an assessment of international best practice in visitor attraction

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  • 8/3/2019 An Assessment of International Best Practice in Visitor Attraction



    This paper compares and contrasts selectedmanagement practices among visitorattractions in Scotland, Australia, Canadaand New Zealand. The catalyst for the studywas the growing perception thatmanagement practices among visitorattractions in Scotland are becomingincreasingly outdated and that the sectorneeds to learn from international best

    practice in this respect. A postalquestionnaire was sent to all paid-admission visitor attractions in the fourcountries. In total, 1022 visitor attractionsreplied, representing an overall responserate of 41%. Chi-square analysis was thenused to test various hypotheses relating tothe uptake of these management practices.A key conclusion is that althoughmanagement practices do vary significantlyamong the four countries, Scotland does notnecessarily lag behind. Indeed, Scottish

    visitor attractions seem to lead the way inmany respects. Meanwhile, the study findsno strong evidence to suggest that visitorattractions in the other three countries haveindeed identified and are following a

    common international best practice.Copyright 2007 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.

    Received 2 February 2006; Accepted 22 August 2006

    Keywords: visitor attractions; best practice;pricing; revenue management; Australia;Canada; New Zealand; Scotland.


    Managers of visitor attractions through-out the UK, as well as in many othercountries, are encountering increas-

    ingly challenging market conditions. Althoughboth the number of visitor attractions and theircapacity to receive visitors have been increasingin recent years, these have been within thecontext of fluctuating demand and increasedcompetition from other leisure activities. In par-ticular, visitor attractions are being subjected toincreasingly fierce competition from short-

    break holidays overseas and a range of innova-tive leisure products at home. Indeed, Wilson(2004) suggests that a process of de-differentia-tion has been taking place, through whichvisitor attractions have ceased to function as asector of their own but are instead becomingeffectively part of the wider entertainmentsector. Stevens (2003), meanwhile, notes that thevisitor attraction sector in the UK seems to beexperiencing a critical period of demandfatigue at the present time. In Scotland, the

    Copyright 2007 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.

    INTERNATIONAL JOURNAL OF TOURISM RESEARCHInt. J. Tourism Res. 9, 2142 (2007)Published online in Wiley InterScience( DOI: 10.1002/jtr.591

    An Assessment of International BestPractice in Visitor Attraction

    Management: Does Scotland ReallyLag Behind?Brian Garrod1,*, Anna Leask2 and Alan Fyall31Senior Lecturer, Institute of Rural Sciences, University of Wales Aberystwyth, Llanbadarn Campus,Aberystwyth, Ceredigion, SY23 3AL, Wales, UK2Senior Lecturer, School of Marketing & Tourism, Napier University, Craiglockhart Campus, Edinburgh,EH14 1DJ, Scotland, UK3Reader, International Centre for Tourism and Hospitality Research, Bournemouth University, TalbotCampus, Fern Barrow, Poole, Dorset, BH12 5BB, England, UK

    *Correspondence to: B. Garrod, Institute of Rural Sciences,University of Wales Aberystwyth, Llanbadarn Campus,Aberystwyth, Ceredigion, Wales, SY23 3AL, UK.E-mail: [email protected]

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    situation is considered to be especiallyproblematic, with supply tending to outstripdemand as the industry continues to findadjustment to prevailing market conditions apainful process (Smith, 1998; Leask et al., 2002).Culture Secretary Tessa Jowell, speaking at the

    inaugural Visitor Attractions Conference inLondon, nevertheless stated that attractions areat the heart of our economic engine (Gilling,2004, p. 56), whereas other speakers highlightedthe need for universally accepted industry dataand the mechanisms and funding to achievethis (Gilling, 2004, p. 56). Indeed, the paucity ofreliable management information is character-istic of all four of the countries selected for thisstudy Scotland, Australia, Canada and NewZealand although Scotland would seem to

    be the best served in this respect. Even in Scot-

    land, however, data on visitor attractions tendto be limited, with most of the focus being on

    basic supply and demand figures, such as thenumber of days open to the public and visitornumbers.

    Writers such as Gunn (1972) and Swarbrooke(2002) recognise the visitor attraction sector to

    be of the first order of importance in develop-ing a strong and growing tourism industry.Their argument is that without a vigorous androbust visitor attraction sector, the tourismindustry, as a whole, has little of substance with

    which to attract, receive and satisfy potentialcustomers. This might be taken to suggest thatthe visitor attraction sector has been forced to

    be at the forefront in identifying and applyingvarious best practices in a whole range of man-agement functions. Previous studies (Garrodand Fyall, 2000; Leask et al., 2000, 2002) haveargued, however, that this has not generally

    been the case.One could in fact question the benefits to be

    derived from engaging in studies of a compar-ative nature, especially with regard to frequentshortcomings caused by definitional ambiguityand the variable quality of tourist and tourismdata (Leask and Fyall, 2006). However, thesame authors are in agreement with Baum(1999, p. 628) that in a practical sense compar-ison can help gauge performance against awide variety of criteria on a longitudinal

    basis, help assess relative performance againstthat of similar destinations and attractions,identify alternative or new marketing and/or

    development strategies, benchmarking andexperiential learning. Leask and Fyall (2006, p.31) conclude that despite the numerous chal-lenges that accompany comparative research,the outcomes are beneficial in that they offergenuine insight into the management and oper-

    ational practices and processes conductedwithin the attractions sector.The purpose of this particular comparative

    paper is to investigate whether best practicecan indeed be identified at the internationallevel and, if it can be identified, whether thevisitor attraction sector of Scotland is a leaderor a laggard in adopting such practice. Bestpractice in visitor attraction management may

    be said to cover a wide range of operationaland strategic functions, from staff recruitmentto auditing procedures to public relations. In

    the interest of focus and clarity, this paper willtherefore focus on applications of best practicerelating to the strategic pricing of visitor attrac-tions and their marketing management. Morespecifically, the paper sets out to investigatefive particular areas of visitor attractionmanagement best practice:

    (1) The adoption of strategic admissionpricing, which is aimed at increasing ormaximising market share, annual revenueor end-of-year surplus, as opposed to the

    use of pricing practices based on non-commercial objectives and/or rules ofthumb.

    (2) The use of price differentiation strategies,such as price variations over time and dis-counts for particular groups of visitors,such as children, disabled persons, localresidents and so on.

    (3) The use of promotional-pricing techniques,such as the publication of vouchers ortokens in newspapers and magazineswhich provide the bearer with a discounton the admission price, free entry at certaintimes and so on.

    (4) The provision of facilities and services that bring opportunities for visitors to under-take additional spending once admission tothe site has been paid for, such as gift shops,cafeteria, guided tours and so on.

    (5) The adoption of the revenue-managementconcept and the various techniques neededto implement it, including the use of

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    Copyright 2007 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd. Int. J. Tourism Res. 9, 2142 (2007)

    DOI: 10.1002/jtr

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    segment analysis, revenue analysis usingseasonal comparisons, the use ofrevenue/surplus forecasts and so on.

    Background to study

    The main driver of this study was the encour-agement given by the Scottish Enterprise forScottish visitor attractions to look to what itdescribed as leading-edge destinations forevidence of best practice management tech-niques that might be used to address the inter-nal and external threats currently facing thesector (Scottish Enterprise, 1997). The visitorattraction sectors of three countries in particu-lar were identified as being among leading-edge destinations Canada, New Zealandand Australia although no evidence was

    provided to support the view that these sectorsare indeed at the forefront of managementpractice, or are indeed what these practicesmight be. The assertion is nevertheless signifi-cant, the implication being that Scottish visitorattractions can somehow learn how otherattractions are managing the same threats ofoversupply, demand contraction and height-ened competition, both from overseas tourismand from domestic recreation activities. Previ-ous work in this area, both by Stevens (2000)and Swarbrooke (2002), concluded that major

    change was inevitable. Indeed, Stevens (2003,p. 284) argues that over the next ten yearsthere will emerge a new geography and typol-ogy of visitor attractions. The Scottish visitorattraction sector is not, however, generally con-sidered to be well placed to benefit from thischange, being comprised mainly of small, sea-sonal, independently owned and family-runvisitor attractions, which historically havetended not to collaborate with one another(Fyall et al., 2001).

    Some studies (e.g. Leask et al., 2000, 2002)have explored the opportunities that may existto improve management practice among Scot-tish visitor attractions, focusing particularly onissues pertaining to pricing strategies andrevenue management. For the purpose of thisstudy, revenue management is defined as:

    . . . a systematic approach to maximisingrevenue from the sales of intangibletourist services and facilities through

    pricing, market segmentation and serviceenhancement.

    However, little research has been published onthe visitor attraction sectors of the other threecountries included in this study, nor on the

    specific area of revenue management (a paper by Lennon, 2004, apart). Jones et al. (2004)provide a worthy investigation of best practiceacross tourism and hospitality SME operatorsper se but visitor attractions are clearly just onecomponent of the study. The view that Scottishattractions can benefit from observing exam-ples of international best practice was exploredin the recent project and publication of theScottish Enterprises Visitor Attractions Inter-national Benchmarking Study, which aimedto identify management processes, systems

    and philosophy that leads to high quality,innovative and, ultimately, successful visitorattractions (Scottish Enterprise, 2004, p. 4).Interestingly, the findings of this research failto consider the role of pricing and revenuemanagement for attractions, in spite of this

    being an area highlighted for development bythe Association of Scottish Visitor Attractions(ASVA) and others since 1997 (Scottish Enter-prise, 2004). Only one case study, Merlin Enter-tainments, appears to champion the idea ofyield management in both the Benchmarking

    Study and at the Visitor Attraction Conference2004. It is also worth noting that half of theselected case studies are based in England andIreland, with none from previously identifiedleading-edge destinations of New Zealand,Canada and Australia.

    Establishment of hypotheses

    In order to examine the propositions set out inthe first section of this paper, five pairs ofhypotheses were established, each relating to aspecific thematic area of the study. The first ofthese was the rationale adopted by the visitorattraction in setting its admission prices.Respondents to a survey were asked to rate thelevel of importance of 10 different statementsrelating to admission-pricing rationale accord-ing to a four-point Likert scale. The firsthypothesis, H1a, was that the pricing rationaleadopted by managers of Scottish visitor attrac-tions is not significantly different to that

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    Copyright 2007 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd. Int. J. Tourism Res. 9, 2142 (2007)

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    adopted by visitor attractions in the three com-parator countries. If this hypothesis could berejected, then it would suggest that managersof Scottish visitor attractions are indeed basingtheir pricing decisions on substantially differ-ent considerations to those in Australia,

    Canada and New Zealand. The relatedhypothesis, H1b, was that there are no signifi-cant differences in the pricing rationaleadopted by managers of visitor attractions inthe three comparator countries. If this hypo-thesis is rejected, then it would suggest thatmanagers of visitor attractions in these threecountries are not following a common inter-national best practice in respect of theiradmission-pricing policies. Acceptance wouldsuggest that managers of visitor attractions inthe three comparator countries have indeed

    identified, and are following, international bestpractice in this area.

    The second thematic area for this study wasrelated to the techniques of price differentia-tion adopted by managers of visitor attractionsin the four countries. In particular, do theyvary their prices systemically within the courseof a year, within the course of a week and/orwithin the course of a day? Similarly, areadmission discounts systematically offered tospecific visitor groups? The second hypothesis,H2a, was therefore that the levels of adoption

    of various price differentiation practicesadopted by Scottish visitor attraction are notsignificantly different to those among visitorattractions in the three comparator countries.Meanwhile, the related hypothesis, H2b, wasthat there are no significant differences in thelevels of adoption of price differentiation tech-niques among visitor attractions in Australia,Canada and New Zealand.

    A third thematic area for the study was theuse of promotional-pricing techniques, such asthe use of money-off vouchers or token-collection systems in newspapers, magazinesand other media. A second promotional-pricing technique investigated was the use of

    joint-attraction vouchers, which allow thepublic to buy a booklet of tickets for a selectionof neighbouring visitor attractions at the sametime, usually at a modest discount. Visitorattractions are also sometimes part of a joint-marketing consortium. Therefore, the thirdhypothesis, H3a, was that the levels of adop-

    tion of promotional-pricing techniques amongScottish visitor attraction managers are not sig-nificantly different from those among visitorattractions in the three comparator countries.The related hypothesis, H3b, was that there areno significant differences in the levels of adop-

    tion of promotional-pricing techniques amongvisitor attractions in Australia, Canada andNew Zealand.

    The study was also concerned with deter-mining the extent to which visitor attractionsin the four countries attempt to increase sec-ondary spending by their visitors through theprovision of gift shops, cafeteria, ad-hoc eventsand so on. These may be operated in house orcontracted out to a specialist company. Thefourth hypothesis, H4a, was therefore that thelevels of adoption of revenue-generating activ-

    ities among visitor attractions in Scotland arenot significantly different from those in thethree comparator countries. Meanwhile, therelated hypothesis, H4b, was that there are nosignificant differences in the levels of adoptionof revenue-generation activities among visitorattractions in Australia, Canada and NewZealand.

    The fifth thematic area for the study was theuse of specific revenue-management tech-niques, such as market segment analysis,seasonal comparison, the analysis of group

    bookings and cancellations, the use of salesforecasts and so on. These may be done man-ually or with the assistance of a computer.Therefore, the final hypothesis, H5a, was thatlevels of uptake of revenue-management tech-niques by managers of visitor attractions inScotland are not significantly different fromthose in the three comparator countries. Therelated hypothesis, H5b, was that there are nosignificant differences in the uptake ofrevenue-management techniques in Australia,Canada and New Zealand.


    The findings reported in this paper are basedon the analysis of a postal survey of 510Scottish, 793 Australian, 856 Canadian and 313New Zealand paid-admission visitor attrac-tions. This total of 2472 attractions effectivelyrepresented a census of all paid-admissionvisitor attractions in the four countries

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    concerned at the time of the survey, the mailinglist being drawn from official publications andlists of paid-admission attractions sourced ineach of the four countries. Although it wasrecognised that a potential shortcoming of thistarget sample is that it does not include free-

    admission visitor attractions, it was consideredthat the additional costs and effort involved inidentifying a reliable sampling frame for thiscategory of visitor attraction could not be jus-tified in respect of the quantity and quality ofinformation that could be expected in return.In particular, many free-admission attractionsare open to the public for only a limited partof the calendar year and some operate on avery small scale. Most do not engage in signif-icant revenue-management activity due to thenature of the resource. For many such attrac-

    tions, opening their doors to visitors would besomething considered of only minor impor-tance in terms of the overall balance of theiractivities, for example in the case of many reli-gious buildings (Shackley, 2003). Furthermore,it was anticipated that many free-admissionattractions would lack the personnel resourcesand data-retrieval systems needed to respondto the survey in a timely, comprehensive andmeaningful way. It was therefore concludedthat the survey would focus solely on paid-admission visitor attractions. Paid-admission

    attractions represent the majority of visitorattractions in most developed countries. In theUK, as a whole, for example, there wereapproximately 6400 visitor attractions in 2002,of which almost 60% made at least a tokencharge for admission (VisitBritain et al., 2004).

    Defining visitor attractions

    While acknowledging that the precise defini-tion of what a visitor attraction may or may not

    be considered to be is fraught with conceptualdifficulties (Miller, 1999; Leask, 2003), thefollowing definition was employed for thepractical purposes of the survey:

    A permanently established excursion des-tination, a primary purpose of which is toallow public access for entertainment,interest or education; rather than beingprincipally a retail outlet or venue forsporting, theatrical or film performances.

    It must be open to the public withoutprior booking, for published periods ofthe year, and should be capable of attract-ing tourists or day visitors as well as localresidents. In addition, the attraction must

    be a single business, under a single

    management . . . and must be receivingrevenue directly from visitors. (EnglishTourism Council, 2000, p. 39)

    This definition clearly limits itself to paid-admission attractions. Establishments that areessentially retail outlets and venues for sport-ing, theatrical or film performances are alsoexcluded, whereas art galleries and museumsfall well within this definition. The definitionis widely acknowledged as being authoritativeand useful, being essentially that used in theUK as the basis for the annual collection of offi-cial statistical data on visitor attractions (Leasket al., 2002). The definition is also broadly com-patible with those used in the national visitorattraction surveys in Canada, Australia andNew Zealand, which tend to be undertaken ona more infrequent basis (Leask et al., 2002).

    Questionnaire design, implementationand analysis

    Following a section gathering general

    operation- and market-related information onthe visitor attraction, the main body of thequestionnaire was divided into five sections:

    (1) What the respondent considered was theprincipal rationale adopted by the visitorattraction in setting its admission prices.

    (2) The extent to which admission prices weredifferentiated according to different visitortypes (such as children, disabled persons,local residents, etc.).

    (3) The use of promotional-pricing techniques,such as discount vouchers or tokens or

    joint-attraction vouchers.(4) The use of facilities or services intended to

    provide secondary spending opportunities,such as cafeteria, gift shops and guidedtours, and whether these were providedin-house or contracted out to third partyproviders.

    (5) The use of revenue-management tech-niques such as segmentation analysis, sea-sonal comparisons and revenue forecasting,

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    Copyright 2007 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd. Int. J. Tourism Res. 9, 2142 (2007)

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    and whether such analysis was undertakenmanually or by computer.

    Each set of questions was then used to test thevarious hypotheses with regard to the exis-tence of international best practice relating tothat specific management task and whether or

    not Scotland was indeed lagging in terms ofthe adoption of such techniques by its visitorattraction sector.

    In order to ensure category validity and suit-ability of the wording of the questions, a pilotquestionnaire was first sent to 10 visitor attrac-tions in each country. Following a number ofminor modifications, the questionnaires werethen mailed to each of the remaining potentialrespondents on the database.

    Visitor attractions typically receive a largenumber of requests for information and areasked to complete many questionnaires overthe course of a year. It was therefore decidedthat, in an attempt to combat the surveyfatigue that many attraction managers mustsurely experience, each of the potential respon-dents would be contacted by telephone, fax oremail prior to receiving the questionnaire inorder to verify their contact details and to estab-lish their willingness to participate. A reminderwas sent to any recipient who had notresponded within a set period of time.

    Although this was a lengthy and time-consum-ing task, it did serve to stimulate further usefulresponses. Atotal of 1022 usable responses werereceived, representing an overall response rateof 41%. Table 1 breaks this overall response ratedown by each of the four countries concerned.

    The data were then coded and analysedusing SPSS, according to the guidelines set outin Bryman and Cramer (1997) and Foster(1998). This allowed a large number offrequency tabulations to be created and Chi-square statistics to be calculated for purposes

    of hypothesis testing. In the case of 2 2matrices, the continuity correction method

    was employed. In the section that follows, onlythose Chi-square statistics that were significantat the 95% level or greater are reported.


    This section sets out the main findings of thepaper, beginning with an overview of themain characteristics of visitor attractionsresponding to the survey, which is brokendown by country.

    General findings

    Table 2 presents a range of general character-istics of visitor attractions in the four countriesconcerned. One of the early challenges in theresearch was to overcome the difficulties ofcomparing different attractions, which canvary in character as widely as from castles toart galleries and from water parks to botanicalgardens. This difficulty has often challengedresearchers in the field. Miller (1999) forexample proposes a generic classification ofheritage sites based on distinctions between

    built, natural and living categories. Leask(2003), meanwhile, draws distinctions basedon admission-pricing policy, market reach,ownership status and whether the attraction is

    essentially built or natural in character. Forpurposes of the present study, however, thedecision taken was to classify visitor attrac-tions according to whether they are primarilynatural, such as country parks, purpose-builtas visitor attractions, such as visitor centres,museums and galleries, or built originally forother purposes, such as castles or industrialheritage sites. Although this three-way systemof classification is by no means beyond criti-cism, it does have the virtue of presenting areasonably clear-cut means of distinguishing

    among attractions in the four very differentnational contexts covered in this paper.

    26 B. Garrod, A. Leask and A. Fyall

    Copyright 2007 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd. Int. J. Tourism Res. 9, 2142 (2007)

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    Table 1. Total number of visitor attractions responding to survey (by country)

    Scotland Australia Canada New Zealand

    Total number of attractionscharging for admission on database 501 793 856 313Total number of respondents 301 271 321 129Total percentage response (%) 59 34 37 41

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    In Table 2, it is apparent that the previouslycited categories are represented differently inthe visitor attraction sectors of the four coun-tries. This proposition is supported by Chi-square analysis (c2= 39.576, d.f. = 6,p = 0.001),which suggests that Scotland has significantlymore natural and non-purpose-built attrac-tions, and significantly fewer purpose-builtattractions than the other three countries.Further inspection of the data reveals why thisis the case. The visitor attraction sectors ofCanada, Australia and, to a lesser extent, NewZealand, are all dominated by purpose-builtattractions, such as museums, galleries andtheme/water parks. In Scotland, there are rel-atively more non-purpose-built attractions,

    such as castles, historic houses and nationalhistoric sites. This has an important bearing onthe study in that there is a strong relationship

    between attraction category and ownership(c2 = 175.975, d.f. = 10,p = 0.001), with naturalattractions and non-purpose-built attractionstending to be owned privately and, to a lesserextent, by trusts, charities and societies. Pur-posely built attractions, on the other hand, aresignificantly less likely to be in private handsand more likely to be owned by local govern-ment, trusts, charities and societies. Previousstudies have identified ownership to be closelyrelated to funding arrangements and manage-ment style, and as such to be an importantvariable in determining various aspects of the

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    Copyright 2007 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd. Int. J. Tourism Res. 9, 2142 (2007)

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    Table 2. General survey findings (by country)

    Scotland Australia Canada New Zealand(n = 301) (n = 271) (n = 321) (n = 129)

    % % % %

    Attraction categoryNatural attractions 21.3 11.4 14.3 18.6

    Built attraction (tourism specific) 68.5 64.2 51.4 47.3Built attraction (other) 40.2 24.4 34.3 34.1

    Attraction ownershipPrivate 46.7 24.6 5.3 32.5Trust, charity or society 30.0 37.7 36.6 39.7Local government 7.3 20.1 22.2 17.5Regional government 10.1 13.8 National government 6.3 2.6 16.9 3.2Other 9.7 4.9 5.3 7.1

    Period of opening12 months 38.2 88.1 46.3 92.2Seasonal 61.8 11.9 53.8 7.8

    Annual visitorsUnder 20 000 per annum 63.3 68.5 56.3 52.820000 per annum and over 36.7 31.5 43.7 47.2

    Annual turnover25000 and under 39.9 59.2 38.4 37.2Between 25 000 and 100000 28.9 16.8 26.5 22.3100 000 and over 31.3 24.0 35.0 40.5

    Standard adult admission charge3.50 or less 74.6 80.8 85.3 83.6Over 3.50 25.4 19.2 14.7 16.4

    Revenue-management practiceYes 49.2 46.8 50.8 53.3No 50.8 53.2 49.2 46.7

    Note: Some columns do not total to 100% due to rounding.

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    management of visitor attractions (e.g. Rogers,1995; Leask and Yeoman, 1999).

    Table 2 shows how the pattern of ownershipstatus varies among the four countries (c2 =236.038, d.f. = 15, p = 0.001), the most notablefeatures being that Scotland has significantly

    more privately owned and fewer government-owned attractions, whereas Canada has fewerprivately owned attractions and more owned

    by the national (rather than local or regional)government. Meanwhile, Australia has thesmallest proportion of attractions owned bythe national government, whereas in NewZealand there are relatively more attractionsowned by trusts, charities and societies.

    Significant differences are also shown inTable 2 with respect to the period of opening(c2 = 230.419, d.f. = 3,p = 0.001), with the split

    between year-round and seasonal opening being much more equal in Scotland andCanada than in Australia or New Zealand,where the general tendency is for attractions toremain open all year round. This could be dueeither to smaller variations in tourist flows dueto natural factors or institutional norms, or togreater financial stability on the part of attrac-tions in Australia and New Zealand, enablingthem to remain open throughout the year.Some evidence to support the latter explana-tion can be found by performing a cross-tabu-

    lation of ownership category against period ofopening, with the results suggesting a signifi-cant (c2 = 13.344, d.f. = 5, p = 0.020) tendencyfor public-sector attractions to remain open allyear, and for those in private ownership tooperate seasonally. Another possible explana-tion may be that attractions in Australia andNew Zealand are more successful in scalingdown their operating costs in the off season,when admission revenues are at their lowest.This having been said, it is relevant to note thatnearly 60% of all visitor attractions in thesurvey were able to remain open all yearround.

    Table 2 also reveals significant (c2 = 13.670,d.f. = 3, p = 0.003) differences among the fourcountries with respect to the volume of visitorsreceived. In Scotland and Australia, aroundtwo thirds of the sample is classified as small(under 20000 visits per annum), whereas inCanada and New Zealand, the split is signifi-cantly more even. Australia has the highest

    proportion of small attractions and this may bea reflection of the relatively large distances

    between attractions and the resulting lack ofaccess to large visitor populations (Prideaux,2003). The tendency for attractions with highervisitor numbers to stay open all year round


    50.476, d.f.=


    0.001) could also helpto explain why New Zealand attractions tendto remain open all year, whereas Scottish andCanadian attractions tend to operate season-ally. However, this explanation seems to workless well for Australia, where year-roundopening is more common in spite of the ten-dency for attractions to be relatively small interms of their annual visitor numbers.

    A similar picture emerges in terms of annualturnover, with Canada and New Zealandhaving a significantly greater proportion of

    high-turnover attractions (over 100000 perannum) compared with Scotland and Australia(c2 = 35.313, d.f. = 6, p = 0.001). In the case ofAustralia, more than half of the attractions inthe sample have an annual turnover of lessthan 25000. As anticipated, a positive rela-tionship was found between annual visitornumbers and annual turnover (c2 = 614.427,d.f. = 2,p = 0.001).

    In respect of standard adult admission price,Table 2 shows that visitor attractions in Scot-land are significantly more likely to charge in

    excess of 3.50 than attractions based in theother three countries (c2 = 12.044, d.f. = 3, p =0.007). This may be a reflection of differencesin the market concentration and the relativeability of attractions to set high admissioncharges. Alternatively, this finding may be dueto the higher incidence of seasonal opening inScotland, which may encourage attractions toelevate their admission prices in order to maketheir money while the site is open. Somesupport for this suggestion can be found interms of the significant and positive relation-ship between admission charge category andperiod of opening (c2 = 4.289, d.f. = 1,p = 0.038).This finding should, however, be seen in thecontext where the vast majority of attractionsin all four countries charge less than the equiv-alent of 3.50 for standard adult admission.Admission price is also shown to be positivelyrelated both to visitor numbers (c2 = 156.116,d.f. = 1, p = 0.001) and to annual turnover(c2 = 224.743, d.f. = 2, p = 0.001), suggesting a

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    relatively own-price inelastic demand forattractions across the four countries, whichconforms to the findings of previous studies(e.g. Robinson, 1994).

    Finally, Table 2 demonstrates a roughly evensplit with regard to whether or not the visitor

    attraction was considered to be conductingrevenue management, with slightly more thanhalf of the sample claiming to engage in suchpractices in Canada and New Zealand, andslightly under half doing so in Scotland andAustralia. No significant difference was foundin the relative adoption of such practices in thefour countries. Instead, the major determinantsof whether or not an individual attractionpractices revenue management would appearto be higher visitor numbers (c2 = 55.347, d.f. =1,p = 0.001), annual turnover (c2 = 66.223, d.f.

    = 2,p = 0.001) and higher admission charge (c2

    = 35.348, d.f. = 1,p = 0.001). Meanwhile, factorssuch as country location, attraction categoryand period of opening appear to have ratherless influence.

    Admission-pricing rationale

    The first major aim of this study was to inves-tigate the extent to which the rationale fordetermining admission prices might vary

    between visitor attractions in Scotland and

    those in the three comparator countries.Table 3 demonstrates that although there areevidently some important differences, thereare also some significant similarities.

    First, Table 3 shows that visitor attractions inCanada are significantly more likely to set theirprices in line with their competition, suggest-ing a rather more competitive market environ-ment in which individual attractions mustclosely mirror the admission prices set by theircompetitors. In Scotland, meanwhile, thereverse appears to be true in that attractionmanagers are significantly less concerned withsetting their admission prices according tothose set by their major competitors. Indeed,setting prices in line with competitors wasselected by under a third of the Scottishsample.

    A similar pattern appears with regard tosetting admission prices according to what themarket will bear, with Scottish visitor attrac-tions being least likely to set their prices

    according to this rationale. However, it is inthis instance that the Australian and NewZealand attractions are most likely to havetheir admission prices set according to whatthe market will bear. More than half of all man-agers of Australian and New Zealand attrac-

    tions claimed that this rationale was eithervery or extremely important in setting theirprices, as opposed to around 40% in the caseof Scottish and Canadian attractions. Chi-square analysis suggested this difference to besignificant in statistical terms (at the 95%level).

    A similar pattern is evident with regard tosetting low admission prices in order to max-imise the volume of visitors attending theattraction. Again, the Scottish attractions weresignificantly less likely to adopt this rationale,

    whereas the Australian and New Zealandattractions were more likely to adopt the ratio-nale. This is of particular note in that there issome evidence to suggest that the volume ofadmissions is, in some countries, used as ameasure of success by attraction managers,which in itself may not be entirely in keepingwith wider conservation policies required byheritage attractions in particular (Garrod andFyall, 2000).

    In this respect, it is interesting to note thatthe diametrically opposite proposition, that

    high admission prices should be set in order todiscourage visitors and help protect the sitefrom excessive use, was the least popular ofany of the options presented to the respon-dents in Scotland, Australia and Canada. NewZealand is evidently the significant exceptionto this rule, where almost 10% of the respon-dents considered this option to be very orextremely important in their pricing rationale.In general, however, respondents expressedstrong opposition to the idea of using elevatedprices in order to limit the volume of demandfor their site.

    Also interesting in this respect is that settinghigh prices in order to fund conservation workwas generally not considered to be an impor-tant element of the pricing rationale in any ofthe four countries studied. No significant dif-ference was found between the four countries,more than 80% of all respondents rejectingthis rationale for setting their admissionprices.

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    however, significantly less likely to take thisconsideration into account in determiningtheir admission prices.

    Table 3 also shows that explicitly economicobjectives were not favoured by respondents,with around three quarters claiming that max-

    imising end-of-year surplus was either notimportant or only quite important in theiradmission-pricing rationale. In the case ofsetting admission prices in order to ensure a

    break-even at end of year, a similar patternemerges, with around two thirds of the respon-dents considering this to be either not impor-tant or only quite important. In neither case,however, were there any statistically signifi-cant differences between attractions in the fourcountries making up the data set. This under-lines the generally weak economic orientation

    of the visitor attraction sector in all four coun-tries, with attractions in these sectors generallyhaving a wider range of organisational objec-tives beyond those relating simply to economicviability and financial returns.

    In sharp contrast, setting admission prices soas to maximise end-of-year revenues was con-sidered to be very important or extremelyimportant by more than half of the respon-dents in the Australian sample. This propor-tion is significantly greater than amongCanadian and New Zealand attractions. Inter-

    estingly, although Scottish visitor attractionmanagers are statistically the least likely toadopt this consideration in their pricing ratio-nale, it is nevertheless the highest scoring of allthe possible responses in the case of Scotland.

    Finally, Table 3 suggests significantly fewerattraction managers in Scotland use visitorfeedback in setting their prices, whereassignificantly more in New Zealand do so. It isrelevant to note, however, that in none of thefour countries does more than half the sampleconsider visitor feedback to have either a veryimportant or an extremely important influenceon admission pricing.

    The findings of this part of the research aretherefore somewhat ambiguous. On the onehand, there is some evidence that the admis-sion-pricing rationale that managers of Scot-tish attractions tend to adopt is significantlydifferent to that prevalent in the other threecountries, there being less of a tendency tocharge as much as the market will bear or to

    set admission prices in line with those charged by competition. Indeed, the proportion ofmanagers subscribing strongly to any particu-lar admission-pricing rationale tends to be sig-nificantly lower in Scotland than in any of thethree comparator countries. As such, it might

    be argued that there is a general tendency forattractions in Scotland to operate a tokenpricing policy, whereby admission prices areset in a largely non-strategic manner (Fyall andGarrod, 1998). The first hypothesis, H1a, cantherefore be rejected. Attraction managers inScotland do indeed appear to adopt a signifi-cantly different admission-pricing rationalefrom those in the three comparator countries.

    On the other hand, there is no strong evi-dence to suggest that the three comparatorcountries are, in any sense, following recog-

    nised international best practice. Indeed, noconsistent pattern can be identified in the data.For example, whereas setting high admissionprices in order to raise funds for conservationwork is evidently unpopular in all three coun-tries, the same is also true of attractions inScotland. Meanwhile, in Australia and NewZealand, the most popular rationale is tocharge as much as the market will bear, yet inCanada, it is to set admission prices in linewith their competitors. Hence, the relatedhypothesis, H1b, must also be rejected and it

    must be concluded that no international bestpractice admission-pricing rationale is evidentamong the three comparator countries.

    Price differentiation

    A second major aim of the paper was to inves-tigate the extent to which various forms ofprice differentiation are used in the four coun-tries. With this aim in mind, respondents wereasked to state whether they varied their admis-sion price by time of the day, day of the weekor month of the year. Respondents were alsoasked whether their attraction offered dis-counts to various visitor groups. Both of thesetechniques are key features of the practice ofrevenue management, so it would be reason-able to expect that if Scotland has failed toadopt best practice, then the proportion ofvisitor attractions using these price differenti-ation strategies will be significantly lower thanin the three comparator countries.

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    Three major findings can be noted inTable 4. First, although typically around half

    the overall sample claimed that their attractionpracticed revenue management (see Table 2),very few attractions in any of the four coun-tries varied their admission prices by time ofday or day of week. Two minor exceptions arein Canada, where a significantly greater pro-portion of attraction managers claimed to varytheir admission prices according to the monthof the year (around 10%), and in New Zealand,where the proportion of attractions practicingmonthly admission price variations wasalmost 5%. What is perhaps the more relevantstatistic, however, is that in all four countries,more than 85% of all visitor attractions did notsystematically vary their admission prices atall, tending to work with a single set of tariffsthat would be updated as a whole on an ad-hoc basis.

    The second major finding shown in Table 4is that visitor attractions typically offer only alimited range of group discounts. Admissionprice discounts are most likely to be offered to

    families and children, senior citizens, andschools and educational groups. Many attrac-

    tions also offer admission discounts to inclu-sive groups, to students, and to friends ofthe visitor attraction or members of the organ-isation owning the attraction (e.g. the NationalTrust for Scotland). With regard to the lattergroup, attractions owned by charities, trustsand societies are significantly more likely tooffer discounts to friends and members (c2 =45.524, d.f. = 5,p = 0.001), whereas those ownedprivately or by national governments are sig-nificantly less likely to do so. Relatively fewattractions in any of the four countries offereddiscounts to voluntary groups, corporate or

    business groups, the unemployed or disabledpeople.

    Third, it is clear that although some groupdiscounts are more widely employed thanothers, no particular pattern is evident amongthe four countries. In some cases, for examplediscounts for families and children, Scottishattractions are significantly less likely to offerdiscounts. Indeed, less than two thirds of

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    Table 4. Price differentiation (by country)

    Scotland Australia Canada New Zealand(n = 301) (n = 271) (n = 321) (n = 129) Significance

    % % % % Chi square d.f. (%)

    Variations in priceBy month 4.2 1.2 11.1 5.5

    By day 1.0 1.2 1.6 1.3By time of day 0.7 1.9 1.9 1.8None 94.1 95.8 85.7 90.2 39.902 9 99

    Discounts for families/children 64.6 87.8 86.8 83.7 64.382 3 99

    Discounts for local residents 13.7 8.8 22.5 15.306 2 99

    Discounts for senior citizens 75.6 62.4 63.3 42.6 42.913 3 99

    Discounts for students 52.2 58.3 57.7 48.1 5.529 3

    Discounts for inclusive groups 66.8 61.6 64.3 69.0 2.735 3

    Discounts for schools/education groups 78.4 66.1 73.8 80.6 14.662 3 99

    Discounts for voluntary/charity groups 25.1 23.2 16.5 27.1 9.310 3 95

    Discounts for corporate/business groups 25.1 10.0 10.2 18.6 34.557 3 99

    Discounts for disabled people 40.2 26.2 12.4 23.3 62.002 3 99

    Discounts for unemployed people 36.4 25.1 3.2 7.8 124.349 3 99

    Discounts for friends/members 53.6 47.6 45.6 47.3 4.279 3

    Discounts for other groups 11.0 4.4 6.3 5.4 10.504 3 95

    Note: Some columns do not total to 100% due to rounding.

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    Scottish visitor attractions offered admissiondiscounts to families and children, comparedwith more than 80% in each of the other threecountries. In other cases, however, for examplediscounts for disabled people, Scottish attrac-tions were significantly more likely to offer dis-

    counts. Indeed, more than 40% of Scottishattractions offered discounts to disabledpeople, compared with less than 25% in eachof the other three countries.

    Hypothesis H2a must therefore be rejectedinsofar as there are clearly some aspects ofprice differentiation that are significantlydifferent from the sample of Scottish visitorattractions. For example, there is a strong ten-dency for Scottish attractions to offer discountsto particular groups, whereas this tendency issignificantly weaker in the other three coun-

    tries. Furthermore, it is not clear that Scotlandis always the laggard in adopting suchpractices. Indeed, in several cases, there is asignificantly stronger tendency for Scottishattractions to adopt such price differentiationprocedures than in any of the three compara-tor countries. In other respects, however, thereare no significant differences.

    Hypothesis H2b, meanwhile, must also berejected, there being no significant pattern ofinternational best practice identifiable amongthe three comparator countries. For example,

    there is a significantly greater tendency forattractions in Canada and New Zealand to varytheir admission prices according to the monthof the year, although this is evidently not thecase in Australia. It is also interesting to notethat very few attractions in any of the four coun-tries varied their admission prices by time of theday or day of the week. It is also interesting that,despite there being significantly fewer attrac-tions in Scotland owned by trusts, charities andsocieties than in the other three countries, thereare not significantly fewer Scottish attractions

    offering discounts to friends of the visitorattraction or members of the organisationowning the attraction.

    Promotional pricing

    Table 5 shows that country location plays asignificant role in determining the propensityfor visitor attractions to employ promotional-pricing techniques. Scottish attractions areshown to be significantly greater users of mediavouchers and tokens for marketing purposes,with more than 85% of all Scottish attractionsadopting such practices, whereas in Canada,the proportion is just over 62%. In Australia andNew Zealand, in contrast, significantly fewerattractions use media vouchers and tokens. Asimilar pattern is evident in the case of joint-

    attraction vouchers, with Scottish and Cana-dian attractions being significantly more likelyto use this promotional technique than those inAustralia or New Zealand. In Scotland, over45% of attractions use joint-attraction vouchers,suggesting relatively high levels of collabora-tion. In New Zealand, by way of contrast, undera third of all attractions use joint-attractionvouchers. Finally, Scottish attractions are sig-nificantly more likely to use joint-marketingconsortia, with more than a third beinginvolved in this form of collaboration. This con-

    trasts significantly with Australia, where underone-sixth of the attractions stated that they werepart of a joint-marketing consortium. Thishaving been said, most of the attractions in allfour countries do not participate in a joint-marketing consortium. This seems surprisinggiven the fragmented nature of the sector andthe increasingly recognised benefits of collabo-ration (e.g. Fyall and Garrod, 2005).

    The findings of this part of the study there-fore suggest that the third hypothesis, H3a,should be rejected. There are clearly significant

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    Table 5. Promotional pricing (by country)

    Scotland Australia Canada New Zealand(n = 301) (n = 271) (n = 321) (n = 129) Significance

    % % % % Chi square d.f. (%)

    Media vouchers/tokens 85.1 46.5 62.2 52.7 90.915 3 99Joint-attraction vouchers 45.6 34.1 44.1 32.6 11.923 3 99

    Joint-marketing consortium 36.6 16.3 27.5 28.7 26.151 3 99

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    differences in the promotional-pricing tech-niques adopted by Scottish attraction man-agers in comparison with those adopted in thethree other countries. What is interesting,however, is that Scotland is for the most partshown to be leading the way with regard to the

    use of promotional-pricing strategies.The findings also suggest that the relatedhypothesis, H3b, must be rejected, there beingclear differences in the relative uptake of thesepromotional-pricing strategies among thethree comparator countries. Hence, the studyfinds no strong support to the view that Scot-land lags behind Australia, Canada and NewZealand in the use of international bestpractice promotional-pricing techniques, orindeed that the three comparator countrieshave adopted such best practice.

    Revenue-generation activities

    Table 6 suggests that many visitor attractionsin all four countries offer a range of opportu-nities for secondary spending, especially in theform of gift shops and guided tours. A largeproportion of attractions in all four countriesalso run ad-hoc events. Many attractions alsooffer catering and hospitality services in theform of cafeteria, restaurants and, to a lesserdegree, take-away outlets. Some attractions

    also have garden centres. The majority of theserevenue-generating activities are operatedin-house, particularly in Australia and NewZealand, where relatively few attractionscontract out their management.

    More than two thirds of all visitor attractionsin the survey operate a gift shop. It is interest-ing to note, however, that nearly three quartersof all Scottish attractions do so in-house, whichis a significantly higher proportion than in anyof the three comparator countries. Only in thecase of Canada do more attractions operate agift shop, nearly 85% of the total, the difference

    being that in Canada, there are significantlymore attractions contracting out their giftshops. This general tendency does not appearto be strongly related either to attraction cate-gory or ownership category, with Chi-squareanalysis finding no significant differences ineither case.

    A strikingly similar pattern emerges withrespect to the operation of cafeteria by visitor

    attractions. Whereas the proportion of Scottishattractions operating cafeteria in-house is sig-nificantly higher than in any of the other threecountries, Canada again has the highestproportion of attractions operating cafeteria,the difference again being that many are

    contracted out. As might perhaps be expected,purpose-built attractions are significantlymore likely to operate cafeteria, whereasnatural attractions are less likely to do so(c2 = 34.420, d.f. = 2,p = 0.001).

    Relatively few visitor attractions in any ofthe four countries operated restaurants, take-away outlets or garden centres, the share beingunder 15% in all cases. Many Scottish attrac-tions do have garden centres, and the majorityof these are owned privately or by trusts, char-ities and societies (c2 = 18.042, d.f. = 5,

    p = 0.003). However, it is relevant to note thatScottish attractions operating garden centresstill represent less than 10% of the total.

    In the case of guided tours, Canada againleads the way, with nearly two thirds of allCanadian attractions offering guided tours,almost always provided in-house. Althoughnot as high as that of Canada, the share ofScottish attractions offering guided tours isstill roughly equal to that of Australia, and issignificantly greater than that of New Zealand,where under 40% of attractions offer guided

    tours. The tendency to offer guided tours doesnot appear to be strongly related to attractiontype or ownership, Chi-square analysis findingno significant differences in either case. Theproportion of attractions contracting out theirguided tours was in all cases extremely small,suggesting that attractions generally prefer toprovide such core services in-house.

    In the case of ad-hoc events, a similar patternemerges, with Canadian visitor attractionsmost likely to stage such events and NewZealand visitor attractions least likely. Perhaps,surprisingly, the overwhelming tendency is toprovide ad-hoc events in-house, with less than2% of attractions contracting these out tospecialist event-management companies.

    The results shown in Table 7, therefore, tendto suggest that the fourth hypothesis, H4a,should be rejected. In many cases, there are sig-nificant differences in the relative levels of adop-tion of various types of revenue-generatingactivity among the four countries. However, it

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    is evidently not the case that Scotland lagsbehind the three comparator countries in everyrespect. If anything, the proportion of Scottishattractions engaging with these revenue-generation activities is generally higher than it

    is among Australian and New Zealand attrac-tions, although this is clearly not the case withrespect to Canada.

    Similarly, it is not possible to reject therelated hypothesis, H4b, that there are no

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    Table 6. Revenue-generation activities (by country)

    Scotland Australia Canada New Zealand(n = 301) (n = 271) (n = 321) (n = 129) Significance

    % % % % Chi square d.f. (%)

    Gift shopIn-house 73.9 66.8 65.7 68.2

    Contracted out 3.3 2.6 15.6 2.3None 22.7 29.5 16.8 29.5Both 0.0 1.9 1.1 0.0 73.501 9 99

    CafeteriaIn-house 28.1 19.9 13.1 20.2Contracted out 15.1 6.3 17.8 14.0None 56.9 72.7 68.4 65.1Both 0.0 1.1 0.6 0.8 41.679 9 99

    RestaurantIn-house 10.7 8.1 6.9 7.8Contracted out 7.4 5.9 11.5 9.3None 81.9 85.6 81.3 82.2Both 0.0 0.4 0.3 0.8 11.277 9

    Take-away outletIn-house 5.0 8.1 3.7 5.4Contracted out 2.7 4.4 2.8 3.1None 92.3 87.4 93.5 91.5 7.732 6

    Garden centreIn-house 7.7 4.1 2.8 7.8Contracted out 1.3 1.5 0.0 0.0None 91.0 94.4 97.2 92.2 16.425 6 95

    Guided toursIn-house 50.2 47.8 61.9 38.0

    Contracted out 0.7 1.5 1.6 0.8None 49.2 49.3 35.0 61.2Both 0.0 1.5 1.6 0.0 36.131 9 99

    Ad-hoc eventsIn-house 52.8 40.7 60.6 39.5Contracted out 1.0 1.9 1.3 0.8None 46.2 56.3 35.6 58.1Both 0.0 1.1 2.5 1.6 41.050 9 99

    OtherIn-house 20.1 13.7 8.4 17.8Contracted out 1.0 2.2 0.9 2.3None 78.9 82.2 90.3 77.5

    Both 0.0 1.9 0.3 2.3 31.415 9 99

    Note: Some columns do not total to 100% due to rounding.

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    significant differences in the level of uptake ofrevenue-generation activities among visitorattractions in Australia, Canada and NewZealand. As such, it cannot be concluded thatinternational best practice in respect of therevenue-generation activities of attractions is

    being followed in the three comparatorcountries.

    Revenue-management activities

    A final aim of the study was to examine theextent to which visitor attractions in the fourcountries are using various techniques ofrevenue management. Respondents to thesurvey were therefore asked whether theirattraction uses a range of different revenue-management techniques and, if they do,

    whether the analysis is undertaken by com-puter or manually. The results, shown in Table7, suggest that there are significant differencesin several important respects.

    First, with respect to the use of marketsegment analysis, Table 7 suggests that this issignificantly more likely to take place amongNew Zealand and Scottish attractions. Slightlyless than 60% of attractions in both Scotlandand New Zealand undertook market segmentanalysis, with around equal numbers perform-ing the analysis by hand and with the aid of a

    computer. In contrast, less than 55% of Cana-dian and less than 40% of Australian attrac-tions undertook this activity.

    Table 7 also suggests that the use of seasonalcomparisons is widespread in all four coun-tries, with over 90% of all attractions in Scot-land using this technique. Again, the figure islowest in Australia, where just under twothirds of attractions use seasonal analysis. Thesplit between manual and computer-aidedanalysis is, however, rather uneven in the caseof making seasonal comparisons, with a ratherlarger proportion of attractions undertakingthis task manually in all four countries. It isinteresting to note, however, that the highestlevel of adoption is in Scotland, where morethan a third of attractions use a computer forthis task.

    With regard to the analysis of groups usingthe visitor attraction, around 65% of Canadianand 60% of Scottish attractions claimed tomake a systematic analysis of their group

    bookings. Australia again takes up the rear,with under a third using this particular tech-nique. Once again, the general tendency is forthis analysis to be undertaken by computer,

    but interestingly, the use of a computer toassist in this task is significantly less popular

    among Scottish attractions. Meanwhile, Table 7shows that the analysis of group cancellationsis relatively uncommon in all four countries.The practice is most widespread in Canada,where more than two thirds of attractions dothis, typically by hand. Australia again trailsthe field with more than three quarters of thesample not undertaking this activity at all.

    Relatively low levels of adoption are alsoevident with regard to the analysis of distrib-ution channels, where typically less than athird of attractions in each country undertake

    this revenue-management activity. In this case,however, Chi-square analysis found no signif-icant difference in the relative uptake in thefour countries, nor indeed is there a significantdifference in the relative split between manualand computer-aided analysis.

    Finally, with regard to the use of forecasting,the data presented in Table 7 suggest thattypically around half of the visitor attractionsundertake sales and profit/revenue forecasts.In the former case, a significantly greater pro-portion of attractions in Canada and Scotland

    are active in this area compared with those inAustralia and New Zealand. This pattern ismirrored in respect of profit/revenue forecast-ing, although the proportion using this tech-nique in New Zealand is rather higher than inScotland. The data also suggest that slightlymore than half of the Scottish visitor attrac-tions using sales forecast to aid their revenuemanagement do so using a computer, whereasfor the three other countries, the split isweighed slightly in favour of manual analysis.Chi-square analysis suggests that this is asignificant difference. Interestingly, when itcomes to profit/revenue forecasting, thegeneral tendency is for attractions to under-take this task by computer, although Australiais evidently the exception to this rule.

    The higher level of private ownership inScotland and Canada may help explain thesefindings. Indeed, Chi-square analysis suggestsa significant relationship between the use ofrevenue-management analysis techniques and

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    Table 7. Revenue-management activities (by country)

    Scotland Australia Canada New Zealand(n = 301) (n = 271) (n = 321) (n = 129) Significance

    % % % % Chi square d.f. (%)

    Segment analysisManually 29.3 18.9 28.9 28.1

    Computer 29.7 19.6 24.5 31.3Not at all 38.6 60.0 44.7 38.3Both 2.3 1.5 1.9 2.3 31.590 9 99

    Seasonal comparisonManually 53.9 41.3 49.7 48.0Computer 36.0 25.8 28.9 29.1Not at all 6.2 29.5 17.6 18.9Both 3.9 3.3 3.8 3.9 49.402 9 99

    Group bookingsManually 45.1 30.3 45.1 36.2Computer 12.8 13.3 17.7 18.1Not at all 40.1 54.6 35.0 44.1Both 1.9 1.8 2.2 1.6 28.211 9 99

    Group cancellationsManually 19.1 17.2 27.8 20.5Computer 7.8 4.9 7.9 7.9Not at all 72.8 77.6 63.7 71.7Both 0.4 0.4 0.6 0.0 16.381 9

    Distribution channelsManually 26.7 23.0 29.7 33.1Computer 7.4 8.2 7.6 10.2Not at all 65.1 68.0 62.5 55.9Both 0.8 0.7 0.3 0.8 7.815 9

    Sales forecastsManually 21.7 17.4 30.8 22.8 42.354 9 99Computer 27.5 14.1 18.6 21.3Not at all 46.9 67.0 46.5 52.0Both 3.9 1.5 4.1 15.6

    Profit/revenue forecastsManually 23.3 19.3 32.7 23.6Computer 27.5 21.6 22.6 26.0Not at all 46.1 57.6 40.6 44.1Both 3.1 1.5 4.1 6.3 29.712 9 99

    Note: Some columns do not total to 100% due to rounding.

    the ownership category of the attraction, thegeneral tendency being for those in privateownership to undertake various forms ofrevenue-management analysis and for thoseowned by trusts, charities and societies, as wellas local government, not to do so (Table 8).Another important determining factor would

    appear to be size, with annual turnover also being positively related to the adoption ofthese practices (Table 9). The suggestion, there-fore, is that larger and more securely fundedvisitor attractions are significantly more likelyto adopt a sophisticated approach to revenuemanagement.

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    Table 9. Revenue-management activities (by annual turnover category)

    100000 Significance25 000 and under 25 000100 000 and over Chi square d.f. (%)

    Segment analysisManually 23.5 33.3 24.4Computer 8.9 21.6 50.5

    Not at all 66.2 43.7 21.7Both 1.5 1.4 3.3 202.059 6 99

    Seasonal comparison 54.6 56.1 36.5 177.079 6 99Manually 14.1 30.3 51.2Computer 30.1 8.6 6.0Not at all 1.2 5.0 6.4Both

    Group bookingsManually 35.4 40.5 44.8Computer 5.0 15.9 29.4Not at all 59.4 41.8 21.7Both 0.2 1.8 4.0 140.040 6 99

    Group cancellationsManually 14.1 21.5 29.6Computer 2.0 6.4 14.5Not at all 83.7 71.7 55.2Both 0.2 0.5 0.7 77.882 6 99

    Distribution channelsManually 20.8 30.0 35.9Computer 1.7 7.7 17.1Not at all 77.2 61.3 45.6Both 0.2 0.5 1.3 94.916 6 99

    Sales forecasts

    Manually 16.6 30.8 27.8Computer 7.2 22.2 35.8Not at all 75.0 43.4 31.1Both 1.2 3.6 5.4 163.251 6 99

    Profit/revenue forecastsManually 22.8 28.1 28.5Computer 8.4 27.6 42.6Not at all 67.6 41.6 22.5Both 1.2 2.7 6.4 177.994 6 99

    Note: Some columns do not total to 100% due to rounding.

    The data, therefore, tend to suggest that thefifth hypothesis, H5a, should be rejected. Thereclearly are significant differences in the levelsof uptake of the various revenue-managementtechniques among the four countries examinedin the study. However, it is by no meansevident that Scottish attractions lag behindthose in the other three countries.

    Meanwhile, the statistical analysis suggeststhat related hypothesis, H5b, should be

    rejected. It cannot, therefore, be concluded thatattractions in the three comparator countriesare following international best practice inrespect of their revenue-management prac-tices. If anything, other factors are morelikely to play a significant role in determiningthe uptake of sophisticated revenue-management techniques among visitor attrac-tions, such as ownership category and annualturnover.

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    This study is concerned with testing thehypothesis that visitor attractions in Scotlandadopt significantly different managementpractices from those in leading-edge coun-

    tries, such as Australia, New Canada and NewZealand. A related hypothesis is that Scottishvisitor attractions lag behind their contempo-raries in the other three countries in adoptinginternational best practice management tech-niques. Two particular emphases have beenadopted: first on the adoption of particularpricing rationales and the use of price differ-entiation, and second on the adoption ofvarious revenue-management techniques. Asurvey was designed to collect data that could

    be used to address these research questions

    and this exercise was a very successful one.Not only was the response rate impressive(over 40% in overall terms), but the processalso enabled an extensive and detailed data setto be compiled. This paper only scratches atthe surface in terms of the insights to be gainedthrough the analysis of these data.

    Statistical analysis of the data, however, hadmixed outcomes. The first hypothesis was thatthe proportion of attractions adopting thevarious management practices would not besignificantly different in Scotland from that in

    evidence in the other three countries. Thishypothesis is generally rejected by statisticalanalysis of the data, suggesting that practicesin Scotland are significantly different fromthose in the three comparator counties.However, it is by no means the case thatScotland is generally lagging behind the threecomparator countries in the adoption ofthese management practices. Indeed, in manyrespects Scotland appears to be leading theway. This general result does, of course, maska great deal of variation within each country.Thus, it would be fair to say that some Scottishattractions do seem to lag behind their con-temporaries in Australia, Canada and NewZealand. However, it would also be true to saythat in many other cases it is the Australian,Canadian and New Zealand attractions thatlag behind and the Scottish attractions lead theway.

    The related hypothesis was that there are nosignificant differences in the levels of adoption

    of the various management practices amongattractions in the three comparator countries.Rejection of this hypothesis would suggest thatthere is no international best practice beingfollowed in the three countries for Scotland tofollow. Unfortunately, the statistical analysis

    carried out in the study suggested that thishypothesis must indeed be rejected. In otherwords, this study provides no strong evidenceto suggest that attractions in Australia, Canadaand New Zealand are generally followingcommon international best practice in respectof their management.

    What the statistical analysis did suggest,however, is that other characteristics thancountry location, such as ownership andannual turnover, were much more convincingin terms of explaining the different rates of

    adoption of the selected management practices(Tables 8 and 9). Indeed, a division can benoted between what might be termed first-tier visitor attractions, which experiencehigher visitor numbers, more secure fundingand superior management resources, andsecond-tier visitor attractions, which lackthese advantages. Where country-specificfactors do come into play, these seem to bemore strongly related to the opportunities andconstraints that are borne out of conditions inthe visitor attraction sector, rather than

    whether individual attractions are focusing onthe acquisition and the use of international

    best management practices. Indeed, it might beargued that the very nature of visitor attractionmanagement is predicated on the notion ofindividuality and each country has a particu-lar sectoral context in which its attractionsmust operate. Therefore, although the duplica-tion of international best practice might besuitable in other economic sectors, this is notnecessarily the case in the visitor attractionsector. Nevertheless, there does remain con-siderable scope for the identification andadoption of more sophisticated managementpractices on an individual, site-by-site basis,particularly between organisations that sharecommon structures and operating practices.Many opportunities exist for individual attrac-tions to improve and augment their manage-ment practices, not least by the collection andcollation of key performance-indicator data.This might not simply extend to the traditional

    40 B. Garrod, A. Leask and A. Fyall

    Copyright 2007 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd. Int. J. Tourism Res. 9, 2142 (2007)

    DOI: 10.1002/jtr

  • 8/3/2019 An Assessment of International Best Practice in Visitor Attraction


    areas of revenue generation and visitornumbers, but develop to include factors, suchas community participation and educationalcontribution, to enable visitor attractions to beseen as being more relevant to their hostcommunities.

    It can be argued, therefore, that what isneeded is to improve access to the knowledge,skills and technologies for individual attrac-tion managers, so that they can improve theirmanagement practices. One important hurdleto overcome in this regard is the generally lowlevels of access to and use of computers, not

    just in Scotland but also in the three compara-tor countries. Indeed, one of the most strikingfeatures of the data analysis presented previ-ously is how few attraction managers makeuse of information technology in the course of

    carrying out their various management tasks.Policy-makers would therefore do well to con-centrate on improving access to and training ininformation technology, particularly on thepart of attractions owned by trusts, charities,societies and local government, as well asamong those with a lower-than-averageannual turnover.


    The findings in this study have led the authors

    to develop a number of recommendations formanagers based at Scottish visitor attractions.These recommendations fall clearly into fourareas: first there is a need to collaborate withother visitor attractions, nationally and inter-nationally, to allow for the exchange of bestpractice and innovation. The best mechanismfor this is likely to be via the engagement ofindividual attractions with established publicprivate partnership networks such as the ASVAand Edinburgh Tourism Action Group. Second,this investigation and pursuit of knowledgeshould extend beyond the confines of thevisitor attraction sector and develop into othersectors of business and commerce. There ismuch to be learned from observing practices inother sectors and management practices. Theseshould go further than even simply reviewingthose adopted in other sectors of tourism, butinto those such as retailing, human resourcemanagement and production. The benefits ofthis cross-fertilisation of ideas and practices

    might aid development of visitor attractionmanagement and could be facilitated by thelocal enterprise companies. Third, the sectormust work more closely together to lobby atgovernmental level for the recognition of therole of visitor attractions within destinations.

    Without this, the sector will inevitably stay onthe sidelines of policy and suffer from a lack ofinvolvement in decision-making that mayimpact significantly on their performance. Oneexample of this would be for the developmentof broadband IT access in remote parts of Scot-land that would enable the adoption of moresophisticated methods of financial and productmanagement. Finally, visitor attractions needto identify the particular aspects of theirresource and product that will appeal to par-ticular markets. It is futile to persist in standard

    marketing activity to try to attract customerswho will simply never see the product assomething which they wish to engage with,although there may be alternative aspects ofthe product that could be packaged totarget them specifically. What Scottish visitorattraction managers should do is celebratetheir achievements and adapt managementapproaches to their own individual uniquenessand location.

    ACKNOWLEDGEMENTSThe authors are grateful to the many individ-ual visitor attraction managers who kindlygave their time to filling in and returning thesurvey questionnaire.


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