Some of our current research in the School of Hospitality and Tourism is highlighted below:
Dr Jill Poulston is currently working with Dr Andrew Jenkins of the University of Huddersfield (UK) on a study of ageism in hospitality. The collaboration arose from an informal discussion at a conference, and has resulted in parallel studies in both the UK and New Zealand, involving a web survey and interviews with hotel managers and mature staff about issues associated with the employment of older staff. Early indications are that some operators prefer older employees to Gen Y, as they are loyal, hardworking, and rich in life experience! The New Zealand study is funded by AUT’s Faculty of Applied Humanities, and much of the work has been undertaken by NZTRI researchers.
Dr Michael Lück is currently chairing the International Competence Network for Tourism Research and Education (ICNT). Initiated by colleagues at the University of Applied Sciences West Coast, our partner university in Heide/Germany, ICNT now has members from around the globe.ICNT holds annual meetings, which include conference presentations, excursions, and the AGM. After the first three conferences in Germany, Mexico and South Africa, the fourth meeting will be jointly hosted at AUT by the School of Hospitality & Tourism and the New Zealand Tourism Research Institute in November 2010. ICNT is based on three pillars: Student exchange, staff exchange, and research. For example, four Masters students from Germany spent their semester abroad at AUT last year. Michael Lück and Alice Graeupl spent some time teaching in Germany in 2008 and 2009, respectively. The research collaboration extends beyond the bi-lateral cooperation with Germany. In 2009, various ICNT member universities participated in a study on student travel behaviour and decision making.
David Williamson is currently working with the Work and Labour Market Institute on ground-breaking research on the links between productivity, employee participation and employee wellbeing in several sectors, including hospitality, education, health and manufacturing. It is a major collaborative project with colleagues from Aalborg University, Denmark. This project received funding of $490,000 from the Danish Work Environment Fund, with New Zealand funding of $24,000 from the Industrial Relations Foundation and the Human Resource Institute of New Zealand. Initial results seem to confirm the link between greater productivity and higher employee wellbeing in organisations with effective employee participation systems.
Dr Claire Liu is working on a research project which focuses on Chinese travel agents, to explore their understanding of the Chinese market’s expectation of New Zealand Inbound Tour Operators. The target population is the key Chinese travel agents dealing with NZ inbound travel operators (ADS certified) based in China. Data will be gathered through questionnaire survey and selective interviews. The research questions include “what do Chinese outbound travel agents know about NZ as a tourist destination; what do Chinese outbound travel agents know about their client’s expectation of New Zealand as a tourist destination; how do Chinese outbound travel agents perceive the quality of products and services offered by New Zealand Inbound Tour Operators (ITOs); what do Chinese outbound travel agents expect from New Zealand ITOs to meet their clients expectation”. The results of this research will be compared with the findings from previous study on New Zealand tourism operators’ understanding of the Chinese tourist market.
Lindsay Neill has several research projects under way, two with Dr. Claudia Bell of Auckland University. One relates to the “Identifiers of an ‘Iconic’ Restaurant”, the other, the “Nostalgia and ‘Kiwiana’ Associations of Pie Carts”. Other research projects include the “History of Auckland’s White Lady”; in collaboration with Prof. Nigel Hemmington; “Cultural Heritage and Fast Food”, with Dr. Eveline Deurr, University of Munich, and “Student Vocabulary
Progression of First Year University Students”, with Alison Kirkness and Dr. Peter Gossman. Lindsay Neill’s next research undertaking is an examination of “Stakeholder Perspectives in Graduate Profile Accuracy. This is joint research with David Williamson. Assoc Prof. Neil Haigh, Alison Kirkness and Jim Lester.
Junji Kawai and Dr Charles Johnston are examining issues related to ethnicity and identity, motivation and mobility, of importance to Japanese “long-term stayers” (chōki taizaisha) in Auckland. Though Japan is known to be a homogeneous society, these are people who have chosen to live in New Zealand. We are interested in learning why they came, how they see themselves as inhabitants of New Zealand but citizens of Japan, and whether they have concerns that can be improved by changes in New Zealand policies.
Professor Mark Oram's current research projects include: Economic impacts of whale tourism in Vava’u, Tonga; impacts of tourism on Hector’s dolphins in Akaroa Harbour; visitor characteristics, motivations and activities at Goat island Marine Reserve; marine tourism and marine protected areas in Indonesia; influence of perceived risk on participation in outdoor education; the structure of visitor – guide interactions in wildlife tourism settings.