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This article was downloaded by: [California Poly Pomona University]
On: 4 November 2009
Access details: Access Details: [subscription number 908953548]
Publisher Routledge
Informa Ltd Registered in England and Wales Registered Number: 1072954 Registered office: Mortimer House,
37-41 Mortimer Street, London W1T 3JH, UK
Journal of Hospitality Marketing & Management
Publication details, including instructions for authors and subscription information:
Convergence and Congruency of Pictorial Destination Images in DMOs’
Websites and Brochures
Neha Singh a; Myong Jae Lee a
The Collins College of Hospitality Management, California State Polytechnic University Pomona, Pomona,
California, USA
Online Publication Date: 01 November 2009
To cite this Article Singh, Neha and Lee, Myong Jae(2009)’Convergence and Congruency of Pictorial Destination Images in DMOs’
Websites and Brochures’,Journal of Hospitality Marketing & Management,18:8,845 — 858
To link to this Article: DOI: 10.1080/19368620903235852
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The publisher does not give any warranty express or implied or make any representation that the contents
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Journal of Hospitality Marketing & Management, 18:845–858, 2009
Copyright © Taylor & Francis Group, LLC
ISSN: 1936-8623 print/1936-8631 online
DOI: 10.1080/19368620903235852
Convergence and Congruency of
Pictorial Destination Images in DMOs’
Websites and Brochures
of Hospitality Marketing & Management,
Management Vol. 18, No. 8, August 2009: pp. 0–0
Downloaded By: [California Poly Pomona University] At: 21:23 4 November 2009
Singh Destination
and M. J. Lee
The Collins College of Hospitality Management, California State Polytechnic University
Pomona, Pomona, California, USA
This study investigated the relationships between the interactions
of web and brochure pictorial destination image and the clarity in
the perceived destination image. The interactions between the web
pictorial destination image and brochure pictorial destination
image were specified as congruency and convergence. A theory is
proposed that the congruency and convergence between the web
and brochure pictorial marketing image leads to clarity in the perceived destination image. Its presentation emphasizes the sequential elements of its underlying theoretical structure, including
constructs, laws of interaction, propositions, boundaries, variables, and hypotheses of interest. The methodology to test the theory
is also proposed.
KEYWORDS Congruency, convergence, destination image, theory
construction, clarity in destination image
One of the major trends in the North American tourism industry for the past
25 to 30 years has been the increasing emphasis on marketing destinations,
cities, and their unique attractions to potential tourists for increased visitation (Masberg, 1999). In promoting destinations, destination marketers have
focused on creating a positive destination image that is to influence tourists’
decision-making behaviors. There exists a general consensus among tourism
Address correspondence to Neha Singh, PhD, The Collins College of Hospitality
Management, California State Polytechnic University Pomona, 3801 West Temple Ave., 79B,
Pomona, CA 91768, USA. E-mail: [email protected]
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N. Singh and M. J. Lee
researchers and destination marketers about the significant role of image in
the process of decision making by potential tourists (Beerli & Martin, 2004).
Many studies in general tourism areas have demonstrated the importance of
destination image in increasing the number of tourists visiting destinations
(Beerli & Martin, 2004; Baloglu & McCleary, 1999; Chen & Kerstetter, 1999;
Choi, Lehto, & Morrison, 2007; Gallarza, Saura, & Garcia, 2002; Hosany,
Ekinci, & Uysal, 2006; Milman & Pizam, 1995).
The primary tourism marketing organization promoting destinations at
the local level is a convention and visitor’s bureau (CVB). In some regions
where no CVBs have been created, destination marketing is done by chambers of commerce. The main objectives of these destination marketing organizations (DMOs) are to offer accurate and comprehensive information
about a destination’s attractions, events, and facilities, and to attract and persuade potential tourists. This information can be offered to visitors in a written or pictorial format through brochures, advertisements, and websites and
contributes to creating a destination image in their minds. Informative promotion through DMOs’ websites or brochures provides potential tourists
with accurate knowledge of a destination and thus is regarded as a significant factor influencing tourists’ decision-making process (Choi et al., 2007;
Fakeye & Crompton, 1991).
Destination image is an important concept in marketing destinations to
potential visitors. The definition of destination image varies among researchers
and destination marketers. However, the most generally accepted one is
that the concept of destination image is based on individual’s beliefs and
impressions and on the information collected from a variety of sources
where destinations are advertised through such as magazines, newspapers,
brochures, and websites (Crompton, 1979). The compilation of these beliefs
and impressions results in an internally accepted mental construct representing attributes and benefits sought of a destination (Crompton, 1979;
Gartner, 1989; Gallarza et al., 2002; Mackay & Fesenmaier, 1997). Research
has shown that destination images are extremely important in consumers’
choice of destination because perceptions, rather than reality, are what
motivates those consumers to choose a destination (Chon, 1990; Gallarza et al.,
2002). Perceived destination images have a direct influence on consumers’
perceptual and cognitive evaluation of a destination and ultimately on their
destination choice (Baloglu & McCleary, 1999; Mackay & Fesenmaier, 1997).
Destination images are derived from a wide spectrum of external stimuli (information sources) (Echtner & Ritchie, 1993). Baloglu and McCleary
(1999) determined that destination image is affected by both stimulus elements of the destination and personal characteristics of the consumer. Beerli
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Pictorial Destination Images
and Martin (2004) also noted that destination image involves both information obtained from different sources and the characteristics of the individual.
Among the stimulus elements of the destination, factors such as the amount
and type of information advertised by the destinations are important.
According to Gartner (1993), the type and amount of information sources
received influence the formation of the cognitive component of image. Um
and Crompton (1990) also noted that the cognitive evaluation of attributes is
built by external factors such as promotional efforts of a destination through
media and word-of-mouth. An individual’s personal characteristics (internal
factors) also affect the formation of destination image. The nature of individual beliefs about the attributes of a destination varies depending on an individual’s own needs, motivations, prior knowledge, and other personal
characteristics (Um & Crompton, 1990). Among the personal characteristics
of the individual, there can be some psychological (motivations, values, personality, lifestyle, etc.) and sociodemographic elements (gender, age, level
of education, social class, place of residence etc.) that impact the consumer’s destination image (Beerli & Martin, 2004). Hence, the formation of
destination image can be determined by the destination or determined by
the personal characteristics of the consumer (Crompton, 1979). This study
focuses on the “destination-determined” factors of image portrayed in the
brochures and websites of DMOs, particularly on the type of information
advertised by DMOs, as illustrated in Figure 1.
Destination image can be developed by DMOs in a variety of ways,
especially through their promotional materials. Promotional materials are a
key representation of the destination under consideration and are used for
comparison by potential visitors (Wicks & Schuett, 1993). Brochures are one
of the most popular media used by travel and tourism marketers to create a
positive image of their products as they are very often requested by visitors
to gather information (Morgan & Pritchard, 2000). On the other hand, websites
are the most common form of persuasive technology available to marketers
today (Fogg, 2003). The Internet has drastically transformed the marketing
Perceived Destination Image
By Consumer
Type of
Amount of
FIGURE 1 Adapted from Baloglu and McCleary (1999) and Beerli and Martin (2004).
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N. Singh and M. J. Lee
of tourism destinations (Buhalis & Spada, 2000) and the consumption patterns of information about destinations have been completely reshaped
(Choi et al., 2007). Both of the media presents information through text and
pictures, creating visual image of a destination. Visual images are very powerful marketing tools enabling the destination to communicate a variety of
images in a compressed format (Choi et al., 2007) and to represent a simplification of a large number of associations and pieces of information connected with destinations (Day, Skidomore, & Koller, 2002). MacInnis and
Price (1987) noted that pictures or photographs are an established means for
communication and inducing imagery and communicate various attributes
and characteristics of the destination. Destination portrayed by pictures has
a key impact in the holiday decision-making process (Fesenmaier &
Mackay, 1997; Mackay & Couldwell, 2004). For instance, portrayals of natural scenery imply experiencing nature, portrayals of historic sites indicate
cultural heritage, while portrayals of people suggest social interaction. Thus,
specific travel experiences can be conveyed by appropriate selection of
visuals, guiding users to the choice of the destination. Although destination
image is conveyed through multiple channels, including verbal messages
and managerial practices, the focus of this research is to advance the understanding of the pictorial element in destination image formation.
Effective management of people’s perceptions and experiences can
secure a lasting value for the destination (Baker, 2004). It is important for
DMOs that their potential visitors have a positive assessment of their destinations and prefers them in their purchasing decision. In order to project a
positive destination image, a destination needs to first strategically identify
its desired image and then create and select visuals for promoting that
image. However, destinations are increasingly competing for increased visitation as a result of which, the need for destinations to create a unique identity to differentiate themselves from their competitors is more important
now than ever (D’Hauteserre, 2001; Morgan, Pritchard, & Pride, 2004). Consistent messages or branding a destination image can positively influence
consumers’ perceptions, relationships, and loyalty towards the destination.
This article aims to expand on the research efforts in understanding the relationships between the marketing images portrayed by DMOs on websites
and brochures and how they generate clarity in perceived destination
image. The framework offered in this article emphasizes a step-by-step
approach to the development and building of this theory.
The focus of this research is to understand the importance of conveying a
coherent destination image by DMOs for establishing a clear destination image
as perceived by their consumers. The principal objective of this article is to
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Pictorial Destination Images
propose a theory that will explain that there is a direct relationship between
the level of interactions between pictorial marketing image portrayed by
DMOs over websites and brochures and clarity in perceived destination
image. An increase in the level of interactions between web and brochure
pictorial marketing images generates an increase in the clarity of the perceived
destination image in the minds of consumers. The underlying assumption of
this theory would be that the consumer is exposed to both media tools
before judging the clarity in their perceived destination image.
The article comprises of three main sections. First it defines the meaning of the two constructs of this study: web pictorial destination image and
print pictorial destination image; the variables that define those constructs;
and the two relationships between the constructs—“congruency” and “convergence” in images. Second, it describes, step-by-step, the components of
this article’s theoretical structure, such as laws of interaction, propositions,
boundaries, and hypotheses. Third, it proposes a study to examine if specific
relationships between congruency or convergence and clarity in perceived
destination image exist.
Constructs may be defined as terms which, though not observational either
directly or indirectly, may be applied or even defined on the basis of the
observables (Kaplan, 1964). They are “approximated” units which by their
very nature cannot be observed directly (Bacharach, 1989). Variables, on
the other hand, may be defined as observable units which are capable of
assuming two or more values (Schwab, 1980). The constructs can be viewed
as a broad mental configuration of a given phenomenon, while variables
may be viewed as an operational configuration derived from a construct
(Bacharach, 1989).
Two major constructs characterize this study: web pictorial destination
image and brochure pictorial destination image. They can be defined as the
destination image induced in consumers through a strategic selection of pictures on DMOs’ websites and in brochures, respectively. Both of the constructs
can be measured by a similar set of variables, even though one construct is for
DMOs’ websites and the other is for DMOs’ brochures. The interactions or relationships between these two constructs are proposed to have an impact on
another construct, clarity in perceived destination image (Figure 2). The construct clarity in perceived destination image can be referred to individual’s ability to clearly visualize a destination after being exposed to the destination’s two
media tools (website and brochures). This construct will be measured by items
assessing the degrees of sharpness or image resolution.
The variables that will be used to define these constructs can be
divided into two sets: symbolic and functional (Wee & Ming, 2003). Not
N. Singh and M. J. Lee
Clarity in
Perceived Destination
Web Pictorial
Marketing Image
Brochure Pictorial
Marketing Image
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FIGURE 2 Basic constructs.
only are symbols important, but sometimes they can be recognized as more
important to the success of products or services than their actual attributes
and characteristics (Aeker, 1991; Graeff, 1996). The variables portraying the
symbolic aspects of web and brochure pictorial destination image are logo,
background color, and slogan, and the variables portraying the functional
aspects are attractions, activities, and participants.
The symbolic variables can be measured in a straightforward way. The
logo is a name, symbol, or trademark designed for easy and definite recognition. The background color is the predominant color on the cover page of
the DMO’s brochure or on the homepage of the DMO’s website. The slogan is
a phrase expressing the aims or nature of the DMO. The functional variable
attractions can be measured by sorting the pictures into the following categories: spectator sports, night life, lodging, dining, festivals and events, historical buildings, scenic beauty (including variables like urban, water,
mountains/hills, garden/parks, and farmland/rural), wild life, theme parks,
leisure (including variables like fishing, skiing, spas, boating, golfing, and
ballooning), and others (including variables like fruits and vegetables, etc.).
The next functional variable is activities and it can be measured by sorting
pictures into two categories: active or passive. Active pictures would be
those that have people in them, irrespective of the number of people. Passive
pictures would be those that have no people in them at all. This variable
helps in identifying whether the destination is being portrayed as a destination to be experienced (active) or a destination to be seen (passive). The
third functional variable is pictorial participants advertised in the pictures.
The pictorial participants can be measured by sorting the pictures into categories like couples, groups, families, or singles.
There are two relationships that can depict the interactions between the two
constructs: congruency and convergence. The mathematical meaning of the
term congruency is “coinciding exactly when superimposed” and the meaning of the term convergence is the process of coming together or the state
of having come together toward a common point. The first relationship
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Pictorial Destination Images
deals with the exact similarities between the variables and the second relationship deals with the closeness of the values of variables. For the symbolic
variables of logo, slogan, and background color, it is important that they are
consistently congruent over the DMOs websites and brochures, i.e. they
need to be exactly the same over the destinations’ promotional materials to
be able to induce a clear and enhanced destination image to consumers.
Thus, for these variables, the relationship between the constructs (web and
brochure pictorial destination image) can be proposed as congruency. Many
researchers in general marketing agree that individuals are often directed
towards maintaining, protecting, and enhancing image through the consumption of goods or brands as symbols (Grubb & Grathwohl, 1967; Lee &
Han, 2006; Sirgy, 1982). In the context of destination image, a pictorial
image in websites or brochures is frequently used as an instrument to maintain or enhance the destination image through transferring socially attributed
meanings of destination to oneself. Thus, travelers choose a destination that
they perceive as congruent with image they formed through the pictorial
images in websites or brochures. This matching concept can be described
as image congruency and significantly affect potential travelers’ choic …
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