Executive Education welcomed 40 MBA students from City University in Hong Kong for a nine-day programme on Global Brand Management. In a groundbreaking initiative, the programme involved two clients, Edwardian Hotels and City University, working together to find solutions to their global branding problems. The programme was project led; involving various points of connectivity including thought leadership, industry insight, supervisory work and experiential learning.
The students’ project was to help market Edwardian’s new hotel in Leicester Square, and specifically how they could reach out to attract customers from China. In working on this brief, many different areas of marketing in the hospitality sector were assessed including identifying suitable target markets, understanding the target market’s needs and developing segmentation and positioning strategy for the hotel.
The groups were given presentations by senior members of the Edwardian Hotel group including Linda Plant (Head of Sales), Rob Steul (Creative Director) and Stacey Donald (eCommerce Revenue Manager). These presentations allowed the students to gain a deep understanding of the Edwardian brand, and this was further cemented through site visits and the chance to speak to General Managers.
The students benefited hugely from this applied form of learning; through the combination of lectures and project work, they were able to learn and apply this knowledge concurrently. In preparing a real proposal, the learning methodology consisted of learning, testing, applying and revising. In discussing this method of learning with Beate Baldwin, Programme Director, she explained, "for this programme, we have applied an ancient way of learning to the modern business world. In taking small steps throughout the project, we are gradually seeing a change in behaviour from the students over the course of the nine days. This rate of change would not occur if the students were not constantly applying new knowledge to their real-life projects."
This particularly shone through during the students’ presentations to the Edwardian Hotel group on the final day of the programme. The groups successfully demonstrated their extensive research into the growing Chinese tourism market, and how this could be tapped into through the marketing of Edwardian’s new hotel in Leicester Square. One aspect that resonated through many of the groups’ presentations was the Chinese market’s obsession with technology, and how that is key not only during their stay, but also during the process of choosing a hotel. Some cited the importance of the hotel’s website being available in Mandarin, and others mentioned the lure that VR headsets and iPads in every room would have for the Chinese market. As a direct result of the students’ research, Edwardian Hotels are looking at how to implement more technology into their business.
In learning about the personalised experience that Edwardian Hotels prides itself on and conducting extensive market research, one group suggested that the hotel provide tailor-made romantic services including marriage proposals, wedding photoshoot packages and romantic spa breaks. They commented that this is already popular in China, and the market would pay a premium for the same services here in London.
Speaking about the experience, Stacey Donald noted, "many of the groups showed a real understanding of the Edwardian values, and having our team present to them was really beneficial. This also gave the presentations a really personal feel for our business. These gave some great suggestions for different marketing campaigns that we could use."
All in all, the experience was a wholly positive one with learning taking place on both sides. The MBA students gained an extensive applied learning experience and industry insight surrounding Global Brand Management, and the Edwardian Hotels group gained invaluable insights into the lucrative market of Chinese tourism, mainly surrounding the size and buying power of the market.