Based on the three research levels enterprise, destination, and region, a number of areas of research representing cross-cutting fields of interest can be defined, which constitute the research focus at MCI Tourism. The exploration of the research areas identified in the illustration, namely business management/leadership, entrepreneurship/innovation, finance management, personnel management, service marketing, resource management, economics & policy-making, in the context of enterprises, destinations and regions shall ultimately contribute to enhancing the competitiveness of alpine tourism.
Applied research at MCI Tourism is concerned with business management problems and issues in the context of enterprises, destinations and regions.
Tourism enterprises are to a large extent small enterprises or even micro-enterprises, and, as such, subject to very specific conditions. More than 92% of all enterprises in the tourism and leisure industry have less than ten employees on average; in the hotel industry this applies to more than 72% of businesses (WKO, 2010). Owing to the small-scale structure of the enterprises and the high degree of interaction between staff and customers, the role of the entrepreneur is gaining more and more importance in particular in the hotel industry.
The majority of the small and medium-sized enterprises in tourism are family businesses. The system “family” has a bearing on entrepreneurial decisions in all respects; as a result, business management-related criteria are given less priority. Strategic decisions, internal processes, and even the production of goods and services per se, follow specific patterns, so that in practice certain advantages of family-operated tourism businesses can be identified.
The tourism businesses are the backbone of the tourism industry in Tyrol, and are therefore the main focus of R&D at MCI Tourism. Ultimately, from a supply point of view the quality achieved by the individual service providers is decisive for the competitiveness and success of a destination.
Tourism businesses are typically part of a touristic value chain (Bieger, 2010) and are therefore service partners within the framework of a destination. The value to be created is produced by a great number of different enterprises. The concept of a ‘destination’ ultimately refers to the target region relevant for a target group, including all facilities for accommodation, catering, entertainment, etc. necessary and adequate for a visit. A destination is therefore the actual unit of competition in tourism and needs to be managed strategically.
Ultimately, from a supply point of view the quality of a destination is decisive for the competitiveness and success of a tourism region.
A region is a limited section of the geographical area. In most cases a region corresponds to an administrative unit; it can, however, also be defined irrespective of administrative boundaries on the basis of other criteria (landscape, economy, culture). The concept of a ‘tourism region’ encompasses several villages or municipalities and refers to a clearly defined area that largely conforms to existing political structures and boundaries (Schulz et al., 2010).
Ultimately, from a demand point of view the quality of tourism regions is decisive for the competitiveness and success of a country’s tourism industry.