56 Seiten, Note: B-
List of tables
List of figures
The aim and objectives of the study
Case Study Background
Questionnaire Development Process
Sampling method and sampling size
Analysing the data
The investigation of the case study
Limitations of Methodology
Data presentation and discussion
Seasonality has long been viewed as one of the most unique and worrisome facets of the tourism industry. This paper provides an overview and evaluates the issues of seasonality in an Austrian winter resort. The tourism and hospitality industry faces seasonal fluctuations of demand every where in the world. As a result diverse problems occur for hotels in the tourism regions, such as overuse of facilities, seasonal environmental congestion and off-season unemployment. This paper reviews these issues taking the case of an Austrian Hotel, and examines the seasonality problem and poses some solutions to increase overnight stays in the shoulder season and increase the turnover. This study is divided into five chapters. First of all an introduction of the subject area, the aim and objectives of the study are given. The literature review critically reviews previous papers and works. It includes the secondary research that is required for the purposes of the study. A range of theories and factors that have been previously discussed and studied by other researchers are presented. The methodology of the study and includes the methods that have been adopted in this research and for this specific study. It justifies and explains the survey development process, the questionnaire design and gives emphasis on the reliability of the results being taken from the research method. For the analysing of the 228 valid questionnaires, the researchers used the statistic program SPSS. The data is presented via tables and graphs. This analysis presents various tables and graphs in relation with the questions of the questionnaire distributed in the visitors of the hotel. The analyses and the recommendations of the author conclude this research.
Table 1 Cross-tabulation: Country – Season
Table 2 What are the main activities you engaged in on your visit?
Table 3 Why are you coming in the winter season?
Table 4 Have you visited the region during
Table 5...if yes, where did you go last year?
Table 6 Were any of these trips short breaks?.
Table 7 What would attract you to visit the region in the shoulder season?
Table 8 Cross-tabulation: Age - How to attract
List of figures
Figure 1 Which age group do you fall into?.
Figure 2 What gender are you?.
Figure 3 You are travelling…
Figure 4 Where do you come from?.
Figure 5 What is the purpose for your travel?
Figure 6 How often you have been to this region?
Figure 7 How long do you stay in the region?
Figure 8 Do you take more than one holiday a year?
Figure 9 Were any of these trips short breaks?.
Figure 10 What would attract you to visit the region in the shoulder season?
This research aims to review relevant literature review and evaluate particular research methods which will be used in measuring the seasonality in the holiday region; in a case study of a hotel in the area. The relevant literature review is analysed to draw the scope of seasonality before engaging in deep details. The framework of research method of the study is described, examines what advantages and disadvantages utilized methods are, and discovers why these methods are appropriate in this topic. Data collection will be presented from employing questionnaires.
Seasonality has long been viewed as one of the most unique and worrisome facets of the tourism industry. It can be defined as a cyclical pattern that more or less repeats itself each year. It usually refers to a temporal imbalance in the demand, and may be expressed in terms of the number of tourists, their expenditure, and bed nights. (Jang 2007) Andriotis (2005) argues that the tourism industry worldwide faces seasonal fluctuations of demand. These fluctuations are attributed to diverse factors – mainly climatic conditions, human decisions, inertia or tradition and supply restrictions – and result in various problems for tourist-receiving destinations, such as seasonal environmental congestion, low return on investment for tourist enterprises, overuse of facilities and off-season unemployment. (Andriotis 2005) Many destinations are suffering from the phenomenon ‘Seasonality’ therefore it is important to do research on this topic to investigate the issues of seasonality and discover suggestions and solutions. The majority of authors focused on the destination in general; there are only a few studies which apply to a single organisation or hotel. It is crucial to evaluate the impacts of seasonality for the single hospitality firm. It is further important to understand the fluctuations in demand and assess the advantages and disadvantages in order to draw out opportunities for a specific organisation.
The study aim is to investigate the issues of seasonality in the hospitality industry and especially in the Austrian case study hotel.
Objective one: To critically evaluate academic theory and existing literature on seasonality in the hospitality industry
Objective two: To evaluate some solutions to attract people to visit the area in the shoulder seasons.
Objective three: To evaluate potential improvements in the hotel, to increase the overnight stays.
General information about the region and the hotel
The holiday region is one of the top winter destinations in Austria. With 2700 inhabitants the city is quiet small. Nonetheless there were more than 330.000 overnight stays in the last winter season. The tourism is the major income sources of the town and many residents are working in the tourism and hospitality industry. The region offers more than 7100 Beds for tourists and visitors. (Prugger, H., personal communication, 12. January 2008)
The Case Study hotel is one of the leading 4-star hotels in the region and as many other hotels it has two main seasons. The summer season from mid June to the end of September and the winter season from December to the end of March. So the shoulder seasons show considerably less overnight stays.
The general demand in the region is low in the shoulder seasons. Every hotel needs a purposeful offer and price strategy as well as an excellent marketing strategy. The utilisation of the case study hotel was 86% in the last winter season. If we compare this number with the utilisation of the whole year (64%) it shows that the demand of the remaining year is relatively low.
The author has chosen this hotel because it is ‘typical Austrian’. The hotel is located in one of the most famous holiday areas in Austria. It is a family run hotel and for three generations one family has managed the hotel. It is in the ‘4 star category’ and offers 80 guest beds in 45.
The hotel offers two sand tennis courts with floodlight installations and sufficient parking lots. The guest can use a big Spa area with a sauna, steam bath, solarium, Kneipp - basin, and massages. Further the hotel has its own children's playground and a kids club.
The restaurant is used for breakfast, lunch and dinner. It is built in a rustic style with 120 seats. The hotel offers as well a smaller room with 60 seats if desired.
The enterprise is member of the "Round Table conference hotels Austria" and equipped with the necessary equipment (Flipcharts, overheads, projectors, touch screens).
Seasonality is a well-documented issue in the literature, particularly in relation to cold-water regions of Europe or North America. (Nadal et al. 2005, Andriotis 2005, Koenig and Bischoff 2004, Jolliffe 2003)
Jolliffe (2003) suggests as a fundamental characteristic of tourism, seasonality is recognized as a factor affecting all aspects of contemporary hospitality industries. Seasonality dramatically influences industry employment, leading to widespread seasonal employment, and unemployment. Tourism is providing sources of income and lead to economic advantages for the area and surroundings. (Pechlaner and Sauerwein 2002, Amelung et al. 2007, Baum 1999) On the first view we could say that the phenomenon seasonality is something we have to fight against. Experts discussing the topic for a number of years found that it causes economic and financial problems for the hospitality sector in the shoulder seasons. It is probably true that seasonality influences the whole industry, but not every country or region is concerned with seasonality. If the literature addresses seasonality, it often focuses on summer holiday regions like Greece, Cyprus or the Canaries. In these cases there is only one high season, the summer.
Andriotis (2005) states:
“The compression of the operating period into a few months leads to difficulties in gaining access to capital, low return on investment and consequent high risk, overuse of facilities at certain periods and under-use at others” (p.214).
All this means that increased earnings need to be obtained during the high season to offset losses in the off-season. In the Alp-regions the problem is the same, but France, Switzerland or Austria usually having two strong seasons, winter and summer. Because of the Alps, winter tourism and especially sport tourism are of the marketing experts of these countries. (Pechlaner and Sauerwein 2002) But if the industry wants to avoid seasonality in tourism, why they are still promoting the strong seasons? Some could argue that it is better to have one or two strong seasons instead of low demand the whole year.
Many destinations are suffering from this phenomenon every year, yet limited efforts have been made to overcome the troublesome issue. (Jang 2007) On the other hand recent studies suggest that considerable efforts have been made by both the private and public sectors to reduce seasonality in destination regions, because seasonality has significant implications for employment and capital investment. (Terkenli 2005; Getz et al. 2004; Higham 2005; Jang 2007)
Jang (2007) claim that off-peak season revenues are often very low during the rest of the year, while the facilities have consistent fixed costs throughout the year, which signifies the lack of capital to cover the costs with the earned revenue during only one or two seasons. Especially in Austria many hotels and restaurants are family owned. Family businesses tend to minimize labour costs by maximizing their own inputs, resulting in long hours of hard work. (Pechlaner and Sauerwein 2002) Being forced to work very hard in the peak season can result in a disrupted leisure and social life, and a loss of time spent with children. For individual businesses the negative impacts result from unused capacity and related inefficiencies, which restricts return on investment even if the operations are profitable. Extreme seasonality also tends to result in difficulty in attracting investors and lenders, and problems in attracting and keeping the skilled employees who prefer all-year employment. (Getz et al. 2004) The seasonal nature of tourism creates fluctuations in the levels of local employment (Andriotis 2005), and tourism workers often have to find other employment or even remain unemployed during the off-season. On the one hand there are problems for hotels and restaurants, but on the other hand the nature and the environment need the time to recover from the impact in the peak time. (Jang 2007) In cities like Ischgl in Austria or St. Moritz in Switzerland problems in the water or power supply appearing more and more in the high seasons. (Pechlaner and Sauerwein 2002) Via marketing strategies and yield management the industry could shift the demand from high seasons to shoulder season, avoid capacity overload and therefore relief the main season.
In connection with fluctuations in demand, experts in most cases suggest yield management. According to Kimes (2000 quoted in Beech 2006) the ideal environment for the successful application of yield management techniques is one in which:
- capacity is relatively fixed but demand is variable;
- the market can be readily segmented;
- the product is perishable and can be sold in advance of consumption;
- the marginal cost of making the sale is low
Yield management can therefore be defined as ‘a revenue maximisation technique which aims to increase net yield through the predicted allocation of available capacity to predetermined market segments at optimal price’ (Donaghy et al. 1997, stated in Beech 2006, p. 239)
The vast majority of tourism destinations are characterised by systematic fluctuations in tourism phenomena throughout the year. In particular, seasonality generally exhibits a dramatic tourism peak during the summer months. (Andriotis 2005) In the case of winter holiday regions the peak season are the winter month because of the geographical condition and the climate. Higham (2005) states:
„Climate and weather conditions influence how satisfying particular recreational outings will be (as determined by) air temperature, humidity, precipitation, cloudiness, amount of daylight, visibility, wind, water temperature, and snow and ice cover“(p.252).
It is argued that weather conditions make certain destinations unattractive to specific markets. This statement is supported by many other researchers like Baum (2001), Jolliffe (2003), Jang (2007). In reality, the main season for most tourist destinations are the summer month. For example, Nadal et al. (2005) report that in the Balearic Islands there is extreme seasonality, with more than 80% of tourist arrivals occurring between May and September. This is not only because of the good weather, but also because of human decision factors such as the lengthy school holidays and business and public holidays. Climatic conditions also determine sporting seasons (relevant, for example, to activity holidays for skiing, golf and surfing. For winter regions the climate is very important especially for the local businesses, who earn their money with the winter tourists. During the last 50 years, tourism in the Alps has developed into an important economic factor and has been able to maintain this position until the present time. (Pechlander and Sauerwein 2002)
It is generally agreed that seasonality is due to two main factors: natural and institutional. The ‘natural factor’ is usually caused by regular climatic changes throughout the year, such as temperature, rainfall, snowfall, and sunlight (Andriotis 2005). The ‘institutional factors’ are those that reflect the social norms and practices of society, and include the timing of religious (e.g., Christmas and Easter), school, agricultural, and industrial festivals and holidays. (Amelung et al. 2007) Butler (1994 quoted in Jang 2007) added three more causes of seasonality: social pressure or fashion (taking waters at spas or hunting on country estates among the privileged elites), sporting season (snow skiing or surfing), and inertia or tradition.
Higham (2005) goes further and argues that people who have traditionally taken holidays at a particular time of year commonly continue to do so, even when the factors that once determined the timing of holidays (such as school terms/semesters) have ceased to apply. On the other hand we could argue that there are some upcoming trends in the decision making process of the visitors; for example the increase in taking more than one holiday a year and the increase in short breaks. (Mullins 2001, Deresky 2006, Solomon 2006, Kotler et al. 2006) There are various determinants of seasonal fluctuations in tourism demand. The most widely cited of these are the regular and recurring temporal changes in the natural phenomena at a particular destination, which are usually associated with climate and the true seasons of the year (Jang 2007; Getz et al. 2004; Higham 2005)
Jolliffe (2003) states:
“Seasonality is described as one of the most predominant, yet least understood, features of tourism. Within the industry, seasonality is viewed as a challenge and often a problem affecting many areas”(p.313).
According to Getz et al. (2004) seasonal variations in tourism demand is still a big challenge faced by the travel and tourism industry. Seasonality of demand is a problem and destinations need to find solutions to reduce this problem.
In most cases seasonality is discussed in a negative way. Only in a very few cases is there reference to its positive effects. Among these, Murphy (1985, quoted in Andriotis 2005) reports that seasonality is not necessarily bad for everyone, and that some communities regard the end of the tourist season as ‘the light at the end of the tunnel’. Andriotis (2005) defined seasonality in demand as „the tendency of tourist become concentrated into relatively short periods of the year“(p.208). Andriotis (2005) believes that although a low season is generally seen in negative terms, in the context of tourism, there is a case that in some destinations, the off-season has a ‘fallow’ effect on both tourism resources and the host community, allowing some measure of rejuvenation before the commencement of the next season. Residents might need and welcome a period of rest, and their infrastructure can be repaired or improved. Also on the positive side, a low-demand season means that environmental pressures are reduced, and recuperation is possible in damaged environments. (Getz et al. 2004) Amelung et al. (2007) supported this and argue that although it is important to recognize that seasonality may also have its advantages, most notably in the opportunities for ecological and community recovery provided during the off-season. It could be argued that the ‘off season’ is necessary and important, because many tourist destinations probably could not handle this high affluxion all the year round.
The dramatic increase of populations at specific periods of the year experienced by tourist destinations causes environmental problems, traffic congestion and resource scarcity that place a strain on the destinations’ regular infrastructure and services. Pechlander and Sauerwein (2002) argue that many destinations need the rest in the off season to maintain their facilities and infrastructure. There are more problems than the environmental. Jackson (1984 in Andriotis 2005) notes that in the Caribbean the electricity consumption of tourists is much higher than that of the residents and that electricity blackouts are aggravated by high tourist demand during the peak tourist season. Similar problems occur with regard to water supply, since seasonal arrivals of tourists require high quantities of water. Such problems are probably not usual in Austria, because the tourism is one of the biggest industries and the holiday destinations are well prepared.
Natural factors relate primarily to a destination’s climate, including annual variations in variables such as temperature, precipitation, wind speed, humidity, and snow depth.
(Amelung et al. 2007)
Drawing on the seasonality literature it is evident that extreme fluctuations of demand can cause the following problems:
- crowding or lack of capacity during peak demand periods,
- seasonal unemployment resulting in higher welfare costs and a transient workforce,
- perceived price gouging in the peak season, with a negative impact on consumer perceptions of value,
- the community is socially inactive in low-demand periods,
- unemployment can soar during the low seasons,
- closed facilities and services are unavailable to visitors and residents.
(Getz et al. 2004)
From an economic perspective, excess seasonality, and the fluctuations between under- and overcapacity it generates, can negatively affect profits, the attraction of investment capital, and the employment situation. Environmentally, the peak season concentration of visitors can place a considerable strain on the local environment, with implications for water supply, trash disposal, congestion, and erosion, among others. Similarly, local people may also be disadvantaged by seasonal strains on community services and infrastructure. (Amelung et al. 2007)
Koenig and Bischoff (2004) pointed out that for the accommodation sector, especially where serviced properties are concerned, the relatively high fixed costs make seasonality a particularly important issue; and low variability, an extended main season, and a high occupancy level are generally regarded as desirable goals. Tourism planners, developers, and managers, meanwhile, have focused on product and market diversification, extending the existing season into the shoulder periods, and offering new, year-round recreation opportunities, often in combination with reaching out to new market segments - such as senior citizens, conference and event planners, and special interest tourists - and aggressive pricing strategies.
Responses to seasonality, by both, public and private sectors, focus mainly on two options: the extension of the existing tourist season into shoulder periods or the creation of new seasons of tourism activity. These responses are based on three key strategies:
- The first strategy is to change the product mix, mainly through the provision of all-weather facilities and the staging of events and festivals.
- The second strategy is based on the idea that most destinations concentrate on a small number of market segments and that to reduce seasonality, therefore, there is a need to change the customer mix by attracting new market segments and to ensure domestic use of tourism facilities during the low season.
- The third strategy to attract tourists during the off-season is aggressive pricing.
(Butler 1994 quoted in Andriotis 2005):
Higham (2005) highlighted the case that sport’s seasons have a direct impact on tourism seasons. Winter sports such as skiing, snowboarding and snowmobiling are perhaps the most obvious examples, but summer-based activities such as surfing and golf also influence travel patterns as tourists search for the best seasonal conditions for the pursuit of their sporting interests. Where sport is the principal focus of the trip (that is, the primary attraction), travellers demonstrate a greater propensity to travel in the tourism ‘off-season.’ Sports have always been inescapable connected with tourism and ‘sport events’ could be very attractive for tourists. (Higham 2005) With better marketing and advertising Getz et al. (2004) claim that most hoteliers could extend their seasons. Koenig and Bischoff (2004) also suggest the extension of the season as a major strategic issue from both economic and social perspectives. The literature shows that the hospitality industry has tried for years to extend their main season. But the ‘natural and institutional factors’ (as stated above) makes it very difficult to attract tourists in the shoulder season. Getz et al. (2004) goes further and argues that in some cases seasonal closures would be the most cost-effective solution to pronounced seasonality. A closure of the firm is connected with other problems again (employees, shareholders, suppliers and even loyal visitors).
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