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Quality Management in Sports Tourism
It should surprise no one that "travel and tourism [are] the world's largest industry" (Moli). Most people have not wanted to travel far outside the bounds of a resort or a prescribed tourist destination, but that is not necessarily the case anymore. Since people from wealthier countries are now able to travel easily to even the most remote spot n the world, it has become vogue to visit out-of-the-way spots. The benefits of this can be seen in the fact that nations which have not previously been able to provide jobs for their people to any extent whatsoever are now employing large numbers in these two industries. Travel and tourism are a global market and they scene is set for more adventurous and exotic types of travel.
One of the fastest growing segments of this market is sports tourism. More people are seeing the benefits of staying physically active, or they just like sports, so they are incorporating play into their destination. This market is progressing well, but it must also be well managed to be productive. This essay discusses the concept of quality management as it applies to sports tourism, and how the idea of this type of destination can be improved, so that it can benefit indigenous peoples.
The concepts of sports tourism and quality management need to be understood before they can be used to in a formal discussion. Sports tourism is a multilayered idea that attracts many different types of people because of the diversity of venues. A " frequently used definition of sports tourism is travel to play sports (active sports tourism), travel to watch sports (event sports tourism) and travel to visit or venerate famous sports-related attractions (nostalgia sports tourism)" (Devine & Devine). Sometimes people do not want to see an actual bull fight, but they may want to visit famous bull fighting venues in Spain. This could be coupled with a desire to tour some of the spots Hemmingway frequented. Sports tourism does not have to be an exclusive endeavor. It can be piggy-backed onto other types.
It can also be defined as "All forms of active and passive involvement in sporting activity, participated in casually or in an organised way for non-commercial or business/commercial reasons, that necessitate travel away from home and work locality" (Devine & Devine). Whether an individual is going to the Super Bowl, or they are a so-called eco-tourist and want to canoe the Amazon, people can now travel in ways never before imagined. But these activities have to be properly managed or they will not be able to sustain tourism.
The second piece of this examination then is quality management. The idea of total quality management involves the thought that if the people in a company are happy, they will be more productive, and more likely to develop a quality product. This concept can be applied to sports tourism also. "Destination management is a theme which can incorporate the socio-cultural and economic aspects of a destination, and relates to the organizational and destinational response required to achieve significant change. Cooperation between organizations and local authorities is paramount to achieving any semblance of an industrial culture shift towards sustainable tourism (Welford & Ytterhaus). For any tourist spot to be productive it has to be well managed and that includes all parts of the customer experience from booking the trip to participating in activities. A quality management perspective will make sure that the entire trip meets, and exceeds, the expectations of the tourist.
Most people start a business because they think that they have a product or service that is either unique, or that they can improve existing products within their businesses scope. The business grows because of the innovation, but the manager has to continually look at internal processes to make sure that they are remain viable as a competitor. It does not matter what business a company is in, quality management is a key. Total quality management basically states "an organization's primary purpose is to stay in business, so that it can promote the stability of the community, generate products and services that are useful to customers, and provide a setting for the satisfaction and growth of organization members" (Hackman & Wageman). In the world of tourism this is especially true because remote communities are the business and good employees are part of the product.
Business is also built on sustainable relationships. "Unlike transactional marketing, relational marketing is a dynamic process that requires sellers to constantly listen to their customers and scrutinize their requirements and behavior, as well as adjust relational-marketing activities in consequence" (Yacout). Again, this is especially true with tourism. A travel business has to stay connected to the customers that it generates. Because they will often see the same customers, it is imperative to have both a destination management and a personal management plan that builds up the places that people want to go, and encourages relationships with the customers that want a certain kind of experience. People management, whether that is employees or customers, is just as important as money management (Bowman).
The question that the industry needs to understand is, who is the sports tourist? Many people can be so labeled provided the definition given. If a tourist visits a destination, like an Olympic site, for the express purpose of watching or participating in sports then they are a sports tourist. However, since locations have become so accessible, sports tourism generally applies to a specific type of adventurous traveler. It is simple to "recognize…the active sport tourist, as an individual who likes to remain active and engage in his or her favorite sports while on vacation" (Gibson). This demographic can also be seen as "between the ages of 18 and 44, male, and relatively affluent" (Gibson).
These tourists are also more environmentally conscious than people have been in the past. They want to visit destinations not only for the fun aspect, but also because they can have a positive impact on the place. In the current world market, Tourism "employs approximately one in nine workers worldwide, comprising 6% of global gross national produet (CiNP) and, in many nations, (in particular, lesser developed countries) has been seen as a panacea for solving many social problems and for driving economic growth" (Welford & Ytterhaus). The tourists bring money to these depressed regions and provide an income that has not been previously available. Managing these sites becomes easier when the people in control of the destination know that they will be able to provide for the growth of their country also.
Quality Management in Sports Tourism
It is difficult to decide what management in this industry actually entails. It could be seen as making sure that the people who work in the industry are given the resources needed to do their job, so they can be productive employees. It could be the management of the destinations, so that venues are available for the trade. It could also be the management of the most essential resource, the tourists themselves. In fact, quality management of this growing travel segment incorporates all three. Employees, destinations and customers all have to managed to make sure that the experience is one that remains available. "There is a growing realization that quality is as important in service industries as in manufacturing firms, and that quality awareness should permeate organizations from top to bottom" (Bowman).
The people who work in the industry need to be able to sell sites that are consistently more adventurous. Many tourists now are faced with "the prospect of new fees levied on airline tickets, higher gasoline prices, long lines at check-in counters, and more time in security screens" (Moss, Ryan & Moss). The world has become a much more dangerous place, so people are more concerned about their safety when they go to any overseas destination. This danger not only impacts the traveler when they are selecting a destination, but also in the increasingly long security lines they face. Travelers usually understand the long lines, but the cost of travel has also increased due to the cost of fuel and the fact that airlines need to make more money per ticket. It is not that fewer people are traveling that has caused issues for the airlines, it is the fact that more security and higher fuel costs have to be recovered somewhere.
From a management aspect, this is problematic because travel is a very relational business. Customers who are unhappy because of a delay or the increased cost of a ticket, will patronize another carrier. A tourism manager is at the mercy of such market drivers, but they can make the rest of a person's experience pleasant enough that they will continue to use the manager's company. A part of building the relationship is making sure that the person is taken care of no matter what the problem. Sometimes destinations are closed for various reasons. If an activity…[continue]
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