3.0 Chapter Three: Methodology 3.1 Introduction Research must be carried out with accuracy and reliability. Its overall aim is to provide an appropriate answer to a research problem or question (Blumberg et al. 2014). This chapter will outline the methods and methodologies that were utilised in order to achieve an accurate and reliable research. The two preceding chapters introduced Só Hotels and outlined a detailed literature review of the dominant elements required in a CI strategy. From the literature reviewed, the author proposed a conceptual framework for establishing, implementing, managing and evaluating a CI strategy suitable for the Irish hospitality industry. This chapter will outline the research approach undertaken in order to examine this framework and to satisfy the research objectives of this review. Firstly, the research aims and objectives presented in chapter one are restated. The research methods adopted by the author are then detailed. The principle issues considered throughout this research are discussed. This chapter concludes with an in-depth examination of the various methods used in the research of this study. 3.2 Research Question, Aims and Objectives In order for the data collection to be accurate it is essential that the research question is precise and definite. This study focuses on answering the main research question “What is the most effective process for establishing, communicating, managing and evaluating a corporate identity strategy in a chain of hotels?”. The main objectives of the study are: To understand what is meant by corporate identity and the importance of it within the hospitality sectorTo identify the dominant elements of corporate identityTo analyse existing literature to extensively comprehend the process involved in the establishment, communication, management and evaluation of a corporate identity strategyTo conduct primary research to investigate the corporate identity strategy adopted by Só HotelsTo formulate a clear process for managers in hotel groups to follow when establishing, communicating, managing and evaluating an effective corporate identity strategy The overall aim of this research is to form a framework that can be used by hospitability managers when adopting their CI. The primary research investigation investigates the CI process engaged in by Só Hotels when adopting and altering their CI. The process used by Só Hotels is then compared to the framework devised following the literature review. The results obtained from the primary research are incorporated into the secondary research framework to support, change or enhance its validity. 3.3 Research Process The research process is guided by the research philosophy adopted by the author which serves as a base for the research approach and the selected research strategy. Each “layer” of the research process is described in detail hereunder. 3.3.1 Research Philosophy A research philosophy is concerned with the development of knowledge and the nature of that knowledge (Saunders et al. 2012). In essence, the research philosophy will reflect the author’s significant assumptions which will support the research strategy and the methods used in the process of this study. Commonly, there are three specific philosophies which have been identified as the most highly reported: positivism, interpretivism and realism. Positivism The theory of positivism argues that the knowledge applied in the research is generalisable to a population by a geometric investigation of real life observations. Generally, positivism is concerned with the testing of theory and is often used in quantitative studies. It is related to scientific methods whereby data is controlled and investigated through practical methods such as experiments and statistics (Villiers 2005). Such research is anticipated to provide an exact measure of readability. This research type can produce results which are commonly hypothesis driven and can be utilised for predication. Thus, the researcher is objective and can access the actual reality (Money et al. 1998). Interpretivism The theory of interpretivism aims to comprehend the vast interrelationships in the specific research topic. Interpretivists try to get into the minds of the research participants to describe their circumstances or behaviour. According to Villiers (2005), interpretivism tries to discover new explanations or meanings of various realities which are dependent on context and time. In comparison to positivism, which is used in quantitative studies, interpretivism is generally used in qualitative studies which investigates the research questions to comprehend the phenomena that occur in real life everyday situations (Villiers 2005). Such research is exploratory and aims to provide an understanding of opinions or reasons regarding complex topics where values and human experiences are relevant. Interpretivist researchers aim to provide insights into problems which can help develop ideas or hypotheses by investigating human behaviour, motivations, social patterns and situations. Realism The theory of realism is whereby the researcher seeks to comprehend the social interpretations of people and any social forces that may influence their opinions and behaviours (Ticehurst and Veal 2000). It concentrates on the view that reality is independent from behaviours and people’s opinions and focuses on the fact that reality already exists in the environment. Realists aim to examine the ways in which people give meaning to their experiences as well as acknowledging any external factors which have an influence on such experiences and opinions (Blumberg 2011). This research involves the pursuit of deeper understandings of the participants’ opinions and motivations regarding the reality of how they achieve a strong CI. Therefore, this study adopted an interpretivist approach which led to subjective discoveries. The approach aims to provide a holistic view of a scenario and is believed to be more appropriate than a reductionist view. It was a suitable method for this research and has led to reasons and understandings regarding the research topic which aims to provide insights and develop hypotheses by investigating human behaviour, motivations, social patterns and situations. 3.4 Research Approach There are two main research approaches which focus on either testing or building theory. These are deductive and inductive; a researcher can adopt either approach (Blumberg et al. 2014). 3.4.1 Deductive Approach A deductive approach encompasses the development of a theory or hypothesis which is then tested by a purposefully designed strategy or examination (Saunders 2000). The hypothesis is generally developed from secondary research and is tested based on the primary research findings to validate or disprove the hypothesis. A deductive approach is linked with the philosophy of positivism and quantitative research methods which entail structural data collection such as surveys (Blumberg et al. 2014). 3.4.2 Inductive Approach An inductive approach entails the collecting of information and the development of a theory based on the findings from such information. According to Saunders (2000), an inductive approach is concerned with the study of opinions, viewpoints and direct experiences. It aims to create findings based on factual and general observations. An inductive approach requires an analysis of both primary and secondary research to develop a theory based on the research findings. In an inductive approach, the researcher aims to understand participants’ opinions and real-life experiences through qualitative research methods such as interviews and focus groups (Saunders 2000). Researchers can make an induction from information gathered from small samples amounts compared with a deductive approach which relies on a large sample. The main differences between inductive and deductive are outlined in Figure 3.1 below. Figure 3.1 Deductive and Inductive Approaches (Gant 2012) This research adopted an inductive research approach, whereby, qualitative data collection methods such as observations and examinations were conducted to gain a deeper understanding of the research. The author interacted with the participants through interviews which gave a deeper knowledge and understanding of their opinions and motivations on the CI strategy process in Só Hotels. From this, a CI strategy framework for hospitality managers, incorporating both literature on CI strategy and findings from the interviews and website audits. Once the philosophy and research approach were identified it was necessary to analyse the different methods of research available to the researcher, and these will be outlined in detail in section 3.4. 3.5 Research Data Collection Qualitative and quantitative are the most frequently used methods of data collection, both distinct approaches are used to collect and analyse primary data 3.5.1 Qualitative Research The purpose of qualitative research is to describe, explore, and explain the phenomena of the study (Marshall and Rossman 1995). Qualitative research employs methods such as in-depth interviews, case studies, focus groups, observations and diary and journal exercises in a bid to gain a deeper understanding regarding a target audience’s behaviour, opinions and perceptions regarding a specific research topic (Saunders 2000). Such understandings aim to direct and support the creation of hypotheses. The outcomes of which are subjective and therefore, are more in line with interpretivist approaches. There are various limitations to qualitative research which must also be addressed. Firstly, it can be an expensive way to conduct research and prior training is often required. The interpretation of the information obtained is also time consuming as information must be recorded, transcribed and analysed (Blumberg et al. 2014). Qualitative research does however have the advantage of allowing the researcher to take control of the research process, he or she can determine the questions and where and how the data collection shall take place (Blumberg et al. 2014). 3.5.2 Quantitative Research Quantitative research is concerned with the collection and analysis of data in a numerical form. According to Gelo et al. (2008), it involves the conversion of a statistical analysis of a phenomenon into numerical evidence to reach satisfactory results. Quantitative research methods include questionnaires, surveys and opinion polls. As previously identified it requires a large sample so that the results are reliable. Large samples enable such research to be generalised to large populations. Software such as SPSS can be utilised in the evaluation of quantitative research findings using numbers and variables (Blumberg et al. 2014). The main differences between qualitative and quantitative research methods are that qualitative methods aim to gain a deeper understanding of people’s opinions and experiences of a specific research topic through the use of words and meanings and the interpretations of such meanings through coding, translations and descriptions. In comparison, quantitative research methods utilise numbers and large samples to examine theories to reach their research findings. This research aims to develop an in depth understanding of CI strategies employed in the hospitality sector by examining the procedures adopted by Só Hotels in their recent CI change. Such examination involves building a case study through in-depth interviews which will aim to seek the opinions and experiences of the participants. Therefore, this research adopts a qualitative approach whereby the meanings and interpretations of opinions and experiences are expressed verbally as opposed to the quantitative methods of numerical values. The method of primary data collection for this research is interviews on a single case study. 3.6 Secondary Research Secondary research can be utilised to compile relevant information without conducting primary research (Blumberg et al. 2011). Blumberg et al. (2011) maintain that the main advantages of secondary research is that it is easily available, saves costs and time while providing insights into a specific research area. It allows the researcher to instantly analyse readily available information concerning a research topic. Another main advantage is that good quality data can be obtained which can be analysed by researcher in a bid to address the research objectives. This research commenced with a collection and review of relevant, previously published information from sources such as academic journals, books and reliable peer reviewed online publications. Gaining evidence from multiple sources increases validity and strengthens the research findings (Blumberg 2000), although, such information gathering and compilation into one research study often proves difficult. According to Blumberg et al. (2014), secondary research can reveal gaps and deficiencies in a research study as the information obtained was not initially collected for the purpose of the current research. Thus, conducting both primary and secondary research side by side is paramount in limiting such imperfections and to ensure an in an inclusive research study. The process of gathering the secondary information in this research guided the direction of the primary research. The main objectives of the secondary data collection were: to get a deeper understanding of all theory associated with CI strategies with a particular focus on the hospitality sector, to gain a further understanding and identification of the dominant elements employed by different CI frameworks and the evaluation of the process of establishing, communicating, evaluating and managing a CI strategy and, finally, to provide a general overview and introduction to Só Hotels. It was relevant to gain a background knowledge on the hotel group in order to analyse their overall CI strategy at a later stage. 3.7 Primary Research Primary research involves the collection of exclusive data to answer specific research questions regarding a particular topic (Blumberg et al. 2014). It can be a complicated, time consuming and costly process, which involves applying research methods to discover new information. There are six different forms of case study primary data collection: documents, records, interviews, direct observations, participant observations and physical artifacts (Yin 1994), all of which have their own advantages and disadvantages but none are more superior than the other. For the purposes of this qualitative research study the data collection tool employed was that of interviews based on a case study of Só Hotels. 3.7.1 Case Study Research This qualitative research was carried out as a single case study. Case studies are used to examine participants’ judgements and perceptions (Simons 1996). According to Simons (1996), case studies are recently an accepted form of research, which enables the researcher to analyse the case organisation. This analysis aims to comprehend the social and cultural origin and motives of a specific phenomenon. According to Yin (2003), case studies can be used to get a deeper understanding of organisations altering business procedures and practices, and are generally used when asking the questions of “how” and “why”. Similarly, in the context of case studies, Simons (1996 p. 231) claims that “by studying the uniqueness of the particular, we come to understand the universal”. A case can be a single organisation, location, a person or a single event (Bryman and Bell 2011). Although the results of a single case study cannot be broadly generalised and are only applicable to a particular organisation (Yin 2003), such revelations offer a good overall comprehension of the phenomenon of the organisation. This single case study research of Só Hotels aims to give a form of guidance for understanding corporate identity strategies and their adoption in Irish hotel groups. Therefore, a qualitative single case study was seen the most appropriate approach for this research. To ensure validity and reliability within a case study, three steps must be adhered to: first, multiple sources should be used to show the trustworthiness of the case study, Secondly, the data should be organised in a documentation form, and lastly, all collected information must be explained (Yin 2003). 184.108.40.206 Interviews Interviews aim to identify valid and reliable in-depth information regarding a research topic (Saunders et al. 2009). They are a data collection tool that can identify a participant’s feelings, opinions and motivations regarding the research subject. The main advantage of interviews is that they encompass personal and direct contact between the interviewer and interviewee, which can eliminate nonresponse rates. It is essential that interviewers establish the required interview skills to successfully conduct an interview (Fisher 2005). Interviews are an essential and preferred source of gathering information in case study research when in depth data is required (Merriam 1998). There are three forms of interviews: structured, semi-structured and unstructured. Structured interviews involve prepared and standard questionnaires. Semi-structured interviews are whereby the researcher already knows the theme of the study and will use it to build the interview questions, although they will vary depending on the interviewees. Unstructured interviews are seen as informal as the coverage is very big and is used to discover a general area in which is of interest to the researcher. This study employs semi-structured interviews to conduct its primary research. As this study aims to evaluate the CI strategy adopted by Só Hotels, the researcher needs to understand the motivations and opinions of the participants involved in the CI process. Semi-structured interviews are generally used in qualitative research and allow the researcher to gain a deeper understanding of social and personal issues (Blumberg 2014). Semi-structured interviews can be carried out with groups, known as focus groups or with individuals and entail open ended questions. In order to allow a level of privacy regarding the participants’ viewpoints, interviews instead of focus groups were the chosen option. Semi-structured interviews initially involve specific questions formulated from the assessment of secondary research. Such questions guide the interview to ensure relevancy in the process of addressing the research objectives. The sequence of the questions can be altered during the semi-structured interview depending on the answers and flow of conversation. Open ended questions were employed during the interview process which enabled the researcher to gain a deeper understanding of the participants’ opinions on the research topic. The semi-structured questions allowed for flexibility throughout conversations, which ensured all areas were unfolded during the interviews. The flexibility was necessary as each participant had different opinions and involvement in the CI strategy process. During the semi-structured interviews, participants were encouraged to speak clearly and openly. The interviewer invited personal opinions and feelings from the interviewee, as such information further aims to address the research objectives (Blumberg 2014). The interviewer re stated a question if she felt that the interviewee didn’t understand the question properly and also repeated the interviewee’s response when she felt they had lost their train of thought. All of these interview techniques can be described as probing, which is a term used to describe how an interviewer can enhance and encourage an interviewee to answer questions with relevancy (Blumberg et al. 2014). In order to conduct the semi -structured interviews, the administration of a semistructured questionnaire was required to all the identified respondents to elicit their participation and experiences with the establishment, communication, management and evaluation of the new corporate identity (see Appendix A). The design and layout of the semi structured questions followed the steps outlined in the proposed conceptual framework (see figure 2.11). Pre-designing the questions and structure of interviews enhances response rates and hence increases the reliability of the collected data (Blumberg et al. 2014). The layout of the interview questions in this research made the thematic analysis easier as the headings and sub headings were used for identifying themes in the gathered data. Participants were identified using a snowball sampling technique, as the researcher was not fully aware of all the participants involved in the CI of Só Hotels, the sampling method will be further discussed in the next section. Sample Selection Sampling refers to the process used to select a portion of the population for study. Sampling decisions are made for the explicit purpose of obtaining the best possible source of information to answer a research question (Blumberg et. al 2014). Sampling can be done on a probability or a non-probability basis. The selection of either one greatly depends on such factors as to whether the theory of the research is positivist or interpretivist and whether qualitative or quantitative methods are used (Blumberg et al. 2014). Probability Sampling In probability sampling each member of a given research population has been given an equal chance of being selected. It involves the selection of people at random from a sampling frame, which is the list of populations that exists (Blumberg et al. 2014). This type of sampling is more likely if the theoretical orientation of the research is positivist, and the methodology used is likely to be quantitative. Non-Probability Sampling In non-probability or non-random sampling, the population does not have an equal chance of being selected and is therefore a non-representative sample (Blumberg et al. 2014). The results of non-probability sampling methods cannot be generalised and hence are more biased than that of probability sampling. Nonprobability sampling methods are more likely to be used in qualitative research, with the greater degree of collaboration with the respondents allowing the researcher to gather a sufficient amount of data. The researcher is more likely to be involved in the process and adopts an interpretivist theoretical approach. Nonprobability sampling is less expensive to conduct when compared with probability sampling. This qualitative single case study research has adopted a purposive nonprobability sampling approach. Purposive sampling is where the sample is selected based on certain criteria. There are a few various types of purposive sampling: judgement sampling, quota sampling and snowball sampling. Purposive sampling methods aim to narrow the sample down to specific people that are likely to contribute to the theoretical understanding of the specific research question. According to Holme and Solvang (1997), the selection of interview respondents is crucial. If the correct respondent is not selected than the research may be insignificant and not valid. In this research, such persons were identified based on the criteria of having credible knowledge and participation in the CI strategy in order to provide precise information from within the hotel group (Bryman and Bell 2011). The sampling frame of this case study research is that of those employed and previously employed professionals of Só Hotels. The people who were initially involved in the execution of the CI strategy were identified first as they are more likely to have the most valuable and relevant information about the specific purpose (corporate identity) of this research. The initial respondents were chosen based on their titles. The group general manager of Só Hotels, Lee Gregson was identified as having an involvement in the identification of the desired CI design and set up of the current CI. As the researcher was unaware of any other people involved in the initial design of the CI, a snowballing sampling method was employed. This sampling method identifies cases of interest from referrals to reach particularly hard to reach participants. Thus, the sample group is said to grow like a rolling snowball. As the sample grows, more information is gathered to be useful for the research. Within this research, the researcher was not fully aware of all the participants involved in the CI strategy process employed by Só Hotels, therefore, a snowballing sampling method was adopted (Thomson 1997). Through the snowball sampling technique adopted in this research, the group GM, Lee Gregson was first interviewed, from this, the group marketing and graphic design manager Marie McDonagh, the group digital manager, Lee Mohan and Aine Killilea, group PR were identified as being involved in the initial establishment of the new CI of Só Hotels. James Griffin, group revenue and business development manager was also identified as being involved at the later stage of step one. Unfortunately, Aine Killilea was un contactable for an interview. For the purpose of investigating the establishment, communication, management and evaluation of the CI in each of the four Só Hotels, Castletroy Park Hotel, Charleville Park Hotel, Loughrea Hotel and Spa and Kileshin Hotel, the general manager in each hotel was identified as an appropriate person to speak with. As discussed in section 2.7 of this research report, it is ultimately the responsibility of senior management to guarantee consistency between behaviour and communication, along with the communication, management and evaluation of the CI strategy (van Riel and Balmer 1997). The four identified general managers (GM) are Lee Gregson (Castletroy Park Hotel, also group GM), Declan O’Grady (Charleville Park Hotel), George Leahy (Loughrea Hotel and Spa) and (Kileshin Hotel and Leisure). Unfortunately, Declan O’Grady was unavailable for an interview. Pilot Testing Prior to conducting any interviews, it is necessary to conduct a pilot test. According to Sanders (2000), a pilot test can reveal any weaknesses or flaws in the interview questions. The results of a pilot test will enable the researcher to alter any questions so they are concise, valid and easily understood by the interviewee. The pilot study was conducted on Só Hotel’s group accountant, Ann Ryan. Ann Ryan is employed by the hotel nine years and is very familiar with the corporate identity of the hotel group. The pilot study identified questions which were poorly phrased and not clear enough for the interviewee to understand (Appendix B). These questions were re worded by the interviewer to allow the participants to easily understand and interpret the interview questions. The interviewer also felt that some questions were not specifically relevant to each interviewee. The participant in the pilot test was not able to answer some questions as she had not been directly involved in some steps of Só Hotel’s CI process. Based on this, the interviewer planned to ask each interviewee which step of the CI process they were involved in prior to asking the semi structed interview questions. This meant that participants were only asked the questions relevant to their involvement in the CI process of Só Hotels. The pilot test was conducted in June 2017, due to the availability of the participant. 3.7.2 Scheduling of Primary Research Once the pilot test was conducted and alterations made to the semi structured questions, the schedule of the interviews was assembled. The research scheduled her first interview with Lee Gregson, the group GM for June 2017. From this interview, she aimed to gather the names of all relevant interviewees based on the snowballing sampling method. The researcher aimed to have all interviews completed by the 31st of July. This allowed sufficient time to transcribe and analyse the collected data. Table 3 below outlines the interview schedule. InterviewNamePositionDateInterview 1Lee GregsonGroup GM – So Hotels3rd July 2017Interview 2Lee MohanSupermacs Marketing Manager4th July 2017Interview 3James GriffinBusiness Development Manager 10th July 2017Interview 4Marie McDonaghMarketing Manager So Hotels13th July 2017Interview 5George LeahyActing GM Loughrea Hotel and Spa24th July 2017Interview 6Mark O’ShaughnessyOperations Manager Castletroy Park Hotel25th July 2017 Table 2 Interview Schedule 3.8 Data Analysis Data analysis involves a systematic process of data collection that can be used in qualitative and descriptive research to identify themes and categories from data (Krippendorff 2004). The analysis process in this study followed the practices used in thematic analysis. Thematic analysis is a research method used for identifying, examining and reporting patterns or themes in gathered data (Braun and Clarke 2006). As previously outlined, the researcher used in-depth semi structured interviews, website audits, social media audits, visual analysis and document analysis as the methods to gather data relevant to this research. Once the data was gathered the author used NVivo to assist in the thematic analysis. NVivo was used as various document types can be uploaded onto its software, including Microsoft Word, PDFs, videos, audio, images and social media posts. NVivo is also mobile and tablet accessible, which allowed the interviewer to record interviews on her phone and then directly upload to NVivo. After the interviews were transcribed (Appendix C) NVivo aided the coding and pattern matching which aimed to identify common themes. The common themes were set based on the steps of the proposed conceptual framework. The coding was done by color-coding the transcribed interview data into the different themes relative to the stages of CI process identified in the framework. The coding method was used so that similar themes from the different interviews or in parts of the same interview were categorised together and compared. The researcher interpreted the data based on the thematic patterns found in the interview data. These patterns were then compared with the steps in the proposed framework which served as a basis for the findings and conclusions. Key sub-themes were also identified and demonstrated through the use of quotes from the interviewees. 3.9 Validity and Reliability Research is generally evaluated in terms of validity and reliability (Moisander and Valtonen 2006). It is important to ensure that research information is valid so that it is reliable to use in further studies. According to Kothari (2004 p. 73), reliability and credibility are elements of thorough measurements. He argues that “validity refers to the extent to which a test measures what we actually wish to measure” and “reliability has to do with the accuracy and precision of a measurement procedure”. Yin (1994) proposes four frequently used tests when examining the quality of a research. The tests are called construct validity, internal validity, external validity and reliability. Yin (1994) describes how to increase construct validity in case study research, he maintains this can be achieved by establishing a chain of evidence or have key informants review the draft case study report. In this study, the researcher established a chain of evidence by citing all sources from where any evidence was collected. The researcher’s supervisor and fellow students also reviewed the draft report. In addition, the supervisor reviewed and approved the interview questions prior to the pilot test. A recorder was used during the interviews which allowed the researcher to thoroughly reexamine the interview answers so that no important information was over seen. According to Yin (1994), internal validity is concerned with explanatory studies by examining connecting relationships. This study is qualitative and descriptive and therefore internal validity is not relevant within this research. The external validity of a research study refers to the possibility of whether the findings of the research can be generalised beyond the specific research context. According to Bryman and Bell (2011), it is often problematic to appraise external validity in qualitative research as such research often uses case studies and relatively small samples. This qualitative research study uses a case study design which makes the evaluation of external validity problematic. To strengthen this research, it should be carried out in multiple-case studies. As previously outlined, reliability is concerned with the accuracy of a measurement procedure. According to Yin (1994), reliability indicates the consistency with which the research tools measure the study topic and aids in assessing the quality of a study. (Sekaran 1992) The overall goal is to reduce mistakes and biases in the study (Yin 1994). With a high reliable research study, another researcher should be able to repeat the exact same study and arrive at the same results. According to Moisander and Valtonen (2006), the validity of any research is also concerned with the accuracy of the researcher’s interpretations. Interpretations are never entirely objective, as in qualitative research they are related to the thoughts and experiences of the researcher. However, the researcher must always aim to be as objective and unbiased as possible (Moisander and Valtonen, 2006). The procedures of this research have carefully been explained to increase the reliability and validity. This study followed a structured approach, the interview guide was designed to decrease any risks of influencing the interviewees in any way. Open-ended interview questions were asked so that the interviewees could answer the questions in their own words, instead of guiding them towards the answer. This helped to avoid subject bias. 3.10 Ethical considerations This research must be conducted using the appropriate behaviour (Blumberg et al. 2011). Behaviour is guided by ethics, which influence people’s choices and relationships with others. Research should be designed in such a way that it is neither harmful nor embarrassing for any participant. The researcher should inform respondents of the nature and purpose of the research being conducted while outlining to them their rights (Cooper and Schindler 2003). At the beginning of the research, the researcher met with the group general manager, Lee Gregson, she informed him of the proposed research study topic and what it would entail. She asked Lee Gregson for his consent to commence the research and he willingly obliged. All interviewees were entirely informed of the research objectives. They were reassured that their answers would be treated as confidential and would only be only utilised for academic determinations for the purposes of this research. Participants signed a written acceptance regarding their involvement in the research, through a signed consent and briefing letter (Appendix D). The aim of the letter was to assure interviewees that their participation was voluntary and that at any stage before submission the interviewee could withdraw his or her involvement in the research. The pre-scheduled face-to-face interviews took approximately 40 minutes. The researcher took notes both during and subsequent to the interview and also recorded the interview. After the interview was transcribed the researcher emailed the transcriptions to the respondents to ensure that they were accurate. All the collected data was acquired in the full knowledge and consent of the interviewees. 3.11 Conclusion This chapter explained the procedures and methods utilised in collecting and analysing primary research data. The researcher chose to conduct her primary research through the use of qualitative research methods. Qualitative research methods enable the researcher to gain a deeper understanding of the research topic, with the aim of forming a theory consequent from both primary and secondary research. Qualitative research methods correspond to the interpretivism philosophy. The data collection method was in-depth semi structured interviews. The data collection methods and analysis described above were carried out as objectively as possible, which resulted in the gathering of high quality information to address the research study. The following chapter presents the primary data collected. 4.0 Chapter 4: Primary Research 4.1 Introduction This chapter details the presentation and interpretation of the data analysis. It outlines the gathered information from the primary research. Using a case study analysis of Só Hotels, the findings aim to address the following research objectives: To conduct primary research to investigate the corporate identity strategy adopted by Só HotelsTo formulate a clear process for managers in hotel groups to follow when establishing, communicating, managing and evaluating an effective corporate identity strategy Firstly, a presentation of Só Hotels will be provided. The information on Só Hotels and its affiliated hotels was gathered by the researcher from Só Hotels website, its affiliated hotel’s websites and through recent newspaper articles. Overall there was minimal literature on the hotel group available. An examination of the proposed conceptual framework established in chapter two will be conducted. Each of the steps outlined in the framework will be analysed in consideration of the information gathered from the in-debt interviews conducted. Any new or additional information concerning the steps under taken by Só Hotels will be addressed. Finally, the primary research findings, along with the authors analytical interpretations of the gathered data, will be allied with the secondary research findings to start drawing conclusions based on the objectives of this study. This section will conclude with an amended version of the revised framework. 4.2 Só Hotels Só Hotels is a four-star Irish hotel group. The Só Hotel group consists of four hotels, namely, Castletroy Park Hotel, Limerick, Loughrea Hotel and Spa, Loughrea, Killeshin Hotel, Portlaoise and Charleville Park Hotel, Cork. 4.2.1 Castletroy Park Hotel Castletroy Park Hotel was the first hotel purchased in 2011 by Pat McDonagh for €3.7m. The Carlton Hotel Group had operated the hotel since 2009 (Duggan 2011). The hotel is situated alongside the University of Limerick and in Limerick’s National Technological Park. The property consists of 107 bedrooms, conference facilities, a leisure club which includes a pool and a purpose-built gym (Castletroypark.ie 2017). Earlier this year, Pat McDonagh announced his proposed investment of almost €6 million into the hotel with further development plans to the conference facilities, car parking, bedrooms plus the extension of the gym facilities (Walsh 2017). 4.2.2 Loughrea Hotel and Spa The Loughrea Hotel and Spa was the second hotel purchased by Pat McDonagh in 2014, after it went into receivership two years prior (Rooney 2014). The hotel is situated in Loughrea, Co. Galway. Currently the hotel has 91 bedrooms, conference facilities and a purpose-built spa which includes 5 treatment rooms, sauna and a steam room (loughreahotelandspa.ie 2017). Recent announcements reveal extensive development plans for the hotel with the purposed construction of a swimming pool and leisure centre (connachttribune.ie 2017). 4.2.3 Charleville Park Hotel Pat McDonagh purchased the Charleville Park Hotel in 2014 for almost €5 million (irishexaminer.com 2014). The hotel is located just outside Charleville town on the main N21 between Cork and Limerick. Pat McDonagh said that the purchase of the hotel came at an opportune time. He was familiar with the hotel and its location as he previously had three Supermac outlets in Charleville town. His plan was to develop the food trade at the hotel which sits on six acres. Today, the Charleville Park Hotel consists of 91 bedrooms, large conference and leisure facilities including a 25 metre swimming pool, state of the art gym and an aerobic studio (charlevilleparkhotel.ie 2017). 4.2.4 Killeshin Hotel and Leisure Club The Killeshin Hotel and Leisure Club was the most recent addition to the group. Pat McDonagh purchased the hotel, which is situated in Portlaoise town, in 2015. On purchase of the hotel, Mr. McDonagh planned to invest at least €500,000 million into “upgrading the hotel’s facilities to offer modern, quality standards to customers on a par with the Castletroy Park Hotel, Lough Rea Hotel & Spa and the Charleville Park Hotel”. The Killeshin Hotel and Leisure Club contains 88 bedrooms, conference facilities and a leisure club which features a swimming pool and fully equipped gym. 4.3 Examination of Proposed Conceptual Framework This section will examine the findings of the semi structed interviews from the primary research in light of each step proposed in the framework devised in Chapter 2. The semi structed interviews consisted of five main questions with each question consisting of a number of sub questions (Appendix A). In order to present the primary research findings obtained from the interviewees, the four steps of the proposed framework will be dissected and discussed to produce an amended version of the framework to accurately represent the process that organisations use in a real-life situation. The interviewees were firstly asked did they agree with the stages of the CI process and were only asked specific questions relevant to their knowledge and involvement in the particular stage or stages of the CI process of Só Hotels. Table 2 presents the stages of the CI process which are relevant to each interviewee along with their position in Só Hotels. NamePositionStage of CI ProcessMarie McDonaghMarketing and Design Manager Só HotelsStage one – Establishing Stage two – Communicating (External Communication) Stage three – ManagingLee GregsonGroup General Manager Só HotelStage one – Establishing Stage two – Communicating Stage three – ManagingLee MohanGroup Digital Manager Só Hotels and SupermacsStage one – Establishing Stage two – Communicating (External Communication) Stage three – ManagingJames GriffinGroup Revenue and Business Development Manager Só HotelsStage one – partly involved Stage two – Communicating (External Communication) Stage three Mark O’ ShaughnessyOperations Manager Castletroy Park HotelStage two – Communicating (Internal Communication) Stage three – ManagingGeorge LeahyGeneral Manager Loughrea Hotel and Spa and previously General Manager for Killeshin Hotel and Leisure Club Stage two – Communicating (Internal Communication) Stage three – Managing Table 3 The stages of the CI process relevant to each interviewee 4.3.1 Step One: Establish a Desired Corporate Identity The literature review highlights the techniques required for establishing an organisation’s desired CI. This step is broken into five different actions proposed by various authors. These include, objective setting, investigation of the current CI, identification of the desired CI, establishment of the CI structure and the amendments to the visual identity (figure 4.1). Figure 4.1 Step One of Proposed Conceptual Framework The interviewees were asked to explain what was involved in the design or set up process of the new CI, this opened the discussion up in order to comprehend the process that Só Hotels adopted at the CI establishment stage. In doing so, the responses could be compared with the steps outlined in the framework devised in Chapter 2, so that differences and similarities could be identified. According to the three interviewees involved in the establishment stage, the first step taken in setting up the new CI for Só Hotels consisted of brainstorming sessions which involved a competitor analysis. All the interviewees involved felt that researching competitors was an effective way to understand the CI structure approach adopted by other hotels. The interviewees wanted to assess how best to position the hotel group in the market place. “We got together and looked at other hotel groups” “We initially did a competitor analysis of the other groups of hotels in the Irish marketplace…to see how they presented themselves…. We wanted to see what they were doing in terms of branding, so there was a mixture of structures…. We wanted to see how to position our group brand without damaging the individual properties” “What we did first and foremost was we looked at the market place and we looked at the brands within the market place in Ireland and this gave us the structure for our brand” The responses of the interviewees showed a gap in the secondary research as a competitor analysis was not illustrated in step one of the proposed conceptual framework. Therefore, a competitor analysis will be added to step one of the revised framework. 220.127.116.11 Objective Setting The action of objective setting in the CI process was brought to light by Balmer (2001b) who emphasises that the objectives for changing a CI must be outlined. He maintains that setting appropriate objectives can be used as a reference and guide for management throughout the CI strategy. When probed on this subject only the respondents agreed with the action. One respondent discussed the objectives for the desired CI of Só Hotels in detail. “…we wanted to be an Irish company with Irish values, one was being very hospitable so we wanted to create warmth, like a good experience and a good welcome…..That went on then to food and beverage am as far as what we wanted to give and how we wanted to give it. One of the key factors we identified was that we wanted to create a bit of individuality within each of the hotels.” Two other respondents addressed the subject of objectives with regard to the logo and name. These key factors will be discussed later in this chapter. 18.104.22.168 Investigate the current CI Van Riel and Balmer (1995) maintain that an organisation should always asses their current CI before establishing a new one. In the case of Só hotels, each of the individual hotels had their own CI and therefore the focus of the respondents was to ensure that the individual hotel’s CI wasn’t altered greatly. “One of the key ingredients of these hotels was to make sure that they were ran individually and that the brand was very much an umbrella brand…” “What we wanted to do was to make sure the individual successes of the hotels was going to be a good cross market for the group” “had to be conscious of the fact that each of the hotels had strong individual identities and not over bare their individual identities” “we discussed how to make a more corporate hotel like Castletroy to fit into a group with other hotels which might be more leisure focused such as Loughrea or Charleville without damaging either of the hotels” According to Lee Mohan, the digital manager for Só Hotels, investigating the current identity of each of the hotels was the next step they took which aided the decision on the structure of the CI of Só Hotels. “and this made us decide on our structure for the group name” 22.214.171.124 Identify the Desired CI From the literature review the next stage of the CI establishment process is to identify the desired CI. Models such as Balmer’s Affinity Audit (1996), the Laddering Technique (van Rekom 1994) and the Spiderweb method (Bernstein 1986) provide different techniques in which an organisation’s desired CI can be identified. No evidence from the interviews suggests that any of the above methods were applied to identify the desired CI prior to deciding on the CI structure. Due to the lack of response in the area, it is clear that this action step should not appear in the revised framework. 126.96.36.199 Structure of the new CI There are three main approaches to the change of corporate identity which define the CI structure: monolithic, endorsed and branded (Olins 1989). Só Hotels adopted an endorsed approach strategy whereby the organisation has a network of businesses each having their own independent identities (Selame 1997). Organisations with endorsed identities have often developed from acquisitions but are still keen to keep their existing associations along with the brand acquired. The aim is to create a CI so that stakeholders can identify a single corporate parent. The interviewees explained the reasoning behind choosing an endorsed identity for Só Hotels. One of the main reasons was the geographical location of the individual hotels which meant each hotel had very different target markets. “One of the key factors we identified was that we wanted to create a bit of individuality within each of the hotels. When we looked geographically where all our hotels were.” “if we were to create a wedding scenario in Loughrea, it wouldn’t work in Castletroy as we have very different market segments…. we have very different demographics as well. So, we had to be careful to do was to, although we wanted a common denominator between the hotels the individuality had to remain” “…. we wanted the brand name not to be the forefront, as they all had their own identities so we had to figure out what would work best for instance Castletroy is more corporate than Charleville which is more of a leisure hotel” This discussion strengthens the secondary research which donates that the structure of an organisation is a significant determining factor of the organisation’s corporate identity (Balmer 2002). 188.8.131.52 Alter Formal Documentation and the Visual Identity The final stage in this step is the alteration of the formal policies and documentation along with the visual identity, such as, the logo and name. There was a common consensus from the interviewees that this stage of the process was vitally important and one in which the organisation founder was heavily involved in. “it was one of the longest stages we had in the process to make sure that everyone was 100% comfortable with it. It was one of the things that the owner, Pat McDonagh was quiet involved around” “We also set our mission statement and spent a lot of time developing it. This took a lot of time defining it and getting it right” “…and in many cases, we changed contract details and wording to make sure that everyone was on the right track. Hand in hand with that all the staff handbooks changed which are used for induction to show what all the rest of the hotels were about and where they were and how we became a group.” Mission Statement Throughout the course of the interviews, the most common element discussed was the mission and vision statement. This revelation strongly supports the literature review, which highlights the importance of mission statements to enable researchers or managers to identify the dominant systems of values and beliefs within an organisation (Balmer 1996). According to Gray and Balmer (1998), the importance of mission statements cannot be ignored as they can be used to communicate a change in CI, in line with an organisation’s values and ethics, to all stakeholders. The interviewees were asked was a mission statement created or existing ones altered. This question was asked by the researcher to configure if the mission statement was an important factor or element in the creation of the new CI as identified in the secondary research. Each hotel had existing mission and vision statements, which were assessed and combined together to form one statement for the group. All the respondents believed that the mission and vision statements of an organisation are vitally important. Mission statements are “key from the selection process of the type of staff we want to bring into the business and from a constant reminder of what we should be doing and how we are getting there in support of the brand. I find them vital in fact”. According to James Griffin, some hotels had to evolve into the new mission statement, as they found themselves “outside of” it, he maintained that they had to “offer better comfort and also better service, better standards of food, better standards of work so that they would all follow into Irish for luxury”. “we constantly look at it when we are making decisions and especially with our PR and marketing we make sure everything is line with our mission and values” “Mission statement and a set of values are key to the corporate identity of a strong brand like Só Hotels” “Each hotel has now the same mission and vision statement, I felt this is very important” The responses indicate that the mission statement of Só Hotels is an important element of the CI process, strengthening the secondary research which illustrates the significance of mission statements as a key element of CI as proposed by Kitchen et al. (2013) (Section 2.6.5). Name and Logo Gray and Balmer (1998) maintain that the organisation’s name and brand depends on the chosen structure approach, the design of which is crucial when forming the images and reputations of an organisation (Dowling 2001). When discussing the group name and the logo with the interviewees it became evident that it was a very well thought through process. Five core name and logo options were considered and various objectives were set. Throughout the name and logo design the importance of the mission statement was again highlighted. “The logo had to represent the mission, vision and ethos of what the group was going to be” “…from a brand name, we wanted something that was going to represent something quite new and fresh to the market because we are new and fresh to market and we recruit in that way” “…. I wanted at least five options of names and logos and colour themes” “.. the five main objectives were to match the core values, whether the domain name was available from a digital point of view. To make sure it was easy to spell. Unique and geographically unstaggered. So, for instance it was not tied to Limerick, in case Hotels were added to the group in different locations. Based on those principles that’s how we narrowed down name suggestions” “…. we quickly narrowed it down to the word Só” “.. from a branding point of view, we knew it had to be simple and obvious to an extent. So, Só Hotels, Irish for luxury appears everywhere so it enabled us to give it a tagline, but enabled a bit of interest too, by having to explain what the word Só means” Lee Gregson conducted market research on people’s perceptions of the group name and logo, Só Hotels, Irish for Luxury “… it had to be market tested, we used a small group of people to market test that from various ah walks of life and definitely demographics as well, to see whether am they understood it and got. So, there were various processes. This one stuck out in my mind as being one of the biggest ones because there was a lot of positivity throughout about it”. Upon analysis of these findings, it is evident that the alteration of the formal policies and the visual identity, such as, the logo and name was an important action in the establishment step of the CI process for Só Hotels. Another important element at this stage of the process was the high involvement of the organisation founder. According to Kitchen et al. (2013), founders are often referred to as leaders who set the organisation’s vision to aid the CI process. Although the relevance of the organisation founder is often associated with the history of an organisation, their philosophies still continue to be a significant part of the corporate identity (Melewar and Karaosmanoglu 2006). Mr. McDonagh, the organisation founder of Só Hotels was highly involved in this part of the CI establishment stage, and in particular with regard to the development of the mission statement, which is identified as a vital part of the CI process (Kitchen et al. 2013). “Pat McDonagh was quiet involved around this as there were various words he wanted in it” “We went to the founder with a pretty defined presentation of what we thought the corporate identity of the group should be” “There were points where Pat wanted to delve a bit further into the meaning of it, so we went through two further presentations. That actual stage took over two months. In the grand scheme of things, it was the longest part of the process” To further investigate the importance of the organisation founder in the CI establishment process of Só Hotel, the researcher asked two specific questions. Researcher: What involvement did the organisation founder have in the corporate identity establishment stage and or process in general? “he was involved in the okaying of it, but it in no way was he involved in the creation or set up of it” “yes, not so much in the set up but for the overall approval really” “Not at the initial stages, not until we came up with the corporate identity and the name and logos, then we presented to Pat and some management team members were with him…” Researcher: Do you consider the organisation founder important / not so important with regard to the CI of Só Hotels? “In decision making its essential. In the brand, itself we are currently not positioned heavily on his name” “If he didn’t invest in the hotels, we wouldn’t grow like we are” “Pat is the driving light and he is the man behind the vision” From the interview responses, there was an evident trend emerging from all six of the interviewees, that the founder had a vital role in the CI process of Só Hotels. This finding supports the secondary research outlined in Chapter 2 that organisation founders play important symbolic roles as leaders and are the driving forces behind the CI of an organisation (Kitchen et al. 2013). 4.3.2 Step Two: Communicate the Corporate Identity The second step of the proposed conceptual framework devised in Chapter 2, is to communicate the CI. Organisations can build a positive image and reputation through communication actions which will lead to the development of a successful corporate identity strategy (Brassington and Pettitt 2000). The communication of a new or altered CI is generally the responsibility of senior management. According to Crook et al. (2003), when the decision is made, generally by CEOs and top management, regarding the strategy of the CI, senior managers are given the task to implement the strategy. In this research, three senior managers were identified through the snowball sampling technique, James Griffin, Mark O’Shaughnessy, Operations Manager at the Castletroy Park Hotel and George Leahy, who was the acting general manager (GM) in the Loughrea Hotel and Spa, and prior to that he was acting GM at the Killeshin Hotel in Portlaoise. Due to the unavailability of the other GM’s, interviews were limited to the three interviewees identified above. The literature review revealed that the CI communication process involves communicating the desired CI through primary, secondary and tertiary communication methods as displayed in Figure 4.2. Figure 4.2 Step Two of Proposed Conceptual Framework 184.108.40.206 Primary Communication Primary communication is the first process in the CI communication step. Primary communication is the communication of an organisation’s products and services, management, employees and behaviour (Balmer 2017). It focuses on the communication of the CI to internal stakeholders such as, organisational members or employees, about matters such as, visions, goals, new developments and achievements. According to Dowling (2001), disclosing the new CI as the internal communication of a CI change is vital in order to gain commitment from employees. The participating interviewees were asked to explain the process for communicating the new CI. This question was asked to configure who was responsible for the CI communication and to understand the method adopted by Só Hotels at this stage. Researcher: What was the process/strategy for communicating the CI? “When the group was formed, Lee Gregson the group GM sat myself and Fiona down, she is the hotel manager and he discussed the group and how it came about. Then he made a presentation and had a meeting with the managers from the departments and from then he held two presentations in the hotel for the line staff.” “We presented our journey, so we started with the names, one of them was McDonagh hotel group. We also presented our values and mission statement and what we wanted the identity to be” “When everyone had been shown the presentation, they were all given the Só Hotel badges. They wear these on their uniform to show that we are part of a group, it’s also a selling or a talking point for staff when they are talking to customers”. “we gave the staff their lapels, that’s where you will see the logo, to invest them in it. We also went through the mission and vision statements…” Testa (2001) ascertain that the most important link between managers and the public is through their employees. Therefore, managers must pay special attention to communicating the organisation’s CI with their employees in order to get the message they desire sent through. Balmer (1995) also inferred the importance of successful internal communication, he maintains that employees are effective spokespersons for any organisation. Successful communication between management and employees, along with, job satisfaction, pay scale, management style and culture play a significant part on employee behaviour and in turn their behaviour towards other stakeholders (Kennedy 1997). The researcher asked the interviewees various questions regarding the internal communication of the new CI of Só Hotels. Researcher: What role did senior managers have in communicating the new CI? “Well it’s up to us in the hotels as senior managers to communicate and manage the identity of the group and the hotel” “I got a good chance to communicate the standards and the brand to both Killeshin and Loughrea Hotel” “The Killeshin is very corporate but behind on standards, so for me to communicate what the brand meant especially to the staff but also the guests was difficult, and Loughrea was different it was a very different country hotel so I had to take a different spin on it but still communicate the brand of Só Hotels and the standards expected.” Researcher: Can you describe how this was done? (communicating the new CI to internal employees) “… it’s about implementing standards, it’s about communicating the standards daily…… you’re sending the vision through these meetings to the heads and this is then communicated all the way down the path” “We also re did the employee handbooks which had all the information on them and these were given to all the members of staff. They were also given the Só badge that they wear with their name badge” Both of the interviewees involved in the internal CI communication process strongly expressed the use of standards of practice (SOP), employee handbooks, meetings and procedures. “no matter which hotel you are in across the group an SOP is an SOP, and that’s the standard we adhere to, so if its setting up a meeting room, our standard SOP is leather binder, pens, headed paper, provide triple filtered echo water and mints and all that is standard, and is standard across each of the hotels, it’s very consistent across the board. Both of these SOP’s went into the Killeshin and Loughrea Hotel and Spa in my time” “so within the SOP’s we had to communicate to our guests through the standards of how each hotel will operate in line with also our mission and vision” “..our mission and vision statements and educating the staff and these values would have been important, to help increase their moral and show them that there is opportunities across the brand in other hotels in the group” The discussion with the respondents strongly supports the first process of communicating the new CI as outlined in the conceptual framework. 220.127.116.11 Secondary Communication Secondary communication focuses on the marketing aspects or the visual expression of an organisation. The visual expression of an organisation can be communicated through advertising, sales promotion, PR and corporate visual identity systems (CVIS) (Balmer 2017). According to Olins (1989), an organisation’s visual presentation should communicate its corporate identity. The CVIS can aid to communicate a consistent corporate style, in order to create a desirable perception among both internal and external stakeholders. Olins (1989) maintains that CVIS can communicate information regarding the nature of the business along with its corporate structure through strategically designed elements such as logo, colours, fonts, graphic style, building interior and exterior, brochures and staff appearance. Similarly, Keddi and Torfve (2005) identified the main sources that senior hotel managers use when communicating corporate identity, these include nomenclature and branding, graphic design, formal statements, architecture and media relations. Considering the views of both Olins (1989) and Keddi and Torfve (2005) the interviewees were asked questions on how the new CI was externally communicated. This discussion aimed to identify the marketing tools and techniques used by Só Hotels when communicating the CI. Researcher: What marketing tools does the hotels/group use for communicating the CI? “…group radio campaigns and group advertising or trade events or exhibitions” “Facebook followed by twitter, there’s a Só Hotel Facebook page and a Só hotel website which directs you to the other four sites” “Facebook, Instagram and twitter” “We have ads still in print, both in papers and on magazines, you will find us on certain radio stations, most prominently 4fm. And also, we are looking at currently sponsoring a weather programme on a Dublin radio station” “We have really focused our efforts on social media to do that so that we may have done, we have done various videos with the Só logo on and various events, Só romantic, Só in love and so on and so forth, with a take on the word Só and we are steadily integrating on to that side of things” “…we do a lot of social and all our promotions would have the Só logo no matter hotel you were talking about” We “have done some promotions with television sponsored adverts which also have the group name” “We have platforms on FB , Instagram, we share things from each of the hotels and we would use these platforms on a weekly basis as well, but it’s not the main driver, the individual hotels Facebook pages would be the main driver, but we do have a presence there” While each hotel is independently run, in line with the endorsed CI structure, there was an overall agreement that there was consistency in the visual CI communication across each of the hotels. “we use a main designer in all the hotels to keep that consistent look and feel through all the hotels, she has, you would know I suppose it is the same group, by the carpets and the things shes uses in the hotels are similar, like the furnishings and that…” “..the interior designer, has her own style and has brought this to the individual hotels. So that was the starting point of that, so the style and the uniformity of her style and her interior design lead to that..” “…each department has a uniform, so our supervisors are dresses different to line staff, our concierge is dressed differently but all in uniform, so there is a clear structure and it can be seen around the hotel” Só Hotels use one interior designer throughout each of the hotels to maintain the consistency in the layout and design. Regarding the marketing campaigns, each of the hotels have different campaigns due to the different target markets, but where possible there is consistency through the layout and the design. Staff uniforms were also mentioned which are consistent across the individual hotels but not across the group. To further develop the topic of secondary communication the researcher asked questions regarding the consistency of the marketing campaigns. “We try to create consistency within marketing campaigns definitely, with Facebook side of things and the PR side of things” “There would be consistency with campaigns such as Easter and Mother’s Day but there would be things that would not be consistent as they would be exclusive to each individual hotel” “…they were was a consistent design for each of the logos, there was a group look and feel throughout the hotels” “Well the look and fell across all four of the websites are the same, I built one site and had it copied three times for the other hotels, so all that changes is the colour schemes. Font sizes, locations of menu, even down to the menu type is all the same across each of the hotels, so its easily recognisable” ”….so each website had a consistent look and feel, using their new corporate colours when the Só logo was introduced…Everything must really be standardised, like with regard to social media there was a plan been put in place to highlight to the individual hotels to do smarter social media.” “We also streamlined all our websites which was important too, so they all have the same layout and format…” “…a consistent design for each of the logos, there was a group look and feel throughout the hotels. The website as well is very important, as you would go from one website to another you would also be able to see the group identity…” When discussing secondary communication each of the interviewees displayed a strong focus on the internet and social media as a common medium for marketing the CI of Só Hotels. According to Melewar et. al (2006), websites and social media are a significant component of visual identity that stakeholders use to seek information on specific organisations. Therefore, the internet as a marketing tool with a focus on the organisation’s website and social media platforms should be taken into consideration when communicating CI. This emerging theme will be encapsulated into the revised framework. 18.104.22.168 Tertiary Communication Tertiary communication is the third stage of step two, which focuses on the uncontrolled WOM communications between stakeholders and networks, (Balmer and Greyser 2003; Balmer 2017). Such communication occurs through stakeholder’s perceptions which is influenced by the organisations unintentionally. According to Kitchen et al. 2013, the management of such communication is difficult, therefore tertiary communication will be discussed in the next step in more detail as it is through effective management that this process can be actioned. After analysing the interview responses, it is clear that Só Hotels took similar steps in communicating the new CI as to that outlined in step two of the proposed conceptual framework. Thus, strengthening the secondary research which illustrates the importance of communicating CI through effective and consistent visual and non-visual communication. 4.3.3 Step Three: Manage the Corporate Identity Strategy Step three of the proposed conceptual framework displays a process for managing the CI (figure 4.3). According to Balmer and Gary (2000), the management of an organisation’s CI is imperative to its succession. Effective management can be achieved through a concise and structured management team (Balmer and Gray 2000). Evidence and agreement of this was obvious through from the responses of the interviews. Figure 4.3 Step Three of Proposed Conceptual Framework Researcher: What do you believe is important when managing the CI? “Support from the top, and that all staff are fully aware of what’s going on, support really from the top so that it comes all the way to the front-line communication from the top down. And I suppose communication from them also, that’s why we have our weekly meetings, feedback and communication is the key to a successful business.” “Good management and good staff, behaviour and attitudes along with respect is essential, and that works both ways.” “All aspects affect the corporate identity, if you have a bad experience in one hotel it may affect the others also, it would reflect badly on the others. It important to communicate and keep a track of everything that going on through the hotels. Having a suppose one key person overseeing it helps as well.” Step three of the proposed conceptual framework focuses on the application of the CI Management Triangle of Melewar (2008). The management “triangle” aids to maintain a desired corporate image in the minds of stakeholders and comprises of three elements: the dissemination of mission and values, consistent image implementation, visual identity implementation. The following three sections explore the management “triangle” in light of the interview responses to ascertain the procedure followed by Só Hotels when managing their CI. 22.214.171.124 The Dissemination of Mission and Values The dissemination of mission and values reinforces that the management of CI requires the need for consistency and continuity which is driven by an organisation’s management team and reflected in its mission and values. According to Miles and Mangold (2004), management must develop and encourage consistent behavior among employees so that they effectively portray the CI in line with an organisation’s values (Melewar 2008). This is generally done through the professional management of the recruiting, training and development process of employees in order to effectively communicate consistent messages in line with the organisation’s CI. Throughout the interviews it became evident that this section of the management stage was second nature to the management team in the Só Hotel group. The management team placed a high focus on training and development in line with the organisation’s CI. The researcher further developed this topic by probing questions regarding the management of the CI. Researcher: Do you or the hotel managers work internally to help employees understand and act in alignment with the corporate identity of Só Hotels? How? “Well we do because you learn the brand through standards, we drive standards, the staff are the ones implementing but continuous one to one coaching and training..” “We also do training with staff all the time, we currently have staff on Conor Kenny training courses, so we develop their skills, supervisors are the same, we have monthly meetings and training sessions to develop the team from staff to supervisors to management” “I manage through training and staff. Make sure everything is line the standards.” “…. training constant management of staff to keep them in line with the brand and remind them of what we stand for and weekly meetings, also support for them is needed the employees are very important, they are the ones speaking with customers every day” “I suppose through training and making sure the messages from the top management are filtered down through all the staff, they all must be aware of the values, a lot of this is also done through HR when they hire new staff and inductions” Researcher: What measures are taken to manage the CI of Só Hotels with regard to service, product offering? “I manage a team of general managers and within the head of departments meetings, so between within the nine departments of the hotel and between the 12 or 14 representatives that would go to these meetings from each of the hotels that’s where I would come into it from a service and operational point of view.” “we all don’t have the product but service would be the same and appearance but not the same in each hotel, each hotel is allowed take on their own identity but keeping in line with brand….. like our standards are the same, but with our identity we keep a little bit of our own history..” 126.96.36.199 Consistent Image Implementation This section of the management “triangle” focuses on the consistent image implementation by which all the various dimensions of CI are presented resulting in a coherent corporate image. The management of the section focuses on all visual and non-visual elements of an organisation which can influence the perception and reputation of the CI image in the eyes of stakeholders. With regard to the management of the CI image of Só Hotels, it is the responsibility of the general managers in each individual hotel, which is then overseen by Lee Gregson, the group GM. The researcher further probed the interviewees regarding their beliefs on the importance of the CI image and how it is managed in Só Hotels. “well good feedback to customers and making sure they have a good perception of the hotel. We want them back again, so everything from when they come in the door to when they leave and the follow up” When Mark O’Shaughnessy, Operations Manager at the Castletroy Park Hotel, was asked how the visual image of the hotel is managed, he replied with reference to tertiary communication, or word of mouth communication. As previously mentioned, uncontrolled or tertiary communication is difficult to manage, but Mr. O’Shaughnessy maintains that truthful and professional reaction to feedback is an important aspect when managing the CI image of the hotel. “I look after TripAdvisor for example, and I respond truthfully to all comments good and bad. ………….. I reply in a professional manner to represent the hotel group as it should be. We pride ourselves on customer satisfaction, they do come first if they have valid points, obviously you will have the odd ones that just like complaining. But its about reacting and ensuring that the customers gain trust in what we said.” Mr. O’Shaughnessy also made reference to the presentation and behaviour of employees and the management team, which he believed influences the nonvisual image of the hotel. “Well I think a lot is how I talk about the hotel and how I present myself and making sure that the employees present themselves and their behaviour” “Even Today I met a guest in the elevator and he asked me did I work here and I said yes and he said to me that all the staff are immaculately presented and friendly…… so I think how the employees feel and act communicates to the external. Everyone must be professional at all times even outside of work and how they speak and feel about the hotel” Regular PR meetings and training of employees on appropriate marketing of the Hotels in line with the brand was a topic that was also revealed. PR and marketing meetings occur bi-monthly throughout the group. Such training and management aim to keep the overall visual image of the individual hotels in line with the vision and values of Só Hotels. “what we have done is tried to create a group google calendar which is imputed into by the marketing team across the hotels, what we are doing there is that we are flagging up any perhaps unbranded oriented posts” “We have done various group training sessions around this, so for instance how to take a photograph. How to stage a quick video, to make sure we are getting absolutely the proper content, so no grainy photographs, or photographs with the wrong communication and so on and so forth” “… there was a brief social media course that was rolled out in my last couple of weeks” 188.8.131.52 Visual Identity Implementation The visual identity implementation aspect of the management “triangle”, as the name suggests, is concerned with the management of the visual identity of an organisation which involves the consistency of all visual aspects such as logos, name, colors and typography. The management of the visual identity aspects of Só Hotels is the responsibility of Marie McDonagh, Group Marketing and Design Manager. Ms. McDonagh oversees all visual aspects to ensure consistency in line with the brand. Brand guidelines are in place throughout the hotels to ensure consistency in the logos and any marketing material. “I try to look after all the design so that there is consistency, for instance if the hotels were doing brochures and stuff they would send them to me first before they go to print as well, so its managed like that. I give the visual ok on them” “..the logos and things like the rules for instance, the logo couldn’t be any smaller than 2cm wide or else you wouldn’t be able to read the tagline. If it was less than 2cm the tagline had to be removed as it was eligible. Also, guidelines for the design of stationary and design and stuff” On analysis of the responses, it was evident that Só Hotels take great measures to manage the CI similar to that of step three outlined in the proposed conceptual framework. However, one prevailing topic discussed was tertiary communication, it is evident that such communication should be the focus of CI management and not an action in the CI communication step. Therefore, this section of step two will be moved to the consistent image implementation section of step three. While organisations can be conscious of WOM communication, it should be appropriately managed through the CI management stage as identified through the primary research. 4.3.4 Step Four: Evaluate the CI Strategy The final step of the proposed conceptual framework is the evaluation stage (figure 4.4). It is recommended that managers evaluate and review such information at least once a year to ensure that the organisation’s image and reputations are in line with the strategic objectives of their CI strategy (Balmer 2001). Figure 4.4 Step Four of Proposed Conceptual Framework Só Hotels have not evaluated the CI strategy. There were mixed responses on the time frame of the evaluation stage of the CI of Só Hotels. However, Balmer (2001) recommends that managers should evaluate and review the CI strategy at least once a year to ensure that the organisation’s image and reputations are in line with the strategic objectives of their CI strategy. “No, we haven’t got that far yet, it will be something we will be addressing but we just haven’t got that far yet…” “I think it’s coming up now on the time that it should be evaluated and to take stock of where it’s at” “We do keep on top of individual reviews and assess them. “We aren’t even a year launched so I wouldn’t be looking at this for another while yet, I’d say maybe year 3. Or maybe year 2” “Im not sure its developed enough yet, it’s still at an early development stage” One respondent suggested that the evaluation step has not been carried out as a group due to the fact that the hotels have individual CI’s. He maintains that each hotel is still finding their place within the group. This may suggest that the evaluation of the CI may vary depending on the chosen structure of the group, whether monolithic, endorsed and branded. However, he did state that the individual hotels are evaluated on a regular basis through online platforms that give customer feedback and review ratings. “We evaluate it within each individual hotel, so it might be forums like TripAdvisor comments, results and ratings, Avalpro comments and ratings, booking.com ratings am customer feedback in general. We do individually but there is no at this point on time no specific brand feedback. Its partially due to the fact that the hotels have to remain dominant and individual. Its finding its place there” The researcher further probed the interviewees regarding the topic to ascertain how they would go about evaluating the CI of Só Hotels. “If I were to evaluate it now, I would say we would have to look back on all our original documents and see how close or how far off we are” “I think we would look back at the objectives we set and try to see if we can assess them and see have they been met” One respondent referred to a phone application for the evaluation of the CI, which he is currently trialing. “called debiquity, and it is exactly that, so you set the parameters of what you want to see within the hotels. So, from the front door to the kitchen to the food offering, it’s an application that you let someone off with basically and its quiet a powerful app, I really like, it it’s called dubiquity, it’s an application that if we really wanted to tighten the grip of the brand on the locations, we could definitely use that. It covers all types of customer service, food products, hospitality presentation, look and feel, welcome, all that type of thing, of the values that Só stands for” After analysing the results with reference to step four, it is apparent that there is insufficient information or practical experience to alter or enhance in any way the CI evaluation process proposed in the conceptual framework. 4.4 Summary of Findings During the interview stage of this research, the participants explained the establishment process of Só Hotels CI strategy. In doing so, it was brought to light that a competitor analysis was conducted. This process of step one was not identified in the literature review, and hence showed a gap in the research. The framework will be altered to reflect this procedure. The primary research also revealed that the identification of the desired CI was not a dominant process in the step, therefore this action will not be included in the revised conceptual framework. The primary research strongly supported the fact that objectives were set during the CI establishment stage, along with the decision on what type of structure the hotel group should form. Só Hotels adopted an endorsed CI structure and from this, the management team changed the mission statement, formal documentation, logo and brand in line with the new CI. The primary research conducted in this chapter affirms that the development of a successful corporate identity strategy can be built through appropriate communication actions to all stakeholders. The process of primary and secondary CI communication within Só Hotels is strongly supported. However, from the analysis of the interview responses, the author maintains that tertiary communication should be the focus of CI management and not a communication action as proposed in the conceptual framework. She believes that, while organisations can be conscious of WOM communication, it should be appropriately managed through the CI management process and therefore this action will be moved to step three of the proposed framework. Throughout the discussion of the CI communication of Só Hotels, it became apparent that organisations focus their marketing efforts online through their website and social media platforms. Furthermore, Melewar et al (2006) emphasise the importance of websites and social media platforms as a significant component of corporate visual identity. Therefore, the internet and social media, as a marketing tool, will be highlighted in step two of the revised framework as an important aspect to consider when communicating CI. The management team of Só Hotels affirmed the secondary research by emphasising the responsibility of an effective management team in overseeing and managing the CI strategy. The management team placed a high focus on training and development in line with the organisation’s CI. Overall, Só Hotels supported the CI Management “Triangle” of Melewar (2008). The management team aim to maintain consistency across all aspects of visual and non-visual aspects of the individual hotels, while constantly keeping in line with the vision and values of the Só Hotels. While the literature review maintains that CI strategies should be evaluated on an annual basis, Só Hotels have not yet evaluated their CI strategy. However, various opinions were expressed regarding how this procedure would be conducted and some of the interviewees suggested looking at the original objectives to see were they met, while, another respondent referred to an application which can evaluate CI within hotels groups. In conclusion, step four of the proposed conceptual framework will not be altered, as it is not supported by any evidence. 4.5 Conclusion A proposed conceptual framework (figure 2.11) was formulated after gathering the secondary research which displayed the steps and process that organisation managers should follow when establishing, communicating, managing and evaluating a CI strategy. Upon investigation and analysis of the primary research, in line with each step of the proposed conceptual framework, various sections within each step have altered to reflect the interview responses. The development of this model encapsulates the procedures and views experienced by the interviewees during the CI strategy process of Só Hotels. The revised framework illustrates four key steps for hospitality managers in hotel groups to follow when applying a CI strategy, these steps will be discussed in Chapter 5. 5.0 Chapter 5: Conclusions and Recommendations 5.1 Introduction The preceding chapter outlined the results of the primary research conducted in this study. In terms of the primary research, a case study of Só Hotels was compiled using six in-depth interviews. The findings were then compared to the proposed conceptual framework developed in chapter two to create a more defined and specialised theoretical framework. This framework will be useful for managers in hotel groups to follow when applying a CI strategy. Based on the overall objectives outlined for this study, this chapter will present the main conclusions to the research. This chapter will also provide recommendations for hospitality managers when generating a corporate identity in a hotel group. The limitations of the study will also be discussed in order to put all of the research findings and conclusions in perspective. Finally, this chapter will conclude with suggestions for future research. Conclusions will be presented with reference to the main research question and the objectives of the study. “Understanding Corporate Identity in the Irish Hospitability Sector” is the title of this study, while the research question, “What is the most effective process for establishing, communicating, managing and evaluating a corporate identity strategy in a chain of hotels?” provided the background theme for the study. This chapter will begin with a detailed analysis of the research objectives. However, due to the exploratory nature of the study, the conclusions obtained from the findings cannot be generalised to the larger population. 5.2 Research Objectives At the beginning of this research study, five objectives were identified and outlined to present an understanding of the research question. The five objectives were: To understand what is meant by corporate identity and the importance of it within the hospitality sectorTo identify the dominant elements of corporate identityTo analyse existing literature to extensively comprehend the process involved in the establishment, communication, management and evaluation of a corporate identity strategyTo conduct primary research to investigate the corporate identity strategy adopted by Só HotelsTo formulate a clear process for managers in hotel groups to follow when establishing, communicating, managing and evaluating a corporate identity strategy 5.2.1 To understand what is meant by corporate identity and the importance of it within the hospitality sector The literature reviewed various viewpoints and meanings of CI from various authors. There is a common consensus that corporate identity is the structural planned presentation of itself to its stakeholders, both internal and external. It was noted in the literature that a strong CI encourages stakeholder commitment which influences decisions regarding investment, careers, product and service choices (Melewar 2003). A further analysis of the literature review highlighted the significance of CI in the hospitability sector. Over the past 20 years a large number of hotel owners expanded their businesses through mergers and acquisitions. From this, the importance of having a well-defined corporate identity became evident. The literature also revealed that stakeholders tend to stay loyal to a hotel group once one has been chosen. Hospitality managers have to communicate the CI of an organisation effectively in order to maintain or increase competitive advantage. According to Brownell (1992), this can be achieved through a well-managed corporate identity strategy which should reflect an organisation’s beliefs, values and purposes, products, cultures and facilities. On analysis of the importance of CI within the hospitality sector, the dimensions of corporate image and corporate reputation came to light. Corporate image is how the public currently perceive the corporate identity and is created within the minds of the public as a result of different received messages. Corporate reputation evolves over time by repeated impressions of the corporate image. A positive corporate image and reputation will lead to the development of a successfully defined corporate identity strategy. 5.2.2 To identify the dominant elements of corporate identity The literature reviewed revealed many viewpoints and perspectives regarding the meaning of CI and the elements which construct it. A combination of these elements provide theories by which organisations can portray their identities to stakeholders. The literature identified a common consensus that at least the elements of communication, symbols, behavior and culture are significant parts of CI. In addition, the importance of the organisation founder and mission statement as CI elements were examined and were added to the four previously identified CI elements. The six elements are presented in section 2.6 of the literature review. This objective was further met when participating interviewees supported the secondary research by acknowledging and revealing the importance of the CI elements, with a particular focus on that of the organisation founder and mission statement. 5.2.3 To analyse existing literature to extensively comprehend the process involved in the establishment, communication, management and evaluation of a corporate identity strategy As previously mentioned, the literature recognised that there is a broad consensus that the concept of corporate identity includes the way in which an organisation presents itself by the use of communication, visual identity, behaviour, culture, mission statement and organisation founder. These elements provide the main determinants for establishing, communicating, managing and evaluating an organisation’s CI. In doing so, the literature highlighted the techniques required in establishing and communicating an organisation’s desired CI, considering both visual and nonvisual cues. It also signified the importance of communicating an organisation’s culture appropriately to positively impact employee behaviour. The management and evaluation of CI strategies were also discussed. Based on all the relevant literature reviewed and incorporating insights from various authors, the researcher met this objective by proposing a conceptual framework (figure 2.11) in chapter two of this study. The proposed framework incorporates aspects from several frameworks discussed in the literature review, they are that of Kennedy et. al (2013), Balmer’s Affinity Audit (1996), the Laddering Technique (van Rekom 1994), the Spiderweb Method (Bernstein 1986), the concept of Total Corporate Communications (Balmer and Gray 2003), TCPSS for the Hospitality Sector (Keddi and Torfve 2005), CI Management Triangle of Melewar (2008) and Balmer’s (2001) AC2ID Test of Corporate Identity Management. 5.2.4 To conduct primary research to investigate the corporate identity strategy adopted by Só Hotels The importance of this research was to investigate how corporate identity strategies are adopted in Irish hotel groups and to develop from these findings a framework that could be used by hospitability managers as a guide when generating corporate identity. This objective was met when participating interviewees demonstrated their knowledge, views and procedures experienced during the CI strategy process of Só Hotels. The steps outlined in the proposed conceptual framework of chapter two aided in forming the semi structured questions for the primary research which allowed the researcher to investigate the corporate identity strategy adopted by Só Hotels. 5.2.5 To formulate a clear process for managers in hotel groups to follow when establishing, communicating, managing and evaluating an effective corporate identity strategy This objective was prematurely addressed in chapter two where a proposed conceptual framework was devised. Upon completing the primary research and analysing the results, the framework was modified to accurately represent the process involved in generating corporate identity for hotel groups. The revised framework encapsulates the procedures and views experienced by the interviewees during the CI strategy process of Só Hotels and, in turn, reflects the actual process organisations engage in when generating corporate identity in hotel groups. The revised framework has been reproduced on the following page (figure 5.1). The following sections will discuss the changes made to the proposed framework to accurately represent the process of establishing, communicating, managing and evaluating corporate identity in practice. It will also highlight the various prevailing themes which emerged through the primary research. Figure 5.1 Revised Conceptual Framework 5.3 Revised Conceptual Framework The first step of the framework addresses the establishment of a desired CI. This step is divided into five sections. Firstly, “Set Objectives”, involves the process by which the organisation sets their objectives and integrates them into a focused strategy for achieving a successful CI. “Competitor Analysis”, this section of step one recommends that a competitor analysis is conducted, such analysis involves assessing similar organisations in the market place. The next action is to investigate the current CI, this involves assessing the strengths and weaknesses of the current CI, which should identify reasons why, if any, the current CI failed to communicate an adequate image. Following on from this, the structural approach in which an organisation wishes to encounter must be defined, as it will direct the formation of the CI strategy. The three CI structural approaches are monolithic, endorsed and branded. The final stage in step one involves the altercation or development of the vision, mission statement, formal policies and the visual identity aspects in line with the new CI. The second step of the framework is concerned with the implementation of the desired CI, otherwise known as the communication step. This step involves the communication of the CI to both internal and external stakeholders, which encompasses primary and secondary communication. The new CI should be communicated through an organisation’s products, services, management, employees & behaviour. The secondary communication process maintains that the new CI should be communicated through appropriate marketing tools and the visual expression of the organisation (section 184.108.40.206). While communicating the CI through primary and secondary communication, a large emphasises should be placed online. An organisation’s website and social media platforms are considered an important marketing tool for hotel groups. As an additional guide for hotel managers, Keddi and Torfve’s (2005) TPCCS for the hospitality sector can be used when considering visual and non-visual aspects in order to communicate a consistent CI. These are nomenclature and branding, graphic design, formal statements, architecture, media relations and routine interactions. The third step of the framework involves the management of the CI. The first process in this step is to ensure the organisations have a strong and structured management team in place to eliminate any moral or bad attitudes within an organisation. The second action in step three is to apply the CI Management Triangle of Melewar (2008). This will enable an organisation to establish a desired corporate image in the minds of their stakeholders. The CI Management Triangle (Melewar 2008) incorporates three actions, the first is to maintain consistency through corporate image implementation, this involves the continuous examination of all visual and non-visual aspects of the organisation’s image, which in turn influences stakeholder’s perceptions. In addition to this action the framework emphasises that organisations must not ignore tertiary communication and should respond professional and honestly. The second process in step three is the dissemination of the organisation’s mission and values, which maintains that the management team must develop and encourage consistent behavior among employees in line with the mission, vision and values. Finally, the third action is the implementation of the visual identity. Management must ensure consistency across all the visual aspects and create specific procedures for visual presentation, such as the logo. The fourth and final step of the revised conceptual framework articulates the annual evaluation of the organisation’s CI to ensure that the organisation’s image and reputations are in line with the strategic objectives of their CI strategy. Such evaluation involves the application of Balmer’s AC2ID test (2001), this involves the investigation of five types of CI identities; actual identity, communicated identity, conceived identity, ideal identity and desired identity. The test aims to achieve an alignment between the five types of identities outlined above. Where there is a large gap between the identities then corrective actions are required. The test can also aid in evaluating the overall focus of an organisation and the appropriateness of the current CI management procedures (Balmer 1995). After due consideration of the primary research there are various components from the original conceptual framework which do not appear as part of the revised framework. In addition, and as highlighted in the discussion of the findings, there are various components and process incorporated into the revised framework. The revised conceptual framework proposes a realistic process for managers in hotel groups to follow when establishing, communicating, managing and evaluating a corporate identity strategy. 5.4 Recommendations The focus of this research was corporate identity strategies within the Irish hospitality industry. This research provides guidance on how managers can successfully build and manage their organisation’s corporate identity. With the help of this research hotel managers can identify the steps involved in the establishment, communication, management and evaluation of a CI strategy while avoiding major pitfalls. Consequently, the research has multiple recommendations for managers and decision-makers. The following lists the key take-outs and recommendations to aid hospitability managers when generating a corporate identity strategy within a hotel group. Decide upon a CI structure that best suits the affiliated hotels. The frequent referral to the CI structure throughout this research donates that hotel groups must consider the structure of their CI. In the case of Só Hotels, the four affiliated hotels, had different locations and target markets, therefore, not to affect each individual business, the group decided to adopt an endorsed CI structure. The decision on which CI structure will best suit the induvial affiliated hotels will set the CI strategy for the hotel group. The importance of the mission statement. A mission statement should be constructed and overseen by the organisation founder or senior management team. The mission statement should reflect the major characteristics of the organisation’s vision and goals, and the operational environment, such as the cultural and behavioral mindset of stakeholders. It should also consider how the group would like to be perceived. The mission statement will form a guidance for any future decisions and for the evaluation and reflection on the organisation’s CI strategy progress.Good management team with communication skills. The management team should be grounded in the strategic characteristics of the organisation, and carried out by cross-functional teams through strong management skills, permissive codes of conduct, standards of practice and appropriate communication. Creating a consistent and coherent style of communication, communicating various dimensions of the company’s corporate identity, using various communication channels, engaging the audience, and utilising social media platforms as well as the individual website elements are useful practices in communicating and managing corporate identity. The internet and social media platforms are a relevant and useful channel for building and managing corporate identity and they both have a unique role as a part of corporate identity communication. Overall, the presentation and communication of corporate identity should be designed to portray the group brand in line with the CI structure as best possible.React to negative feedback. Gaining feedback from presenting corporate identity and incorporating this feedback into the CI management process and organisational characteristics enhances continuous renewal. Embrace change. Corporate identity strategies should embrace the interactive ways of communication. Being receptive, flexible and able to react to the changing needs of stakeholders in a timely manner is essential. By following the above revised framework (figure 5.1), for establishing, communicating, managing and evaluating corporate identity, along with the recommendations hotel managers can comprehend the various tangible and intangible benefits for an organisation. These benefits include for example establishing credibility, loyalty and support amongst stakeholders, gaining competitive advantage and boosting corporate image and reputation. A strong corporate identity helps to present the company to its stakeholders in a unique and compelling way. 5.5 Research Limitations Upon reflection of the research study, the researcher came across common limitations to case study research, that is, the risk of gathering too little or too much data, such data not being relevant to the research question and an over complexity of the information gathered. Another limitation is the use of a single case study, according to Yin (2003), a single case study is weaker than a multiple case study as the research findings cannot be applied in any other situations. Therefore, this research does not represent the way in which all organisations operate. Despite this, Só Hotels is a real-life business example which shows how theoretical aspects can be applied to a real strategy. The original research plan was to conduct ten interviews but this proved difficult. This was due to the timing of which the research was conducted which presented problems in arranging suitable times to interview people, as many were on annual leave. Another limitation to this study, is that the researcher is currently employed by Só Hotels and works in the sales and marketing department at the Castletroy Park Hotel. She was not directly involved in the execution of the CI for Só Hotels and all efforts were made by her to be as objective and unbiased as possible throughout the research. Só Hotels is a newly formed hotel group and, although the primary research was plentiful, an evaluation of their CI has not yet been carried out, therefore step four of the revised conceptual framework is not supported by any primary research. 5.6 Further Research This study focused on the corporate identity strategy as it is implemented and managed by the case organisation, Só Hotels. A relevant subject for future research would be to evaluate the success of their CI strategy. The evaluation of such should include the stakeholder’s perception of the corporate identity, that is, the images held by the audiences such as customers, investor and employees. In this way, the contribution could be advanced to understanding corporate identity as a two-way relationship between the hotel group and its stakeholders. It would also give a more representative picture of the organisation’s entire corporate identity strategy. As previously mentioned, a single case study approach sets certain limitations concerning the applicability of the findings. The selected method, however, best fits the research objectives as it allows the researcher to have a thorough look into the case organisation’s corporate identity strategy. A comparison with other Irish hotel group’s corporate identity strategies was not possible to carry out in the outline of this study, and it therefore remains a topic for further research. It would be valuable to investigate whether there are distinct ways of generating corporate identity strategies in Irish hotel groups, and to gain a deeper knowledge of the relationship between the different types of CI structures and the CI strategies. Although the importance of social media and the internet was an emerging theme throughout the primary research, the researcher didn’t assess CI communication or management in the context of social media as a marketing tool. Therefore, the author recommends further research into the effects of social media on CI with a focus on the hospitality sector. It would also be significant to be able to link the successful management of corporate identity in social media to tangible business results. Suggesting that there is a requirement to study the phenomenon also from a more quantitative perspective.
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