the subject matter in this geographic region.
Record URI: http://hdl.handle.net/1850/12322
Date: 2010

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