Dr Jennifer Phillips: my research focused on the marketing of island destinations

Dr Jennifer Phillips studies BSc Tourism Management followed by a PhD in Tourism and Management which she completed in 2017. Jennifer is currently working as a Lecturer in Tourism, Hospitality and Event Management at the University.

Choosing Plymouth

Originating from the Isles of Scilly I grew up in tourism. With both of my parents self-employed and running tourism businesses BSc Tourism Management was a logical degree choice when I made the decision to attend university. I joined the University of Plymouth ten years ago this September and, aside from a very short hiatus, haven’t left. Plymouth very quickly became home as I settled into university life.

I had an amazing experience studying BSc (Hons)Tourism Management. The course challenged me intellectually, allowed me to take a placement year in the USA, enabled me to learn a language, encouraged me to develop skills in business and marketing and I also gained a strong knowledge of the global tourism industry.

I graduated in 2012 with a first class honours degree, industry experience, a good work ethic and aspirations to run a ski chalet in the Alps. Instead, the day before my graduation, I interviewed for a part-time PhD and teaching position within the Department of Tourism and Hospitality.

Jennifer's research

Initially I had no intention of undertaking a PhD but my positive experience of conducting my own research for my undergraduate dissertation inspired me to apply for the role of Doctoral Teaching Assistant. I was very fortunate to be able to embark on PhD level study without a Master’s degree and to have my PhD funded by the department. It was an incredible opportunity so I put the ski chalet dream to one side and jumped at it.

As a former island dweller, my research focused on the marketing of island destinations specifically investigating the value of destination image in segmenting visitors to the Isles of Scilly. I have presented research from this thesis at international conferences in Norway and Portugal and I am currently preparing research papers for publication.

The University of Plymouth provided a great environment to study at this level. I had access to experienced supervisors, research training and a great library. Not only did I have the ability to undertake all the necessary training to help me conduct my research but I also completed two postgraduate certificates during my studies, one in research methodologies and the other in academic practice. The latter enabled me to become a fellow of the Higher Education Academy.

It is often said that a PhD is an isolating and lonely journey, but that was not my experience at Plymouth. The support that I had from my supervisory team from start to finish was invaluable, they were so patient with me, offered brilliant advice and were always on hand when I needed a bit of encouragement. My friendships with fellow PhD candidates were also fundamental in my ultimate enjoyment of the PhD ‘journey’ and survival of the writing up stage. We were all experiencing the same challenges regardless of our research areas, it was so reassuring to have that community.

There are definitely times when the process is infuriating and you question yourself (and your sanity) but for me completing a PhD had so many high points. Collecting my data, sat on a boat in the sunshine in the Isles of Scilly, was particularly great. I have also really enjoyed the occasions where I have been able to discuss my research with academics in the same field; this made my viva one of the surprising highlights. A thesis is a large amount of work and it is a long project particularly if you take the part-time route. It requires dedication and determination but it is such a rewarding experience.

Since completing my PhD in 2017 I have gained full time employment at the University of Plymouth as a Lecturer in Tourism, Hospitality and Event Management and I have more recently taken on the role of Programme Lead for BSc Tourism and Hospitality. It is great to be able to share my passion for my subject area with other students, particularly those now researching at undergraduate and postgraduate level.

Follow in Jennifer's footsteps at Plymouth

The University of Plymouth offers a range of postgraduate research degrees across all areas of our world leading research.

As a postgraduate research student, you will join a vibrant, supportive and forward-thinking community, that is committed to meeting global challenges in creative and imaginative ways.
 

View our hospitality and tourism research area