theolynn

Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

Support #beeforbattens: watch this video

In Uncategorized on September 2, 2011 at 8:40 pm

Support #beeforbattens: watch this video http://ow.ly/6jyrD Learn more and win a car at http://www.beeforbattens.org #latelate

Advertisements

If you can’t measure it, you can’t manage it – some links to free social media metric tools

In Business Education, DCU Business School, Digital Marketing, MBS in Marketing, MSc in Business Management, MSc in E-commerce, Uncategorized on April 21, 2011 at 11:33 am

“In physical science the first essential step in the direction of learning any subject is to find principles of numerical reckoning and practicable methods for measuring some quality connected with it. I often say that when you can measure what you are speaking about, and express it in numbers, you know something about it; but when you cannot measure it, when you cannot express it in numbers, your knowledge is of a meagre and unsatisfactory kind; it may be the beginning of knowledge, but you have scarcely in your thoughts advanced to the state of Science, whatever the matter may be.”[PLA, vol. 1, “Electrical Units of Measurement”, 1883-05-03]

As the semester at DCU Business School comes to an end, I find myself with marginally more time and have decided to refocus again on sharing some nuggets in the long form. This particular article will be a work in progress and so I apologise in advance for the “list” nature of this and that it will be expanded and polished over time. NOTE: I have excluded the big three search engines as a tool because you should be using these anyhow.

As Lord Kelvin said, to measure is to know. There is an ongoing debate on whether you can calculate the ROI on social media – I don’t particularly understand the perspective that you can’t – if there is an action, it can be measured. Once you accept it can be measured, then the next question might be whether it is feasible (economically, technically, ethically etc) to do so. Then once you have some measurements, how do you interpret this data. This blog discusses some free tools that you may be able to derive some value from.

A good starting point is David Berkowitz’ (@dberkowitz) list on “100 Ways to Measure Social Media”. David has also made his presentation to the PMA available. I like this presentation (the list is embedded) as he contextualises his thinking.

My interest and focus is increasingly around understanding how business re-orient from the demo-graph to the social graph and understanding network theories is essential. I like Dan Halgin and Stephen Bogatti’s paper on Network Theorizing.If you accept this re-orientation, you need to rethink your marketing and customer engagement strategy dramatically – in many respects it requires getting to know your customers on a much more deeper level and finding a point on the social graph that you can intersect or levers for influence. This is not really something new. Historically, this is how we always did business – people would ask friends, families, neighbours, authority figures for recommendations on people based on their centrality within a community, their social activity and their connectivity or network. Today, we have many different types of network – in the real world and the virtual and what it means to be connected to someone means different things in each network or does it? Is your Twitter network the same as your Facebook one or your LinkedIn one or your FourSquare Friends or your Contacts list on your phone or even your Christmas Card list ? How much influence do you have on these networks? What does it mean when your “friends” don’t “like” you? Being a “friend” used to be hard but now it is just complicated.

Visualizing your social network or the social network of your target customer is a good first step. There used to be some neat free tools around like Agna and now LinkedIn is looking at this, in a relatively basic way, using InMaps. Wikipedia have a good page on Social Network Analysis software. Understanding the network topography is only a start. Who are these people?  Who has influence? Well, there emerging popular players in the social media universe are Klout (Klout have an app – sociofluence but some influence interpretation reports seem inconsistent) and Peer Index. I like both for different reasons. Klout is easy to use and can be used to craft and refine your personal and institutional brand. They have made a pretty good stab at categorising social media users (and in this context Facebook and Twitter users initially) and provide a lot of data points that can be used for marketing purposes. I like Peer Index because it allows you to create peer groups and compare them against activity, authority and audience and therefore allows quick visualization of influence. When looking at these profiles, I look at the score and see what’s driving them. If it is very facebook driven, you might ask whether the person’s user’s influence is driven by personal social activity. Another piece of data to help establish they type of influence the target has, is their topic analysis – does it reflect personal casual interests or personal professional interests. Both can be useful for marketing purposes but may be interpreted differently for employment purposes. There are a couple of other similar tools like Grader (Grader offer tools to rank you on blogs, twitter, facebook, foursquare etc etc) and Twitalyzer. While there seems to be some correlation between Klout and Peer IndexGrader  is often a mystery to me and I don’t really understand the utility of the foursquare grader. Another snapshot tool is Twitter Search and OpenBook – the former allows you search all twitter feeds and the latter all facebook accounts with public settings -you may get an insight in to what people are really saying about you. This is best used with keyword analysis via Google.

Sentiment Analysis seems to the be one of buzzword bingo winners of recent times. I’m a big fan of the sector and have tried Radian6, Scout Labs and others but these are expensive for a small to medium sized business. I believe people feel have a more positive sentiment to positive people and indeed the people you want to be associated and are more likely to help you are generally those of a positive outlook. However, people who are unhappy or negative often have a problem that you may be able to solve and they also represent opportunities. Twitrratr is a quick snapshot of the twitter sentiment surrounding a brand, product, person or topic based on analysis of positive and negative words (links to words sourced from Jim Sterne).

Some other twitter tools which may be useful to look at are Tweetreach and Twunfollow. The free Tweetreach  tools give you a snapshot of the last 50 tweets of  user and provides you with analysis of reach (by users and impressions), tweet type and the contributors to reach. While many people focus on the size of their audience, few monitor who is unfollowing them. Unfollows may be interpreted as failed attempts to engage – these people have decided to follow you because of a message and then decided to unfollow you, why? Understanding the unfollow motivation may provide an insight in to your messaging style and how you might refine communication. For free, Twunfollow provides you with a 7-day analysis and trending graph for both follower and follower growth and then lists unfollows, follows and deleted followers (eg they may have been deleted by themselves or for spamming). Each unfollow entry includes how long they had been following you from. My students have recently been messing around with Twalue and Twength (although I may have first (re)tweeted this. Twalue puts a monetary value on your twitter account and twength measures your average twitter length. The former isn’t really useful without comparative data and then I think the way the valuation is done could be perceived negatively. The latter may have value in that long tweets may not be retweeted or when retweeted are truncated and therefore the message is impaired. So Twength may be useful for refining a factor that impacts on amplification.

A note on blogs – blogging platforms come with a variety of good analytical tools.  These are largely covered in David Berkowitz’ list but it is worthwhile looking at Jason Stamper’s  Blog Value Index and Avinash Kaushik’s Blog Metrics: Six Recommendations For Measuring Your Success.

One observation which may be useful is that success on one social network does not necessarily translate to other social networks – a blogger may not transition to microblogs and have the same impact. Similarly, the number of followers does not equate to influence.

Other reading? I liked Jim Sterne‘s book, Social Media Metrics and his blog. Why? It had lots of stuff I had seen elsewhere but bundled them together nicely in to a customer lifecycle structure. It was also a fast and easy read! I also really like Gary Arndt’s blog post on Klout vs PeerIndex, mostly because he has engaged the executives from Klout and Peer Index via comments and there are some great insights in these comments.

Please feel free to leave comments and suggest some sites I may have forgotten or need to check out.

It’s hip to be square but is FourSquare ready for Irish businesses?

In Business Education, DCU Business School, Digital Marketing, Foursquare, Uncategorized on November 10, 2010 at 5:08 pm

FourSquare Logo

I have been humming and hawing about FourSquare for the best part of a year now. Why so much hype? I originally tried it under some assumed identity wayback after SXSW but quickly realized no one else was using it in Ireland so the experience was severely limited. Have things changed? Is it any use for Irish businesses?

A fortnight ago, I decided to revisit FourSquare but with a specific goal. How long would it take me to break the Top 10 users in Dublin in one week period? The answer is nine days to be No. 5 in the whole of Dublin. What does this mean? Well, as it turns out, not very much but the experience was not without learning and I will share some of the general opportunities (and challenges) of using FourSquare in Ireland in this blog. I will keep some of the better business ideas to myself though!

In life, you come in to the world with families. FourSquare is a bit more brutal. You start off with no family and more importantly, no “friends”! Yes, like Facebook, FourSquare abuse the f-word liberally. So what is it? I am still not entirely sure. It is like a cross between a social network, a SatNav system and a game (if you were fond of Panini Sticker books as a child then you love this!). Using your mobile phone, FourSquare pinpoints your position and enables you to share your location with your friends and share messages and tips with them, earning you points per logging location-based activities. For transparency, I used the free FourSquare App for the iPhone 4 and I found it both intuitive and, dare I say it, addictive.

 

My FourSquare Profile on the Apple iPhone 4

My FourSquare Profile on the Apple iPhone 4

Basically, users can do a number of things on FourSquare:

  • Add friends: FourSquare searches through your contacts and allows you search FourSquare and other social networks to inivite “friends”
  • Check-in: FourSquare locates you on a map and provides a list of nearby venues or places that users have geo-tagged (added to FourSquare). You can check-in to these places thereby notifying FourSquare and your friends of your location.
  • Shout: A “Shout” is the FourSquare equivalent of a tweet or update – the unfortunate use of the word “Shout” is offputting for Shouters and Shoutees.
  • Earn Points: You earn points for your check-in behaviour. These are city-specific and you can compare yourself to your friends and other users in your city. The top scores reset every Sunday night at midnight.
  • Be Crowned Mayor: If you check in to a place more than anyone else, you can be crowned Mayor but you can lose your mayorship too.
  • Earn Badges: your usage behaviour can also earn you badges (remember those Panini Stickers) which you collect e.g. Newbie (first check-in), Photogenic (checking in to three locations with photo booths) or Supermayor (holding ten mayorships at once). There is even a site for those interested in collecting FourSquare Badges – www.4squarebadges.com
  • Add Places: you can add and geotag venues or locations not on FourSquare (and get extra points).
  • Leave Tips: you can leave tips associated with locations for other users to see.
  • Add To Do Items: You can add To-Do items recommended by others to your To-Do List which is permanently available to you.

It takes awhile to get used to FourSquare and working out what works and what doesn’t. For example, you can accumulate a lot of points using “drive by checking” – i.e. checking in as you drive-by rather than enter a venue. This works better on public transport and is not recommended for those driving!!!! If you think that planning in advance will help you on your drive-by attempt, it might but you need to make sure you refresh your location as close as possible to the venue otherwise FourSquare will look at the disparity between the last refresh and the location and if too great, will check you in but refuse to give you points. If your phone, thinks your 250 metres down the road (where you refreshed) and you are actually in front of the venue, FourSquare assumes your phone is correct. Similarly, FourSquare will look at the frequency of your check-ins and may disallow rapid fire check-ins too.

FourSquare Dublin Leaderboard, 9 November 2010, 2306

FourSquare Dublin Leaderboard, 9 November 2010, 2306

How did I get to being No. 5 in Dublin? Well, firstly and I am not competitive (well maybe a bit), I would have been higher but didn’t realize that my points had been reset when I went to Cork last Friday losing me a whole day of check-ins. The trick is adding new places and checking in frequently – what is known as “oversharing”. Do this and you will be top of the pile. Your significant other will hate you and possibly leave you but you will be the top dawg! The exercise was not without merit; in one week, I:

  • Made 35 “friends” (only 5 could be classified really as conventional friends)
  • Checked in 200 times
  • Became Mayor 11 times including Mayor of my house, garden, the boat in my neighbour’s garden but also Bewleys Hotel (Drive By – well, I stopped outside it), and DCU Business School (where I work! This may be a surprise to the Dean)
  • Earned 10 badges including SuperMayor, Crunked, OverShare and I’m on a Boat
  • Left 7 tips (5 of which are genuinely useful)
  • Found 1 restaurant for dinner (Cafe Mexicana, Cork – recommended)

I know, impressive.

What can Irish businesses learn from my FourSquare experience?

1. Be patient, it’s free

FourSquare is still at an early stage of adoption in Ireland. Not a lot of people using it and not a lot of businesses but proximity based social networks and marketing are here and will develop. FourSquare will be in the mix and it’s free so if anything, it is worthwhile trialling things on. Even in my small experiment, I know others started using it because of my invites, to see what I was doing but also to compete with me!

2. Add your place

It takes no time at all to add your place. If you do nothing else, this may attract one customer for less than 3 minutes work. Again it costs nothing. Add a description and as much information as possible. If you have multiple sites, remember to do all sites. It may also be a good idea to register any sales agents or partners who sell your products or represent you throughout the country/world.

3. Add a Tip

Add some tips about your business or a related sector. Make sure it is valuable in some way to the user population. Tips can swing both ways – people leave positive tips and warn users of possible negative experiences. For example, during my experiment my wife and our youngest child (aged 9 months) visited the Marks and Spencers Rooftop Terrace for a coffee and dessert. We had a largely negative experience – they brought M&S Cola instead of Diet Coke (a huge crime in Theoworld) and didn’t bring over a babychair despite one being clearly available for over 15 minutes. Now M&S tried to correct my situation and gave use a freebie but nonetheless I tweeted this but also placed a FourSquare Tip which will be there for some time, one would imagine.

Can you get rid of a Tip? Don’t despair M&S. Yes, you can. Two ways come to mind. Befriend the tipster and ask them to remove it or email FourSquare with a Tip Removal Request and they will consider it.

4. Decide whether you want/need to be King of the Castle

You need to decide whether you are comfortable with someone else being the Mayor of your business or venue. I can understand how this could be uncomfortable is someone is Mayor of your home and your business is no different, even employees being Mayor over managers may be uncomfortable. On the other hand, allowing employees or regular customers to be Mayor may be a nice way to recognize them in a small way.

The good news is that you have options. If you would like to have control of the Mayorship of your venue, you can Claim your Venue by registering with FourSquare as a business at http://foursquare.com/businesses/. It’s free and gives you control of your venue but also additional features like Specials (see 7 below), Statistics (See 10 below) and marketing collateral (see 7 below).

FourSquare for Business

FourSquare for Business. The right column lists various Irish business offers.

5. Reward your Mayor

You can reward regular customers (or more correctly visitors) by giving them some special discount or prize if they provide evidence that they are the current Mayor. They need only show you their FourSquare profile (and you can check this by looking up your venue on FourSquare). This can be done easily using conventional marketing (e.g. a poster) or creating a Special (see 7 below). If you are a registered business with FourSquare, they will provide you with marketing collateral support.

Check In Here Window Cling

6. Shout

Shouting is the FourSquare equivalent of tweeting. You can Shout via your phone, the FourSquare website or other social networking tools with FourSquare API integration. I use Hootsuite and integrating FourSquare was literally 3-4 clicks and I could monitor friends but also broadcast messages in a single instance to all my social networks including FourSquare.

7. Add a Special

Business users on FourSquare can access additional tools to attract, engage, reward and track customers. These include:

  • Mayor Specials: unlocked only by the Mayor of your venue.
  • Check-in Specials: unlocked when a user checks in to your venue a certain number of times.
  • Frequency-based Specials: are unlocked every X check-ins.
  • Wildcard Specials: always unlocked, but your staff has to verify some extra conditions before awarding the Special.

Again, these are free. But what I really like is that they combine relevancy, immediacy and location and in that way they are somewhat similar to Groupon.  The consumer has control – it is pretty much permission-based.

8. Add an “Add to my FourSquare” button

The “Add to my FourSquare” button is an image that you put on your website etc which adds a Place or Tip to a reader’s FourSquare To-Do List. Again, it’s easy and free. I think this could be used to great effect in PR activities by asking reviewers or journalists to embed the code in to their online articles or references. It’s simple, free and effective. You can find details on how to add the button at http://support.foursquare.com/entries/265950-how-do-i-embed-the-add-to-my-foursquare-button-on-my-site.

9. Create a Custom Badge

There are loads of different badges. Increasingly, FourSquare addicts are focusing more and more on specialist or elite badges. You should not underestimate how addictive collecting badges can become! I did.

Should you create a custom badge? Well, yes, if you think FourSquare users will be attracted to the offer. So two big factors – the value being transferred and its match with FourSquare user needs.

How do you go about creating a custom badge? I have identified three ways. The first is to suggest a badge to FourSquare at Suggest a Badge! Success is rare. You need to be quirky, relatively commercially obtuse and generous with your idea i.e. it needs to benefit FourSquare users generally and not you specifically.

Tarantino Badge from SXSW

Second, FourSquare seems to create custom badges for “Strategic Partners” or “Strategic Events”. Examples of strategic partners include Wall Street Journal, Bravo, Michelin Guides etc. SXSW would be a good example of a Strategic Event. In both instances, the partner and event needs to align clearly with the FourSquare user community and brand identity. Who are they? Look at the profile of smartphone/GPS-enbled phone users.

Finally, I have identified at least one company, Osnapz, who claim to offer custom badges for not only FourSquare but Twitter, Facebook and other social networks. I have never used them. Engage with caution.

10. Monitor your “friends” and statistics

A question I always ask about social networks is – What can I learn about consumer behaviour from the user behaviour on the social network? Well, looking at my own FourSquare data, I can tell a lot about my travel history and the different places that I stopped and in some instances visited commercial outlets. However, I have the advantage of first hand experience – I know what was a drive-by check-in and what was an actual commercial opportunity. Notwithstanding this, one could also analyse the timestamps and derive rules from these. Nonetheless, the travel data could be used for informing conventional marketing e.g. billboard advertising etc. It is also easy to see the types of brands and retail outlets I visit. Where I spend a lot of time etc.

For businesses, FourSquare provide a free statistics tool, FourSquare Analytics, which provides lots of interesting data to inform your FourSquare decisions but also your general marketing e.g.:

  • most recent visitors
  • most frequent visitors
  • the time of day people check in
  • total number of unique visitors
  • histogram of check-ins per day
  • gender breakdown of customers
  • portion of FourSquare check-ins broadcast to Twitter and Facebook

Note: FourSquare Analytics doesn’t support multiple venues but it’s not bad for a free tool.

11. Act Ethically, Act Transparently

I bring this up with reluctance but I do think there are some important ethical considerations. On my short experiment, I used FourSquare to locate a restaurant in Cork, in this case, Café Mexicana (I have no hesitation recommending them). We refreshed FourSquare and saw it there and decided to see whether any tables were free. As we entered the threshold of the restaurant, a Tip popped up from one of my “friends”, a well known digital marketing professional and prolific social networkers, asking us to consider going to another restaurant in the same area. For me, this was the FourSquare equivalent of having a Maitre D or waiter from one restaurant waiting at the door of Café Mexicana to steal me away or poach me and bring me to another restaurant. Why? Either:

(a) It was a genuine Tip. Mobile phone GPS is not the accurate and the Tipster was offering a useful tip which inadvertently is displayed when checking in anywhere in that area.

OR

(b) It was a masked message. The Tipster is being paid, in cash or kind, to promote the restaurant.

In the first instance, while the Tipster is not at fault, what I call the “good neighbour” rule might apply. Would a good neighbour encourage such a thing? In the second instance, not only does the “good neighbour” rule apply but the Tipster may be entering a blurry area too. Should they, for example, indicate that it is a promotional tip like an informercial? Effectively a paid placement. The first is permission-based marketing, to some extent. The second is stealth-based.

On a related note, if you are using FourSquare as a business – tell people that you are using it to promote your business and for marketing purposes. Then it is up to them.

12. Please Rob Me

This is not a request but a warning. When FourSquare first came out, one wag set up a site called Please Rob Me so that people would engage with FourSquare and other location-based services responsibly. By broadcasting your location, you are also broadcasting your absence.

Take care. Buy a good alarm.

Is Ireland ready for Groupon? Online collective buying on the Emerald Isle

In Boards Deals, Business Education, Business Models, BuyWithMe, Collective Buying, Digital Marketing, Dublin City University, E-commerce, Group Buying, Groupon, ICAP Media, Ireland, LivingSocial, MyCityDeal, O2 Treats, Pigsback, StealTheDeal, Uncategorized, VaVaVouch, Wowcher on September 8, 2010 at 5:35 pm

In February this year, a group of us looked at setting up a groupon clone for the Irish market. Following some research, we established that there were opportunities for an online collective buying and group discount service, but as a group we weren’t the ones to exploit them – or at least, not together. Notwithstanding this, the experience offered some valuable insights in to the collective buying model and the importance of immediacy and relevancy, some of which I will share here.

Tuangou is a chinese word that roughly translates as “group buying” or “store mobbing” and relates to the phenomenon of groups of Chinese shoppers congregating at once at a store and haggling for a group discount. A consumer-driven flash mob. (Check out Paula C’s presentation on SlideShare for a brief history of online group buying)

Mercata - A First Generation Collective Buying Site

Mercata - A First Generation Collective Buying Site

The first phase of online group buying sites emerged in the dotcom boom but failed for a variety of reasons:

  • it takes time to organise buying groups
  • discounts needed to be exclusive
  • people needed to have accessible social networks
Groupon - the Second Generation Collective Buying Category Leader

Groupon - the Second Generation Collective Buying Category Leader

The second generation of group buying sites addressed these issues by introducing immediacy and relevancy. Sites, led by Groupon, created demand by building a business model based on immediacy and relevancy. They offered deep, exclusive, time-based collective discounts targetting specific segments and narrow geographic areas. For example, 68% of Groupon’s users were in the 18-34 age bracket, highly education (80% had graduated from university), single (55%) and women (77%). The offers were focussed on large  urban areas. Buywithme has similar demographics – young educated professional women. Discounts were targetted (e.g. dining, health and beauty, fitness etc) deep (50%-75%), exclusive and were only activated if a minimum number of subscribers took up the deal. Typically only 1-2 group discounts offered per day. If a certain number of people sign up for the offer, then the deal becomes available to all; if the predetermined minimum is not met, no one gets the deal that day. The intermediary, Groupon, markets the deal and assures that the deal will happen receiving a commission, on average 22%, from the merchant.  The deals are truly viral – they are extremely spreadworthy due to the heavy discounts and restricted timeframe for decisions. Email, SMS and social networking enabled groups of friends to form groups quickly to ensure the deal happened.  This is a great business model – everybody is happy.

Vendors Customers
  • Guaranteed quantity of customers
  • Fast customer base acquisition
  • Low-cost, low-risk positive exposure
  • High word-of-mouth referral rates
  • High rate of repeat business
  • Deeper discounts than usual
  • Shared experience and membership of a social network
  • Unique offers

The key challenges for the broker, the Groupon clone, is to recruit subscribers and merchants. Subscribers are not that easy – the business model hinges on registration of not only the user details but also their credit card. Merchants are somewhat easier particularly if they are in businesses that may have excess capacity to fill and a cost base that allows deep discounts. What does a deal look like? Here are some examples with the minimum number to activate the deal and actual deal take-up in brackets:

  • $20 Paintball Outing With Randolf Paintball [20/759]
  • Truffle Workshop at Taste of Chocolate [45/1,114]
  • $24 for 24 day pass to drop-in classes at Healthworks fitness [24/3,997]
  • $10 for $20 Worth of Vintage Threads, Costumes, and New Clothes From The Garment District [10/1,334]
  • $35 for $70 Worth of Nutritious Pre-Assembled Meal Kits From Healthy Habits Kitchen [35/815]
  • $30 for a Sushi-Making Class at Sea to You Sushi [30/2,200]
  • $49 for One-Month Membership and One Beginners Class at MetroRock Indoor Climbing [49/1,162]
  • $49 for a Haircut, Blow Dry, and $60 Toward Any Waxing or Skin Services at Amaci Salon [20/2,465]
  • $20 for One-Month Membership and Two Personal Training Sessions at Fitcorp ($189 Value) [20/699]
  • $20 for $50 Worth of Italian Cuisine and Drinks at G’Vanni’s Ristorante [20/2,456]
  • $35 for $75 Worth of Steakhouse Cuisine at the Oak Room [20/943]
  • $20 for $50 Worth of Italian Cuisine and Drinks at G’Vanni’s Ristorante [30/1,248]
  • $20 Football Ticket to Boston College vs. North Carolina on November 21 ($37 Value) [15/862]
  • $30 for a Regular Membership to The Brattle Theatre, Plus Three Bonus Tickets ($104 Value) [45/2,000]
  • $15 for $30 Worth of Casual Fine Cuisine and Cocktails at 88 Wharf Riverfront Grill [149/706]
  • $45 for Lift Ticket at Bretton Woods Ski Area ($74 Value)  [45/2,000]
  • $149 Getaway to the Omni Mount Washington Resort [149/706]
  • $15 for $30 of Tasty Tapas and Cocktails at Tasca [15/2,067]
  • $40 for Acupuncture, Personal Training, or Massage at Joint Ventures (Up to $115 Value) [40/887]

As you can see these deals can be very successful bring in several thousand dollars worth of business. Obviously some businesses work better than others. For example, meal deals work because they are low value amount and groups of people can easily agree to go to one location and therefore subscribe to a deal. I also think there is a lot of value for multi-site retail chains however only if they have barcode or other technologies to manage duplicate submissions in real time or near real-time to avoid the same coupon being submitted in two geographically-disparate stores.

Groupon Dublin Facebook Page

Groupon Dublin Facebook Page

So what about Ireland? Well, Groupon has a Facebook site for Ireland and has acquired MyCityDeal but there doesn’t seem to have been a real push and LivingSocial has been “coming to Dublin” for a number of months.

VaVaVouch - An Irish Collective Buying Site

VaVaVouch - An Irish Collective Buying Site

Vavavouch is a local website but doesn’t seem to have gained much traction and I frankly have not heard much lately about Boards Deals. Is it that Irish people just aren’t interested?

Boards Deals - an Irish Collective Buying Site

Boards Deals - another Irish Collective Buying Site using the boards.ie brand

We surveyed 83 people earlier this year. The respondents were largely female (76%), university educated or some other professional qualifation (85%) and aged between 22 and 34 (76%) – a pretty good sample relative to the US sites. Most (75%) go out to restaurants, bars, events or other social activities at least once a week and spend over €50 on a typical night out (63%). However, only 2 people were familiar with group buying sites and this is the crux of the matter – people simply don’t know about these sites and how the operate.The overwhelming majority of respondents have never heard of Groupon, Wowcher, LivingSocial, BuyWithMe or StealtheDeal. Pigsback had good brand awareness ratings with over 76% of respondents but that is a different business model altogether. It would seem in Ireland collective buying may be a matter of ignorance and not disinterest.

So are they interested? Well, we asked. Firstly, the respondents did use coupons and vouchers – over 35% in the previous 6 months and over 56% had a supermarket or retail store loyalty card. So they do use discount cards and vouchers. When we explained what group buying sites are and how they operated, over 58% said they would consider using these sites. On what?

  1. Restaurants and bars (81.4%)
  2. Concerts (51.4%)
  3. Local retail (47.1%)
  4. Movie Tickets (45.7%)
  5. Spas, Salons and Assorted Pampering (37.1%)
  6. Trips: B&B, Skiing, etc (37.1%)
  7. Events (24.3%)
  8. Tours and Sightseeing (15.7%)
  9. Theater (14.3%)
  10. Lessons and Classes (11.4%)

Interestingly, 46.5% of respondents have received a coupon, voucher or other discount offer via their mobile phone however only 8.5% had used the mobile phone coupon/voucher in the previous 6 months.

Basically, it seems to me that Irish people are interested in group buying, or at least our respondents were, but the group buying sites need to promote their sites and educate customers a lot more. Certainly Facebook and Twitter are much pervasive and this will allow spreadworthy messages to go viral particularly in these more economically-straightened times. Whether the time-dependent deals will take off is another matter.

O2 Treats - a partnership between O2 and ICAP Media

O2 Treats - a partnership between O2 and ICAP Media

Broadcast discount services like O2 Treats seem much more likely to be successful given the high mobile phone penetration, high SMS usage (and ease of spreading messages via SMS), the location-based targeting capability, and the relatively conditionless exchange. Even at an 8.5% adoption, this would generate significant sales for merchants, value for users while generating high revenues for the service provider.  Good news for ICAP Media!

So what about our little startup? Well, we developed the spec, had a catchy (if somewhat quirky name) and had identified a company in the Far East who could develop the site and back office functionality fairly cheaply but…unfortunately too many cooks or maybe too many Indians and no real Chief. Or maybe if it was so easy for us to enter the market then it will just be too much hassle to defend over time.

Irish Blogs

DCU Business School Practicum Day: At the crossroads of academia and practice

In Business Education, Business Plans, DCU Business School, Digital Marketing, Dublin City University, Entrepreneurship, Masters Education, MBS in Marketing, MSc in Business Management, Next Generation Management, Practicum, Theo Lynn, Uncategorized on August 31, 2010 at 2:50 pm

Last Friday (27 August 2010), we held the first DCU Business School Practicum Day. Starting at 8.30am, students on the MSc in Business Management and MBS in Marketing programmes displayed “research” posters, presented and answered questions regarding their major summer assignment, a group practicum.

A View From Above - some of the poster displays at DCU Business School's Practicum Day 2010

A View From Above - some of the poster displays at DCU Business School's Practicum Day 2010

A practicum is an assignment designed to give students supervised practical application of previously studied theory. In DCU Business School, we offer MBS in Marketing and MSc in Business Management students the choice of undertaking a individual dissertation, which is largely an academic piece of research, or a group practicum. We source practicums from a wide range of organisations, business and not-for-profit, and initial ideas for projects are presented to students via Moodle in February. The students make proposals for these projects and start working on them in March. A report of work completed is submitted at the end of July. Later in August, student groups present their project for 25 minutes to two assessors who then question them on their project. Feedback is provided on this interview and students then present their “research poster” and present and answer questions from an audience of peers, faculty and other guests for 10-15 minutes.

Tiernan Kennedy presenting his group's work on the use of digital marketing for international student recruitment for DCU Language Services at DCU Business School Practicum Day 2010.

Tiernan Kennedy presenting his group's work on the use of digital marketing for international student recruitment for DCU Language Services at DCU Business School Practicum Day 2010.

This year 22 groups presented their projects, which fell in to four main themes:

  • Original business plans – business ideas that students have identified, research and prepared business plans for.
  • Irish e-Business Marketing – marketing projects for Irish e-businesses
  • International Marketing – marketing projects for Irish businesses typically involving an international aspect
  • Local Businesses and Projects – marketing practicums for organisations located on the Northside of Dublin

In addition, two MSc in E-commerce (Business) groups presented their original business plans relating to online mannequins and mobile apps. (The MSc in E-commerce (Business) is a jointly offered programme with the School of Computing and has a separate presentation day earlier in August.)

The Perigord Team fielding questions at the DCU Business School Practicum Day

The Perigord Team fielding questions at the DCU Business School Practicum Day

Overall the day was very enjoyable and interesting. It gave students both the opportunity to (i) clarify issues raised or unaddressed from their report and interview and to (ii) see and appreciate the efforts of their peers. As well as students, guests including faculty,  industry, other members of the University, incoming students and parents attended. All were impressed with the quality and volume of work. Unlike dissertations, students have the opportunity to address a real-world problem with a live client or indeed pursue their own business idea.

The Foodies' Edu-plate Nutritional Learning Toy

The Foodies' Edu-plate Nutritional Learning Toy

As every business and context was different, approaches and projects varied dramatically and really brought individual competences to the fore including ideation, industrial design and digital marketing skills. The DCU Business School Practicum Programme also gives the Business School an opportunity to engage with the wider business community and forms a central part of our civic engagement strategy.

This year the projects had a strong digital marketing element and the students ably demonstrated their skills in integrating a wide range of activities including:

Professor Darach Turley discusses practicums with Marie Mooney at DCU Business School Practicum Day 2010.

Professor Darach Turley discusses practicums with Marie Mooney at DCU Business School Practicum Day 2010.

However, digital marketing was not the only focus. Work on best practice tendering process, brand communications and sales training featured strongly as well as the financial planning skills inherent in any business plan. All groups presented well and confidently fielding difficult and awkward questions at times. It struck me that from a communications perspective, they had all managed to reduce over 10,000 word reports to 25 minute presentations then to 7 minute presentations and then ultimately one page – no mean feat! And at the end of the day, I certainly was satisfied that these students can hit the ground running in the job market with both the theory and practical skills need in today’s economy.

The roll of honour:

Theme 1 – Original Business Plans

  • Foodies – an educational toy for teaching good nutrition.
The Foodies Team - Deirdre Shanahan, Terence Bowden, Aisling Meleady and Sophie Gavard - at their poster. The group brought their multidisciplanary background to develop a business plan for an educational toy for teaching children good nutritional habits.

The Foodies Team - Deirdre Shanahan, Terence Bowden, Aisling Meleady and Sophie Gavard - at their poster. The group brought their multidisciplanary background to develop a business plan for an educational toy for teaching children good nutritional habits.

  • Online Fits – an 3-D body shape visualisation solution for online clothing retail sites.
Katia Zavershinskaya, David Gilchrist and Enkeled Uldedaj explain 3-D body shape visualisation in their Online Fits practicum project.

Katia Zavershinskaya, David Gilchrist and Enkeled Uldedaj explain 3-D body shape visualisation in their Online Fits practicum project.

  • Sample Circus – a circus-themed event-based tryvertising business for the cosmetics industry.
Cara Kennedy, Lyn Whyte, Martina Martinez-Cano and Caroline Mullen present their poster on Sample Circus at DCU Business School Practicum Day.

Cara Kennedy, Lyn Whyte, Martina Martinez-Cano and Caroline Mullen present their poster on Sample Circus at DCU Business School Practicum Day.

  • Dot Dot Dot Fashion Marketing – a digital marketing business for emerging fashion designers.
Stephen Conway, Valeria deFeudis, Emmy Rangel Calderas, Margaret Connolly and Nichola McHugh bring some style to the DCU Business School Practicum Day with Dot Dot Dot Fashion Marketing.

Stephen Conway, Valeria deFeudis, Emmy Rangel Calderas, Margaret Connolly and Nichola McHugh bring some style to the DCU Business School Practicum Day with Dot Dot Dot Fashion Marketing.

  • Afro Celt Airlines – an airline operating between Dublin and Lagos.
Afro-celt Airlines - Charles Okinji, John Keating,  Paul Tyrell and Stephen Osondu

Afro-celt Airlines - Charles Okinji, John Keating, Paul Tyrell and Stephen Osondu

  • SmartLED Lighting – a wholesale distributor of LED lighting solutions.
SmartLED Lighting (Keith Lawless, Andrea Bonnie, Una O'Neill, Lorna NiMhuiri and Ivan Casado) - a wholesale distributor of LED lighting solutions.

SmartLED Lighting (Keith Lawless, Andrea Bonnie, Una O'Neill, Lorna NiMhuiri and Ivan Casado) - a wholesale distributor of LED lighting solutions.

Theme 2 – Irish e-Business Marketing

  • Horseplay – digital marketing research, plan and pilot for horseplay.ie, a specialist equidae website.
Aoibhe Dunne and Conor Quinn display their Horseplay project poster.

Aoibhe Dunne and Conor Quinn display their Horseplay project poster.

  • Tenderme – digital marketing research, plan and pilot for tenderme.ie, an online tendering site.
John Cullen explains his practicum project on digital marketing for TenderMe to Professor Brian Leavy at the DCU Business School Practicum Day 2010

John Cullen explains his practicum project on digital marketing for TenderMe to Professor Brian Leavy at the DCU Business School Practicum Day 2010

Steven Nee and Khaild Hussein pose in front of their poster on their Digitary practicum.

Steven Nee and Khaild Hussein pose in front of their poster on their Digitary practicum.

  • HRLocker (UK and Ireland) – digital marketing research, plan and pilot on the Irish and UK market for HRLocker, an online HR software service.
Antonio Minuta and Carolann O'Sullivan pose in front of their research poster on HRLocker (UK and Ireland).

Antonio Minuta and Carolann O'Sullivan pose in front of their research poster on HRLocker (UK and Ireland).

Theme 3 – International Marketing

  • Toddler Holidays – digital marketing research, plan and pilot for Toddlerholidays.com, a France-based holiday home rental specialist for families with children under the age of 5.
Aideen Murphy and Ailish Tully present their findings on research and work completed for Toddler Holidays at DCU Business School Practicum Day.

Aideen Murphy and Ailish Tully present their findings on research and work completed for Toddler Holidays at DCU Business School Practicum Day.

  • HR Locker (North America) – market entry and digital marketing research on the US market for HRLocker, an online HR software service.
Simon McNally, Katie Murray, Kimberley Ramsay and Siobhan Buckley and their HRLocker (North America) poster at DCU Business School Practicum Day.

Simon McNally, Katie Murray, Kimberley Ramsay and Siobhan Buckley and their HRLocker (North America) poster at DCU Business School Practicum Day.

  • Dabl – market entry and localisation research on the Chinese market for Dabl, an online cardiovascular disease management system software developer.
Brian Joyce, Tien Nghiem, Guang Yang and Rachel Murray researched a Chinese market entry strategy for Dabl.ie for their practicum.

Brian Joyce, Tien Nghiem, Guang Yang and Rachel Murray researched a Chinese market entry strategy for Dabl.ie for their practicum.

Seyed Mohammad Amin Amirkhalili, Zara Walsh and Tiernan O'Kennedy in front of their research poster on international student recruitment for DCU Language Services.

Seyed Mohammad Amin Amirkhalili, Zara Walsh and Tiernan O'Kennedy in front of their research poster on international student recruitment for DCU Language Services.

  • Equinome – a marketing strategy for Equinome, an equine genetic testing service for the bloodstock industry.
The Equinome Group (Niall Clarke, Risteard Kinsella, Brendan Davis and David O'Rorke)

The Equinome Group (Niall Clarke, Risteard Kinsella, Brendan Davis and David O'Rorke)

Theme 4 – Local Businesses and Projects

  • Perigord – online communications strategy research, plan and pilot for Perigord, an online digital asset management service provider.
The Perigord Team - Ian Hemmingway, Rosemary Clancy, Eimear Murphy and Anton McMenamin

The Perigord Team - Ian Hemmingway, Rosemary Clancy, Eimear Murphy and Anton McMenamin

Damien O'Ceallaigh, Emer Keenan, Sheena O'Dowd and Roisin Lyons at their research poster at DCU Business School Practicum Day.

Damien O'Ceallaigh, Emer Keenan, Sheena O'Dowd and Roisin Lyons at their research poster at DCU Business School Practicum Day.

Niamh Downey and Laureen Morrissette present their poster on their North Dublin Chamber of Commerce practicum.

Niamh Downey and Laureen Morrissette present their poster on their North Dublin Chamber of Commerce practicum.

The DCU Civic Engagement Group - Cormac Hyland, Jenny Gaynor, Joanne Coughlan, Marie Mooney and Tom Muldowney.

The DCU Civic Engagement Group - Cormac Hyland, Jenny Gaynor, Joanne Coughlan, Marie Mooney and Tom Muldowney.

Aine Morris, Jenny O'Driscoll, Kate McGuinness and Diarmuid Murphy and their practicum poster on work completed for Printpac Services at DCU Business School Practicum Day.

Aine Morris, Jenny O'Driscoll, Kate McGuinness and Diarmuid Murphy and their practicum poster on work completed for Printpac Services at DCU Business School Practicum Day.

Tom Muldowney discusses the Timing Ireland practicum with Ed Dooley, Ciaran Dunne and David Fox at the DCU Business School Practicum Day.

Tom Muldowney discusses the Timing Ireland practicum with Ed Dooley, Ciaran Dunne and David Fox at the DCU Business School Practicum Day.

Irish Blogs

Last day in Shanghai – Day Eight of the DCU Business School Trip to Shanghai 2010

In An Bord Bia, Business Education, CEIBS, Chinese Food, DCU Business School, Di Shui Dong, Doing Business in China, Dublin City University, Elearning, Ireland, Irish Pavilion, MBS in Marketing, MSc in Business Management, MSc in E-commerce, Next Generation Management, Shanghai Restaurants, The Blarney Stone, Travel, Uncategorized, World Expo 2010 on August 1, 2010 at 1:33 pm

Our last day kicked off with a frenetic visit by Andrew and I to CEIBS to hear about their e-learning publishing business. CEIBS seems to be the equivalent of the Harvard Business School of China and the CEIBS MBA is ranked 8th in the world. The campus is great with a lot of space for contemplation – there seemed to be an abundance of meditation pools (or it could just be good landscaping!) One of our alumni heads up business development for the e-learning business and I was interested in sharing experiences with her. CEIBS has developed a fairly comprehensive suite of e-learning courses for their general business with a judicious mix of interactivity. I could see a suite of elearning modules by CEIBS on doing business in China being a real hit and it was interesting to hear their thoughts and plans although we had very little time – all my fault; I totally misread the traffic an distance to CEIBS.

CEIBS

CEIBS

We had planned to get back to the hotel and get the coach to Paypal Shanghai but it turned out it was faster to meet the rest of the group at Paypal‘s office. Their offices could have been in California – the office block was a modern high rise in a landscaped business park in the Shanghai suburbs and the interior was the same level of modern professionalism. Martin Hennig (one of our MSc in E-commerce (Business) students) works for Paypal in Ireland and organised a tour of their Shanghai office. Martin kicked off with a great presentation to the group on Paypal and its operations and answered any questions we had. We then had a really good tour around each department in Paypal – unfortunately, I can’t share the details as we agreed to confidentiality. I can tell you that everyone we met spoke excellent English and seemed on top of their game.

Paypal China

Paypal China

As it was our last day, we got the coach back to the market under the Science and Technology Museum for people to pick up additional presents and custom clothes ordered. At this stage, we had a regular meeting place at the market, Daisy’s, where we could pick up edible food and big mugs of Espresso. After a couple of hours, I had had enough haggling, stringing the shop-owners along and espresso and decided to go back to the hotel for our penultimate meeting of the trip with Breffini Kennedy (Asia Manager, An Bord Bia).

Sean Cullivan, the happy buyer of a tailor-made linen jacket from Shanghai. Don Johnson watch out.

Sean Cullivan, the happy buyer of a tailor-made linen jacket from Shanghai. Don Johnson watch out.

I have to say Breiffini’s talk with us was great. He gave us great insights in to his career and how his various roles in different organisations resulted in his current placement in China and how various skills and knowledge he acquired in previous roles contributes to his current role. Breiffini is a one-man office representing the Irish food industry in Asia with responsibility for both promoting and generating deals for Irish food companies but also making sure we can sell in the market at all. For example, An Bord Bia were actively involved in getting the Chinese ban on Irish pork products lifted recently following the 2008 dioxin scare.

Irish pork products allowed back in to China. Good for Irish farmers, not so sure about the pigs!

Irish pork products allowed back in to China. Good for Irish farmers, not so sure about the pigs!

Everyone liked Breiffini’s hands-on approach – he attends trade fairs, chases down leads, does market research and is often the first point of contact for some large deals. He explains that this often means visiting places that he has never heard of, often off the well beaten path to Beijing and Shanghai. He believes and made a very strong case for greater investment in Asia from the Irish food and beverage industry. There are so many direct and complementary opportunities that Ireland can exploit – for example, China is turning in to a major market for non-traditional meat products e.g. offal, trotters etc. These products simply wouldn’t sell in Ireland and while not hugely financially profitable do offset costs and develop trade relationships. Once again, Breiffini stressed the importance of guanxi and raising the profile of Ireland in the minds of the Chinese public. Breiffini did a great job contextualising the Irish World Expo pavilion design by explaining that emphasising the greenness of Ireland helps with agricultural perception etc.

Breffini Kennedy from An Bord Bia answers questions from the DCU Business School group in Shanghai.

Breffini Kennedy from An Bord Bia answers questions from the DCU Business School group in Shanghai.

The meeting ended with some thoughts on living in China and he was very open about both his and his wife’s experience. He praised the International hospitals in Shanghai and also noted that they didn’t realise how well they had adapted to life in China until they had visitors over from Ireland and others told them. Breiffini the fielded questions for over 45 minutes on various aspects of working in China and An Bord Bia – we could have gone for a lot longer!

Eoin Murphy, President of the Le Cheile, the Irish Community in Shanghai.

Eoin Murphy, President of the Le Cheile, the Irish Community in Shanghai.

Our final engagement was dinner with Eoin Murphy from Le Cheile, the Irish Community in Shanghai, in the Di Shui Dong Restaurant. Di Shui Dong is a Huananese restaurant which was recommended by Deirdre Green (ChinaGreen) – it means “Water Dropping Hole” but literal translations don’t work well in China. Basically, everything is spicy! While the decor was modest, the food was excellent, reasonably priced and nearly everything was both recognisable and edible, although in some cases, extremely spicy!

Dan Higgins, Sean Cullivan and Brian Connolly consider what Huananese spicy food really means at the Di Shui Dong restaurant, Shanghai.

Dan Higgins, Sean Cullivan and Brian Connolly consider what Huananese spicy food really means at the Di Shui Dong restaurant, Shanghai.

For approx. 25 euros each we had over 20 dishes and drinks for the night. Eoin was great fun but unfortunately couldn’t be split in three across our tables – hopefully, we will have more time to spend with him the next time. If you are looking at moving to Shanghai, doing business in China or visiting, trust me it is worthwhile contacting Eoin or looking at the Le Cheile website – the Irish welcome is alive and well in Shanghai!

Joe Cullinan outside The Blarney Stone, Shanghai.

Joe Cullinan outside The Blarney Stone, Shanghai.

The Blarney Stone, one of Shanghai’s Irish pubs, is located next door to Di Shui Dong and we invaded en masse. The Blarney Stone is what one would expect – Irish Pub decor and their own balladeer, Big Paul. There were only 5-6 people there so we, effectively, had the bar to ourselves (although I noted our new friends from An Bord Bia, Enterprise Ireland and An Bord Failte were also there and came over to say hello) and after a couple of rounds we took over the entertainment too.

Sean Donnelly, Carolann O'Sullivan and Barry Sweeney get in to the swing of things at The Blarney Stone, Shanghai.

Sean Donnelly, Carolann O'Sullivan and Barry Sweeney get in to the swing of things at The Blarney Stone, Shanghai.

It is trips like these that hidden talents come out and Sean Cullivan’s rendition of Galway Girl and Seven Drunken Nights will be one we will all remember – maybe Big Paul too! Experience it here on youtube.

Sean Cullivan takes over from Big Paul and knocks out 'Galway Girl' at The Blarney Stone, Shanghai

Sean Cullivan takes over from Big Paul and knocks out 'Galway Girl' at The Blarney Stone, Shanghai. Experience it on youtube.

Before I left for the hotel, the group presented me with a variety of mementos of the trip for which I am grateful and display proudly in my office. “The Man Club” was closed when we got back to the hotel and to some extent, I was glad our last night ended on an Irish note, no matter how out of tune that might have been.

More photos on flickr. Day Nine to follow….
Irish Blogs

University Day at Shanghai – Day Five of the DCU Business School Trip to Shanghai 2010

In Chinese Restaurants in Shanghai, DCU Business School, Dublin City University, Ireland, M on the Bund, MBS in Marketing, MSc in Business Management, MSc in E-commerce, Next Generation Management, Shanghai, Tongji University, Uncategorized on July 23, 2010 at 6:00 pm

Andrew and I had an early start attending an Executive Breakfast briefing, to be attended by President Mary McAleese, organised by Enterprise Ireland at the Shangri-La Hotel in the Pudong district of Shanghai.  We represented Dublin City University with Xiaoxia Wang, DCU’s China Rep. We also invited and were delighted to host two guests, Ms. Grace Shou, Vice Director of the International Office at the School of Economics and Management at Tongji University, and Professor Xu Xiaowei, Vice President of Shanghai Institute of Foreign Trade. After arriving at 0715 and admiring the view of The Bund from the 7th floor, the breakfast kicked off with introductions and gift giving to our guests. We also briefly met with Deirdre Walsh (ChinaGreen), Breiffini Kennedy (Asia Manager, An Bord Bia). Everything about the Shangri-La was five star – the food, the service and the company! While we had a pleasant discussion with Ms. Shou and Professor Xu, unfortunately President McAleese didn’t arrive until 0830 and Andrew and I had to leave to travel to Shanghai Institute of Foreign Trade where we had prior arrangements.

Pudong Shangri-La

Pudong Shangri-La

Like all good plans, this didn’t go smoothly either. We hit rush hour in Shanghai and then our taxi drive drove right past our hotel, nearly in to an oncoming bus and then in his attempt to correct things tried to do a u-turn on a one-way highway in to a flash-mob of Chinese workers on mopeds! In the meanwhile, Micheal met our translator and got everyone on our coach for the day as we arrived 45 minutes late. Founded in 1960,the Shanghai Institute of Foreign Trade (SIFT) has approx. 10,000 students and focusses nearly exclusively on international business. This focus has allowed faculty to specialise and the much of the teaching is bilingual. We were heading to their new  Songjiang campus, part of a university city-type development on the outskirts of Shanghai – similar to our trip last year to Dubai, this development had 6-7 colleges and the entire town was designed around student needs with each institution sharing some central services – possibly a good idea for all that NAMA-land. The trip to Songjiang took about an hour and we got to see the sheer size of Shanghai from a different view. Needless to say, we got lost but eventually 45 minutes late, we arrived at our destination to be greeted by Xu Rui (Cherry), our student organizer, faculty and some 20 postgrads. It was one of the most memorable and colorful welcomes to any university I have visited.

DCU Business School and Shanghai Institute of Foreign Trade Faculty and Students, Shanghai, 2010

DCU Business School and Shanghai Institute of Foreign Trade Faculty and Students, Shanghai, 2010

After posing for a group photo with faculty and students, we proceeded to a formal welcome from the students and some members of faculty. Again we were overwhelmed by our welcome and after an able introduction in English by one of the SIFT students, we were welcomed formally by Professor Shu Hong,  Deputy Zhang Yan and other colleagues. I said a few words and we exchanged gifts. I felt bad as SIFT went to immense trouble and gave everyone in our group a tiger gift and I only had gifts for the faculty and some smaller gifts for some of the students – note for next time.

Niamh NicClamha, Tanya McNamara and Ciara Dolan pose with SIFT students at the Shanghai Institute of Foreign Trade College Museum

Niamh NicClamha, Tanya McNamara and Ciara Dolan pose with SIFT students at the Shanghai Institute of Foreign Trade College Museum

Next stop was a tour of the SIFT College Museum. This was extremely impressive. Again one of the students explained the history of SIFT through the various. The pride in their institutions accomplishments was impressive and it is something that we need to try and imbue a sense of within our students and universities in Ireland. After a brief walk through the campus, we joined the students and faculty for lunch in the student restaurant which again was an educational experience. It was great for us to get to sit with and share food with the Chinese faculty and students. Both sides were very inquisitive and engaged and the students’ English language level was excellent. See more photos of our SIFT visit on flickr here.

Dr. Theo Lynn and Xu Rui (Cherry). Cherry is a postgraduate at SIFT and helped organise our itinerary at Shanghai Institute of Foreign Trade.

Dr. Theo Lynn and Xu Rui (Cherry). Cherry is a postgraduate at SIFT and helped organise our itinerary at Shanghai Institute of Foreign Trade.

And so after posing for some more pictures, we said farewell to our new friends in SIFT and headed in to our next stop – the School of Economics and Management in Tongji University (SEM-Tongji). SEM-Tongji is located in the centre of Shanghai and is partnered with over 50 business schools worldwide and is one of the leading management schools in China. We were greeted by Grace Shou, who we met at the Breakfast Briefing, and were lead to one of their lecture theatres where I was due to present.

DCU Business School Students visit the School of Economics and Management, Tongji University

DCU Business School Students visit the School of Economics and Management, Tongji University

I gave a brief introduction to DCU, the Business School and then discussed some observations on the Irish competitiveness and LINK research relating to the role of ICT usage in education. This visit was very different than SIFT but no less satisfying.  The Chinese attendees were very attentive and asked for insightful and direct questions.

Dr. Theo Lynn presents at the School of Economics and Management, Tongji University, Shanghai

Dr. Theo Lynn presents at the School of Economics and Management, Tongji University, Shanghai

In particular, as well as our research, I think they were both impressed with and curious about our research and teaching approaches for digital marketing and e-commerce, Next Generation Management and industry engagement. One of the last questions was particularly interesting in that they asked how many of our students would like to work for the government/civil service – the answer was probably a bit surprising for the Chinese. None.

Micheal O'Leary and Andrew Bonello Professor Wu questions Dr. Theo Lynn at the School of Economics and Management, Tongji University, Shanghai

Micheal O'Leary and Andrew Bonello watch on Professor Wu questions Dr. Theo Lynn at the School of Economics and Management, Tongji University, Shanghai

While the students toured the SEM-Tongji campus, I held meetings with Grace, Professor Wu and Susan Zhou. These were very informative and I hope to collaborate withSEM-Tongji on some e-commerce projects and visit again later in the year to deliver some workshops. Hopefully next year some of their students will join our classes on an exchange and vice-versa. As it was getting late in the day, we exchanged gifts and said our goodbyes to Tongji University and left for the hotel.

Niamh NicClamha, Laurynas Binderis, Sean Donnelly, Carolann O'Sullivan and Sarah McPartlin ready for dinner at "M on the Bund", Shanghai

Niamh NicClamha, Laurynas Binderis, Sean Donnelly, Carolann O'Sullivan and Sarah McPartlin ready for dinner at "M on the Bund", Shanghai

It’s Friday night in Shanghai! Some of the group decided to hit the town and check out the German bar for the World Cup match however a group of us put on our glad rags and went for dinner in ‘M on the Bund‘. M on the Bund is one of the best restaurants in Shanghai and one of the most reasonable fine-dining experiences I have had. It has a great location overlooking the Bund but the size of our group meant (i) our menu was restricted and (ii) we couldn’t sit on the terrace.

Siobhan Buckley, Ekaterina Zavershinskaya, Zara Walsh and Ciara Dolan on the terrace at 'M on the Bund', Shanghai

Siobhan Buckley, Ekaterina Zavershinskaya, Zara Walsh and Ciara Dolan on the terrace at 'M on the Bund', Shanghai

Despite this, everything on the group menu was great, our seating superb and the service excellent. I had the politically incorrect foie gras and beef and gorged myself to the limit on the “truly grand dessert platter to share”  – it was truly grand and more than enough to share.

The Grand Dessert Platter at 'M on the Bund' was worth attacking!

The Grand Dessert Platter at 'M on the Bund' was worth attacking!

I have to admit I bailed at 11pm whilst the youngsters hit the incredibly stylish Glamour Bar on the floor below the M. I quickly got a taxi and for the first time in five days, got to bed before midnight!

Rosemary Clancy, Siobhan Buckley, Sean Donnelly and Rob Elliffe glam it up at the "Glamour Bar" at "M on the Bund", Shanghai

Rosemary Clancy, Siobhan Buckley, Sean Donnelly and Rob Elliffe glam it up at the "Glamour Bar" at "M on the Bund", Shanghai

More photos on flickr. Day Six to follow….

Irish Blogs

Ireland National Day at World Expo 2010, Shanghai – Day Four of the DCU Business School Trip to Shanghai 2010

In DCU Business School, Doing Business in China, Dublin City University, Ireland, MBS in Marketing, MSc in Business Management, MSc in E-commerce, Next Generation Management, Shanghai, Uncategorized, World Expo 2010 on July 18, 2010 at 9:00 am
The Irish Flag flies high at the entrance to the World Expo 2010, Shanghai on the Irish Pavilion Day, 17 June 2010.

The Irish Flag flies high at the entrance to the World Expo 2010, Shanghai on the Irish Pavilion Day, 17 June 2010.

World Expo 2010 is a huge event; more than 190 countries and more than 50 international organisations have registered to participate in the Shanghai World Expo, the largest ever. Over 70m people are expected to attend World Expo and while we were there over 500,000 people attended in one day. Each country has a pavilion day – Ireland’s National Day at World Expo 2010 took place on 17 June 2010 and I believe that DCU Business School was the only group of Irish students present.  Not that Ireland wasn’t represented, the good and great of the Irish diaspora in Ireland were joined by President Mary McAleese and her husband, Martin (both DCU honorary graduates), the Irish Chamber Orchestra and the Ernst and Young Entrepreneurs of the Year and many others. While our paths crossed, our day was made special by the efforts of our International students and their home country pavilions – an experience that the Irish delegation would have done well to experience.

We organised our World Expo tickets through ChinaGreen, which were promptly waiting at the hotel on our arrival. We kicked off at 7.30am in the lobby of the hotel to go native and take the metro to the World Expo.  Today was the first day we experienced a working day in Shanghai and we were not let down – the trains were packed!

Sean Donnelly and Brian Connolly struggle to stay upright in the throngs on the Shanghai metro

Sean Donnelly and Brian Connolly struggle to stay upright in the throngs on the Shanghai metro

Our group included students from 8 countries including Ireland and our goal was to visit each country’s pavilion. As part of our advance preparation, we contacted many of the pavilions and the response was overwhelmingly positive. As well as visiting the Irish pavilion, we  were being hosted by the Lithuanian, Maltese and Romanian pavilions. On Saturday, we would visit the German, Russian, USA and Saudi Arabian pavilions.

Tanya McNamara and Niamh NicClamha show off their coveted World Expo 2010 VIP passes.

Tanya McNamara and Niamh NicClamha show off their coveted World Expo 2010 VIP passes.

As we got off at Gate 8 at World Expo, Indrė Kumpikevičiūtė from the Lithuanian Pavilion greeted us and provided us with VIP passes for our stays – this was not insignificant, it meant we could skip the huge queues to the actual Expo and use VIP accesses to many pavilions.

Brian Connolly and Andrew Bonello discuss the queues to get in to World Expo as we proceeded to skip them via the VIP entrance.

Brian Connolly and Andrew Bonello discuss the queues to get in to World Expo as we proceeded to skip them via the VIP entrance. Note the Irish flag aloft for our National Pavilion Day.

As the week unfolded, we only had praise for Laurynas Binderis (one of DCU Business School’s Lithuanian students on the MSc in E-commerce (Business)) and assistance provided by the Lithuanian pavilion organisers. They not only provided us with passes but valuable guidance on the Expo and introductions to the German Pavilion, in particular.

DCU Business School Students pose with the Lithuanian Pavilion Representatives outside of the Lithuanian Pavilion at World Expo 2010, Shanghai.

DCU Business School Students pose with Indrė Kumpikevičiūtė outside of the Lithuanian Pavilion at World Expo 2010, Shanghai.

Fresh with our new-found knowledge of the Balts, Andrew and I did a quick dash to the Irish Pavilion to pick up our tickets for the Irish Chamber Orchestra to the President later in the day. We were delighted to find that they expected us and we were let through the VIP entrance to collect our tickets and Irish fans (fans, not people) and rush back to meet the rest of the group at the Maltese Pavilion.

Our Lithuanian friends played an important part in the success of our World Expo 2010 visit.

Our Lithuanian friends played an important part in the success of our World Expo 2010 visit. Indrė Kumpikevičiūtė (Lithuanian Pavilion) and Laurynas Binderis (DCU Business School MSc in E-commerce (Business))

The Maltese Pavilion was an important stop for our group. Andrew Bonello, my Research Assistant, a DCU MSc in E-commerce (Business) graduate, and someone I have spent a lot of time with, has spoken to me many times about Malta, their culture and I guess I have benefitted, through Andrew, from their education system.

Just in case you didn't know. Andrew loves Malta. Andrew Bonello at the Maltese Pavilion, World Expo 2010, Shanghai.

Just in case you didn't know. Andrew loves Malta. Andrew Bonello at the Maltese Pavilion, World Expo 2010, Shanghai.

Once again, the Maltese welcome was excellent and Alexia Stafrace and Oliver Xuereb (Asst. Maltese Commissioner) organised a special presentation on Malta for us. Our visit started with a video on Malta followed by a special personal presentation by Alexia in front of each exhibit giving us a taste of Malta’s history, culture and industrial heritage. Malta is also a small island nation in the EU and we have more in common than different; indeed in a particular piece of Irishness, Alexia knew Andrew where she was his cub scout leader!

It really is a small world. Andrew Bonello meets his childhood Maltese cub scout leader at the Maltese Pavilion, World Expo 2010, Shanghai.

It really is a small world. Andrew Bonello meets Alexia Stafrace, his childhood Maltese cub scout leader at the Maltese Pavilion, World Expo 2010, Shanghai.

Like Lithuania, the Maltese included a traditional Maltese bar, Cafe Jubilee, in their Pavilion offering rest and respite to Expo visitors but also showcasing the Maltese drinks industry. It was surprisingly like an Irish bar and Andrew, Micheal and I had a very entertaining conversation with Alexia over a couple of pints of Cisk and Kinnie (Alexia and I, at least, were on duty), the former a Maltese beer brand and the latter a Maltese soft drink made of bitter lemons and herbs (an acquired taste which I duly acquired!).

Laureen Morrissette and Dan Higgins enjoy a Cisk beer in the Maltese Pavilion, World Expo 2010, Shanghai

Laureen Morrissette and Dan Higgins enjoy a Cisk beer in the Maltese Pavilion, World Expo 2010, Shanghai

After a quick bite to eat in the Canadian Pavilion (Burgers and Poutine, of course!), we assembled outside the Expo Auditorium for the Presidential performance by the Irish Chamber Orchestra.

Irish and proud. The DCU Business School group outside the Expo Auditorium, World Expo 2010, Shanghai.

Irish and proud. The DCU Business School group outside the Expo Auditorium, World Expo 2010, Shanghai.

The Expo Auditorium is a fabulous performance space and we were grateful to Jim Blighe and Niall McCrory from the Irish Pavilion for organising our invites.

The Irish Chamber Orchestra with President Mary McAleese

The Irish Chamber Orchestra with President Mary McAleese

After the performance, we headed for a visit to the Irish Pavilion where we met Neven Maguire on his way in to visit the Pavilion too. After bribing the two Chinese security guards with DCU pins, we progressed through the Irish Pavilion. The Irish Pavilion is located well, near to the very popular German Pavilion, and has a strong exterior presence with a grass covering. Of course being the Irish Pavilion Day, as soon as we got to the Irish Pavilion, it bucketed rain!
Irish Pavilion Entrance, World Expo 2010, Shanghai.

Irish Pavilion Entrance, World Expo 2010, Shanghai.

After establishing the location of Ireland relative to China on the map, the Exhibit brings visitors through Irish history, geography, and culture (with a somewhat odd exhibit of Irish kitchens throughout the ages) and a video of Irish dancing. It is difficult to be objective about the Irish Pavilion as it is aimed at educating the native Chinese on Ireland and clearly we weren’t this. Notwithstanding this, it lacked some piece of groundbreaking technology or multimedia pieces to attract the throngs of Chinese queuing up for the Japanese, German and Saudi Arabian pavilions and for my taste, lacked insights in to the Ireland has a hub for high technology. After our discussions with the Chinese Agents and Xiaoxia, I think the latter is incredibly important if we are to establish Ireland in the minds of prospective students and their parents. Surprisingly, no Irish pub?
The DCU Business School Shanghai 2010 Group pose outside the Irish Pavilion on Irish Pavilion Day, 17 June 2010, World Expo 2010, Shanghai.

The DCU Business School Shanghai 2010 Group pose outside the Irish Pavilion on Irish Pavilion Day, 17 June 2010, World Expo 2010, Shanghai.

After a quick stop to sample the Austrian Pavilion (who also facilitated VIP access – Thank you Lynn Wang!) and their many augmented reality applications, we proceeded over to the Romanian Pavilion where Nick Opris (one of DCU Business School‘s Romanian students on the MSc in E-commerce (Business) programme) organised for VIP access and a tour of the Pavilion.
Nick Opris and one of the Romanian Pavilion Team at World Expo 2010 who looked after us so well. The view from the top of the Romanian Pavilion looks over Happy Street, the Dutch Pavilion.

Nick Opris (DCU Business School MSc in E-Commerce (Business)) and Gheorghe Dinu from the Romanian Pavilion at World Expo 2010 who looked after us so well. The view from the top of the Romanian Pavilion looks over Happy Street, the Dutch Pavilion.

The Romanian Pavilion was great, much bigger than the Irish one, and we were lucky to reach it just in time for a 20-minute concert full of drums and brass. Following the concert, the Romanian Pavilion team invited us to view the World Expo site from their VIP lounge and balcony. This was a great honour and much appreciated and it is a pleasure to thank and include Gheorghe Dinu and Nicolae Mitu as our new friends from the trip. Again we learnt much of Romania, not least the quality of their exceptional wine!
The Concert at the Romanian Pavilion at World Expo 2010 rested our feet and lifted us for the rest of the evening.
The Concert at the Romanian Pavilion at World Expo 2010 rested our feet and lifted us for the rest of the evening.
Our final official stop at World Expo 2010 for the day was dinner at The Porterhouse. The Porterhouse Brewing Company have set up a traditional Irish pub and restaurant on site at World Expo and played an important role in our trip. Frank Ennis, one of the Directors, told us of his plans for World Expo in November 2009 and this partly inspired us for our trip. Unfortunately, The Porterhouse isn’t based in the Irish Pavilion, probably due to spatial reasons – I think this was a missed opportunity for both sides. We had a “traditional” carvery dinner which to be honest was a bit expensive but we didn’t really care – after a long day around the Expo everyone was both tired and famished and some familiar food hit the spot!
Niamh NicClamha, Ciara Dolan, Laurynas Binderis, Sean Cullivan, Joe Cullinan, Tanya McNamara and Rob Elliffe toasting the Irish Pavilion Day at The Porterhouse, World Expo 2010, Shanghai.

Niamh NicClamha, Ciara Dolan, Laurynas Binderis, Sean Cullivan, Joe Cullinan, Tanya McNamara and Rob Elliffe toasting the Irish Pavilion Day at The Porterhouse, World Expo 2010, Shanghai.

We weren’t the only group booked in for dinner – the Ireland-China Association was also present (with DCUBS‘s good friend, Deirdre Walsh of ChinaGreen) and we shared business cards and helped develop some guanxi with Irish and Chinese businesspeople alike. Afterward I believe a fight broke out between two pints, yes two pints not people but I know nothing about that!
Duelling pints outside The Porterhouse, World Expo 2010, Shanghai.

Duelling pints outside The Porterhouse, World Expo 2010, Shanghai.

World Expo 2010 doesn’t close up until late and to be honest it is quite nice to wander around when the crowds have left. Our various new friends at pavilions gave us some great behind-the-scenes insights. Every night there were 3 or 4 parties at different pavilions and when we were leaving, the Argentinians were getting going as their World Cup match played out. While some of the group checked out the Expo, many headed back to the hotel by cab or train (both were easy to catch) to get some sleep or a few drinks in the “Man Club”.
No Irish night should end without taking a ride on a sheep. World Expo 2010 was no different. Laurynas Binderis, NIamh NIcClamha, Ciara Dolan and some plastic sheep at World Expo 2010, Shanghai

No Irish night should end without taking a ride on a sheep. World Expo 2010 was no different. Laurynas Binderis, NIamh NIcClamha, Ciara Dolan and some plastic sheep at World Expo 2010, Shanghai

More photos on flickr. Day Five to follow….

Irish Blogs

From Shanghai markets to Shanghai banquets – Day Three of the DCU Business School Trip to Shanghai 2010

In Business Education, Chinese Restaurants in Shanghai, DCU Alumni in China, DCU Business School, Doing Business in China, Dublin City University, Ireland, MBS in Marketing, MSc in Business Management, MSc in E-commerce, Next Generation Management, Shanghai, Shanghai Science and Technology Museum, Uncategorized on July 13, 2010 at 9:15 pm
Dr. Theo Lynn poses with some purchases - traditional Chinese umbrella (no respecting Irish tour guide can go without one) and "Swiss Army" luggage...

Dr. Theo Lynn poses outside the Shanghai Science and Technology Museum with some purchases from the "market"- traditional Chinese umbrella (no respecting Irish tour guide can go without one) and "Swiss Army" luggage...

Day Three of our trip to Shanghai started with a visit to the market underneath the Shanghai Science and Technology Museum. Literally underneath this very official tourist attraction is located a very unofficial one….a huge shopping centre of hundreds of microshops selling every kind of Chinese merchandise imaginable….if you can accept the somewhat questionable provenance! Shoes, polo shirts, dresses, luggage, jewellery (including sunglasses, watches and pearls), sports equipment, toys, tourist mementos and all kinds of electronics.

As Siobhan Buckley fans herself next to Rosemary Clancy, Micheal O'Leary sums up the day of shopping at Shanghai's markets - Deal Well Done!

As Siobhan Buckley fans herself next to Rosemary Clancy, Micheal O'Leary sums up the day of shopping at Shanghai's markets - Deal Well Done!

The discerning eye will notice the small mistakes e.g.

  • Hollister polo shirts in Abercrombie bags
  • iPads with Android OS
  • Todd’s shoes with one ‘d’
  • 500GB usb sticks with 500MB stickers on back of packaging

Despite these small ethical questions, value was to be had provided you were willing to negotiate. ‘Ugg’ boots, ‘Gant’ and ‘Paul Smith’ polo shirts, ‘Breitling’ watches and “Ray ban’ sunglasses seem to have been the popular selections. The adage that ‘all good things come to he who waits’ really is true – some overeager members of the group delighted with a 20% discount found later that they were literally ripped off while the more patient and tenacious got whopping 90%+ discounts on the original offer.

DCU Business School students trade market information at the markets under the Shanghai Science and Technology Museum

DCU Business School students trade market information at the markets under the Shanghai Science and Technology Museum

Despite this, the key consideration was whether you felt happy with your purchase and whether you could live with the deal you made (although I note history was revised on a number of occasions and deals just seemed to get better and better as time passed).

Laureen Morrissette, Keith Lawless, Rosemary Clancy, Lorna NiMhuiri and Niamh Downey get ready to do some shopping in the market below the Shanghai Science and Technology Museum.

Laureen Morrissette, Keith Lawless, Rosemary Clancy, Lorna NiMhuiri and Niamh Downey get ready to do some shopping in the market below the Shanghai Science and Technology Museum.

If shopping didn’t float your boat, the haggling was entertaining. I took a more pragmatic approach which I called “negotiating by walking away” – literally after 1-2 offers, I would walk away. This seemed to work but I was also the focus of some  serious verbal abuse by some indignant hawkers who regularly questioned my manhood! My other strategy was based on my experience in Russia in the eighties which was to identify things everyone in the group would eventually want to buy and negotiate bulk deals; ebony chopstick sets, fans and polo shirts all provided popular with the rest of the group while garnering me both discounts and some free gifts. Unlike Russia, don’t flash hard currency – lamb and slaughter come to mind! Other advice – watch the sizes of clothing – remember large in China is pretty small in Ireland –  and be prepared to live with the knowledge that what you buy will probably fall apart or not work the way you expect. Bag straps break, kinetic watches lose 15 minutes in the hour and iPhones that just make phone calls are just phones. Any regrets? The handmade fitted suits and shirts were good value and some of the guys bought them however even these were not without problems – in one instance, the professional grey suit turned in to a Bono-a-la-zoo-tv shiny silver one but in fairness, they made another suit within 24 hours. I should note that we didn’t see any pirated dvds or music (apparently as a result of recent World Expo-related crackdown).

While the tailor-made suits were good value, the storenames were sometimes lost in translation

While the tailor-made suits were good value, the storenames were sometimes lost in translation

After 3 hours we eventually emerged from our shopping tunnels (can I coin a new word – ‘shunnel’?) to blinding sun, scorching heat and unbelievable humidity….time to do some work. Our first official meeting today was with Xiaoxia Wang, the DCU China Representative. Xiaoxia is based in Beijing and is a graduate of the MBS in Marketing programme in DCU Business School. Some members of our team, Rob Elliffe, Niamh NicClamha and Zara Walsh are doing group practicums on international student recruitment for DCU and DCU Language Services and so wanted to interview Xiaoxia to understand her perspective in the market. With Andrew and I, the six of us met at our hotel and walked to a traditional Chinese hot pot restaurant for lunch before meetings that Xiaoxia organised with some of the DCU recruitment agents in Shanghai.

Niamh NicClamha, Xiaoxia Wang, Rob Elliffe, Dr. Theo Lynn, Andrew Bonello and Zara Walsh enjoy a traditional Chinese hot pot lunch

Chinese hot pot is not as straightforward as it looks nor is it as complicated as it could be. What initially was beginning to look like a series of cultural faux pas ended up being an incredibly entertaining meal and one of the most memorable. For those as uninitiated as me:

1. Don’t make a little pallette of the different sauces, herbs and spices on the table – you are meant to mix them together as a sauce

2. The big pot is not stew, it’s for cooking your food – don’t start spooning it out no matter how hungry you are

3. It really only takes 5-10 seconds to cook your food – don’t overdo it

4. If you can’t use chopsticks, ask for a cutlery and a ladel – the Chinese do it too

Basically, don’t be so Irish!

Rob Elliffe, Zara Walsh, Niamh NicClamha, Andrew Bonello and Dr. Theo Lynn pose with DCU Agents in China and Xiaoxia Wang, DCU China Rep

Rob Elliffe, Zara Walsh, Niamh NicClamha, Andrew Bonello and Dr. Theo Lynn pose with DCU Agents in China, Julia Wang (Shanghai Oriental Overseas Studying Service) and Kenny Wang (IESC), and Xiaoxia Wang, DCU China Rep

Our lunch was followed by a meeting with two of DCU’s Chinese Agents, Julia Wang (Shanghai Oriental Overseas Studying Service) and Kenny Wang (IESC). Between Xiaoxia, Julia and Kenny, a lot of valuable data was both derived and teased out – the difference in undergraduate and postgraduate recruitment, the importance of ranking, the influence of parents (particularly at undergraduate level) and the key role agents play. This was all subordinate to one key factor – Ireland simply isn’t on the radar as an international study destination for the overwhelming majority of Chinese students. Educating the Chinese public, and not only prospective student but parents, on Ireland is essential. While the Irish agencies do a good job, the scale of investment needed is not insignificant if we are to make a genuine mark. Our agents were somewhat surprised (although happily) about DCU‘s increasing specialisms in biotechnology and e-commerce and associated links with industry, our postgraduate business conversion courses (MSc in Business Management), links with US universities and high ranking for our size and age (DCU although ranked 279 worldwide is the youngest college in the top 300 and is ranked extremely high within its class – G1). One of LINK‘s projects is focussed on best practice digital marketing for international student recruitment for the Dublin Region Higher Education Alliance under SIF II and the territory is certainly different than the map. Our Chinese website needs a dramatic improvement and we need to start seriously looking at advertising in China using sites such as Baidu and Sino amongst others.

Beatrice Metzler and Niamh NicClamha with DCU Chinese Alumni

Beatrice Metzler and Niamh NicClamha with DCU Business School Chinese Alumni at the Shanghai Yue Lai Great Restaurant (上海悦来大酒店)

The day ended with dinner at the Shanghai Yue Lai Great Restaurant (上海悦来大酒店), a restaurant frequented by Chinese rather than tourists for a Chinese banquet. These restaurants are much louder and brightly lit than one would expect. We had an all-in price – all the food (some 30 dishes), soft drinks and beer for c. 25 euros per person. We were joined by some the DCU alumni, including Xiaoxia, which added to the evening and provided us with insights in to living and working in China but not necessarily what we were eating!

Ekaterina Zavershinskaya, Xiaoxia Wang and Nick Opris discussing living and working in China at the Shanghai Yue Lai Great Restaurant (上海悦来大酒店), Shanghai.

We sampled a variety of local dishes including various seafood (cooked and uncooked), lotus (quite nice), chicken (slightly raw for my taste), snake (surprisingly nice) and a warm fruit soup, peculiar due to the blue fruit (?) included within.

The snake at the Shanghai Yue Lai Great Restaurant (上海悦来大酒店) was surprisingly tasty

The snake at the Shanghai Yue Lai Great Restaurant (上海悦来大酒店) was surprisingly tasty

I think most people enjoyed the experience, if not the food. I have to say being able to see the live food you are about to eat in aquariums etc behind you is probably not to everybody’s taste and in particular the snakes were somewhat disconcerting.

Live snakes displayed before being cooked

Live snakes displayed before being cooked at the Shanghai Yue Lai Great Restaurant (上海悦来大酒店)

While Julio Herrero, one of our alumni, tried to convince us to support Spain in the World Cup and join him to watch the Spanish match, most people headed back to the hotel late bar, the bizarrely named “Man Club”, although I did see a number of the group tracking down Happy Meals! What would we do without the American fast food invasion of the Far East!

DCU Business School Students discussing the deals of the day in "The Man Bar" at the Ya Fan Longmen Hotel, Shanghai

DCU Business School Students discussing the deals of the day in "The Man Bar" at the Ya Fan Longmen Hotel, Shanghai

More photos on flickr. Day Four to follow….

Exploring Shanghai – Day Two of the DCU Business School Trip to Shanghai 2010

In Business Education, DCU Business School, Doing Business in China, Dublin City University, Ireland, MBS in Marketing, MSc in Business Management, MSc in E-commerce, Next Generation Management, Shanghai, Uncategorized, World Expo 2010 on July 9, 2010 at 9:13 pm

We eventually arrived in Shanghai at 1030 and after a surprisingly efficient immigration check, collected all our bags. Yes, all of them. We also encountered the ubiquitous Haibao for the first time, the World Expo 2010 mascot. He resembles some toothpaste and is literally everywhere in Shanghai.

Rosemary Clancy, Niamh NicClamha, Joe Cullinan, Nic Opris, Tanya McNamara. Dr. Theo Lynn (sitting on) Andrew Bonello with Haibao (the World Expo 2010 Mascot) at Pudong International Airport, Shanghai

Rosemary Clancy, Niamh NicClamha, Joe Cullinan, Nic Opris, Tanya McNamara. Dr. Theo Lynn (sitting on) Andrew Bonello with Haibao (the World Expo 2010 Mascot) at Pudong International Airport, Shanghai

Without Neil the Navigator, we struggled but eventually found the MagLev station and while waiting for the train experienced the incredible heat and humidity of summer in Shanghai. The MagLev was the first commercial magnetic levitation train and is one of the fastest operational public service trains in the world with a top speed of 431 km per hour.

The MagLev hits a top speed of 431 km per hour

The MagLev hits a top speed of 431 km per hour

It is an impressive ride but only scary when another train is passing by! It’s a bit weird but the train is a tourist attraction in itself and a great way to start our adventures in Shanghai.

Andrew Bonello competes with other passengers to take a photo of the speed display on the MagLev as it hits the top speed

Andrew Bonello competes with other passengers to take a photo of the speed display on the MagLev as it hits the top speed

On arrival in Shanghai, some members of the group decided to go native and get the metro to the hotel; others gave up and got a taxi! The metro was an adventure in itself and gave us an opportunity to soak up the atmosphere but also get to know the train system and how to find our hotel.

Sean Cullivan on the Metro to the Ya Fan Longmen Hotel, Shanghai

Sean Cullivan on the Metro to the Ya Fan Longmen Hotel, Shanghai

As it turned out, our rooms weren’t ready so we ended up taking over the lobby where Rob delivered his sermon on the future of religions. Some headed off for food, others to the bank…..and eventually, Rob gave up. Our rooms were eventually allocated and were a pretty good 4-star standard. We had booked tickets for the Big Bus Tour via email and exactly on time our Red Bus contact, Titan, turned up as good as his word and not only gave us a good group discount but a 48 hour pass. This pass was pretty good value and recommended – it gave us hop-on/hop-off access to two tour bus lines crossing the city, a river cruise and access to the Shanghai Museum, Madame Tussauds and some other attractions. After distributing the passes, the group split off to explore the city.

Sarah, Micheal, Andrew and I decided getting food would be a good idea. After hailing a taxi, we headed off to Renmin (People’s) Square. This was an adventure in itself. It became apparent quickly that wearing a seatbelt in a taxi was considered bad luck (or insulting) and after several attempts, Andrew gave up and rode beltless. After an unsuccessful attempt to even understand the menu in a Chinese food court outlet, we resigned ourselves to eating our first meal in Shanghai in McDonalds…it tastes the same….

And so at 3pm we got our bus tour on the red route. Like Dubai last year, this is a pretty good way to be introduced to the city showing and explaining the architecture and history of the city quickly and professionally.

Siobhan Buckley soaks up Shanghai on the Big Bus Tour

Siobhan Buckley soaks up Shanghai on the Big Bus Tour

In an hour, we got a birds eye view of Renmin Square, the Shanghai Museum, Xin Tian Di, Huaihai Road (Shopping), the Jade Buddha Temple, and the Bund. Unfortunately, the combination of heat (30 degrees), humidity and fatigue did hit us and sometimes it was hard to keep the eyes open. Luckily, we weren’t the only ones!

Fellow Big Bus Passengers Take a Rest, Shanghai

Fellow Big Bus Passengers Take a Rest, Shanghai

While the others continued on to the Yu Gardens, Madame Tussauds and the River Cruise, Andrew and I had to jump out to confirm M on the Bund, our restaurant for Friday night and meet Xiaoxia Wang, DCU’s China Representative.

Martin Hennig, Beatrice Metzler, Wafa AlMuhamma and Nic Opris and Jackie Chan at Madame Tussauds, Shanghai

Martin Hennig, Beatrice Metzler, Wafa AlMuhamma and Nic Opris and Jackie Chan at Madame Tussauds, Shanghai

At 7pm, a group of us had dinner at the Lost Heaven restaurant on Yan’an Dong Lu near the Bund with Deirdre Walsh (ChinaGreen) and Ciaran Lally (Saon Group China). Saon Group have acquired a number of recruitment companies in China, for example MyJob, and Ciaran outlined the challenges and opportunities of growing the business in China. While the cost of everything is an eighth of Ireland so is the pricing so scale is important. Deirdre and Ciaran also gave us great insights in to living, working and staying in China. Don’t expect people to work through lunch too often and don’t answer any unexpected knocks on the hotel door at night! The food was excellent and recommended. I am not sure what we were eating but it apparently was a “mix of dishes from northern Thailand, Yunnan, and Burma (self-described as “Mountain Mekong” cuisine).” I think we were spoiled for our first night and only 25-30 euros per head including drinks.

After a short walk along the Bund, where our two blond twins (Sarah and Micheal) got stopped for regular photos by Chinese tourists visiting Shanghai for the Dragon Boat holiday, we embarked on another mini-adventure getting a ride back to the hotel on the back of the motorised version of a rickshaw. Sarah and Micheal fared better than Andrew and I – they worked out to bring down the bar at the back that held you in to the seat as Andrew and I were knocked all over the place by every pothole in sight!

Chinese people enjoying the Bund during the Dragon Boat holiday, Shanghai

Chinese people enjoying the Bund during the Dragon Boat holiday, Shanghai

More photos on flickr. Day Three to follow….