Hanlan, JJ & Kelly, SJ 2004, 'Backpackers, Byron and brand: the power of WOM', in J Wiley & P Thirkell (eds), Marketing accountabilities and responsibilities: proceedings of the Australian and New Zealand Marketing Academy Conference (ANZMAC), Wellington, New Zealand, 29 November - 1 December,School of Marketing and International Business, Victoria University of Wellington, Wellington, New Zealand, ISBN: 0475122143.
© Janet Hanlan & Stephen J Kelly
Tourist destination brand image is a major influencing factor in traveler destination choice. This exploratory research into the information sources from which destination brand image evolves, aims to provide insights which may improve destination marketing communication strategies. Indepth interviews with 21 international backpackers on Australia’s northern New South Wales coast indicate that mainstream media played little or no part in the formation of respondents’ image of the coastal destination of Byron Bay. Research findings show word-of-mouth (WOM) and autonomous independent information sources were the key mediums through which respondents formed their image of this iconic Australian tourist destination. Findings suggest that destination marketing organisations (DMO) can and should go beyond traditional mainstream media to communicate their brand message. Additionally, findings suggest the need for DMO’s to provide leadership within in the destination’s tourism industry to improve service delivery and exceed the ‘brand promise’.