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International Hospitality and Tourism Student Journal 4 (1) 2012 36-49

To evaluate the effectiveness of online promotion strategies of volunteer tourism: a case study of Conservation Volunteer Australia (cva)
Janet Ng
HTMi, Hotel & Tourism Management Institute, Srenberg, 6174 Luzern, Switzerland _____________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

Abstract Due to the rapid development of the internet, with the use of web site as a communication tool is popular nowadays, as it can assist an organization to expose its products in order to arouse attention. Therefore, the author has used Conversation Volunteer Tourism (CVA) as a case study, to evaluate what are the key factors for its effectiveness promotion strategies. The paper will firstly analyze the comparison between internet marketing strategies and traditional marketing strategies. As volunteer tourists motivations are complex, it is interesting to for organization identify them, in order to plan appropriate marketing strategies for the tourism product. Therefore, motivations of volunteer tourists will be identified. After that, he paper will define the online customer behaviour to know the factors which support or object an online purchase decision. Next, it is crucial to have a proper website performance in order to create online buying experience, therefore the measurement of evaluate a website will be analysed. To be successful, tourism internet marketing services must be trustworthy overcome obstacles of the communication constraints for increasing customers confidence towards an organisation. Therefore, factors which lead to eloyalty will be analyzed, such as trust, satisfaction and loyalty. Last but not least, the author will point out the significance of using electronic customer relationship management approach to enrich customer experience, increase their interactivity in order to further encourage repeat participation of volunteer tourism.
Keywords: Volunteer tourism; e-marketing; Online promotion; Promotion strategies; Loyalty; Conservation Volunteer Australia 2010 International Hospitality Research Centre. All rights reserved. _____________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

1. Introduction Due to the internet user explosion in the late twentieth century (Armstrong and Kotler, 2005), people are keen on receiving tourism product information from internet. Currently there are about 1,517 million users of internet in the world (internet World Stats, 2010), it is undoubtedly true that by utilizing internet as a marketing tool, organisations can reach huge amount of consumer to provide products information, increase exposure of goods and accelerate business transaction through the use of electronic communication technology. Different tourism boards, travel agencies and hotels have been promoting their products and services, such as destinations, packages and accommodations by websites in recent years, as online marketing is the fastest growing from direct marketing. Infor mation and communication technologies (ICT) have greatly increased the speed and convenience of purchasing for customers, and have reduced significantly the cost at which access can be provided (Middleton, 2001). Volunteer Tourism is a niche product that intends to benefit both tourists and local communities, contribute the societies and environments globally (Wearing 2001).

However, nowadays the growth of this sustainable activity is not optimistic, while this contemporary trend exists, but only little publicities are really concerned on it. In general, volunteer tourists motivators have been examined in past studies; results show that the current growth of this meaningful tourism activity is not optimistic. One of the limitations is there is still no a clear definition of this niche tourism product therefore publicity are not familiar with and interesting in undertaking it (Wearing 2001, McGehee and Santons 2004, Carter 2008). With understanding volunteer tourists motivators, which are diverse and not mutually exclusive, they desire to gain alternative experience by intrinsically and extrinsically such as personal, social, culture, economic and environment (Wearing, 2001), it is necessary for volunteer tourism organisations to build up an effective promotional strategies online, to plan the marketing strategies by conducting market research, in order to design product to fulfil tourists multiple wants and encourage more people to take part in volunteer tourism. Furthermore organisations have to state their value clearly. It is important for potential tourists believe in the organisations value in order to be more like to volunteer for the organisation, hence; they may help to spread the products to others. It is increasingly suggested that while tourism


International Hospitality and Tourism Student Journal 4 (1) 2012 36-49

sectors are planning their marketing strategies, not only meeting customer needs and organisational objectives should be concerned with, but also with doing so in a way that is socially and environmentally appropriate (Peattie, 1999, cited in Wearing, 2001). With the adoption of internet marketing, organisations can promote their web sites on the multifunctional and interesting online platform. As a effective web site assists organization to create online customer experience, in order to attract new visitors, meanwhile retain loyalty customers. It is believed that, by using the virtual community platform, such as discussion forums, online bolgs, potential tourists, and volunteer tourists can share their experience and motivations of taking part in volunteer tourism and purchasing online tourism products By critically analysing marketing strategies of Conservation Volunteer Australia which is Australias largest practical conservation volunteering organisation, it helps to understand how current volunteer tourism organisation operates and how they can develop further. This will be done by looking at how it has implemented marketing approaches to continue to promote volunteer tourism. With adopting aggressive marketing strategies precisely, CVA has continually extended their reach of potential tourists and retained volunteer tourists (Davies. J, 2002). The rationale and motivation for this research paper is due to the limited resources of non-profitable organisation, it is necessary for it to plan a comprehensive promotional strategy, to arouse publicitys concern and more importantly to instigate potential volunteer tourists to take part in it (Wearing, 2001). The author will be using Conservation Volunteer Australia (CVA) as a case study, to evaluate how this volunteer organisation has strived to promote this sustainable tourism business. The author will further suggest the internet marketing strategies for CVA enhancing the website performance and the use of ECRM, in order to create online customer experience effectively and sustain the long term relationship with customers. The aim of this research paper is to evaluate the effectiveness of online promoting strategies of the niche product- volunteer tourism: a case study of Conservation Volunteer Australia (CVA). The three objectives to achieve the aim of this study are as follows: to identify the marketing mix of how CVA disseminates the niche tourism product; to explore the reasons of CVA utilizing website as a promotional tool; and to critically analyse the benefits and limitations of CVA promoting volunteer tourism online. 2. Literature review 2.1.1. Internet Marketing Besides traditional marketing, Internet marketing is a new form of communication tool, which has penetrated customers' lives and organisations' business practices (Schmidt et al., 2008). Hoffman and Novak (1997, cited in Schmidt et al., 2008, p.505) defined there are two types of communication structures adopted by organizations; they can

be classified as one-to-many and many-to-many. In the first case, organizations provide contents which reach the public through their exposures to mass media, such as newspapers, radio, and electronic mail. At the same time, organizations have to offer access via mail address or telephone lines if they wish to receive customer feedback. E-mail is the most popular approach which organizations use to provide information to audience, yet there are raising concerns about the issue of spam mail. Nevertheless, some authors believed that this problem can be solved by the utilisation of electronic customer relationship management system (ECRM) (Chaffey et al., 2003). Due to the extensive use of Information Communication Technology (ICT), it allows more interactivity between human contacts, many-to-many communication structure has become the major way for doing Internet marketing. Schmidt et al., 2008 stated that organizations and audience can express their opinions through discussion forum; it enhances people to exchange information on the online platform. At the same time, and these comments can be read by other consumers as well, it enhances the interaction between people without geographical constraint (Cano & Prentice, 1998; Gretzel et al., 2000, cited in Doolin, 2002, p.557). By promoting business via the Internet, organizations can reach a large amount of global audience with no time and places constraints (Hanna & Millar 1997, cited in Lin & Huang 2008, p.3). Compare with other marketing approach, such as advertising media, relatively Internet marketing only needs a lower cost (Standing and Vasudavan, 2000). Moreover, with the use of web technology, organisations can provide information to promote the intense nature of tourism industry (Doolin et al., 2002). Therefore it has been well used for the marketing of destination promotion (Gretzel et al., 2000; Hanna & Millar, 1997; Marcussen, 1997; WTO Business Council, 1999, cited in Doolin, 2002, p.557). Nevertheless, in order to reach critical mass of customer, besides Internet marketing, it also lies on other media (Chaffey et al., 2003). For instance, it is free of charge for organisations to promote the website URL in various ways, such as business card, newspaper, letterheads, or advertise on other sites. 2.1.2. The Marketing Mix As the Internet influences marketing practices, McCarthy, 1976 (cited in Schmidt et al., 2008, p.505) paid attention to the potential applicability of the marketing mix in the new media environment. Some authors proposed different forms of the dimensions of marketing mix (Kotler, 1998; Constantinides, 2002; Chaffey et al., 2003). The marketing mix was subject to be criticised even before the Internet, however it continues to give the simplicity considered by management practices. Yet some limitations exist as the context of the web has not been considered so it cannot show the reliability. Promotion is a communication process between organisations and the market. With the use of different kinds of web technology, it has been changed the exposure of an


International Hospitality and Tourism Student Journal 4 (1) 2012 36-49

organisations. Besides information of products and services, organisations information can be found on web sites (McCarthy 1976, cited in Schmidt et al., 2008, p.505). Up to this aspect, it can be deemed a one-to-many communication practice. Notwithstanding, Chaffey et al., (2003) pointed out that as the Internet offers interactivity as an imperative supplemental development to this practice, so the new idea of p r o m o t i o n mu s t b e e m b r a c e d a m a n y - t o - m a n y communication practice. The author further emphasised that since audients pay more attention to the online experience, therefore the website content must be constructed more carefully. With the use of the Internet, there is a greater product configuration compare to the traditional market (Ghost 1998, cited in Schmidt, 2008 p.506). Incidentally, Internet marketing creates opportunity for product and services improvements, due to the extended information-based system. Besides, discussion forums, online customer supports, depth technical documentations are examples of the improvements. Hence, with the use of online customer surveys, accelerate information exchange can be done between stakeholders also provide future products enhancements (Chaffey, et al., Quelch and Klein, 1996, cited in Schmidt 2008, p.506). Customers can get the affluent information from the Internet easily; therefore a larger variety of bargains can be compared on the online market, which forces the market to decrease the prices. However, Yelkur and Dacosta (2001) said that, it is just the differential pricing strategies which organisations provide to different target segments on the eretail platform, as the Internet can offer more accurate information about customer identification, services and products desired. Different from the offline marketing channels, the aim of place does not mean to maximise the reach of distribution, and to attain widespread availability of products (Chaffey et al., 2006). Conversely, in the online context, as the ease of navigating through the use of hyperlink, the capacity of placeis less clear. Additionally, the author said that besides the meaning of place of purchase on the online platform, place also relates to promotion and partnerships. With the support of the third-party sites which include search engines, the possibility to reach target audiences is relatively increased (ibid). 2.2. Volunteer Tourist Motivations In mass tourism, tourists choose to travel because they seek for leisure, to have fun through different kinds of activities. However, volunteer tourists motives are more contradictory, including a range of push and pull factors and may change over time. Tourists do seeking leisure, altruistic, self-development at the same time (Wearing, 2001), these are multidimensional and is definitely not mutually exclusive. Cohen (1972, cited in Cohen, 2004, p. 64) pointed out tourist motivators contain a degree of familiarity and a degree of novelty, in this classification, volunteer tourists motivation can be matched to explorer who are interested in alternative things, customs, sights, and cultures, and drifter who are

majority to seek novelty for travelling. Above the modern tourism pheromone, volunteer tourists appreciate and enjoy the strangeness and novelty experience, for instance, they like challenging and do not fear the culture shock like influencing by language barrier with the host community. The unique style of trip definitely attracts individual to undertake the trip.

Figure 1: The travel career ladder (Pearce, 1991)

Wearing (2001) distinguished the volunteer tourists as various types. Bi-lateral which combines diverse motives: contributing personal development, and supporting social, culture, economic or natural environment of the host community. Learning is one of the major tourists motives, as they aim to gain an alternative tourist experience for personal growth. Similarly, studies of relationship between volunteer tourism and social movements which done by McGehee and Santos (2005) analyzed that volunteer tourists engage in leisure activities for social reasons by utilizing Maslows theory, Furthermore, researchers Brown and Lehtos (2005) cited in K.A. Carter, 2008, p.26) explained that tourists seeking camaraderie with fellow volunteers. As volunteer tourism provides an informal channel to share experience, exchange ideas, and communicate interests. Sharing individuals common goals and values can show they need to satisfy the social needs which are seeking for friendship, loves, and the need for the esteem of others based on Maslows work. Besides, several tourism researchers (Beard & Raghob 1983; Pearce, 1993, cited in Wearing, 2001, p.36) developed tourist motivation frameworks (figure 1) based on Maslows theory. Pearce (1993, cited in Wearing, 2001, p.45) interpreted the mainstream tourist is aimed to seek out relaxations and


International Hospitality and Tourism Student Journal 4 (1) 2012 36-49

stimulations in order to fulfil the lower-level needs whereas volunteer tourists are mostly concerned self-development and fulfilment which are higher-level needs. In addition, he presented a model with the idea The travel career ladder, which suggests tourist motivation is an ever-changing process. 2.3. Online customer behaviour Schwartz (1998) cited in Roberts (2010, p.85) noted that individuals behaviour changes when they log on to the Internet By knowing the e-customer behaviour, it shows what the decision process behind a online purchase is. It is necessary for organization to acknowledge this critical success factor when it designs the marketing plan (Roberts 2010). With analysing the customer behaviour in Internet marketing, it enables the comprehension of online customer experiences: from the first entry to the homepage and the exploration of correlated web pages, then lead to the final decision to confirm or abandon the purchase determination (Kwan et al., 2005). Accordingly, when the organisation is designing an Internet marketing diagram, it is essential to articulate the probable routes which e-customer can travel on a web site. As individuals initially bring out inference and predictions, then comprehend phenomena, after that determine what action to take, and finally manage execution of the action, and to experience activities by proxy (Mc Leod & Schell, 2000). Kwan, Fong and Wong (2005) modelled a graph which describes the movement of generic customers on a web site by e-customer behaviour. The graph (figure 2) shows how ecustomer interacts with e-commerce site through a series of continuous and correlated requests made on every browse. Those requests can be browse, login, home page, search, pay, etc, different e-customer exhibit dissimilar navigation paths and different frequencies. Some visitors are frequent buyers while others are just occasionally browsing with seldom commit to purchase from the site (ibid). The authors divided the generic navigation path into three phases to keep track of the changes of online buying behaviour: e-customer awareness, e-customer exploration, and e-customer commitment. However, this model does not contain the process of a post-purchase evaluation, which is a significant influence medium for retaining repeat patronage. F

In comparison, Page and Connell (2006) proposed the decision making process for customers in the virtual marketplace, there are five stages which are awareness, information search, attitude development, evaluations, purchase and post-purchase. In addition, Roberts (2010) added that each stage of the process is affected by a combination of internal and external factors (figure 3), such as personal needs, motives, experiences, personality, perceptions and attitudes (internal); culture, reference groups, and social-economic levels (external). Consequently, by identifying these factors, it aids organisations to analyse the online customer behaviour in a more subject way, and to know the reasons which lead to customer defect in order to adjust the Internet marketing strategies (ibid).

Figure 3: The Internet consumer decision-making process. (Roberts, 2010)

2.4. Online Customer Experience With the use of Internet and information technology, it is popular to establish an official website as the organizations marketing tool, in order to communicate with its audience (Roberts, 2010). Undoubtedly true that there is a strong linkage between customer experience and the website performance, customers tend to visit a well developed website which provides them desirable information. Chaffey et al. (2006) indicated that online customer experience can be created and influenced by the organizations website, an impressive experience is vital for creating e-satisfaction, when leads to the purchase intention (Anand, 2007). In addition, several authors pointed out that there is a strong need for marketers have to pay attention the construction of their websites (Doolin et al. 2002; Okazaki 2004; Anand 2006; Balogla et al. 2006; Chaffey et al. 2006; Han & Mills 2006; Hudson & Gilbert 2006; Schmidt et al. 2008; Robert 2010). Besides, Schmidt et al. (2007) and Roberts (2010) also demonstrated that measurement of website performance is essential to determine the effectiveness of an organizations website and the usefulness of its promotional strategies. Researchers have been done on evaluation website performance (Yoon 2002; Taylor & England 2006). The authors point out by evaluating measurement of the navigation functionality of a website; it helps organization to decide how the website structure should be. The concept of

Figure 2: The e-customer behaviour graph (Kwan et al., 2005)


International Hospitality and Tourism Student Journal 4 (1) 2012 36-49

navigation functionality contains operational efficiency, ease of use, speed, usefulness of help function, navigation text, images, animations, and search options, etc (ibid). Pi et al., (2007) concluded that the navigation functionality implies that effective search functionality with plenty guiding information have to be designed into the website.

2.5. An analysis factors influencing e-loyalty 2.5.1. Trust Trust is the confidence in the exchange partners reliability and integrity (Morgan & Hunt, 1994). According to Milne and Boza (1999, cited in Taylor and Strutton 2009, p.954), trust is a key ancestor to customers intention to purchase online, and a belief and attitude toward another entity. Several studies found that online customers are more likely to purchase online if they perceive a higher degree of trust in the e-commerce environment and gain more experience, by the perceived market orientation, technical trustworthiness, website quality, look, and feel (Corbitt et al., 2003). Customers will only be loyal to a company which can create trust or confidence, as this is the perceived level of risk which associated with online purchasing (Anderson and Srinivasan, 2003). Customers emphasis on security, privacy, and protection against business scams are relatively high and have created a business market for rating agencies (Medintz 1998, cited in Anderson and Srinivasan, 2003, p.5). Kim et al. (2011) argued that Chinese hotel guests are more likely rely on trust much more than other consideration such as cost benefits and hotel branding. Customers are now focusing on evaluating websites in terms of information of goods and online security, as they become more sophisticated and experienced online. Security and privacy issues have become one of the most challenging concerns for organization (ibid). The issue contains a large impact on trust, customers are becoming intensifying hesitant about providing sensitive information on the Internet, and more conscious of how their personal information is being used (Yenisey et al., 2005). The US Federal Trade Commission (cited in Chung 2000b, p. 505) stated that most consumers avoid purchasing online as they are concerned about the privacy and security of their personal information. Nevertheless, the author emphasised that some laws do protect consumers, for instance, Sotitkit and Everett (No date) pointed out thatNew Zealands Privacy Act 1993covers e-commerce and provides consumers advantages with New Zealand-based sites. This action can provide site users the confidence to transact online. In addition, several researchers proposed that trust is positively linked with satisfaction and that the relationship between trust and satisfaction was strongly supported (Harris & Goode, 2004; Anderson & Srinivasan, 2003). Hence, the authors (Bai et al., 2008) empirically tested that the website quality has a direct impact on customers satisfaction, which has a positive influence on intent to repurchase. This has proved that the higher level of trust in e-business, esatisfaction is likely to result in stronger e-loyalty. 2.5.2. Satisfaction

Figure 4: The online customer experience pyramid success factors (Chaffey et al., 2006)

Nevertheless, the measurement of the proposed concept have only emphasised the evaluation of the website content but not the online promotion evaluation. Han and Mills (2006) proposed a new form of evaluation process based on the grounded theory technique which done by Strauss and Corbin (1998, cited in Han & Mills 2006, p.413). The advance process contains three categories of the hospitality and tourism website which are aesthetic features (destination visualisation and Web design), informative features (website uniqueness, monetary value and cultural promotion) and interactive features (e-travel planners and online communities). The process is more reliable as various factors which measured similar items were collected to be examined and compared to attain deeper patterns and categories. Specifically, factors such as accessibility, system quality, company background, operational related trust were not chosen to be evaluated, as these factors are not variable and easily measured by content analysis (ibid). Simultaneously Chaffey et al. (2006) have designed a pyramid (figure 4) based on the concept from Chernatony (2001, cited in Internet Marketing, p. 302) to show the success factors which are related to a transactional e-retail website. The authors stated that the entire online promotion strategies should be embraced while evaluating a web site. The diagram shows many of the emotional values and relational values are crucial to any web site as these are the main support of the creation of a promised experience.


International Hospitality and Tourism Student Journal 4 (1) 2012 36-49

Create a satisfying customer experience has become a crucial factor to business; it is a key success factor for engaging a long-term relationship with customers, besides acquiring their repurchase purpose (Anand 2007; Lee et al., 2008). As the ecommerce is chiefly related to the use of new technological breakthrough, accessibility to online environment is significant to shape a positive relationship with customer satisfaction (Kim and Ma, 2006). According to a conducted research on online customer satisfaction in the hotel industry, Cyr (2008) identified that three components of website structure, which are navigation, information, and visual design, possess influences on creating online customer satisfaction. Besides, the author points out that the positive relationships between trust and customers satisfaction with loyalty across various cultures.

2.5.3. Loyalty E-loyalty is mainly about the customer's favourable attitude toward an electronic business resulting in repeating buying behaviour (Anderson & Srinivasan, 2003). According, Jin et al. (2007), the reputation of an online organization influence loyalty via trust across diverse cultures in the same way. However, due to the democratization of information, individuals are allowed to reach out to each others in a faster, deeper, and cheaper manner (Friedman 2000, cited in Munoz 2005, p. 367). Therefore customers buying decisions could be influenced and changed more often on the diverse communication platform. It shows that while organizations attain the opportunity to reach a high amount of online audience on the Internet, yet it could also be a communication tool for competitors to induce present customers of others organisations. Thus, Kim et al., (2004) suggested that online organization should implement effective ways to retain the present clients, and adopt online virtual communities to acquire potential customers, keep them as highly loyal clients in terms of piloting them to the ladder of loyalty (figure 6). F

Figure 6: The Ladder of Loyalty

2.6. Electronic Customer Relationship Management Less human contact could be one of the biggest challenges for developing promotional strategies on the online environment (Chaffey, 2003). As the unclear online network among organizations and customer, it controls the extent of different stakeholders to communicate and generate the value for and from each other (Sigala, 2010). The notion of Customer Relationship Management (CRM) focusing on the conception of personalised value and individualised communication for a singular customer (Adebanjo, 2003). The author pointed out that CRM can have positive impacts on retention rates and lower propensity to switch (ibid). However, with the emergence of technology, such as the using of web 2.0, the ways which customers, organisations and partners to communicate have been revolutionized. It advances the development of CRM, with the practise of e-Customer Relationship Management (ECRM), organisation could eliminate the insufficient barrier which only one-to-one marketing can be made of CRM. For

Figure 5: E-satisfaction model (Anand, 2007)

Simultaneously, the authors suggested that on the online platform, striving for customers satisfaction should be interrelated to increase intentions for actual and repurchase of tourism products online (ibid). Anand (2007) illustrated an e-satisfaction model to demonstrate the success factors of a website (figure 5). The author emphasised that convenience, merchandising, site design, serviceability, and security are all necessary for driving online service quality and satisfaction. Therefore, concerning satisfaction is recognised to be the prominent factors which embrace a customer online buying experience. Nevertheless, it is necessary for organization to focus not only on achieving customer satisfaction, and also on retaining customer loyalty (Chaffey, 2000).


International Hospitality and Tourism Student Journal 4 (1) 2012 36-49

instance, for promotion new products on the organisations website instead of direct mail. Nowadays, consumers expect to become active organizations partners for consuming its personalised product through the online social network, such as websites, discussion forums, online Frequent Asked Questions boards (Sigala, 2009, 2010). Particularly, it is evident on the tourism industry, because tourism products are intangible (Kotler, 2003). The multi forms of online platform creates changes, with the utilize of multi-media and practise of delivering customized service, affluent products information can be promoted to customers in a reliable, timely, and cost effective way (Chang et al., 2009; Sigala, 2010). In the same way, several studies suggested that with the integration of ECRM and Internet marketing strategies, it aids organization to achieve the ultimate goal of business, to build and sustain long-term business with customers (Stone et al., 2001; Chaffey 2003, cited in Internet marketing, p. 264). Nevertheless, one of the challenging concerns could be the vulnerabilities to maintain the security issue on the website. Hwang and Kim (2007) point out that the practitioners for ecommerce should understand and improve the trust paradigm in the environment of the E-CRM. By using ECRM, it creates the opportunity for the business to support the customers enquires of their transaction. Moreover online organization can keep up the customer relationship with existing and further communication (ibid). Another constraint for practising CRM would be the changing consumer behaviour in the complex tourism industry. There are theories and evidences implied that CRM runs as a two-edged sword (Monga and John, cited in Chang et al. 2009, p. 849). Due to the diverse culture backgrounds, Eastern culture attends to value existing relationship with organisations for the standard procedure of selecting a product, as they are with holistic thinking; On the contrary, Western culture with analytic thinking attends to focus on attributes of products. While recognise the culture diversity of international customers, particularly in identifying tourists, organization can enhance its organization performance. The changing behaviour issue of customers has aroused different organizations attention to implement CRM appropriately, to prevent the huge losses of losing customer (ibid). Additionally, Sigala (2006b) revealed that the combination of the E-CRM practices with the offline CRM is required for enhancing customer perceptions and service quality standards. Yet, E-CRM must not be deemed as an IT application, but rather as a integration of software, hardware, applications, process, and the management commitment which is the most important element, for attracting and retaining economically valuable customers (Fjermestad & Romano, 2003). Indeed, human capital is the most important unit to create and implement strategies; previous studies have suggested that E-CRM is primarily about aligning business process with effective strategies intending to create customer value with the support of ICT (Rigbt et al., 2002). In building up successful relationships with profitable customers, organization needs to understand and manage all stages via which relations are developed, and it lies on different CRM

approaches (Dwyer, Schurr, & Oh, 1987, cited in Sigala, 2010, p. 5). By design and implementing appropriate E-CRM strategies, attaining customer feedback helps to enhance business improvement of a firm (Park and Kim, 2003). With the broaden comprehension of facilitating customer needs and wants, organization can deliver satisfactory customer service and exceed their expectation through a variety of product innovations and promotions. It provides the opportunity for organisation to engage in more repeat transaction, in terms of retaining more loyal customers (figure 7). The model shows that the key factors- e-loyalty, which could construct the ultimate marketing goal of any organisation (Chaffey 2007). The model indicated that loyalty can be driven from eliminate the satisfaction gap, the satisfaction drivers which can be combined by the online customer experience and the relevance drivers which can be combined by the ECRM approaches (Chaffey et al., 2006).

Figure 7: Success factor mapping for online retention (Chaffey, 2007).

2.7. Review of case study With the adoption of the Internet and Information communication technology (ICT), nowadays, many organizations have emphasized on the use of Internet marketing to support marketing objectives. Additionally, they have revolutionized the approach that they conduct business (Georgiou & Stefaneas, 2002, cited in Saddad, 2010). According to a contemporary research, as hoteliers have seen the significant online booking statistics of hotel rooms, in 2009, there are 53.9% of overall CRS hotel bookings for the top 30 hotel brands came from the online channel, which has an increase of 6.7% over 2008 (Suri and Dhiman, 2010). Therefore, 51% of hoteliers said they have been shifting a portion of their budget to online as they believe the Internet marketing will produce the best results (Sachin & Dhiman, 2010). Consequently, a lot of resources have been exploited on designing the companys web site, search engine marketing, interactive advertising, e-mail marketing, and


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partnership arrangements with other web sites. In order to acquire more potential customers, and provide services to existing customers that assist to build the customer relationships. This case study shows that the rapid growth of the Internet and technologies, different types of hotels have redefines their marketing strategies, particularly it is easier for smaller sizes of hotels, such as family-run businesses, as Internet marketing requires less human resources, technology and relatively less initiative cost compare to the exploit of offline marketing, such as advertisement, TV, and radio (Hudson & Gilbert, 2006; Saddad ,2010). As a result, small hospitality businesses, specifically Bed and Breakfasts (B&Bs) in Canada is utilizing the Internet as a marketing tool, they have emphasized on implementing online promotion through their web sites and the Internet (Saddad, 2010). The main aim for their marketing strategies is to enlarge their customer base, especially from the overseas markets. According to a survey which conducted in 2004, Hudson and Gilbert (2006) identified that the major reasons for B&Bs owning an official web site is to use it as a marketing tool, in terms of they are aiming to increase business exposure, expand customer base outside Canada, and to target more customers who with less expense. Nevertheless, the author found only a few number of respondents decide to improve customer service, such as solicit feedback from them and provide quotes, downloadable documentation for their conveniences. Furthermore, the author discovered that security issue was seen as the greatest disadvantage of utilizing the Internet for marketing, besides that the owners stated that they lost customer rapport since they could not screen customers and interact with them through the use of web site. It points out there are few concerns that constraint the growth of the small business development. As those owners did not utilize the Internet to its full advantage (Hudson & Gilbert, 2006), they just simply intend to expand their market and generate more business without a proper strategy based on online customer behavior. For instance, they did not use a secure server for online booking in their web sites, or even decide to implement electronic customer relationship management (ECRM) (Chaffey et al., 2006; Sigala, 2010), to offer them a personalized service and build long term customer relationships with them. Actually, it is necessary to design an appropriate measurement of online promotion strategies, besides solely observe the revenue and online reservation statistics. Different aspects of the Internet marketing strategies should be applied as well, for instance, the customer online experience, measurement of web site efficiency, prompt responses for customer enquiries, security of online transaction, customer adoption of technology, and he development of relationships with online customers and partnerships (ibid). As a result, by conducting primary research through delivering questionnaires to online customers who tend to reserve hotel rooms or travel tour online; marketers can understand their online buying behavior. Meanwhile, by holding a focus group interview to

investigate how does a hotel or tourism sector design their online marketing strategies. By analyzing these quantitative and qualitative data, researcher can explore how the online marketing strategies will influence online surfers to convert into buyers, or even intend to be the loyal customers towards an organization. 2.8 Research Organisation Background: Conversation Volunteer Australia Conversation Volunteer Australia (CVA) is a non-political and not-for-profit organization which provides commercial tourism activities to volunteer tourists. CVA was established in 1982, and it is the Australias largest practical conversation organization. According to the official web site of CVA, its mission is: To attract and manage a force of volunteers on practical conservation projects for the betterment of the Australia environment (Conversation Volunteer Australia, 2010). Through planning and organising a range of innovative programmes, and using conservation holiday experiences as a tool to attract tourists. It is evitable to see that CVA aims to target tourists who are interested in protecting the natural environment, it emphasise the opportunities for tourists from around the world which desire to experience natural places of conservation value, and enhance learning experience through participation interactively with tourists from multi-cultural background (Wearing, 2001; Brown & Lehto, (2005, cited in K.A. Carter, 2008, p.26); McGehee & Santos, 2005). Currently, there are 1,200 international volunteers who undertake in its programmes annually, its target markets are volunteer tourists who aged 15-70. Hence, over 1000 volunteer projects are held by CVA with partnerships each year. It has developed with national government, protected areas managers, conservation agencies, tourism agencies, community, researchers, and private landholders. Besides, providing those projects including environmental emergencies, its activities have made contribution to environment and local communities in rural Australia. For instance, diversity of employment opportunities has increased, penguins have been saved from dangerous dashes, and site surveys have been conducted for items of cultural significance (Davies, 2002). One of the majority objectives of CVA is by enhancing the organisations financial capacity, in order to support further conservation activities (ibid). Its operational cost is mostly come from the revenue which is generated from the participation. Besides it is supported by CVA Enterprises, it can be assumed that the budget of marketing is limited of CVA (Chang et al., 2009; Sigala, 2010). Therefore, its success is actually lies on the effective marketing strategies. By not only promoting its business in the offline environment in terms of traditional marketing, such as its 22 offices in different states in Australia, it also use its official web site for the major online marketing tool currently, in order to arouse tourists internationally. As there are 50% of its participants are from other countries. CVA has not only provided information such as background of CVA,


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programmes, cooperate partnerships, training handbooks, intranet for members, etc. Its web site is designed in a clear structure with a simple Uniform Resource Locator (URL) (Anderson & Srinivasan, 2006; Anand, 2007); these factors help to deliver the whole concept of the project for online customers effectively (Chaffey et al., 2006). Hence, it has installed an online reservation system which allows customer to conduct online transaction to apply its projects. Nevertheless, in order to achieve its mission, to attract participants internationally. There is an urgent need for CVA to construct a more effective and efficient online presence, to build and sustain a long term relationship with online customers (ibid). 3. Methodology 3.1. Approach

In order to achieve the aim of the paper, the author will decide to adopt a mixed method approach to evaluate the effectiveness of online promotion of volunteer tourism. A mixed method approach for collecting qualitative and quantitative data, these data help to generate different aspect of topic, and support to interpretative the data collected from different stakeholders (Bryman, 2006, cited in Saunders et al., 2009). A qualitative method is holistic in nature and it aims to develop substantive theory (ibid), by using this approach and aids to understand the way human construct their world, ideas from marketers and online customers can be generated. It will be helpful in explaining online customers perception of trust and will also offer insights from the organisations which promote theirs tourism products on the Internet. On the contrary, a quantitative method is deducing a theory and highly structure (ibid). It helps to explain relationship between variables, such as the tourists motivation and final online purchase decision. The complementary of secondary and primary research method is important for achieving the aim (ibid). Secondary research took the form of analysis of academic journal, text books, besides different resources from internet such as ebooks, online academic journals, specialist magazines, and related organisations websites. Primary research took the form of the Internet-mediated questionnaires for online customers, and in-depth semi-structure focus group interviews. The use of focus groups interview can help to understand the data which collected from questionnaires. The research audiences are supposed to be the organization managers and marketers who design and implement the online marketing strategies to promote their products, particularly for the niche tourism sector. 3.2. Sampling and data collection In order to achieve the objectives, firstly the author will develop Internet-mediated questionnaires to collect quantitative data. By delivering Internet survey online, a high level of potential populations from various geographical regions could be reached, besides its lower cost and less

intrusive and data (Chaffey et al., 2006). Hence, data can be easily to be collected and analysed. By using this web-based approach, the author aims to find out opinion of customer who tends to seek tourism information and make transaction online, in order to understand their reasons of taking part in online activity. As the author would like to focus the response from online customer who purchase tourism products, therefore, the author has decide to select target respondents from the visitors of online intermediaries websites which retail tourism products (Vanderstoep and Johnson, 2009). The questionnaires are administered via a website (Hewson et al., 2007, cited in Saunders et al., 2009, p. 395), hundred respondents are invited to take part in the questionnaire via the advertised hyperlink on websites in a random way. Respondents have the right to remain anonymous, in terms of fill it the questionnaires with their personal information according to their intension. Due to the netiquette and general operating guideline, there is constraint to obtain email addresses of online users, though it may be possible to obtain such email address lists via a search engine or from the Internet-based employment directory, this is not suggested to do so (Saunders et al., 2009). Email has not been chosen to deliver the questionnaire. However, the author will focus on the clear guideline of the questionnaires. As respondents may feel uncertain of the research purpose or hesitate of some questions, but interviewers have no chance to assist them. Therefore a clear instruction and design is necessity (Dillman, 2007, cited in Saunders et al., 2009, p. 395). By selecting samples of the large size of respondents, quantitative data can be aid to generalise conclusions (Saunders et al., 2009). Out of the hundred respondents, twenty would be selected for focus group interview about their perceptions of online interaction with organization and other users, and concerns of making purchase transaction online. This type of interview was chosen to ensure the invited interviewees comfort and to reduce the require time for research (Vanderstoep and Johnson, 2009). The author would like to interview opinion from interviewees who have been applied volunteer tourism programmes from organisations website. As they may have greater interests of sharing concerns of the online buying barriers of tourism products, assess a web site for the prototyping activity and they are supposed to have close understanding of the research context (Saunders et al., 2009). In addition, by using snowball-effect, more reliable information can be obtained, as the participants who referenced by the selected interviewees may be enthusiastic to express their experience (Veal, 2006). The following data collection method will which is the indepth focus group interview be conducted. A stratified sample of volunteer tourism organisations will be chosen from Internet, as a purposive sampling may have specific wider knowledge of the topic, thus a more reliable data could be gathered. The conduction of four focus groups with five respondents each adopting semi-structured question will better illustrate the themes that have emerged from the questionnaires which are done with online customers (Saunders et al., 2009). Instantly, respondents will discuss the


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concerns of online transaction from customers perspectives. Open-ended questions will be asked in order to let them express their opinions. In addition, probing questions will be asked as interviewee will be intended to encourage a deeper exploration of the point (Torrington, 1991, cited in Saunders et al., p.339). By using this method, a more flexible structure, change is permitted of research emphasis as the research progresses. Through the use of focus group interview, the data collection can be assisted the interpretation of the questionnaires data (Veal, 2006). After collecting all the data from the three sources above, the author will analyse the correlation between the qualitative and quantitative data, in order to support for the research. 3.4. Validity and reliability The validity and reliability of the data collection can be affected the result of the research. While using nonstandardised interviews (focus group) in this study, the value of using it is derived from the flexibility that use for exploring the complexity of the topic (Saunders et al., 2006). For data collection, reliability are ensured through the questionnaires design and piloting (Bell, 2005). The pilot will be undertaken on site users who had signed up the volunteer tourism programme via organizations web site to make sure the generated opinion can be reliable. The use of mixedmethod and complementary are used has add validity to the research, (Saunders et al., 2009). As the complementary of secondary and primary research approaches are used in this study, in order to validate the outcomes of the research (Newby, 2010). As two independent types of data are collected from three different sources, it provides to the issues objectively, and adds validity to the primary research process. Since relevant information has been provided to the respondents in both focus group interviews, respondents are allowed to collect important information and knowledge on the issues of the topic, therefore, they can be cooperated well in the discussion. H o w e ve r, h u m a n e r r o r t h a t l e a d s t o i n va l i d conclusions (Beins, 2008, p.131). If the questions of focus in-depth interviews are not well designed and the tone of interviewer may lead to respondents giving biased answers. Besides, if the interviewers do not analyse the response objectively, meanwhile they just based on their perceptions of the subject but not based on the real perceptions of the respondents, this lead to the low validity and thus the real situation cannot be reflected (Veal 2006; Easterby-Smith et al., 2008, cited in Saunders et al., 2009). 3.5. Generalisability Generalisability normally refers to the probability that results of the findings can be applied to other organisations (Veal, 2006). In this research setting, the objectives of the paper are based around the online marketing strategies of tourism organisations. Different organisations from various are selected for the interviews. Therefore, the findings of the research are not generalisable since different tourism

organisations implement different promoting and customer relationship management strategies based on their business objectives. 3.6. Ethical issues It is important to emphasis the ethical principle while designing and gaining access of the research. The considering in this study would be the concern of customers opinions of the purchase transaction towards the organization. As some respondents may not intend to express their reasons, interviewers should not put pressure and force them to answer the issue, and have to accept any refusal to participate (Cooper & Schindler, 2008; Robson 2002, cited in Saunders et al., p.189). However, as the interviewees of the questionnaire have the right to remain anonymous and do not provide their personal data and they are voluntarily to link to the questionnaire webpage according to their willingness therefore raise no ethical issues to assess. 3.7. Limitations Research design should be adapted to cater for any constraints (Easterby-Smith et al., 2008). Therefore it is necessary to realise the constraints of the research and make adjustment. There are a number of limitations in this study. Firstly, for the geographical scope as the considering of the interview taking place of focus group interview, also it may be difficult to reach the respondents which have really online buying experience of tourism products. (Saunders et al., 2009) Besides, the long time of the online questionnaire process could probably be one of the constraints for the study. In addition, there are variations if the interviews are done by different interviewers while developing the interviews of focus group and processing the information. Therefore, this research result might not be accurate (Veal, 2006). Nevertheless, it is assumed that slight variances are contained and the quality of the study will not be influenced obviously.

4. Discussion 4.1. To identify the marketing mix of how CVA disseminates the niche tourism product By reviewing the contemporary research, it can be assumed that with the implementation of Internet marketing, organization could promote its products and to a high level of potential customers, particularly for the introduction of the niche products. CVA could be one of the organizations which has been successfully promotes the significance of volunteer tourism to potential and present customers on the online platform. It offers a variety of conversation programmes which have been advertised with affluent


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information, such as programme features, job responsibilities, accommodation, prices, and locations, lengths, target markets (Davies, 2002). The exposure of the online products creates demand from a large pool of potential volunteer tourists who may have multi-motivations (Wearing, 2001). As volunteer tourists aim to seek for novel and challenging experience, some of the products are assumed to meet the customers expectations. In comparison, they tend to explore and learn from alternative activities, seeking knowledge of tourism products and volunteering activities from the online promotion on CVAs web site could be the activity of them (Wearing, 2001; Brown & Lehto, (2005, cited in K.A. Carter, 2008, p.26); McGehee & Santos, 2005). For instance, the special packages International Biodiversity 2010 which enhances strategic alignment with Australia Geographic Society may arouse tourists curiosity to undertake it. With the assistance of online promotion, some constraints are eliminated. For example, by providing the detail project description, also the clear objectives of CVA defined, customers are supposed to have fewer doubts of the concept of volunteer tourism and the organisation. Hence, a strong commitment between host community, organisation, and participants can be established through Internet marketing. Hence, from the data mining of customer information (Kim et al,. 2011), customers can be categorized to different segments according to their interests, motivations, and expectations, such as types of project (biodiversity, community environment education, or heritage natural and built), price, locations and special requirements. Moreover, CVA can manage different opinion from shareholders, such as partnerships, host communities, government, conversation agencies, private land holders, and tourists. For enriching the product innovation and valued creation for the business sustainability, achieving customers expectation, and meanwhile improving benefits for the economic, environment and social-cultural of the project taking places. 4.2. To explore the reasons of CVA utilizing web site as a promotional tool Many respondents are expected to have visited the CVA website before; generally customers are visiting web sites which deliver a unique online customer experience to them. Accordingly, this can be proved that CVA has created and maintained an effective online presence through its official web site due to the low cost, high capability, and ability to reach numerous of potential participants (Anand, 2010). With the well applied of web site, new products can be advertised on the home page, also, by subscribing to e-newsletter, both potential and past customers will be acknowledged the latest news of volunteer tourism or the organisation. From the assumed response of site visitors, some of them are expected to have experience in achieving satisfaction and purchasing tourism products. Convenience and serviceability are key factors which lead to satisfaction, while customers are supposed to attain an efficiency online transacting experience and personalised service quality; for example, enhance the functionality by using on-site search engines and hyperlink;

also the use of frequently asked question (FAQ) can interpret customers enquires (Chaffey et al., 2006). As some respondents are assumed to bring out the concern which they prefer to ask for advice through the online platform more than the offline platform. By interacting with customers sincerely, such as communication during the trip planning through email, online forum, to build the rapport to customers can be achieved while applying customer relationship management. Meanwhile trust and credibility are critical factors which determine the further intention of repeat purchase (Taylor and Strutton 2009). Organization needs to evaluate its web site performance by an appropriate measurement in order to create online experience and sustain a long term business relationship among organisations and customers. However, it is expected CVAs web site should be abounded with additional multimedia technologies in order to emphasise the traits of projects. Marketers should embrace online video of the web site design, such as interview of past participants who undertook CVAs project before. Besides, respondents from organization are assumed to express that through delivering feedback form by email, or intranet could generate comments of the post-purchase experience (ibid). Obtaining customers voices are essential for a business as there is a strong cor relation between the re peat purchase determinations. 4.3. To critically analyse the benefits and limitations of CVA promoting volunteer tourism online The issue of high cost ECRM initiative from organization can be assumed, as ECRM is inevitably forms a huge part of marketing expenses (Barrington, 2009). On the contrary, respondents may express that by practising ECRM approach, they can generate more income in the long term business perspective, as meanwhile the organization can be benefited from the customer retention and reducing of the new acquisition cost for generate new customers. Due to the prevalent use of social media, customers tend to spread their opinion to others, therefore respondents may express that they would like to share their positive experience to others through interaction on the Internet, to encourage more participations (Chaffey et al., 2006). Besides, it can be assumed that a large group of volunteer tourists may emphasise the self-esteem, and social needs, as put forward by Brown and Lehtos, 2005; McGehee and Santos, 2005; Wearing, 2006. Thus, they wish to be interactivity and share experience of the volunteer tourism project of CVA on the online platfor m. Nevertheless, only a number of organisations stated that they have design online forum, discussion boards on their web sites. Organization need to realize the importance of forming interest groups for their customers, to conduct many-to-many rather than one-to-one of the communication structure (Schmidt et al., 2008). By preparing online orientation for them, participants from different countries can be gathered and share their learning experience of volunteer tourism.


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A number of respondents should also express trustworthiness is the main concern, as put forward by Taylor and Strutton (2009); Kim et al., (2011). Perceived trust online security and privacy issues probably are one of biggest issue that aroused by respondents (Anderson and Srinivasan, 2003; Kim et al., 2011). Organisations have to pay attention to it since trust affect the influence of satisfaction and loyalty. It can be expected that respondents will defect to a firms competitors if they will not have confidence towards to organisations. Organizations should explain their organizations statement online in a clear manner, and refine objectives of CVA to new registered members. In addition, offline marketing tool should be implement as well to eliminate the constraints customers refuse to purchase online due to the problem of lack of human contact (ibid), for instance, customer enquiry customer hotline to solve online customers needs and wants, employees should respond to a visitors enquiry promptly. Meanwhile, organizations can employ the uniqueness of products and specialized knowledge in the responses to queries, attempt to impress the customer, increase customer confidence, and enhance the credibility of organization. 5. Conclusion and recommendations Nowadays, the development of the Internet and Information Technology has revolutionized organisations the tactics to conduct business. There is a demand for organisations to utilize web sites as a communication tool to interact with stakeholders, such as customers, business partners, governments. With rapid growth of Internet users, there is a great potential for organisations to reach a high level of customer pool, thus, to bring an unprecedented potential business opportunities (Kim et al,. 2010). By using a web site, organisations can operate a business platform with a low cost and efficient way to communicate with online customers. Organisations mainly exploit the online platform to expose a wide range of products and services, such as company information, product features, special promotions, contact information (Chaffey et al., 2006). Therefore, it is specifically suitable for tourism and hotel sector to offer their variables products through the networks, such as CVA. As tourism product and service are intangible, organization can utilize the unlimited space on the virtual environment, to embrace the product features by using multi-media, such as animation, video, pictures, downloadable leaflets (Anand, 2007), in order to achieve diverse motivation of the volunteer tourists. However, due to the diverse business environment, in order to sustain and be competitive. It is necessary to create a unique online experience to attract customers, by offering personalized innovation. As nowadays, customers expect to become active organizations partners for creating and purchasing their personalised services through the online social networks (Sigala, 2009, 2010). According to the studies, due to the convenience factors, customer can explore the products and make purchase decision with no place and time

constraints, the Internet further empowers them by altering the manners they search, explore, gather, share, interact, communicate and create information, also by transforming the methods in which customers value is create (Sigala, 2010). This, it is crucial for organization to build a virtual community on their web site, by using proper promotion strategies, to delivery promised experience to customers, in order to achieve their satisfaction (Chaffey et al., 2006). Nevertheless, it is also important for organisations to realising the new trends of the online marketing changes and online buying behaviour, especially to concern the trust issue. According to the studies, security and privacy concerns have been the biggest limitations to preclude online transaction. Moreover, it is prominent for organizations to practise ECRM, for retaining loyal customers. While being more interacted with customers, business structure can be improved from their feedback. According to the study, ECRM has defined as a strategic urgent for increasing customer satisfaction and online sales, services, website patronage, customer loyalty, and retention (ibid). Moreover, it allows customers to share experience of the products, such as the discussion forum or blogs of volunteer tourism programme. Consequently, they may get a perceived view before the trip, and have well preparation. Hence, they should be more realized the importance for keeping the commitment between host community, organisations and other tourists (Wearing, 2001). Meanwhile, their opinion to subordinates and site users may bring more potential customers to the business too (Sigala, 2010). The issue of security has been the biggest challenges for all online business nowadays, it is suggested that organisation can offers the consumers confidence in carrying out e-commerce security needs by having legal disclaimers and the conditions of the transaction, payment and delivery functions, a privacy statement, a feedback mechanism. Particularly, it is necessary to implement these when starting a business, build a relationship with the organisation based on trust. In addition, organisations should not solely use their online marketing, offline marketing, such as communicating by phone, face-toface interaction is important as well. According to the study, customer may refuse to purchase online due to the low human contact, which may influence the confidence of them to purchase on the virtual environment. Hence, there is an urgent for conducting research of online buying behaviour continuously; by analysing those gaps, organization can know what are the gap between customers expectation and satisfaction. As an effective website performance can attract new customers and re-visit, CVA can use the video as a part of content, for customers to explore a virtual tool through the online platform to learn more about volunteer tourism. For the further research, it is interesting to investigate what are the exact reasons for customers to defect, or constraint to make a final purchase decision on the online platform. The research can be conduct as a in-depth one-toone interview as the respondents may not intend to share its experience with other respondents. It is believed that by investigate the changing customer behaviour can assist


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