Friday, September 22, 2017

Can research centers make a difference?

People often suggest that despite the proliferation of research in universities, the exchange of knowledge from academic research to practical application is poor. The argument made is that academic research seldom influences the real world of practice, and that for knowledge transfer to assist industry, a paradigm shift is required. In a new book chapter on knowledge transfer, published by Emerald, the SmartState team here in the College of Hospitality, Retail & Sport Management, have taken a look at the challenges of knowledge transfer in the tourism field. In particular, the team have focused on the achievements of their research center, where private and public sectors have joined together in an effort to support applied and commercially relevant research. The goal? To improve the competitiveness of South Carolina as a tourism destination. The full book chapter can be found at:

Sunday, September 10, 2017

Why consumers love the sharing economy

There’s only one other country that comes close to matching the U.S. in terms of ride-sharing market volume. Gross bookings in China are expected to amount to roughly $10 billion this year, and as the graphic shows above, well ahead of the U.K. and Japan which are ranked third and fourth. The Chinese market is dominated by local player Didi Chuxing, which acquired Uber’s China business last year in exchange for a sizeable stake in the newly merged company. But why is it that the Chinese are so willing to adopt ride-sharing apps? According to new research, it is not just about cost.

In a new paper just published in the International Journal of Contemporary Hospitality Management, HRSM professors Kevin So and Simon Hudson – along with Ge Zhu from Beijing Information Science and Technology University - explored what motivates consumers in China to adopt ridesharing apps. Using social cognitive theory as the theoretical framework, the team developed a value adoption model to illustrate important factors that influence adoption of ridesharing applications. What they found was that it wasn’t just functional values such as convenience and cost-effectiveness that motivated consumers. They were also attracted to ride-sharing because of the emotional and social benefits. This tends to support research that has been done with users of Airbnb where consumers say that the sharing economy provides more fun, is better for the environment, and builds a stronger community. What this suggests is that traditional companies trying to compete with the sharing economy could compete by making more of an emotional/social connection with customers. Dr. Hudson is exploring this further within the context of accommodations, and has just written a paper with PhD student Jing Li for Journal of Hospitality & Tourism Cases illustrating how hotels can compete with the sharing economy by ‘getting social’.

Thursday, August 17, 2017

Anime tourism – an interesting twist on film tourism

We all know now that films can have a powerful impact on the desire to travel to certain destinations – fans of Lord of the Rings and James Bond have been flocking to New Zealand and the UK respectively for many years to visit their favorite film locations. But can cartoons have a similar influence?

In a new journal article just accepted in Current Issues in Tourism, SmartState Chair Simon Hudson suggests they can. In the article - co-authored with Vince Tung and Suna Lee from Hong Kong Polytechnic University – the authors explore the world of animation tourism - motivated tourists who purposely visit a destination or partake in activities at a destination as a result of anime. Japanese animation, or anime, emerged in the 1910s and developed into its modern, distinctive form in the 1960s. It is comprised of two components: manga and animation. Manga, which means recurring drawings, are comic strips that employ an exquisite drawing style with descriptive formats and fluid strokes. Animation, similar to Western cartoons, is featured on television and videos with storylines and characters that are often based on manga.

A good example of anime resulting in tourism is Your Name (Makoto Shinkai’s teen body swap comedy). The beauty, and the film’s romanticism, have turned the Japanese locations featured in the anime into fan meccas, with tourists flocking to the real life locations – the steps to a shrine in downtown Tokyo, a public library in the rural town of Hida, mundane looking train tracks in the same quiet countryside – despite knowing it won’t be exactly as they’ve seen it on the big screen (see for more).

The new article proposes a novel framework for capturing animation tourism marketing opportunities and provides a conceptual foundation to ignite a new generation of future research interests that are much needed in this area. The authors argue that destination management organizations (DMOs) and tourism marketers in Japan can use anime to ignite their marketing campaigns, as unique opportunities are generated given the distinctive characteristics, timely releases of new, as well as the long-term continuation of existing franchises, in a variety of storylines. Additionally, businesses and services could be created through animation tourism that would encourage visitors throughout the year. 

The article on anime tourism is called The Potential of Anime for Destination Marketing: Fantasies, Otaku, and the Kidult Segment and will soon be online at: