Archive for the ‘Travel’ Category

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

Attracting the first customers 

October 6, 2016

Marina at Vilamoura

The shoulder season must be a big challenge for those working in the hospitality industry as there are customers out there but not quite as many as in high season.

We walked along the marina in Vilamoura, which is a beautiful town on the the Algarve in Portugal and most of the restaurants had their “sales people” out front trying to encourage you to choose their place as your restaurant for this night. We didn’t feel like Chinese or Indian so it was easy to walk by these restaurants but when it came to the rest how do you quickly judge them?

Does a place look well, are the prices right, is there a special offer to attract you, is there something different about the place, do customers there look like they are enjoying themselves, does it feel right?

If they look empty then what does everyone know that you don’t so you walk by, if they are too busy then you might also walk by.

With so many couples on holidays I wondered why the restaurants did not bother with candies? – an empty restaurant can transform quickly into an intimate, romantic spot when a special atmosphere has been created.

Eventually we stopped at the restaurant alongside the waterfront that had a good number of customers eating but it wasn’t so busy so we were able to get a seat with a good view.

The waiter cleverly guided us to a spot that helped spread the customers even more throughout the restaurant making it look a little busier than it actually was – he understood the “optics” that a place looking busy would attract more customers.

My lasagna was gorgeous but Dee’s gorgonzola and spinach pasta was strangely missing gorgonsola – we probably wouldn’t be back.

To the front of the restaurant there was a stand selling ice cream and crepes to passing pedestrians strolling on the marina. During the course of our meal the woman looking after the stand didn’t serve a single customer until suddenly one man stopped and ordered a crepe.

Her hot plate was fired up, the deliciously smelling mix was poured over it and the whole area carried the tantalising aroma of crepes being made. Suddenly I so badly wanted a crepe as did most people who walked by – while the guy waited for his crepe more people stopped and queued and then more and more.

The woman within 10 minutes went from having nothing to do to not being able to cope!

People are simple creatures and we often look to others to see what they are doing before we are prepared to commit.

What are you doing to attract your first customers?

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

In Dublin’s “not so fair” city

September 25, 2016

Smithfield Dublin

We were just after leaving a really successful client event in the Smithfield area of inner city Dublin, just north of the River Liffey.

I love this quirky, eclectic area of Dublin with a mix of old and new, the large cobbled stone plaza, new apartment blocks and old houses surrounded by coffee shops, little stores, the old Jameson distillery with a buzz of young and old including plenty of ‘cool’ hipsters making this area their own.

On this occasion it was nearly 8pm on a dark dreary night and the heavens had opened. A taxi was nowhere to be seen so we made our way in the pouring rain to the Luas stop (part of the much used Red Line, which would have come all the way from Tallaght with a stop at Heuston Train station).

There seemed to be an edge to the atmosphere as we waited for the tram to arrive. A woman was asking us as well as others if we had “two tens“. You could see she wanted people to open their wallets or purses.

Sorry, we don’t” Deirdre responded politely. “That’s alright love” she replied.

After about 5 minutes the tram arrived and we embarked with many others as well as the woman who had been asking for change.

On the tram we were standing next to a middle aged guy wearing an old black tracksuit with runners that had seen better days and a laptop case slung over his shoulder.

Three lads in tracksuits (they weren’t on the way to or from the gym!) were making a racket and they started exchanging banter with the guy in the black tracksuit – it was hard to figure out if they were spoiling for a fight or just messing but you knew inctinctively not to make eye contact with any of them.

During their banter there was plenty of “colourful language” being used as well as statements about “getting a syringe and doing ya“. They were now shouting down the carriage at another group of young girls who were shouting back at them.

At this stage we were feeling very uncomfortable as I am sure were the others including some visitors to Dublin with their suitcases who would more than likely have boarded at the train station.

The three lads in tracksuits jumped off at the next stop along with the woman who had been looking to change money leaving the guy in the black tracksuit, who at this stage was talking loudly to himself.

The Spire, Dublin

Eventually we were glad to get off the tram at Abbey Street just off O’Connell Street – as we stepped off the tram a man and two women, all soaked to the skin passed us by. The woman who may have been in her forties was like a woman possessed with her dead hair, pale face, mad eyes and missing teeth. She was shouting and roaring at everyone she passed by as well as those with her.

The man with her who was wearing a green tracksuit top and jeans, was pushing a tiny, quite old kids bicycle. Deirdre winced as he accidentally walloped the bicycle pedal off her leg as be brushed past her – he didn’t even notice.

Keeping our heads down we kept moving but then noticed the toothless woman had bumped into another weather beaten  woman with a hard face. Life had been hard for her, I’m sure. They clearly knew each other and now the other woman was crying and shouting something we couldn’t quite understand.

Lets get out of here quick we were thinking…

We passed them, pushed onto O’Connell Street and made our way as quick as possible towards O’Connell Bridge. Once you got to the other side of the river you could see and feel that it was a much safer area. We noticed that at no point along the way did we see anything resembling a police presence.

Dublin, our very popular capital city is a fantastic place but it has a dark, dangerous anti social edge to it in many central locations that are sadly witnessed by many visitors as well as natives.

While we can curse and detest these ‘louts’ for tainting our beloved capital we should first wonder how these desperately troubled and deprived people have ended up behaving and living like this and then begin to figure out the huge job of breaking these awful cycles of misery.

While the economy continues to improve we must figure out how we can leverage this opportunity and make our capital a safe and enjoyable place for everyone to work, live and visit.

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

 

 

 

 

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

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

 

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

 

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

 

 

 

Perfect moments

December 29, 2014

We all have great times that we fondly look back at, special achievements, fantastic holidays, family occasions, all manner of things to remember. We look back at these times and we realise that they were great.

Something a little bit more rare and precious than those times are what I call ‘perfect moments‘. These are extra special because they are literally moments and when they occur a feeling comes over you and you realise there and then that this is a ‘perfect’ moment.

Often these ‘perfect moments’ are not the obvious ones such as the moment your children were born. While these were incredibly special moments they were tense and worrying so in ways for me they could not be perfect there and then.

These are some of my perfect moments..

Phil Lynott of Thin Lizzy

I was fourteen and Thin Lizzy were on stage in the City Hall in Cork. Phil Lynott roared “Are you Ready” and he roared it again ..the packed hall erupted, my body trembled and the hairs on the back of my neck stood up..this is a perfect moment.

Euro Final 1992

I was lucky enough to be sitting in the middle of the Danish fans in 1992 on a warm summer’s evening in Gothenburg in Sweden as they were beating the clear favourites Germany 2-1 in the European final. I was sipping on a beer alongside people I barely knew (I was on a junket compliments of Carlsberg), the fans were going bonkers and a feeling crept over me ..this is a perfect moment.

Greg and Dee, Cuba

I was in Cuba with Dee and we had gone into the sea for a dip to cool down. The sun was beating down and we were having fun in the water. I picked her up in my warms, and we were laughing and so close …this is a perfect moment.

Greg Canty, Jonathan Leahy Maharaj, Maire Coffey

We were on a magical mystery tour as part of our last day at work after a great year and all of us were to meet in different pubs based on a set of clues. The Oval, our planned destination on South Main Street was closed and the instructions were to head into the nearest one to it. I found myself in Ziggy’s bar with Jonathan and Maire taking turns at picking songs on the jukebox.

My choice, ‘Ain’t no love in the heart of the city‘ the live version by Whitesnake came on. We were having great fun, great chat, the music was great and the barman/ageing rocker with the pigtail enquired..”Who put that song on…great track man“…a perfect moment.

What was yours?

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

 

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