пятница, 11 марта 2011 г.

SKOLKOVO students are working on the Kazan brand

Today we are telling you about another regional project being implemented by SKOLKOVO students as a part of their Public Module. A team of SKOLKOVO students will work developing of the brand of Kazan city.

Kazan is proud to be called the third Russian capital: located in the geographical heart of Russia it is the city where Europe meets Asia. Modern Kazan is on the scale with the largest world cities in terms of beauty and the level of inrustructure development. At the same time it carefully preserves its distinctiveness and culture traditions.

The city administration tries to not only to maintain the domestic order but also to be up-to-date with innovative world’s trends and practices. So now they started to work on the place branding by creating a rich and competitive city brand. That very challenging task was set in front of the SKOLKOVO students by the Kazan mayor.

The project team consists of 5 SKOLKOVO students:
Eliza Fisherman – a writer and exhibitions organizer;
Elina Mannurova – a marketing specialist in sport outfits industry;
Levan Nazarov – a PR specialist in automotive industry;
Dheeraj Verma – a consultant, expert in finance and intellectual property rights advocacy;
George Bellow – an entrepreneur with experience in air transit and IT industries.

“Our team is really international – Levan Nazarov speaks. – We have counted that all in all we can speak 8 languages and have lived in 12 countries. Such a various ecperience helped us a lot with this project”.

Ivan Kuznetsov, an advisor to the Mayor of Kazan and SKOLKOVO 2010 alumnai, is the manager of this project.
“Progressive and forward looking young men and women do work in the city administration, so we are expected to produce some fresh, unconventional and courageous decisions – Levan says”.

The predominant goal, set for the project team is developing the recommendations for Kazan brand promotion. SKOLKOVO students will analyze what tourist segments bring the main profit to the city budget and propose ways of attracting those tourists.

The basic concept for the project is Pareto principle that has become a classical one: with 20% of effort you gain 80% of the results. In other words, they would receive 80% of outcome focusing on 20% of tourists flow. Thus the main goal of the project is to find out what are those key segments and develop efficient methods of appealing to them.

After the first meetings with the client the team has come up with 5 directions for work – each being held by one of the team members.

First of all, they will analyze the current situation with tourist infrastructure in the city and study the world’s leading practices.

“When we came to Kazan for the first time, we saw amazing buildings – Tennis Academy, IT-park and more of those that were built during last two years. We were really impressed by all of these, regardless of the fact that we had been in many of the world’s capitals – Levan Nazarov recollects - and then we seriously started to think how we can make the city even better”.

In terms of modern infrastructure Kazan can be called a model city in Russia. And this status should be carefully maintain as the citu is going to host major sport events soon – such as the World Summer Universiade the next year and then – the World Football Cup.

The four different cities that are successful in their image and tourists attraction were chosen as examples: Saint-Petersburg, Sochi, Helsinki and Shenzhen. The latest is really unique exmple – from a small village it has grown to a giant city with population of 15 millions just in 30 years. Shenzhen is hosting Universiade this year, and this is another fact making it closer to Kazan.

The next work direction is analysis and segmentation of the tourist flow. The students decided to step side from the traditional segmenting the tourists by their geographical and demographical characteristics, education level, etc. They segmented tourists by their behavioral characteristics: what is the aim of their trip to the city, who is accompanying them, how they get to the city, do they use the touristic service compamies or no, etc. The students’ research showed out that the city’s main target audience is the group of tourists from the CIS and far-abroad countries, Moscow and Saint-Petersburg, of the age of 18 to 40.

Basing on the tourists flow segmentation the team is now working out the recommenations for demanded activities in tourism industry.
“We don’t want to play a Captain Obvious role and say trivial things everybody knows (for instance, that the roads should be improved). – Levan Nazarov says – We are analysing the issues on the deeper level. And in the means of communication we will focus not on the traditional mass media but on the new media”.

And the team does prove their words by actions. In the fourth direction of their work – providing the recommendations for the commucative promotion of the city – they propose to widely use social networks, blogs, mobile applications, etc. for the city brand promotion. The students have already tested the effectiveness of such instruments: instead of ordering expensive marketing researches needed for their work on the project they hold their own surveys using their accounts in social networks and receiving good response with needed represenativeness of the sample.

And last but not least direction of their work is providing recommendations for investments in order to increase the tourists flows, in other words – giving practical advice for investmenting in the city infrastructure.

The team stresses the fact that the financial proof of the ideas plays the key role in the whole project work.
“We will strengthen every our proposition with the financial modelling that will help the Administration to quickly understand how much they should invest and how much will they get back – George Bellow explains. – Precise financial indicators will stand behind any of our ideas. This is what destinguishes our work from the work of different agencies who have already done this kind of projects for the Kazan government”.

From the curious details of their trip to Tatarstan the students can recollect the case with the foreigners I their team:

“When we first came to Kazan we were treated as the dearest gueasts and everything was organized at the highest level – Levan tells. – As an official delegation we visited different objects and took part in numerour meetings. At the same time we wanted to see the city from the other side – to dive deep in its realities. Thus we have asked two of our foreigners – Eliza and Dheeraj to go to the airport with the budget of 1000 roubles. They were to get to the airport and come back. Eliza speaks Russian a bit, but we asked her not to use it. With Dheeraj we even didn’t have to ask. :) You know, they were happy to have their cell phones working, as they managed to get lost several times. They had some problems with public transport, they were given the wrong route by mistake… Eventually it took them 3 hours to get to the airport. As for the trip back, they didn’t manage to find public transportation from the airport so they had to take a taxi and pay 500 roubles for it. I think, they could have been offended ad we went to several planned meetings during this time…”

“It was a very fruitful experience though – George continues. – They had a chance to feel themselves as all the foreign tourists who come to Kazan do. We should consider this experiment to be a success, because our mates did manage to fulfill the task and get to the airport and back. Although there is a lot we can improve in this direction”.

“Another ecperiment occurred there also. Without saying a word to anyone our brave Elline Mannurova went for a walk at 11 pm – Levan tells. – At breakfast she shared her impressions with us and told that she didn’t feel safe at all… Although, as we were told later in the city administration, they have cameras hanging all over the city. This gave us an idea to put warning signs about the video-taping in order to increase the preventive effect. Soon such signs did appear”.

And this is far not the only one case of fast implementing of the ideas. SKOLKOVO students focus on practical application of all their work.

“We have set a goal to finish all the project work by the middle of the module – George Bellow says. – This will enable the administration to start bringing our ideas into life while we are still in the class and give us a chance to not only to tell about our project’s outcomes but also to show how our ideas already have started working and what can be done next at the final presentation of the projects’ results”.

Let’s wish our students the best of luck as the final projects’ presentations will ossur very soom! You are also welcome to join the communities devoted to Kazan: on Facebook and Twitter

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