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South African Journal of Economic and Management Sciences

On-line version ISSN 2222-3436
Print version ISSN 1015-8812

Abstract

DOUGLAS, Anneli. A customer-focused approach to distribution: the case of SANParks. S. Afr. j. econ. manag. sci. [online]. 2016, vol.19, n.3, pp.413-431. ISSN 2222-3436.  http://dx.doi.org/10.17159/2222-3436/2016/v19n3a8.

While the importance of distribution has been recognised in tourism literature, the research has been approached mainly from the perspective of supply, with very little attention given to the customer. To date, there has been even less focus on the distribution channel requirements of the National Park customers. The purpose of this study is to examine how the various distribution channels used by South African National Parks (SANParks) go towards satisfying the customers' distribution channel requirements and identifying whether there is any relationship between certain variables, such as gender or the frequency of channel use, and the level of satisfaction that customers experience with the various channels. Web-based and paper-based questionnaires are distributed to the customers who have used the SANParks distribution channels before. The results show that, although the SANParks website is the most frequently used channel for making a booking, it is not necessarily the channel with which customers are most satisfied; in fact, they are more satisfied with the satellite walk-in reservation offices and satellite call centres. While the majority of the research studies in the context of tourism distribution channels have shown the importance and popularity of electronic distribution channels among customers, this paper cautions SANParks not to assume the distribution channel requirements of their customers and urges them to continually assess their distribution strategies and to become more customer-focused in their approach.

Keywords : channel requirements; customer-focused; distribution channels; SANParks; satisfaction; supplier.

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