Professor of International Business and Strategy at the D’Amore – McKim School of Business at Northeastern University, Dr. Chris Robertson, has been teaching and consulting on international business for many years. Along with teaching, he has also been a keen student of intercultural perceptions.
In this interview, Dr. Robertson describes how travelers’ perception of a destination constitutes a country’s “brand.” These brand ratings or rankings have a significant impact on the competitiveness of one medical destination versus another.
The reputation and beliefs about a country is what will motivate travelers to visit that location. If a country is trying to attract medical tourists, it has to brand itself as a desirable and credible medical destination.
Dr. Robertson cites national brand rankings such as the Country Brand Index from Future Brands, and Country Brand Ranking from Bloom Consulting, as examples of comparative international destination rankings. Identifying the difference between “individual” and “collective” is on dimension of cultural understanding that is important to building a brand.
Professor Robertson explained that the United States is highly individualistic, while many Asian cultures are more collective. Understanding these differences will help medical travel destinations attract its desired target patients. If a country is hoping to attract Asian medical tourists, it would serve them well to emphasize collective images, values and language while those destinations wanting to serve individualistic cultures would employ very different images, values and language.
Countries aspiring to develop a medical tourism market should study the country rankings to see how they compare. Dr. Robertson points out that it is particularly difficult to change perceptions once they are established, but it is not impossible to change.