Exhibition brand preference in mainland China : the role of relationship quality and destination attractiveness

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Exhibition brand preference in mainland China : the role of relationship quality and destination attractiveness

 

Author: Jin, Xin
Title: Exhibition brand preference in mainland China : the role of relationship quality and destination attractiveness
Degree: Ph.D.
Year: 2011
Subject: Exhibitions -- China.
Exhibitors.
Customer relations.
Brand loyalty.
Exhibition buildings.
Exhibitions -- Management.
Hong Kong Polytechnic University -- Dissertations
Department: School of Hotel and Tourism Management
Pages: xvi, 308 p. : ill. ; 30 cm.
InnoPac Record: http://library.polyu.edu.hk/record=b2456191
URI: http://theses.lib.polyu.edu.hk/handle/200/6180
Abstract: Exhibition brand preference is the topic of this thesis, with a focus on Mainland China's exhibition industry. Despite the fact that many destinations around the world have invested significant resources to build large-scale exhibition centers and host exhibitions to gain both economic and non-economic benefits (e.g., Davidson & Rogers, 2006; Fenich, 2008; Kirchgeorg, 2005), there is little research on the impact of exhibitors' relationship with exhibition organizers and their perceptions of destination attractiveness on their preference for and intention to participate in a particular exhibition. This research aims to address this lack of research by focusing on the impact of relationship quality and destination attractiveness. In addition, it attends to the paucity of research on the effect of manufacturing clusters on exhibition brand preference. Drawing on relationship quality, destination marketing, and cluster theory to synthesize a theoretical framework, this thesis develops and tests in the context of Mainland China's exhibition industry a model of the effects of relationship quality with organizers and destination attractiveness on exhibitors' preference for exhibition brands. This thesis combined both qualitative and quantitative approaches, and consisted of two major studies. Study 1 employed a qualitative approach; face-to-face in-depth interviews were conducted with 32 international and domestic exhibitors at four international exhibitions in Guangzhou and Beijing. Findings revealed significant differences in exhibitors' perceptions of the relationship with exhibitors, with a consequent impact on perceptions of trust, commitment, and relationship satisfaction. Regarding destinations, venue facilities, accommodation, economic environment, and the existence of manufacturing clusters emerged as important factors influencing exhibitors' preference for and satisfaction with exhibition brands. Exhibitors preferred certain destinations and/or venues over others, while their requirements for venue facilities and destination amenities varied. However, overall, destination/venue attractiveness was considered secondary, compared to the prestige of an exhibition and organizer performance.
Study 2 employed a quantitative approach. First, a pilot test was conducted with 216 respondents at an exhibition in Guangzhou. Results verified dimensions reflecting both relationship quality and destination attractiveness suggested by the literature and those that had emerged from the qualitative study. Second, the main survey collected 616 responses from exhibitors in Shanghai, Hangzhou, Wuhan and Nanjing. Exploratory factor analysis (EFA) results confirmed dimensions obtained in the pilot test. Building on the results of EFA, confirmatory factor analysis (CFA) supported the overall measurement model; all proposed dimensions were viable indicators. Relationship quality consisted of four factors, namely 1) service quality & satisfaction, 2) trust & affective commitment, 3) calculative commitment, and 4) communication. For destination attractiveness six factors emerged: 1) cluster effect 1 (leadership of the destination in the industrial sector of the exhibited products, 2) venue facilities, 3) cluster effect 2 (destination as a source of exhibitors), 4) economic environment, 5) destination leisure environment, and 6) accessibility. Independent sample t-tests found that exhibitors’ perceptions of their relationship with organizers and destination attractiveness differed, depending on key characteristics of exhibitors, organizers, and destinations. Structural equation modeling (SEM) assessed the structural model with two paths: 1) from relationship quality to exhibition brand preference, and 2) from destination attractiveness to exhibition brand preference. Statistics indicated that the model fitted the data well, and that the statistical power of the model to predict exhibition brand preference was high. Relationship quality was the dominant causal factor for exhibition brand preference, confirming that relationship marketing should be very effective in the exhibition industry context. Destination attractiveness was principally represented by cluster effects and satisfactory venue facilities, providing support for the development of exhibitions in cities located in proximity to manufacturing clusters. However, while these factors might justify the choice of an exhibition site or provide added value to an exhibition brand, they had no causal impact on exhibitor preference for an exhibition brand. This finding implies that destination attractiveness factors constitute a necessary, but not sufficient, condition for exhibitors' brand preference, which is determined by whether organizers can meet exhibitors' needs and objectives, and are able to build strong relationships with exhibitors. This thesis has made several theoretical contributions. First, it developed and tested a model to understand exhibitors' preference of exhibition brands that incorporates both relationship and destination factors. Second, in doing so, it is one of the first studies in the exhibition literature that utilized both qualitative and advanced quantitative approaches. Third, it extended relationship quality theory by testing in the exhibition context in Mainland China measures which were originally developed in varying business-to-business contexts in Western countries. Finally, the thesis drew on cluster theory, developing measures to examine the effect of clusters on destination attractiveness in Mainland China's exhibition industry.

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