Diagnostic Case Study
This assessment task is designed to apply Operations Management principles, theories and models. You are to apply these to analyse the current operations of an organisation described in a short case study. The assignment requires you to write a succinct business report that identifies the operational issues in the case and develops an argument about their root causes. As such, your diagnostic business report presents a cause/effect argument that reflects the insights from extensive research within the academic literature relating to operations management. The objective is to identify and specify the problems that exist (do not try to solve the case study). Some research into the sector would also be beneficial.
Full details of the case and assignment requirements are available on the unit website.
Your diagnostic report will be assessed using a Marking Rubric according to the following criteria:
- Thorough understanding of relevant concepts, principles, theories, tools and models used in identifying the issues in the case study and diagnosing their causes: 45%
- Compelling expression of your evidence-based arguments: 30%
- Clear flow of thought throughout the paper with a clear and succinct purpose described in the introduction and a clear and succinct summary of the causes of the issues: 10%
- Critical analysis and integration of relevant academic insights from at least ten (10) academic journals: 10%
- Appropriate in text referencing and reference list. Adherence to APA formatting: 5%
- Report length 1500-words.
Submissions must be in Business Report format using Word with 1.5 line spacing and Times Roman 12 point font.
Referencing Style: American Psychological Association (APA)
Case Study: CQuest Marine Laboratory
Based on the Great Barrier Reef, CQuest Marine Laboratory (CQML) comprises a 600M2 floating platform permanently anchored alongside a coral Cay. CQML commenced as a marine laboratory with scientists studying the coral ecosystem and fish habitats. Now owned privately by Douglas and Amy Patterson, CQML was granted a marine park permit five years ago to share their eco-marine science venture with 120 tourists per trip. Since that time, they have contracted with a company that operates a catamaran (licensed to carry 100 people) to transport tourists the 30 nautical miles from Trinity Inlet in Cairns to the platform. They retain their 15-metre long two-masted schooner as a ‘mother-ship’ to support scientific expeditions away from the platform.
Winning an international tourism award in early 2017, Doug and Amy are keen to take their unique tourism experience to a new level. They are planning a $3M expansion which includes adding a second level to the platform to provide overnight accommodation for 10 tourists, in addition to the scientific staff of 4 that remain on the platform. The kitchen facility will need to expand as will the quality of the bathroom amenities. A permanent chef and two-person hospitality team will be required to provide butler-style services so the platform will need to function as both a marine laboratory (sea level) and a small boutique hotel (upper level). Amy is worried that the facility layout and fitout quality will be at odds with the high-end tourist expectations.
International tourism to Cairns has returned to pre-GFC levels. Hotels in Cairns are experiencing 95% occupancy levels; a new record. Seasonality of demand reflects holidays in the northern hemisphere meaning that the northern summer coincides with the best time to visit Cairns between May to October. Between November and April, tourism demand is more from Australia and New Zealand, coinciding with summer holidays in the southern hemisphere. This is also the monsoon season with cyclones a common threat. Managing the supply side is easy compared with fluctuating demand caused by media reports about the dangers from cyclones, salt-water crocodiles and marine stingers. Douglas wonders how ‘soft’ do experience-seeking tourists want CQML to be?
Doug and Amy have realised for some time that they are not optimising the value of the permits they have been granted. The permits allow 120 people to visit the platform at any one time. This means that if they could secure a faster catamaran, they could run two tourism rotations each day; one in the morning departing the platform at lunchtime, and one arriving for an afternoon tour as the morning group depart. This would effectively double their revenue. That said, two high-speed catamarans will be required so that only 120 people are on the platform at any time. How to manage the quality of the voyage to and from the platform is a concern.
With their current investment of $8M and planned $3M infrastructure expansion, Doug and Amy also realise that they are relying too much on the traditional tourism supply chain to source passenger loadings. The typical payment cycle is that CQML are paid by the tourism agents 90 days after the tourists have paid and experienced the day-trip. The retail price of a tour is $199 which includes lunch (morning tour) or canapes and wine (afternoon tour). Tour agents retain 40 per cent of the retail fee as their commission. They wonder if there is a better way to improve this aspect of the supply chain and also improve cash flows.
The operation of the existing platform juggles the movement of groups of tourists around the cellular layout of the marine laboratory. Underwater observation is also possible through a tubular walkway. Tourists able to swim can participate through snorkelling or diving tours. Dr Fiona Fullbright, leader of the scientific team, is struggling to maintain scientific output through her team. Sometimes she feels that they are becoming trained seals rather than engaging in science that will contribute to studying the impact of global warming. Her concern seems to be confirmed by the circulation of tourists becoming bottlenecked through the current day tour. If the plans proceed to two half-day tours where will the bottle-necks occur on the platform? More than that, what experiential activities will guests staying overnight expect to participate in? Doug and Amy are sympathetic to her concerns and wonder if there is a better flow design possible so that the uniqueness of the experience is preserved by having small groups rather than masses of people congregating in certain areas at specific times; lunchtime and embarkation for the return voyage to Cairns can be chaotic. So far they haven’t left anyone on the reef but this remains a concern at the back of their minds.
Managing the end-to-end experience for a tourist has been a further consideration. Their focus on value-adding activities has always centred on the platform and the eco-marine science interaction and experience for tourists. Going for volume through two half-day trips and a boutique overnight stay each day may diminish the scientific authenticity of CQML. They now realise that they need an operations manager to look at the whole tourism experience and advise them how they should proceed with their expansion plans, if at all. Specifically, they want to know if and how the reconfiguration of the experience can consistently delight the range of tourists they host and yet is still attractive for worldrenowned marine scientists to use as a field site.
End of Case