A time to have fun (and some research) at the World of Wedgwood Christmas Market

Christmas is a time that brings so much love and joy to friends, family and loved ones, so why not visit the World of Wedgwood Magical Christmas Market for festive treats and Christmas gifts.

 The event runs from the 7-10th of December.

The Christmas Market Fayre will consist of over 50 stalls selling hand crafted products and locally sourced and produced fine foods for festive treats and Christmas gifts, located in the Courtyard and the Darwin Suite. There will also be music and entertainment, along with Christmas lunches in the contemporary restaurant and a festive afternoon tea in the Wedgwood Tea Room.

In addition to the Christmas market, visitors can also enjoy the Wedgwood Museum or take a tour of the Wedgwood factory, where they can put their skills to the test in the creative studio by having a spin on the potter’s wheel or designing a unique Wedgwood plate.

The World of Wedgwood is situated in Barlaston in Stoke-on-Trent. It is not far from junction 14 (north) and junction 15 (south) which makes life a lot easier for tourists travelling from the motorway . The Christmas Market Fayre has free entry and there is also free parking available on the venue.

About me

My name is Charmaine Oputeri and I am a final year student studying Tourism Management at Staffordshire University.

I am doing my final year project on the World of Wedgwood’s Christmas Market Fayre. The aim of my project is to establish the customer profile and to broadly evaluate the marketing aspects of World of Wedgwood. This is vital to my project as it will enable me to understand what attracts people to visit the World of Wedgwood and how it can be improved for future visitors.

Data collection will be conducted by asking the visitors  at the Christmas Market Fayre to fill out a survey. This survey consists of various questions about the customer experience e.g. what they enjoyed the most about the Christmas Market and what they would like to see improved in the future.

I hope to pursue a career within the Tourism industry as l enjoy working with people. This final year project will enable to reach this goal because it is going to teach me interpersonal skills, good communication skills and lastly, it will enable me to use my own initiative.

Social media

World of Wedgwood on facebook 

World of Wedgwood on Instagram

@WorldofWedgwood on twitter

Charmaine Oputeri on twitter

Charmaine Octuperi on Instagram

 

What are ChatBots and why are they important?

At it’s simplest a chatbot is computer programme that imitates a human conversation…So why is it important?

As a hobby I support local businesses to increase sales, and over the last few years I’ve been supporting some restaurants and hotels. For a one week period I setup and ran a test using a chatbot that gave a personalised experience to potential customers on a Social Media messaging platform. This system was easy to setup and run. In general the restaurants that paid for search advertising on Google had a click-through-rate (CTR) of around 4% and Facebook advertising was around 9%. During this test week the chatbot created a CTR of over 50%, and a major increase in bookings.

With more complicated systems, including adding Artificial Intelligence (AI) or additional support from humans, chatbots can be setup to be much smarter and chat with customers plus find out what they need. Where applicable, it can also learn from previous conversations and the more knowledge it gains, the better it is able to support customers. In addition, it can have lots of separate chats all at the same time, for example H&M can chat with lots of customers to make tailored recommendations to the customers taste (see https://bots.directory/kik/health-and-lifestyle/hm).

If you’re a business owner and short of time, this support could help sell your products and services. Rather than just receiving and monitoring comments on your website, social media or messenger the chatbot could give a personalised service, converse with and sell to customers, sell other products they might be interested in and help build brand loyalty.

Chatbots are becoming a familiar both as apps and chatbot platforms. For example around the home and office are virtual assistants such as Amazon’s Echo and Alexa, Microsoft’s Cortana, Apple’s Siri, Google’s Google Assistant and Samsung’s Bixby. Messaging apps are amongst the most popular mobile apps today, for examples Facebook’s Messenger, WhatsApp, WeChat and Viber combined have more users than popular social network apps. This has enabled businesses of all sizes to use messaging-app chatbots to expand their customer service, for example in e-commerce and sales.

SMM Marketing Platform reported that in just over six months chatbots, on Facebook alone, grew from 33,000 to 100,000 in April 2017 and some chatbots are getting great results, for example Adidas’s chatbot got 2000 new sign ups in two week and Just Eat chatbot created a conversion rate 266% higher than a simple advert.
Although it can be seen that chatbots are to become an important customer engagement tool, they are still in their infancy stage and need careful development. There are always going to be examples where humans try to sabotage the machine learning of these tools and at the moment, without some form of pre-scripted conversation, the natural-language processing and machine learning hasn’t evolved enough to enable fluid dialog between humans and bots.

Paul Dobson is a Senior Lecturer at Staffordshire University, Business School.

Our quest to improve the lives of refugees through the Hult Prize 2016/2017 and why YOU should compete in the Hult Prize

This is a blog post about the Hult Prize, written by Sarah Vitorino, a student. The Hult Prize has become the world’s largest student competition, as well as the most prestigious award on the planet for the creation of new social enterprises.

 

I first found out about the Hult Prize through a lecturer at the university. As a part-time student I wasn’t sure if I would be able to compete, but after finding 2 other members for a team, Dan, Dani and I signed up together. The challenge set by the competition was to help 10 million refugees by 2022. With the help and support from the university, our team (which we named “Team Reach”) finally decided that we would build a fashion company in Colombia, in which factory seconds and discarded materials would be used to create our own fashion line, working with up and coming designers. Since 1985, over 4 million Colombians have been displaced by the armed conflict, both within the country and crossing the border into surrounding countries. This was our chance to make a difference.

Team Reach with other International Students at Hult Prize 2017 (Sarah Vitorino is 4th from right).

After pitching to judges within Staffordshire University, we were put through to the continental finals in London. Before we went to London, we spent many hours perfecting our business plan with Tolu (our lecturer and mentor) and got support from other lecturers within the School of Business, Leadership and Economics. We were put in contact with experienced entrepreneurs who also gave us sound business advice and we also got to pitch to the university’s senior management team which included the Vice Chancellor. With the presentation and the pitch ready for London, the weekend of the finals quickly came around.  Once in London, we were introduced to, and listened to speakers including Cesar Del Valle who were so passionate about the Hult Prize and everything it stands for that straight away it wasn’t just a competition.  Yes, we wanted to win in London and go through to the next round, to eventually win, but that was secondary. What mattered was that we were stood in a room filled with students from across the world and we were all fighting for the same thing, to help refugees and to make the world a better place.

Eventually it came our time to pitch our idea. Before the competition, I would avoid public speaking at all costs. My heart was racing as we walked into the room, set up our boards and looked across the room at the judges and students.  It felt like the longest pause as we stood there at the front, then Dan started to speak. Everything fell into place.  We had run through this so many times we had it to near perfection.  We believed in what we were saying. We could see the future in the idea. I don’t remember many details from the presentation other than my constant reminders to myself of ‘make eye contact’.  We left the room relieved. It had gone as well as we could have hoped. The timing was perfect, we communicated all the information we had wanted to and the questions from the judges sounded promising.  We were called back to answer a few more questions,,, further elaborations on wages, why we had chosen Colombia? We took them in our stride…

Staffordshire University’s “Team Reach” at Hult Prize 2017

The winning team from London was a Canadian team wanting to connect refugees with locals to exchange skills. Nonetheless, our time in London was amazing. We heard ideas and pitches for things we would never have considered, we met people and made friends from all over the world, we took part in an experience that most people could only dream of. The memories of that weekend will always be with me; the atmosphere of the weekend will be something I could never forget and I became much more confident. I still get nervous at public speaking but I know now that I can do it. The biggest change in myself, however, is that I caught something that weekend. From the atmosphere, the passion of the speakers and the insights of our new friends, I want to change my life. I want my future to be about helping people and making a difference to the world because there are so many other people out there who have so much less than I do. I changed because I realised that I really can make that difference we set out to.

The Hult Prize is a fantastic event and I would advise all students to compete. It not only gives you practical skills, you get to interact with university students from around the world for a good cause. It is one of the best things that I have ever done and I am grateful for the opportunity. Go ahead and give it a try. You will not regret it.

If you would like to get involved or would like more information click here or contact:

Sarah
e: sarah.andrade.vitorino@gmail.com
t: 07496151612

Tolu
e: Tolulope.Olarewaju@staffs.ac.uk
t: 07808836580

 

Free Teaching event – Purchasing and Supply Management Fundamentals Staffordshire University 15th and 16th November

Are you a student looking to improve your knowledge and employability in Supply Chain Management area?

The perfect project event is a great opportunity to do it.

The most desired impact of the PERFECT project is an increase in the number of highly qualified students who are suitable for entering the workplace in PSM related jobs. Purchasing and Supply Management (PSM) as an enterprise function is getting more and more important as modern organizations of all types are becoming increasingly reliant on their suppliers to sustain and develop their operational and strategic performance. Therefore, the job market for PSM professionals is also growing, which means that there is not only a greater need for graduates with PSM skills, but also a greater opportunity for those that do have them.

In this PSM focused learning event, you will gain knowledge about PSM fundamentals and insights into current practice, issues and future challenges such as digitisation and sustainability in the field of PSM.

The two-day event will consist of lectures and discussions in a small training group. You will also work in smaller groups putting together a presentation based on a case study.
You will be issued with a certificate of attendance.

When will it happen? 15th-16th November 2017, 9:00-17:30
Where will it happen? Staffordshire University

Programme:
Day 1 – PSM basics
• What is the general role of PSM in organisations and which job roles are relevant?
• How to evaluate a supply market?
• How to negotiate with suppliers?

Day 2 – Future challenges for PSM
• What are future trends and challenges?
• How will digitization impact purchasing?
• How to handle sustainability standards in global supply chains?

Registration:
Please register via: http://projectperfect.eventbrite.co.uk

The number of participants is limited and places are allocated on a first come, first served basis.

The event is organised and conducted by the team of the EU Erasmus+ project PERFECT (Purchasing Education and Research for European Competence Transfer).

More project information and regular updates: www.project-perfect.eu

Marzena Reszka, Staffordshire Business School

New project: Adoption of Sustainable Accounting Practices for Reporting

A new project to help small and medium business report on their sustainability has just started.  The overall aim of the project is to provide the necessary training and tools for SMEs to adopt sustainable accounting and reporting practices in a cost-effective way.

The project is led by Dr Souad Moufty of the Business School and is funded under the EU ERASMUS Plus Strategic Partnership Programme. Dr Aisha Abuelmaati and Prof Jon Fairburn will also be working on the project.

The project will first carry out a needs analysis in the six partner countries to establish a knowledge gap framework. This consultation will launch early in 2018.

The partnership will then produce a training course, and online training tool and a trainers guide. These will be supported both by the ECVET skills framework and by an achievements recognition framework.

Project Lead

Dr Souad Moufty e: souad.moufty@staffs.ac.uk

Tel + 44 1782 294257

Partners

Staffordshire University, Business School –

Business School PAR, Croatia 

CIVIC Computing, Scotland

Eurocrea Merchant , Italy 

FGUGREM, Spain  

Ruse Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Bulgaria

AKNOW, Greece

Adoption of Sustainable Accounting Practices for Reporting -Report Asap

Funded under #ERASMUS PLUS and will run until Sept 2019.

Why do women still earn less than men?

In the nearly fifty years since the passing of the Equal Pay Act the gender pay gap in the UK has proved to be stubbornly resilient. What has changed is the way economists try to explain its existence and persistence. Fifty years ago economists used to explain differences in wages predominantly in terms of differences in experience, education and training, what collectively they termed ‘human capital’. Whilst they recognised that luck, nepotism and discrimination may be important, differences in human capital were thought to be the dominant determinant of wage differentials. It was, however, recognised that female workers were typically crowded into a narrower range of occupations and industries than males. Moreover, whilst glass-ceilings constrained many female employees’ ability to move up the job-ladder, it was also evident that employers tended to place a low premium on caring skills, which traditionally have been more associated with female workers.

More recently economists have established the importance of non-cognitive productivity-related characteristics, such as motivation, resilience and initiative, in explaining differences in wages. In terms of explaining the gender pay gap this opens up three intriguing possibilities. It may be that females are, on average, less endowed with those productivity-augmenting characteristics. This may be the result of nature or nurture and here the findings that single-sex schooling may be related to lower gender pay gaps is of interest. An alternative hypothesis is that females may have, on average, different preferences, placing a lower relative value on the monetary benefits from working. A third possibility is that employers do not reward males and females similarly for a given non-cognitive characteristic. Behaviour which is seen by employers as positive when undertaken by males, such a providing leadership in group discussion, may be viewed as indicative of a poor team-player when evident in a female employee.

If we are serious as a society about eliminating the 18 per cent gender pay gap then it may be time to pay less attention to altering the behaviour of female workers and spend more time creating more male homemakers.

Nick Adnett, Professor in Staffordshire Business School

The Economic and Social Impact of Stoke City FC

The English Premier League is a global brand. Stories abound of travellers from Stoke-on-Trent travelling to far flung corners of the earth, getting into a cab, pub, or conversation and being asked; “Where are you from?” the traveller responds; “I am from Stoke” only to be told; “I know Stoke FC!”, a list of players is usually reeled out including Peter Crouch and co, and from then onward, the conversation takes on a new dimension of familiarity and friendliness.

Peter Crouch Goal Celebration

 

English Premiership Clubs have fans in all corners of the world. Jerseys are sold in Africa, Asia, the Americas, Europe and Australia. Matches are watched on all sorts of devices and football players are household names with kids dreaming of growing up to be like their heroes or even just meeting them someday.

 

Beyond the pitch however, there is another dimension that is closer to home. Football clubs are generating huge revenues and investing these in a variety of ways with a huge impact to their local economies. For example, Stoke FC’s revenue was £11 million in the 2007/2008 football season and then Championship promotion boosted the Club’s revenue even more from commercial, match day and broadcast streams. In the 2015/2016 Stoke FC’s total revenues rose to £119 million, making them the 9th in the Premier League. The growth in the Club’s income since joining the Premier League has enabled it to significantly increase its investment in the region and grow the profile of the Club and the city at home and abroad.  Some key regional and social impact statistics for Stoke FC for the 2015/2016 season are shown in Table 1.

 

Table 1: Key Regional Economic and Social Impact of Stoke City FC Statistics (2015/2016 Season)
2,391 international visits
119,000+ domestic tourists
£7 million visitor spending
301 direct Club employees (FTEs)
£1.3 million spent on local community initiatives
£29 million spent on Club supply chains (some local)

 

In addition to the impact highlighted in Table 1, the Club has also expanded its stadium to boost match day attendance and attract more visitors to the region, invested in players from the UK and abroad to extend the reach of its fan base to other areas of the globe, invested around £4million into its academy providing local young people with opportunities to develop their football careers at the Club, and invested in the Community Trust to work with the wider community to target individuals who want to get back into education, employment or generally improve their health or mental well-being.

 

Not only does success on the pitch attract visitors to the region who spend on travel, accommodation and food and drink, there is the indirect effect from the supply chain and the induced impact from increased employee spending. Analysis from Ernst & Young LLP shows that Stoke City FC generated a total Gross Value Added contribution of 132 million to the region during the 2015/2016 season. £108 million was directly contributed via the club and its tourism, a further £13 million was generated via indirect effects in local supply chains and £10 million was generated via induced effects. This activity also attracts businesses to locate their operations within the area.

Staffordshire University students and staff with Tony Scholes (CEO of Stoke FC)

 

Granted that a lot of the players might not live in the region, the activities of Stoke City FC resulted in an estimated £66million total liability to the Exchequer in 2015/2016. The presence of Stoke City FC also supported many FTE jobs in the regional economy during that period. 301 people were directly employed by the club, 853 people were employed by relevant supply chains, 401 people were employed via tourism to watch Stoke FC, and a further 682 were employed because of induced effects.

 

Beyond these, the Club supports a variety of initiatives to improve the lives of individuals and communities, working with a number of stakeholders including schools, local government and wider supporting organisations (e.g. the premier league). Community activities are delivered by Stoke City FC’s Community Trust (SCCT) which was founded in 1989 and became a registered charity in 2004. Ernst & Young LLP estimate that around 10,900 people have participated in community and charitable programmes in 2015/2016. 119,600 day trips were organised and 304 people have gained at least one qualification as a result of the Clubs initiatives. During the period under review, 10,246 hours of volunteering community work was done with the result of £8.7 million savings for the local community on physical wellbeing and £2.9 million savings on mental well being from increased physical activity.

 

With these key statistics, it is not hard to cheer for our local team. The sporting and commercial success of the Club in recent years, which includes breaking their transfer record twice in the 2015/2016 season, has allowed Stoke FC to further embed itself as a key member of our local economy. We at Staffordshire University will continue to cheer for the club. You should do the same too 😊😊😊!!!

 

Industry vote of confidence in UK’s first esports degree

A trailblazing degree dedicated to the rapidly growing esports industry has received the backing of the UK’s leading industry experts.

Staffordshire University announced in May that it was launching the country’s first BA (Hons) Esports degree and has been overwhelmed with enquiries from prospective students from all over the world.

The University recently invited organisations including British Esports Association, Ukie, The National University Esports League (NUEL), Fast Web Media and Codemasters to make up an industry panel and help advise on modules making up the course which aims to supply skilled graduates to the global gaming industry.

Gaming Conviction.com: “Staffordshire to offer degree in esports”

This offers the opportunity of future collaboration and companies like Red Bull have already offered student work placements at their new esports studio in London.

Rachel Gowers, Associate Dean for Recruitment in Staffordshire Business School, said: “It is vital that the degree supports the needs of those working and recruiting to this specialist sector. The industry is driving the creation of new jobs and companies are looking for people who are both entrepreneurial and tech savvy.

“Our course focuses on the business and culture of esports from developing teams, communities and a fan base to hosting esports events. We are delighted to be partnering with the businesses and organisations who can help us to fine tune the course prior to launch in 2018.”

Joana Ferreira of Fast Web Media, a digital marketing company which played a major role in promoting the first esports industry awards, said she was delighted to be part of the process.

“Being a part of this panel is very exciting for me. Having worked within digital marketing for esports for a couple of years now, it’s fantastic to be able to help mould what future esports employees look like and what it takes to run an esports business. Staffs Uni is impressively forward thinking, and this esports degree is just another testament to that.”

The University has also won the high profile backing of Ed Vaizey MP and Vice Chair of the British Esports Association.

He added: “Staffordshire University’s decision to establish an esports course is visionary and far sighted. Esports is one of the fastest growing entertainment mediums in the world, and anything that can help the UK establish itself as a centre for this exciting industry should be celebrated.”

The new degree course is in direct response to the Ukie white paper on esports. Dr Bobbie Fletcher, Associate Professor of Games Education, said: “Plans to grow the UK as an esports hub brings huge opportunities and we are well placed as a University to respond to that. Connecting with industry in this way enables us to benefit from their expertise and exciting work experience opportunities.”

Prospective students are invited to visit Staffordshire University on Sunday 22 October for an esports taster event. Taking place between 11am – 6pm at the LRV on Leek Road, Stoke-on-Trent (ST4 2DF), this is an opportunity to experience esports, get hands-on with the games and have a go at casting. It’s also a chance to find out about university teams and watch them compete in the Esports Varsity. Book here

 

Author: Maria Scrivens, Media Relations Manager

The economic benefits of a vibrant university and Business School

Dean of Staffordshire Dr Peter Jones reflects on the start of term and the economic benefits of a vibrant university and Business School in the region.

Last month the population of Stoke-on-Trent changed and transformed as the annual autumn migration to University got underway. Students both arrived and left the city and the region to start or continue their higher education. For Stoke-on-Trent there was a sudden influx of people from not just around the country but from around the world who bring a vibrancy, culture and diversity to the six towns.
This changing demographic is vital for the city and the region. Students and associated workers spending cash on renting property, in bars, eating food and even buying books – students are important for our economy. University students also provide a transient workforce providing casual labour to the region’s businesses. Importantly they will go on to become the qualified and educated future workforce. And this is vital for Stoke-on-Trent.

For a city like Stoke where we have high employment, but typically a low skilled and low wage workforce, a strong University is key and is vital in the economic growth of the city, county and region. This is not a situation that is restricted just to Stoke-on-Trent. In the late 1990s funding of the Northern Powerhouse cities resulted in massive urban repopulation and redevelopment. The growth of cities such as Leeds, Manchester, Liverpool and also in the West Midlands / Birmingham meant that the smaller Midlands cities were somewhat overlooked and forgotten about.

However, the introduction of increased numbers of people entering higher education has to a greater or lesser extent be the saviour of many if these economically slowing towns and cities in the Midlands. Places like Coventry, Northampton, Derby, Leicester and Lincoln all now have growing economies where local and regional politicians work hand in with the local “new” university to invent themselves and their identity of place. With the changing role of councils and their declining budgets, the role of the university in developing place has become even more paramount.

I would argue that Business Schools have a key role in new universities as all businesses do business and, I would argue, need business graduates. Therefore, the key to the regional economic growth is a strong Business School. A Business School that is connected to the region’s employers and producing students who bring ideas and support innovation and growth by completing internships, placements and sandwich years with the region’s companies. In our digital age this input from millennials and generation Z is key for innovation and economic growth.

It is also vital that Business Schools are not just outward looking but also develop the business skills of students in other disciplines within their own universities such as entrepreneurship which will help them become the next generation of start-ups and business leaders.

If the X is positive integer – how much should a new IPhone cost?

by Dr Andras Kenez

Several sites reported that Apple use different pricing for its different markets. While the US customers can get the new phone from $999 (£740), the UK prices starts from £999 ($1349). The new X costs only £754 in Japan, £813 in Hong Kong, £952 in China, but the customers in some countries pay even more than in the UK: it is £1027 in France, £1044 in Italy. The most expensive is Hungary with its £1073 price tag: it is cheaper to book a round trip flight to NY and pick up your new phone on your travels.

This difference in the final price is coming from the difference level of consumption taxes (VAT) mostly. The standard rate of VAT is 20% in the UK, 22% in Italy, 25% in Denmark and Sweden and world record 27% in Hungary. Some countries also have other taxes in the final price – therefore up to 25% of the price we pay will directly go to the exchequer of the country. The US prices are exclusive of sales taxes, which vary state-by-state (from 0% in Delaware to 7.25% in California). Without the taxes European prices would be about the same – around £830.

But this is still £90 more than in the US – why? The answer is the foreign exchange rates and channel distribution costs. The higher amount is the price of the exchange risk. Apple is not just calculating the Sterling (Euro etc.) cost of the product, because this value can change due to the changes in currency exchange rates. The stronger the dollar, the less Apple gets for the same price in Pounds (Euros). To avoid this risk, they must build in a buffer to the price against the exchange rate risks – otherwise they would have to amend the retail prices day by day.

Channel distribution costs means the costs of the logistics, all the costs of doing business in the country and the costs of transferring the money from an international market.

Apple Iphone Iphone X Technology Cell Phone

Apple Iphone X Technology Cell Phone

There is also a strategic element in pricing: they ask more here because they can. Companies want to maximise their profit, therefore the final price is not just a calculation of the costs. It is not just Apple – many tech companies ask more for their services in the UK from Amazon to Netflix, and the market verifies their pricing.

After explaining the difference between the prices worldwide, let’s take a look to the price itself. What is behind the $999 (£740)?

The retailers margin is also included in the price. When selling Apple products, resellers’ margin is lower than 10%, some estimate it to be 3-5% in case of the IPhones. Though some products have 40-70% margin, Apple have a pretty good bargaining power when we talk about IPhones. Do not expect price discounts from retailers.

Even if we calculate with 10%, it means that £666,  remains for Apple. Based on the previous financial reports of the company, the production costs less than a third of the phone’s price, while the profit rate is around 40%. It means that the production costs (processor, memory, touchscreen, sensors, cameras, battery, packaging and production) is around £222, the other costs (marketing, research and development, logistics, licences, software) is around £178, and profit of Apple is £266.

Could it be cheaper?

First, this is a strategic decision to keep the prices high. It is positioning: Apple price their products higher than their competition to create a so called perceived value. They want to express their exclusiveness and superior quality in the price. It differentiates the product: a meaningful difference that helps consumers justify spending more. Higher prices mean status and helps control the demand. This brand is not for everyone. You should feel the price.

And customers also pay the price premium for the brand. Customers values the quality, the credibility, the innovation, the social responsibility – and willing to pay for it. Brands can burnish the buyer’s reputation, increase confidence, and can form communities based on the attachment to a product. To build a strong brand is expensive – therefore you can see this not just in the profit rate but also in the marketing costs. So, no, I am afraid it could not be cheaper.

And why is it £999? The 99 ending is psychological pricing: the perception of the customers is different if they see the 9s at the end of the price. It creates the illusion that the phone is cheaper than it really is.

 

Sources: Apple, European Commission, Telegraph, Quora, Guardian, CNN, Business Insider, Digital Trends