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4. Research Methodology

As already mentioned, the goal of this research was to understand the current state of relationship marketing on the Portuguese touristic online dimension. To achieve this goal it were established two specific objectives: (1) to identify the existing bonds in the Iberian tourism market, (2) to verify to what extent the online pages of tourism entities are fostering these bonds. Thus, it will be presented below the methodology used to achieve these two specific objectives.

4.1. Specific objective 1

4.1.1. Sample.

In order to achieve the first goal we proceeded to a quantitative survey among tourists. Considering the strategic importance of Spain as a priority market to the domestic tourism (PENT, 2011) this research assumes an Iberian dimension to allow capturing potential differences in context between both countries, as proposed by Cho and Sung (2012). The selected sample was not probabilistic because we considered as respondents all of those 18 years old or above who were connected to Portuguese and Spanish universities (students, teachers and staff). However, despite not being random, this sample is objective since a study group which easily accesses the internet was chosen being therefore more receptive to the type of questionnaire used (Maroco, 2010). Thus, this group gathers the means and knowledge needed for the proposed study, which aims to test the effectiveness of online strategies of relationship marketing. Therefore, the sample of respondents in Portugal was of 208 observations being composed by 68.75% of female respondents and 31.25% of male respondents at a young age, having 73.56% of the respondents thirty years of age or below. Regarding the educational qualifications of the respondents 41.35% were graduates and 23.6% had secondary education, Master and Doctoral degrees had a representativeness of 16.35% and 15.38%. The post graduates represented 3.36% of the sample and there was no observation at any other level of educational qualifications.

On the other hand Spain’s surveys sample consisted of 178 observations, of which 21.91% of respondents were male and 78.09% were female. The age groups up to 30 years of age represented 79.77% of the recorded responses and the educational qualifications of the respondents were located primarily at the undergraduate, post graduate and masters level, which make up 90.45%. Table 1 shows the characteristics of respondents by country of response.

Table 1: Profile of Respondents

Demographic Characteristics

















Up to 20 years



21 - 30 years



31 - 40 years



41 - 50 years



51 - 65 years







Primary Education



Secondary Education


















4.1.2. Data collection

Data collection was made through an exploratory quantitative research, through electronic surveys created in Google Docs. The objective was to identify the presence or absence of tourist groups in the Iberian market that might be characterized by the type of bonds presented by Berry and Parasuraman (1991), Berry (1995) and Zeithaml and Bitner (1996). To achieve the goals we developed a survey in Portuguese and presented stimuli to measure each of the bonds presented above. Five points Likert type scales were used. The choice of this type of scale was due to its psychometric properties which acceptability was grounded in relation to its reliability, validity and unidimensionality, making it the measurement scale most used in studies of relationship marketing (Antunes and Rita, 2007 quoting Churchill, 1979; Morgan and Hunt, 1994; Kumar, Scheer and Steenkamp; 1995, Siguaw, Simpson and Baker; 1998, and Foster and Cadogan; 2000). To measure the bonds the questions presented in table 2 were used.

Table 2: Variables used to measure relational bonds

Social Bonds

I spent holidays in places where I know I'll find family and friends

Being with family and friends during the holidays improves the quality of my vacation

I spent holidays where I'm already known due to personal contacts that I developed in prior trips and / or stays

Structural Bonds

Receiving information about possible destinations and activities available in a place helps to plan my holidays (eg, newsletters, text messages, flyers, postcards, letters)

When I book my trips I prefer to work with service providers (hotels, restaurants, etc.) that have the safer and most intuitive IT systems.

I use mobile devices (mobile phone) to gather additional information for my trips (eg. iPhone apps)

I give great importance to service providers (agencies, hotels, restaurants) that have ensured quality and satisfaction (eg Quality Certificates, Book Claims and Insurance)

I follow internet forums about tourism products and services, through social networks and / or virtual communities.

Financial Bonds

The price is the main factor that I have in mind when I think about going on holidays / trips

Considering two tourist offerings with similar features and prices I choose the one which has more benefits (eg discounts on Rent-a-Car, offering entries in sights)

The existence of tourist cards with discounts in a specific region leads me to go on holidays in this location (eg discounts on museums, hotels, restaurants)

I repeat previous travelling experiences when I have additional benefits for being a regular customer (eg lower prices or adding services only available in a higher price plan)

A first pre-test collection of ten responses was applied, on paper, which denoted the need for some adjustments to the surveys. After adjusting the survey it was again applied in paper format to 10 respondents. They validated it for having reported full understanding of the questions and answered without difficulty. After the survey validation a translation to Spanish by a Portuguese-Spanish specialist was carried out. Both surveys were posted online, and were available between April, 16 and May, 20 2012. We disseminated the surveys through the Communication and Image Office (GCI) of the University of Beira Interior (UBI). The aim of this dissemination was to provide the proposed study with higher reliability and authenticity, as well as access to the institutional mailing list. It was also sent to other universities in Portugal and Spain so they, too, should proceed to the dissemination of the survey through their institutional databases.

4.2. Specific Objective 2

4.2.1. Sample.

To achieve the specific goal number two we developed an exploratory qualitative research on the internet pages of institutional tourism regions. Were considered the pages presented in the table 3, previously explained in PENT.

Table 3: Qualitative Analysis of the Regional Tourism Internet pages


Regional Tourism Organizations



Tourism of Oporto and North Portugal



Tourism of Centro of Portugal



Tourism of Lisbon and Tagus Valley



Tourism of Alentejo



Tourism of Algarve



Tourism of Douro



Tourism of Serra da Estrela



Tourism of Leiria-Fátima



Tourism of Oeste



Tourism of Terras do Grande Lago Alqueva



Tourism of West Alentejo Coast



Tourism of Madeira



Tourism of Azores


4.2.2. Data collection.

A set of procedures that allowed the organization of the information in a standardized format was undertaken in order to make possible the inferences about their characteristics and meaning (Albadvi and Saddad, 2012). An observational grid adapted from a study developed by Antunes and Rita (2007) for the Portuguese Hydrotherapy sector was used. This grid (see Table 4) seeks to analyse the following sub dimensions: interactive marketing, relationship with users, understanding the needs and customization. The aim of this grid was to objectively measure the presence or absence of these sub dimensions as performed by Albadvi and Saddad (2012) in a study applied to the Iranian web pages in the tourism sector. the financial dimensions and the availability of the site in Spanish language were also added.

Table 4: Dimensions of Online Analysis

Interactive Marketing

The Tourism Region allows the subscription of newsletters on their website.

The Tourism Region provides contact forms.

The Tourism Region seeks to know my opinion about their website.



The tourist region offers monetary incentives, such as discounts, combined tickets, etc.

Relationship with users

The Tourism Region communicates with users of its website.

The Tourism Region makes effort to strengthen relationships with users of its website.

The Tourism Region provides a customer registration area.

Understanding the Needs

The Tourism Region makes efforts to know what kind of tourism product I'm looking for.

The Tourism Region displays catalogues and / or brochures on their website about the tourism destination.


The Tourism Region seeks to know my name.

The Tourism Region addresses me by my name.

The Tourism Region allows me to create a tourism itinerary to my measure.


The Tourism Region has available its internet site in Spanish

To measure the sub dimensions a dichotomous scale as applied in a study performed by Cho and Sung (2012) was used, where 0 means "no" and 1 means "yes." The investigators took up the role of a tourism customer, as applied by Albadvi and Saddad (2012), browsing through selected pages and noting the sub dimensions found. Using the Google search engine, thirteen internet pages were identified, one for each of the RT's. During the analysis, whenever possible, newsletters / mailing lists were subscribed. On internet pages that do not have this option information and / or brochures were requested for the standardization of criteria which allow review without restrictions on specific objective 2 namely the sub dimension related to communication. For subscription of newsletters and communication with the RT's a new email was created for this study. We also used the contact form to request more information about the area or tourism pole to measure the sub dimension relationship, understanding of needs and customization. Brochures and other promotional documentation and created records on sites that allow this functionality were also ordered.

4.3. Data processing

The data were processed using SPSS software, version 18. To reply to Objective 1 a Cluster or group analysis was performed. According to Maroco (2011) this is an exploratory technique that allows grouping subjects into homogeneous groups or variables relating to one or more common features. The objective of this analysis was to verify if the bonds presented by Berry and Parasuraman (1991), Berry (1995) and Zeithaml and Bitner (1996) were in fact present in the Iberian market of tourism. That is, we intend, through this technique, to identify clusters which may be characterized by financial bonds, social bonds or structural bonds. For the intended grouping a hierarchical cluster analysis was used, by which the clusters are formed based on the closest pairs (Pestana and Gageiro, 2008). We used the Ward method, by which the clusters are formed to minimize the sum of squared errors (Maroco, 2011). Three variables (structural bonds, social and financial) resulting from mean variables used to measure each of the bonds were considered for this analysis.

5. Result Presentation

5.1. Most valued bonds by Iberian tourists

As mentioned above, to continue the specific objective 1 we proceeded to a cluster analysis. The selection of the number of clusters was based on the most advised methods (Moreira and Reis, 1993; Hair et al., 1998), namely the observation of Dendogram formed by cluster analysis and coefficient fusion. This resulted in 4 clusters, which composition, means and standard deviations are presented in Table 5.

Table 5: Cluster Analysis Results

Cluster 1

Cluster 2

Cluster 3

Cluster 4

n = 119

n = 67

n = 88

n = 112






Std. Dv.


Std. Dv.


Std. Dv.


Std. Dv.

Social Bonds









Structural Bonds









Financial Bonds









By the average values it seems that cluster 1 is more related to financial and social bonds; cluster 2 seems to be more related to financial bonds; Cluster 3 seems to be related to the structural and financial bonds, and cluster 4 seems to be more connected to financial bonds. Noting that despite the financial bonds being the most valued by cluster 2, they were present in all segments.

For testing potential differences in mean clustering, for each one of the used variables (factors) were conducted on analysis of variance "One-Way" (ANOVA). It tested the similarity of the null hypothesis in the averages of different groups. As independent variables the obtained clusters were considered and as dependent variables the bonds used to form the groups of clusters were considered. The values of F that are in Table 6 allowed us to reject the null hypothesis of equality of means between the groups, because the F values presented as significant at the 0.05 level for all bonds. Thus, it appeared that each bond when taken individually is significant to differentiate between the clusters.

Table 6: Wilks'Lambda and F Test


Wilks' Lambda



Social Bonds




Structural Bonds




Financial Bonds




On the other hand, the value of Wilk's Lambda, suggested that social bonds were causing major difference between the means of clusters because it was the bond that had a lower value (Malhotra, 1993). Afterwards the structural bonds arose and only then did the financial bonds appear. Going against what was suggested by Gummesson (2002) that the financial bonds are valued but are not sufficient to differentiate the offer of a certain entity.

Once found the market segments based on the most valued bonds we attempted to characterize them based on variables such as the reason for travelling, age, gender and educational level. Yet, these variables were not statistically significant to characterize segments. Thus we proceeded to the verification of the second goal, to check whether organisms of tourism foster or not these bonds through their web pages.

5.2. Fomentation of online bonds with tourists

To perform the online analysis an observation grid was elaborated, which was filled with dichotomous variables (0 = no, 1 = yes). Using the data collected the counting of dichotomous variables 0 and 1 were carried out, to conclude which are the most present. The observation grid after completion and counting, where N = Total (13 web pages analysed) assumes the summary configuration as shown in table 7.

Table 7: Qualitative Analysis of Internet pages of Tourism Regions

Analysis of the TR Internet pages




Interactive Marketing

The TR allows to subscribe the newsletter



The TR provides contact forms



The TR requests feedback from users about the web page





The TR provides monetary incentives, such as discounts, combined tickets, etc.



Relationship with users

The TR communicates with users



The RT undertakes efforts to strengthen relationships with users



The TR provides registration area



Understanding the Needs

The TR tries to find my kind of demand



The TR provides online brochures




The TR seeks to know my name



The TR addresses to me by my name



The TR allows to create a road map as wanted by the user




The TR webpage is available in Spanish



Based on the analysis of Table 7 is possible to understand concerning the dimension "Interactive Marketing” that newsletters’ subscriptions were available in eight websites, while five of them do not have this option. The contact forms were available in four cases and not available in nine. Only one page searched feedback from users through a survey, where possible answers were "Very Good", "Good" and "Average". During the analysis of this dimension newsletters of these pages were subscribed and brochures that provide contact forms were ordered. Analysing the dimension "Financial Incentives" only 3 of the 13 analysed pages had financial incentives of discounts for special events or combined tickets.

Concerning the dimension "Relationships with Users", the sub dimension communication was identified in four internet pages having the remaining nine established no contact with the user. Regarding the four websites communicating with users the method used by TR was the email. Those emails were sent after requests for brochures and registration in the websites. The following section intended to understand if the TR sought to deepen relationships with users, this concern was recognized in three pages and not identified in ten. This item sought to mainly identify if organization undertook contacts to strengthen and maintain relationships with prospective users. The existence of the registration area in three of the TR’s pages was identified.

Regarding the dimension "Understanding the Needs" four web pages were identified trying to understand the sort of offer sought by the user however this same initiative was not identified in the remaining nine. The sub dimension "The TR provides online Brochures" was the most identified among the websites of TR. Effectively the option of downloading brochures and other information regarding the touristic destination was not available in only two web pages, i. e. this feature was available in eleven of the thirteen web pages analysed.

Regarding the dimension "Personalization", the attempt to discover user’s name was identified in five pages during the process of subscribing newsletters while in the remaining eight this effort was not identified. The remaining sub dimensions examined, respectively if the page addressed to the customer by its own name and if it allowed creating a user’s route. This was found in each sub dimension, two pages where these aspects were present but in the remaining eleven this options was not identified. Finally, through the analysis of the dimension "Language" it was identified that four websites provided their content in Spanish to its users. However, in one of the pages where it was possible to select this option it did not worked. As such a situation could derive from maintenance and / or updating of content we chose to consider this feature as being available.

By analysing Table 7 it possible to identify that the most present dimensions present in TR websites are, in descending order, the availability of online brochures, subscription of newsletters and the attempt to know users’ name. The features less present are related to communication and personalization. Addressing customers by its own names, possibility to create a specific roadmap and asking for feedback from the TR users only occurred in one of the cases examined.

Considering the TR's communications with customers it is important to distinguish the TR11 and 13 from the TR 5 and 12. This distinction is important due to the fact that TR 11 and 13 did not address customers in a personalized manner by using their own name. Although the TR 5 response doesn’t address the customer by his own name, evidence show that the email was written by a TR’s employee. The emails’ content also clarified some information previously requested through the contact form. However, the additional information redirected us to a different web from those in which request was made. The response of TR 12 also showed that the email was written by an official of that TR and it was the only case observed with a genuine customized contact by addressing the customer by his own name. The TR 12 asked for an address to send further information which was received on June 8, 2012. The content of the envelope was a tourism destination postcard, two maps, guides for hotels and the destination and a conference hall brochure. Regarding the webpage’s availability in Spanish, only four cases were considered and one was out of service. The remaining nine web pages were not available in Spanish.

This analysis revealed the existence of some relational marketing strategies already implemented in the TRs’ web pages. Nevertheless these strategies were not similarly implemented among them in the extent that not all of them had implemented the same analysis’ dimensions. Even on pages offering similar dimensions, the processing of the collected information and the exploration of the internet’s potentialities was not the same among them. Examples are the newsletters since in any of the signed pages did they receive any information and requested information also demonstrated that both automatic replies such as employees’ answers had different ways of addressing the customer. In some other aspects as those concerning the type of offer sought by the customer through the registration on the website and creation of roadmaps there were no offers with appropriated or specific suggestions.

It is important to underline two final aspects. The first aspect refers to the RT who sent information by mail since no letter or form of contact accompanied the information sent to the touristic customer. Only a generalist card was received from the Tourism region. The second aspect concerns the webpage’s availability in Spanish as this dimension of analysis is hardly present. Therefore the unavailability or inaccessibility of this feature may cause huge difficulties when trying to understand the website’s content and potentiality of the tourist region.

PENT (2011) identified Spain as a priority market for external growth and focused the online dimension by considering the touristic costumer as being less dependent on a face to face relationship. PENT (2011) also identified the investment in human resources as a way to create sustained competitive advantage over price. Yet this study identified some webpages’ weaknesses related to relationship marketing. The web pages quite rarely communicated with the users, and when they did so, no strategies were used to fit the collected information to the users in order to settle a specific consumption profile. The creation of this specific profile would enable to target the offering towards the development of bonds, increasing the levels of relational marketing and leading to customers’ most effective loyalty.

5.3. Discussion of Results

As presented by Berry and Parasuraman (1991) the cluster identification and way of grouping suggested three types of bonds that exist in the Iberian tourism market. Still the data collected through the survey did not suggest that they were one-dimensional but identified that those most present are financial bonds, following the structural bonds and finally the social bonds. This observation assumed a double meaning. On one hand, as suggested in the literature used to develop this study (Berry and Parasuraman, 1991; Berry, 1995 and Zeithaml and Bitner, 1996) bonds will be more effective if there is a higher number of bonds being developed. Thereby this study concluded that "Financial Bonds” will have less effective customer loyalty because they are located at level one of the model proposed by Berry and Parasuraman (1991) and Berry (1995). According to these authors this level is characterized by a low degree service of customization and low potentiality for sustained competitive differentiation. The main marketing mix element characterizing financial bonds is the price and it is the bond most easily imitated by competitors, which “alone does not offer a sustainable competitive advantage" (Berry and Parasuraman, 1991).

Financial bonds were, generally, valued by all types of tourists and its segments (cluster 2 and 4) represented respectively, 17.4% and 29% of respondents. Since the respondents greatly valued that bond, it must be present in online pages. Effectively tourism customers valuing primarily financial bonds are more susceptible to be captured through strategies related to the price factor. Promotions or additional offerings associated to their consumption profile of tourism products are examples of these strategies. However, it was observed that the financial bonds are those least encouraged by organizations promoting tourism. However, the clusters characterized by "Financial Bonds" will not be the most likely to create the competitive advantage envisaged by PENT (2011). Being the element most valued by the client, price strategies become vulnerable when facing cheaper offerings. Nevertheless, knowing this in advance, it is up to organizations to be able to capture the customers’ interest by applying financial incentives and seeking to create repeated purchasing processes through financial bonds. The main aim is developing the remaining bonds in order to ascent in the relational marketing levels. Stated in numbers, this is the same as saying that nearly 46.38% of touristic customers (respondents) identified in this study are located at the level one of relational marketing as advocated by Berry and Parasuraman (1991). The remaining 53.62% survey respondents valued more than only one type of bond. Customers who most valued financial / social bonds will be more attentive to strategies such as personalization and individualization by adapting the offer specifically to their consumption profile. They will also pay particular attention to products and destinations’ suggest by relatives and friends because they are, very likely, to find them in these locations. This will enhance the touristic experience and the quality of their holidays. Therefore, "Financial / Social Bonds" are located at level two of Relationship Marketing and the Cluster characterised by them corresponds to approximately 30.83% of total respondents. According to Berry and Parasuraman (1991) the level two of Relationship Marketing emphasizes service personalization and the transformation of consumers into customers through personal communications. Level two of Relationship Marketing presents a medium potential for the sustained competitive differentiation. It gives organizations an opportunity to react against competitors when a failure in services occurs. As proposed by Berry and Parasuraman (1991) the Cluster with this feature will have medium potentiality to create a sustainable competitive advantage.

The last Cluster valued the financial / structural bonds more and they are particularly concerned with the whole process related to technology (online booking and complementary applications for mobile devices, for example). They are also attentive to high standards of quality which are assured by the legal structures implemented in tourism sector and through human resource quality. So, as defined in PENT (2011) qualified human resources will be a central part in order to gain a sustainable competitive advantage over price and the emergence of new low-cost destinations. This segment represents nearly 22.8% of the survey’s respondents. Price and structural issues are highly valued by this group, namely guarantee of quality service and the entire process of the touristic product operational process based on the developed technology. According to Berry and Parasuraman (1991) and Lin, Weng and Hsieh (2003) structural bonds are often the way to solidify relationships. In addition to social and financial bonds they lead to the attainment of level three relationships characterized by a high potential for sustained competitive differentiation. The performed analysis, based on the Lickert scale, identified financial and structural bonds but did not identify social bonds. However the absence of social bonds is not considered as a limitation in the study. It is, otherwise, considered as being a possible future guideline of investigation to the extent that growing technologies and interactivity of markets are enabling the achievement of a tourism service with a minimal or even non-existent social contact. Effectively, as proposed by Berry and Parasuraman (1991), structural bonds are widely based on technological resources and because of that loyalty arises, in many cases, from the high costs associated to potential technological changes. Also according to these authors the key to reach level three of Relationship Marketing is to add value to the services to services which are expensive or to be difficult to find elsewhere. Thus it is not possible to conclude that financial bonds / structural bonds are in level three of Relationship Marketing. It is possible, however, to conclude that this Cluster is sensitive to price and structural issues (technology and value-added to services). On this specific study regarding the tourism sector it must be noted that that by materializing the efforts on developing the online channel (that the previous point proved to be quite limited) as well as the quality of services and human resource training defined in PENT (2011).As for the financial / structural bonds, they are appropriate as a way to gain a sustained competitive advantage.

6. Limitations and Future Research Lines

As limitations of this study, due to the sample selection criteria, we highlight the sample’s homogeneity essentially concerning age and qualifications. A more heterogeneous population sample is suggested for future researches to ensure higher levels of representativeness. The surveys’ dissemination was not made directly by the investigators, which appealed to the Office of Communication and Image of the researchers’ university for sending them to the databases of universities in Portugal and Spain. This method did not allow an effective control over possible return of emails, by the impossibility of dissemination through other institutional databases and / or wrong addresses. Another limitation of the study stems from the impossibility to characterize clusters. Through this research we concluded that different segments valued relational bonds differently. However the characterization of those segments to identify each of them was not made. Thus, it is suggested to perform the same study in future research in order to characterize the segments found.

Based on these results, we also suggest further studies in order to measure how the current economic environment affects customers’ propensity to create bonds and in what way such bonds are present in different types of economies as well as in intercontinental cultural contexts, considering the model proposed by Berry and Parasuraman (1991). Another interesting research line is to identify how the current technological developments might affect the three level model of Relationship Marketing as mentioned above. As well as to understand if the model of bonds proposed by Berry and Parasuraman (1991), Berry (1995) and Zeithaml and Bitner (1996) still prevail since that this study did not identify, through its quantitative analysis, the presence of a cluster embracing at the same time, financial, social and structural bonds.


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Difusão Científica

III ISCE International Tourism Conference - 2014

At the III ISCE Tourism Conference, in 2014 named ISCE International Tourism Conference due to the cross-border dimension acquired, the theme is “Products, Markets and Tourism Destinations”.

This event will take place on 29-30 October 2014 and there will be presented the best scientific papers in several issues: Products and Tourism Destinations, Tourism Markets, Tourism Planning and Development, Tourism Strategy and Sustainability, Tourism and Culture, Tourism Operations, Economy of Tourism, Competitiveness and Innovation, Tourism Marketing, Tourism and Safety, Tourism and ICT.

All interested may now submit Full Papers or Posters and all works will be subjected to a blind refereeing process.

Works chosen by the Scientific Commission of the event will be considered to a book publication in a jointly edition between Edições Pedago and ISCE.

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1 This paper is part of a larger investigation founded by the Human Resources Observatory of the Tourism Sector in Andalusia (Spain).

2 A segunda parte deste artigo será publicada na edição de Março. The second part o f this paper will be published in the March edition.

3 Vehículos que por su funcionalidad para transitar por las agrestes trochas o carreteras veredales se convirtió en el símbolo que identifica el sistema de transporte de los trabajadores cafeteros. Hoy, muchos propietarios gomosos citadinos que los mantienen en excelentes condiciones los muestran como un signo de prestigio.

4 El bahareque se usó para la construcción de viviendas, iglesias, alcaldías, cuarteles, haciendas, graneros, establos y, todas las construcciones asociadas al cultivo y beneficio del café. La guadua, como material portante, se usó tanto en estructuras verticales (columnas) como en estructuras horizontales e inclinadas (cubiertas, cielorrasos y riostras). Esta estructura tiene menos masa haciéndole más liviano, elástico y por tanto, muy resistente a los movimientos sísmicos. Ello le valió el término estilo temblorero, reflejo de esta cultura constructiva que se adaptó a las particulares condiciones del entorno.

5 Hereafter referred to as cash ratio or cash-to-assets ratio.

6 US, Canada, UK, Germany, France, Japan and Australia.

7 Germany, France, the Netherlands, Italy, Spain, Finland, Belgium, Austria, Ireland, Luxembourg, Greece and Portugal.

8 Ratio of cash and cash equivalents to net assets for 400 listed firms in 12 Eurozone countries.

9 Kusnadi (2005) reports a ratio of cash to net assets of around 23% in 230 firms listed on the Singapore Stock Exchange, but for a sub-sample of 11 hotel firms the figure is approximately 6%. Gao et al. (2013) find a cash-to-assets ratio of 6.2% in a sub-sample of hotel firms from the total sample of private firms. Finally, the report by Standard & Poor's (2012) indicates a ratio of around 5% for leisure firms.

10 Sale and leaseback operations whereby firms sell their property to outsiders and then sign a leasing contract on that property are often used in the sector.

11 The literature on this subject today includes studies focused on other countries and business environments such as Belgium (Deloof, 2001), the Netherlands (Bruinshoofd & Kool, 2004), the United Kingdom (Ozkan & Ozkan, 2004; Al-Najjar & Belghitar, 2011), Switzerland (Drobetz & Grüninger, 2007), private Italian firms (Bigelli & Sánchez-Vidal, 2012), Private vs. Public companies (Gao et al., 2013), SMEs (García-Teruel & Martínez-Solano, 2008), listed spin-offs (D’Mello, Krishnaswami, & Larkin, 2008), Real Estate Investment Trusts (Hardin et al., 2009), listed US casinos (Dalbor & Oak, 2011) and listed US restaurants (Kim, Kim & Woods, 2011).

12 The studies by Dittmar, Mahrt-Smith, & Servaes (2003), Ferreira & Vilela (2004), Ozkan & Ozkan (2004), Drobetz & Grüninger (2007) and Chen & Chuang (2009), stand out.

13 Other studies developing this topic were those of Bruinshoofd & Kool (2004), García-Teruel & Martínez-Solano (2008) for the case of SMEs, Dittmar & Duchin (2010) and Venkiteshwaran (2011).

14 This topic is also discussed in the work of Pinkowitz & Williamson (2002, 2007), Faulkender & Wang (2006), Pinkowitz, Stulz & Williamson (2006), Dittmar & Mahrt-Smith (2007), Kalcheva & Lins (2007), Denis & Sibilkov (2010), Drobetz, Grüninger & Hirschvogl (2010), Tong (2011), Huang et al. (2012), , Martínez-Sola, García-Teruel & Martínez-Solano (2013) which attempts to explain what influences the market value of cash holdings.

15 On this topic, of particular note are the studies by Opler et al. (1999), Schwetzler & Reimund (2004), Dittmar & Mahrt-Smith (2007), Harford et al. (2008), Oler & Picconi (2009), Powell & Baker (2010), Pinkowitz, Sturgess & Williamson (2011), Bigelli & Sánchez-Vidal (2012) and Ehling & Haushalter (2013).

16 We were unable to proxy growth opportunities with the market-to-book ratio as market values are not available to most of the companies. Another alternative, the intangible assets to total assets ratio would be biased due to the nature of the Accommodation industry where intangible assets are residual.

17 According to the definition of microenterprise of the European Commission (Recommendation 2003/361).

18 8.1% US industrial firms (Kim et al., 1998), 17% US listed firms (Opler et al., 1999), 14.8% Eurozone listed firms (Ferreira & Vilela, 2004), 9.9% UK listed firms (Ozkan & Ozkan, 2004), 14.8% Swiss listed firms (Drobetz & Grüninger, 2007), 8.39% US listed restaurant firms (Kim et al., 2011). In the case of US listed hotel firms Woods et al. (2011) and Koh & Jang (2011) reported average cash holdings of 8.83% and 8.6% respectively.

19 See for exemple Ferreira & Vilela (2004) - 24.8%, Kim et al. (1998) - 51.8% and Kim et al. (2011) - 55%.

20 Kusnadi (2005) found a ratio of 36%, Drobetz & Grüninger (2007) indicated an average ratio of 36.46% and Koh & Jang (2011) found a ratio of 63.7% for hotel firms in the USA.

21 A t-test was carried out to check if there were differences between the country averages. The averages were compared in pairs and all differences are significant at a level of 0.01.

22 Menard (1995:66) states “a tolerance of less than 0.20 is cause for concern; a tolerance of less than 0.10 almost certainly indicates a serious collinearity problem”. Kennedy (1992:183) states that “for standardized data VIF>10 indicates harmful collinearity”.

23 The tendency of CFLOW is similar in all the countries in the sample. The peak found in CAPEX is stimulated by increased capital expenditure in Greece and Italy. The GROWOP variable, a proxy for growth opportunities, shows similar behaviour in the countries, diminishing considerably in 2008. Another fall is recorded in 2009 in all countries except Italy.

24 An F-test and the analysis of the estimate of Rho in the FE model rejected the Pooled OLS against the FE model. The LM (Lagrange Multiplier) test of Breusch & Pagan (1980) rejected the Pooled OLS against the RE model. For brevity, results are not reported.

25 For Model 2, the addition of 0.10 to the LEV variable, ceteris paribus, produces a decrease of 1.46 percentage points in cash ratio.

26 On the contrary, García-Teruel & Martínez-Solano (2008) showed an opposite relationship for SMEs, as did Woods et al. (2011) for hotel firms in the US. The explanation for their result was based on the precautionary motive for having cash holdings, i.e., higher levels of debt increasing the likelihood of financial distress.

27 The literature tends to support this result (Opler et al., 1999; Ozkan & Ozkan, 2004; García-Teruel & Martínez-Solano, 2008) but the opposite relationship was shown by Guney et al. (2007). Woods et al. (2011) did not find a statistically significant association between the variables.

28 A similar result was presented by Bates et al. (2009), Woods et al. (2011) and Bigelli & Sánchez-Vidal (2012).

29 See for instance Ferreira & Vilela (2004), Kim, Kim & Woods, (2011) and Woods et al. (2011).

30Our results are in agreement with Ferreira & Vilela (2004), Ozkan & Ozkan (2004), García-Teruel & Martínez-Solano (2008) and Bigelli & Sánchez-Vidal (2012) but contrary to those of Pinkowitz & Williamson (2001) for Japan.

31 Dittmar et al. (2003) and Guney et al. (2007) finds a negative relation while Woods et al. (2011) show a positive relationship between the variables.

32 Empirically, the result is supported by Opler et al. (1999) and Ozkan & Ozkan (2004) but is contrary to that found by Woods et al. (2011).

33 The same result was obtained by Kim et al. (1998), Opler et al. (1999) and Bates et al. (2009).

34 The interactions of the other variables with the CRISIS variable were not reported as their coefficients were insignificant.

35 A cidade de Évora fica localizada na região do Alentejo em Portugal. É uma cidade com uma grande importância histórica no país porque apresenta um património histórico e monumental imenso e variado. As suas características singulares fazem com que ela seja designada por muitos como a “cidade-museu”.

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