When selling a destination image is everything. A destination is all about image. If people can crack the motivation for a place as a destination they would make fortune. This answer will firstly discuss the image of what exactly a destination is. Perceived images such as those seen on a picture perfect postcard can generate money. Both urban and rural tourism try to recreate this and sell the destination as a product. This will be analysed secondly.
Middleton (2001) defines a destination as the focus for a range of activities and a range of facilities required to support those activities. In other words the facilities in an area that act as pull factors to the tourist to attract them into the area.
There are five main components to what destination is. The five components Middleton refers to are attractions and environment, destination facilities and services, accessibility of the destination and the price of the destination. Any person who comes into the destination whether it is for a day visit or overnight stay can be impacted by any of these components. Gibson and Neilson (2000) refer to assessing price based on the functional, quality, operational, financial and personal benefits. If a place is a certain price the tourist may view the destination as high status.
The components that make up a destination can also act as the motivators for the destination. Natural attractions such as the sea and mountains which make up a destination can act as a physical motivator for the destination. The facilities and services which make up a destination can sell the destination as a cultural experience such as the restaurants and bars.
Middleton (2001) refers that it is important to note that a destination is not totally restricted to travel for leisure or pleasure. Other reasons include interpersonal reasons such as to be with friends and family or to escape, business reasons, conferences or union meetings and spiritual reasons.
It can be noted that due to globalisation, distance is shorted and the world has shrunk therefore many destinations will all have the same assets and components this has led to the development of destinations as products.
A destination as a product is trying to structure the tourist gaze otherwise the tourist may look the other way. Selling a destination as a product requires strong marketing strategies to be in place. However Middleton (2001) contradicts this statement when he suggests that not all visits to a destination are influenced by marketing activities. An example is people travelling by car privately to meet family and friends.
Selling a destination as a product can give a place a competitive advantage. To do this Javalgi, Thomas & Rao (1992) suggest that it is important to market a destination based on how people will perceive the destination. As Pike (2005) refers to a place name by itself is not sufficient to sell a product as a destination.
As a product a destination must try to appeal to everyone. There are many good ways a destination can be sold as a product. It can use the destinations assets the Physical motivators, cultural motivators, interpersonal reasons, business reasons, status and spiritual reasons. It can use symbols, infrastructure, growth and enterprise to market or the cultural cachet of throwing everything at the tourist.
A destination as a product is multi dimensional. Middleton refers to a destination as not just one product but being based on three levels the core product, the tangible product and the augmented product. The view of the destination as one of these products will be relevant when establishing which way to market the product.
This answer examined the notion of a destination as a product. It concluded that five elements make up a destination. A destination as a product must aim to be innovative, creative, proactive and competitive. It noted as a product it must try to appeal to as many people as possible and give the destination a competitive advantage.
Limerick city has many merits in terms of destination marketing.
The area has a major asset with the river Shannon. The bridges in the city act as an area for viewing this scenery. The city has many well known landmarks and history which we saw while on the walking tour such as King John’s castle, Kings Island and the Georgian house and garden.
The city has many hotels which are high in quality. The tangible aspect of this is the design of the hotels and the intangible aspects include the quality of service they provide, their reputation and their image.
Limerick provides a range of different brochures to promote themselves and each contain picture perfect photos. The majority of these are free to tourists. The tourist office is open all year round to provide these and provide tourists with information. The use of branding and slogans seem to have a positive effect or the region. The slogan the spirit of Shannon for the time of your life is effective for overseas visitor as it makes reference to the river Shannon which is well known world wide. Branding helps link identity overtime.
Limerick has a number of cultural merits to the location. The Hunt museum helps understand how people lived years ago form the different art and antiquity located there. Locals can also benefit form the Hunt museum as it is very educational.
A major merit to the area is Shannon airport. This provides tourists with accessibility to the destination easily. The city has successful infrastructure in and out of it with roads, airport, railway and marina. Transport is plentiful in and out of the city itself with numerous buses and trains accessing it. Taxi’s are also readily available.
There are also a number of demerits in terms of destination marketing in Limerick.
The signage in the city is quite poor. The tourist may have difficulty finding attractions.
There is only one major built attraction the hunt museum. This is the cities main attraction which would only appeal to a certain number of people. It has an emphasis on education and heritage. This appears to be a problem with Limerick that it is over dependant on history and folklore there is no real main social attraction. They could put more emphasis on other facilities such as sports school, craft course, cycle hire and language schools to market the destination. Heritage is becoming mire old stream it i s no longer the power player that it used to be to attract people to a destination.
A major demerit with Limerick city is the mental pictures created of Limerick city as a rough destination. It is in the news on a regular basis due to anti social behaviour, gang land violence and gun crime. In neighbouring Nenagh I was told in the cafe “ They’d shoot you in Limerick” This gives a representation of the way some people view Limerick. This host of little images can turn people away Perceived images of Limerick can build up a bad image of a place that you may never have been to.