MBA Students Partner with Gervasi, Pro Football Hall of Fame in International Tourism Study


School News

This June, Walsh MBA students traveled to Italy in a unique global learning program focused on best practices in tourism and destination marketing with the goal to benefit two of Stark County’s most well-known attractions, Gervasi Vineyard and the Pro Football Hall of Fame. The trip was designed to provide an opportunity for students to study the best practices of the world’s most famous tourist attractions (including the Vatican and the Coliseum in Rome, Italy) and wineries across Tuscany, and then share that knowledge back home.

Led by Director of the MBA Program Dr. Michael Petrochuk, the seven students in the DeVille School of Business Master of Business Administration program studying Marketing and Global Business Conditions spent two weeks traveling to parts of Tuscany (including Florence and Siena) and areas around Rome to experience firsthand best practices in the tourism industry.

"The trip was preceded by five weeks of classroom preparation," said Walsh Director of the MBA Program Dr. Michael Petrochuk. "In our MBA program, we focus on global experiences as much as we can. This type of hands-on learning with a real world application is what makes our program unique. While in Italy, our students were able to look at things more broadly and gain first-hand knowledge about how culture can play a role in business."

MBA students in the Global Business Conditions class focused their research on Gervasi Vineyard by exploring strategic marketing initiatives related to Italian wineries and agriturismos. The group is working directly with Gervasi Vineyard’s General Manager, Scott Swaldo to evaluate the benefits related to destination marketing. Students gained in-depth knowledge of what it takes to be successful through visits to agriturismos, wineries and historical and religious cultural sites. Agriturismo marketing involves any agriculturally based operation or activity that brings visitors to a farm or ranch.

"I especially noticed the cultural differences in the workplace," said MBA student Katie Tignor, Research and Development Technician at FreshMark, Inc. "In the U.S., we are definitely more driven by money and marketability. In Europe, they seem to operate their businesses with the belief that if you share what you love, the money will come. For example, I noticed that museums in Italy offer free admission to everyone one Sunday each month. That is how they pull in their locals. Not only does it increase traffic for the museum, it provides a boost in local sales for restaurants nearby, transportation services or even the local shops. They may be giving away something for free, but the result makes it a success in their minds."  

MBA students in the Marketing class studied traditional marketing strategies of Italian tourist sites - identifying best practices that could be leveraged to increase the number of visitors to the Pro Football Hall of Fame. The students are working directly with Director of Hall of Fame Experiences & Tourism, Susan Campbell to evaluate marketing strategies to attract guests who visit Ohio’s Amish Country.

While in Italy, the group met with several tourism officials including the Uffizi Museum Director of Marketing, the Rome Convention and Visitors Bureau, the Director of VIP Tours at the Coliseum, officials at the Vatican Museum, and various wineries and agriturismo destinations throughout Florence and Rome. The students also attended the June 14 Papal Audience and toured the Vatican’s La Scavi.

Upon their return to the United States, the students formally presented their strategic marketing proposals to both Gervasi Vineyard and the Pro Football Hall of Fame on July 25.