The travel, tourism and hospitality industry is a constant challenge for the field of marketing. Because the competition is so strong throughout, it is hard for a company to build a base and maintain its market share. With so many leisure time choices available, customers are free to use their leisure dollars on many pursuits. This makes the market very difficult for those involved. An added difficulty is establishing a brand, and particularly a brand image, that survives disgruntled customers, and becomes better because of those very customers. One company involved in establishing a consistent brand image in this industry is the Royal Caribbean Cruise Line. If an individual wants to spend vacation time on a cruise, they have many choices, and Royal Caribbean has had to develop and maintain an image that makes it the carrier of choice. It has done this effectively through many traditional means, but this study will employ attitude accessibility theory to see if Royal Caribbean is establishing its brand in such a way that it creates the positive image that people need to see in a carrier. This study will examine marketing in the travel and tourism industry, how it has been applied to branding, and finally how it is used by Royal Caribbean. The specific device of branding is also explored in depth from its general use, to how it specifically employed by Royal Caribbean. Finally, recommendations regarding how Royal Caribbean can better use brand image are cited.
Table of contents
Topic Importance 4
Attitude Accessibility in Branding 5
General Overview of Branding 5
Importance of Branding 7
Overview of Brand Image 7
Royal Caribbean 8
Attitude Accessibility and Royal Caribbean 9
Branding in the Tourism Sector
This report is based on how the tourism industry markets its products; specifically how products, or companies, are branded. The company chosen for this review is Royal Caribbean Cruise Lines. The focus needed to be a company that is known around the world, and a company that evokes an image based on the brand name or symbol. The marketing of this product is significantly affected by how the brand is perceived by the public. This report will detail how branding is affected by customer attitude accessibility, and how Royal Caribbean has used this concept to make sure that their product receives the most value from recognisability and public perception of the name.
Marketing a product is one of the primary determinants of whether it will succeed in the industry or not (Srinivasan, 2009). The specific marketing approach depends on what the goals of the organization are and what type of industry it is. In the tourism industry, customers need to be able to see what the company is offering; they also have to trust the company. To do this, a company needs to build up its brand (eg, its name or symbol). The importance of the topic lies in the fact that detailed reports with regard to how companies accomplish this are almost nonexistent. The research is clear about what a company can do, and what some companies have done, but branding research in travel and tourism appears to be a seldom researched topic. It is necessary to widen the scope of the scholarship in this area.
Attitude Accessibility in Branding
The theory chosen for this report is attitude accessibility. With respect to branding, it is a very important concept. Companies want customers to have an immediate positive image arise when their brand is mentioned, in whatever context (Grant, Button & Noseworthy, 1994). Royal Caribbean has spent millions of dollars developing such a brand.
The specific theory chosen relates well to brand image. Attitude accessibility is about the image a specific product name or symbol evokes in a potential customer. Luczak, et al., (2007) relate that;
"The theory of attitude accessibility suggests that the more salient the brand attitude, the more likely that attitude will be used in the creation of a consumer's evoked set. The positive attributes of a brand or brands in a co-branding strategy can result in the consumer electing to include a particular product in his or her evoked set and ultimately lead to the purchase of that product."
For the purposes of this report, a customer hears the name "Royal Caribbean," and the name itself gives the individual a specific set of thoughts. The company must conduct its marketing strategy in such a way that this happens because "These attitudes are used in interpreting and evaluating specific brands and manifest themselves through consumers purchase behaviours" (Luczak, et al., 2007). However, in order to continue this discussion, the concept of branding must be understood in greater detail.
General overview of branding
The word branding is derived from the practice of ranchers marking cattle so that it was possible to tell which ranch the animal belonged to. This concept has morphed over the years to encompass all the methods a company uses to distinguish itself from the competition. However, the basic distinction is the same; a company needs a brand to ensure that it is easily distinguishable from the competition within its industry.
A company can establish its brand in a variety of ways in order to accomplish its goals. The focus of the company determines what it will concentrate on. The first possibility that a company can use is to establish brand equity. As the term "equity" implies, this has to do with the ability of the company to make money from their brand. This can be done because the brand has well-known quality or is very recognisable. The second type of branding has to do with the loyalty individuals have for a product or company. Many times a person will use the same detergent, travel agency or hotel that their parents used. Loyalty is something a company establishes over time that often will shield it from the vagaries of human choice. People will often choose a brand because they have always used it, even when another, that is just as good or better, is cheaper. The third aspect that companies use when discussing branding is image. This the "The impression in the consumers' mind of a brand's total personality (real and imaginary qualities and shortcomings). Brand image is developed over time through advertising campaigns with a consistent theme, and is authenticated through the consumers' direct experience" (Business Dictionary, n.d.). The image that a company has is basically the culmination of all of its other branding efforts. It has to with both loyalty and the equity that the brand has built up with its customers over time. These are all very important components of branding, but how this particular concept affects a company can be different depending on how it is used.
Importance of branding
Every business realizes that how the public perceives them is important, but it is of the utmost importance in the travel and tourism industry. Companies are built and destroyed depending on how they are perceived by the public because there is always another hotel, airline or cruise company that can be used when planning a trip. It does not matter how glossy the photographs or intriguing the commercials are when a close friend or relative had a bad experience on a particular ship. It is actually not all that important for some industries, but the hospitality industry is flush with other entries that are waiting to take market share. Having a good name means that revenue will increase because people who believe in the brand will tell others of their good experience. In the same vein, if people are having bad experiences, they can definitely help sully a brand. This has the effect of taking away revenue, and yielding market share to competitors.
Overview of brand image
As mentioned earlier, brand image is "the company's personality" (Business Dictionary, n.d.). In much the same way that a human personality is developed throughout the lifespan a company's personality is developed through the years of business environment which it has gone through. The company comes to life as an unknown entity, and it eventually grows through its perceptions and those of its customers. As the company is growing, they have to make sure that a positive image is had by a majority of their customers, so that they can help develop that image. In the travel industry, people will build a positive image around such items as on time delivery (of the service), a pleasant experience, the attitude of the employees they meet, the price of the product, and whether they were satisfied with the overall experience. It is difficult to monitor every experience that an individual has, but it is important to try. As the authors of one study said "image is everything" (Hartley & Morphew, 2008). This has to be the continuous mantra for a company; especially one that is engaged in a public service such as travel and tourism.