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Melbourne Business School News Food and wine tourism box idea inspired by COVID-19 restrictions

Food and wine tourism box idea inspired by COVID-19 restrictions

An idea born out of travel restrictions to deliver a regional weekend getaway in a box has won this year's Visit Victoria Case Competition.

Dubbed The Dream Team, the winning team of Part-time MBA students included Maggie Lam, Edith Cheng, Emily Schilg, Jerom Lotscher and John Philipson, who first bonded over their love of wine, travel and fine dining.

"We were discussing organising a winery tour to celebrate end-of-exams with our MBA colleagues, however COVID-19 hindered our plans," says Maggie, a national consultant support manager at IPAR.

"We noticed that during the restrictions, some businesses offered at-home wine tasting, sending out two bottles of wine for people to try. There was a lack of variety and therefore, in our opinion, it failed to recreate the regional weekend getaway experience people were after.

"We thought it would be great if people could order smaller pre-portioned tasting sizes of everything that a Victorian region was known for, so they could determine which regional businesses they'd like to purchase from and visit once restrictions eased.

"From there, our competition idea for 'Vic in a Box' was born."

Hosted by Melbourne Business School, the Visit Victoria Case Competition puts students' strategy and analysis skills to the test by urging them to find viable solutions to real business challenges in Victoria's visitor economy and major events industry.

The idea impressed the Visit Victoria judges – which included Former Tourism Victoria Chairman John Kennedy – for its customer choice, practicality and cost.

"Our idea was fleshed out over many enthusiastic discussions; like our team's namesake, we let our dreams run free," Maggie says.

"We had discussed how every facet of it would work in the real world, including marketing, pricing, customer profiles, payment security, gamifying the experience, brand loyalty, demand, warehousing, order fulfilment, data storage, analysis of sales data, potential profit margins, and international expansion.

"We conducted online research into the grocery and meal box markets, as well as researching the current offerings available that would be competitors to 'Vic in a Box'."

When selected as finalists in the case competition, the Dream Team knew they couldn't sell their idea just on PowerPoint slides alone.

"The case competition was judged differently this year, so we were not given the opportunity to pitch our ideas in a face-to-face presentation, which led us to film our presentation to share our excitement for 'Vic in a Box' with the judges," she says.

The students leveraged their diverse range of skills and experience to bring the concept to life.

"Each of us works in different industries and we were able to provide unique insights to working with or being a consumer of certain businesses, which we would need to target should we genuinely pursue our idea," she says.

"For example, one of us had worked with Visit Victoria before, whilst others brought business knowledge of product management, law, finance, marketing, arts and customer experience."

A key part of the idea was how to engage potential stakeholders should 'Vic in a Box' be realised.

"We looked at how stakeholders could register their expression of interest on a website, the tendering process, email and social media marketing, which we shared in our business plan and presentation,"  she says.

"We showed our belief that 'Vic in a Box' is an effective way for Visit Victoria, regional businesses and the arts community to share in the upsurge in revenue enjoyed by meal-kit providers and the online grocery market to recuperate lost revenue from decreased tourism caused by travel restrictions."

The Dream Team outshone their fellow classmate competitors, which included runners up Green Shoots – Prakhar Gupta, Anthony Caruana, Erin Knight, Bianca Eden, Pamela Carrigg – and in third place The Business Casual – Michael Ting and Sam Russell.

The Visit Victoria Case Competition runs annually for Full-time MBA and Part-time MBA students at Melbourne Business School.

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