Prompt 1 I am currently employed as the Assistant City Manager/Director of Economic Development with the City of Mount Rainier, a small municipality located in Prince Georges County, Maryland. Mount Rainier is a historic residential community that borders the District of Columbia. Within the last several months, the city has been exploring the option of redeveloping its downtown district with the aims of removing blight and increasing tourism. In addition, the City of Mount Rainier has been trying to brand a new identity.
As Assistant City Manager/Director of Economic Development, my role is to develop a plan that will aid the city in the revitalization its downtown retail and commercial district making it a desirable destination place. Currently, the downtown area lacks a mass of shopping, dining, and entertainment to attract visitors or residents. Along with spearheading these efforts, I am also responsible for finding funding to aid the city improve the public infrastructure that will aid in the revitalization of the downtown area.
Evidently, the organization’s current orientation towards the tourism market is weak. The population has not yet been well oriented in the details of the tourism industry despite the city’s significant potential in the business. At the moment, Mount Rainier is not an obvious tourist destination. While the city does have a mix of tourist products and activities of interest for visitors, there are currently not enough infrastructures, enterprise motivation, and marketing advertisements to make a significant part of the tourism market take notice of such products.
Future development in Mount Rainier will not just create a space for tourist, but will aid the city market its underutilized areas. The target customers are the local community, developers/investors and the focus is on the tourism market. It is recognized that the current economic crisis has actually caused a decline in out-of-the-country tourism for Americans and more and more Americans are going on vacation at locations in their own state or in other nearby states (Brown, 2008; Julio, 2008). This provides a market opportunity for the organization to take advantage of.
Currently, the organization does not have a formal customer service rating system that can adequately measure customer satisfaction. Data on customer satisfaction is basically sourced through word-of-mouth and through survey forms given out independently by various tourism oriented services. Based on the previous topics, strong marketing and customer service management systems need to be established for the organization to take the first step in realizing its long term goals in the tourism industry.
Prompt 2 The value creation and delivery sequences of the departments valued core competencies is coordinating how the City of Mount Rainier markets itself to businesses and developers, ensuring the implementation of financial packaging for development, attraction and retention. “Providing a value through specific product features, service development, pricing, sourcing and making the offer”(Kotler and Keller, 2008, p. 21).
In other words, the value creation and delivery process in which has been created, gives the city the capability to understand and capture customer value, allowing the right activities for strategic planning in marketing economic development in the City of Mount Rainier. Specifically, the value chain in the organization’s efforts on tourism development begins with the identification of key tourism demands. It proceeds from this point to the customization of available resources to meet such identified demands.
Finally, the products that address the identified demands are marketed and released. In line with this value chain, the core competencies of the organization include a strong expertise in conducting quantitative and qualitative research and managing communications between investor and investment representatives. Strength in formal research is known to be one of the effective components of business decision making (Hanson, 2008). With this core competency, an organization can realistically predict market outcomes and take advantage of identified opportunities.
On the other hand, effective communications management is also essential in investment relations management. When an organization is able to maintain excellent communication lines, the risk of miscommunication is reduced, thereby allowing the organization to present and gather information from relevant groups accurately (Giannetto, 2006). According to Kotler and Keller, “a clear and thoughtful mission statement provides employees with a shared sensed of purpose, direction, and opportunity”(p. 27).
The City of Mount Rainier’s value chain is driven by the mission statement which employees the department of economic development so heavily rely upon. As an organization, the City of Mount Rainier ‘s department of economic developments purpose is the coordination, planning, supervision, and in some cases, the execution of all programs, policies, proposals, and functions related to economic development. MDED also advises the Mayor and citizens on the most effective allocation of public resources devoted to economic development in the City.
The vision of the organization is a city that is able to maximize all of its available resources and attract investors in developing all of its potential services. This envisioned city is has a stable, flourishing economy that is well managed by its officials who are empowered with decision-making information based on valid and reliable research. The mission-vision of the organization definitively plots the course of its strategic planning by setting reasonable short-term and achievable long term goals.
On the short-term, the goal based on the mission is to identify key areas of development where the organization can recommend city funding to be utilized with the best possibilities for the greatest returns on investment. On the long-term, this organization intends to follow through with identified areas of development and establish programs that can explore such potentials completely. With the vision as its guiding perspective on what is the ideal, the organization studies how other cities are able to achieve similar goals in the past and determines the extent of applicability of such strategies to the City of Mount Rainier.
Prompt 3 Using a classical approach, the City of Mount Rainier Department of Economic Development conducts its marketing research using an in-house research approach. The first step to this approach is drafting a brief by the manager discussing the area selected for the project. In the latter, Mayor and Council is provided with a verbal explanation and description of what is required, together with relevant background documents and samples of products or demonstration of services to be studied.
Then Mayor and Council will hold public hearings to seeking the views of citizens on the proposed project. In addition, to conducting in-house marketing research the City contracts marketing research consultants to aid the city in determining the right development to build a healthy economy and increasing property tax dollars for the city. Thus, identifying and targeting development that that will be a good fit for the municipality. This approach to decision making provides a way of assessing the value of additional information that maybe inaccessible to staff.
Another key aspect to this marketing research approach strategically shows comprehensive demographics, consumer demand and other feasibility studies that will be very costly and time consuming for a very small agency to conduct. Socio-cultural factors affect the intended clients since such factors are a part of the tourism experience. Many customers wish to have different cultural experiences and so diversity plays an important role. Situational factors, specifically natural phenomenon can greatly affect customer’s purchasing decisions as well.
For example, the occurrence of a natural disaster such as an earthquake or hurricane can make customers shy away from the products even after rebuilding for fear of the occurrence repeating itself. On the other hand, other situations such as the occurrence of something noteworthy can be a positive factor that can draw customers to purchase tourism products. Prompt 4 The primary customer segments that the City of Mount Rainier Department of Economic Development target and provide services to are the community and investors/developers.
The difference between the two entities is only what each requires from the City. As a local government, the community defines the development process challenging the undesirable and unacceptable disparities that may affect their quality of living. In other words, the community’s needs are to keep the nature that it is used to while developing sectors to gain greater financial leverage. On the other hand, investors/developers goals are to create, expand, or improve the endeavors of the city and would promote economic vitality.
This requires for change to be effected by the government that would make the environment suitable for investments. These primary customer segments offer competitive positioning, increased visitation and a yield with significant growth potential. Competitive positioning allows companies to perceive and address their strengths and weaknesses against existing competitors and develop plans based on such analysis (Porter, 1980). The primary product strengths of the City of Mount Rainier are arts, theatre and cultural heritage, tourism, and accommodation.
These focus areas and key strengths provide a framework to advance the commitments of strategic imperatives and guide investment throughout the city. The main advantages and uniqueness of the City of Mount Rainier, is its geographic location, local market demand and integration with other market clusters. With low-cost real estate and relatively cheaper labor costs in comparison to neighboring Washington D. C. , these attributes have been identified as key success factors for economic development. The organization can market these advantages to potential investors in order to get them to appreciate making investments in the city.
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