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Positioning is defined by Bennett and Strydom as involving a complex set of perceptions, impressions and feelings that the customers have about the product or an organisation, often compared to the competitors. Most of the authors have similar definitions about product positioning hinging on the concepts of perception of the target market in relation to competitors. One important contribution by Chon and Maier (2009) who studied product positioning is the conclusion that customers would position an organisation, product or service, always in conjunction with the market and even if the organisation is not doing any strategic positioning. Different forms, options and methods of positioning have been suggested by several researchers. The success of positioning is determined by the uniqueness of the product-service makes and the promotion (Ng 2009). The concept of "unique selling proposition" provides the management with a differentiator from the competition and hence a competitive advantage.
The various definitions analysed by the researcher, some of which are provided above indicates that positioning is the concept rather than a fact and pertains to influencing the customer perceptions. Most of the positioning concepts in the reviewed articles are about products and not entire organisations. Furthermore positioning of the product or an organisation is relative and is the combination of those factors and information that the market segment has about the product or the organisation.
Based on the concepts of perception and the relativeness of the positioning of an organisation or product, Hassanien (2008) has identified that advertising and marketing communications attempt to provide the information and teach people about how to perceive a brand. On the other hand Ibrahim and Gill (2005) have provided contrary opinion which indicates that the basis of all advertisement and marketing communication is to divide the competitive landscape and associate the marketer's product or organisation with specific factors which are unique. Hassanien (2006) who evaluated brand positioning have come to the conclusion that positioning strategy of an organisation is a battle for the consumer's minds and when an organisation promotes a particular type of position, the competitors are also positioned in the minds of the consumers. Although most of the researchers has considered positioning from the perspective of advertisements and marketing communications, Tinnilä and Vepsäläinen (1995) have indicated that consumer's viewpoint and perceptions about a product or an organisation is derived mainly from the performance or the experience. The positioning messages through advertisement and marketing communication should be in line with the performance and experience characteristics.
The above discussion indicates that positioning is relevant to the concepts relating to advertisement and marketing, however as promoted by Hassanien (2006) positioning can be defined from the perspective of customers evaluation of the product or the organisation. The other researchers have identified the various methods available for positioning. The most apt definition for positioning is provided by Hassanien (2006) based on the concept of capturing the consumers might and in relation to competitors.
Lo et. al. (2012) have identified that positioning messages are significantly different from the brand communications and marketing communications. Many organisations as per McGoldrick (1992) ignore the need to provide a positioning message. The implementation of a particular positioning strategy would depend upon the ability of the communication strategy of the organisation about the product or service. Ibrahim and Gill (2005) have analysed the end results of failure to plan and implement a positioning of the product or an organisation thus necessitating a planned repositioning. The failure to plan and a strategic miscarriage of implementation can result in the product or the service relegated to the position facing competition which is unwarranted, leads to the position with little customer demand, leads to confused positioning, over positioning and under positioning (Lo et. al. 2012).
Based on this one can say that positioning of an organisation is not conducted in vacuum and rather than establishing one organisation or product, positioning is encouraging an alternative view of the product or the organisation. Although it is considered that branding and marketing communications are different from product positioning messages, the previous section have contributed to the conclusions that these messages are very much in line to the positioning messages and hence should have a high degree of correlation.
Repositioning has been considered by Wong and Merrilees (2007) as a strategy to align the organisation/product/service with the existing or future market conditions. Since positioning has a considerable effect on brand management, marketing communications, strategic management, human resources and so forth, Bruyn and Freathy (2011) have concluded that positioning can be analysed and evaluated from all the activities of the organisation. Even if an organisation's product or service is placed at a better position than the competitors, it is natural to conduct repositioning to improve the competitive advantage. Hence the repositioning according to Saxena and Khandelwal (2010) is not only because of failed positioning strategy but also to improve the future prospects of the product or service. The different reasons identified by several researchers for repositioning are provided below.
Reasons for repositioning
As per Ibrahim and Gill (2005) repositioning is conducted to improve the competitive advantage or to avoid and create a barrier for new firms entering into the same position. Saxena and Khandelwal (2010) from empirical research of several organisational and product repositioning have acknowledged that repositioning is usually conducted to target a new segment of customers even while holding onto the old ones. However Kalafatis et. al. (2000) have indicated that expanding the target segment may lead to confused positioning even if the organisation is able to improve the revenues and the market share. Expansion of the market share by targeting a new segment would need satisfying the current and potential consumer base which may have varying levels of needs and requirements.
Apart from the organisational or internal factors contributing to a repositioning decision, several other researchers such as Bruyn and Freathy (2011) have analysed the need for repositioning based on changes to the larger environment. A new trend in the market, emerging technology, improving the corporate image and compliance to legal regulations are some of the larger environmental factors necessitating the repositioning. However, most of the repositioning of products and services has been to correct the confused positioning, over positioning and under positioning as per (Boric 1998).
Several necessities or the factors contributing to repositioning of products or organisations identified above indicates that there could be external and internal factors facilitating the decision on repositioning. Even though Saxena and Khandelwal (2010) have conducted an empirical investigation, the researcher feels that it is not sufficient as the research is based on a small number of samples where repositioning was conducted and hence it is not clear how an organisation can target a new segment even while holding onto the old ones. The expansion of the target segment as identified by Kalafatis et. al. (2000) could lead to confusion in the market which is contradictory to the position of Saxena and Khandelwal (2010). Further Kalafatis et. al. (2000) has done the research using several case studies and has appropriately provided several certifications about confusion of positioning and expanding the target segment.
Process of repositioning
The concept of repositioning in marketing literature comes in tandem with the branding and product development. Although branding and positioning of products and organisations have several common and uniquely accepted definitions, repositioning seems to have little uniqueness in terms of the definitions proposed by several authors.
According to Foxell and Trafford (2010) repositioning is a change in the image of the product by developing a change of the perception of customers. However the ways in which the perceptions of the customers are altered have received different explanations. According to Chotipanich (2004) repositioning has been considered in a vague manner by changing the existing positioning however the researcher has not provided any specific framework for the implementation. Similarly Groucutt (2006) couples repositioning with the advertisement strategy of an organisation, executing the image makeover and hence a change in the perception. A more in depth concept identified by Hassanien (2008) suggests repositioning as a process involving six phases depending upon the newness of the products to the market. Similar viewpoints are recognized in the works of Foxell and Trafford (2010) where repositioning is considered as a process of using same or differentiated products to new target markets or segments.
Most of the concepts of repositioning of products are in association with product development and branding. This would indicate that repositioning is a form of changing the direction of the existing products to new market segments. The repositioning process suggested by Hassanien (2008) involving six phases is very much pertinent to the hospitality industry and can be applied for products as well as organisational repositioning however other researchers have been focused on product repositioning rather than organisational repositioning and hence not very much pertinent to the processes adopted in the hospitality industry. However the general concepts relating to change of image and the perception of customers are very much relevant.
Another attitude to repositioning is taken by Park and Smith (1990) suggesting it as a strategy developed to enhance the performance of an organisation or product. The view expressed by Pierce and Moukanas (2002) however in conjunction with product development is the product repositioning for mature markets. According to Pike et. al. (2010) new product development is in itself a repositioning strategy and the coupling of repositioning with the literature on the new product is essentially based on the consideration that the new products are a modification of the existing products.
From the above one can consider that repositioning has received less attention in the form of developing a unique framework whereas it is being suggested in many areas especially related to new product development. However most of the repositioning in practice has occurred for existing products rather than new products. Based on the above review of different sources on the concepts of repositioning and its associations with different aspects such as target market, market segment, new product development and branding strategy, one can identify the considerable gap in the literature about the implementation of repositioning. Moreover repositioning is usually associated with product development and hence the literature indicates certain confusion in the way in which it is associated with products and brands. Further even the implementation strategy identified from different sources has focused on advertisements and has ignored several other considerations.
Another method to repositioning which can be considered as comprehensive is suggested by Gupta (2012) which touches upon the processes, controlling variables and its effects. The concept identifies the repositioning as part of the marketing process. It is the process involved in marketing either to partially or totally change the perceptions of the customers about an organisation by making amendments or adding value to the marketing mix. The marketing factors are changed to comply with the factors associated with consumers or competition with a target of retaining, expanding or changing the target segments.
The above view can be considered as comprehensive as it indicates the processes, identifying them as a partial or total change in the make-up of a product or an organisation, based on the marketing factors to change the perceptions of the target segment in order to improve the performance. Furthermore this concept can be differentiated from other definitions as the targets are uniquely identified as retention, expansion or even the change of market segments.
Strategy of repositioning
Most of the strategies of repositioning proposed by the researchers have similarities with little change or distinguishing features from one to another. As proposed by Hassanien (2008) and Chotipanich (2004) the first process is the determination of current positioning, followed by the analysis of the market to decide on the expected position. Further modifying, designing or renovating the product/service to suit to the desired position is also projected by Nykiel (2008). One distinguishing factor acknowledged by Gupta (2012) through the case study analysis of several repositioning practices is the measurement of the desired positioning and further rectifications. Although the positioning strategies seem to be relatively simple in structure and model, Bennett and Strydom (2009) and Foxell and Trafford (2010) have examined the credibility and reliability of the strategy through empirical and qualitative studies. This factor is deliberated by Ferrell and Hartline (2010) and suggests that it is far difficult to remove the old perceptions from the consumer's mind rather than moving to a new idea with an existing product or service.
Furthermore based on certain case studies Chon and Maier (2009) have concluded that removing the old perceptions with a change of idea for an existing product is significantly different and promotes the idea of rolling out a brand-new product or service thus differentiating it with the old ones. However this may not be possible with all the products and services especially those in the hospitality sector. The repositioning of the hotel would need a move to a new proposition and removing those factors from the consumer's mind which were identified with the old positioning strategy (Pike et. al. 2010).
When considering the larger picture, the strategies provided by the researchers as above, seems to be very similar to the steps in positioning a product in the first place. One difference especially in the hospitality sector would be the difficulty in moving to a new position relevant to the market and removing the old perceptions from the customers mind. Hence Chon and Maier (2009) have aptly pointed out that removing the old perceptions is difficult especially for hospitality organisations such as hotels and restaurants. The product may be repositioned by changing the packaging or even slightly the brand name whereas an organisation cannot be repositioned as easily as the products.
Resource based view of repositioning
Repositioning strategists have used the theoretical basis of resource-based analysis as the main factor. One of the basic considerations of an organisation or a brand repositioning is the imperfection of the market and the heterogeneity of the products available in the market (O'Fallon and Rutherford 2010). Consequently the market participants are having asymmetric information about the characteristics affecting the market. Repositioning according to Zaransky (2009) is the strategy adopted to improve the competitiveness of the brand or an organisation. Based on the resource-based view point Merrilees and Miller (2008) have concluded that repositioning of the brand or an organisation should consider the inefficiencies existing in the market and to capitalise on such inefficiencies and market gaps. As any strategy would have external and internal implications, Enz (2009) acknowledged that repositioning would be in relation to the competition (external) mainly emanating from the changes in the internal factors.
The resource-based view point would be highly dependent on repositioning of organisations rather than products as indicated by Zaransky (2009). Organisations have particular resources and when considering the hospitality companies, they are providing the resources as the services to the customers. Although the assertion by Merrilees and Miller (2008) about consideration of inefficiencies in the market and capitalising from the market gaps is a valid point, the researcher has not provided how such a repositioning of an organisation can be done.
Resource-based view in the hospitality sector
The concept under resource-based view characterises each organisation as having different capabilities and hence a certain level of uniqueness which are considered as "resources". These resources are the underlying factors which provide a competitive advantage to an organisation in the market (Buttle and Bowie 2012). In the case of organisations in the hospitality sector, there are resources which are tangible and intangible. Since the hospitality sector is largely service-oriented, many of the brand identities and perceptions of the customers would be dependent on the intangible factors such as the service and the brand image (Pierce and Moukanas 2002). It has also been studied by Beri (2009) that the capabilities of a firm can also be considered as the resources especially for service-based organisations.
When analysing the resources of an organisation, especially the tangible assets, the location is a unique factor along with the physical assets. However Chon and Maier (2009) designates that all the physical assets cannot be considered as resources as most of them are expected by the customers. There are certain unique factors which differentiate a hotel property from another such as a large swimming pool, the quality of the room, room environment, atmosphere and similar factors which can be differentiated or compared with the competitors. When considering repositioning, some of the tangible assets cannot be changed, especially the location and the larger environment associated with the location (Merrilees and Miller 2008).
The intangible resources of an organisation would be the capabilities of the firm and more importantly the brand image (O'Fallon and Rutherford 2010). It has been identified from the concept of resource-based view that the organisational capabilities and brand image can change over a period of time. The brand image depends upon the customer perceptions and the organisational capabilities depend on the management. The managerial abilities are a significant determining factor in the success of the repositioning strategy as the flexibility of the organisation contributes to responsiveness to the market conditions (Zaransky 2009).
As identified previously, repositioning involves the first step as the identification of the tangible and intangible assets and hence the resources of the organisation. Since some of the resources cannot be changed and some others cannot be encouraged to improve the performance (Hassanien et. al. 2012), it is necessary to identify those resources which can provide value over the long-term and hence competitive advantage. Based on this perspective Ng (2009) have considered that a resource can contribute to long-term competitive advantage when there is demand, the competitors are unable to replicate the resource and when the organisation is able to invest in the resource and generate long term profitability.
Hence it is necessary that an organisation should consider the resources which can be leveraged and compare it with the competition. This would require a careful analysis where some of the resources are selected for modification and some others which have to be eliminated. Although the market demand has to be considered, the emergence of new players in the market also has to be analysed as the repositioning strategy would take some time to put into effect. Overall from the above it can be concluded that repositioning is an external change of an organisation especially a change in the perception of the customers in comparison with the competition by leveraging the unique resources of the company which cannot be replicated by the competition.
Repositioning in the hospitality industry
As indicated previously, the tangible factors associated with an organisation in the hospitality industry, especially hotels cannot be changed significantly to align with the market characteristics. Hence the repositioning of the brand in the hotel sector would be to change the intangible factors associated with the organisation to ensure competitiveness. This is advocated by Hassanien et. al. (2012) and confirmed by a study of repositioning of various hotels. The study has identified that repositioning was conducted for expansion of market share, repositioning to service a separate market segment, entering into new markets by developing new products and services. However it has been found from the studies of repositioning of hotels that most of it consists of improvising on the already existing assets both tangible and intangible. Furthermore the studies piloted by Cant and Styrdom (2009) specify that the main consideration for hotel repositioning is to change the existing impression about the brand.
Based on some actual practical examples of repositioning and the research studies which have analysed them, one significant conclusion is that many of the repositioning involved only perception changes rather than actual.
Gupta (2012) have confirmed this suggestion that many of the brand repositioning have consisted of changing the outward design which are the intangible elements that would create an impression in the minds of the consumer about the change. Pike et. al. (2010) has identified the change in pricing and market orientation as a way to reposition the brand. Nevertheless most of these changes did not have a significant impact or a change in the actual tangible factors which the customers could gain after the repositioning. However, almost all the research studies and thus the researchers are in agreement in their view about repositioning of hotels and its association with renovation.
Although it has been suggested previously that little tangible improvements occur in repositioning of hotel properties, almost all repositioning has been researched from the perspective of hotel renovations. Hence a change in the tangible elements of a hotel is the main basis for repositioning even though the theoretical concepts provide otherwise. Further this can be considered in line with the resource-based view point where the resources (tangible and intangible elements) are changed to develop an alternative perspective for the customers. Hence the resource-based view point about repositioning can be considered as very relevant for hospitality organisations.
Hotel renovation as a repositioning strategy
Renovation is considered as the main tool for repositioning of a hotel property. Renovations of the hotel according to Simms and Trott (2007) are the improvement in the tangible elements. This can be a complete modification of the entire property, new extensions, renovating fixtures, equipment, additions and changes of furniture. As identified in the previous sections, repositioning has been considered along with new product development and innovation. Innovation or new product development is the work involved in developing a new idea and concept. According to Aldin et. al. (2004) innovation and product development is a continuous process involving varying degrees of change from the existing. Innovation can be highly discontinuous giving rise to entirely new products which require different positioning strategies. According to Kalafatis et. al. (2000) an innovative product or service can be defined from the perspective of the organisation and the market. The concept of new product development and innovation has been connected with renovation of hotel properties and repositioning. Repositioning in the hospitality sector especially hotels has been considered as strategic (Lo et. al. 2012), contributing to operational and functional necessities (Simms and Trott 2007). Renovation is also essential to sustain the competitive advantage, sustain the market share, improve operational efficiency (Wong and Merrilees 2007), improve the brand image, compliance with new regulations, technology and market conditions (Saxena and Khandelwal 2010). According to Bruyn and Freathy (2011) renovation is considered as the most important practices adopted by hotel are in the repositioning.
Since there is a necessity for a tangible change which needs to be perceived by the customers, hotels have adopted renovation to either improve the positioning or repositioning. From the above it can be concluded that the concepts involved in product repositioning, especially through innovation and new product development is the main underlying factor in the renovation of hotel properties. Similar to innovations and new product developments, hotels can reposition by changing the tangible aspects which can be felt and perceived by the customer.
The above literature provided the general concepts about positioning and repositioning, reasons, processes and the strategy followed by a specific concept of resource-based view point about repositioning which is very much pertinent to the hospitality industry. Although repositioning can be considered as the change in the perceptions of the customer, it has been suggested that product repositioning is much easier than an organisational repositioning. Hence organisations especially in the hospitality industry would need to consider the tangible and intangible elements which are resources of the company. Certain resources cannot be altered (such as the location) and only an external modification can change the perceptions whereas most of the repositioning in the hospitality sector does not have altered the tangible elements. Hence even with the change in the intangible elements, the hospitality company can facilitate a repositioning in the market.
The following sections provide an understanding of the methodological framework used by the researcher especially connected to primary data collection and the analysis, to answer the research questions. Any research should have a properly structured method which can be verified and validated. Further the description of the methodology provides the reader with the ability to analyse the research proper; especially relating to reliability and validity.
The initial sections of the methodology revolve around the larger frameworks relating to the philosophy adopted by the researcher and the research approach. Further sections move on to the practical considerations and factors adopted by the researcher to collect data, interpreting and analysing to develop the conclusions. Each section provides the description of various feasible and possible opportunities available with the researcher under each heading and the reason why the specific opportunities or framework was selected. The methodology section follows on the basis of the research onion framework developed by Saunders et. al. (2003) where the structure of the methodological framework is provided. This structure is provided in the below figure.
Source - Saunders et. al., (2003, p138)
The initial aim of the researcher was to analyse the strategies and methods being adopted by Crowne Plaza hotels in its repositioning to target the upper-upscale market. Based on this the following objectives were also formulated.
To critically evaluate the literature on repositioning of an organisation and hospitality sector in particular
To analyse the repositioning strategy adopted by Crowne Plaza hotels
To recommend improvements to the repositioning strategy of Crowne Plaza hotel brand
The above aims and objectives have largely remained the same; however the initial objective is completed with the completion of the literature review in the previous section. The focus of the methodology is to develop a framework for completing the second and the third research objectives which are enlarged below.
Research aims for objectives
To analyse the strategies adopted by Crowne Plaza hotels in repositioning to target upper-upscale market
To analyse the characteristics of the upper-upscale business segment
To analyse the general objectives of repositioning of Crowne Plaza hotel
To analyse the competition for Crowne Plaza Hotel after repositioning
To recommend improvements to the repositioning strategy of Crowne Plaza hotel brand
To recommend tangible changes to be implemented by the hotel
To recommend positioning messages for the hotel
It is to complete the above-mentioned research aim and objectives that the present methodology is constructed and hence all the propositions of the researcher is enabling the completion of each of the research objective.
The philosophy adopted by the researcher in the context of the study is described as the way in which knowledge is developed in a structured manner Saunders et. al., (2003) which as per Chapman (2005) is highly dependent on the viewpoint adopted by the researcher about the study and also about the larger context within the study is conducted. Taking a particular research philosophy would highly depend upon the research question and also the mentality of the researcher. Various research philosophies are positivism, realism and interpretivism (Walliman 2010).
Positivism considers social reality as the observable, abstract and hence to be studied based on specific concepts and rules and hence adopting a very strict scientific method (Jackson 2010). According to Saunders et. al., (2003) involves the generation of hypothesis, tested using the data collected often in a quantitative manner (Kothari 2009) however qualitative data is also utilised. On the other hand interpretivism approach focuses on context specific evaluation and interpretation of the subject reality and hence stresses on the importance of the context in which the study is conducted rather than the specific concepts and rules (Saunders et. al., 2003). Hence the researcher deviates from the strict scientific considerations and evaluates the research questions, the roles of the individuals or the subjects under the study and hence developing a deeper understanding of the research subject, further contributing to context based conclusions (Bryman and Bell 2007). Realism on the other hand considers social reality to be studied based on scientific principles, however specifies that it is also dependent upon the thoughts and processes of the research subject or the individuals connected with the research (Cooper and Schindler 2006).
Rationale for adopting interpretivism
The researcher has adopted an interpretivist research philosophy as the aim of the research is to analyse the repositioning strategies, tactics and practices adopted by Crowne Plaza hotel brand. The repositioning strategy is an on-going one, in other words it is being operationalised as the research is conducted, the researcher do not have sufficient data which can provide conclusions about the suitability of the adopted strategies and practices by Crowne Plaza brand which can be concluded as successful or unsuccessful. The success or failure of the repositioning strategy would be evident only after it is implemented and analysed by the customers.
However at this stage the researcher intends to evaluate the present functions, working and development in Crowne Plaza hotel and hence utilising the specific situation and the context. Moreover an in-depth study of the strategy, tactics and practice is required to be conducted, furthered by a qualitative mode of research. Hence the researcher has adopted interpretivism rather than positivism and realism which if taken could only result in generalisations. Further positivism and realism, to be used, would necessarily require quantitative data to make generalisations about the strategies adopted by Crowne Plaza brand.
Two types of research approaches considered by Sekaran and Bougie (2010) and several other authors are deduction and induction. Deduction is the utilisation of pre-existing concepts, theories which are used for development of hypothesis or a conceptual framework which is then analysed with the help of data (Burns and Burns 2008). Induction is the reverse process or utilises the data to analyse the existing theories, concepts and models and either to validate the same for to develop new ones (Chapman 2005).
Rationale for adopting deductive approach
The researcher has used a deductive principle or approach considering that several frameworks and conceptual models of repositioning is available and most of them are having very much practical implications especially in the hospitality industry. The literature review provided deeper insights about the strategy of repositioning, in general terms as well as for hospitality context. It was analysed that the resource-based consideration of repositioning is important for hospitality companies and especially for hotels were location cannot be changed and the other resources especially the intangible factors can be modified. Further repositioning was evaluated as a modification of the customer mentality mainly to capitalise on a better positioning of the organisation.
These are the frameworks which are used by the researcher; or in other words those concepts and theories are being used throughout the research study, especially in the data collection, the development of the questionnaire for the interview and even the analysis of the data. The researcher does not intend to develop new strategies, concepts or frameworks for the repositioning. Rather the researcher focuses on the present mode of repositioning especially the strategy adopted by Crowne Plaza brand and relevance and close match to the theoretical framework evaluated in the literature review. On this basis it can be considered that the deductive framework is utilised by the researcher.
Strategy of research can be considered from different perspectives and undeniably an analysis of various books provide different aspects and details about a research strategy. Indeed the research strategy is about the applied aspects of research especially data collection, analysis and when going deeper about the accessibility of data, reliability, validity, limitations and so on. Several types of research strategies are gained by different types of groups. According to Sekaran and Bougie (2010) the research strategy can be qualitative or quantitative. On the other hand Cooper and Schindler (2006) direct research strategies to be experiment, survey, case study, grounded theory and ethnography.
Quantitative and qualitative strategy
When considering the quantitative and qualitative strategies, the prime factor to be understood is the way in which the data is collected and analysed. Quantitative research strategy according to Saunders et. al., (2003) focuses on large data, often numerical, condensed and hence can be evaluated using statistical or mathematical methods. Quantitative data is often structured, easy for analysis; however have the limitations that they are for developing generalisations and not to focus on the specific aspect. Qualitative studies on the other hand goes in depth into a particular research subject and hence provide a shorter range of valuable and in-depth data particularly about the core of the research subject (Bryman and Bell 2007). Qualitative data is subjective whereas quantitative data is subjective (Jackson 2010).
Rationale for adopting qualitative strategy
Considering the variations in the research strategies mentioned above, the necessity being an in-depth evaluation, the researcher has utilised qualitative forms of data collection and analysis. This involved a subjective consideration of the entire data collection and analysis process wherein an interview was utilised, using a semi structured questionnaire to collect valuable and context specific data about the restructuring of Crowne Plaza hotel brand. A quantitative study need large amount of data from different sources which was not available due to the limitations of accessibility. The researcher had only access to certain individuals in one of the Crowne Plaza hotels in London, who were willing to participate in the study and hence the need for adopting a qualitative study. Moreover the research philosophy adopted is interpretivism, necessitating and further validating the use of qualitative research strategy.
Case study based strategy
On the basis of the consideration that research strategies can be experiment, survey, case study, grounded theory and so on, the researcher evaluated the possibilities of utilising most of the above and the drawbacks of the same. After a brief study about all the research strategies, it was finalised that a case study model would be best suitable for answering the research question. A case study model is chosen mainly because an organisation is the target or the subject of the study; although the focus is on the strategy adopted by the particular organisation through the individuals (managers). In other words the research is about the repositioning strategy of Crowne Plaza hotel brand, but it is not limited to one particular hotel but to a larger brand. Due to the problems and limitations of accessibility, only certain managers in one particular hotel within the brand family was accessible to the researcher for conducting the data collection. From the data collected, researcher found that a case study type of strategy is the best possible to develop the answers to the research questions.
Population of the research
Population according to Walliman (2010) is the subjects or the participants of the study. The present study is focusing on the strategies used by Crowne Plaza hotel brand and its implementation through the various managers in the brand family. The population or the research subject would be individuals involved with the implementation of the repositioning strategy for Crowne Plaza hotel brand: however in the different properties spread across the world. These are the persons who can provide in-depth data about the repositioning strategy. On the other hand population can also be considered as those hotels which are undergoing repositioning currently.
A sample according to Jackson (2010) is developed due to the impracticality of conducting a research on the entire population. A sample according to Kothari (2009) is a subset of the population; however should be representative of the population. Different types of sampling methods are divided as probability and nonprobability sampling method (Cooper and Schindler 2006). Probability has the statistical precision which contributes to the reliability and validity of the conclusions (Burns and Burns 2008). However in many cases nonprobability sampling methods are adopted due to limitations, accessibility and so on.
Sample of research
In the present case also, researcher was unable to develop a sample framework for a probability sampling method wherein a subset of the larger population could be used for the collection of data. As indicated the population would be the managers of Crowne Plaza hotel who are involved in the development and the operationalisation of the repositioning strategy. Due to the problems of accessibility, a non-probability sampling method was chosen.
A convenience sampling method was chosen as the best possible alternative of all the non-probability sampling approaches. A convenience sample as per Saunders et. al., (2003) would be based initially on the convenience of researcher in accessing the respondents and further by the convenience of the respondents in providing the data. Further the researcher also evaluated the ability of various persons involved with the repositioning strategy of Crowne Plaza hotel in providing reliable and valid data. In other words researcher evaluated the knowledge, experience and the involvement of several managers of one particular hotel within the brand family - Crowne Plaza London - The City hotel. The researcher has worked in this hotel for a period of time and hence has accessibility to some of the managers.
Upon evaluating the experience and involvement with the current repositioning strategy, the researcher concluded the availability, accessibility and the knowledge of three managers in the hotel as to provide in-depth details about the repositioning strategy of the hotel. These three managers were involved in the operationalisation of the repositioning strategy although there were also involved in the creation of the strategy at the higher levels. The managers directly reported to the project teams involved in developing the repositioning strategy at the higher levels of Intercontinental hotels group. Hence they have better and deeper knowledge about the various elements of the repositioning strategy and its operationalisation in not only the particular hotel but also in several other hotels in the same brand family. On this basis it can be considered that the sample is the three managers who are involved with the repositioning of Crowne Plaza hotel. Due to several ethical considerations especially about the need for maintaining the confidentiality of the respondents, the researcher is unable to provide full details of the respondents, either the names or even their designations.
As indicated in various phases of the same section (methodology) a qualitative strategy was adopted which necessitated the utilisation of a particular data collection technique. Although there are several tools used for primary data collection, such as interviews, survey, observation and so on, faced with the need of developing qualitative data, the researcher finalised on interviews as the data collection instrument. Even in interviews there are different types such as a face-to-face interview, telephonic interviews and so on and since the researcher did not have direct accessibility to the sample (three managers), a telephone interview was conducted. A telephone interview also has the limitations of a lack of personal touch, was the only feasible option available to the researcher mainly because of the limitation of location and distance. However the researcher has fully prepared for the interview and had conducted a mock interview or a pilot testing of the research instrument (interview questionnaire).
The interview questionnaire was semi structured enabling the researcher to move around the research questions to develop more data considering the knowledge and experience of the three different managers. The interview questions were mostly based on the theoretical framework about the repositioning strategy in general terms as well as in specific terms. The interview questions also revolved around the framework analysed in the literature review, especially about the resource-based consideration. The researcher also utilised several other secondary data sources especially from websites and other articles and journals, mentioning the repositioning of Crowne Plaza hotel brand.
The researcher initially conducted a mock interview with one of the managers of the hotel in India to analyse the reliability and validity of the research instrument (semi structured questionnaire). Further for the telephone interview, the researcher fixed the time for the interviews with the three managers and completed the interview over a period of three days. During the interview, the researcher noted down the answers to the different questions which was further used for analysis.
A type of data analysis technique-contextual, content analysis technique where the qualitative data was initially coded and the specific conceptual factors were analysed in an interpretative method was used by the researcher. In other words researcher evaluated the data noted down during the telephonic interviews and used the same for comparison and triangulation. The three respondents provided different perspectives about the strategy and its operationalisation with respect to Crowne Plaza repositioning which was used by the researcher to develop the context specific aspects related to the specific interview questions and develop the common themes from the three interviews. The interview data was used in conjunction with other secondary sources and the classical framework from the literature review to develop the conclusions.
The main limitation faced by the researcher was the accessibility to the respondents. The researcher faced with the barrier of geography and distance did not have direct contact and hence was unable to conduct a face-to-face interview with the respondents. Although in the initial stages it was thought that the sample respondents (the three managers) would not be able to provide sufficient data; in the end and after the data analysis was completed, found that the data provided is highly reliable and valid based on the triangulation method. Even if the researcher was faced with the limitation in terms of the barrier of geography and distance, it has not affected the reliability and validity of the analysis and the conclusions.
Ethical considerations especially relating to a specific subject would be the level of confidentiality to be maintained about the respondents and about the research study itself. Since the study is focusing on the present strategy adopted by Crowne Plaza hotel which is under operationalisation and hence not completed, can only be analysed on a larger framework. Although the researcher has developed in depth details about the strategy adopted Crowne Plaza hotel, some of the details were omitted in the following analysis section due to the confidential nature of the data collected. Even though the respondents provided the same, the researcher due to the necessity of being completely ethical and hence protecting the respondents and the organisation understudy, deemed it suitable not to include some of the data collected. However this has not limited the researcher in developing considered conclusions and hence to complete the research satisfactorily. Moreover the researcher has taken the consent of the three managers involved in the interview to publish the data based on analysis. The researcher has also undertaken to keep the confidentiality of the respondents to the full extent and hence unable to name them or provide any details.