An Authentic Destination: A New Framework For Investigating Authenticity in a Tourism Related Context

Louise Stadsvold Marzec & Pernille Berg Swensson

Student thesis: Master thesis

Abstract

Authenticity is one of the hottest words in traveling today. More than ever, tourists, and especially millennials, pursue authenticity as a part of their travels. It has therefore become essential to identify and understand the consumers’ motivations behind, in order for city marketers to meet their demands. A wide range of scholars have discussed motivations behind authenticity in a tourism related context, and several models for place branding have been created. Nevertheless, no framework for investigating both place branding and authenticity together, has yet been formed.
As a consequence, this thesis sought to develop a whole new framework for investigating the ‘ideal brand identity’ of a specific destination towards a certain target group. Theories on authentic travel and place branding models were through this thesis combined in a creation of a new five-stages framework, with a hybrid market- and brand orientated approach to investigate the ideal authentic brand identity. The new framework was afterwards tested on a specific destination (Copenhagen) and a specific target group (millennials living in London), and an ideal brand identity for Copenhagen was analysed and discussed.
For the exploratory part of the framework, the motivations behind the target group’s demands for authentic travel, and the investigation of Copenhagen’s main qualities were investigated through qualitative research methods (in-depth interviews and focus group). After analyzing the collected data through the framework’s stages, it was clear that the target group demanded destinations which could meet their motivations for inward-seeking self-development and outward-looking social engagement.
The target group’s motivations and demands were matched with the main qualities of Copenhagen (which could meet these certain demands), and an ‘ideal brand identity’ was identified. The analysis provided interesting findings, which could be used for the creation of the ideal brand identity, as well as useful for future investigations and strategies. The ideal identity for Copenhagen was reflected in three main ‘stories’: ‘Experience the real Danish lifestyle’, ‘A fresh, relaxing and wholesome city’, and ‘The Copenhagen way of trendy and cool’.
Lastly, comparing this ideal identity to the target group’s current image of Copenhagen, it was clear that even though the target group knew very little about the destination, their perceptions were to some extend similar to the new identity.

EducationsMSc in Brand and Communications Management, (Graduate Programme) Final Thesis
LanguageEnglish
Publication date2016
Number of pages122