Visiting King Videogames was an exciting experience. We were all familiar with some of their extremely popular mobile app games, and hearing about what it’s like to be a profitable game producer behind the scenes. King Videogames was not founded in Barcelona, but we found out that their business model is to set up offices in major destinations, both to attract talent to the company with desirable cities, and to gain exposure within the respective regions. It was fascinating to hear another one of their strategies, which was to test launch games within smaller market countries and evaluate features of the game, before potentially launching in bigger markets or simply moving the game feature to another game. It was interesting to hear how they didn’t care about “burning” these smaller markets with the games, because they knew that the larger markets, like USA, were the ones that needed to be focused on.
As someone who is starting my career in Data Analytics, I also really enjoyed hearing from the Data Analytics specialist at King. The really cool part about mobile app games is that they can be designed to collect and archive a lot of types of data, which must be extremely useful for game designers and other business people within the company. I was able to find out about some new Data Analytics softwares that I hadn’t use before, and also to hear praise for ones that I am studying/have experience with. Overall, the King Videogames visit was extremely exciting and enriching.
Sagrada Familia was a beautiful church unlike any that I’ve ever seen before. Our guide told us of the history of the Church, which was largely constructed / based off of the plans of Antoni Gaudi. The beautiful facades on each side (one for the Nativity and one for the Passion of Christ) were beautiful representations of Gaudi’s life work. The Passion was not even built by Gaudi, because he died while finishing the Nativity. Our guide told us of how Subirachs followed the plans that Gaudi had laid out, while adding his own signature “S” to the design. This church was the first one I’ve ever paid admission to get into, which felt odd. I later found out that the admission is really a donation that goes towards the completion of the church, which is scheduled to finish in 2026. The colored light from the window and decorations within the church left me speechless, and I can only imagine how beautiful the whole structure will be when it is completed.
Today was another exciting day of learning about the business world of Barcelona by travelng on site to organizations that play different roles in the local economy. Our first stop of the day was at Barcelona Activa, a public organization that exists to provide an entrepreneur with all the resources and information that they might need to set up their own business in Barcelona. The purpose of Barcelona Activa is to foster the growth of a business so that it can one day become a source of new jobs in the city. I think that the presence of Barcelona Activa is a tremendous aid to the economy of the city, as it makes it possible for someone who has a good idea but no experience starting a company to create their business and get off the ground. On our tour of the Barcelona Activa buildings, it was interesting to see the different types of businesses that were operating in the office space within Barcelona Activa. A few were designing apps and games, and we could see the programmers and designers as they worked. The overall experience made me consider the potential role that a government can play in creating an economy that supports entrepreneurship and start-up culture.
The next visit of the day was our tour of the BEST Port of Barcelona. The port is operated by Hutchison Port Holdings, which is headquartered in Hong Kong. Hutchison won the tender for the right to run the port in 2006 and has since developed it into a high-tech and high efficiency semi-autonomous port. On the tour we rode a bus through the site and watched as containers were moved around - from the ship to the storage area -> storage area to truck or train car. The most impressive part of the port was the automatic container moving system that facilitates all transfers to and from the storage area. Each of the 9 lanes of containers had two sliding arches that dropped down and picked up the containers to where they needed to go, with no human guidance. It was fascinating to see such a large scale operation run on its own. The other parts of the container movement were operated by human vehicle drivers, who moved the containers with impressive efficiency. We were told that they were instructed container locations via touch screens within their cabins. It was interesting to hear that the human vessel drivers’ jobs were protected by unions and that otherwise the port would have been more autonomous. Another fun fact was that although other ports in Spain brought in a larger volume of containers (like Valencia) the Barcelona port brought in the highest monetary value of goods in the country. The technology and efficiency of this port were the most memorable parts of this visit, and seeing it made me appreciate the port’s economic impact on the city and the region.
For lunch, I traveled to the ESADE Barcelona building to eat lunch with Maurici. Once again, he seemed to know everyone he encountered on a first name basis, all the way down to the kitchen staff. The layout of the food at ESADE’s cafeteria was similar to what I’ve seen at St. John’s and other universities, but the dishes all had spanish touches.
During the evening, we visited KIC Innoenergy, an investment community that focuses on investing in sustainable energy. This appointment was rescheduled from the following morning, so we felt grateful to receive some of their time. The takeaway from this session was that although the process of investing in companies that make the world better is a valuable process, it comes with many of the same challenges (and more) as other investment firms.
On our second day of the Global Destination Course, our group traveled to Pier 01 in Barcelona’s Tech City area. The Pier 01 space was like a WeWork that allowed many tech companies to have working space in close proximity with each other, while overlooking the beautiful Barcelona Port. Seeing and learning about companies like Seat and Tiendeo and hearing about their operations in Barcelona was eye-opening for me. In addition to the fact that I was unfamiliar with the companies to start, I also was not aware that Barcelona featured such a hub of innovation. As we were told, Tech City has been called the Silicon Valley of Spain. Hearing from Tiendeo’s marketing and sales director was also a special and invaluable experience, because we got to learn about how the company operates in a more in depth way than would otherwise have been possible. It was interesting to hear about how they competed in the market, focusing on quality rather than widespread and unlimited exposure. The Tiendeo app and business seems like a great model for reaching consumers and helping them find deals.
We also had a chance to have a guided walking tour after our visit to Tech City. Our guide was a professor from ESADE who was extremely knowledgeable on the history of the city. He showed us the Gothic Quarter, which featured ancient and historic churches and relics, amidst many modern day shops and restaurants. It was surprising to see the obvious differences as ancient bricks blended with modern architecture, but also nice to be able to have access to both the history and shopping opportunities all in one.
We spent our first day in Spain visiting ESADE, one of the top ranked management and international business universities in the world. The Sant Cugat campus of ESADE was beautiful, featuring high tech building structure and resources for the students. We met our liaison, Maurici Rolo. Maurici seemed to know just about everyone in Barcelona, and he introduced us to all of our visits during the week.
Morning Sessions with ESADE Professors:
During the morning, we arrived to a classroom in ESADE and met two professors at the University. Farran Blanch was the first, who taught us from his experience in marketing. He was an energetic man who loved to climb mountains, and he utilized visual examples and anecdotes well. My takeaway from his lecture was the importance of satisfying the customer in the way a business does marketing.
Our next professor was named Javier Aguilar. Javier is an accomplished entrepreneur, and he engaged us by telling stories of how he has built his businesses. He started and owns businesses that execute major IT projects for governments and corporations, head hunter companies, and even media and pharmacy. Hearing from someone who has actually taken the risks of starting businesses and seen the risks pay off was inspiring, and his session was probably my favorite part of the day.
Our Service Marketing study group was welcomed into the meeting room of the ESADE Creapolis, which featured modern and interesting furniture and decor - intended to stimulate meaningful discussion within the room. We were introduced to a few finance students who are currently studying for their MBAs at ESADE. Three were originally from China, and one was from India (who had a British accent interestingly). I spent my time following lunch talking with one of the Chinese students named Ginny. She was born in China but has worked in Tokyo Japan for approximately 2 years, and left her job there because the work culture was more stressful than she wanted. She now attends ESADE, and is going to search for employment at a tech startup in the US. It was great to meet and make connections with these ESADE students - their intelligence was impressive and perspectives on business and the world in general was very interesting.
Oriol provided our group with a robust description of what the Creapolis system is like, and showed us some of the impact it has had. He showed us the growth of the tech district in Barcelona, and explained how the Creapolis innovation program could help to foster a successful business to overcome the valley that causes most young businesses to fail.
Jorge Fernandez - Kernel Business Consulting:
Jorge is the CEO and founder of Kernel Business Consulting, which specializes in high tech neuroscience solutions for its clients. Kernel is a member of the Creapolis Innovation incubator, and Jorge’s account provided us with some idea of what it’s like to be a business that finds growth using the incubator’s resources. He also demoed some of the tools that the business uses for its clients, such as a model for emotional facial recognition facial. This session was very interesting, especially for the fact that it allowed us to understand at least one of the businesses in the incubator.
The following sections include research and observations related to the topic of expanding a service-based model in the city of Barcelona, Spain. These sections include reasons for and against investing in a business in the city, followed by a proposal in support of bringing the Uber business model to Barcelona.
Reasons a US company would want to invest in operations in the city of Barcelona:
1. Barcelona has a massive local population of over 5,000,000 inhabitants in the local area.
2. The city is a center of technology and innovation for the country, which is beneficial for attracting tech-savvy talent to a business.
3. Barcelona has over 250k local college students and two of schools of business ranked in Spain’s top 10.
4. Barcelona is an exciting destination city, which is attractive for talented employees to relocate to.
5. The quality of life that Barcelona is known for helps to foster retention and satisfaction among employees, which is known to correlate with business success.
6. The city is welcoming and encouraging towards new business, featuring resources through Barcelona Activa and the Departament d’Empresa i Ocupacio.
7. Barcelona features convenient access to all major forms of travel and shipment: air, river/sea, and land. Its airports and ports are sizable, and road infrastructure features highway access.
8. The location of Barcelona is relatively central to both the European mainland, and other Mediterranean locations.
9. The city’s economy is strong enough to feature of supplemental business services and retail access, which makes starting and conducting a business easier.
10. Having an international location in Barcelona is an accomplishment in itself, and showing that a business can operate successfully in the city shows the prestige of a corporation.
Reasons to be wary investing in expansionary operations Barcelona:
- Political risk:Despite the city’s overall economic prosperity, Barcelona has long been a center of political unrest. Catalonia (of which Barcelona is the capital city) has been fighting for its independence for many years, with a recent push occurring in latter half of 2017. The shakeup and instability that would occur if Catalonia were to separate from the nation of Spain creates unpredictable risk for any business that is invested in the region.
- Economic stability: Spain’s economy suffered heavily in the world economic crisis in 2008. The economy saw widespread loss of jobs and as a result, Spain became an emigrant country as many citizens migrated. The value of the Euro also declined over this period, which harmed any business holding the currency. It took four years and a Eurogroup bailout to begin the recovery of the nation. This kind of crisis will hopefully not occur again anytime soon, but the recent occurrence showed that economic downturn is possible and dangerous for the health of businesses.
Proposal to Expand Uber Services to Barcelona
Proposal: To expand Uber’s ride-sharing taxi and food- delivery services to the city of Barcelona
Introduction: Uber’s business model has been successful in hundreds of cities around the world. The ride-sharing app connects users to drivers who can provide transportation and deliver meals (via the newly added UberEATS feature). The app uses GPS services built-in to smartphones in combination with complex algorithms to produce route guidance, arrival estimates, and prices for Uber users to choose from. The company has been praised for creating employment and lowering taxi costs in the cities it operates in. Barcelona could be a great recipient for Uber’s services, if a mutual agreement can be established to bring the company in.
Potential Risks / Obstacles:
Although there are some inherent risks that would come in expanding Uber’s operations to Barcelona, those risks are similar to risks that Uber has overcome in many other cities around the world. The real main challenge would lie in gaining government approval and public popularity. If Uber were to establish operations in Barcelona, all signs point towards the investment becoming successful and profitable.
Hand and Stone: Massage and Facial Spa (located in Winston-Salem, NC)
What measures does Hand and Stone: Massage and Facial Spa take to provide a personalized and high quality customer experience? Considering these measures, how can Hand and Stone improve the customer experience?
Hand and Stone is a massage and spa that provides one on one sessions for a variety of massage and facial services. Given the one on one nature of customer interactions, I was not able to observe other customer’s interactions. The observations I recorded are based off of my own personal experience, detailing my experience with registration and a massage session itself.
I booked a deep tissue massage using the membership portal on the Hand and Stone website. The appointment booking featured options for personalization, including various types of massage/spa services, gender of therapist, specific therapist (by gender and/or name) and date/time. I appreciated the availability of these options.
When I arrived for the appointment, I was welcomed by the staff at the front desk, who provided me with some paperwork to fill out. This paperwork included waivers and a sheet that asked about any special requests during the massage session (injuries, allergies, etc.). This was beneficial for me in particular, because I had the opportunity to request special attention to a sports injury in my back. The opportunity for this kind of request was beneficial, but it could have been a time-saver to have these forms available in the online portal.
The massage itself was high quality. The room was lit with a calm, low level of ambient lighting, and relaxing music played quietly. The therapist requested if I preferred high or low pressure, and mentioned the back injury I had written in my forms previously. Throughout the massage, she checked verbally to make sure she was doing a good job.
Nothing special took place upon my departure- just a quick and friendly checkout process.
Following the appointment, I received a follow-up email that thanked me for my business and offered a link for an optional review of my experience. The review began with a good/poor option to choose from. When the “good” option is selected, a page appears with blank 5 star rating and comment box which allows the customer to write a public review on the Hand and Stone website. When the “poor” option is selected, the customer is directed to a page where they provide detailed feedback, responding to 10 categories of service and providing a feedback box for specific comment. Although the opportunity for feedback is valuable, I found it clever but unpleasant that the opportunity to make a public post was shown only to those who selected the “good” experience option on their review.
Positive Customer Experience Insights
The following is a series of questions/responses referring to this reading on services marketing.
a. Choose one product and one service. Use them to describe the basic differences between products and services described in the reading. You can approach this by describing a single brand or an entire industry. Your choice.
Product: An example of a product is a men’s suit. A suit is a physical product, which is different from a non-physical services. A suit can be owned, and its quality depends on what it is made of / how it was made.
Service: An example of a service is tax assistance service, which might be performed by someone at an accounting firm. Tax assistance is done by a person, and is non-physical. The quality of tax assistance depends on the how efficiently and accurately the firm completes their customers’ forms and success is related to the level professionalism at which the accountant treats customers.
b. Eight components of service management are described in the reading (please note that they are referred to as 8Ps--these are different than the 7Ps of service marketing we discussed briefly on Monday). Consider the service you chose in the previous question through the lens of these eight components and describe how they apply to each.
Product Elements: Tax assistance can be broken into packages levels that vary based on what type of service is included in each. The accounting firm could charge low-end price for assistance once a year, right before taxes are due. The firm could charge a higher fee for year-round bookkeeping, providing analysis and reports on a regular basis. Pricing tiers could also be distinguished based on whether the customer is an individual or a business.
Place and Time: Accounting firms can have a physical location or can operate remotely via the internet. As long as files can be transferred from customer to accountant, the accountant can do their job prepare tax forms. Communication is necessary, and is sometimes easier when done in person. The time for tax assistance is usually early in the calendar year because “tax season” or “busy season” takes place in the months leading up to the tax due date, April 15.
Process: The process of tax assistance requires clear instruction of what the customer must provide (receipts, invoices, financial statements, etc.) and clear explanation of what the accountant will provide in return. The process description may also include an estimate of how long the tax services will take, or a potential guaranteed date by which the service will be completed by.
Productivity and Quality: Taxes are due by April 15 every year, so it is essential that tax services are completed in a timely manner. Customers will expect a high level of productivity and active collaboration as they work with accountants on their tax returns. Quality is necessary in the preparation of tax returns, especially regarding accuracy. Inaccuracies in submitted tax returns can be found by the IRS, which may lead to a delayed process or penalties like increased taxes for the taxpayer. Consistency in quality and timeliness must be prioritized in an accounting firm that aims to establish and maintain its reputation.
People: Personal interaction and professionalism can separate one accounting firm from another in the eyes of a customer. Customers remember the way they are treated, especially so when deciding what firm to hire for future tax assistance. Politeness and clear communication are important and present in a successful firm.
Promotion and Education: An accounting firm must market itself and communicate its services to attract business. Advertisement works best when it reaches a customer when they need help most, so accounting firms are best to advertise their services most heavily during tax season.
Physical Evidence: An accounting firm’s appearance, both physically in-office and digitally on the web will affect the way customers perceive quality. A good web presence might include descriptions of services, biographies of accountants, statistics and customer testimonials.
Price and other costs of Service: Accounting firms must compete with other accounting firms and also tax preparation software, like TurboTax. The price of the tax assistance service must be adjusted to attract customers from competitors, while still covering the firm’s expenses and producing a profit.
c. The reading introduces value, values and ethics as particularly important in the sphere of services. Do you agree that the fundamental nature of services described in the chapter amplify the importance of these three factors in services (versus products). Why or why not?
The specified chapter on Services Marketing includes explanation and logic behind focusing on value, values and ethics in a service oriented business. The text details the importance of creating value and benefits for customers, because failing to do so will leave a customer unhappy and unlikely to use a business’ service again. Values and ethics go hand in hand, because a business’ reputation as a good and ethical company can be easily tarnished. Social media, review sites, and even good ol’ word of mouth can spread stories and testimonials that can either boost or damage a company’s reputation if it seems generous vs. immoral in the way it is run. It is best for business leaders to emphasize value adding and ethical business practices regularly to keep the company operating the right way.
who is cj?
CJ is a Senior at St. John's University, hailing from Winston-Salem, NC. He studies finance in the Tobin College of Business. Following graduation at St. John's, CJ will be working on Data Analytics in the Internal Audit function at Synchrony Financial.