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JOURNAL OF EURO ASIA TOURISM STUDIES

VOLUME I – December 2019
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Destination Brand Personality: Case Study of the World Heritage Site of Ellora Caves

Introduction

In the past few decades, tourism has experienced continued growth and has become one of the fastest growing economic sectors in the world. Economic analysis report of World Travel and Tourism Council (2018) identified tourism as one of the world’s largest economic sector supporting 01 in 10 jobs (319 million) worldwide and generating 10.4% (US $8.8 trillion) of world GDP. Travel Industry has led to a range of Niche goods and services having larger demand who are gaining importance not only socially but also economically (Sofronov, 2018).

For this, marketing has become an integral part of any competitive country or destination to increase the number of tourist flow. Hence, all the competitors are adopting new marketing strategies.

The DMO’s do an intensive research and come up with the programs which could satisfy the tourists needs and wants as well as their marketing visions, goals and objectives to position the destination in the market with a unique brand. For this the study of brand personality is gaining due importance which elaborates the tourism attributes of the destinations through the consumers perceptions.

 

Tourism in India and Maharashtra-

India, being the largest country in the south Asian sub-region is well-known cultural tourism destination in the world and attracts major tourist traffic of the region (UNWTO, 2016). India received 10.04 million international tourists (Growth Rate of 14%) in the year 2017 and earned foreign exchange of USD 27.31 billion (Ministry of Tourism [MOT], 2018.Similarly Maharashtra which is a leading tourism state in India also receives more tourists in comparison to other states. According to (MOT, 2018) It welcomes nearly 120,000,000 domestic tourists and 5,100,000 with an share of 7% and 18% respectively in 2017. The reason for it is the unlimited tourism products such as world heritage sites like Ajanta and Ellora caves, CST (Chattrapati Shivaji Terminus), Western Ghats and Mumbai’s Victorian Gothic and art deco ensembles. It has huge coastline to cater beach tourists, Wildlife Sanctuaries, Bird Sanctuaries, Hill Stations, Lakes, forts and many religious sites,

The sample chosen by the researcher is Ellora which is an important tourism destination having world heritage status near Aurangabad. Considering miniscule literature on branding and specifically brand personality of Maharashtra and Ellora this research aims to study the Problems of marketing through appropriate reviews relating to marketing of this destination. It also aims to develop new brand personality traits of Ellora, which were missed by the brand Strategist and position it to the new market segments. Accordingly, after collecting primary data from the tourists and stakeholders relating to brand attributes of Ellora and applying scientific and quantitative techniques the results can be used by the stakeholders for branding Ellora and secondly the brand personality scale can be used by the future researchers who will be studying on branding aspects of Ellora.

 

Review of literature

Destination Marketing

One of the shortest definitions of marketing is meeting needs profitably. Pike and Page (2014) elaborates destination marketing as a very important and central element in tourism research which is associated with the operational and competitive activities for attracting tourists which needs to be fulfilled by the DMO’s. However they also argue that DMO’s have no control over the actual delivery of the brands they lose contact with visitors to create post visit engagement to stimulate repeat visitors, the promotion of the destinations DMO’s must develop and lead collaborative marketing strategies that match resources with macro market opportunities.

 

Destination Brand

A brand can be defined as “a name, term, sign, symbol, or design, or combination of them which is intended to identify the goods and services of one seller or group of sellers and to differentiate them from those of competitors” (Kotler, 1991). Buhalis defines destination brand as brand which relates to the geographical area perceived by the tourist as an important entity for tourism planning and marketing (Buhali,2000).

Plummer (2000) rightly mentions that one component of brand image is the personality or character of the brand itself. He explains brands that can be characterized by personality descriptors such as “youthful”, “colorful,” and “gentle.” or “emotions” depending on the perceptions of the visitor. In tourism research there must be a stress in functional components in  the  destination’s  branding  strategies (Varghese et al., 2014) and areas related to stakeholders collaboration for destination branding can contribute towards successful regional destination branding (Perkins et al., 2020)

 

Destination Brand personality

Dickinger & Lalicic (2015) mentions that during the destination image and destination branding studies, destination brand personality must be considered an important aspect for developing brand strategies by destination marketing organisations while planning tourism development.

Any tourist has an emotional attachment for a particular thing or personality when they travel to a destination before or after they tend to create a brand which expresses their emotions and hence perceive the brand differently. Tourism business competitors are exactly trying to study the brand with varied brand personalities perceived by the  tourists during  or before their travel. This will help them to position the destination differently. (Aaker, 1997;Akoijam, 2012)

 

Figure 1: The Dimensions of Brand Personality by Jennifer Aaker (Aaker, 1997)

Brand personality is an important element in building brand preference. It may be influenced by the consumers’ self-congruity, self-expression, cultural behavior and demographics. Their desired and innate personality will influence the perceived personality of the brand. (Phau & Lau, 2000)

Brand personality is defined formally as “the set of human characteristics associated with a brand Aaker (1997); Ekinci & Hosany (2006) define destination brand personality as “the set of personality traits associated with a destination”

Pereira, Correia & Schutz (2012) elaborates that visitor coincide its own image with the destination image forming a unique attribute for the brand personality of that destination.

Huang, Zhang & Hu (2017) evaluates that the role of destination brand personality and self-congruence in developing destination brand attachment from the perspective of tourists is very important.

Tourists choose the places not according to the infrastructure it has but consider how the destination appeals to their own personality emotionally.

In this regard Usakli & Baloglu (2011) investigates the nature of brand personality perceived by the tourists who had visited the destination for the first time and the tourist who had come here multiple times. It was found that both the tourists had moreover similar perceptions about the destination but the repeated tourists had some additional perceptions as they might have experienced something new during their repeat visit. So it is obvious that tourist tends to add more and more (perceptions) about the destination if they visit the same destination repeatedly.

It is however seen that very minuscule studies are conducted on the brand personality having factors from the perceptions of the consumers.

 

Tourism Branding of India

Shankar (2019) in his article focuses on the role of destination branding in enhancing Indian tourism. It elaborates the current scenario of Indian Tourism and the role of destination branding in conceiving destination image and enhancing tourism industry’s growth. The findings suggest that the destination marketers and government must identify the elements for empowering the brand image of the destination by analyzing and associating the personality traits during the branding process.

The secondary data study by (Shamsi & Fatima, 2015) attempts to study the role of Make in India Campaign together with Destination Branding to reshape India’s tourism industry suggests that a proper synchronization of them will be helpful for Building the Brand identity and personality which will not only give India a competitive edge over other destinations but also will help to erase the negative image and frame a positive one thereby leading to promotion of India tourism.

According to the World Economic Forum (2017) Incredible India campaign in 2002 was successful leading to a 16% increase in tourist traffic in its first year.WEF emphasized on how the empty promises from brands and destinations leads to a bad image. Creating a mismatch between traveler expectations and experiences will also result in negative image on travel review sites and social media, hence branding must be done carefully by the destinations to ensure it is perceived as authentic by tourists.

Sawant (2019) focuses on the importance of developing destination brand of India and Maharashtra especially the brand personalities of the tourist destinations considering the target market and the perceptions of the tourists about the services and infrastructure of the destinations.

Hannan & Diekmann (2011) argues that although the private sector in India provides many of the key services such as accommodation etc, Indian state is ignoring the most important aspect to promote India.

 

Tourism Branding of Maharashtra

Maharashtra tourism has successfully developed the tag line “Maharashtra Unlimited” in the year of 2002. This campaign aimed to position the varied resources (Venkatraman, 2002). It also won an award at Asia Pacific advertising festival in 2002 (Varghese, 2002).  Apart from the various tourism products in Maharashtra the campaign also promoted heritage in Aurangabad especially focusing on Ajanta and Ellora (George, 2004).

Though the campaign was successful some of the researchers critically analyzed the campaign highlighting that Maharashtra Tourism Development Corporation (MTDC) has disappointing branding strategies, and did not involve the stakeholders. Lack of awareness of brand was also one of the weaknesses for the failure (Satghare &Sawant, 2018).

Recently MTDC is coming up with some modern marketing initiative for promoting it as a world class tourism destination. The only motive behind it is to increase the tourist arrivals and economic gains from the untapped tourism industry in the state having all the traditional as well as niche tourism products (MTDC, 2019).

But SWOT Analysis of Maharashtra Tourism conducted by the Planning Commission of India (2014) suggests that there is still a need of strong destination branding strategies. Similarly, another similar research conducted by Satghare & Sawant 2018 focusing on SWOT analysis of MTDC internet marketing strategies also high lightened disappointing branding strategies especially brand positioning of Maharashtra tourism.

 

Problems of Tourism Branding at Ellora

Ellora caves which are 34 in number near Aurangabad depict 3 religions namely Hinduism, Buddhism and Jainism these cave were excavated during 6th century to 11th century A.D. (ASI, 2012).The caves are the first world heritage sites of India designated the status by UNESCO in 1983. Though the sites are having potential for tourism development, there are minimal efforts taken by the government for tourism promotion, financial management and human resource development (Ragde, 2016,) another news titled “Aurangabad Tourism in Shambles” in the Daily Sakal (2016) also focuses on the poor branding and marketing strategies by the stakeholders.

The India tourism office at Aurangabad which was one of the oldest in the country for tourism Marketing and promotion is on the verge of closure (Divya Marathi, 2017), this shows the negligence of tourism Marketing by the government.

MTDC in association with Ministry of Tourism had organised International Buddhist Conclave in Aurangabad in August 2018. This event was aimed to promote Ajanta and Ellora as a tourist hotspot in the international Buddhist Tourism map (Economic Times, 2018) however stakeholders are of the view that the conclave was not fruitful and needed a scientific approach for branding and marketing tourism of Aurangabad.

Khultabad- Mhaismal Tourism Authority is formed by the government of Maharashtra to develop tourism in the region of Khultabad and Ellora but there is no plan for tourism marketing. Marathwada Vikas Mahamandal also has plans for tourism development but here too there are no specific plans for marketing of the sites of Ellora (Ragde, 2018).

The rock cut architecture of Ellora is unique in the world but unfortunately Ellora doesn’t receive genuine tourist, tourist visiting Sai baba temple at Shirdi casually visit the Ellora caves so there is a need for marketing tourism in India and abroad specially to convert the casual tourist into actual tourist (Ragde, 2018a).

Sawant (2018) in her convener speech has mentioned that there is an urgent need for branding Buddhist tourism sites of India coordinating with all the states in India and international ones especially from Japan, Korea, Srilanka, China etc. A research on brand personalities can be carried to identify the destination brand image perceived by the consumers and hence communicate these images to the DMO’s for branding the destinations for the above target markets.

 

Research Gap 

After the above reviews, it is found that, there is a lack of study on destination branding strategies of Maharashtra Tourism and Ellora in specific, which leads to less visibility of state in competitive marketplace. The above reviews also show the poor marketing strategies of the destinations by DMO’s ignoring the important aspects of brand personalities, brand image and overall positioning the products of Maharashtra in the domestic and international market. Hence this study attempts to identify the brand personality which will support the overall marketing strategies of the world heritage site of Ellora.

 

Methods and materials

 

This research is divided into 2 parts.

Firstly, a study was conducted to explore the personality traits of Ellora by taking scheduled interview from 23 different tourism stakeholders namely academicians, tour operators, travel agents, tourist guides and officers from MTDC using purposive sampling, in which word association technique was used.The Brand personality traits obtained from the stakeholders which occurred with a frequency of 10% or more were selected and clubbed with the Aaker’s (1997) scale (Refer Figure 1) and a new scale was formed (see Table 1) which is the principal instrument for measuring destination brand personality of Ellora.

 

Table 1: Brand personality scale for Ellora

 

Sr no Dimension Traits
1. Sincerity Domestic, honest, genuine, Modest.
2. Competence Reliable, Responsible, Dependable, Efficient, Professional, Experienced, intriguing.
3. Beautiful Magnificent, charming, elegant, gentle, adorable, hot, lovely, sparkle, marvelous, likable, Glamorous, pretentious, natural.
4. Amazing Vibrant, versatile, interesting, stunning, astonishing, unique, unimaginable, fantastic, enthusiastic, wonderful.
5. Artistic Curvaceous, imaginative, sculpted, carved, big, bright, loud, decorum, , smart.
6. Tough Strong, rugged, Astute, massive, loud.
7. Knowledgeable Shrewd, senile, wise, insightful, sharp, Intelligent.
8. Spiritual Religious, compassionate, demure, meditative, devotional.
9. Hospitable Cultured, clean, hygiene, friendly.
10. Versatile Versatile, multifaceted, many sided, resourceful.
11. Emotional Reserved, Romantic, cheerful, Mysterious.

Source: Brand personality traits of Ellora developed by the Researcher

 

Secondly, primary data was collected at the sample destination of Ellora from 90 domestic tourists using random sampling. Questionnaire was developed by using the above traits Refer Table 1 in the brand personality scale for Ellora. 5 point Likert scale was used (1 – not very associated, 5 – very associated)

For the data analysis: KMO-Bartlett’s test was used to measure the adequacy of the sample size. Data reduction was done using SPSS where Eigen value where calculated and 11 new factors were discovered. Further using Exploratory Factor Analysis (Principal Component, Oblimin Rotation), 3 out of 11 factors were selected

 

Results

 

Analysis

 

Table 2: KMO and Bartlett’s Test

Kaiser-Mayer-Okin Measure of Sampling Adequacy .789
Bartlett’s Test of Sphericity Approx. Chi-Square 6749.636
Df 2211
Sig, .000

Source: Brand personality traits of Ellora developed by the Researcher

 

The test of adequacy, KMO and Bartlett’s Test (see Table 2), was carried out using SPSS 16.0 which gave us the result of 0.789 that suggests the data is adequate and can be used for factor analysis.

 

Table 3: Total Variance Explained

Component Initial Eigenvalues Extraction Sums of Squared Loadings
Total % of Variance Cumulative% Total % of Variance Cumulative%
1 33.273 49.661 49.661 33.273 49.661 49.661
2 4.831 7.210 56.872 4.831 7.210 56.872
3 3.232 4.824 61.696 3.232 4.824 61.696
4 1.826 2.726 64.422 1.826 2.726 64.422
5 1.683 2.512 66.934 1.683 2.512 66.934
6 1.518 2.266 69.200 1.518 2.266 69.200
7 1.309 1.954 71.154 1.309 1.954 71.154
8 1.230 1.836 72.990 1.230 1.836 72.990
9 1.152 1.719 74.710 1.152 1.719 74.710
10 1.010 1.508 76.217 1.010 1.508 76.217
11 1.006 1.502 77.719 1.006 1.502 77.719
12 .907 1.353 79.072
13 .841 1.255 80.327

Source: Brand personality traits of Ellora developed by the Researcher

 

From Table 3 we have 11 components whose eigenvalues values are above 1 and the variance explained is 77.719%

 

Table 4: Rotated Component Matrix

1 2 3
Sculpted .874
Fantastic .859
Astonishing .854
Interesting .835
Unique .830
Stunning .816
Meditative .811
Vibrant .810
Cultured .808
Insightful .805
Marvelous .805
Compassionate .792
Devotional .789
Intelligent .788
Unimaginable .784
Magnificent .770
Resourceful .758
Wonderful .757
Astute .810
Senile .797
Shrewd .791
Clean .836
Hygiene .818

Source: Brand personality traits of Ellora developed by the Researcher

 

Table 4 shows the rotated matrix of the 3 components out of the 11 components were extracted. Only those values were selected which were greater than 0.75 which are as follows:

Group 1: Sculpted, Fantastic, Astonishing, Interesting, Unique, Stunning, Meditative, Vibrant,     Cultured, Insightful, Marvelous, Compassionate, Devotional, Intelligent, Unimaginable, Magnificent, Resourceful and Wonderful.

Group 2: Astute, Senile and Shrewd

Group 3: Clean and Hygiene

Table 5: Cronbach Alpha (Test of Reliability)

Factors Cronbach Alpha
GROUP 1 0.979
Sculpted
Fantastic
Astonishing
Interesting
Unique
Stunning
Meditative
Vibrant
Cultured
Insightful
Marvelous Compassionate Devotional
Intelligent Unimaginable Magnificent
Resourceful
Wonderful
GROUP 2 0.794
Astute
Senile
Shrewd
GROUP 3 0.878
Clean
Hygiene

Source: Brand personality traits of Ellora developed by the Researcher

 

Table 5 shows the Cronbach’s Alpha value of the 3 groups, Group1- 0.979, Group 2- 0.794 and Group 3- 0.878. Ideally the Cronbach Alpha value should be greater than 0.7 and therefore the factors extracted are highly reliable.

 

Conclusion and suggestions

 

The implications of this paper will be helpful for important policy recommendations for the tourism stakeholders of Maharashtra and Aurangabad specifically.

 

Academic Contributions

 

The results can be used by the future researchers while writing on marketing of heritage sites in general and world heritage site of Ellora in specific. The traits which are identified can be used as a base and further studies can be conducted to explore the relationship between destination brand personality and aspects of tourists’ behavior and choice process thereby expanding the scope of application.

 

Policy making by the stakeholders

Secondly this scale will contribute in policy making for Maharashtra tourism Development Corporation and the stakeholders related to marketing of Ellora caves as it focuses on the destination image of Ellora which will be helpful for brand positioning and communication. The Results are divided into 03 groups which would be developed into new segments in future to be targeted for 1) Millennial and Young scholars, 2) Tourists who want the most unique experience and 3) Responsible eco tourists.

Group 1 has identified a total of 18 traits i.e. Sculpted, Fantastic, Astonishing, Interesting, Unique, Stunning, Meditative, Vibrant, Cultured, Insightful, Marvelous, Compassionate, Devotional, Intelligent, Unimaginable, Magnificent, Resourceful, Wonderful. Among these (Resourceful, Intelligent,) are very new traits which are not seen in any marketing literature of Ellora. This traits can be used to target market a new segment of the tourists who want to develop packages for the millennial and young scholars who want to learn more about Ellora according to their interests like Art architecture, history etc.

Group 2 has identified traits like Astute, Senile and Shrewd among which shrewd which means able to make good decision will brand Ellora as an outstanding destination where only people travel who can make good decisions or choice, which indirectly will brand Ellora as perfect destination for the market segment who want to have a unique experience of his lifetime.

And Group 3 traits like Clean, Hygiene can be considered for branding Ellora as a eco friendly destination and can be branded on the theories of Green branding which will mark the destination a perfect place to visit by the segment of those tourists who want a clean, pristine and eco friendly environment and would also be helpful for the potential or future tourists to travel to Ellora in a responsible way.

 

Future research directions

Future researchers can do similar study with the help of international tourists too at Ellora. Moreover, similar study on the brand personality can be done on the world heritage site of Ajanta.

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Cite this article

Ragde N., Ragde S. (2020) Destination Brand Personality: Case Study of the World Heritage Site of Ellora Caves. EATSJ - Euro-Asia Tourism Studies Journal, Vol.1, Issue: December 2020 pp. 34-46.

Received: 16 July 2020 | Accepted: 6 December 2020 | Published online: 16 December 2020
Volume: 1 | Issue: December 2020 |

Authors


NR

Nagarjun Ragde (Corresponding author)
Symbiosis School of Economics, Symbiosis International University, Pune, India


SR

Sanchi Ragde
Department of Marketing, Strategy & Innovation, Bournemouth University, Bournemouth, England