Last term, 16 Drexel students travelled to France not just for pleasure but quite a bit of business—specifically, a business class.
The students in MGMT 370: Business Consulting had worked all term designing strategies for a client, a small family-run wine company, to expand its wine distribution in America and increase tourism to its vineyard and chateau in the Loire Valley. The week-long December trip marked the first time the students presented in-person to the client, and the first time they experienced the tourism packages they had analyzed and written about.
Acting as consultants, the students split into groups to introduce new strategies in distribution and digital marketing, per their client’s request. Although they came up with their own solutions, the students also received guidance from the two professors who taught the course, Trina Andras, PhD, professor and director of the LeBow College of Business’ marketing department, and Michael Traud, professor and director of Drexel’s Hospitality Management Program.
Guest speakers also visited the class to expertly discuss all aspects of the wine industry, from wine distribution to how wine is made and why certain ones are served in certain restaurants.
Roger Kfoury, who worked on the company’s future expansion beyond its current markets in Pennsylvania and Colorado, said the guest speakers helped him get a feel for the product, but witnessing France’s cultural values around wine in comparison to the American market made all the difference.
“It was important for us to travel to France and experience the French culture and understand why wine is important there,” the pre-junior marketing and legal studies major said. “In France, most people drink wine with two out of three of their meals. But here in the States, people mostly drink wine at dinner. This experience showed how even the same product can’t be marketed the same way in two places.”
For his classmate Dyana Baurley, who worked extensively on redesigning the company’s digital management, the best part of the trip was able to visit the client and present the company’s new website to him in person.
“The class would not have been as successful without going to France. It was worth paying the money to go abroad, and even taking a four-hour bus ride and then a nine-hour flight on the same day to come home, just to see how the client reacted to the presentations,” said Baurley, a pre-junior marketing and finance major.
The presentation of the website was a major component of the service the students provided. Baurley and the other team members completely redesigned the company’s already exciting basic website and also integrated his social media to the site.
“We were very nervous because in the midterm review, we had to ask him to pay $100 to have a domain and website, which was a big step up from what he was already paying,” Baurley said. “This was us showing what we did with his investment. We went into his office and showed him the new website and how to add web pages and information and pictures. He absolutely loved the new style.”
The final presentation was just one highlight of the trip. The first two days were spent in Paris, where students took in the sights and visited École Supérieure du Commerce Extérieur (ESCE), one of the top business schools in France. During the longer stay in Tours, a small town south of the capital, students embarked on a walking bus tour, visited the Max Vauché chocolate factory and wandered around the Christmas markets.
But Kfoury, who visited Paris during a summer abroad in high school, chose the class for the real-world experience Drexel’s consulting courses provide in addition to the University’s co-op experience. This course marked his second consulting course, and he’s currently enrolled in a third.
“There’s always something to be said about a consulting class, rather than a class where you sit and read out of a textbook. You have a real segment with a real product with quantifiable numbers and an actual client who will tell you ‘yes’ or ‘no.’ It’s not so hypothetical, and you have to work within the bounds of what’s actually possible,” he said.
Now that the class has ended, the students not only have a better understanding of doing business in the wine industry, but they know how to use that knowledge in their own business settings and professional future.
“For example, if you’re going out to dinner with a client or for business and you need to order a bottle of wine for the table, you need to have a basic understanding of wine or it can reflect badly on you. There’s a whole science and kind of an art behind the ritual of ordering wine,” Kfoury said. “You’re not going to order a red wine at a seafood restaurant unless you know a red wine that pairs well with fish.”