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Marketing and online hotel reviews - ‘free’ information?

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

If you are running a hotel these days, one of the most important aspects of your marketing mix must be the 'free' publicity that you get through review sites like TripAdvisor. Most of us would prefer to check the reviews posted by other travelers before booking a hotel we don't know - while you will always find some extreme views, the average rating and trend of the comments left are very helpful. So too are the responses that some of them add to the site, so that you can see how they deal with criticism. It takes 'word of mouth' marketing to a new level, and is not directly within the control of the hotel's management; the only thing they can do is be aware of the impression they are making on their clients, and try to ensure that their standards are fit-for-purpose and will generate the right sort of comment to encourage more travelers to choose them.

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Tesco’s fall from grace

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Tesco's share price slid again today, although the firm has announced that the new Finance Director Alan Stewart started work three months earlier than expected. 

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Every little counts against Tesco

Monday, September 22, 2014

News about Tesco's troubles comes thick and fast, today's bad news about overstating profits has wiped off 11.59% of the share price. It fell by 26 pence to £2.03.  

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Market Segmentation for Politicians

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Are you optimistically content or in long-term despair? This BBC article is a must for any students taking both Business Studies and Politics.

Pollsters Populous have created a test to tap into the mindset of voters, understanding that the traditional demographics such as age and postcode are too vague.

It segments the electorate into 6 categories and demonstrates the percentage of voters for each political party, stating that this will enable them to “craft TV ads, speeches and photo ops that appeal to the groups they need to win over."

Students can take the 3 minute test and evaluate the usefulness of this method of psychological market segmentation and suggest the messages that leaders must use to expand their voter/customer base.

Customer service in the rail industry

Saturday, February 22, 2014

Did you know that most train operating companies will refund 50% of your ticket for a delay of 30 minutes or more, and will double that if the delay is for an hour or longer? And that, if you are travelling by tube, Transport for London offers refunds if your journey is delayed by 15 minutes or more (although you won’t get a refund if the delay is caused by a security alert, “third party action” such as a strike or bad weather)? Most probably you didn’t, as a survey by the Office of Rail Regulation has found that more than 75% of rail passengers know “not very much” or “nothing at all” about what they are entitled to when services are disrupted.

The report also found that 74% of passengers felt that train companies do “not very much” or “nothing at all” to proactively provide information about compensation when there are delays. As Simon Gompertz found in this video report, there are plenty of ways in which the train operating companies could make the information available, whether through instructions on the back of the tickets and announcements on trains to use of technology through their websites or apps.

This poor standard of information for customers is now to be improved. The ORR will now oversee the development of a code of practice on provision of ticket retail information, which will be in place by the end of 2014 and will provide clarity on what information passengers can expect from their train companies, including information on the different types of fares, restriction, and key terms and conditions, such as compensation and refund rights.

The government are also making compliance with these requirements part of their new franchising arrangements, to add to the regulation of the industry.

In the meantime, if you have had a journey delayed recently and want to claim compensation, here’s some guidance on what you might be entitled to.

​How to raise band awareness.

Friday, December 13, 2013

An unusual way of raising brand awareness, creating interest, holding attention as part of a public relations strategy with a seasonal twist.

Sometimes the message might be lost in the confusion. But DAGMAR is still important part of marketing.

Digital advertising: further developments to billboards

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Billboards are enjoying a new lease of life. By 2011 the first new digital billboards were beginning to become more widespread. These combine the advantages of a traditional approach with moving images, the ability to add updates and to reflect a current news story. Now British Airways have launched a new campaign to take the technology further.

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Less is more: everyone advised to pause for thought

Sunday, August 25, 2013

Over the summer I’ve kept spotting reference to an article that appeared in The Economist that has caused me to smile and reflect. With a busy term coming up, the advice seems very welcome: the biggest problem in the business world is too many distractions and interruptions, too many things done for the sake of form, and altogether too much busy-ness.

I’m well aware of my own time wasting habits, and I see plenty of it going on around me too. Here are some of the key points that are raised:

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Runner’s Up League and Cup Double

Thursday, May 16, 2013

How far did the management style of Roberto Mancini contribute to his removal after the FA Cup defeat?

Mancini was the most successful manager of Manchester City's 23 managers hired after the retirement of Joe Mercer in 1971. He took the club to 2 FA Cup Finals, and City thrashed Manchester United 6-1 on the way to winning the Premier League with almost the last kick of the 2011-12 season

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Changes in culture and leadership at Yahoo spells trouble for teleworkers

Friday, March 01, 2013

Teleworking is a great concept to discuss in Business Studies, as the topic covers everything from organisation to leadership, motivation and business culture.  Recently I wrote about trouble for teleworkers, following after the findings of a report that suggested that many potential teleworkers fret that time away from the office means missing out on promotion opportunities.  Apparently, the report by the London Business School finds that companies still reward ‘presenteeism’; telecommuters are less likely to be promoted because they aren't present in the office.

Now we learn that Yahoo are to place severe restrictions on opportunities for teleworking, promoting more interesting debate and coverage.  For one thing, the boss of Yahoo is female.  You might think this point irrelevant, but to many commentators, this is yet another angle to a fascinating debate….

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Findus hurdles to uncertainty

Friday, February 08, 2013

If you had lasagne last night you might be wondering if it was the last remains of the non-running hurdler "100% Pure Beef". Findus have a major problem to resolve after tests showed that their lasagne had been made from horsemeat.

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Is “Apple’s Culture of Secrecy” A Competitive Advantage?

Friday, February 01, 2013

A thought-provoking video from CNN here in which the interviewee (Adam Lashinsky from Fortune Magazine) explains how he sees the role of secrecy in the organisational culture of Apple. Of course, we have to take what he says with a pinch of salt - how well-informed is the journalist?

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ICT company finds developer ‘Bob’ outsourced his own work to China

Monday, January 21, 2013


Here’s a funny story to accompany a more serious post about the future of outsourcing – which is where a firm hires the services of outside companies to perform a business process currently completed ‘in house’.

Apparently one US worker hired people in China do his work.  Having outsourced his job, 'Bob' would spend the day at work browsing sites on the internet.  (If you believe it), the US-based software developer has been caught outsourcing his work to China for less than a fifth of his six figure salary - while he spent his time messing around on Facebook, LinkedIn, eBay and Reddit.

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Dreamliner or nightmare

Thursday, January 17, 2013

A directive from The US Federal Aviation Administration has stopped flights of the Boeing 787 Dreamliner, until the plane maker has satisfied the regulator that it has resolved problems with the aircraft’s battery systems. Boeing’s shares had dropped by 2% $72.80 (£45.50) after the announcement. The share price of GS Yuasa the Japanese battery maker had fallen 11% since 7 January when an electrical fire broke out on a JAL 787 at Logan International Airport in Boston.

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Is the Teapigs approach to branding effective (and ethical)?

Monday, January 07, 2013

As reported in Private Eye, when is a small business not a small business?  At first glance, Teapigs looks like a small company on a mission to introduce quirky, premium teas to the mid-market segment.  The company’s website tells a reassuring story of Nick and Louise who “met while working for a really big tea company”.  What you won’t find out by reading the website is that the really big company is in fact…

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The Rise of the Machines - digital checking of job applications

Friday, November 09, 2012

I was once told a story about a manager (but I don't know if this is an urban myth) who had a particular method for short-listing candidates for jobs.  This manager would take the top half of a pile of applications and put them in a shredder and then state that the company should not employ anybody so unlucky.

Whilst the 1990s was awash with stories of the use of graphologers making judgements about candidates based upon their handwriting (I never use a little circle to dot my 'i's any more - this indicates an untrustworthy personality, apparently), the modern method is the use of software to score potential employees.  In an era of high unemployment and therefore large numbers of applications this would seem to be a logical, if slightly 'big-brother' move forward.The BBC have put an interesting report  on their website today that discusses the rise of the use of such software to short-list candidates and, as well as being useful to students studying recruitment they may find the tips on how to improve job application success very valuable.

“Red Bull gives you wings” … and massive promotional visibility

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

I hope you’ve all taken the opportunity to watch Felix Baumgartner’s extraordinary stratospheric leap, which had millions glued to their screens a couple of days ago.  His personal achievement is also something of a triumph for Red Bull, the scheme’s sponsor.

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Trouble for teleworkers?

Monday, October 15, 2012

Homeworking, teleworking or telecommuting  – various terms are used to describe the phenomenon of working away from the traditional office.  It’s a great Business Studies discussion point, because there’s so much you can consider in terms of business organisation, leadership, management and motivation.  It’s probably fair to say that the idea has (so far) failed to reach the level of acceptance that boosters promised twenty years ago.

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Revision Quiz - Communication Methods

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

The main methods of communication in business are tested in this revision quiz:

Launch revision quiz on Communication Methods

Revision Quiz - Communication Basics

In this new revision quiz we take a look at the basics of business communication.

Launch revision quiz on Business Communication - Basics

Motivation at Work - What Makes Employees Go the “Extra Mile”?

Friday, August 24, 2012

The likely business benefits of a motivated workforce are familiar to most business students (why is it that almost every exam answer involving employees gravitates to motivation?).

But what is it that encourages or motivates workers to go beyond the confines of their role and job description? What factors make staff go the “extra mile”? A recent survey of over 3,000 employees provides some excellent evidence for students.

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Communication problems - the £30 million mistake!

I have used Chinese Whispers in the past to illustrate potential problems in communication but as most businesses tend not to use this method of passing messages along it has never been directly applicable to the issues of mistakes being made due to workers hearing the wrong message. But now, thanks to Manchester City, I have an excellent example and I used it to formulate a little class activity as well!

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Marketing and the supermarket ‘price war’

Tuesday, December 06, 2011

You’ll be well aware that this Christmas the supermarkets are trying hard to lure customers with bargain prices.  Pricing is of course a vital component of the marketing mix, perhaps especially so in the current economic climate.  Investigative journalists on the BBC show Panorama have been digging deeper; to see if the supermarket offers are all they seem…

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Olympus Epic Fail

Wednesday, November 09, 2011

Olympus more bad news

The scale of the failings in corporate governance at Olympus is breathtaking.  The company has misled, shareholders, banks, auditors, stock markets, Japan’s government, and staff about the true state of its finances over a 20 year period. It is Corporate Social Irresponsibility on the grandest of scales.

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Corporate Irresponsibility at Olympus

Tuesday, November 08, 2011

Recent problems at Japan’s Olympus Corporation highlight the importance of corporate culture, ethics, Corporate Social Responsibility and management responsibility to shareholders and other stakeholders.

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How PepsiCo are trying to control diseconomies of scale

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Big firms often face huge organisational difficulties that can slow them down and cause costs and problems to spiral.  So I was drawn to a BBC article the big businesses learning how to think small which appeared soon after Steve Jobs’ death.  His insistence on “no committees” and talking to everyone at least once a week was, he said, enough to keep Apple focused, efficient and successful. 

I don’t know if that’s true, but for big corporations, with their vast resources and bewildering bureaucracy, operating with the attitude of a technology start-up is a distant dream (but with exciting possibilities).  Poor communication, low levels of motivation and a shortage of innovative ideas are classic diseconomies of scale that are typical of larger organisations.

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Selling Bread - Classic Adverts

Thursday, October 06, 2011

The humble loaf has long been the centre of creative adverts on television often designed to pull at the heart strings, evoke a sense of place and tradition and remind us of the humanity that goes into making every single bap, french stick or loaf of white sliced.

Warburtons has established itself as the second most highly rated grocery brand in the UK - some distance behind Coca Cola but perhaps that will never change. Their adverts are beautifully crafted and might work a treat in lessons on branding and the effectiveness of television advertising. Here is a small selection of my favourites together with a short video on the background to a Warburtons marketing campaign to launch a new product

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De-layering: do firms need middle managers?

Wednesday, October 05, 2011

Middle managers have had a tough couple of decades.  Many large firms sought to cut costs by removing levels of hierarchy from their organisational structure.  Often it was the middle management ranks that felt the squeeze the hardest.  Academics praised ‘flatter’ organisations and people like David Brent (from comedy TV series The Office) became the butt of jokes.

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Marks & Spencer’s new look

Tuesday, September 13, 2011


A great article here for those of you with a passion for retail and an eye for design.  M&S boss Marc Bolland is spending £600m on a revamp.  The firm is wheeling out an array of props including mopeds and pasta machines as part of a refit of its shop floors, which will see stores within stores created for its clothing ranges and the return of delicatessen counters.

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Designing an effective work place

Monday, June 06, 2011


When I first glanced at the link below my initial reaction was that the recession must nearly be over.  When firms start to advertise the benefits of the office you could be working in, it’s usually a sign that they are having trouble finding recruits for their organisation.  But watch it anyway as the clip raises several interesting points about how work place design could influence workforce performance.

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Secrets of the Superbrands

Thursday, May 26, 2011


There’s been loads of good business material in the first couple of shows in this three part series, so that it’s recommended viewing if you have some time over half term.

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Are call centres the factories of the 21st century?

Friday, March 11, 2011


When you think about Business Production (or Operations Management) it’s always easy to imagine some type of factory setting.  But I try to increasingly think about service sector environments, and when I saw that “More people have worked in call centres than ever worked in the mining industry, and I researched that in 1998,” (according to an author who wrote a novel based on his experiences in a call centre) I read on.

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Burberry bounce back from a damaged brand

Tuesday, January 25, 2011


Fashion is one of the UK’s premier exports: according to a recent article in The Economist newly prosperous foreigners will probably want at least a few things that Britain supplies better than most: higher education, financial services, popular culture and fashion: the country boasts influential street stylists and vibrant chain-stores (such as Top Shop), plus some coveted luxury brands, such as Burberry.

Yet a few years ago the Burberry brand looked catastrophically damaged – but it has bounced back with a 27% jump in revenue to £480m for the last quarter of 2010.  How has it managed the turnaround?

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Advertising standards and misleading claims

Wednesday, January 19, 2011


Coca-cola is the latest in a (very) long series of firms to have been caught out by what you can say/what you can’t say in an advert.  This is a classic constraint on UK business which operates within a reasonably rigid legal framework.  Here are a few links to recent relevant cases and where you can go to find out more.

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Starbucks and our hostility to rebranding

Monday, January 17, 2011

I doubt I can say anything new about the Starbuck’s rebranding exercise (that Michael Owen covered here) but there has been some interesting coverage discussing why consumers seem to get be so enraged when rebranding occurs and new logos are launched.

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Business secrets and Wikileaks

Wednesday, January 05, 2011


It’s not just governments that fear the widespread sharing of secrets.  Firms are beginning to realise that their confidential information is at risk too.
We’ve heard about the recent problems at Santander who have inadvertently distributed account details to the wider public.  That was the result of a mishap.  But what if companies begin to find that it becomes increasingly difficult to keep hold of sensitive information?

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Is ‘working from home’ a skive?

Tuesday, December 07, 2010


I’ve stolen the title for this blog straight from an article asking the same question as the current cold weather keeps commuters indoors.  It’s a long running issue that speaks volumes about leadership, management, motivation, the nature of work and the whole viability of the ‘teleworking’ concept.

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Cash for Tweets: Range Rover signs up Paid Tweeters

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Range Rover has signed up more than 40 global “trendsetters” to tweet about their forthcoming city 4x4.  The idea came from an ad agency who are anxious to point out that “no one has been paid to tweet”.  However, the lucky trendsetters did get a free loan, and in some cases were given, a Range Rover.

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48 old adverts that would be banned immediately these days

Monday, November 22, 2010

I love this nostalgic review of a collection of old newspaper and magazine adverts that would struggle to get past the advertising authorities in the business world of 2010.  Some crackers in here and certainly worth showing to students who are used to a very different and more sophisticated style of media advertising.

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Advertising booms (but not if you’re a newspaper)

Thursday, October 21, 2010


When the recession came along, advertising expenditure plummeted.  The worrying question for the ad agencies was if this was a temporary state of affairs, or the sign of something deeper.  Would marketing money return to all media, or just a few? The answers are becoming clearer.

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Business and the blogosphere

Monday, October 04, 2010


Firms can’t ignore Twitter, Facebook and the rest any longer.  There’s a great BBC page all about how firms watch our online moves with ever greater interest.  There has been a huge shift taking in place in the balance of stakeholder power.  As the article begins, “once upon a time companies could afford to be rude.  Unhappy customers would grumble to a few friends, withdraw their custom, but there was little else they could do.  Today, they still tell their friends, but they do it online, using social media websites like YouTube, Facebook and Twitter”.

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Best Global Brands 2010

Thursday, September 16, 2010


The updated list has been published by Interbrand (the people who brought you the slogan “a Mars a day helps you work, rest and play”) and they describe it as the ‘definitive ranking of the world’s most valuable brands’.

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Time wasters of the world unite

Wednesday, May 26, 2010


Are you finding that Facebook is eating up time when you’re at home when you should be revising?  Perhaps it’s as well that most schools try to block the site and that way we get some work done. One recent blog looked at how firms might try to monitor their employees that work from home and here’s a couple of other observations about ICT time wasting.

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How IT is changing the jobs market

Wednesday, May 19, 2010


Some futuristic ideas take a long time to arrive.  There have been predictions for perhaps 20 years that soon a huge number of people will be working from home using ICT – an idea often referred to as ‘teleworking’ or ‘telecommuting’.  Now there’s evidence that as the web blooms and the recession bites, it might really start happening.

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Build a Tower - Build a Team

Thursday, April 22, 2010

I haven’t come across this particular Marshmallow Challenge before (there is the standard one about eating as many as you can in 2 minutes or stuffing your mouth - diminishing returns?) But it could be a terrific exercises to use with Economics and Business students at any point during the school year! Here is a TED talk on some of the surprising results from around the world - and there are more details available here from this blog.

Adverts that know where you are

Tuesday, March 09, 2010


If the tabloids tell us where Cheryl and Ashley are at all times, it should make life easier for jewelry thieves lurking near their house.  That point makes some people anxious about constantly revealing their location.  Others are far less concerned, which could be a real bonus for advertisers.

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Autocratic, demanding or bullying?

Tuesday, February 23, 2010


We spend a lot of time thinking about leadership and management styles.  The news is full of it at the moment, with a particular focus on the style used by the Prime Minister towards his subordinates.  You will appreciate that the first, most obvious point about leadership styles is that they must be adapted to reflect the situation.  Leading a group of creative workers through a brainstorm is very different to being a senior fire officer at a warehouse blaze, or a senior social worker managing an office supporting a demanding range of clients and cases.

But back to the current headlines: when does someone overstep the line from being firm and demanding – into a bullying monster?

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Starter activity - teaching communication

Saturday, December 26, 2009

The topic of communication at both GCSE and A level lends itself to a fantastic range of activities. Here are a couple I recently tried and they went down an absolute storm.

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Business Communication - Quiz 1 (Easier Grade!)


Here is a 14-question multiple choice quiz with some relatively straightforward questions on business communication

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