Monday, June 29, 2015

New study finds social media engagement leads to strong brands

A new piece of research, conducted by Simon Hudson and three researchers from the Moore School of Business, has found strong support for the use of social media in strengthening relationships between consumers and brands. The paper, just accepted for publication in the International Journal of Research in Marketing, describes how the authors conducted three studies to explore how individual and national differences influence the relationship between social media use and customer brand relationships. The first study surveyed customers in France, the U.K. and U.S. and compared those who engage with their favorite brands via social media with those who do not. The findings indicated that social media use was positively related with brand relationship quality and the effect was more pronounced with high anthropomorphism perceptions (the extent to which consumers’ associate human characteristics with brands). Two subsequent experiments further validated these findings and confirmed that cultural differences, specifically uncertainty avoidance, moderated these results. The results offer cross-national support for the proposition that engaging customers via social media is associated with higher consumer-brand relationships and word of mouth communications particularly when consumers anthropomorphize the brand they engage with. The paper will appear early next year in special issue of the journal called ‘Branding in a Digitally Empowering World’.

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Accessible Hotels, Nordic-style

A new article written by Simon Hudson in Hotel Business Review discusses the growing market for accessible tourism and the opportunity it represents for the hotel sector. The article focuses on one hotel chain in particular – Scandic - that has positioned itself as a world leader in accommodating visitors with disabilities. With 230 hotels spread across Europe, Scandic is the Nordic region’s leading hotel chain. The policies dedicated to accessibility were initiated by Magnus Berglund, pictured above, who was originally a cook with the hotel group. Due to a muscle disease, Berglund was on sick leave for five years. When he was able to start work again, he contacted his former employer with his ideas on how the hotel chain could increase accessibility and use it to gain competitive advantage. In 2003, Berglund, who walks with the help of a special cane and travels with a rehab dog, was appointed Accessibility Director for Scandic, reporting directly to the Group Executive Committee. “Guests with special needs are a growing market due to the population getting older,” says Berglund. “This will continue as disabilities are no longer seen as a hindrance that stops people from traveling. At Scandic we work hard to make all our hotels more accessible. It is not always about investing in the building – many times it is the smallest things that make a difference.” The full articles can be found at:

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Night train to Lisbon

Simon Hudson was in Lisbon last week speaking to students at the Universidade Europeia about film tourism, and how movies – such as Night Train to Lisbon, starring Jeremy Irons – can have a very positive influence on a destination’s image. Dr. Hudson’s lecture was part of a day-long seminar organized by the university for the Tourism Management PhD program. Other speakers included Miguel Moital from Bournemouth University, Alan Fyall from University of central Florida, and Carlos Costa, Universidade de Aveiro.

Monday, June 8, 2015

World's Best Golf Clubhouses

Our research center in South Carolina signed a memorandum of understanding recently with Universidade Europeia in Portugal, with the intention of collaborating on various industry-related projects. One thing the two regions have in common is the critical importance of golf to the tourism industry, so I was particularly pleased to see both are represented in Golf Inc. Magazine’s ‘Clubhouse of the Year’ for 2014-2015. Congratulations to Plantation Golf Club at Sea Pines Resort Hilton Head for taking top spot, but I was fortunate enough to be in the vicinity of Portugal’s third-place winner Espiche Golf Club this week, so I thought I would drop in and chat to owner Peter Thornton and General Manager Luis Rocha to find out what it takes to be on this prestigious list of winners. Espiche Golf is located in an Ecological Reserve just outside Lagos in the Western Algarve and includes an 18-hole course that opened in 2012 and a stunning new clubhouse. Occupying the highest point of the Espiche property, surrounded on all sides by the golf course, the clubhouse is built into the hillside on the site of an old farmhouse, and is beautifully and sensitively integrated into the existing landscape. Stone from the original building has been used in the lower walls of the outer structure to maintain the sense of history, and solar panels, hidden within the roof design, ensure a state of the art approach to sustainability. Architect Nadine Berger’s unique and striking design provides 360 degree views from terraces and lounges on two levels, an informal restaurant and bar area, separate lounge, a relaxing inner patio garden, changing rooms, a golf shop and reception area. I will be writing more about Espiche for my new tourism marketing book, but you will see from the photos, this is a unique and special attraction! More at

Wednesday, June 3, 2015

Appealing to Tourists via Branded Entertainment

A new article by Simon Hudson takes a closer look at the use of branded entertainment by destinations, using the ‘Brand USA’ campaign as a case study. The article, published online first with the Journal of Travel & Tourism Marketing (see link below), was co-authored with Vincent Tung, an assistant professor at Hong Kong Poly. Brand USA, the destination marketing organization for the United States, used three media platforms to promote the country, partnering with television, film, and digital content producers to present engaging stories that would attract international tourists. In one of the initiatives they launched a website in London accepting confidential television ideas from producers. Following an external committee selection, entries were shortlisted to three, and the first program to be produced was Extreme Frontiers: USA, which was broadcast in the UK on Channel Five late in 2013. Produced by director Russ Malkin, owner of Big Earth, the four-part series followed well-known thrill-seeker and adventurer Charley Boorman, whose expedition began in Hawaii before he and Malkin travelled over 8,000 miles across 22 states. Brand USA developed a dedicated web page on their consumer website ( for the show featuring video excerpts from the series, photographs, and links to Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest. On the website were also links to travel information (including an interesting 'Tune Your Trip’ site where visitors could customize a trip to the US) and a link to the show’s own website. The program was sold globally and appeared in over 90 territories, but as a result of the program being broadcast in the UK alone, EagleRider created an, ‘Extreme Frontiers Guided Tour’, of which they have already sold 60 packages. EagleRider was an official sponsor of the show, giving away an all-inclusive guided motorcycle tour via a sweepstakes competition to kick-off their partnership with Brand USA and Extreme Frontiers. For the full article, go to:

Monday, June 1, 2015

Look for Winter Sport Tourism in September 2015

Simon Hudson has just submitted his latest manuscript to his publisher in London. The book, called Winter Sport Tourism: Working in Winter Wonderlands, will be published by Goodfellow in September. The new text will be of great interest to students, researchers, and practitioners – particularly those working in the ski industry. There are 12 chapters in the book, with each chapter following the theme of ‘working in winter wonderlands’ – telling the story of the industry through the eyes of those that shape it. Chapter 1 begins by plotting the evolution of winter sport tourism, Chapter 2 focuses on the winter sport tourism product and Chapter 3 is dedicated to understanding the consumer. Chapter 4 explores design and planning for winter sports resorts while Chapter 5 looks at management and operations, both on- and off-mountain, and is followed by Chapter 6 that is dedicated to marketing. Chapter 7 emphasizes the importance of public relations and media in the industry, and Chapter 8 focuses on the impact of technology on communications, operations, and clothing and equipment. Chapter 9 is dedicated to events in the winter sports industry looking at growth and different types, and the planning, marketing and leveraging of events. Chapter 10 is an important one, focusing on the economic, social and environmental impacts of winter sport tourism, and this is followed by Chapter 11 that discusses customer service and how destinations can develop a service culture. Finally, Chapter 12 looks towards the future for the ski industry, focusing on the key consumer trends influencing winter sport tourism. More information about the upcoming book can be found at: