Towards a brand value model for the Southern Africa Tourism Services Association
Over recent years, the concept of brand value has increasingly gained prominence in a variety of contexts. This is primarily due to a brand’s ability to increase profits through a promise of value delivered to customers, which makes it a valuable intangible asset to organisations. A brand’s value can, however, only be managed properly if it is measured and understood so as to ensure optimal growth and survival in an ever-changing, volatile marketplace. This realization has prompted investigations into the assessment of the financial value of a brand in both business/marketing research and practice. However, contrary to customary brands such as products or services, the Southern Africa Tourism Services Association (SATSA) is a uniquely fused brand, since it operates as a non-profit, member-driven organisation in the private sector of the Southern African inbound tourism industry. This intricate brand structure inevitably necessitates a more specific premise and subsequent measure of brand value, since it cannot be confined to financial value alone. In the light of this, the main purpose of this study was to develop a brand value model for SATSA to examine the value created by this brand and how it is experienced by its members. To date, the majority of research endeavours have focused on the financial value of a brand. Given the essence of this organisation, brand value ought to encompass a range of aspects other merely financial value. The recent downtrend in membership numbers also highlights the need for determining the value members derive from this specific organisation. Knowledge regarding the brand’s value can serve as a means to improve the current value proposition, thereby enabling an increase in satisfaction and loyalty, growth in membership, and overall organisational sustainability. However, research in brand value specifically for non-profit, member-driven organisations such as SATSA, and in the South African tourism industry is particularly limited. In addition to the latter, no formal measuring instrument currently exists whereby brand value can be measured in such a unique context. It is therefore essential for an organisation such as SATSA to identify specific dimensions of brand value and, to determine which dimensions are most likely to influence members’ perceptions of value by examining the relationships between dimensions, to enable maximum leverage of the brand. Therefore, to achieve the above mentioned and the goal of this study, a comprehensive review of the marketing and tourism/non-profit literature was performed, subsequent to which the research was conducted in two phases. The first phase focused on the construction of a measuring instrument to identify the key aspects that contribute to brand value. Expert knowledge, opinion and consensus were obtained relating to the appropriateness of items to be included in the questionnaire. Based on the latter and the literature review, a total of 53 items were deemed acceptable to measure brand value in this particular context. These items formulated in phase 1 were then included in the final questionnaire and measured together with questions pertaining to the business profile of members in phase 2. Phase 2 focused on analysing brand value from members’ perspective. Self-administered questionnaires were distributed online to all members included in the SATSA database (n=718). A total of 268 questionnaires were completed. To address the goal of this study, selected statistical techniques were employed. Two separate factor analyses were performed on the brand value and brand equity dimensions respectively, which revealed reliable and valid factors, and were used as constructs in the Structural Equation Modelling (SEM) analysis to develop the model. Other statistical techniques included correlations, ANOVAs, and an independent t-test to examine the influence of selected business profile aspects on brand value. The results of the study confirmed that brand value for organisations such as SATSA is, in fact, multifaceted. Brand value in this context therefore consists of financial value, professional trust value, organisational value, network value, social engagement value, in conjunction with brand equity, which is important for developing and sustaining the brand. Professional trust value was also revealed to be a major facet of SATSA’s brand value that requires attention on various levels. The contributions of this research are threefold: From a theoretical point of view, this study is one of the first to identify multiple aspects that specifically contribute to brand value for a non-profit member-driven organisation in the context of tourism, and even more so in a South African context. The development of this model is thus a significant contribution to literature and can be further analysed and tested by other researchers. Secondly, from a methodological point of view, this study sets a benchmark in South African tourism brand value research by designing a reliable questionnaire that measures multiple value aspects for the first time in this context; as well as the construction of a model that captures multiple facets of brand value and reveals unique relationships between specific facets of brand value and brand equity. Thirdly, from a practical perspective the research indicated the current status of SATSA’s brand value, and also equips SATSA with a model that enables them to effectively manage brand value and realise what specifically contributes to increased brand value levels for this organisation. This model can also be tested for organisations with similar brand structures, but also for profit-driven organisations. The information obtained from this study can be applied to conduct a comprehensive assessment of brand value for non-profit, member-driven organisations in the South African tourism industry to encourage value-based management and enable a more proficient value offering. This should lead to optimal member satisfaction, growth in membership numbers and the continuous sustainability of such organisations in South Africa given the competitive operational environment.
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