Archive for the ‘Hospitality’ Category

“It’s very quiet….”

December 18, 2017

While staying in the very luxurious Cliff House Hotel (10 year anniversary treat!!) we headed down to the village to explore a little and go for a walk on the beach.

The Cliff House Hotel is located in the village of Ardmore, Co.Waterford which is perched on a cliff alongside a gorgeous beach, a perfect idyllic location on the Irish coast.

As it was a weekday in a cold December, as expected virtually every place in this summer holiday village was shut except for a little grocery store, an art gallery and a cosy, inviting looking cafe.

After a long walk on the cliff and the beach we fancied a cuppa and a treat so we headed to the cafe.

I was imagining a warm bowl of soup, homemade brown bread, homemade treats ….hmmmmm

When we entered, it was empty but it looked pretty with tables covered in bright table cloths and nicely painted chairs.

The man behind the counter didn’t quite match the place – there was a heavy aura around him, that didn’t exactly convey a ‘warm welcome’.

I ordered a coffee and a tea and I took a scone from the ‘serve yourself’ display, placing it on the paper plate provided.

The guy prepared the drinks and served them in disposable cups and placed them in front of him on the counter for us to collect.

Making idle conversation to ease the uncomfortable silence, I asked if he was having a good day – he told us that we were just the second customers all day and went on to say how bad the whole year had been. I could feel the heavy cloud.

This poor man was wearing his negativity like the heaviest ball and chain and it was pulling everything in the cafe down, including the few customers that came through his door.

Ardmore cafe

We sat and had our drinks and looked around the cafe – there was a sign on each table instructing the customers to dispose of their own cups and plates – why?

Why was the tea and coffee not brought to our table in cute homely cups, just like in a ‘tea room’ that this place could easily be?

Why were the treats served in a DIY manner and on paper plates with plastic cutlery?

Why was there very random stuff for sale in the cafe (about a dozen pairs of shoes and two boxes of golf balls!) that had nothing in keeping with the place?

Why did this cafe with oodles of potential not “own” beautiful Ardmore on social media and attract people to the place, with posts encouraging people to stroll on the beach?

Why were the parents of the school kids in the school nearby not meeting for treats before they collected their little darlings?

We finished up as quick as possible and were glad to leave the negativity behind us – we wanted to enjoy our day!

Go on…. make sure you put your best foot forward, make the most of your lovely little place with all of that potential or just hand the keys to someone else!

Are you putting forward the best possible version of you and your business?

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

 

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

The Manager of First Impressions

November 27, 2017

Warm greeting at reception

We arrived at our hotel, parked the car and wrestled with our bags and clothes on hangers so we could get ready quickly to head to a wedding of one of our team, the lovely Edel and her soon to be husband Dave.

I sour puss greeted us as reception as she saw us approaching “Check-in isn’t until 3” she warmly (not) greeted us!

Deirdre explained that she needed to change quickly to get ready for a wedding close-by, so if there was anything at all she could do, it would be much appreciated.

Without too much bother and a click of her screen we were handed the keys to a room that was ready.

How hard was that?!!

We left our friendly receptionist and went to find our room – we passed a woman who was cleaning rooms who gave us a big friendly hello.

We got to our room and neither of our key cards seemed to work …. here we go, I thought !!

Just as we were about to trundle back to our favourite receptionist, another cleaning lady who had seen us struggling with the door asked if she could help.

There is a knack to these doors” she explained as she took the key card from us, quickly swiped and presto, success!

With a big smile, she held the door open for us and wished us a lovely stay.

Maybe she was just having a bad day or maybe, just maybe the wrong person is on the reception desk?

Make sure your Manager of First Impressions is doing just that.

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

 

Some eggs are gold

July 11, 2017

Golden opportunity

Do you serve any eggs?” my buddy asked

Were they even serving food I wondered at this stage? It was 3:30 in the afternoon but he was starving and needed something before he hopped in the car to drive to Dublin.

I had recommended the place so I hoped he would be looked after.

The waitress in the bar/restaurant assured us that the kitchen was still open and handed us the menu.

We can’t do eggs, you can only order from the menu” she explained.

Oh no I thought – here was a golden opportunity for the outlet to shine, go on grab it.

My buddy glanced through the menu and I reckon for dietary reasons he didn’t want to order anything that was on offer.

I suggested that he ordered a steak sandwich – he didn’t want the fries that came with it so he asked could he get the steak sandwich with an egg?

No sorry, you can only order what’s on the menu” she emphasised again.

Hmmm, the place was really quiet. There was a chef on duty – how difficult could it be to put on an egg to go with the steak?

It was clear that there was no flexibility so the steak sandwich was ordered. It duly arrived with the chips that he didn’t want, which he pushed towards me to eat – they were really tasty and he scoffed down his steak sambo.

What was so difficult about doing an egg?

– were there no eggs in the kitchen?
– is the chef only able to make what’s on the menu?
– is there no button on the till to handle a deviation from the menu?
– was any deviation just too much for the staff to handle?
– could the team that were working that day just not care
– was there a fear that if you actually gave the customer what they wanted, they could be asking for anything next??!!

Whatever the motivation for the lack of flexibility the result was really poor for the outlet.

My buddy won’t be back there and while I like the place I won’t be back there in a hurry either as my recommendation left me a little red faced.

A simple egg and the outlet would have had two happy customers.

That was a very costly egg…

Are you rigid with your product and service offering to the extent that it is costing you customers?

Greg Canty 

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

I’m not telling you where it is..

February 5, 2017

Fireside

You can feel everything heating up again..

We spend at least half our working week doing business in Dublin and our home has been a particular hotel, which was located close to the office.

It became a home from home of sorts for years with most of the staff recognising us as we trooped in with our bags week after week. They looked after us really well and we left them lots of business. We had our corporate rate and our bonus nights and they had a regular customer, often at times of the year when Dublin was quiet.

The first sign of things changing was an email last year notifying us that our corporate rate wouldn’t apply on peak weeks. Okay, but wasn’t that the whole point of a corporate rate – a good average rate in exchange for lots of regular business?

The second big sign, which came along a few months later was an email informing us that the corporate rates in 2017 were increasing by 40%. Thank you… it seems that the whole loyalty thing doesn’t quite cut the mustard when things get busier!

So we went shopping for an alternative.

We did find a place, a little further out that gave us a good corporate rate and they assured us that they had a complimentary shuttle service to alleviate the slightly inconvenient location.

On the first day using the new hotel I enquired about the shuttle service – unfortunately the driver was on leave this week so there would be no shuttle service. Okay – Mr Shuttle driver could not be relied on!

I headed on foot to the office and just as I was nearly there I passed a gorgeous little place, an old Georgian house with a sign outside declaring it to be a “hotel”.

I marched up the steps of this beautiful property and pushed the door open to be greeted by a really nice, friendly guy. I asked about rates and asked to see a typical room.

I was so impressed with the package he offered me and the gorgeous rooms and homely atmosphere that I immediately booked us in for a number of weeks ahead. The guy I was dealing with was the owner – the place had been in his family for decades and somehow you knew it had.

Our first stay didn’t disappoint – “Would you like a tea or a coffee?” was just one part of the warm welcome, the room was homely and impeccable and our breakfast was delicious and made to order.

I’m guessing the friendly woman, Agnes who served us was part of the family that owned this special place.

We walked to work, just a few minutes away and there was an extra skip in my step because in all the years that we have been staying overnight in Dublin I have never felt so at home.

So, unfortunately I’m not going to tell you where it is!!

I’ll resist tweeting about it because selfishly I want to keep this place a secret so that there is always a room there for us.

Dublin is booming ..

Greg Canty 

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

“Staff wanted” and huge little details

August 26, 2015

Liberty Grill Cork

I was having a birthday breakfast with my fantastic daughter, Ellen in one of our favourite spots in Cork, Liberty Grill. This extremely busy spot is run by Denis O’Mullane who is an experienced and terrific operator.

As always the place was busy and as we finished our ‘treat‘  breakfast I noticed a sign they had behind the counter advertising for a ‘Super Barista‘ to join their team.

This sign wasn’t a hand written sign sellotaped to the wall, it wasn’t a typed up A4 page and nor was it a self designed A4 laminated page with some clip art.

The sign was a simple, well designed, attractive poster, which was in keeping with the look and feel of the place. It was professional and for me it made a huge statement about Liberty Grill.

Liberty Grill recruitment

This recruitment poster screamed professionalism and it sent a big message to anyone considering applying for the job and to all customers who frequent the place:

Liberty Grill wants the very best staff to serve the very best food and beverages

This sign was an inconvenient choice – It would have taken time to organise with their graphic designer and it cost more to produce than a standard poster but someone at Liberty Grill felt that this extra effort and cost was more than worth it.

A simple recruitment sign can speak volumes about your place.

The small details are always huge details…coffee anyone?

Greg Canty 

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

We are all connected 

May 17, 2015

PSA World Tour

As part of our normal Dublin routine we arrived early at the Mespil Hotel, our home in Dublin for the last few years. I parked up and quickly popped into the loo … Much needed after the spin from Cork!

As I walked past the reception desk a guy who was chatting with the receptionist caught my attention. He had an unusual shaped bag hanging off his shoulder. On closer examination it was a carrier bag for lots of, what looked liked tennis rackets.

Was he the manager of a team or playing in some tournament I wondered?

As always we had a busy day in the office, Dee was off at some networking event and I made my way back to the hotel and went about checking in. I was exhausted and was looking forward to chilling out for the evening.

We know the team at the Mespil Hotel well at this stage and I was greeted with the usual big smile as they looked for our room reservation. They seemed to have trouble finding the booking and slipped into the office to double check the paperwork.

Mespil Hotel

As I waited a couple came to the desk on spec hoping to book a room. Unfortunately for them there was no room at the inn!

The guy I was dealing with still had not appeared so I was starting to worry about our bed for the night. Eventually he appeared and apologised that they had no record of our booking.

Dee normally books the hotel in block a few weeks in advance and does this with faultless efficiency but this time the booking fell through the cracks.

There wasn’t a room to be had in the hotel so the really helpful team at the Mespil started ringing other places for us in earnest. It quickly became clear that due to some big conference that day, hotel after hotel were full and Dublin was totally choc- a-bloc.

I started my own search and discovered that even all the bed and breakfasts were full.

An hour later and still nothing … I popped outside for some fresh air and contemplated a drive to some hotel outside Dublin somewhere.

The receptionist came out to me beaming. “I have great news” she said “We have had a last minute cancellation. A guest of the hotel was in a squash competition but lost his match so he is heading home early!

I presume it was the guy I saw in the morning.

We are all connected …

Greg Canty 

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

When harsh criticism can be the best thing ever!

October 27, 2014

Boring conference

I was recently at a large, high profile business conference and unfortunately the first segment of it was dominated and ruined by shockingly poor presentations.

I couldn’t believe how these senior business individuals broke nearly every presentation rule – they used boring powerpoint slides with way too much text laid out in bullet point after bullet point.

What’s worse is they insisted on reading each long sentence, word for word letting these shockingly awful slides hijack the knowledge they undoubtedly possess and in the process making them look very foolish in front of a large audience.

The slides should help guide you not hijack you!

To make matters even worse one of the guys drove on, slide after slide, ignoring the ‘warning‘ bell and selfishly ate into the next presenters time – as a result the whole schedule was forced back, which meant many people had to leave that day before everyone had finished.

Despite this when they finished their presentations they each received a polite round of applause leaving them quite oblivious to the fact that they were truly awful.

At the coffee break the predictable chit chat started ..”weren’t those presentations shocking?” ..”the worst I have seen” …”that’s a real pity because he’s a good guy and his presentation let him down” …”surely someone will say something to him

Just as we were chatting one of the ‘car crash‘ presenters passed by and one of our guys who knew him said “well done” ..”oh ..thanks a lot

Why do we do that?

I have no doubt that these guys would have left the conference feeling satisfied that they had stood up, done their presentations and based on the feedback they did quite well. Next time they are asked to present they will probably do exactly the same again ..it worked last time, didn’t it?

Thankfully the day improved and there were some really superb presentations later, which did a huge job for the profile and the credibility of these speakers – they grabbed the opportunity to shine!

killarney lakes

In 2000 Bridgestone Guide author John McKenna, caused a storm of controversy when he slated the fantastic and nationally treasured tourism gem Killarney. In a review this travel writer and food critic stated that “the best way to see Killarney in County Kerry is through the rearview mirror of a car. He added that discerning tourists will avoid the town as it was an Irish travesty surrounded by beautiful lakeland“.

This review sparked an outrage, which made Mr McKenna a hated figure in the town – how could he say such a thing about our beautiful and perfect place?

Despite despising those words and the cruel messenger the savvy locals started to process this truth – maybe our product has deteriorated, maybe our food offering is poor, maybe the town is dirty and shabby, maybe our service levels aren’t quite what they should be and maybe, just maybe this critic might be telling the truth.

Killarney dug in and got to work on their offering and 11 years later they proudly invited back the much maligned John McKenna as a guest speaker to ‘eat his words’ following the town winning the Irish Tidy Town award. He conceded that “the Kerry holiday hotspot has improved enormously and is the undisputed capital of Irish tourism“.

While hearing the truth might hurt deeply (lets face it we all hate being criticised) it could turn out to be the very best thing for you.

Whatever we do we should always look for the person who will tell us the truth instead of applauding and saying “well done”

Greg Canty is a partner of Fuzion

At Fuzion we help our clients with their Presentation Skills and Speech Delivery from our offices in Dublin and Cork

For the people who colour outside the lines

August 9, 2014

Moriartys, Gap of Dunloe

I had a fascinating chat with Phil Cullen, the Mountain Man himself who is the really nice guy who started the Mountain Man Brewery in a place that I had never heard of before, Renanirree in Cork. Apparently it is somewhere in the Gaeltacht area with Macroom being the nearest town.

I met Phil at the official launch of the spectacular Heather Restaurant at Moriarty’s at the foothills of the Gap of Dunloe. We were privileged to be looking after the PR for the Moriarty’s new venture and Phil was one of the many artisan local producers that feature in the restaurant who were showcasing their wares as part of the event. If you get a chance at all take a spin to this fantastic restaurant in a breathtaking location and enjoy some incredible food. The team of Denis Pio, Ailish and Jennifer have created a real gem in the KIngdom of Kerry.

Phil, a civil engineer by profession has followed his passion like so many other craft brewers that seem to be exploding onto the market in Ireland. The collapse of the building trade made it easy for this enthusiastic home brewer to make the move and start the business in the Derrynasaggart Mountains in 2012.

Phil Cullen, Mountain Man BrewingPhil who had been home brewing for 11 years, saw an explosion of micro-breweries in Canada where he lived for a few years and the return to Celtic Tiger Ireland in 2005 just before the ‘wheels fell off‘ turned out to be perfect timing for him and his new venture.

Take one peep at the website for Mountain Man Brewing and it captures both his unique spirit and the spirit of revolution that is starting to take hold in Ireland.

We are fed up of the same, we crave things that are not only different but that are genuinely authentic.

We want this in our food, we want this in our drink. we want it in our music, we want it where we visit, we want it where we stay, where we eat, where we drink and we want it in our entertainment.

I believe there is a huge movement back to things that are real and authentic, which for me is all about appreciating craft and produce that is made with passion but it is also a rejection of all things ‘plastic‘ that poisoned us during the reckless, commercial, greedy and very shallow Celtic Tiger era.

We are getting back to so many things that are really important and in many ways rejecting some of the awfulness that was allowed to creep into our Ireland.

We can even see this in the latest trends with Irishmen. Phil’s beard might be something you would expect in the hills of Derrynasaggart but now we are seeing this ‘back to nature‘ look on our city streets everywhere!

I was telling Phil how a Guinness Sales Director said to me about 20 years ago when I was working there that he was surprised that more was not being made about the ‘Craft of Irish beer‘ at the time. This new director, just in from the UK could not understand how more was not being made of the craft and heritage and was surprised that the Guinness company wasn’t grabbing this more …he was right!

While Guinness always explored new products the priority was always the big prize with big volumes of big brands and in some ways less choice may have been an easier option.

Phil mentioned that he toured one of the big breweries and he asked the brewmaster some question about alternative brews. He was surprised when the brewmaster replied that brewing this one product was all that he knew.

Can you imagine turning up everyday and producing exactly the same thing over and over with no variation to an exact formula, which is the case with most of what we consume. The opposite sounds like heaven where you can experiment with ingredients, try different blends always bringing out something new.

Food from Heather Restaurant, Moriartys, Gap of DunloePhil quickly reminded me that the skills of that brewmaster are also essential as you do need the guys who understand how to produce quality consistently, which is just as important with craft beers.

While we love difference we need it to be reliable!

The tagline on Phil’s website perfectly sums up the spirit of Mountain Man, the Moriarty’s, the artisans, and anyone trying something new “Beer for people who colour outside the lines“.

Are you colouring outside the lines?

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