Friday, June 15, 2012

Thursday June 14th: VisitFlanders, International Accounting, and the Global Shipping Industry

Where there's a will there's a way. Today, I managed to squeeze my way into the VisitFlanders office early and land an interview with the marketing manager for domestic markets. I started off asking basic questions about product differentiation and competition and was told they didn't really have any competition because they are a government managed agency. The more I talk to companies in Belgium the more it seems that the government has cornered the marker on travel and tourism. When I asked how they promote the agency I received a similar answer in that everyone in Belgium knows the name and they don't have to worry about that either. So what do you worry about? The answer I received was that they focus most of their efforts now on foreign markets and how to attract more visitors to Belgium. I was under the impression the beer and chocolate did that which leaves little to do when you get to work as a marketer with no competition. I also conducted a short interview by phone and was asked to email further questions rather than making an appointment to come into the office. Hopefully I'll learn something new about the tourism industry in Brussels.
Dr. Shanklin took me to his favorite lunch spot in Brussels today for some fresh seafood. It was really amazing and we had a great conversation about the economic crisis and the current debate about the international accounting standards. He really helped me get focused on my upcoming paper for international accounting. Now it's time to get to work!
We also had a visit from a former shipping industry professional and friend of Dr. Lukosius who gave us the rundown on the industry. It was nice to have an overview of the shipping industry since there is a good chance we may to to Rotterdam next week. The most interesting bits of information were things you wouldn't find in a textbook, like which families control the largest companies, how the Greeks avoid tax cost, and things that shape the industry from within. Having class in this way is much more interesting than staring at power points and listening to lectures.