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April 1, 2013

by drewkeneally

As many college students are wont to do in the final 6 weeks of the semester, I recently reminisced about my Spring Break.  Always being observant of the marketing strategies thanks to our marketing classes, I wanted to dedicate this post to some novel experiences during my travels; specifically, my first trip to waffle house, an applebee’s, walgreens, and a company very near and dear to many GCOMMers, Carnival Cruise Lines.

Waffle House: Despite being in my fifth year of higher education, I had yet to go to this popular comfort food destination.  We were greeted at the door by good mornings and smiles from the entire staff and many patrons.  A kind and patient waitress and greasy food only added to the southern hospitality.  I can’t help but think that for the many people who go to waffle house- besides the 3AM college crowd- go there in large part because of the quality of the service and friendliness of the folks working there.

Applebee’s: This firm prides itself in the friendliness of its employees and the local, homegrown experience that brings prescience to the phrase “eating good in the neighborhood,” even though it is a large multinational corporation.  As with Waffle House though, I really appreciated the friendliness of the staff who even cheered on the UVa basketball team with us.  In a market saturated with similarly priced and branded restaurants, I feel that applebee’s staff is something the company can really utilize in differentiating and bettering consumer experiences.

Walgreens: I haven’t had a lot of experiences in this particular franchise, but in my head I always likened the brand to a CVS/RiteAid type store.  It was extremely similar to those, but my interaction with a store employee made me think that quality of staff is something to keep an eye on.  I was contemplating purchasing an admittedly ridiculous fedora, and was being goaded by some fellow classmates into going through with this.  In an effort to find an impartial opinion, I turned to an employee:

Me: Excuse me, ma’am?  Am I pulling this off?

Employee: (smiles politely, chuckles) No honey, not at all.

I realize that she could have lied and gotten the store a quick ten dollars, but I feel as though hearing a truthful response is something that adds to an experience, and might even affect my future shopping habits.

Carnival: We discussed in class the importance of creating customer loyalty and repeat business in class.  While I personally had a fantastic time, I can’t help but think that there are many people who might have been less than enthused that there were also a few hundred other college- aged kids having a fantastic time.  While branding itself as the “Fun Ship,” Carnival neglects that many people have different ideas of what Fun is.  There are many entertainment options, but I still felt that Carnival could do a lot of research into why there is a relatively low percentage of second-time purchases- starting with people’s opinions of their fellow voyagers.

I guess it’s fitting that my last spring break as a student was spent thinking about customer value class, but I find that its an enjoyable exercise to look at the meanings and purposes behind products and consumer experiences.

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