Online destination branding in a fragmented context. The case of Orvieto (Italy)

Fabio Forlani e Simone Splendiani

Paper presentato a: Third International Conference on Tourism & Leisure Studies, annual conference of the Tourism & Leisure Studies Research Nework, Lanzarote (Spagna), 17-18 May 2018



The importance of the destination brand management and of its positioning strategies has become even more relevant in relation to the growth of the experiential dimension of tourist consumption. However, it turns out to be very difficult to apply effective strategies of destination branding, especially in contexts where the tourist offer is characterized by fragmentation and lack of strategic co-operation.

The aim of this research is to analyse the case of Orvieto, an Umbrian city full of history and art: it is particularly significant as the local DMO is currently working to build a brand of destination able to integrate the city with its district. This means finding a correct place brand architecture strategy, able to relate brands of individual tourist companies and brands of tourist experiences as well as those of cities, districts and regions bordering on Orvieto.

The analysis focuses on web communication strategies of the municipality of Orvieto and those of tourist operators of the surrounding area, in order to examine the complex of brands and the relationships developed among them. The analysis of brand policies is developed through a desk investigation of web pages and social networks accounts.  Web content analysis is significant for two reasons: – the brand reputation of a tourist destination is frequently built on-line;  – the reflected image on the web and the links created in it are an off-line behaviour proxy.

The exploration-type analysis is intended to understand whether the brand architecture approach can be used, even in cases of fragmented tourist destinations.


The importance of brand architecture for the place brand management: the case of Orvieto (Italy)

di Fabio Forlani e Simone Splendiani

Paper presentato a: Inaugural Annual Conference of the International Place Branding Association (IPBA). London (Middlesex University), 7-9 December 2016


The place brand is a key asset for the competition among tourist destinations (Ritchie and Ritchie, 1998; Buhalis, 2000; Gnoth, 2002; Morgan et al., 2002; Kerr, 2006; Hankinson, 2007; Baker and Cameron, 2008; Kavaratzis, 2004, 2012; Hanna and Rowley, 2011, 2015). This is proper especially nowadays, due to recent changes in demand, characterized by the research of symbolic and experiential content (Andersson, 2007; Morgan et al., 2009; Rageh et al., 2013; Neuhofer et al., 2012, 2014). However, it turns out to be very difficult to apply effective strategies of destination branding, especially in contexts where the tourism offer is characterized by fragmentation and lack of strategic co-operation (Bonetti et al., 2006; Sciarelli, 2007; Pencarelli and Gregori, 2009; Aureli and Forlani, 2015). The aim of the research is to analyse the case of Orvieto, a city of great historical, artistic and cultural importance, located in the Umbria region. Orvieto is a prime example of a place with a remarkable tourist potentiality which is not sufficiently overworked and with inferior results (arrivals, presences and international visibility) than destinations of the same level (e.g. other cities of Tuscany). The goal of this work is to understand whether the problem is to be traced in the excessive fragmentation of the communication of the offer, and, in particular, in an inappropriate management of the architecture of the place brand (Aureli and Forlani, 2016). Moreover, through the work on the data of the Orvieto case, we will try to identify the possible option of the modalities of integration of the brand of the city, of the area, of the attractions, of the events and of the operators (single or/and associated).

The analysis focuses on the public entity (the municipality of Orvieto) and other 8-10 interesting subjects from the point of view of brand policies. The case study (Eisenhardt, 1989; Yin, 2003) of Orvieto has been chosen because of some characteristics as the quality of the attractions (Cathedral, St. Patrick’s Well and wine and food) and particular features of the local system (several small operators). These features make it an ideal case to study the policies related to the brand architecture (Aaker, 2004; Dooley and Bowie, 2005; Uggla, 2006; Moilanen, 2008; Chailan, 2008, 2013).

The analysis of brand policies is carried out observing the actions undertaken by the local actors. It is developed through desk analysis, using in-depth interviews and focus group to the persons responsible for communication policies. The performance achieved in terms of brand image (Aaker, 1991; Keller, 1998) is measured through: the online visibility (assessed through an index); tourists’ perceptions evaluated by the analysis of on-line reviews and consumer satisfaction survey.