Tasmanian School of Business and Economics’ PhD student Monika Belhaj will lead an intensive study into the unique offerings of MACq 01 Hotel on Hobart’s waterfront.

Her research will explore the links between marketing and visitor experience, aiming to shed new light on an industry worth $2 billion in visitor spend in Tasmania every year.

The project is jointly funded by the University of Tasmania and the Federal Group, which owns MACq 01 Hotel.

“Essentially, I’m looking to unpack a hospitality product using MACq 01 as a case study,” Monika said. 

“My main aim is to investigate the perceived significance of various aspects of the delivered hospitality product including cultural heritage interpretation, service quality, sense of place and localisation of food and beverage.”

In opening MACq 01 last June, the Federal Group has ventured into new tourism territory by offering a new category of hotel – a storytelling hotel.

Here, the luxury venue aims to go beyond historical interpretation to become an immersive storytelling experience. 

Along with offering guided tours by a master storyteller, each of the hotel’s 114 rooms reflects one of five Tasmanian character traits through design and story.

Traits include colourful and quirky; hearty and resilient; fighting believers; curious and creative, and grounded yet exceptional.

My research will look at the link between marketing and storytelling and the physical environment, and the impact it has on a customer’s behaviour and experience.

It is unique to have a storytelling hotel. We want to find out how this impacts on a visitor’s motivation, expectation and overall experience, from why they chose the venue through to departure. 

“There is a need for a greater level of understanding about visitor experience, their perception regarding a hospitality product and how tourism organisations are marketing experiences.”

Born in Lithuania, Monika studied sociology as an undergraduate and spent the past two years in Indonesia furthering her studies before pursuing the industry-funded PhD project with the University of Tasmania.

“I arrived a couple of months ago, and I’ve been warmly welcomed. There is so much beauty here with the natural environment and people. It’s a truly lovely place to come and study,” she said.

Dr Daniel Hanna, Federal Group’s Executive General Manager – Corporate and Regulatory Affairs, said the project would provide invaluable insights into Tasmania’s tourism sector. “The findings will be of value to our company and the entire Tasmanian tourism sector, and could be a good model for future industry/university collaboration.”

Interested in conducting your own research? Apply now to become a research student.

Photo: PhD student Monika Belhaj.

Authored by Anna Osborne.