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Research Reflection Report

Based on an Example of Students's Work

EXECUTIVE SUMMARY

Learnings from a research are very important for a researcher in the sense that the mistakes committed in the current research should not be repeated in future. Moreover, a research makes numerous contributions to the researcher’s knowledge. The report given below is a sum of all the learnings that took place while conducting a research on the marketing strategies to be employed by Camp Wahanowin.

The First section comprises of the various research methods and processes used in the research and how they helped the researcher in progressing effectively with the study. The second section includes how different literary sources proved to be helpful in the research and how the researcher learned to screen out relevant and important sources from a sea of literature.

The third section consists of the knowledge gained by the learner from conducting this study. A research contributes greatly to the existing knowledge of the researcher. This section summarizes all that up. The fourth part includes the specific learnings that the researcher learnt from undertaking the MBA program. An MBA program has lot to offer to students in terms of practical knowledge and learning. The fourth part demonstrates those learnings.
Apart from this, the critical success and failure factors identified through this study have also been presented in critical thinking and ideas section. There were many barriers met by the researcher during the course of this study. All such barriers have been summarized in a different section named barriers met. The professional development of the researcher that took place by undertaking this study has also been listed down in form of key skills derived. The success in meeting the research objectives as well as personal objectives has also been cited in the following paragraphs. The findings and outcomes of the study have also been presented.
Finally the report consummates with a concluding paragraph.

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RESEARCH REFLECTION REPORT

1. Research Methods and Processes

The research methodology used in this report has various components in it. Firstly, positivist philosophy has been applied. This report related to the identification of appropriate marketing strategies and the target audience to be targeted by these strategies in order to shoot up the number of enrolments for camp Wahanowin. The philosophy of positivism has been applied here as data and facts will be accumulated through surveying the parents of campers and then analyzing the data so collected with help of certain tools (McBurney and White, 2009). Survey and other similar methods lay stress on facts and figures and formulating a hypothesis thereafter and finally evaluating these facts. Positivist philosophy derives its roots from the fact that all that happens in a company is feasible to be explored by studying the system or the people therein. It stresses on the need to review the existing realities for forming actual understanding. Normally when surveys are conducted on a big sample then this philosophy is usually made use of (Jackson, 2008).
Secondly, exploratory research has been conducted for the purpose of this study. The area of this research involved the discovery of relevant marketing communications and promotional strategies that would be useful in increasing the number of enrolments in camp Wahanowin. An exploratory research emphasizes on developing an understanding in context of the problem in hand pertaining to specific backdrop. The nature of the current research is quite exploratory and insights can be obtained only when the data is gathered through interviews, discussions and reviewing the literary sources (Walliman, 2011).

Thirdly, surveys have been used as the source of collecting data which is a quantitative approach. The appropriateness of survey is in its organized and planned layout for all the respondents. For the purpose of survey a properly structured set of questionnaire was formulated containing both open and close ended questions. This helped in gaining deeper and varied insights into the respondents’ answers. Secondary data was collected from authentic online sources and books. Collection of secondary data is particularly important as it provided me with a sound background to the topic in hand (Crowther and Lancaster, 2012).

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Fourthly, qualitative data analysis using themes has been used. The relevance of using this technique is that dynamic processes could be mapped, data was gathered in natural settings and it facilitated study of the particular case in depth. It also provided a description and understanding of the personal experiences of the people. Hence, this technique was considered as the most appropriate although it lacked the mathematical accuracy of quantitative analysis.
The sampling technique used for this report was stratified random sampling. With help of this the number of plausible samples was restricted to a less extreme extent and it was made sure that every part of the population is represented by the selected sample for the purpose of increasing the efficiency. Formation of strata was reasonably justified for this report as the sample size was large and I had to take the survey of both the parents and their children (Research Methods, n.d). Hence, dividing them into two strata and then randomly selecting respondents from them was the obvious choice. Simple random sampling will not have been applicable here as it would have resulted in chaos in data collection. Other sampling techniques would have been too complicated. Division in strata facilitated a specific direction for carrying out the research.

2. Literature and Sources

A number of literary sources were reviewed by me while carrying out this research. Through these sources I was able to obtain a background of my research problem. Information was gathered from the secondary sources regarding the research methodology and the various marketing strategies that can be employed by management of Camp Wahanowin to influence its target segment. As already stated above the secondary sources made use of are books, magazines, online reference materials and journals (Secondary Sources are not Second, n.d).
Firstly, by going through books on research methodology, different approaches to research were identified. In addition to this, the different methods of data collection, data analysis, sampling techniques and the ethical considerations were learnt. From among the various methods available their applicability in the current report was gauged and the relevant methods were used. Research methodology is the crux of every research and it is very important to get it right (Thomas, 2010). There are several methods present which can be applied to one single situation. For instance, there are a number of sampling techniques which can be employed on a population. To identify the exact sampling technique has been possible only through an in depth study of the books and journals on research methodology. Similarly, the two methods of data analysis are also used as a compliment with each other. Which out of these two methods will be feasible in the current study has also been analyzed through the secondary sources only (Primary vs. Secondary Sources, 2011).

The information on the summer camp industry of Ontario was obtained from newspaper articles and online reference materials. These sources provided extensive knowledge into the sector and helped me learn about the small specifications of the industry. The factors critical to the success and failure of camps in this sector have been identified through these sources only. The numerous alternatives to summer camps although found out by primary research have also been read online and a match was then created between the responses and the reference material. The marketing strategies that have been recommended are based on the responses of the parents, yet they have their origin from the secondary sources only (Secondary Sources are not Second, n.d). The secondary sources have proven very beneficial in providing a background to the research problem. With help of these, the correct direction was possible to be followed.

By and large, the review of different literary sources proved to be very crucial for the purpose of my research. These sources provided deeper insights into the real world of summer camps and the environment in which they operate. Through these sources it was identified that the summer camp industry has hit a saturation point and the failure rate is quite high. For the camps to maximize their enrolments there was a dire need to differentiate the offerings or devise a new marketing plan. This industry background was very helpful in drafting a suitable marketing strategy for the camp. The bibliography in certain literatures also helped in locating other significant secondary sources (Thomas, 2010). For the successful completion of primary research also, secondary sources were very important.

3. My Knowledge

By taking this research work, comprehensive and extensive understanding has been acquired. The major knowledge that has been gained pertains to the summer camps and various marketing initiatives that summer camps may take to influence its target segment. The world of summer camps is not as simple as it appears to be. Knowledge has also been gained about being able to decide which target segment should actually be targeted by the camps so that fruitful results can be achieved. Targeting the wrong segment can have sweeping negative impacts on the future enrolments of the camp. Hence, the nuances relating to the decision regarding selection of appropriate target segment have been learnt. A summer camp faces competition not only from other summer camps but also from various other alternatives. These alternatives might be specialty camps, community colleges and university, library programs and several others. Identification of these alternative options was of great importance as it helped in widening the scope of the problem at hand. The research question could be looked at from the different perspective. If concentration was paid only on the summer camps and then a marketing strategy was devised it would not have solved the purpose completely. Looking at the problem from a different viewpoint helped me in developing deeper insights into the problem. A comprehensive list of marketing strategies which would also cater to this problem of alternatives to summer camps was learnt to be developed by me.

Most importantly, the knowledge of how to effectively manage project i.e. managerial process skills has been acquired by me during this work. It is not a cakewalk to complete a research work. It requires lot of management. Hence, I was able to develop this set of skills during the course of this project. Apart from this, as the main area of focus was to develop marketing strategies, I find myself more capable of doing a marketing job. My strategic vision and thinking have improved by large. Being a novice in the field of research, earlier my behavior lacked some basic behavior. However, now with the completion of this project, I have gained some experience which has also affected my primary behavior and made me more responsible towards my job.
In addition to these, identifying a potential new segment of customers and how to influence them was also learnt while carrying out this research. The potential new segment in this case was the international clientele. The ways in which the popularity of the camp can be increased overseas was comprehended by me. The manner in which word of mouth publicity can be explicitly useful for summer camps was also learnt by me.

The knowledge gained by me in the current research will also be useful in future researches to come as I now have an extensive knowledge regarding marketing strategies and how to influence the target segment with those strategies. Lastly, I gained thorough knowledge of camp Wahanowin as it was the object of my research.

4. My Learning

In the entire curriculum of MBA, several procedures and strategies for the effective functioning and management of business are learnt. During this course of this field of study different case studies and books are discussed that give deeper insights into the primary and core management functions. With help of these insights a person becomes capable of organizing and performing the relevant tasks required for smooth functioning of a business. Training is given to students by experts for the development of strategies in context of a product or a service and their imminent promotion in the market. The MBA program is mainly intended towards imbibing the skills of effectively planning, organizing, directing, controlling and evaluating.
Furthermore, different research methods that can be used in research have also been learnt by me in this course. These methods provided me direction to conduct research and collecting information from the sample population. In addition to this, the data analysis part was also learned by me i.e. the different approaches to find the final outcomes of the research. The art of planning was also acquired as pre-scheduling of activities was studied. Several management books were gone through which provided sufficient knowledge on how to make a suitable plan. Training has been imparted relating to effective management of time, managing the entire work within the budget, breaking up the entire process in smart and achievable goals. Such targets are formulated to determine the efficiency of the prepared plan.

Finally, the most crucial thing learnt by me during this program was risk management and contingency plan preparation. In the global competitive environment, uncertainties persist which can hamper the entire business plan and result in huge losses. Hence, it is quite imperative to be skilled in contingency plan preparation in the planning phase itself.
The learning mentioned above has proved to be immensely helpful in carrying out the current research. Mainly the process of devising marketing strategies for the appropriate target segment was done by me. In addition to this, as the topic was novel and not much secondary data was available on it still I managed to successfully complete the research project. The different research methods learnt by me in the curriculum for collecting information proved to be effective in developing awareness about different areas. Therefore, it can be stated that theoretical knowledge has proved to be effectual in realistic application of models and theories in practical situations.

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5. Critical Thinking and Ideas

On carrying out this research, assessment plus evaluation of various evidences and proposing recommendations, the most significant finding has been that it is imperative to discover the critical success and failure factors for the summer camp industry in Ontario, Canada. These factors and the various marketing strategies need considerable recognition as the summer camp market though appears to be uncomplicated, is quite intricate in nature. It has been discovered that the summer camp industry is very saturated in nature and the camps need to badly distinguish themselves from each other in order to survive (Camilleri, 2011). The failure rate is quite high in this market as camps fail to differentiate their offerings and marketing strategies. Hence, before progressing ahead in this industry it is quite important to acknowledge the chief success and failure factors of this sector. Such critical factors are all about making the strategic choices, identifying the competitive factors, being aware of the capabilities and resources and doing effective marketing (Belassi and Tukel, 1996).

Any marketing plan or strategy however effective will not be productive and worthwhile if the management has not undertaken an assessment of the factors which contribute towards the failure and success of the company. A thorough understanding of such elements helps the management in charting out a proper course of action and places the fundamentals carefully. These success and failure factors are critically important for the accomplishment of the overall aim and the underlying objectives of the company (Pesacreta, n.d). If the management doesn’t have adequate knowledge of these factors then it will adversely impact the business in the future. The team will not be prepared at that time to devise a contingency plan to meet these problems. Being aware of things that might prove to be roadblock aids the managers in countering them and steer clear of them completely in the times to come. Likewise, the main success factors are those elements which are required to go well if the prosperity and ongoing success of the business is to be ensured. Hence, it relates to those areas which need particular and constant attention to ascertain high levels of performance. Therefore, these are those factors which the management must focus on to ensure ongoing success (Hopkins, 2012).

This aspect has acted as a critical add on to my existing understanding and knowledge as many companies be it summer camps or big corporate houses fail to acknowledge this small but an essential factor and ultimately fail to protract the success and sustenance of their business. In addition to this, success factors should not be confused with success criteria.

6. Barriers met

While undertaking and conducting a research, some barriers are always encountered. Certain barriers or impediments have also been run into while carrying out this research. The first and foremost barrier relates to the unavailability of adequate secondary information on the topic under consideration. As the study is quite new in itself and no major research work has been done on this subject matter previously, it was hard to find literary sources that could have been useful. Hence, collecting information was a bit tedious job. Moreover, online reference materials and books and articles had to be relied upon for major things and to make major assumptions (Wiley and Herman, 2011). The authenticity and reliability of the data so collected might have suffered because of this. One more problem which was encountered while carrying out this research was the presence of researcher’s individual prejudices and biasness. As the primary data was collected using survey method and its analysis being done using thematic approach, certain assumptions were made. The very nature of qualitative analysis suffers from the problem of researcher’s individual biasness. Hence, although there interactions with parents still in some cases assumptions had to be made. The results and findings didn’t have the accuracy of mathematical analysis. In addition to this, survey and discussion with children were conducted. Children are already naïve and by basing our interpretations on their responses, the validity could have again suffered. Furthermore, the personal biasness of respondents might also have crept in. (Harris and Roberts, 2003). At times the personal biasness of researcher could also have been present and reasonable justification for each and everything could not have been furnished. Time limitation was yet another obstacle to the effective completion of this research. The available time for carrying out this research was short and limited. To carry out a study on such wide ranging and analytical subject matter significant amount of time is required. Due to this, the interest of the researcher is affected and he tries to wrap up things fast (Verhoef and et.al., 2010). Yet another roadblock was the mortality rate of participants. This refers to the risk of participants withdrawing from the research in between i.e. before the completion of the research. Certain respondents withdrew even before the actual study commenced. This resulted in the wastage of both time and resources plus I lost on some potential good respondents from whom detailed insights could have been obtained. Direct access to desired reference material was not a cakewalk either. There are some obstacles which act as gatekeepers and they block access to many websites on which important and relevant material related to our research was present. Final barrier met was related to the non availability of sufficient financial resources which is the life blood for every research work (Wiley and Herman, 2011). Lack of adequate funds, act as an impediment to the effective conduct and completion of a research project.

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7. My Professional Development

The following important management skills and lessons were learnt by me from undertaking this research:

Consistent personal development skills – Theoretical knowledge will not be of much use if it is not backed up sufficient practical and real world knowledge. For the effective completion of this particular study several types of activities and functions were assumed by me. The main among them relate to scheduling, planning, evaluation, assessment, selecting the appropriate research methods and approaches and several others. These activities proved to be of considerable significance for the development of my personal abilities and skills as I was constantly involved in some or the other crucial activities that assisted me in gaining precious understanding about various different areas (Sangster, 2000).

Communication Skills – By carrying out this research, my interpersonal and communication skills have improved greatly. I had to interact with many parties during this research. Interacting with parents was still relatively easy as they have reasons and logic to their statements. Interacting and being able to get the desired responses from children was a meticulous task as they are masters of their own world. Hence, I learnt on how to interact with people of varied natures and attitudes and still being able to get the desired results. The virtue of patience was also developed by me during this course. While these interactions with parents and their young ones both verbal and non verbal communication was used by me which assisted me in learning the fine nuances of this skill (Tomlinson, 2004).

Time Management & Planning skilfulness – Time management and planning are the two most important management skills which are necessary for every management student to learn and imbibe. This particular set of skills refer to the dexterousness of managing and planning work in lines with the time available in hand so that all the tasks are concluded in the given time period and deadlines are met efficiently. The art of pre-scheduling all the activities assisted me in designing pertinent plans (Throop and Castellucci, 2009).

Organizational skills – There is no research which is free from some or the other sort of limitation, whether inherent or external. The same was experienced by me as well during the conduct of this research. Several inherent limitations were there. However, the presence of all these only helped me in improving my skills. I learnt the skill of making \optimum utilization of resources and derive the best results out of everything. Certain resources which were available in limited quantity have been used optimally by me to fruitfully suit the needs of the research work (Integrated Personal Development, n.d).

8. Objectives

Objectives can be defined as the underlying goals which are desired to be achieved by an organization or an individual in a stipulated time frame with the available resources which will ultimately help in the realization of the aim of the research. The MBA program is intended towards cultivating and nurturing the requisite competencies, abilities, knowledge and skills to emerge as a successful manager and leader. It is an extensive discipline which covers wide ranging knowledge pertaining to several managerial subjects which are important for moving forward in one’s professional career instead of simply passing on technical training for a specific job position (CourtneyP, n.d). The main objectives behind the very existence of this course for a student are to achieve and strengthen their foundation pertaining to the core and basic competencies which will help him/her in evolving themselves as capable managers.
All through this research study, various advancements and career developments objectives coupled with the overall objectives of the case have been accomplished. The principal aim of the major research project was to identify the appropriate target segment of Wahanowin and to evaluate the various marketing communications and promotional strategies that would be useful in increasing the number of enrolments. This study has been carried out following a problem solving approach. The intention is to comprehensively analyze and evaluate the several facets of marketing and business development. Hence, chiefly several marketing strategies have been furnished by taking into account all the relevant factors. The main objectives of the research study were:

To identify which target segment has more influence on decisions relating to choice of camps.

To identify which options are plausible to be implemented immediately.

To identify the prospects of targeting international customers.

To identify which promotional strategies will render maximum augmentation in number of enrolments.

Development of communication and interpersonal skills.

The ability to work effectively in a diverse global business environment, and

Understanding the relevance of internet of effective marketing (Personal Skills Development, 2010).

9. Findings and Outcomes

The core of every research study lies in its findings and outcomes. These are the results of the final conclusive research report. Based on the research findings, recommendations are made to make improvements in the existing process and avoid the same mistakes in future. In context of the present research, the findings are not only useful particularly for this study but these can also be adopted in the similar type of cases in the future which belong to the same industry or have similar settings.
Findings: It was identified that camp Wahanowin was very popular among both the parents and the children but it lagged behind in its marketing strategies. Its website was last updated ten years ago. Traditional media marketing is now an old concept and parents are in search of technologically updated ways of getting informed. It was also identified that the parents are the major target segment to be targeted with the new marketing and promotional strategies as it is their final decision to send their kids to a particular camp. In addition to this, there are plenty of other options available with parents on deciding how their child will spend his/her summers. International clientele are also a viable prospect that can be targeted as the camp has positive image among them.
Recommendations: It was recommended that the management of the camp should target the parents of campers and devise a marketing strategy targeted towards this segment. The primary reason for selecting parents as the potential target segment is that they have a huge role in sending their kids to the camp. Targeting parents would result in free word of mouth publicity in the sense that if the camp is successful in convincing the parents of the benefits that can be reaped by their children then there will be a newfound association between the parents and the camps. Making only small changes in the existing website will not be the correct decision. Its complete overhauling is recommended. The concept of Waha TV is also a very innovative online concept and highly recommended. This will be a good replacement to the traditional video yearbook. It is also suggested that traditional means of advertising should not be used for promoting the camp. The cost would be too much and there are other viable and resourceful substitutes in place like social media marketing. There was also a need for the camp to make changes in its overall offerings.
The above mentioned findings and recommendations are quite practicable for me as they helped me in devising a proper format for writing down the findings and giving effective recommendations. Writing down interpretations from the data analysis is a very complex task and I was able to learn nuances to do it. Providing rational recommendations is also an art which has been learnt by me during this research study.

CONCLUSION

Hence, it can be concluded that there has been immense addition to my knowledge and learning. I have been able to develop some key skills such as communication, time management and planning and etc. which contributed to my professional development. The barriers met by me in course of this research only added to my experience and I am now in a better position to deal with such impediments. I have learnt how to conduct a research in an effective as well as systematic manner. Thus, this research has made several contributions to my overall personality (Mayer, 2011). 

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