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S.S.R. This has resulted in a renewed tourist enthusiasm to visit these countries. The imaging process involved a portrayal of conformity to the European paradigm, a projection of a safe and friendly environment, and the development of niche tourism products to attract visitors. These efforts have culminated in countries such as Hungary and Poland becoming very attractive tourist markets. This creates a favorable climate for hotel chain expansion.
In a writing that dates ten years later, Hughes and Allen (2009: 188) also indicate this. Factors in favor of CEE countries and the tourist demand for travel in these countries include their EU membership and associated publicity, as well as the above-mentioned increase of "Europeanness," as opposed to communism, in these countries. Indeed, Hungary and Poland ranked 15th and 17th respectively in the world when surveyed for their international tourist arrivals (Hughes and Allen, 2008). Croatia, Estonia, and Lithuania also showed significant increases in international tourism.
Another important factor is heritage. From the basis of being European, the CEE countries have also shown a trend towards displaying their past heritage in terms of monuments and buildings (Hall, 2001: 411; Ratz, Smith and Michalko, 2008: 429). These are important environmental factors that Starwood can take into account when expanding to these countries.
The literature therefore appears to indicate that, while Russia's potential for hotel chain expansion is indeed significant, there are various practical, administrative and political issues that will need to enjoy attention before such expansion will be optimal. An alternative can be to expand to the CEE regions surrounding the country. Once the hotel chain is established in these countries, a basis is created for future expansion into Russia. Factors such as the culture and heritage of these countries should also be taken into account.
The aim of this research is to determine the possibilities of the Russian market for expansion by the Starwood hotel chain. Starwood has significant strength, in that it has both financial and market strength. It is recognized as one of the strongest chains across the world, and its international expansion ventures have been significantly successful. The Russian market in turn is however difficult in terms of certain industry factors deterring international tourists from visiting the country.
In order to determine the extent of these influencing factors, data will be gathered on the Russian hospitality industry and the Starwood chain. This information can then be used to guide the analysis of the market an the potential success of Starwood in the Russian market.
Data Collection and Analysis Strategy
For this particular report the researcher will be using a variety of different informational tools to come to a sound and accurate conclusion to the question as stated. One of the first of these is research sources such as news, Internet, and journal articles and books. This will establish a sound theoretical basis for further data and information gathering, as well as cultivate the researcher's understanding of the market and the company seeking to enter it.
Publicly available resources will then be used to investigate Starwood's financial status, as well as those of hotel chains that currently operate in Russia and the country's surrounding regions. Other information that can be gathered in this regard is the international presence of companies currently operating in Russia, and also Starwood's success level in its existing foreign markets. These investigations will also be conducted by means of examining the company's profit and loss statements for each country it has entered so far. This can then be compared to the same records for hotel chains currently operating in Russia to give an indication of the potential success of Starwood in this country.
Reliability of Data
Reliability will be ensured by means of comparison. Several reports will be accessed and compared for any discrepancies. While the Internet and news often tend to be biased, these are valuable resources to use as a springboard for identifying specific areas of research. Databases such as Sage and Science Direct are however good sources of academic information on the Internet. These will be used extensively for determining the likelihood of entry success for hotel chains in the Russian market.
On the other hand, it must be recognized that reliability compromises may occur, despite the best effort to avoid this. An effort will however be made to ensure the highest possible degree of reliability.
The greatest challenge will be to find accurate financial data on companies currently operating in Russia. It may be difficult to contact these companies for information, and furthermore they may be unwilling to share such information. To limit this possibility, a standard indication will be given of the aim of the study and the objective of using the data provided. Furthermore, data will only be published with each company's full and written permission, while he companies themselves will remain anonymous.
In conclusion, the researcher believes that the process of data collection and analysis will provide a sound basis of information to make a decision regarding market entry into Russia. There will be a sufficient set of advantages and disadvantages to make a comparison and analysis to indicate the best possible strategy that Starwood can follow.
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