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GSB team leaves today for KPMG contest in Dallas

Accounting , Areas of Study , Event Recaps , Finance , Stories Students | Jan 17, 2013 |

by Farzana Ali (GSB ’15)

Offering students only 48 hours to rip through 20 pages of facts, figures and charts, the KPMG International Case Competition is unlike any other. Competitors identify and analyze key issues facing a business — this year, it was the travel-review web site TripAdvisor — and present recommendations to a panel of KPMG judges.

Ironically, the contest didn’t allow any use of the Internet!

Harnessing knowledge from strategy and marketing courses and inspiration from professor Barbara Porco, four sophomores’ ideas for TripAdvisor won them the campus title. They head to Dallas, Texas, today to compete tomorrow against students from other universities in the semifinals.

Representing the Gabelli School of Business are Farzana Ali (GSB ’15), Carl Chen (GSB ’15), Louis Murphy (GSB ’15) and Gabrielle Vella (GSB ’15). In Dallas, they will present a different case study after three hours of preparation. Having done this once for TripAdvisor ought to make the next round at least a little more approachable.

With TripAdvisor, first the team assessed the company’s core business, determining where the web site faced difficulty. They considered questions like: “What should TripAdvisor do about hotels that aren’t very visible in search results?” and “Should TripAdvisor expand its portfolio of local activities?”

The team also looked at a wide range of factors affecting TripAdvisor’s current and potential business: fierce competition in the airline industry; cross-cultural differences in consumer demographics and marketing in other countries from which it draws users, such as China; and trends in the vacation home rental sector.

Their recommendations included:

  • Integration of  smartphone apps, discounts and niche search categories into the TripAdvisor site
  • A campaign of Pandora and Spotify ads, paired with songs about travel or specific destinations
  • A plan for cooperation with Chinese government: “Think Global, Act Local”
  • A long-term strategy that starts with educating consumers

The team had good chemistry. Carl brought a unique outlook as an international student, Louis is heavily involved in Beta Alpha Psi, Gabrielle has done work within human resources and Farzana has experience with SWS finance competitions. They outperformed other Fordham groups even though two of the four members had another competition on the very same day as the campus round!

The Gabelli School of Business wishes the best of luck to our four representatives as they take on other schools in Dallas.


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