The Impact of Integrated Marketing Communications on Hotel Brand Equity: Does National Culture Matter?

The Impact of Integrated Marketing Communications on Hotel Brand Equity: Does National Culture Matter?

Maja Šerić, Irene Gil-Saura, Alejandro Mollá-Descals
Copyright: © 2015 |Pages: 28
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-4666-8606-9.ch022
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The Integrated Marketing Communications (IMC) approach appeared as a response to the need for more sophisticated marketing communication discipline in a confusing tourism marketing environment. This chapter examines the impact of IMC on the hotel brand equity dimensions, i.e. brand image, perceived quality, and brand loyalty. Moreover, it estimates the moderating effect of national culture on the relationships examined. The study is approached from the customer perspective and uses survey methodology to assess guests' perception of IMC and brand equity in the hotel contexts. In particular, 335 hotel guests participated in the empirical investigation while staying in high-quality hotels in Rome, Italy. The findings reveal that IMC exerts a positive impact on hotel brand equity. Furthermore, the inter-relationship exists between the three dimensions of hotel brand equity. In general, national culture does not exert a significant impact within the posited model.
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During the last decade the Integrated Marketing Communications (IMC) approach has received a great interest within the marketing and branding literature (Delgado-Ballester, Navarro, & Sicilia, 2012). The advocates of IMC believe that the concept is “the major communications development of the last decade of the 20th century” (Kitchen, Brignell, Li, & Jones, 2004a, p. 20), “absolutely imperative for success” (Shimp, 2003, p. 6) that “evidently, is here to stay” (Kitchen et al., 2004a, p. 19). Undoubtedly, the IMC acceptance is growing rapidly (Kitchen & Schultz, 2009) since both academics and researchers have recognized significant challenges in its future (Fitzpatrick, 2005) and competitive advantages it can provide.

However, further contributions are needed to consolidate this new approach (McGrath, 2005). The IMC literature suggested that future research should concentrate on business practice (Kitchen, Schultz, Kim, Han, & Li, 2004b), that is, in organizations themselves, rather than in the agencies which service their needs (e.g. Eagle, Kitchen, & Balmer, 2007). In particular, there is little empirical evidence on IMC in hotel companies (Šerić & Gil-Saura, 2011), where the need for integration has proven to be as necessary as in other industries (Hudson, 2008). In addition, it seems that consumers’ perceptions of marketing communications are often forgotten in IMC research (Gould, 2004), as a considerable amount of literature has centered on managers opinions regarding the IMC implementation, rather than on customer perception of integration (Šerić & Gil-Saura, 2012b). This is why we decide to examine IMC in the hotel context, while adopting a consumer-centric approach.

Moreover, academics and practitioners in the field of marketing and branding have supported the notion that IMC plays an important role in building and maintaining stakeholder relationships, and in leveraging these relationships to create customer-brand equity (Keller, 1993; Duncan & Moriarty, 1998; Duncan, 2002; Anantachart, 2004; Madhavaram, Badrinarayanan, & McDonald, 2005; Baidya & Maity, 2010; Delgado-Ballester et al., 2012; Šerić & Gil-Saura, 2012b). The most recent literature suggests that further research is necessary to show a greater alignment between the brand and IMC when generating customer loyalty (Kitchen & Schultz, 2009). Besides, there is a need to consider the impact of message consistency on brand equity creation in a specific context (Delgado-Ballester et al., 2012).

If we centre on the hotel environment, we observe that previous studies into marketing communication effects on brand equity have mainly focused on the impact of advertising (e.g. Israeli, Alder, Mehrez, & Sundali, 2000; Daun & Klinger, 2006). Although these contributions are important, we believe that considering communication effects only in terms of advertising is limited as it is usually not the only marketing communication tool which can create and manage brand equity, nor the most important one (Keller, 2009). Therefore, we believe that the holistic view of IMC should be taken when examining how marketing communications affect brand equity and its dimensions.

Key Terms in this Chapter

Hotel Brand Equity: The value that consumers and hotel property owners associate with a hotel brand.

Perceived Quality: The evaluation that a consumer makes about the excellence or superiority of a product.

Customer-Based Brand Equity: A consumers’ different response between a branded and an unbranded product when both have the same product features and are exposed to the same level of marketing stimuli.

Integrated Marketing Communications: A tactical and strategic consumer-centric business process, boosted by advances in Information and Communication Technology (ICT) which, on the basis of information obtained from customers databases, delivers a clear and consistent message throughout the coordination and synergies of different communications tools and channels, in order to nourish long-lasting profitable relationships with customers and other stakeholders and create and maintain brand equity.

National Culture: The set of norms, behaviors, beliefs, customs, and values shared by the population of a sovereign nation.

Brand Loyalty: The attachment that a customer has to a brand, expressed through repeat purchase and intention to recommend.

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