The Richardson Family SmartState Center of Economic Excellence in Tourism and Economic Development was established in 2010 with a specific goal to encourage research directly applicable to tourism in South Carolina.
A major cause of poorly perceived service is the difference between what a firm promises about a service, and what it actually delivers. To avoid broken promises companies must manage all communications to customers, so that inflated promises do not lead to overly high expectations. This difference between what is promised and what is delivered can cause customer frustration, perhaps driving the customer to the competition. As Jim Knight, Senior Director of Training for Hard Rock International says: “the worst mistake a business can make is to over-promise and under-deliver”. Researchers suggest that there are four strategies that are effective in managing service promises: creating effective advertising; coordinating external communication; making realistic promises; and offering service guarantees. All these strategies are discussed in detail in a new article written by Dr. Hudson and published in Hotel Business Review: http://hotelexecutive.com/business_review/4234/managing-services-promises
The Pee Dee region of South Carolina is the subject of the latest published report from the SmartState Center of Economic Excellence in Tourism. In 2014, the SmartState team received funding from the Economic Development Administration to develop a brand identity for the region in order to raise awareness of the area as a tourism destination. After in-depth consumer research, the team concluded that brand communications for the Pee Dee should be built around the following positioning statement: The Pee Dee region of South Carolina is a cornucopia of unique farming communities, local foods, open spaces, nature, and rivers. Recreation opportunities are abundant, so bring your fishing rod, kayak, and golf clubs. You are going to have fun! The team then handed over their research to South Carolina National Heritage Corridor to create brand communications around this positioning statement. Marketers from the National Heritage Corridor consequently developed a new logo for the region – Naturally Carolina – along with marketing and advertising plans for tourism promotion in the region and travel itinerary package recommendations. The project showed the importance of using place brand building theory to understand a place’s core values and to map out a vision for the future, and revealed an identity that is strongly linked to the rural nature of the region and its associated outdoor activities. Of course, consistency in communicating the brand identity to potential visitors is critical for ensuring the brand’s success in the long-term, and the Center also recommends that marketers in the Pee Dee region embark on an internal marketing campaign in order to raise awareness and strengthen the Pee Dee brand image amongst residents. The full report can be downloaded at: http://sc.edu/study/colleges_schools/hrsm/research/research_centers/richardson_family_smartstate/pdfs/studies/branding_the_pee_dee.pdf