Destination Brand-Building and Major Sporting Events. The Case of Poland and the UEFA Euro 2012

Term Paper (Advanced seminar), 2012

20 Pages, Grade: 1,3


Table of Contents

1. Introduction

2. Terms of Reference

3. Poland as a destination
3.1. Tourism to CEE and Poland in particular
3.2. Perception of Poland as a destination by Western Europeans pre-EURO 2012
3.3. Destination Branding Challenges for Poland

4. Creating a viable Destination Brand for Poland
4.1. The successful Destination Brand
4.2. Poland’s Ts in the creation of a creative destination reputation
4.2.1. Tradition
4.2.2. Testimonies
4.2.3. Channelling Tradition and Testimonies into Tone

5. Leveraging a Major Sporting Event in terms of Destination Branding
5.1. “Feel Invited”
5.2.1. Communicating “Poland-Feel Invited” during EURO 2012
5.2. “Come Back”
5.3. Future challenges in firmly establishing the “Feel Invited” brand
5.3.1. Lack of appeal to non-football supporters
5.3.2. Possible negative effects of EURO 2012 on country image
5.3.3. The risk of losing momentum

6. Conclusions & Recommendations
6.1. Conclusions
6.2. Recommendations


List of Tables and Figures

Table 3.1.1. – International tourist arrivals, tourism receipts and receipts per capita to Poland 1990-2000

Figure 4.1.1. – The virtuous circle of creative destination reputation

Table 4.2.1. – The 6 Ts of creative destination reputation and goals for maximum positive impact on the destination brand

Table - Some indicators as to the quality of national and international WOM about Poland

Figure – Visitors’ perception of Poland’s performance as the EURO 2012 host country.

1. Introduction

One of the most impactful current developments in the events industry is without a doubt the increasing fierceness of competition between destinations brought about by the emergence of new destinations enabling the more cost-effective staging of leisure and business events alike.

As tourism, be it in the context of events or not, is a very lucrative business and extremely powerful in creating economic growth and other favourable outcomes (Kotler & Gertner, 2010), many second and third world countries are incorporating the construction of a destination brand into their growth strategies.

In this context, harnessing the media coverage associated with the hosting of major sporting events has become a popular tactic (Gripsrud, Nes & Olsson, 2010).

In the case of Poland’s co-hosting of the UEFA EURO 2012, “building a Polish national brand” (Niedziolka, 2011, p.197) was the main long-term objective. This new destination brand is expected to maximise the investment in infrastructure associated with Euro 2012 by helping to attract tourism and business events (Niedziolka, 2011).

2. Terms of Reference

This report has been written by Charlotte Brodtkorb, student of a Bachelor’s programme in International Events Management at European Business School London, for assessment purposes within the module EVM6A5 “Contemporary Issues in Events Management”. It examines how Poland capitalised on the opportunities associated with the country’s co-hosting of EURO 2012 with regards to building a destination brand and identifies strategies that may be implemented in order to further establish and strengthen it.

3. Poland as a destination

3.1. Tourism to CEE and Poland in particular

Having had a certain level of importance in the USSR, if mainly within the Union, international tourism has been pursued as a major stream of revenue by many Central and Eastern European (CEE) countries since its dissolution (Hall, 2010) and has been a main driver in the post-communist restructuring process of CEE, creating over 21m jobs in the region and achieving Euro 95 bn in terms of GDP equivalent after just a decade (WWTC/WEFA, cited in Hall, 2010).

The first post-communist years saw the number of international tourist arrivals and tourism receipts to Poland, a country well-positioned for EU accession at the time (both in terms of geographic location and legal standards), increase dramatically.

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As can be seen from the table, tourist arrivals and income from tourism to Poland decreased again after a peak in the mid-1990s and have gone down to 12.47m in 2010 (World Bank, 2012).

3.2. Perception of Poland as a destination by Western Europeans pre-EURO 2012

In the context of the new “opportunity to target western European markets” (Hughes & Allen, 2008, p.27) after the demise of the Soviet Union, the attitudes British tourists hold towards CEE countries have been examined.

Findings suggest that Western Europeans’ perception of CEE countries is characterised by lack of differentiating points between them, the belief of prevalence of poverty, under-development and general bleakness in many of them, and a general association of the region with war (Hughes & Allen, 2008).

Like many CEE countries, Poland has attempted to rid itself of the communist stigma by portraying an image of “Europeanness which conforms to requirements for (…) EU accession” (Hall, 2010, p.111).

Able to offer a wealth of cultural attractions and a vibrant creative scene, the country can be considered to be leading within CEE.

However, the unclear perception of old-fashionedness and struggle associated with most CEE countries seems to persist also in the case of Poland (MPP, 2011).

Furthermore, as mentioned by Niedziolka (2011), the country is still considered unsafe by many foreigners. This may explain why Poland has found it hard to conquer most of the big Western European markets, with the exception of Germany, which accounts for over a third of international tourist arrivals to Poland (OECD, 2012).

3.3. Destination Branding Challenges for Poland

In the context of economic restructuring, the need for strong destination brands able to compete against established Western European place brands emerged (Hall, 2010).

Many CEE countries, according to Hall (2010) have had and still have to deal with three important challenges in building a destination brand:

a. Lack of financial resources for marketing initiatives
b. Focus on short-term results on the part of relevant authorities
c. Impediments associated with adapting to the very competitive nature of the free market economy

This may be an explanation as to why Poland, despite the considerable growth of its tourism sector post-USSR, which could be retained to a good extent, has not been able to achieve the proportion of tourism arrivals of other European countries (Hall, 2010).

4. Creating a viable Destination Brand for Poland

4.1. The successful Destination Brand

Morgan, Pritchard and Pride (2011) argue that in order to achieve long-term competitiveness, a destination needs to be creative in terms of building and maintaining their reputation. According to these authors a creative destination is characterised by the following:

1. They harness tourism to create benefits for the national population.
2. They are open to innovative ideas, especially in terms of sustainability initiatives.
3. They are highly liveable places worth visiting.
4. They “prioritise social benefit and “mindful” development.” (p.10)
5. They are able to draw attention to themselves regardless of the extent to which they are influential politically.
6. They maximise limited public sector budgets, notably by exploiting digital platforms and using testimonies and ambassador programmes.
7. They capitalise on event impacts to enhance and sustain their reputation.
8. They aim to “integrate the attraction of tourism, investment and talented human capital.” (p.11) as well as societal, governmental and business needs.

Taking into account the challenges POT faces in creating a viable Destination Brand, long-term competitiveness, as well as being able to operate cost-effectively are goals that have been difficult to achieve, but could be attained within the creation of a creative destination reputation.

In this context, and with reference to point 7 above, the country’s bid to co-host EURO 2012 can be interpreted as an attempt to enhance its image.

A leading European country in terms of creativity and economic dynamism (Morgan, Pritchard & Pride, 2011), Poland seems to have potential for the development of a strong Destination Brand within a virtuous circle model comprising of six mutually reinforcing elements (see below).

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4.2. Poland’s Ts in the creation of a creative destination reputation

In order to become a creative destination, Poland needs to start the virtuous circle of creative destination by reinforcing the development of the destination’s image in terms of one or several of the six Ts.

Morgan, Pritchard and Pride’s (2011) discourse on the topic can be synthesised into objectives in order to maximise the impact of each of the T elements (see below).

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With regards to Talent, EURO 2012 and associated investments in Polish infrastructure generated between 50.000 and 60.000 jobs in the hospitality sector (estimate of Polish government, cited in Thomas, 2012) and at least 2.200 training opportunities in the fields of events management and services for national and international workers.

Also, POT’s use of Social Media shows promise in terms of the destination reputation’s Transformability factor (see section 5.1.).

Nevertheless, considering Poland’s wealth of heritage buildings and original traditions (PNTO North America, 2012), as well as the opportunities that have arisen as a result of the country’s co-hosting of EURO 2012, Tradition, Testimonies and Tone recommend themselves most clearly as the Ts that should be relied on in the creation of a strong destination brand for the country.

4.2.1. Tradition

In the context of the prevailing perception of Poland as a bleak, undifferentiated destination, Hall identifies the need for market differentiation and “to disassociate from the recent past” (2010, p.116) in terms of destination branding and recommends the creation of a new image for CEE destinations building on heritage from the distant past.

Despite the highly globalised and digitised times we live in, many tourists are on the quest for “authentic” places (Morgan, Pritchard & Pride, 2011). Authenticity is therefore considered vital to the creative destination. Morgan, Pritchard and Pride (2011) even go as far as to state that “effectively and sympathetically communicated through marketing activities, tradition is the alchemical ingredient which distinguishes the bland from the unique place” (p.12), suggesting that authenticity is closely related to heritage buildings and monuments.

The authors also maintain that modern day authenticity relies on Tradition as “a true and lasting resource of true, appealing narratives for the destination” (2011, p.106), but also on the ongoing reinterpretation of historical origins.

Destinations are thus faced with the challenge of portraying a contemporary interpretation of their cultural and historical heritage. The approach POT has taken to this in rebranding the Polish destination will be discussed in section 5.1.

4.2.2. Testimonies

Out of the 6 Ts, Testimonies is rated the most important by Morgan, Pritchard and Pride, as they “add or subtract the real equity to a destination’s reputation” (2011, p.15).

With over 3.5 million people attending the matches or related events in Poland within the UEFA EURO 2012 (Polish National Tourist Organisation (PNTO) London, 2012), the tournament presented the perfect opportunity to collect data on the kind of WOM the experience provided to visitors would likely encourage:

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As can be seen from the table and diagram above, WOM about Poland as a destination can be expected to be very positive in the aftermath of EURO 2012.

In terms of an ambassador programme, a newly published brochure suggests POT is attempting to build up the Polish national football team to be the destination’s brand ambassadors (POT, 2012). Next to their obvious link to EURO 2012, Poland’s football talents have a strong international appeal in terms of two main target markets, as many of them compete in Western European Leagues, particularly as part of German and French regional teams (POT, 2012). Choosing them as destination brand ambassadors therefore is a more than appropriate choice.

4.2.3. Channelling Tradition and Testimonies into Tone

The POT has attempted to leverage the two elements previously discussed to create and reinforce a new image for Poland as a destination within “the greatest ever brand-building campaign” around the staging of EURO 2012 (see section 5.1. “Feel Invited”).

Within the virtuous circle of creative destination reputation this can be seen as channelling Tradition, Talent and Testimonies into initiatives to achieve the objective for Tone that promises the maximum positive impact on the Destination Brand (see table 4.2.1.).


Excerpt out of 20 pages


Destination Brand-Building and Major Sporting Events. The Case of Poland and the UEFA Euro 2012
European Business School London / Regent's College
EVM6A5- Contemporary Issues in Event Management
Catalog Number
ISBN (eBook)
ISBN (Book)
destination marketing, destination branding, tourism, event, sporting event, sports, football, soccer, UEFA, Euro 2012, poland, event management
Quote paper
Charlotte Brodtkorb (Author), 2012, Destination Brand-Building and Major Sporting Events. The Case of Poland and the UEFA Euro 2012, Munich, GRIN Verlag,


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