An enquiry into the different structural and governance models to organise a Convention and Visitor Bureau (CVB) for management and funding efficiency

CHAPTER 5: CONCLUSIONS AND RECOMMENDATIONS

 

  • Introduction

The chapter presents conclusions and recommendations based on the analysis and discussion of the data gathered from the research, presented in the previous chapter. In this chapter, the researcher made a determination whether the data presented has answered the research question. A brief summary of the study’s findings will be presented, as well as the discussion of the weaknesses in the research, implications and further research opportunities.

 

  • Revisiting of the research question

The main purpose of the study was to establish the most appropriate structural and governance model to organise a Convention & Visitors Bureau (CVB), to support management and funding efficiency. It was evident that the research question was answered. The reviewed literature demonstrated that there are several models or structures of CVBs globally, and these include a CVB as aGovernment department, Government agency or state-owned company, Economic Development Agency, Division of an Economic Development Agency, Chamber of Commerce, Division of a Chamber, Public-Private Partnership Non-Profit Organization, Public-Private Partnership For-Profit Organization, and Private For-Profit Organization. The results of the research attest that a CVB as a Public-Private Partnership Non-Profit is preferred because it offers the best of both worlds. It enjoys the benefits of being government funded, while it has the space and some freedom to operate more on the business model of a private entity. This autonomy provides for management efficiency, as it is void of or has less red tape, bureaucracy and political interference. If governed by a board of directors, the Public-Private Non-Profit agency would benefit from a board of directors with a vast experience in the tourism industry and a direct vested interest in overseeing the successful working of the CVB.

It was the opninions of the respondents that Public-Private CVB’s source of funding was highly sustainable, especially where tourism was a government priority, as it is in most countries, agreeing with the UNWTO (http://www2.unwto.org/content/who-we-are-0, n.d.), who recognise tourism a catalyst for economic growth. Besides government funding, the Public-Private model for a CVB also opened opportunities for alternative sources of funding for a CVB. This compared with the literature recommendation that in Vietnam, a CVB that is a public Private partnership is preferred because “because it is an effective target-oriented cooperation that enhances the competitiveness of the destination thus positioning the region as a strongly competitive destination on a national and international level”.

 

 

  • Brief summary of the study’s findings

A total of 205 CVB and tourism industry experts from around the globe were invited to fill out an online survey questionnaire. The research target of respondents was 100 and 39 surveys were returned. Of the 39 returned surveys, 27 were used for analysis in the study. The researcher then used the same questionnaire to conduct 10 face-to-face interviews, bringing the total number of respondents to 37. Below is a summary of the findings of the research.

 

Q1 to Q5 – Demographics of Survey Population

Majority of respondents were senior management of CVBs with up to 10 years’ experience. The most respondents were from the USA & Europe.

 

 

Q6 8 – CVB Structures

The most common types of CVB from the study was a City CVB, and the most prevalent structures were found to be Government Agencies or State-owned Companies, as well as Public-Private Non-Profit CVBs.

 

Q9 & Q10 – CVB Departments & Roles

Results of this section of the research revealed that 79% of the CVB studied had Sales & marketing departments, 58% had Visitor Services and Strategy & Product Development departments, and 63% had a department that dealt with Meetings & Groups. A Public Relations department was present in 53% of the CVBs in this study, indicating the importance of stakeholder relations management. Destination Branding & Marketing was cited as the main function of the CVBs studied, with Research as close second. Commercial Marketing & Promotion Activities and Public Relations were also indicated as important roles. Whisenant (2012) stated that these are some of the core functions of CVBs.

 

Q13 & Q14 – Stakeholders of the CVB

Membership in a CVB was investigated and nearly 30% of the studied CVBs are not member-based, while 22% reported membership numbers of between 20 and 50. Most of the stakeholders of CVBs are partners.

 

 

Q15, Q16, Q17, Q18, Q19 – Board Governance

A large number (65%) of the CVBs in the study are governed by a board of directors, and the boards were reported to be equally responsible for strategic decision-making, strategy execution, budget control and performance measurement and evaluation.

The boards were representative of the public and private sector tourism industry, played an advisory role, whilemost decisions were made by CVB staff.

 

Q20, Q21, Q22 – Decision-making, Performance Agility and Managerial Efficiency

The section on the management of CVB revealed that the staff is responsible for the bulk of decisions, with immediate stakeholders sometimes involved. The respondents of the study felt that although the structures of the CVBs supported performance agility and management efficiency most of the time, they did not do it as well as they should be. Government policies and red tape were cited as obstacles in government-owned CVBs. However, the involvement of government was also cited as an advantage, especially where funding was concerned, and Public-Private CVBs enjoyed the combination of this model. According to the table below,

 

 

Q23, Q24, Q25, Q26 – CVB Structures, their Barriers & Advantages

The currents structures of the CVBs in this study present certain barriers to management efficiency. These include political interference, restrictive red and lackof autonomy, very tipical in a government administrative environment. Other barries include lack of government support and limited access to funding, which can be barriers faced by privatly owned CVBs. Over 56% of the respondents believe that these barriers have some impact on the managerial efficiency of their CVBs. The current structures do however present some advantages and these do enhance managerial efficiency. Government-owned CVBs enjoy easy access to funding, government support, while Public-Private CVBs also enjoy these advantages, in addition to minimum or no political interference, minimum red tape, managerial autonomy and agility.

 

Q27, Q28 – Preferred CVB Structures

The results of Questions 27 and 28 are very pertinent as they directly answer the research question. According to 60% of the respondents, the Public-Private Non-Profit model of structuring a CVB is preferred and thought of as the most ideal model, for management and funding efficiency. This is because it provides agility and management autonomy thereby providing a good balance between the ebenefits of private sector driven approach and government sector led approach. The two advantages can be effectively supported by support and funding from the government. A CVB as a Government agency or state-owned company offers direct accountability to the financing source. In addition, it provides the CVB with freedom of developing alternative revenue streams.

 

Q29, Q30 – Comparisons of CVB across Countries

The general feeling eminating from the research is that there is no huge contrast when CVBs from across the world are compared. There seems to be more similar conditions than there are stark differences. It does seem however that the Public-Private model is still seen to be better for management and funding efficiency. For instance, CVBs from East African countries are better because the government is full aware of the cost benefits and economic benefits of a CVB thus provide the necessary support such as funding. Also, CVBs from South Africa and Europe are better since they support flexibilitym efficacy, ehance agility as well as getting government support.

 

Q35, Q36, Q37 – CVB Funding

The main sources of funding are the municipality or local authority, and membership fees, which indicate that the Public-Private Non-profit model of organising a CVB could be the best model as it allows for the two major sources of funding for a CVB to operate together within the same organisation. Respondents believe these sources of funding to be sustainable.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Summary of the results

Research Questions Research Finding Related Literature Related Recommendations
Demographics of Survey Population Senior management of CVBs with up to 10 years’ experience and are from the USA & Europe The research requires experienced Tourism industry representatives from USA, Europe, Africa and the rest of the world (Bregoli, 2013). Find the Tourism industry experts who have the required knowledge.
What are the most common CVB Structures? The most common of CVB is a City CVB, and the most prevalent structures are Government Agencies or State-owned Companies, and Public-Private Non-Profit CVBs.

 

The following CVB organizational models can be found across the world: Government (Public) agency or department; Private agency; and Public-Private agency (Ford et al. 2009).

 

Structure a CVB as a Public-Private Non-Profit mode as government backed entities tend to enjoy government support in the form of policy enabling and funding. While privately run organizations enjoy autonomy of operations, making them agile to respond to opportunities.

 

What are the CVB Departments & Roles CVBs have department such Sales & marketing departments, Visitor Services and Strategy & Product Development departments, and department dealing with Meetings & Groups and Public Relations department. The roles are stakeholder relations management. Destination Branding & Marketing, Research, Commercial Marketing & Promotion Activities and Public Relations were also indicated as important roles. Whisenant (2012) stated that these are some of the core functions of CVBs. CVBs attract conventions, meetings, and tourists to their respective destinations through Promotion Activities and Public Relations.

 

Put emphasis on Destination Branding & Marketing and Commercial Marketing & Promotion Activities to attract more tourists
Stakeholders of the CVB

 

Most of the stakeholders of CVBs are partners and staff.

 

CVBs have members, stakeholders or partners who have an influence on the decisions made by CVBs (Bornhorst, Ritchie & Sheehan, 2010) Use Government and private sector stakeholders since they are critical to the success of a DMO because of their resources
How is the CVBs governed? CVBs are governed by a board of directors, and the boards were reported to be equally responsible for strategic decision-making, strategy execution, budget control and performance measurement and evaluation.

 

The boards were representative of the public and private sector tourism industry Gretzel et al. 2006). The board of directors should play an advisory role, while most decisions should be made by CVB staff.

 

What are the current CVB Structures’ Barriers The currents structures of the CVBs has certain barriers to management efficiency such as political interference, restrictive red and lack of autonomy, lack of government support and limited access to funding. Disadvantages include susceptibility to political influence on its programs and/or staffing decisions and exclusion of stakeholders from the process of decision-making for CVB as a government agency (Beritelli & Laesser, 2011).

 

Avoid CVB as government agency because of political interference and lack of autonomy
What are the current CVB Structures’ Advantages Government-owned CVBs enjoy easy access to funding, government support, while Public-Private CVBs also enjoy these advantages, in addition to minimum or no political interference, minimum red tape, managerial autonomy and agility.

 

Advantages include Direct accountability to the financing source, direct line of regulatory supervision, interaction and coordination with different divisions which makes tourism development as an “equal interest” among the programs of work of local government, and overall long-term organizational stability (Cooper, 2006).

 

 Use Public-Private CVBs due to managerial autonomy and agility.

 

What is the Preferred CVB Structures The Public-Private Non-Profit model of structuring a CVB is the preferred and the most ideal model, for management and funding efficiency. Convention bureau as a public-private agency is has advantages such as less bureaucracy in structure and can freely operate more on the business model; its board of directors has great experience in the tourism industry and therefore has a direct vested interest in overseeing the successful working of the CVB; and it has high level of direct accountability of the CVB staff and administrators to the board of directors as well as to the program of work and agenda that the board establishes (Koutoulas, 2005). Use Convention bureau as a public-private agency as it is able to attract and retain highly qualified and experienced professionals because their salary and benefit programs are closer to the market equivalency.

 

What is the source of funding for CVBs? The main sources of funding are the municipality or local authority, and membership fees Private CVBs typically raise funds through Membership fees, sales of advertising space in media produced by the CVBs, on their websites, renting of space on the CVBs stand or pavilion at trade fairs, production of directories (print and electronic directories) and selling advertising space in them, as well as selling access to non-advertisers.

CVBs organised within a government entity get their funding from Municipal budgets (Presenza, Sheehan & Ritchie, 2005).

Use Public- Private Non-profit model of organising a CVB could as it allows for the two major sources of funding for a CVB to operate together within the same organisation.

 

 

 

 

 

  • Implications for management and recommendations

Based on the results of this research, the optimal type of model to structure a CVB is evidently the Public-Private Non-Profit model. The rationale as provided by the research is that this model presents the best of both worlds in public and private sector management approaches. Government backed entities tend to enjoy government support in the form of policy enabling and funding. Privately run organizations on the other hand enjoy autonomy of operations, making them agile to respond to opportunities.

The implications for CVB management structures are that they might want to review the operational efficiency of their current structures, and consider restructuring their CVBs if such an opportunity is available. The lack of autonomy and agility to seize opportunities due to government bureaucracy and political interference can greatly impede the goals of a CVB to promote a destination. Without the requisite government support (political and financial) however, all the autonomy and agility in the world could also fall short of achieving the CVB’s objectives.

It is recommended that CVBs consider a middle ground where the interests of a CVB’s autonomy and agility, as well as the relationship between its government administration, as well as stakeholders (members, partners or clients), is found, for the sake of the destination.Halal (2000, cited in Gregory, 2007, p.62) ‘encourages organisations to recognise stakeholders as partners who cancollaborate with them in problem-solving’.

 

  • Limitations

The research had several limitations. First, the due to time constraints, the survey was conducted with only a small sample population of CVB and industry experts. So the results and conclusions may not be widely representative of the wider global CVB industry outlook. Second, the use of a questionnaire as the primary data collection method and only limited interviews, meant that there was a missed opportunity in collecting more in-depth and richer data through more in interviews. The researcher’s bias towards a certain expected result could have influenced the structuring of the survey and interview questions. ‘Central to conducting research and more specifically qualitative research is the researcher as research instrument (Denzin & Lincoln, 2000, p.368; Marshall & Rossman, 1995, p.59-65, as cited in Chenail, 2011, p.255). Third, in cases were English was not the mother tongue of the respondents, there were several delays because of the need to respond to emails requiring clarity of language.

In other instances, the language barrier cause the responses to be discarded. There was a possibility for less reliable data because there was no trained interviewer to clarify and probe. Finally, there was a possibility of survey fraud as the researcher had no way of verifying if the responses provided correct and true, hence not effectively contributing to the advancement of the study.

 

  • Emphasis on further research opportunities

The response obtained from this research, although not from a large sample, indicates that there is a need to further investigate the subject of best models for structuring CVBs. The study responses were largely from Europe, the UK and the USA. There is an opportunity to concentrate future research on the African continent a thus get a focus view of the CVB landscape in Africa. Also, the research need to be given more time like at least a full year to ensure that survey conducted is with only a reasonable sample population of CVB and industry experts for the results to be widely representative of the wider global CVB industry outlook. Also, several primary data collection method should be used such as face to face interviews to avoid missed opportunity in collecting more in-depth and richer data through more interviews.

  • Concluding statement

The focus of this dissertation has been to explore the most appropriate structural and governance model to organise a CVB, to support management and funding efficiency though an analysis of CVBs across the globe. The most appropriate structural and governance model to organise a CVB to support management and funding efficiency is CVB as aPublic-Private Non-Profit entity. This model of CVB has sustainable funding sources thus supporting funding efficiency.Based on the primary research and review of literature, the dissertation has allowed an objective look into the topic to provide the CVB experts as well as the governments with credible information on the options. Having obtained responses from CVB senior experts with vast experience in the industry, the results provided are credible and valid and can be used in making informed decisions in the field of CVBs.

Get a 10 % discount on an order above $ 100
Use the following coupon code :
SKYSAVE