Destination benchmarking : facilities, customer satisfaction and levels of tourist expenditure
An extensive review of past benchmarking literature showed that there have been a substantial number of both conceptual and empirical attempts to formulate a benchmarking approach, particularly in the manufacturing industry. However, there has been limited investigation and application of benchmarking in tourism and particularly in tourist destinations. The aim of this research is to further develop the concept of benchmarking for application within tourist destinations and to evaluate its potential impact on destination performance. A holistic model for destination benchmarking was developed using the three main types of benchmark: internal, external and generic. Internal benchmarking aimed at improving a destination's internal performance by evaluating quantitative and qualitative measures. External benchmarking used tourist motivation, satisfaction and expenditure scores to investigate how one destination may perform better than another. Generic benchmarking aimed at evaluating and improving a destination's performance using quality and eco-label standards. This study developed four hypotheses to test the possible measures and methods to be used in carrying out destination benchmarking research and investigate how cross-cultural differences between tourists and between destinations might influence its formulation and application. These hypotheses and the model were tested utilising both primary and secondary data collection methods. The primary data was collected from eight different groups of British and German tourists visiting Mallorca and Turkey in the summer of 1998 (n=2,582). Findings were analysed using content analysis and a series of statistical procedures such as chisquare, mean difference (t-test), factor analysis and multiple regression. Personal observations were also recorded. The secondary data included statistical figures on tourism in Mallorca and Turkey. This research provides a discussion of findings and their implications for benchmarking theory and practitioners. The relevance of benchmarking to tourist destinations was examined through the measurement of performance, types of destination benchmarking and taking action. It is apparent that specific measures could be developed for destinations. Both internal and external benchmarking could be applied to benchmarking of destinations. However, in the case of external benchmarking, this research indicated that each destination might have its own regional differentiation and unique characteristics in some respects. Crosscultural differences between tourists from different countries also need to be considered. Given these findings, it is possible to suggest that this research makes a fresh and innovative contribution to the literature not only on tourism but also on benchmarking. The contribution of this study's findings to knowledge exists in the methods and techniques used to identify the factors influencing selected destination performance variables and in the methods to be employed for comparison between the two destinations. Caution should be used in generalising the results to apply to other destinations.