Dr. Chris Robertson, professor of International Business and Strategy at the D’Amore – McKim School of Business at Northeastern University has been a teacher and consultant of international business for many years. Along with being a teacher, he is also a keen student of intercultural perceptions.
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.
In this interview, Dr. Robertson describes how travelers’ perceptions of a destination constitute a country’s “brand.” These brand ratings or rankings have a significant impact on the competiveness of one medical destination versus another.
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. One dimension of cultural understanding is identifying the difference between “individual” and “collective.”
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 extremely difficult to change perceptions once they are embedded, but it is not impossible to change.