University of Oulu

The impact of small and medium sized tourism enterprises on the destination brand

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Author: Salonen, Aleksi1
Organizations: 1University of Oulu, Oulu Business School, Department of Marketing, Marketing
Format: ebook
Version: published version
Access: open
Online Access: PDF Full Text (PDF, 1.2 MB)
Pages: 108
Persistent link:
Language: English
Published: Oulu : A. Salonen, 2020
Publish Date: 2020-04-24
Thesis type: Master's thesis
Tutor: Ulkuniemi, Pauliina
Reviewer: Ulkuniemi, Pauliina
Saraniemi, Saila


This study’s purpose is to build a theoretical model that enhances the understanding of the impact that small-and-medium sized tourism businesses (SME’s) can have on the destination brand. The research will describe the unique nature of destination branding that separates it from regular branding activities across other industries, how they can be developed and what architectures exist to manage the said brand management. Finally, the study describes the role of SME’s in destination branding as well as the methods with which SME’s affect the brand development of destinations. The phenomenon studies not only the processes with which SME’s affect the destination brand but the benefits and reasons why they partake in it, but also impact the said processes have on the destination brand. Through these steps, the study answers the research question: “How can tourism SME’s contribute toward the development of a destination brand?”

The gap on the research is clearly defined in this case, with most tourism branding studies focusing on the role of destination management organisations (DMO), tourism networks or consumer-based brand equity (CBBE). This paper contributes to the field of branding by shedding light on the role and impact that individual tourism SME’s have on the destination branding. The study was conducted as a qualitative, semi-structured multiple case study, with three tourism SME’s of the destination, as well as the local DMC for the purpose of data triangulation. This chosen method of study ensured a thorough understanding of the role and impact of tourism SME’s in destination branding, and multiple interviews increased the validity of the study. Abductive method was chosen, which allowed new concepts to arise from the studied data and theoretical background of the research, which allows this study to contribute theoretical material on the field.

This research’s key results suggest that SME’s can have significant impact on the development of destination brand. This study presents that due to the natural market orientation of these businesses and scarcity of resources, the SME’s actively connect, network and co-operate together to develop the destinations toward a desired, shared goal, oftentimes with shared values such as sustainability and responsibility acting as the foundation of these shared interests. Further, the SME’s go out their way to take steps not necessarily required by the law to ensure harmony between the locals and the tourism system, and foster personal relationship building between tourists and the entire destination, rather than separating the business and its activities from the rest of the destination. The SME’s take initiative in the absence of others and build and develop new products and services. This research’s results suggest that SME’s main tools to affect destination branding are by affecting within the surrounding brand network as well as through communicating the destination brand forward and building relationships. Further, the SME’s chosen methods benefit them in many ways such as granting them access to knowledge and shared resources.

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Copyright information: © Aleksi Salonen, 2020. This publication is copyrighted. You may download, display and print it for your own personal use. Commercial use is prohibited.