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High rolling MBAs head to Las Vegas

Inaugural strategic marketing elective given thumbs up by students

The inaugural MBA strategic marketing elective to Las Vegas was described as 'superb' and an 'intense experience' by the full time, Dubai and executive MBA students who attended. The week long trip was designed to analyse the unique and complex marketing environment of Las Vegas and to examine how hotels differentiate and attract customers. 

Dr Sionade Robinson who led the elective said, "We built this unique learning experience on the trail blazed by MEMBA student Oliver Lovat last year, when he organised a separate trip for MBA students. His learning helped mould this new elective. I believe there is no better place in the world to study marketing strategy than Las Vegas. The accelerated competitive environment provides a vivid and exciting opportunity to experience the contrast of different brands and marketing strategies."

The business environment of the gaming resort is unique. Global corporates own large hotels that target discrete segments of the industry. These run alongside single site operators who are able to enter the market and compete for their slice of almost 40m visitors per year. Las Vegas is an example of co-opetition in practice, the hotels work closely together to attract visitors, but then compete fiercely for their business.

The elective started with a series of seminars at the University of Nevada (UNLV) led by Professor Cliff Oswick, Head of Faculty of Management at Cass, and Dr David G Schwartz, the Director of Gaming Research at UNLV. Students studied the history and development of the resort, the role of corporate finance and the context of the different marketing strategies in action. For example, London and New York have approximately 70,000 rooms each whereas Las Vegas has 150,000. London's largest hotel has 494 rooms; Las Vegas' largest hotel has 5360 rooms!

Once the classroom work was done, the students met with senior executives of the various competing resorts. Meetings with the executives were intense and lively debates where the students asked "tough questions" as they sought to compare and contrast the different propositions in the market. 

In its conclusions the group acknowledged that Las Vegas' engine is the gaming industry but that the experience also includes a mix of restaurants, theatre, retail and clubbing. 

Simon Feeney, full time MBA participant said, "The trip was a fantastic experience, offering a truly unique insight into an exciting but complex business environment. Whilst classroom based theoretical learning is important, there is no substitute for seeing business in practice and discussing marketing with people that do the job each day."

Dr Schwartz of the Centre of Gaming Research acknowledged the importance of the visit from the students to the resort, "The Cass students listened, assessed the information, and asked questions - sometimes tough ones - of the executives. The smart executives will let those tough questions inform their work…(which is) often the first step to innovation."

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