Archive for the ‘Air travel’ Category

United Airlines and the Costly Culture

April 16, 2017

United Airlines protests.

When you hear the company name “United Airlines” what comes to mind?

When you hear the company name “Volkswagen” what comes to mind?

In both cases, you probably think of the well publicised and very damaging situations that have occurred, which have caused untold damage to these monstrous brands.

At the time of writing United Airline shares had dropped significantly resulting in a market capitalisation collapse of $570 Million.

While United Airlines was a very specific incident and Volkswagen was a very deliberate campaign of deception what they both have in common is that what occurred was not something that you could blame on “a” culprit in each company.

With United Airlines could you point the finger at the security guards who removed the passenger?

With Volkswagen could you point the finger at the engineers who were able to rig the emissions performance?

In each case, the individuals involved knew that what they did was okay with their bosses – why would they do such a thing otherwise?

In each case, their bosses knew that this was what they were expected to instruct their subordinates to do – why else would they give guidance like this?

In each case, their bosses, bosses had jobs to do and targets to meet and the expectation was that these must be achieved as a priority beyond all other objectives.

And so on up the chain of command.

The huge problem in large organisations is that very often something rotten is allowed to creep into the culture resulting in management and employees behaving really badly and eventually it just bursts through and shows its ugly face in a way that is quite extraordinarily shocking to everyone.

Oscar Munoz - United Airlines

For example with United Airlines the initial reaction of Chairman Oscar Munoz was to apologise to other passengers for the “upsetting event” but went on to push the blame onto the 69-year-old victim Dr.Dao for being “disruptive and belligerent“!

If you ever wanted someone to confirm the rotten culture at the airline, Mr.Munoz did it in his next communication to his staff where he praised them and stood behind them:

Our employees followed established procedures for dealing with situations like this. While I deeply regret this situation arose, I also emphatically stand behind all of you, and I want to commend you for continuing to go above and beyond to ensure we fly right

In a strange way, he was 100% correct – they did what was expected of them in these situations and as a result, he applauded them!!

At this point in time, the airline’s reputation was in tatters and Oscar and his team started to frantically backpaddle and within three days their tone had changed and fresh press statements included grovelling apologies to Dr.Dao for the appalling treatment and a full refund to all passengers on the flight (what difference was this ridiculous gesture going to do for anyone?).

The best PR advice when something like this occurs is to come clean and apologise immediately with complete sincerity. The word “Sorry” if people genuinely believe those that are delivering the apology can go a long way to reducing the damage caused.

However, just like in the United Airlines scenario a genuine “sorry” was not possible because the culture was too rotten to even contemplate doing such a thing – the expression ‘not being able to see the wood from the trees‘ comes to mind here.

Your reputation ultimately comes from what you do and how you behave and while good PR professionals can help to lessen the damage from a bad situation, it cannot change the culture, which can often be the reason why these things ended up happening in the first place.

Could your culture end up costing you?

Greg Canty 

Greg Canty is a Partner of Fuzion Communications, a full-service agency that offers Crisis PR consultancy from our offices in Dublin and Cork, Ireland

Back to Italy and habits that die hard

August 10, 2015

italian water

Here I go again … I’m sitting on the plane on the runway at Cork Airport before takeoff to Italy. It’s a little crazy as we have to fly via Amsterdam!

I press play on my iPod to listen to my ‘Easy Learn Italian‘ … I get as far as the part where I can order wine or beer and that’s it.

Enthusiastically I love trying what I have learnt when I get there and 90% of the time the Italians answer me back in English – this deflates me in particular after spending hours listening to the lessons!

I don’t know how many times we have gone to Italy and each time I go through this routine and every time the result is exactly the same. Listen to the lessons, try my Italian, they answer back in English and my crew laugh at me.

Why do we keep doing the same thing and expect a different result?

I better get back to my lessons.. Ciao!

Greg Canty 

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

 

Michael Cawley, Cork Airport and “What’s the Point?”

May 2, 2015

Cork City

It was my first time listening to Cork born Michael Cawley, the Chairman of Failte Ireland and former Ryanair deputy CEO and Commercial Director. He was speaking at a business anniversary breakfast for Paul O’Donovan and Associates, Accountants.

Everyone is a product of what they do and Michael a former accountant and a senior member of the Ryanair team for 17 years is certainly a product of his career.

At first he spoke a lot of sense and he believes that everything starts with great management. He spoke about Dubai “a hole in the ground” and how great management has turned the place into a major travel destination.

He then spoke about the Irish tourism and hospitality sector, which employs 205,000 people. He reckons this could easily rise by another 50,000 but says we must ‘elevate’ how we view the industry and start respecting the work that people do in it.

Cork Airport – hopelessly uncompetitive

He then went on to talk about the €17 landing charges at Cork Airport that he says makes the airport “hopelessly uncompetitive“.

He expanded on this by talking about the Ryanair perspective “The passengers belong to the airline, not to the airports. The airlines will seek to make money, whether that is in Bari or in Cork“.

While this message was delivered with all of the arrogance you would expect from a Ryanair executive it gives you a clear insight into the thinking of airlines that are removing routes from Cork Airport.

However he makes a good argument and suggested that if the airport wants to compete for traffic it must drop the rates, suggesting that the region could even subsidise it because passengers will spend significant money when they visit. We must look at the big picture.

All of this makes perfect sense and those running Cork Airport need to start listening and start to view Cork as an economic gateway to our region instead of a stand alone cost centre. If this requires some write off of the debt then it will be no different to so much other debt that has been written off in Ireland over the last five years.

Michael Cawley, Failte IrelandMichael went on to give some general business advice to those gathered in the room “You must define your competitive advantage to be successful

He explained that in Ryanair’s case “price” was it and this was achieved by relentlessly driving down costs .. airport landing charges is clearly a big part of this and in Cork’s case it is easy to see how we are losing Ryanair routes to Shannon and other locations.

He also spoke about the importance of “innovation” and in his view driving costs down is the ultimate innovation – I don’t agree with this as I detest what Ryanair represent and I hate how they have wrecked the flight experience, which was a ‘treat’ many moons ago, even if it was a lot more expensive.

Bring back the peanutsI say!

Michael joined the panel at the end of this breakfast briefing whereby guests were able to ask questions – I asked the question “What did the panel feel was the unique selling point of Cork?

Michael took this one on and gave the room his very worrying opinion of Cork – We should get over ourselves and realise that we are not as special as we think. All talk of us being a “competitor” in a European context is silly as Ireland is really about Dublin.

..I couldn’t believe I was hearing this

Even worse he reckoned that it was pointless for money to be invested promoting Cork as it was not a proposition worth promoting.

When a Cork born Chairman of Failte Ireland holds this view it is very concerning – who is going to subsidise Cork Airport’s costs/landing charges (as he suggested) if no one believes it is a region worth investing in?

Michael …

I 100% disagree with you and as much as I respect your role and your ‘cost squeezing’ experience I think you and your colleagues in Dublin are misguided.

Cork is a very special place for both tourism and business as we witnessed in our research on the Cork Brand Marketing project and a few others have noticed too ..

Lonely Planet were the first to start talking about our ‘friendly city’ and the Huffington Post included Cork in a list of “Overlooked European Cities you must visit in a lifetime

Please take a fresh look at the place that you were originally from and ask the question..why are we so overlooked?

All of us in Cork, our business and tourism groups, our stakeholders and politicians need to start making a lot of noise if we want something in change.

As for Michael…thanks for the helpful insight

Greg Canty 

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

 

 

 

A tribute to young mothers!

December 10, 2014

Young mother with her baby

Oh no … The woman with the young baby is sitting next to me on the plane!!

My early prayers were that the weirdo in the queue who was intoxicated wouldn’t be next to me …can I take him instead?

I’ve dodged the ‘baby on the plane‘ bullet for long enough and this time it happened and this kid is a live wire. Within the first 30 seconds I am slapped by the little live wire as she jumps and hops and kicks and can’t stay still.

Deirdre gives me some early advice “avoid eye contact with the kid“. She always has something wise to say – I decide to take the advice.

The young mother who seems to be travelling alone is well equipped – her bags with all her necessary baby stuff are put down by her feet, which in a blink chews up all of the leg room in the already squashed Ryanair flight.

To calm the kid down she produces a bottle … That works for about 5 minutes, an IPad works for another 5 minutes and then we enter the ‘danger zone’. The kid is now standing, twisting, jumping and writhing and starting to make noise as she reaches for anything and anyone that grabs her attention.

I can barely move in my seat but the very talented mother can still manage to get things from her bag and put things away and still keep the contorting baby on her lap.

My god…. this is unbelievable… why would she even contemplate such a journey and the little part I’m witnessing no doubt came after struggling with luggage and buggies..why ?

Oh no ..Now comes the sniffing of the bum … please let it be a clean one for everyone’s sake – I was looking forward to a glass of wine and now I’m just praying for no smelly surprises!!

More writhing and wriggling … What happened – we have calm.

The drinks trolley arrives and the poor mother watches enviously as we order a red wine and a prosecco – I feel very guilty and want to ask her does she want a drink … she would probably think that I am a weirdo!

Is she dreaming of a time when life was less complicated? Where is she flying to? Why is she by herself?

We are flying to Wroklaw (up until a month ago I hadn’t heard of it either!) in Poland with friends for the weekend. My guess is she is living in Ireland and visiting home for a while ..maybe?

The kid is acting up again so she is down by my feet scrambling in her bags for the next rabbit … Baby’s bottle!

It’s all calm again. I spoke too soon … the bottle goes flying and hits me on the leg. At this stage I have my red wine firmly gripped to make sure it doesn’t go flying as well.

I’m already dreading the landing as I know it drives the kids ears bonkers, what if the she pukes ..more prayers

I don’t think you should be giving her a banana …I’m now fearing the worst …smelly bum, pukes and tears.

You won’t believe this … I manage to knock over my own red wine on my one pair of jeans …typical !! Sh**, f***, pi**.

My young mother politely reaches into her bag of tricks and comes to my rescue with baby wipes!!

As the plane descends the poor kid starts to cry with the air pressure and her mother holds her and strokes her head until the plane lands..phew!

As I come down the steps of the plane I see this miracle mother struggling with her bags, her buggy and her child before the next leg of her journey.

Mother , I salute you for the fantastic job 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

 

Bird in the sky

September 2, 2014

plane in the sky

Today I am that bird in the sky phenomenally shooting through the air at high speed ..look up it’s me up there!

We have no control as we sit here taking for granted the technology, the skill, the craft and the engineering that has us seemingly suspended but in reality powering at high speed towards JFK Airport in New York.

There is nothing anyone of us can do but hand ourselves over and trust in the journey, that we will all be taken there together for whatever our reason… Going home, going on holidays, going on business, visiting friends, visiting family ..we are all in it together.

We’ve had the drinks and the pretzels, we’ve had the chicken sweet and sour, we’ve had the coffee and the ice cream and we’ve watched the movie.

The guy sitting next to me is a New Yorker travelling with his family after 12 days in Ireland playing golf and visiting different spots. The poor fella accidentally forgot to pay for petrol near the airport and they tracked him down just before take off …he was mortified as he scrambled for euros. He is a member of Ballybunion Golf Club but just got to play a few holes, he did Doonbeg and he stayed in Kildare for a few days and spent one day in Killarney.

Plane - view from the cabin

He was pleasantly surprised by Killarney and he would come back ….the last time he was there in the eighties he swore never again but it had changed just like the rest of Ireland. The last time he was in Ireland he reckoned all the young people were emigrating. He’s going to take tomorrow (Friday) off work and make it a long weekend.

He spots my ‘Rough guide to New York‘ and helpfully scribbles out a 5 day itinerary of places we should visit ..it’s a cracking list and we must try our best to do it.

We watch a great movie ‘About Time‘ about family, fathers and sons and being able to go back in time …. There’s no controlling time here, we just have to go with it even though we are going back 5 hours!

We are meeting our buddy Ciara who is celebrating her 40th birthday, we are meeting Jane Maas, the New York ad legend, the author of ‘Mad Women‘ for brunch on Sunday and we are hooking up with my brother Colin and his family who are living in New Jersey. He is working in New York so we are meeting him for a pint when we get in …how cool is that?!

He’s been there for 20 years and it’s sad that any of your family are so far away. I love him to bits but often I do sadly feel ‘out of sight out of mind‘ kicks in and we have all missed out on so much together.

We were busy up until the minute we left closing off on some various client things, finishing a proposal that must be submitted tomorrow and caught up in so many other ‘life‘ things.

For now we must leave it all behind because there is nothing we can do but sit with so many others including my helpful New Yorker and let that bird in the sky take us on our journey.

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

 

I’m more important than you!

June 23, 2012

I must put down my towel for the morning !

Will I move their towels I wonder?

A few years ago we were holidaying in Sorrento on the Amalfi Coast in Italy and had treated ourselves to a really nice boutique hotel spectacularly located looking out to sea.

The hotel had a small private swimming pool that was surrounded by a number of comfortable sun loungers. While this was great the problem was that there was never enough sun loungers and you had to be quite sharp about securing your space.

On our first day we realised that if we wanted a space by the pool then we would have to get there early – first come, first served , which was fair enough , in particular if you wanted a good spot.

With some relaxation in mind we made sure we got to the poolside early the next morning to discover we were one of first there but the best sun loungers already had towels on them, clearly reserved by some hotel guests who no doubt would be down in a minute.

We took two of the remaining loungers and started to relax and I was shocked to see the “pre-bookers” only arriving two hours later to take their spots by the pool. That’s not very fair I thought and we weren’t the only ones to notice as others seemed to look up disapprovingly from under their sunglasses.

Amalfi CoastThe following day exactly the same thing happened with exactly the same people and everyone just put up with it allowing this couple to get away with thinking they were effectively better than the rest of us.

Not only were they taking an advantage for themselves but they were taking an entitlement away from everyone else … I was really cross but yet did nothing. Who was going to be the one to have a word or merely just shift their towels onto the ground risking an unwanted argument with a stranger when you on holidays trying to relax?

I’m writing this from a KLM 10 hour flight on route to Cuba with a very stiff backside and I just had a similar scenario with seat space. At 6 ft tall it’s hard to get comfortable and it gets a little worse when the person in front of you pushes their chair back to relax. They are well entitled but it does squeeze up your own space.

This time as I struggled to get comfortable I decided I would recline my seat a little … No sooner than I did this, I felt someone from behind hitting the back of my seat. At first I thought maybe my seat went back too fast and it ended up spilling a drink over the guy behind. I looked behind and made an “apology” gesture and thought that would have looked after it.

No such luck …. this wasn’t enough for my new friend who kept aggressively hitting the back of my seat. I thought quickly about getting into one and decided in the end that it was cramped for everyone and I would give him a break and pull my seat back up!

There was no way this guy was going to let someone invade his space. I thought about my friend and his “no messing” and yes, very aggressive way of dealing with a situation …. It’s a pity he wasn’t in Sorrento I thought !

Why do some people feel that they are just better than the rest of us, and why do the rest of us put up with it?

Greg Canty is a partner of Fuzion

Aer Lingus celebrate 75 years by bringing back the Peanuts!

May 23, 2011
Aer Lingus Air Hostess

Peanuts anyone ?

Aer Lingus celebrate 75 years by bringing back the Peanuts!”

Can you imagine a headline like this?

While it would seem like a terrible way to celebrate 75 years (On May 27th 1936 Aer Lingus launched its first ever flight between Baldonnel and Bristol, with just five passengers) for me it would be the best possible news to come from our famous airline.

Do you remember the days when flying was a treat and when the smiling hostess would genuinely look after each of the customers with water, orange juice and peanuts?

In so many businesses the level of service has increased but in the airline business the exact opposite has happened with a horrible race to the bottom. The level of service has reduced to such an extent that air travel is now a right pain in the backside.

Aer Lingus seem to be caught in no man’s land trying to compete with the “Low Care” airline Ryanair – I honestly get really cross when I hear people waxing lyrical about the great businessman, Michael O’Leary who proudly boasts about his brand of lousy customer service. While they might make record profits (€401M in the last 12 months), Michael will use every situation and every trick to squeeze a bob out of you – listening to jingles on board selling tickets is not my idea of a good time!

When we plan holidays it will never be to a route serviced by a Ryanair flight – plenty don’t mind so who am I to argue? I don’t want to travel with anyone who values customers in such a way.

Ryanair

Tickets for Ryanair charity anyone?

So, Aer Lingus – go for it … bring back the peanuts, that extra little bit of customer service, take a premium on the price and stop chasing Ryanair to the bottom.

What have you got to lose?

Happy 75!!

Greg Canty is a partner of Fuzion