Marketing is one of the areas of special focus within our MBA in Global Hospitality Management. The task of bringing this constantly-evolving topic to life belongs to Clinical Professor Joe Di Donna – a man for whom marketing has been a lifetime’s passion…
When was the last time you saw a product, liked the look of it and subsequently bought it?
Perhaps it was that new model smartphone? A particular flavor of breakfast cereal? Maybe even a car? The truth is, without marketing you might never have discovered your new favorite thing. And even with that discovery, you might not have decided to purchase unless something in the marketing message engaged you. Made you choose “Brand A” over “Brand B”.
This is why good marketing is so utterly fundamental to business success. And it’s the theory behind good marketing that Les Roches MBA students get to learn across both semesters of their studies.
The idea is not to turn them into specialist marketers; it’s to give them the tools to manage the marketing discipline as part of their MBA leadership toolkit.
“As a business manager, particularly in the start-up environment, you need to understand marketing strategies and tactics, even though you’ll generally use the services of a specialist agency for the execution of the campaigns,” explains Clinical Professor of Marketing Joe Di Donna.
A member of the Les Roches faculty since 2010, Joe doesn’t just teach MBA courses. He’s also the Marketing Pathway Leader, which means he oversees all marketing-related teaching across our academic programs and campuses.
And as well as his academic expertise, Joe has extensive frontline marketing experience to call upon, too. This includes the hospitality sector, where he looked after external marketing for a major resort in Florida, USA.
Never stand still
Joe’s particular area of interest is in the psychology and sociology of marketing – how it influences our behavior in other words.
“For me, marketing is by far the most interesting of all the business disciplines. It never stands still and, if anything, today the pace of change is more rapid than ever. Of course, that’s also the hardest thing, because it means you need to learn every day to keep up!” he says with a smile.
“In all my years in marketing, this is the golden age. We’ve never had so many media channels at our disposal; and also so many ways to use data to target our customers more precisely. It’s made the role of the marketer more challenging, for sure; but also much more interesting.”
Joe’s marketing courses build from the foundations of ‘Strategic Marketing and Sales in The Hospitality Industry’, concluding with ‘Customer Behavior and Insights’. What does he hope students take away from them?
“One of the most important things I teach is how digital technology has completely changed the way brands communicate with us,” he says. “Our search history, the people we follow on social media, it all helps to build up a picture of us that marketers can use to find us and target us with bespoke advertising.”
Mining my data
Joe’s courses give students insights into the ways specialist agencies, such as DataSift, can “mine” our online presence in the service of marketers. And he also investigates the rise of the social media influencers, who can help sell a product to specific demographics and interest groups which follow them on social media applications like Instagram and YouTube. Influencer marketing is now such an important part of the overall picture it even has its own specialist agencies, such as traackr.
Joe adds, “It’s not just a digital story, however. We also study non-verbal communication, sensory marketing, including analyzing the meaning of signs and gestures. And we look at psychological attitudes, cultural influences, perceptions… all the things that go into a customer’s decision-making process.”
And what of the dominant topic of the moment, COVID-19 and its impacts? Will one of those impacts be on consumer behavior?
“Absolutely. It’s too early to make any detailed predictions, but consumer habits are going to change when it comes to travel and hospitality,” he says. “We’ve seen our horizons become different; with more intimacy and more focus on the family and the basic things in life. We’re going to fly a lot less, I think, which from a hospitality point of view is good for places that can be reached by other means; perhaps less good for more remote ‘flyaway’ destinations.
“Hospitality is a big sector, and a very important one for the global economy. But consumers’ minds will not be the same after this crisis, so now is the time to understand how to act. It’s a moment of transformation and the industry probably needs to change its attitudes.
“This is a fork in the road. And through their understanding of the customer mindset, the marketers will have a big part to play in helping their businesses take the right track.”
Why not check out the other features in our new series that gets under the skin of the MBA in Global Hospitality Management:
- A view of how the MBA is evolving as a program, from Dean of Graduate Studies Dr Dimitrios Diamantis
- Introduction to the new Revenue and Performance Management specialization
- Introduction to the new Hospitality Entrepreneurship and Business Development specialization
- Insights into the leadership development elements of the MBA program
- How MBA students get exceptional industry exposure through the Consultancy Project