International Perspectives on Destination Management and Tourist Experiences

Insights from the International Competence Network of Tourism Research and Education (ICNT)

by Michael Lück (Volume editor) Jarmo Ritalahti (Volume editor) Alexander Scherer (Volume editor)
©2016 Edited Collection 221 Pages


The International Competence Network of Tourism Research and Education (ICNT) covers various areas of research. ICNT’s fourth book offers insights of tourism experts with a wide range of interest and expertise on the way tourism is understood and worked in different countries around the world. The first part of this volume focuses on factors influencing the management of tourism destinations, including competition, controlling, and marketing. An in-depth view into tourist experiences is offered in the second part, with examples ranging from volcano tourism to national park and wildlife tourism, and gastronomic experiences.

Table Of Contents

  • Cover
  • Title
  • Copyright
  • About the Editors
  • About the Book
  • This eBook can be cited
  • Contents
  • Part I: Destination Management
  • Cooperative Destination Development: Advantages, Challenges and Success Factors
  • Destination Competitiveness as Performance – a Study of Åland’s Competitiveness in the Tourism Market since 1995
  • The Role of Key Indicator-Based Controlling Systems in Strategic Destination Management – The Case of North Rhine-Westphalia
  • Analysing the Effectiveness of Destination Canada’s Canadian Signature Experience Programme: Perspectives of Canadian ADS Tour Operators
  • Digital Tourism Marketing
  • Urban Tourism in Rural Surroundings – Second Home Tourism
  • Part II: Tourist Experiences
  • Expectations for a Volcano Tourism Experience: Visitor Perspectives at Mount Pinatubo, Philippines
  • Visitor Experiences at an Urban Wildlife Park: The Case of the Wildpark Christianental in Wernigerode, Germany
  • National Parks as Experience Spaces – an Auto-Ethnographic Study in Two Finnish Parks
  • Travel with a Wedding Dress: Bridal Photography Experiences of Chinese Travellers in Australia and New Zealand
  • Food and Wine Do not Travel: Gastronomic Tourism in Mexico
  • Table of Figures
  • List of Tables
  • Author Bios
  • Series index

Part I: Destination Management

← 9 | 10 → ← 10 | 11 →

Bernd Eisenstein and Sonja Göttel

Cooperative Destination Development: Advantages, Challenges and Success Factors

1.   Destination Management Seen from a Network Perspective

The discourse in tourism literature has led to a differentiated understanding of tourism destinations, uniting demand-oriented and process-oriented as well as network approaches. This chapter looks at destinations from a network perspective, arguing that destinations represent strategic networks that are highly dependent on the effectiveness of strategic and sustainable network management. The chapter highlights important advantages and challenges found in cooperative destination development. It further emphasises strategic success factors for long-lasting network management and cooperative destination development.

Tourists compare different destinations within their decision-making process and choose the destination that best fits their needs (Bieger & Beritelli, 2013). In order to satisfy their individual needs, tourists choose a set of complementary products and services that are perceived as a common product or product bundle rather than as individual services. These product bundles are commonly provided by a network of local and regional tourism actors (private as well as public) and the destinations serve as the competitive units that represent the product bundles (Eisenstein 2014; Laux, 2012; Pechlaner, 2003). In this way, destinations function as overlapping competitive units in competition with other destinations that offer comparable target-adequate services to the potential visitor (Eisenstein, 2014). Following this approach, destinations can be understood as inter-organisational strategic networks of co-producing actors (Baggio, 2011; Haugland, Ness, Grønseth, & Aarstad, 2011; Laux, 2012; Meriläinen & Lemmetyinen, 2011). A tourism network represents a strategic organisational form comprised of more than two legally independent, but economically partly inter-dependent actors with the aim of realising competitive advantages. Relationships between the network actors are usually complex-reciprocal, cooperative and rather stable (Laux & Soller, 2012; Meriläinen & Lemmetyinen, 2011; Saretzki, 2007).

The growth in implementation of cooperation and networks can be seen as a result of increasingly dynamic economic environments and a new era of complexity and uncertainty (Ruckdäschel, 2015). Correspondingly, increased complexity and dynamics in tourism have led to a higher importance of regional cooperation as a basis for generating unique local and regional marketing propositions, success ← 11 | 12 → ful branding and sustainable tourism development (Laux, 2012; Scherhag, 2007). Some authors even constitute a fundamental shift in the population as a whole towards a ‘networked society’ incorporating all aspects of life (Castells 2010).

In the context of cooperative destination development, there is a strong link between the success of individual companies within a destination and the prosperity of the destination as a whole (Saretzki, 2007). Hence, the simultaneity of cooperation and competition (co-opetition) is a characteristic element of cooperation in destination management (Laux, 2012; von Friedrichs Grängsjö, 2003; Wang, 2008; Wang & Krakover, 2008). Instead of being seen as contradictions, competition and cooperation can be used in a complementary way to achieve competitive goals (Laux, 2012). With reference to this, networks can be seen as a future-oriented model of destination management, as they safeguard the independence of network actors while simultaneously supporting common interests (Saretzki, 2007). As a result, the network density of destinations is increasingly regarded as a major competitive factor in destination management and destination development (Bramwell & Lane, 2000; Eisenstein, 2014; Laux, 2012; Pechlaner, 2003; Saretzki, 2007; Scherhag, 2007; Scott & Laws, 2012).

Taking into consideration the cooperative needs within the planning, production and marketing of the tourism product bundle, destinations can also be seen as “virtual enterprises” (Bieger, 2010, p. 136) which need to be managed and governed as one strategic unit in order to secure long-term competitiveness (Bieger & Beritelli, 2013; Flagestad & Hope, 2001). Consequently, tourism destinations need an institution that coordinates the joint activities and acts as a central coordination unit for the complementary destination product bundle (Eisenstein, 2014).

2.   Advantages of Cooperative Destination Development

The creation of competitive offers and products forms the basis of any regional development through tourism (Hall & Michael, 2007). As mentioned above, in destination management the success of the single enterprise is highly interlinked with the success of the destination as a whole (Saretzki, 2007). Cooperative processes and relationships are paramount for the realisation of the functions and tasks of the destination (e.g. compound products and services) that reach beyond the actionability of single actors and stakeholders (Bogenstahl, 2011; Fuchs, 2013; Pechlaner, 2003; Wang, 2008). Because of this tight inter-relationship, networks can be seen as the input as well as the output of a destination (Tinsley & Lynch, 2001). Networks can support the competiveness of a destination and then profit in return from the generated common competencies (Denicolai, Cioccarelli, & Zucchella, 2010; Haugland et al., 2011). Inter-organisational cooperation offers ← 12 | 13 → the advantage of access to a pool of complementary competencies and abilities that can be used and combined in flexible ways to develop innovative products and enter new markets (Bogenstahl, 2011). Thus, the interconnectedness of actors within a destination becomes a prerequisite for compound product and market development, as well as for achieving benefits of scale. (Pyo, 2012; Scherhag, 2007; Zehrer & Raich, 2012). Especially for smaller enterprises, the interconnectedness of single services along the tourism service chain offers the added value of a ‘virtual’ size increase and an extended range of actions, without giving up independence and autonomy (Laux & Soller, 2012; Lemmetyinen & Go, 2009; Pechlaner & Raich, 2008). Hence, the creation of cooperative networks can help to minimise the disadvantages of micro- and small-scale structures (Laux & Soller, 2012; Lemmetyinen & Go, 2009). Cooperation and networks are often based on a diverse set of interconnected motives and goals; Table 1 gives an overview of the central motives and goals of cooperation.

Motives/goals Description/examples
Cost-oriented goals Shared costs (e.g. research and design/investments), reduction of transaction costs, economies of scale and scope, synergy effects through centralisation of functions
Time-oriented goals Faster production development and marketing, flexible use of resources, faster reaction times
Security-oriented goals/ risk minimization E.g. in product development, business fluctuations, new technologies, structural changes; advantage of product diversification
Market-oriented goals Access to international markets, overcoming of restrictions and market barriers, use of market knowledge
Competition- and prestige-oriented goals Improvement of the competitive position, better presence on international markets, image, branding, positioning, profiling
Quality-oriented goals Increased quality, increased customer loyalty, extension of service range, image gains
Competence-oriented goals Knowledge management, innovation, collective learning processes, access to know-how, concentration on core competencies through know-how transfer
Resource-oriented goals Access and/or safeguarding of relevant resources, pooling of resources, joint sourcing, price advantages ← 13 | 14 →

Common working areas of cooperation within destination management are, for example, joint product development, joint marketing and joint projects with the larger goal of increasing the overall competitiveness of the destination (Pechlaner, Herntrei, Pichler, & Volgger, 2012). Integrated tourism planning and the combination of single services within a coordinated service bundle are the prerequisites for destination branding (Bieger, 2008; Jóhannesson 2005; Laux, 2012). Ideally, the regional tourism service providers take over the role of network-embedded entrepreneurs. In order to maintain the competitiveness of the whole destination, they act as leaders of their own enterprise (micro level) as well as cooperative members of the overall network (macro level) (Pechlaner & Raich, 2008; Reiß, 2001).

Regional cooperation can decrease the potential for conflicts and increase the acceptance of cooperative solutions to problems within the destination, which in turn leads to more flexibility in destination development (Saretzki, 2007). In addition, regional cooperation can also foster better public support for the destination development, rejuvenate the corporate feeling within the destination and support regional identity (Gibson & Lynch, 2007; Saretzki, 2007). As knowledge is shared within the network, regional networks can also positively impact on regional knowledge spillover and regional reputation (Bachinger & Pechlaner, 2011). Further benefits are positive effects on visitor numbers and repeat visits, and increased product quality and visitor experience (Gibson & Lynch, 2007). The concentration on joint regional core competencies can also be used to develop unique regional selling propositions (Bachinger & Pechlaner, 2011; Saretzki, 2007). In an optimal case, the network partners can create cooperative regional core competencies that are specific to the network, and can only be achieved through and for the benefit of the cooperation partners (Bachinger & Pechlaner, 2011; Scherle, 2006). Accordingly, the pooling of knowledge, experience, and the complementary resources of the network partners results in a competitive advantage in comparison to less networked destinations.

3.   Barriers to Cooperative Destination Development

Despite the various benefits, networks also contain several risks and challenges. Common arguments against cooperation are, for example, the risk of opportunistic behaviour by individuals, the possible outflow of resources and know-how, increased demand for coordination in comparison with other organisational forms, and difficulties with monitoring and control (Ruckdäschel, 2015; Wrona & Schell, 2005).

One of the main challenges in destination management is to bring all stakeholders together in a cooperative rather than competitive form and to combine the ← 14 | 15 → joint resources into an integrated product bundle with a cooperative marketing strategy (Fischer, 2009). Hence, one of the most challenging tasks in destination management is to close the “cooperation gap” (Eisenstein, 2014, p. 132; translated by the authors) in order to secure the future compatibility of the destination (Eisenstein, 2014). The following paragraphs display selected barriers that must be overcome in order to achieve sustainable cooperative destination development.2

Status-Quo Orientation

A precondition for sustainable long-term competitiveness through networks is the willingness of all network partners to tolerate constant change and development. However, the necessary willingness to change is often hindered by reserved and protective attitudes (von Weizsäcker 2000). Tendencies towards a status-quo orientation and the protection of acquired possessions are commonly seen in cooperative destination development (Eisenstein, 2014). This is particularly evident in saturated destinations with well-established structures. Often these structures are interlinked and secured by a large number of regulations that can serve to impede further development (Eisenstein, 2014).

Measures to break up the status-quo orientation, the protection of acquired possessions and the reserved attitude towards change in general are trust-building initiatives, including the diffusion of information (e.g. objective analyses of markets and competition) and the disclosure of individual interests (Eisenstein & Koch, 2015).

Barriers to Long-Term Orientation

The advantages of reduced transactional costs through networks increase over time. The more long-term orientation achieved by the network, the more advantages can be realised. Reasons for the reduction of transactional costs over time are, for example, distribution of costs over extended time-frames, increased trust, as well as inter-organisational learning (Elsholz, Jäkel, Megerle, & Vollmer, 2006; Hülsmann & Cordes, 2008). In destination development, long-term orientation is a cornerstone; for example, building up competitive advantages through positioning and branding is a process that can only be realised based on long-term considerations (Dettmer et al., 2005; Eisenstein & Koch, 2015). Furthermore, long-term orientation is necessary to ensure the sustainable use of the ← 15 | 16 → natural, cultural and historic resources that often constitute the core elements of the destination (Ritchie & Crouch, 2003). However, destinations often face major political pressure towards the realisation of short-term success (Dettmer et al., 2005). Reasons for the frequent exercising of political control may be the manifold economic, socio-cultural and ecological effects of tourism within the destinations (Müller, 2008) as well as a partial reliance on subsidies and public financial support (Eisenstein, 2014).

In order to overcome the barriers to long-term orientation, measures that communicate the necessity of long-term commitment in cooperative destination development are needed. When agreement on its importance has been reached, tourism concepts, strategies and visions may be used for adequate long-term planning as well as for the monitoring and control of common goals and objectives (Eisenstein & Koch, 2015).

(Perception of) Asymmetrical Competencies

The ‘fit’ of network partners is mainly based on the existence of complementary resources (Jacobi, 1996; Saretzki, Wilken, & Wöhler, 2002). In an ideal case, the partners have a good ‘fundamental fit’ (e.g. size, market segment, complementary resources), ‘strategic fit’ (e.g. goal congruence, similar expectations regarding time and intensity), ‘cultural fit’ (e.g. common norms and values) and ‘behavioural fit’ (e.g. behaviour as cooperation partner, work distribution) (Jacobi, 1996). However, cooperative destination management often involves partners with asymmetrical competencies or perceived asymmetrical competencies which may lead to opposition to cooperation and increase status-quo orientation (Eisenstein, 2014; Frick & Hokkeler, 2008; Raich, 2006). Big partners may fear free riders, while small partners may fear domination, limited options to make their interests heard and the loss of autonomy (Eisenstein, 2014; Frick & Hokkeler, 2008).

It is important for the development of networks where there are asymmetrical competencies (or the perception of asymmetrical competencies) to react to the increased need for self-determination as a basic requirement of intrinsically motivated behaviour (Herkner, 2004). A step-wise process of trust building forms the basis (Dizdar, 2008) for further consensual agreement on the securing of added value for all partners (Eisenstein & Koch, 2015).

Tourism ‘Tragedy of the Commons’

Very few industries are as dependent on public resources, as its main component of production, as tourism (Letzner, 2014). For many destinations, natural and cultural elements represent the central attractions in the sense of core compe ← 16 | 17 → tencies (Ritchie & Crouch, 2003). If the use of public resources exceeds certain boundaries, the public resources become common goods and users have to compete for their share of them.3 If, in this situation, users act ‘rationally’ in their own individual interests, they will exploit the common goods to the maximum. Any resulting overuse will, in the medium or long term, lead to an over-exploitation of the common goods and may inhibit further use of the common goods for all actors. Hence, the divergence between individual and collective rationality leads to a tourism ‘tragedy of the commons’ (Eisenstein & Koch, 2015). To solve the tragedy of the commons, destination network management has to raise awareness that it can only be solved through cooperation. An assessment of the carrying capacity compared to actual present exploitation may be used as a first step towards the preservation of the common goods. However, a scientific assessment can be difficult (Fischer, 2014; Tschurtschenthaler, 2002). The further use of tourism common goods may be regulated through instruments like entrance fees, compensation fees, user restrictions or right of disposal (Letzner, 2014).

Prisoner’s Dilemma and the Problem of Free Riders


ISBN (Softcover)
Publication date
2016 (September)
Frankfurt am Main, Bern, Bruxelles, New York, Oxford, Warszawa, Wien, 2016. 221 pp., 25 b/w ill., 15 graphs, 21 b/w tables

Biographical notes

Michael Lück (Volume editor) Jarmo Ritalahti (Volume editor) Alexander Scherer (Volume editor)

Michael Lück is Associate Professor of Tourism at Auckland University of Technology in Auckland, New Zealand. Jarmo Ritalahti is a Principal Lecturer at Haaga-Helia University of Applied Sciences in Porvoo, Finland. Alexander Scherer is the Coordinator of the Bachelor Degree in Gastronomy at Anáhuac University in Mexico City.


Title: International Perspectives on Destination Management and Tourist Experiences