Determining Motivations Behind Business Involvement in the Dolphin SMART Program
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The U.S. dolphin watching tourism industry is largely unregulated and thus encounters with tour boats can result in harassment to dolphins. The voluntary recognition and education program, Dolphin SMART, provides a solution to reduce harassment by incentivizing tour companies to adopt responsible advertising and viewing practices. The program encourages participation through two main messages: (1) involvement in Dolphin SMART will aid wild dolphin conservation; and (2) cause-marketing strategy involvement in Dolphin SMART will increase business for tour operators. For this study, I identified drivers and barriers to participation in the program by conducting a qualitative analysis based on interviews with dolphin tour operators, their customers, and program partners. Additionally, I gauged the level of customer awareness and explored perceptions of the cause-marketing strategy’s success from the operator and partner viewpoints. The results indicate the main driver to participation is the desire to promote dolphin conservation, while the main barrier is operators’ perception that involvement in Dolphin SMART provides no significant business advantage. I recommend various strategies program staff can undertake to increase exposure of the program and its recognized operators, provide further instruction on how operators can implement a cause-marketing strategy, and generally make participation in Dolphin SMART more economically beneficial for tour operators.
CitationGoss, Julia (2013). Determining Motivations Behind Business Involvement in the Dolphin SMART Program. Master's project, Duke University. Retrieved from https://hdl.handle.net/10161/6482.
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Rights for Collection: Nicholas School of the Environment