Innovative Governance Strategies in Meetings Destination Networks

Szilvia Gyimóthy, Mia Larson

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Innovative Governance Strategies in Meetings Destination Networks

Introduction, problem statement and aims of the study
Collaborative regional networks has been long considered as a must in successful tourism development (Dredge & Jenkins 2003) owing to benefits such as scale and scope economics, as well as joint planning and coordination of supply facilities. However, the setting up and governance of destination networks is paved with managerial challenges, including, among others: the balancing of conflicting stakeholder interest (Wilkinson & March 2008), and bridging over the gap between the bureaucratic culture of public administration and the marketing culture adopted by private tourism firms (Palmer 1996). This regional coordinating role must be undertaken in spite of limited ownership, budget or power to control how individual firms deliver (D’Angella & Go 2007). Furthermore, various actors of a destination (municipalities, attractions, conference venues or hotels) are at the same time members of a range of other professional groupings, associations or chains, which simultaneously also perform promotional activities that are not conformed or harmonised with that of Destination Management Organisations (DMOs). These conditions lead to ambiguity and conflicts regarding strategic planning, authoritative decision making, development of a clear destination brand identity and unanimous support during destination brand delivery. Lacking the predictability of corporate organisational structures, DMOs perpetually face issues on legitimacy, transparency, equity, identification and loyalty.
The purpose of this paper is to conceptualize collaborative network building in the meetings industry by analyzing two innovative and highly-ranked European meeting destinations - Vienna and Copenhagen. Based on a comparative analysis of Convention Bureaus (CVBs) and the network around them in the two cities, the study sheds light on governance strategies adopted by the convenors in order to mobilize meetings industry stakeholders across cultural, institutional and political borders.
Conceptual approach
The theoretical point of departure is taken from organizational ecology studies, acknowledging the significance of relationship building, political negotiations and management of member conflicts to collaborative (network) success. More specifically, the analytical lens of the destination promotional triad (Sheehan, Ritchie & Hudson 2007) is applied, which defines destination success in terms of how well members of the triad (the DMO and its two most powerful stakeholders (the city administration and the hotels) relate to one another and combine their complementary resources. As each member of the triad possesses specific resources, and performs a unique role, the destination triad is described as an asymmetrical interdependency.

Empirical insights were extracted from 16 in-depth qualitative interviews with key informants (CEOs or senior managers) of major public and private organizations within the meeting destination promotion triad (entailing incoming agents, PCOs, hotels and the convention bureaus of Vienna and Copenhagen). Through the analytical process, we have examined asymmetric interdependencies and the strength and density of relationships among members of the tourism promotion triad. We have also mapped mapping of cooperative activities, intentions and latent tensions between the actors and the network convenors.

The results highlight the paradoxes of moving towards a seamless (institutionalized) network in competitive stakeholder ecologies. Although the CVBs of both Vienna and Copenhagen are deeply trusted as legitimate network convenors, their organizational structures and cultures are very dissimilar; which indicates two idealtypical governance approaches to build and sustain a meetings destination network. In Copenhagen the density of the informal social network among network members facilitated swift resource mobilization and political decisions, thereby contributing to destination competitiveness during large-scale bidding processes. In Vienna, long-established network ties within a tight promotional triad were challenged by the entrance of international hotel chains, leading to new and more formalized relational hierarchies.

Discussion, conclusions, implications for practice
Reviewing the organizational history of the two cases, results reveal the importance of network convenor skills in balancing the internal efficiency, achieved by institutionalisation and an organizational culture based on consensus, and external efficiency, achieved by an innovative flexible cooperation network adapting to environmental changes. Conceptually, we add new details and aspects to Sheehan et al.’s framework of destination promotion triad.

D’ Angella, F. & Go, F.M. (2009) Tale of two cities´ collaborative tourism marketing: Towards a theory of destination stakeholder assessment. Tourism Management 30: 429-440.
Dredge, D. & Jenkins, J. (2003). Destination Place Identity and Regional Tourism Policy. Tourism Geographies 5(4): 383-407.
Palmer, A. (1996) Linking external and internal relationship building in networks of public and private sector organizations, International Journal of Public Sector Management, 9 (3), 51-60
Tremblay, P. (1998) The Economic Organization of Tourism. Annals of Tourism Research 25, pp. 837–859
Sheehan, L., Ritchie, J.R.B. & Hudson, S. (2007) The Destination Promotion Triad: Understanding Asymmetric Stakeholder Interdependencies Among the City, Hotels, and DMO. Journal of Travel Research, 46 (August) 64–74.
Wilkinson, I. & March, R. (2008) Conceptual tools for evaluating tourism partnerships. In: Noel Scott, Rodolfo Baggio & Chris Cooper (eds.) Network Analysis and Tourism. From Theory to Practice. Clevendon: Channel View Publications, pp. 27-39.

TitelNew directions:Travel and Tourism at Crossroads. TTRA Europe 2013 Conference
Antal sider5
Publikationsdato17 apr. 2013
StatusUdgivet - 17 apr. 2013
Udgivet eksterntJa
BegivenhedTravel & Tourism Research Association: European Chapter - Dublin, Irland
Varighed: 17 apr. 201319 apr. 2013


KonferenceTravel & Tourism Research Association