The New Zealand hotel industry: the role of image as a medium influencing company's competitiveness and customer loyalty towards brand

Binkowska, Barbara
Roberts, Elizabeth
Bremner, Hamish
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Master of Business
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Auckland University of Technology

This thesis evolves around image and its significance while developing customers' loyalty and increasing company's competitiveness in a highly competitive market. The topic is studied in-depth from the organisational perspective and delves into the differing motivations of hotel operators towards shaping favourable image as well as examining how the hotel's image affects customer loyalty and helps the company to increase its competitiveness. Finally, it analyses and compares which public relations tools are the most effective in the process of image creation and developing customer loyalty. From this perspective image becomes a central issue impacting company's future growth, performance and finally success. The research was conducted on the Auckland international hotel chains. Auckland hosts numerous conferences and events that drives demand for accommodation and in a way, creates a conducive environment to hotel operators for future expansion. Thus, hotels compete strongly with one another constantly looking for a competitive advantage by growing their customer base. My thesis outlines the hotels' management efforts and analyses their strategies in the context of changing customers' demands and market trends.With respect to methodological issues, my thesis is based on a qualitative approach and follows an interpretivist paradigm. The research background has been delineated as have been my respondents' profile to provide additional information about the organisation they represent. The research findings described at the end of this thesis document how important image is for a modern hotel and what initiatives should be followed to ensure success. Image and loyalty are closely interrelated as positive image affects customers' loyalty. In order to achieve a balance between sustaining a competitive advantage and increasing loyal customer base a number of managerial implications have been discovered. Detailed analysis of these findings may help the companies to establish a more favourable position in the global market and create mutually beneficial relationships which further help the organisation to grow.Having aimed at exploring the importance of image as a medium that affects company's competitiveness and customers' loyalty towards brand, this study has provided some useful indications for hotel companies as to what should be undertaken to gain loyal customers and improve company's performance on the market.

Marketing , Loyalty , Brand , Auckland hotel industry , Business competitiveness/competition , Image
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