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The role of international exhibition venues in marketing exhibitors’ destinations


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Exhibition venues are an important tool in promoting exhibitors’ destination image. Venues act as a communicative environment for both visitors and exhibitors. This study, using structural equation modelling to analyse responses of 1000 visitors to the Egyptian venue at the Expo 2015 in Italy, examines the effect of the venue image’s dimensions on improving the image of the Egyptian destination and the intentional visiting behaviour of participants. This study fulfils the research gap of testing the effect of exhibition venue image on promoting the exhibitor’s home country’s image. It is revealed that venue design, facilities, staff, available information and comfort have positively affected exhibitors’ country image promotion and the intentional behaviour of visitors. There are some insights to destination marketers on how to use expositions’ exhibitors to market their tourist destinations.
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The role of international
exhibition venues in marketing
exhibitors’ destinations
Mohamed A Abou-Shouk, Nagoua I Zoair,
Mohammed M Farrag and Mahmoud M Hewedi
Faculty of Tourism and Hotels, Fayoum University, Egypt
Exhibition venues are an important tool in promoting exhibitors’ destination image. Venues act as a
communicative environment for both visitors and exhibitors. This study, using structural equation
modelling to analyse responses of 1000 visitors to the Egyptian venue at the Expo 2015 in Italy,
examines the effect of the venue image’s dimensions on improving the image of the Egyptian destination
and the intentional visiting behaviour of participants. This study fulfils the research gap of testing the
effect of exhibition venue image on promoting the exhibitor’s home country’s image. It is revealed that
venue design, facilities, staff, available information and comfort have positively affected exhibitors’
country image promotion and the intentional behaviour of visitors. There are some insights to destina-
tion marketers on how to use expositions’ exhibitors to market their tourist destinations.
Destination image, Egypt, exhibition image, Expo, intentional behaviour, venue image
Hosting a special event, such as expositions and
festivals, has been recognized as an important
strategy not only for a short-term rise in tourist
volume and revenue but also for improving des-
tination’s image and building brands for sustain-
able development (Jago et al., 2010; Yu et al.,
2012). The first world exposition was arranged in
1851 in London, with 10 countries participating,
and it attracted 6 million visitors. Since then, the
size and popularity of World Expos have
increased (Roche, 2003).
During the 19th and 20th centuries, the focus
for world expositions was on nations presenting
technology, achievements, news and regions
conquered. In the contemporary setting, world
expositions have instead become business
oriented (Bolin, 2006). Historically, mega-
events have been reserved for the developed
world. However, during the past decade, devel-
oping countries have recognized the potential
role of mega-events in sustainable development
(Bjo¨rner and Berg, 2012; Jago et al., 2010).
Du Plessis and McCoy (2000) reported that
exhibitions have been used as a marketing
medium throughout the world to penetrate new
markets and build business image. In additions,
exhibitions have direct effects on host destina-
tions in terms of economic benefits, enhancing
host destination image and building future
visitations to the destination (Arnegger and
Herz, 2016). Furthermore, it is well documen-
ted that the visiting decisions are significantly
affected by the destination’s image (Vicol and
Zait, 2014).
In mega-events, such as the Expos, countries
build their venues to market their destinations
and advertise their products and services. How-
ever, very few studies have measured the effect
of the exhibition venues on promoting the
Corresponding author:
Mohamed A Abou-Shouk, Tourism Studies Department,
Faculty of Tourism and Hotels, Fayoum University, Al
Fayoum 63514, Egypt.
Journal of Vacation Marketing
2018, Vol. 24(2) 136–147
ªThe Author(s) 2017
Reprints and permission:
DOI: 10.1177/1356766717690573
exhibitors’ country image. Differently from pre-
vious research measuring the effect of exhibi-
tions on host countries’ image, this study aims
to measure the effect exhibitors’ venues on pro-
moting the image of their home countries and the
influence of image promotion on the intentional
behaviour of visitors to plan/(re)visit such desti-
nations in the future. This study investigates
the effect of the image of the Egyptian venue at
the Expo 2015 in Milan, Italy, on promoting the
image of the Egyptian tourist destination. The
Egyptian venue at the Expo 2015 was designed
to reflect the theme ‘Egypt, The Never Ending
Story’. The venue composed of three halls in
addition to a bazar and a local restaurant. It intro-
duces the ancient Egyptian hypostyle, the Egyp-
tian cuisine history, different types of corps and
its related dishes, famous tourist attractions and
different daily life activities in Egypt.
The findings of this study provide very useful
indicators to destination marketers towards the
usefulness of participatingininternationalexhi-
bitions and how this participation affects the
intentional behaviour of exhibition’s visitors
to visit the exhibitor’s destination. In addition,
the findings reveal useful evaluations of the
image of the Egyptian venue at the Expo and
the perceptions of visitors on its design, facili-
ties, staff and so on.
Exhibitions and destination image
Exhibitions or trade fairs began almost 600 years
before the birth of Christ, and the word exhibi-
tion was first explored in 1649 (Situma, 2012).
The word exposition is derived from the Latin
word ‘expositio’, meaning ‘displaying’ or ‘put-
ting on a show’ (Morrow, 2002: 11). Exhibi-
tions are a subcategory of events. Event as a
term covers an enormous array of activities
including tourism events, civic events, hallmark
events, expositions, fairs and festivals, meetings
and conferences, retail events, sport events and
social life-cycle events (Goldblatt, 2002).
Furthermore, Wagen (2007) classified events
by type into business, sporting and cultural.
Business cluster includes meetings, confer-
ences, exhibitions and incentives.
Mega-events are one category of events. They
are very large events that affect economies
of countries and covered by the global media
(Ki Lee et al., 2014). Examples of mega-events
are Football World Cup, Olympic Games, World
Expos and European Football Cup (Lamberti
et al., 2011). Mega-events have two main
benefits to destinations: The first is attracting
participants and spectators and increasing the
number of inbound visitors. The second is mar-
keting the host country through advertising and
media coverage (Arnegger and Herz, 2016).
Chen (2012) added that mega-events could help
brand national images of the host country. The
Expo 2015 in Milan, Italy, has continued for
5 months and received more than 20 million vis-
itors with 145 countries participating. The num-
ber of visitors and participants in the Expo
reflects the effect of the World Expo on increas-
ing tourist arrivals to Italy.
Patten (2001) specified some of the marketing
objectives that motivate organizations to exhibit
in shows such as selling more products, launch-
ing a new line, finding distributors or outlets in a
new territory and finding agents. Other objec-
tives include attracting new markets, reposition-
ing ones’ companies in the market, giving
support to field agents, collecting feedback on
a projected new range of products, re-
establishing links with clients and strengthen the
organization’s position in the market place
(Situma, 2012). Furthermore, exhibitions are
crucial for enhancing the image of the local
community (Getz, 1993), and their ability in
providing high-quality services and valuable
experiences that entice revisiting is of particular
significance (Kim et al., 2010).
On the other hand, destination image is a com-
posite construct consists of two interrelated com-
ponents – cognitive and affective – woven into
overall impressions (Baloglu and Brinberg,
1997; Baloglu and McCleary, 1999; MacKay and
Fesenmaier, 1997; Walmsley and Young, 1998).
The cognitive component is referred to as beliefs
and knowledge about the physical attributes of a
destination, while the affective component refers
to the appraisal of the affective quality of feel-
ings towards the attributes and the surrounding
environments (Karizman and Belullo, 2007).
The majority of studies in exhibitions looks at
the effect of the event on the host country. For
example, Lu and Cai (2009) analysed the effect
of venue image on the exhibitions’ loyalty, and
they found that the venue image is a predictor of
visitor loyalty. They used venue capacity, facil-
ities, cleanliness, accessibility, staff profession-
alism, service promptness and venue pleasant
design to measure the venue image. However,
notably, very few studies, if any, have investi-
gated the effect of exhibition venues on promot-
ing the image of exhibitors’ countries. It is useful
for destinations’ marketers to use exhibitors’ and
Abou-Shouk et al. 137
exhibition venues in promoting their tourist des-
tinations and attractions. Therefore, this study
contributes to knowledge through investigating
the role of venues in marketing exhibitors’ coun-
tries. It investigates the role of Egyptian venue at
the Expo 2015 in Italy and the effect of its
design, facilities, staff, information provided and
comfort in promoting the image of the Egyptian
destination and motivating the venue’s visitors to
plan/(re)visit Egypt. The following sections
highlight the venue dimensions and their effect
on promoting Egypt’s image to visitors.
Venue design and facilities
Bitgood (1994) referred to the realistic approach
for exhibition venue design as the major focus to
create simulated and realistic experience for vis-
itors. The design includes the appeal of presenta-
tion and social interaction among visitor group
members. In addition, Jin et al. (2013) referred to
the venue layout, accessibility and space pro-
vided for visitors in the venue as major facets
affecting visitor experience and destination
image. The design/layout of the venue should
reflect the destination authenticity and deliver a
unique image of its attractions.
According to Berridge (2007), event design is
essential for event’s success on every level; it is a
feature of the lived moments of a creative theme.
Despite the various types of experience, design
enhances experiences for visitors by engaging,
inspiring, educating and entertaining them.
Creating experiences for visitors is linked to the
physical environment of the venue. Simply say-
ing, design crates experience, and therefore,
experience could be designed for visitors based
on the stakeholders’ aims of the event. The
design of the Egyptian venue has included the
pharaohs replicas and introduced the Egyptian
corps, local cuisine and tourist attractions. It is
believed that this design reflects the authenticity
of the Egyptian destination and promotes its
attractions and archaeological sites.
Add to design, facilities provided at the venue
are a crucial component of its success. These
facilities include the exhibition facilities, the
public service facilities (Lu and Cai, 2009), food
provisions and space and size used for the venue
(Jin et al., 2013). McCartney (2008) added that
having leisure and entertainment activities in the
exhibition increases its competitive advantage
and improves the image of the destination.
Examples of entertainment activities include
games designed through augmented reality
technology introducing the attractions of the des-
tination, special day events and performances.
Ahani et al. (2013) focused on the importance
of welfare facilities to the exhibition. The Egyp-
tian venue at the Expo included three main halls,
a bazar and an Egyptian local food restaurant.
Augmented reality and virtual dressing technol-
ogies have been used by visitors to explore the
local cuisine of Egypt, the dressings of pharaohs
and the river Nile cruises with archaeological
sites in Luxor and Aswan. Design and informa-
tion of the Egyptian venue are used in this study
as predictors of good image perceived by visitors
about Egypt.
Venue staff
Another important component in a successful
venue planning is human resources employed.
The event is not an ordinary business environ-
ment and most organizations hold onto their
employees for months or even years, giving them
time to socialize and develop their skills and
knowledge to improve the experience of the vis-
itors (Wagen, 2007). Lu and Cai (2009) stated
that the staff professionalism and their willing
to help are crucial factors contributing to visi-
tors’ satisfaction, loyalty and improving the
image of the venue. Jin et al. (2013) added that
staff friendliness is a determinant factor of a
good venue image. The staff employed in the
Egyptian venue were experienced and partici-
pated in many international exhibitions before;
most of them have a tourism-related qualifica-
tion, they speak English and Italian fluently, and
are familiar with the nature of work in such
mega-events. This study investigates the influ-
ence of the Egyptian venue staff’s knowledge
and behaviour on promoting the image of the
Egyptian destination.
Information about the exhibitor’s country
Exhibitions are highly communicative places.
They act as important sources of information and
networking between visitors, exhibitors and busi-
nesses (Lu and Cai, 2009). Information and mar-
keting activities are among important criteria for
selecting exhibition location (Jin et al., 2013).
The venue should provide enough and accurate
information about tourist attractions in the exhi-
bitor’s home country. There should be a diversity
of information sources to answer visitors’
queries. This includes brochures and videos in
addition to the venue staff themselves to convert
138 Journal of Vacation Marketing 24(2)
information about tourist attractions. The Egyp-
tian venue at the Expo has provided much infor-
mation about the Egyptian history, corps, local
foods and tourist attractions using the augmen-
ted reality technology that impressed the visi-
tors of the Egyptian venue. With a majority of
staff having tourism education, they were famil-
iar with Egyptian tourist attractions, local cul-
tural events and festivals and daily life activities
and would reply any query of visitors. The study
therefore measures the effect of adequate and
accurate information provided at the Egyptian
venue to develop a good image about the Egyp-
tian destination.
Venue comfort and cleanliness
Breiter and Milman (2006) found that one of the
visitors’ needs in exhibitions is the comfort.
This includes the availability of comfortable
seats, convenience of venue’s location and
accessibility. Another dimension that affects the
venue image is its cleanliness (Jin et al., 2013).
Cleanliness and waste management are impor-
tant factors in the event environment (Wagen,
2007). Clean and pleasant environments are
good features of the venue image. Visitors of
the venue could form a good image of the des-
tination if the venue and its exhibitors’ are com-
fortable, friendly and clean. This study
measures the effect of the venue comfort and
cleanliness on developing the image of the exhi-
bitor’s country, Egypt.
Venue image and visitor satisfaction
Ahani et al. (2013) measured the visitor satisfac-
tion of exhibition venues by studying the effect
of information, place, price, welfare facilities
and services, variety of products and quality of
products on visitor satisfaction. They found that
the most significant variables are product qual-
ity, facilities and utilities, product information,
price, venue design and product variety. Lu and
Cai (2009) found that the venue image is posi-
tively affecting the exhibition visitor satisfaction.
Satisfaction is always a predictor of visitor loy-
alty to the exhibition and the host country. How-
ever, previous studies have not measured the
effect of the venue image on developing the
image and the intentional visiting behaviour to
the exhibitor’s country, which this study fulfils.
In addition, this study looks at the impact of
venue image perceived by visitors on the
intentional behaviour of visitors towards the
exhibitor’s country, Egypt.
Tourist motivation of visiting exhibitions
Rittichainuwat and Mair (2012) have listed a
number of motivations to visit exhibitions.
Motivations include getting discounts and
promotions, travelling to desirable
destinations, investigating products before a
decision-making to buy, gathering information
for potential purchases, learning about new
travel trends, having interest in the exhibition
theme, the media effect, attending seminars and
workshops, exchanging ideas and meeting
travel celebrities in addition to finding business
partners. Other motivations include learning
about other cultures and histories and having
interest in local and international cuisines.
According to Rittichainuwat and Mair (2012),
the top five motivations of exhibition visitors
are as follows: getting discounts and special
offers, travel to a desirable destination, evaluat-
ing products prior to purchase, collecting infor-
mation regarding their future purchases and
products/services’ purchase. Half of the exhibi-
tion visitors in their study perceived exhibitions
as a distribution channel for special offers on
travel to desirable destinations.
Research framework and
hypotheses development
Lu and Cai (2009) have investigated the effect of
exhibition image, venue image and destination
image on the overall satisfaction and the inten-
tional behaviour of festival visitors. Furthermore,
Kim et al. (2010) have investigated the role of
exhibition on the attitude towards future atten-
dance and preference for exhibition brand com-
ponents. However, very few studies, if any, have
investigated the effect of venue image on pro-
moting the destination image of the exhibitors.
Therefore, this study fulfils this research gap and
adapts and integrates partially the two models of
Lu and Cai (2009) and Kim et al. (2010) to inves-
tigate the effect of the Egyptian venue image at
the Expo 2015 in Italy (independent variable) on
the development of the Egyptian destination
image (mediator) and the influence of image
development on the intentional visiting beha-
viour of visitors (outcome variable; Figure 1).
Based on the proposed research model, there
are six hypotheses to test:
Abou-Shouk et al. 139
H1: Exhibition venue design has a positive
effect on promoting the exhibitor’s
country image.
H2: Knowledge and attributes of venue
staff are significant components to
develop exhibitor’s good country image.
H3: Adequate and accurate information
provided at the venue is positively con-
tributing to the exhibitor’s country
image promotion.
H4: Facilities provided and cleanliness of
the venue have a positive influence on
the exhibitor’s country image.
H5: Venue comfort is positively affecting
the development of exhibitor’s good
country image.
H6: The development of exhibitor’s good
country image is positively affecting the
visitors’ intentional behaviour to (re)vi-
siting destinations.
Research methods
Research approach and data collection
This study employs the deductive approach using
quantitative method to test the research hypoth-
eses. It used a questionnaire form issued in Eng-
lish and Italian languages to collect data from the
visitors of the Egyptian venue at the Expo 2015
in Italy. The questionnaire is designed and vali-
dated by piloting it on 50 visitors to check its face
and content validity. The final questionnaire con-
sisted of 32 five-point Likert-type scale items
(1 ¼strongly disagree and 5 ¼strongly agree)
to measure seven constructs. Based on literature
review, questionnaire items were adapted and
operationalized to measure the venue design by
three items (Bitgood, 1994; Jin et al., 2013), the
venue staff by four items (Jin et al., 2013; Lu and
Cai, 2009; Wagen, 2007), the information con-
struct by five items (Jin et al., 2013; Lu and Cai,
2009), the venue comfort by three items (Breiter
and Milman, 2006), facilities and cleanliness of
the venue by five items (Ahani et al., 2013;
McCartney, 2008), the image development by
nine items (Baloglu and Brinberg, 1997; Kim
et al., 2010; Lu and Cai, 2009) and the inten-
tional visiting behaviour by three items (Lu and
Cai, 2009).
The two versions of the questionnaire were
published online for data collection. The links
of the two forms, English and Italian, were
addressed to random visitors of the Egyptian
venue via some pre-administered employees at
the Egyptian venue. Two employees had the
links of the two questionnaires and chose random
visitors of the Egyptian venue and requested their
consent to fill in the questionnaire if they are
interested, based on the visitor language prefer-
ence (English or Italian) and consent, employees
email them the link or ask visitors to fill in the
form directly from their tablets at the venue. Dis-
tributing the links of the two forms continued for
4 months, 1000 valid forms and free of missing
data were collected.
Analysis technique
The study employs structural equation modelling
(SEM) to test its hypotheses. SEM is an
advanced multivariate technique used to test cau-
sal relationships in complicated models. SEM
has measurement model and structural model.
While the first is used to identify the relation-
ships between latent variables and indicators, the
second measures the causal relationships
between independent and dependent variables.
The measurement model is evaluated via the
model fit indices stated by Kock (2015). Indices
include average path coefficient (APC), average
R-squared (ARS), average adjusted R-squared
(AARS), average block Variance Inflation Fac-
tor (AVIF), average full collinearity VIF
(AFVIF), Tenenhaus Goodness-of-fit (GoF),
Simpson’s paradox ratio (SPR), R-squared
Intentional behaviour
Exhibitor’s country
image promotion (H6)
Venue image
- Venue design (H1)
- Staff (H2)
- Information (H3)
- Facilities and
cleanliness (H4)
- Venue comfort (H5)
Figure 1. The proposed research model.
140 Journal of Vacation Marketing 24(2)
contribution ratio (RSCR), statistical suppression
ratio (SSR) and nonlinear bivariate causality
direction ratio (NLBCDR).
The validity of the measurement model is
assured via construct validity. This includes con-
vergent and discriminant validity. Average var-
iance extracted (AVE) value of 0.50 means
convergent validity exists (Fornell and Larcker,
1981), while the square root of AVE (SQAVE)
exceeding the correlation among constructs is an
evident of discriminant validity (Kock, 2015).
The reliability of the measurement model is done
through internal consistency (Cronbach’s a) and
composite reliability exceeding a threshold value
of 0.70 (Field, 2009; Hair et al., 2010).
Research setting
Expo 2015 is the universal exhibition that Milan,
Italy, was hosting from 1st May to 31st October,
2015. Over this 6-month period, Milan became a
global showcase where more than 140 participat-
ing countries present the best of their technology.
In addition to the exhibitors, the Expo also
involves international organizations and
expected to welcome over 20 million visitors to
its 1.1 million square meters of exhibition area
(The Expo Website, 2015). The study focuses on
the Egyptian venue at the Expo that introduced a
variety of products to its visitors and introduced
the Egyptian cuisine meals, videos and movies
about the Egyptian tourist destination and
The Egyptian venue was designed to reflect
the theme of Egypt, The Never Ending Story; it
concentrated upon the Egyptian food heritage
and reflected the Egyptian nutrition through ages
starting from pharaonic Egypt to recent days. It
consists of three halls in addition to an Egyptian
bazar (gift shop) and a local restaurant. The first
hall was a replica of ancient Egyptian hypostyle
hall roofed by the famous zodiac of Dendera
Temple, equipped with the technology of aug-
ment reality: Using a tablet, visitors can interact
with Egyptian cuisine history narrated by Isis,
the greatest goddess in the ancient Egypt. Further
technologies were represented in the second hall
which has two sections. Hologram technology
was used in the first section to enable visitors
watch different types of corps and its related
dishes. In the second section, famous tourist sites
in Egypt were shown using the virtual reality
(oculus) technology by taking the visitor on a
tour around Egypt. The third hall is an entertain-
ment place equipped by the augmented reality
technology to show different daily life activities
including fishing and agricultural activities
where the visitors could be a part of the scene.
Two big screens were there also for virtual dres-
sings representing various outfits of the Egyp-
tians through different eras. By the end of this
hall, there was a local restaurant and a gift shop
with all souvenirs from Egypt.
Research findings
Descriptive statistics
Of 1000 respondents, 37.3%are male versus
62.7%are female, 63.5%are aged 18–35 years,
34.4%are between 36 and 50 years, and the age of
2.1%of respondents exceeds 50 years. Regarding
qualifications, 89.4%of respondents are univer-
sity graduates, 8.3%are high school level and
2.3%are postgraduates. For nationalities, 48.9%
of the respondents were Italians; other national-
ities counted for 51.1%including German, Swiss,
French, British, Spanish, American, Hollandaise,
Russian, Dominican, Brazilian, Greek, Turkish,
Algerian, and Argentinean; and other national-
ities; 48.1%of respondents have visited Egypt
before, from them 62%visited Egypt once, 28%
visited Egypt twice and 10%visited Egypt more
than twice.
Looking at Table 1, it is clear that respondents
strongly agree with the constructs of the research
model. They agree that the venue design reflects
the image of the Egyptian destination, it is com-
fortable and its employees have good skills and
knowledge. Furthermore, information provided at
the venue is adequate and accurate. There is a
level of agreement among respondents with the
role of the Egyptian venue in promoting the image
of the Egyptian destination and how this image
affects visitors’ behaviour to plan/(re)visit Egypt.
Looking at Table 2, it is found that respon-
dents agree with the motivations of visiting
the Egyptian venue. They strongly agree on
Table 1. Descriptive statistics of the research model
Constructs Mean Standard deviation
Venue design 3.7 0.186
Staff 4.0 0.297
Information 3.5 0.465
Comfort 4.1 0.127
Facilities 4.2 0.214
Image development 3.8 0.423
Intentional behaviour 4.2 0.361
Abou-Shouk et al. 141
‘learning about Egypt’s history’ (mean value ¼
4.72), ‘learning about Egyptian culture and tradi-
tions’ (mean ¼4.54), ‘meeting local people and
experience social relationships’ (mean ¼4.54)
and ‘learning about tourist attractions in Egypt’
(mean ¼4.53). Furthermore, they agree on
‘learning about other information (Egypt’s cli-
mate, prices, etc.)’ (mean ¼3.43) and ‘learning
about the Egyptian cuisine’ (mean ¼4.42).
Measurement model
Running the measurement model, the model fit
indices showed a good model fit. The fit indices
are as follows: APC ¼0.279, p< 0.001, ARS ¼
0.546, p< 0.001, AARS ¼0.544, p< 0.001,
AVIF ¼1.975, AFVIF ¼2.028, GoF ¼0.602,
SPR ¼1.000, RSCR ¼1.000, SSR ¼1.000 and
NLBCDR ¼1.000. Looking at Table 3, it is
found that convergent validity is evident for all
constructs where AVEs > 0.50, and discriminant
validity exists where SQAVE exceeds the corre-
lation among constructs. In addition, the model is
reliable where Cronbach’s alpha and composite
reliability exceed 0.70. Therefore, the measure-
ment model revealed in this study is valid and
Structural model
The structural model describes at the causal rela-
tionships among constructs. Testing the six
hypotheses of the study (Figure 2) revealed that
venue design is significantly reflecting the iden-
tity and image of the Egyptian destination (b¼
0.25 and p< 0.01, and the first hypothesis is
supported). Furthermore, staff’s knowledge and
skills significantly influence the destination
image (b¼0.17 and p< 0.01, and hypothesis
2 is supported). Information provided in the
venue is significantly affecting the destination
image (b¼0.23 and p< 0.01, and hypothesis
3 is supported). Facilities and cleanliness of the
venue has a significant impact on destination
image (b¼0.13 and p< 0.01, and hypothesis
4 is supported). In addition, venue comfort is
positively influencing the destination image (b
¼0.12 and p< 0.01, and hypothesis 5 is
Venue design, staff’s knowledge and skills,
information provided, facilities and cleanliness,
and venue comfort explain 50%of the variance
in destination image promotion (R
Furthermore, promoting the destination image
is significantly and positively affecting the inten-
tional behaviour to plan/(re)visit the destination
by respondents (b¼0.77 and p<0.01,and
hypothesis 6 is supported). The promotion of the
destination image explains 59%of variance in
visitor intentional behaviour (R
To briefly summarize these findings, visitors
of the Expo have positive perceptions about the
image of the venue design reflecting the identity
of the country it represents, venue staff, in addi-
tion to accessible facilities and cleanliness of the
Egyptian venue. These positive perceptions of
visitors contribute to promote a positive image
about Egypt. Having such positive image is
affecting the visitors’ intentional behaviour to
plan/(re)visit Egypt in the future.
Discussion of findings
This study, differently from others, examines the
significant role of exhibitors’ venue image on
promoting their home country’s image and how
this influences the visitor intentional behaviour
to plan, visit, and revisit this destination in the
future. The study’s setting is the Egyptian venue
at the Expo 2015, Milan, Italy.
The study has explored the motivations of
visitors to visit the Expo with particular emphasis
on the Egyptian venue, where their interests and
concerns include learning and understanding
Egypt’s culture, social life, history, tourist attrac-
tions, local foods and cuisine. Visitors claimed
that they use exhibition venues as a source of
information for their potential travels, including
weather, prices and so on. This finding is
Table 2. Descriptive statistics on the visitor motivations to the Egyptian venue at the Expo.
Motivations Mean Standard deviation
To learn about Egypt’s history 4.72 0.578
To learn about Egyptian culture and traditions 4.54 0.610
To learn about tourist attractions in Egypt 4.53 0.623
To learn about the Egyptian cuisine 4.42 0.607
To meet local people and experience social relationships 4.54 0.610
To learn about other information (Egypt’s climate, prices, etc.) 4.43 0.614
142 Journal of Vacation Marketing 24(2)
Table 3. Statistics of the measurement model.
Constructs Indicators (reflective) Loadings AVEs Cronbach’s a
reliability SQAVE
Venue design The design of the venue reflects the
Egyptian authenticity
0.826 0.720 0.805 0.885 0.849
The venue best represents the tourist
image of Egypt
Each section delivers a unique image of
Egypt’s attractions
Venue staff The staff has enough knowledge about
the destination
0.838 0.680 0.843 0.895 0.824
Staff provided accurate and correct
information about Egypt
Staff is consistently courteous 0.791
Staff reflects the nature of Egyptian local
Information Information about Egypt is enough and
0.840 0.603 0.824 0.879 0.776
There is a diversity of information
Information answers my queries about
the destination
Videos/movies offered are interesting 0.767
Videos/movies provide enough
information about Egypt
Venue comfort The venue has adequate/comfortable
0.869 0.707 0.791 0.878 0.841
The sound and light systems of the venue
are appropriate
The venue is generally a convenient place
to visit
Facilities and
Facilities of the venue are accessible 0.829 0.621 0.846 0.891 0.788
Space and size of exhibitions are
There is a variety of entertainment
The venue is generally clean 0.801
The sites assigned for exhibitions are
Expo conveys the image of the
destination’s authenticity
0.845 0.510 0.866 0.897 0.714
Reflects Egypt’s various activities and
Represents Egypt’s cultural heritage 0.788
Recalls my past experience when visiting
Delivers an image of interesting friendly
local people
Has a diverse offer for Egyptian local
Conveys image of affordable prices of
packages in Egypt
Delivers a message of pleasant climate 0.832
The venue has an added value to the
Egyptian destination
Behaviour I am motivated to visit/revisit Egypt 0.846 0.805 0.878 0.925 0.897
I will plan to visit/revisit Egypt 0.952
I would like to visit/revisit Egypt 0.890
AVE: average variance extracted; SQAVE: square root of average variance extracted.
Abou-Shouk et al. 143
concurrent with Rittichainuwat and Mair (2012)
who listed the motivations of exhibitions’ visi-
tors that include collecting information about
their potential desired destinations, finding out
new travel trends and getting knowledge about
others’ cultures and histories.
Concerning the venue design, all study
respondents concur that the design of the Egyp-
tian venue promotes a consistent value image
about the exhibitor’s country and reflects its
identity. Consequently, including posters and
photos of pharaohs, hieroglyphic symbols and
ancient statues clearly facilitated recognizing
and reaching the Egyptian venue. Using such
designs and settings reflects the authenticity of
the Egyptian destination and represents its identity
to the visitors. Different nationality visitors
believed that the design of the Egyptian venue sets
a realistic image of the Egyptian tourist destina-
tion. This finding is in line with Bitgood (1994)
who focused on the exhibition design as a major
aspect in creating and simulated experience for
visitors and with that reported by Jin et al.
(2013) who pointed out that venue layout is of a
great significance to the country recognition.
Quality and characteristics of the working
staff have crucial impact on promoting a superior
venue image and convert a high-quality impres-
sion to the visitors. Their knowledge, ability to
respond to the queries of visitors and adequate
and accurate information they provide are abso-
lutely contributing to promote a good image
about the venue and reflect their professionalism.
Additionally, their social approach and interac-
tion with the venue visitors are essential factors
in promoting a high-quality image about the
venue and the exhibitors’ country image conse-
quently. Friendliness and courtesy of staff
who deal with visitors are a reflection of the
local people of the venue’s home country. The
respondents of the study positively perceive the
impact of staff quality of the Egyptian venue on
promoting the image of Egypt. This result is sim-
ilar to what has been stated by Wagen (2007),
who focused on the role of exhibitions’ staff in
the event’s success, and Jin et al., (2013), who
referred to the role of staff courtesy and friendli-
ness in revealing a good image of the exhibition.
Information availability, accessibility, accu-
racy and efficiency of staff are the key success
factors in developing high-quality venue image.
The diversity of information sources including
prints, video screens, augmented reality and vir-
tual dressing assists visitors in forming a superior
venue image. The staff in the Egyptian venue is
highly qualified and knowledgeable and there-
fore was an authentic source of information. In
addition, there were printed posters, brochures,
video screens with movies about the Egyptian
destination and its attractions. This animated
short movies help convey the image of Egypt and
tourist attractions. Respondents found the infor-
mation provided about Egypt is interesting and
support build quality image about the Egyptian
tourist destination. This finding supports what
has been claimed by Lu and Cai (2009) concern-
ing the exhibitions as highly communicative
places between visitors, staff and exhibitors and
collecting information about a desirable destina-
tion could be the main motivation of visitors to
visit the venue.
The fourth factor that builds the venue image
includes the facilities’ quality and accessibility,
size and space and cleanliness of the venue.
Entertainment facilities provided in the venue are
indicators of the venue’s good image. Respon-
dents of the study highly appreciated the avail-
ability and accessibility of the facilities in the
Egyptian venue. This is certainly positively shap-
ing the quality of the venue image. This finding
β = 0.12
p < 0.01
β = 0.13
p < 0.01
β = 0.23
p < 0.01
β = 0.17
p < 0.01
β = 0.25
p < 0.01
β = 0.77
P < 0.01
R2 = 0.50
image promotion
Venue design
Venue comfort
Facilitates and
R2 = 0.59
Figure 2. The structural model.
144 Journal of Vacation Marketing 24(2)
is in accordance with Lu and Cai (2009), who
emphasized the importance of venue facilities
such as public service facilities and food provi-
sion, and McCartney (2008) and Ahani et al.
(2013), who stated that providing welfare and
entertainment facilities have a key role in
improving the image of the exhibition and its
venues. Cleanliness of the exhibition is a signif-
icant element contributing in promoting the
image of the venue (Jin et al., 2013). In this
regard, visitors to the Egyptian venue were
highly satisfied with its cleanliness and
expressed their appreciation for the comfortable
place of visit. Similar finding was reported by Jin
et al., (2013) who pointed out that the comfort is
one of the key aspects appreciated by the visitors
of the exhibition and its venues.
The good venue image helps exhibitors pro-
mote a good image about their countries and their
tourist destinations. Visitors positively perceive
the quality of the venue design and its facilities
and comfort as predictors of intentional beha-
viour motivating visitors to visit the destination.
According to Lu and Cai (2009), the good image
of the venue is positively affecting the visitor
satisfaction level and their intentional decisions
on future travels. Therefore, promoting a good
image of Egypt is positively affecting the inten-
tional behaviour of tourists to plan their visits to
the Egyptian tourist destination.
It is revealed by the respondents that the
Egyptian venue conveys the authenticity of
Egypt; introduces its tourist attractions, weather
and local foods; and expresses the friendly image
of Egyptian local people. The venue visitors
believe that their visit was an added value to their
knowledge about the Egyptian destination.
Conclusion and implications
This study explored the motivations of the Egyp-
tian venue visitors at the Expo 2015 in Italy.
Visitors are mainly interested in finding out
about the culture and history of Egypt (i.e. monu-
ments, local food, habits and dressings) in addi-
tion to tourist attractions. Furthermore, the study
has investigated the role of venue’s image in
promoting the image of the exhibitors’ home
country and how this image promotion could
affect the intentional behaviour of visitors to plan
their visits to this destination. The study, based
on 1000 questionnaires, revealed that the image
of the Egyptian venue at the Expo 2015 has con-
tributed to the image promotion of the Egyptian
tourist destination. The promotion of Egypt’s
image has a positive effect on the visitors’ inten-
tional behaviour to plan/(re)visit Egypt in their
future travels.
The implications of this study are twofold:
theory and practice. In terms of contribution to
theory, this study contributes to knowledge by
investigating the role of exhibition’s venues in
promoting the tourist destination image of the
exhibitors. The uniqueness of this study is it
highlights the role of exhibition’s venues in mar-
keting the home countries of the exhibitors and
not the exhibition host country. Previous
research has focused on the image of destinations
hosting exhibitions and how this promotes the
destination and its attractions and increasing
tourist arrivals. This study fulfils this gap in the
literature and provides a solid structural research
model helps understanding the role of exhibition
venues in marketing destinations. The validated
research model provides rigorous findings and
could be useful for academics to investigate the
role of exhibition’s venues in marketing destina-
tions of exhibitors and the perceptions of visitors
towards the services and facilities of the venue.
As for the contribution to practice, this study
provides valuable insights to destination market-
ers on how to effectively they could use interna-
tional exhibitions to market their tourist
destinations. Using exhibitors to promote the
image of their countries could be useful in a
highly communicative environment such as
international exhibitions. Marketers should make
a good use of international exhibitions to market
their tourist activities and motivate exhibition
visitors to visit their destinations. As for Egypt,
the Egyptian Expo and Convention Authority
and the Egyptian Tourist Authority should inte-
grate their marketing efforts to promote the
Egyptian destination, tourist attractions, local
cuisine and history. A variety of information
sources should be available to exhibition visitors
including booklets, short movies, a guide of
attractions, accommodations, food and beverage
providers, general information about weather,
prices, transportation and so on. It is the time
to use exhibitors themselves to represent their
destinations and market it globally. Destinations
should use paid promotional tools to market their
tourist attractions to exhibition visitors, tour
operators of the home country should be present
with special offers to exhibition visitors and
modern technology should be employed to affect
visitors’ experience and intentional behaviour.
Market researches should be done on visitors to
identify their attitudes and intentions towards a
Abou-Shouk et al. 145
particular destination or attraction. Evaluating
the effect of destination marketing via exhibi-
tions should be achieved to explore to what
extent exhibition venues could contribute to their
home countries in terms of tourist arrivals. As for
venues, design, staff and facilities, these dimen-
sions should be considered as perquisites to
image development about destinations. Exhibi-
tors should be trained to improve their skills and
knowledge in order to market their destination
tourist attractions effectively, and different
sources about tourist attractions should be pro-
vided to them. In turns, venues should promote
themselves to attract visitors through a number of
special events, concerts, offers and so on.
Limitations and future research
The findings of this study are limited to visitors
of the Expo only. Collecting data from visitors in
different international exhibitions would help
improve the generalization of findings. Future
research venues may address this limitation, and
comparative studies among more than one venue
in the Expo are encouraged in addition to
expanding the studies to include various interna-
tional exhibitions and comparing various exhibi-
tors from different countries. It would be useful
also to compare Egypt with other destinations
presenting at the Expo.
Declaration of conflicting interests
The author(s) declared no potential conflicts of
interest with respect to the research, authorship,
and/or publication of this article.
The author(s) received no financial support for
the research, authorship, and/or publication of
this article.
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The statistical tests used in the analysis of structural equation models with unobservable variables and measurement error are examined. A drawback of the commonly applied chi square test, in addition to the known problems related to sample size and power, is that it may indicate an increasing correspondence between the hypothesized model and the observed data as both the measurement properties and the relationship between constructs decline. Further, and contrary to common assertion, the risk of making a Type II error can be substantial even when the sample size is large. Moreover, the present testing methods are unable to assess a model's explanatory power. To overcome these problems, the authors develop and apply a testing system based on measures of shared variance within the structural model, measurement model, and overall model.
The meetings, incentives, conventions, and exhibitions (MICE) industry has evolved into a vital sector of business tourism. The vast majority of research to date has focused on the convention/meeting sector, with studies on convention site selection being especially prominent. In contrast, the exhibition sector and particularly, exhibition destination attractiveness, have received relatively little research attention. This study aims to address this research gap by examining, from the exhibitors' perspective, key factors for an attractive and successful exhibition destination. Based on 616 survey responses from exhibitors collected at nine trade fairs in four cities in Mainland China, study findings highlighted the critical importance of two types of cluster effectshost city leadership in the industry and host city/region as a source of exhibitorsto an exhibition destination's attractiveness for exhibitors. Accessibility, venue facilities, and the destination's leisure and economic environment were considered less important. Implications of the study results are discussed and directions for future research provided.
International mega or hallmark events such as the Olympics and World Expo, are believed to help brand national and government images of the host country. Existing studies explain that mega-event images are transferrable to a host country and/or government. Yet, such an assumption has not been widely tested, or studied with country cases. Furthermore, while international mega events are assumed to target chiefly the international community for country branding purposes, there is reason to assert that they may just as much aim at domestic audiences for regime's political legitimization. By focusing on China's recently hosted three mega events – the 2008 Beijing Summer Olympics, the 2010 Shanghai World Expo, and 2010 Guangzhou Asian Games, this study addresses these issues.The analyses reveal that people are likely to associate event images, especially positive ones, with those of China and Chinese government. A set of presumably influential factors, which may either strengthen or weaken that association, are examined, showing that “people's involvement and participation in these events” are the most significant. The findings also verify that internationally oriented mega events can aim at the host country's internal audience. Indeed, solidifying its domestic legitimacy always seems to be an integral part of the Chinese government's strategy in pursuit of a favorable international image. Although exploratory, this study provides clues and fertile ground for further research on the relationship between international mega events and national and/or governmental image building, projection and branding.
Purpose The purpose of this paper is to contribute to our understanding of the underlying rationale for why companies participate in mega‐events in general, and in mega‐events in emerging economies – such as the 2010 Shanghai Expo – in particular. Of particular interest are the ways that companies use an event to advance their own purposes, and how experiences are created that use aspects of an event setting such as Expo 2010. Design/methodology/approach The study is based on a participatory, ethnographic and longitudinal field study focusing on the VIP section of the Swedish Pavilion at the Shanghai World Expo, using additional data from other national pavilions and respondents with insight into Expo 2010 and its organization. Findings The study indicates that even though companies operationally used the World Expo and the VIP section in many different ways, an underlying element appears to be to use the event for the “practice of communification”. Practical implications The study provides practitioners with a conceptual framework and tools to manage the co‐creation process of experiences at events. This is done by supplying an empirical example from World Expo 2010 and the VIP area of the Swedish pavilion. This is a needed addition to the current knowledge on how customers engage in co‐creation of experiences and how companies manage the co‐creation process. Originality/value The “communification” concept is used to denote the simultaneous building of community while communicating business‐related issues to strengthen and build relationships with customers over time, with exclusivity and co‐creation of experiences as important components.