Date of Award

Fall 2013

Degree Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Department

Hospitality and Tourism Management

First Advisor

Liping Cai

Committee Chair

Liping Cai

Committee Member 1

Howard Adler

Committee Member 2

Jonathon Day

Committee Member 3

Xinran Lehto

Abstract

Tourism Small Businesses (TSBs) are vital factors in the prosperity of local communities and the development of authentic and satisfying tourism experiences. Because of their small size, they are unable to effectively use textbook marketing models and techniques. The purpose of this study is to help TSBs market their products in a way that suits their unique nature and business environment. Specifically, this study aims to develop a theoretical model of TSB marketing, identify the main factors affecting TSB marketing, and discern relationships between these factors. Since the aim of the study is to develop a theoretical model, the method of grounded theory was identified as the most suitable.

The data set of the study is comprised of hour-long interviews with seven TSBs in Oman. These interviews were transcribed then coded and analyzed using Grounded Theory techniques. Based on this analysis, the Tourism Small Business Marketability Model (TSMARK) emerged. It models the marketability of TSBs, that is, their ability to market their core products to prospective customers. TSMARK theorizes relationships between TSB marketing elements, corresponding customer experience elements, and key owners' attributes. The model posits that the marketing elements of a TSB are Apprisal, Direct Transportation, Basic Price, and Core Product. The corresponding customer experience elements are Awareness, Direct Accessibility, Basic Cost, and Core Experience. TSMARK suggests that TSB marketing elements are affected by six key owner attributes: Marketing Philosophy, Operational Knowledge, Industry Knowledge, Involvement, Years of Experience, and Work Enjoyment. A TSB owner's work enjoyment is found to have a strong impact on product quality and personal service. This in turn leads to customer satisfaction, repeat visits, and favorable word of mouth. The study makes a theoretical contribution by developing the first TSB marketing model and a methodology contribution by simulating the theoretical sampling technique of Grounded Theory. The study also provides practical contributions to the industry and Oman. TSB owners are advised to develop and manage businesses they enjoy and to provide outstanding personal service to customers. Additional recommendations are given to TSBs in Oman in regard to opportunities, pricing, and direct transportation. Lastly, the Omani government is urged to ease regulations, increase support, and offer promotion platforms.