Archive for the ‘Holidays’ Category

Too much, too little and two mishaps

December 10, 2017

Cliff House Hotel, Ardmore

We’ve had two wonderful days at The Cliff House Hotel in Ardmore, Co. Waterford, which included the most incredible feast of fantastic food that you could imagine.

On our first night we treated ourselves to the tasting menu, which was a feast of the senses, delivered by a superb team, led by Adriaan Bartels who are passionate about great service and introducing customers to some amazing food that you would never taste otherwise.

The Wagyu beef from James Whelan Butchers was my favourite of all the amazing dishes on the tasting menu, which came with a well chosen matching wine selection of five different wines.

The following night we ate in the bar and as expected this meal was also incredible – I couldn’t resist the set menu with a selection of starters, desserts and a choice of main courses.

Of course we also indulged in a delicious breakfast each morning, which was a feast in itself.

Cliff Walk, Ardmore

Eventually it was time to leave after two fantastic days of indulgence, rest and recuperation and even some exercise as we did the breathtaking Cliff Walk and a long walk on Ardmore beach.

We headed back to Cork as we were due at the Cork Chamber Christmas lunch, which was at Fota Resort.

After all of the rich food we had eaten over the two days at The Cliff House, I was in the horrors at the thought of eating another morsel of food!

At Fota the perplexed waiters and waitresses came to us a few times questioning why we didn’t want the smoked salmon starter – was there something wrong, did we have special dietary requirements?

I explained that my special dietary requirement was that I didn’t need a starter as I was simply stuffed!!

I managed to eat most of the main course and I did have one little taste of the dessert – I was glad when the meal was over with, as I just wasn’t able.

I glanced around the room at the capacity crowd as together we ate the fine food, and drank the wine and indulged in the satisfaction of a positive year and a well earned Christmas break that would soon be here.

What are your plans for Christmas?” and “Are you taking much time off?” were the popular questions being asked at each table.

I reflected on my uncomfortably full stomach and the room full of festive spirits, and I thought of those who were cold and miserable today and would love nothing more than a hot meal in a warm room, let alone entertain any thoughts of an indulgent Christmas with friends and family.

I also reflected on a thought provoking podcast that I had listened to on the journey to the Cliff House, just two days before. It was the Legends and Losers podcast by Christopher Lochhead and the particular episode featured the inspirational founder of ‘The Giving Spirit’, Tom Bagamane. This is a non-profit in L.A. that helps the huge number of homeless people in the city.

One of the big messages in the episode was that most people are just two mishaps away from being homeless – job loss, poor health, relationship breakdown, bereavement and mental problems are all mishaps that can easily throw any of us upside down, if they come knocking at our door.

Many of the homeless are not the stereotypes that we may often think they are.

Kathleen O'Sullivan

This morning I read about 43 year old, Kathleen O’Sullivan who had been found dead, wrapped in blankets in a doorway in Cork city. Apparently, ‘big hearted, kind, caring’ Kathleen who was suffering from emphysema and pleurisy hadn’t recovered from the death of her child a number of years ago.

We all deserve our breaks and we most definitely deserve to enjoy the fruits of our labour, but we mustn’t forget about those less fortunate than us, and remember that we are all just two mishaps away from being on the streets.

Merry Christmas to all..

A big thanks to Bernard MacNamee who brought me these powerful lyrics from the Kirsty McColl song, “Walking Down Madison

From an uptown apartment to a knife on the A train
It’s not that far
From the sharks in the penthouse to the rats in the basement
It’s not that far
To the bag lady frozen asleep in the park
Oh no, it’s not that far

Greg Canty 

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

Ryanair – The bit that comes before the Crisis

September 25, 2017

Ryanair - Always Getting Better

Early last week we were asked to comment by the publication Fora.ie about the whole Ryanair fiasco and what we thought of how they handled their crisis.

In a crisis situation we always advise –

  • Don’t hide
  • Quickly establish the facts
  • Be 100% truthful
  • Always provide a solution (or a least be honest about working hard to find one)
  • Don’t be afraid to say sorry (as long as you mean it)
  • Don’t be shy about telling people the good things you are doing

This can be achieved with a combination of holding statements, follow up statements, interviews and implementing any necessary changes.

In the case of Ryanair there wasn’t really a formal apology but Michael O’Leary was door stopped by reporters and did say it was “clearly a mess” but he went on to point out that it was just 2% of their passengers that had been affected. I think Michael is missing the point here about focussing on the good things!

On their website where they have a page dedicated to the cancelled flights they also remind people of this “2%” as well as listing the flights that have been cancelled. They also provide a ‘link’ to a page that directs people to an EU legislation document about entitlements to refunds and compensation.

The words “sorry” or “apologise” don’t appear anywhere!

Ryanair - Cancelled Flights

Understandably customers are irate – Ryanair are not helping the situation by drip feeding news about cancelled flights, their customer contact lines not being managed efficiently and are still overheating their situation by promoting flights at “€19.99”.

Furthermore, they have been denying that part of the problem is pilots leaving to take jobs in other airlines.

This scenario has got even worse with pilots going public with their gripes and painting a pretty awful picture about what life is like working for the ‘low care’ airline.

All of this comes at a time when the airline has been trying to refocus it’s brand with their “Always Getting Better” campaign.

A different scenario? 

So – would it have made a difference if Ryanair were upfront, issued a formal apology and showed genuine empathy with inconvenienced customers and were honest about solutions and assurances going forward?

The answer would be a big “Yes” but there is also a big “But” to contend with.

The effectiveness of this approach will depend on what people feel about the company when embarks on such a course –

  • Do people feel warmly towards the airline?
  • Do they believe that there is a genuine concern for customers?
  • Do they believe that staff at the airline are treated well?
  • Do they believe that this company does charitable work?
  • Do they believe there is a strong moral compass at the airline?
  • Have they communicated the great things (if such things exist) they have been doing to the general public and stakeholders?

Maybe realising this Michael felt there was no point pretending to care?

In a crisis a robust process will definitely help but the best preparation for a crisis is to be good and do good things and communicate this effectively – it is only then that people will be willing to listen to your apology and accept it.

Leopards don’t change their spots and not caring will bite you in the butt eventually.

Greg Canty 

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

 

 

 

 

No man’s land in the sun

June 12, 2017

We are a few days into our summer break and for some reason I just can’t settle today.

Maybe it’s because it’s a Monday or maybe it’s because we have spent a few days lazing around, eating great food, drinking great beer and wine and my natural clock is telling me I should not be relaxing anymore.

Then again when I think about it I haven’t really been relaxing.

Day one was travelling and discovering Verona. 

Day two was a bike tour of Verona , more driving and more discovery and day three was a three and a half hour car journey on busy motorways to Arezzo, some shopping, meeting up with the guys and settling into our fantastic accommodation. We are staying in a gorgeous farmhouse holiday development called Agriturismo Azienda Agricola II Pozzo complete with their own olive pressing and vines. 

Yesterday was our first ‘wake up without having to go anywhere’ days, but we did drive to the town, grabbed some food, did some grocery shopping, lazed by the pool and then headed out again for dinner. A few of us sat around and had a few drinks before retiring.

Today I woke up needing to move, go, do something but after breakfast the day quickly caught up on us as the sun beat down so instead it was a laze by the pool day but I never managed to settle.

I wasn’t relaxed enough to pick up a book so I checked emails, I checked Twitter, I listened to part of the new Roger Waters album, I listened to a podcast, I rang my mum, I chatted to the guys – I had “ants in my pants” without being able to properly settle down for a minute.

A siesta was suggested ….No!!! I need to move, not stop.

And now I turn to writing a blog about this silly state I find myself in.

While everyone else is able to slow down to zero I still find that I’m just not able to, at least not today, not now.

I am caught in that “no man’s land” state of being on holidays but still not being able to give in and properly relax – I better relax soon because before I know it it will be time to come home.

Ok…what will I do now? 

Head turned ..

October 10, 2016

I’ve been really good this holiday break, managing to give my head a much needed rest from work.

To avoid the mountain of emails and little issues and tasks when I return I’ve tried to briefly check emails every second day for an hour (it always ends up being two hours!) and quickly deal with the few things as required.

Today I’ve let my head get turned back to work stuff so the warning alarm bell has gone off.

STOP!!

Mojito please ….

Greg Canty 

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

A week off and the “not to be missed” opportunity 

September 19, 2016

Valentia , Co.Kerry

For once this year for a few reasons we still hadn’t taken a break and we planned a week off in beautiful Valentia, Co.Kerry.

Just before our time off a good opportunity came through to us. We were invited to pitch along with a number of other agencies on a really significant project – the deadline was really tight and of course the date for the pitch presentation to the client was …you guessed it!! 2 days into our “week off”.

Hmmm…it was a great opportunity, it would be really interesting and a nice one to win.

Despite the whole team being totally slammed I decided we’d go for it but this meant that our mini holiday would inevitably be affected. However, I could come back to work for just that one day and continue with the holiday after that – it’s just one day, isn’t it?

With the huge workload the work on the pitch started really late. We went to Kerry on Saturday morning to start our holiday and I was distracted – my head wasn’t in holiday mode because I knew I had to work on the pitch.

First thing on Sunday morning the laptop went on and before I knew it most of the day was gone. On Monday we finished the plan and we headed back to Cork and on Tuesday the work “glad rags” went on and I met the team and we went to the pitch.

The weather had turned nasty so we didn’t return to Kerry.

Working on this pitch turned out to be a huge sacrifice and in truth it totally and stupidly ruined my week off – I had no “head rest“, which I really needed. I came back to work the following Monday with a cloud over my head and I was really angry with myself for falling into this work “trap”.

But maybe it would be worth it?

What added salt to these wounds was not winning the account – according to the feedback we came within a whisker of winning as our plan was excellent. Thank you but not excellent enough!

If I had a cloud at the start of the week I certainly had storm warnings now ….I’m a big boy and I made the decision to go for this myself. No one to blame but me!

Win or lose you need to take your breaks and ignore these “opportunities”. There is always another one around the next corner.

You are the most important client of all and if you’re not fresh and rested you won’t win anything.

Lesson learned Greg? – I hope so!

Greg Canty 

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

Hate !

May 3, 2016

Ryanair pic by Greg Canty

Hate is a big word and I hate using it!

Boarding our Ryanair flight from Liverpool to Cork I uttered the words I have uttered many times before to Brendan, my son “I hate Ryanair

He took me up on it straight away “give it a rest, they are really good now, way different to before

Sure enough the process felt different, the APP made it easy to manage our booking and the stampede for seats that used happen before when the boarding gate opened just wasn’t there now.

Why do you still hate them” he asked?

I explained that I hated that Michael O’Leary had such a disdain for customers and customer service and this was the cornerstone of the brand. I hated how it made me feel when I used the airline and swore that I would even avoid destinations if they were the airline to take you there.

This time the Liverpool v Borussia Dortmund match dictated the destination and Ryanair was the best way to get back to Cork.

We are handed a magazine as we board… It’s not a magazine but a catalogue of things to buy – there is nowhere to put it except by my feet as there is no pocket on the back of the seat. The back of the seat instead carries safety information and an advert for cosmetics that can be purchased on board.

Ryanair pic by Greg Canty

I look down the gaudy big yellow bus, the heat is on full blast and everyone is fidgeting with their air vents. The people around me grumble about the stifling heat while the pleasant hostess passes by quickly wanting to know who wants to buy scratch cards (I presume some people like to buy them but for the life of me I can’t imagine why – I feel for her, it must be a part of the job she hates!).

I’m looking forward to getting off in Cork and for this flight being over but first I’ll finish this blog post about brands and how they make you feel.

I guess Ryanair have improved a lot but yeah …I still hate them but not as much as before.

What brands do you feel strongly about?

Greg Canty 

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

Don’t win at all costs..

August 5, 2015

Palio - Brendan Canty

Once again we found ourselves in Siena (one of the most beautiful cities on this earth) in Tuscany, Italy for the Palio (one of the best events I have ever been to) this summer.

The Palio is a bareback horse race, which happens at the beginning and the end of the summer. In truth it is a whole lot more than that and when you come to Siena to witness this incredible event you will know what I mean the minute you get here. You will sense it, you will feel it – there is something electric and tribal about it that will move you.

The Palio is essential to the Sienese. The city is divided into 17 districts (‘contrade’) and the Sienese place their loyalty to their district above church or state. Fierce rivalries exist between the neighbouring districts and all Sienese are united year round by their passion to win the Palio.

Palio - Siena

I took this text from a website about The Palio:

Imagine that all Liverpool and Everton fans had been baptised in the church of their team and lived as near neighbours their whole lives. Imagine that their neighbourhoods had been enemies for hundreds of years but only got to compete against each other once or twice a year. Imagine if the players and the ball were blessed in their churches before every match and the centre of the city came to a standstill for a week beforehand  – now you begin to understand the intense and passionate civic rivalry that animates the Palio

The Palio is a year-long strategic battle culminating in two annual events. Each and every Sienese is involved in the Palio in some way; the result of what may seem like ‘just a horse race’ is in fact glory or despair for those who live here. It has been this way since medieval times.

In the Palio, ten hired jockeys (each representing a Contrade or district) race bareback at breakneck speed around a dirt track, whipping each other in a game where anything goes as long as you win and the greatest disgrace is to come second. It’s not uncommon for many of the horses to lose their jockeys during the race – a horse without a rider can still win!  The Palio itself may be over in 90 seconds but the impact makes history”.

You can see that winning means everything to every man, woman and child in Siena who come out in force to cheer on and celebrate the fortunes of their jockey and horse.

However this is not as straight forward as it seems.

Palio - Siena

This year we spent some time with a local who explained to us that huge money goes into the Palio by each of the districts – this goes on wages for the jockeys and their training but it also goes on bribes and other shenanigans. It is now part of the ritual that the jockey might pay another competing jockey to ‘block‘ or interfere with one of their rival districts in exchange for a fee.

He told us that last year one of the jockeys did a ‘double backhanded deal‘ , which was discovered afterwards by his Contrade and as a result he ended up spending 3 months in hospital from a beating!

Palio - massimo-columbu-al-palio-di-siena

We enjoyed the few rehearsal days and then watched the final and as usual the race was over in 90 seconds. I was astounded to see one of the jockeys in front of 60,000 people and in the full glare of TV spend all of his energy wrestling another ‘rival’ jockey off his horse instead of concentrating on winning himself. In any other sport this would be automatic disqualification and a lifetime ban – with the Palio it just seems to be a normal part of the race.

The offending jockey had no interest in winning and all he wanted to do was to make sure that his rival did not win. Somehow the point of this race has been lost and yet it tells a huge truth, which we all see everyday.

With competitors when bitter rivalry sets in you need to be very careful because you might never win yourself.

Greg Canty 

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

 

 

 

Tourist for a day and Cork Hospitality

August 3, 2015

Family doing the South Parish Cork Walk

After a day stuck in the car in torrential rain in West Cork with my brother, his wife and their two young children who are visiting from the States we decided to play it safe and stick to Cork city today.

We popped into the tourist office on Grand Parade and after a really friendly and helpful chat with one of the team there, we grabbed some brochures and opted for the South Parish walk, one of four excellent walks mapped out around the city centre. This walk had particular significance as it is the area where my mother grew up.

Saint Fin Barres Cathedral, Cork

The walk is really interesting and easy to follow from Daunt Square, past Bishop Lucey Park and up to Saint Fin Barres Cathedral with excellent signposting and information on each of the main sign boards. The literature provided gives even more information about each of the places and the route.

Elizabeth Fort, Cork

After Saint Fin Barres we headed to Elizabeth Fort, which has recently been fully opened to the public. This free to visit fort provides incredible views right over the city and the friendly volunteers on duty gave us a great welcome. Just outside the fort is the oldest bar in Cork, The Gateway bar,  which is nestled alongside some of Cork’s oldest houses (late sixteen hundreds).

From here we crossed Barrack Street in search of the house where my grandmother grew up. A friendly taxi driver who noticed we were searching for somewhere gave us directions to 77 St. Kevin’s Square.

We ambled up the narrow old Cork city streets and came upon the square. A man who was walking alongside us overheard us chatting about number 77. “Are ye alright there” he asked with a tiny hint of suspicion. “That’s my house” he said.

I explained that this used to be the house where my grandmother grew up. He was confused “It’s been in my family since the fifties“. It looked like his family, The Coleman’s moved in after the McCarthy’s!

Family at 77 Saint Kevin's Square, Cork

Very quickly suspicion changed to a hearty welcome “Come on in and I’ll show you around“. Tim Coleman, an absolute gentleman opened up his home to us and showed us how it would have changed since when my grandmother would have lived there. He offered to take a photo of us all outside his home and off we went.

Nano Nagle's grave, Cork

Our Cork adventure continued to Nano Nagle’s grave at South Pres, which will soon be ‘Nano Nagle Place‘ after the redevelopment work on the site is completed. A huge sense of peace descends on you when you enter this sacred little graveyard where Nano Nagle and the many Presentation sisters are buried.

Coughlan's Bar, Cork

Our journey finished with a visit to Coughlan’s Bar towards the end of Douglas Street. The barman there was a credit to Cork and his profession – he was kind and gentle to my brothers two kids offering them wooden puzzles and a bag of crisps to keep them occupied! This would have been one of the watering holes that my granddad who lived at 55 High Street would have drunk in many moons ago.

We had a great day in our fantastic little city and as usual the Cork people played a starring role.

Well done Cork, you did me proud!

Greg Canty 

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

 

Tenders and sun tans!

July 4, 2015

Working on holidays

At last our holiday – a week in Italy with family and great friends. We had a nice place booked for all of us just outside Siena for seven days to rest, relax, chill out and generally recharge the batteries.

Myself and Dee got there a few days in advance and we were due to pick up our buddy and his girlfriend from the train station in Siena for their much deserved break – he works his ass off all year round and the odd time we get to collaborate on work projects.

I called him the day before we were due to collect them to confirm arrangements and he was a little upset – his company was on a supplier panel for a semi-state body and a project was just put out to tender.

This project, which was right up his street and closely related to a bigger project that we had worked with him on was given a one week deadline for responses.

A one week deadline on a tender for a complex project like this is highly unusual and quite unreasonable. At this holiday time of the year it is more so.

Not only is it unfair but if this organisation are genuine about getting the best providers pitching then one weeks notice just shoots themselves in the foot – you have to ask the question, is it a genuine tender process or is designed for their preferred supplier who are fully briefed and ready to submit to win?

Dilemma – Was he to grab a laptop from somewhere and work on the tender submission, which would take up at least a full day of his hard earned holidays or pass? A contract like this would be important to him and his company so it was a big decision.

My buddy did the reasonable thing and asked for a one week extension – surely this was quite reasonable?

They would have done well to allow him this “break”:

  1. There was no real urgency on this work (this semi-state have dragged their heels on this project for well over a year already)
  2. He is hugely knowledgeable on the project and would provide a valuable tender (they know he has this knowledge)
  3. A weeks notice is unreasonable and highly unusual
  4. The request was ‘fair’ and reasonable
  5. They will have a better chance of more quality tender submissions

As expected he got his response;

I have contacted the evaluation team to review the possibility of extending the deadline, unfortunately we are unable to extend

..fantastic!

I know a guy working there who holds quite a senior role and asked him to look into it.

He investigated it and confirmed that nothing could be done …. the thing is of course it can be. When it suits them anything can be done.

My buddy as he was taking a rare week off with his other half decided after much torment against working on the tender proposal and ruining a big portion of his holiday but it did upset him.

In truth I believe he made a great decision because if they really wanted a proposal from his company it would have happened.

I suspect that if he had given up his time and submitted the best, competitively priced proposal of all time it still would not have won him the job.

Readers of my blog will have heard me giving out about the tender process before – some agree with me and others feel I am moaning and I should accept that this is just the way it is and ‘shut up‘. It has been suggested by some that most tenders are done and dusted in advance of them being published and this is ‘Just the way it is‘.

I strongly believe that tender processes are too often being manipulated, including the use of every possible trick at times to ensure that fairness and the very reason that these processes were introduced in the first place are not applied – this happens over and over.

I have also come to believe that complaining is a total and utter waste of time and probably ends up working against you both in the short and long run.

The sooner there is a body with real power that can oversee the proper application of our tender rules (these are the government agencies that we pay for) and processes and genuinely investigate complaints the better. Without this nothing will change and these farcical situations will continue as they always have.

As for my buddy I suspect his frustration will last longer than his tan ..

Greg Canty 

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

 

Far from shore

December 28, 2014

Relaxing at sea

The sweet spot of the holidays … When you have been off for a few days, enough to have been able to come down the gears and properly switch off and far enough from going back to work so you don’t have to start thinking about it again.

This rare time, when you are far from shore is special, you start to recharge, refresh, replenish and get to know the ‘other’ you and when your head is clear all manner of things can happen. These brief moments come along just once or twice a year and before you know it, it’s time to turn the boat around and head back to land.

The question is …what are you doing with this precious time?

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