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Title: Destination brand ambassadors in the making : acculturation and the international student exchange
Authors: Michelini, Cristina
Advisors: Brian (SHTM)
Vincent (SHTM)
Keywords: Student exchange programs
Place marketing
Branding (Marketing)
Issue Date: 2019
Publisher: The Hong Kong Polytechnic University
Abstract: The main purpose of this study is to understand how the formation of a destination ambassador unfolds in the context of a student exchange in Hong Kong. The researcher implemented a qualitative longitudinal study that captures the process of ambassadorship while it is occurring and uncovers how exchange students build images and convey and transmit messages about the study destination to their audience(s). Ambassadorship is hereby understood as communication about the destination experience, and it is investigated in both its verbal and pictorial form, through in-depth face-to-face interviews and analysis of social media visual materials respectively. Given the long-term and immersive nature of the student exchange, the researcher employed the acculturation theoretical framework to the reading of students' experience narrative. The aim is for the researcher to investigate the relations between issues related to adjustment, the relationship established with the place and the kind of message that is transmitted about the destination Hong Kong. The results of the research provide a deeper and more structured understanding of an instance of long-term tourist destination ambassadorship and potentially offer Hong Kong destination and education managers with insights relevant to how, when and through which tools to leverage on exchange students promotional potential. Most research on international students focusses on the Western Countries context. This study's first contribution consists in extending it to the Asia-Pacific region and to consider an instance of Asian cities leveraging on the international higher education market for their development. Secondly, previous studies on brand ambassadorship have investigated predominantly its antecedents and motivations, while this research intends to contribute to the scant investigation on how the process of ambassadors in the making unfolds as the tourist experience occurs. Third, although the potential of international (and exchange) students as ambassadors for the destination seems to be a relatively well understood practice from the point of view of place marketing and higher education institutions, to the researcher's knowledge this issue has not been looked at from a tourism research point of view. Similarly, consumer generated content and brand ambassadorship is widely used in practice across different industries, but seems to have undergone little investigation in the tourism context, in particular with regard to visual social media. The latter point is particularly relevant given the highly visual nature of the tourist experience. Therefore the researcher wishes to fill the gap by investigating the exchange student population through a destination marketing lens. Finally, this study investigates the links between the exchange students' acculturation process and the processes of destination brand image formation; brand ambassadorship formation; and narratives, story-telling and WOM formation and transmission. The present study's introduction of acculturation as an influencing force on brand ambassadorship formation is novel, besides being a relatively scantly investigated topic with relation to tourism in general.
Description: 359 pages : color illustrations
PolyU Library Call No.: [THS] LG51 .H577P SHTM 2019 Michelini
Rights: All rights reserved.
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