Archive for the ‘Holidays’ Category

Time to stop roaming!

September 3, 2014

Train from New 'York to New Jersey

I’m on the train heading from from New York, Penn Station to Metro Park in New Jersey.

I have no online access so what do we do ?? No Twitter, no Facebook, no checking email… I’m twitching , I’ve read the New York guide book and the magazines.

Maybe I’ll relax, look out the window, explore the interesting sights on the route that is new to me … Maybe I’ll chat with Dee or just relax and sit in peace?

The teenage girl we are squeezed next to alongside our bags and baggage is busy on her Mac doing something while munching on a cream cheese and tomato roll. I wonder if she is working or just doodling.

Instead of enjoying the view I decide to write this blog remotely on my iPhone complete with one finger typing.

My brother who lives out here is picking us up at the station and we’ll spend some time with him and his gang, which is really cool.

If I could get online I could tweet something, check if anyone has tweeted me or mentioned me in a post or responded to one of my tweets, I could check my email quickly and delete any of the non-important ones to save me having to do it when we get home. I could even respond to some of the emails.

That roll is lasting her forever … I’m starving !!

Maybe I should just look out the window and enjoy the new sights..

Smartphone, I guess so … Well mostly !

Greg Canty is a partner of Fuzion

Greg Canty is a Partner of Fuzion who offer Marketing, PR and Graphic Design services from our offices in Dublin and Cork

Strawberry Fields forever?

September 2, 2014

Imagine - Central Park

Four days in New York …where do you start?

We were staying quite close to Central Park so that was a good place to start. Looking at our tour guide I was drawn to a quiet little area called Strawberry Fields, which was described in our guide book as a peaceful spot dedicated to John Lennon who was murdered close-by outside his New York apartment, the Dakota building in 1980.

Interesting ..

Off we headed on foot winding left and right through the park in between joggers, cyclists, skateboarders and even cars … Through the park there were footpaths and wider roads all winding in different directions. Eventually we exited the park and this maze of roads and paths onto the Upper West Side and decided to first find the Dakota building, his apartment which was located directly opposite the Strawberry Fields location in the park.

Yoko Ono still lives in this opulent apartment building, which looks majestically over Central Park. The friendly security guards in their smart grey uniforms stand for photos in front of the impressive building for tourists… behind them you can see the obvious wealth and you can just ‘imagine‘ what it was like having famous neighbours John and Yoko pass you everyday going about their everyday business.

We passed on taking photos (tacky!) and headed across the way into the park and within two minutes we were at ‘Strawberry Fields‘ which effectively is a discreet circular mosaic set into the walkway with the words ‘Imagine‘ in the centre. People were walking by, some were stopping and taking photos, taking it in turn to stand on the mosaic and others were sitting on the park benches located next to the mosaic taking it all in.

An enterprising busker was sitting on one of the benches in prime position next to the mosaic playing (quite badly!) one Beatles cover after another.

Yoko Ono donated the mosaic in memory of her husband and it gives us all a tangible way of remembering this talented, thought provoking Liverpudlian and reflecting on the needless violence that ended his life.

John LennonJohn Lennon wanted us to ‘Give Peace a Chance‘ as he sang in his immortal song of the same name that became an anthem for the anti-war movement in America in the 1970’s.

In the mosaic the word ‘Imagine‘ reminds us of his message in that timeless song of how simple life could be if we just lived in harmony:

Imagine no possessions,
I wonder if you can,
No need for greed or hunger,
A brotherhood of man,
Imagine all the people
Sharing all the world…..”

Just as we quietly reflected on John Lennon and his simple messages of peace we heard raised voices.

What the f**k, you have been here for an hour man, you know we all get an hour. Now it’s my turn so get the f**k out of here

Apparently busking here is lucrative business and the busker next in the rota wasn’t going to lose out to the guy who had prime position. He wasn’t shy either and gave the other guy as good as he got:

F**k you man

The mood was now quite aggressive and these two had no bother putting on a performance for all of us that was slightly against the spirit of John Lennon!

We politely moved on before the temperature rose any further and went about our day and wondered if John Lennon’s simple idea of living in harmony is just impossible?

Isis. the Ukraine, human nature, consider what’s going on in the world today ….maybe we just can’t help ourselves?

Greg Canty is a partner of Fuzion

Greg Canty is a Partner of Fuzion who offer Marketing, PR and Graphic Design services from our offices in Dublin and Cork

Time for Stargazing

May 27, 2014

Sicily - Stargazing

Departure lounge in Catania, Sicily …. Holiday all but done.

Where in the name of god did that time go? What is it about holidays that makes them rocket by in a flash and yet it seems like we have been away for weeks even though it has only been 10 days.

I don’t really like going away early in the summer because I always like something to look forward to – we have been grinding it out since the start of the year (as always) so it was either go in May when we can still get a bargain or wait till September, when we would be ready to all fall down.

This time was really special in that my kids (young adults at this stage) came with us for most of it and that hasn’t happened in a long time.

It wasn’t all bliss as I got caught out stupidly with sunburn on my ankle, which was really painful and made getting around awkward but other than that it was a fantastic break.

We enjoyed the really fabulous Minareto Hotel complex just outside Siracusa, a really nice town, as well as a brief visit to the town of Noto, our stay in a fabulous villa on the North coast, the really gorgeous town of Cefalu including the spectacular coastal drive there but most of all I enjoyed the fabulous time just chilling out with my gang.

The perfect moments were spent all of us on the loungers at the villa late in the evening sitting in the dark, sipping on vino, chatting about god knows what and stargazing..

Why don’t we take time to stargaze together at home?

Greg Canty

Greg Canty is a Partner of Fuzion who offer Marketing, PR and Graphic Design services from our offices in Dublin and Cork

 

 

Sicily and the Manager of first impressions

May 27, 2014

Sicily

Dee is the absolute best at holiday arrangements – she looks after everything and every year we have the best time when we go away.

I can’t stand picking through brochures and websites but she loves it and locks down every detail including great places to visit, excellent accommodation and this time she even managed discounted advance parking at Dublin airport!

Months in advance she managed to get a great deal on a cabriolet car rental and she double checked this with the car hire company, Atlas Choice a few days before we were about to fly out. Car hire can be a little hit and miss in particular when you can get the car you booked “or similar”, which is a term that is quite open to interpretation.

Dee had booked a Renault Megane cabriolet and the plan was we were to collect it at Catania airport after our evening flight and then drive to our hotel, which was an hour away. All going well we would be sipping on a cocktail before 10pm looking out at the Mediterranean and up the next day spinning around the coast with the top down and the wind in our hair!!

I am sorry, there is a problem with your car and we will have to give you something else” our lady from OS Car Rental said (these were the local agent for Atlas Choice car rental).

But we confirmed this with you just two days ago?” we said…what was the point?

There is nothing I can do except give you a bigger car, a Kia Sportage” was her solution and hopefully they would deliver the replacement car to our hotel in a few days.

Hmm..You just couldn’t trust this crew judging by the girls attitude – at this stage she was really annoyed that we would not just accept what she was giving us and move on and out of her way.

She asked us to sign a contract for the Kia Sportage for the duration of the hire. We weren’t very happy being presented with a ‘contract’ that would technically lock us to this car. “We will sign it if you note on it that you will change the car as promised in a few days“.

At this stage she totally lost it “I sign nothing” complete with hands waving and extravagant gesturing ….”If you want a car tonight you sign the contract and take the Kia“. At one point she tore the contract out of Dee’s hand as she saw that we were going to write a note on it.

I was so amused at this point that I managed to get her to repeat her “I sign nothing” performance but this time I recorded her – if anyone from her company gives a toss about customer survive they will enjoy this!

Hotels booked and paid for and getting nowhere fast with our Sicilian friend and determined that she wasn’t going to muck up the start of our holiday we relented ….20 minutes later we rolled out of the car park in something we wouldn’t have booked in a 1,000 years with 114,000 miles on the clock.

Our first thoughts were that Sicily was a big con job and we were on high alert – what were we to expect next?

Thankfully we got the friendliest welcome from the hotel, which was much better than we could have expected and we had our cocktails a little later than planned! We were too late for dinner but the kitchen managed a club sandwich for us.

My daughter Ellen and her boyfriend arrived to Sicily the following evening and got stung paying a €96 euros charge for ‘outside normal hours‘ collection of their car and were thinking ‘what next‘. They had a frustrating hour trying to argue that people coming off a regular evening flight to collect a pre-booked car was quite normal and should not incur a penalty. Con job?

My son Brendan and his girlfriend arrived to Sicily a few days later and got caught with a €25 taxi bill for a 2 minute ride to their hotel. When they questioned the amount he grabbed their suitcase and threw it in the boot of his car until they coughed up. Rachel’s first thought was ‘I just want to go back home‘.

First Impressions All three of us had a lousy first impression of Sicily, which thankfully was replaced quickly by some fantastic ones.

Should every country, every place and every business have a ‘Manager of first impressions‘ to make sure that your first impression is great because that first impression lasts?

Greg Canty

Greg Canty is a Partner of Fuzion who offer Marketing, PR and Graphic Design services from our offices in Dublin and Cork

Do you check your emails on holidays?

May 27, 2014

emails on holidays

The big dilemmawhen you are on leave should you even dare to check your emails?

I was always of the view that during this precious time you owe it to yourself to totally wind down, refresh your mind, forget totally about work.

I believed that checking emails or ringing the office to see how everything is going would make this necessary rest impossible so it should be totally avoided. My big fear was that one email could totally ruin my day and switch my mind onto work so it was better to totally avoid this from happening.

I did this for years quite diligently but now I find that it is better to quickly check my emails every day while I am away. This is easier because I know we have a great team that we can trust with anything so if something does crop up I am happy to forward on any issues to them knowing they will be sorted, so it never ruins my break.

The problem is do I really get to switch off fully this way and does peeping at those emails ruin the benefit of the break?

Let’s look at the email dilemma in detail..

Reasons why you should avoid checking your emails?

1. You need a total break, which will refresh you – this is good for you and the business
2. You could easily get dragged into an issue if you allow it to happen
3. When people see you are responding they can’t resist asking you to engage on something
4. It has the potential to ruin your holiday
5. Everything can wait …..let whatever it is wait

Reasons why you should check your emails..

1. It’s your business so you should mind it
2. A few minutes a day can help clear down a colossal backlog when you get back
3. Potential issues can be sorted quickly and your team know you can help if necessary
4. Clients are assured that you are still overseeing things
5. You have no nagging worries when you return to work because you have kept yourself in the loop

In truth I don’t want to get dragged into any issues and break from my ‘switch off‘ but I do feel its an easier way of dealing with a backlog and if necessary I will delegate any important things as they occur.

I justify this approach as it is my business but I genuinely wouldn’t want any of my crew checking their emails when they are off – I want them to take their well deserved breaks, which is good for them and for the business.

What do you do?

Greg Canty

Greg Canty is a Partner of Fuzion who offer Marketing, PR and Graphic Design services from our offices in Dublin and Cork

How’s it going?

May 14, 2014

“How’s it going?” a bright face looked up at me.

I had a busy day yesterday…

Up early for a meeting to help mediate a problem between two parties that I know well that were about to go through a silly court process, gave a social media course to a group of business owners, drove to Dublin for a big pitch to a potential prospect – I feel it went well, fingers crossed!

We headed for an early bird to Chez Max on Baggot Street with our crew and were joined after by friends for a few drinks and some fun.

We ended up in 37, Dawson Street for more fun and then Burger king of course.

There was a beautiful full moon hanging over Dublin on this gorgeous night as we strolled back to our hotel. Our usual haunt was booked out so we ended up trading up to the very fancy, Merrion Hotel. Hotels in Dublin are clearly getting busier, which is a great sign for our economy.

As we made our way back to the hotel I noticed the bodies nestled in their sleeping bags alongside doorways just off Stephen’s Green. At least tonight it was dry and not too cold, which is a small blessing for those unfortunate enough not to have a roof over their heads for the night.

I glanced into one doorway where i noticed there were two people sleeping alongside each other.

To my surprise a bright face was staring up at me. For a brief moment we connected “How’s it going?” he said in a soft friendly voice. “Not bad at all, thanks”

We made our way back to our hotel and put our heads down for the night.

Today it’s off to Dublin Airport as we are taking a flight to Sicily for a well earned rest and some sunshine – it should be great, we’ve never been.

I wonder what my bright faced friend is doing today.

Greg Canty

Greg Canty is a partner of Fuzion, Marketing & PR with offices in Cork and Dublin

The Hug Test

January 5, 2014

Hugs at work

It’s New Year’s Day and that end of the long break/going back to work cloud descends on me as it always does.

I love the Christmas break, possibly even more than the summer break and when it comes to an end it does bother me even though I love what I do – those days of doing nothing, hanging around the house and relaxing are so enjoyable but at some point you have to get back to reality.

When I started to think more about the first day back I started to look forward to seeing our crew again. While the break was great it would be good to see them all again and catch up.

During the course of a year we spend a lot of time together and it’s natural that you get to know everyone quite well and you do form special relationships, even if it is predominantly in a work context.

The more I thought about seeing the crew again I thought about greeting them after not having seen them for the best part of two weeks.

For me the natural greeting for each of them would be a hug – a genuine warm hug, which reflects how I feel about all of them.

I would hate to be heading back to work and to be meeting anyone in our team who I didn’t like, who I didn’t feel any connection with, who I preferred not to spend time with. That would be awful and in the course of my career I have been in that place more than once.

My cloud cleared and I was now actually looking forward to getting back to work.

Will your first day back at work pass the Hug test?

Greg Canty is a partner of Fuzion

Fuzion are a Marketing, PR and Graphic Design agency in Ireland with offices in Cork and Dublin

 

Holidays at Home

December 31, 2013
Summer Holidays

“Where are you going on holidays?”

Where are you going on holidays?” is a question that we are all asked many times during the year (the hairdressers is probably the spot where it is asked most of all!).

If you are going somewhere exotic, somewhere unusual, some place that most people haven’t been to before then you have a really great answer to give them.

During the Celtic Tiger days many of us gave loads of these great answers and this even extended into stag and hen “holidays” and company Christmas trips away.

For me the best holiday of all isn’t the one to that exotic, extravagant and most unusual of destinations it is the one that happens every year at Christmas when we literally holiday at home and get to appreciate and enjoy our own houses.

We decorate the house, we buy in nice goodies and we put our feet up for a week or so. We do very little other than catch up with friends and family and exchange gifts and most importantly good wishes. It’s an absolutely precious time.

Where are you going on holidays?

I can’t wait…I’m staying at home!

I’m looking forward to the next Christmas already ..

Greg Canty is a partner of Fuzion

Fuzion are a Marketing, PR and Graphic Design agency in Ireland with offices in Cork and Dublin

Gran Ellen came to visit on Christmas Day

December 27, 2013

Family Christmas

Christmas Day this year was really special as our gang hadn’t been together for a long time and it was possible this year because my brother Colin came back from the U.S. to Cork with his wife Lisa and their two kids Alex and Ciara.

We had dinner in my mum and dad’s, my sis Laura was there with her husband Coley and their boys and I was there with Dee and my special two, Brendan and Ellen.

Mum surprised us all with a CD recording of our Gran Ellen who passed away on the 30th July, 2010 at the fine age of 99!

The recording was made at a New Year’s eve party in 1994 at my aunt’s house. Someone obviously got a present of a tape recorder and they decided to make a recording that night. What probably seemed like quite a naff idea at the time was the perfect Christmas gift as it brought Gran Ellen to the dinner table with us.

My cousin’s daughter, Fiona (just 7 at the time) was the skilled interviewer and as a result we heard Gran Ellen (Ellen Burke) talking about her brothers and sisters (there were nine children in the family) and also about her own children. She spoke about how her two eldest daughters went to the States (Renie and my mum, Ann) and how my mum returned after six years. She went on to say that three years later she had a lovely baby boy – me!!

My Gran loved a drop of whiskey and on that New Year’s Eve night she must have had a few as she was in flying form as we heard her sing a few old songs, which we all listened to desperately struggling to hold back the tears!

I sat in the middle of my fabulous family, young and old and I stared at the CD player listening to Gran’s voice as clear as day – she was there with us on this very special Christmas day.

We miss you Gran Ellen x

Greg Canty

Tipping the Customer

September 28, 2013

Hostaria La Cross, Garda

It was bucketing out of the heavens as we stared out the window of our hotel in Garda in Italy during our summer holidays. It hadn’t let up for over an hour and it showed no signs of stopping anytime soon.

We had planned a leisurely stroll into the lakeside town and a nice meal on the waterfront but that was impossible – the tummies were groaning at this stage and the hotel restaurant was shut.

The restaurant that was directly across from the hotel (we were about a mile away from the lakeside strip) didn’t have the views that were on the lake but it didn’t seem to stop the steady stream of locals using the place since we had arrived.

Day and night there was a constant stream of Italian cars in and out of the place – it must be good if the locals were going there we reckoned. I checked on Four Square (a phone APP where you can leave tips about places) on my phone and the restaurant had some quite good reviews left by previous diners.

We decided to make a dash for it and despite it being just across the street we did get fairly wet.

Hostaria La Cross, GardaHostoria La Cross gave us a warm greeting as we entered but after doing so the waitress left us standing there – two minutes later she came back to us with two glasses of prosecco .. “welcome!“.

Wow – we were given a gift on the house before we had sat down or ordered anything.

It put us in great form and we had a fabulous meal (despite every second dish being laced in truffle oil..can’t stand that smell!)

Of course we left a big tip after our special night but really appreciated the “tip” the restaurant gave us at the start of the meal.

The last few times I have taken taxis in Dublin and in Cork I have noticed that each time the driver has “rounded down” when it has comes to the fare “€10 is fine” when the fare clocked €10.70.

The simple gesture is a big change to how it used be and it shows the appreciation of the business and invariably you end up leaving a good tip.

Last night after our meal in Bacco in Ballincollig we were offered a Limoncello on the house as we were settling the bill. They showed their appreciation for the business …”Thank you, we’ll be back

Giving the customer something they are not expecting is a clever way of saying thank you and building customer loyalty.

Are you tipping your customer?

Greg Canty is a partner of Fuzion

Fuzion are a Marketing, PR and Graphic Design firm in Ireland with offices in Cork and Dublin


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