Archive for the ‘Travel’ Category

The gal in Girona and how we are all connected

October 10, 2019

Girona

We were standing outside the tourist office in the beautiful city of Girona in Spain and taking in the stunning old buildings while figuring out our route for the day – a walk through the city  alongside the river, a visit to two of the famous cathedrals, exploring the Jewish quarter and then a climb to the wall walk, which towers high above providing stunning views and runs for at least a mile and then maybe lunch!

While we stood figuring out the route I noticed a woman in a green and white dress with blue shoes and an unusual light green heel.

Aren’t her shoes unusual” I commented to Dee. I got a strange look!

We went about our stroll, taking in the stunning architecture of the shops that ran along the river, we explored the few bridges, popped over to Independence Square and then went to the first Cathedral.

There she was our lady with the blue and green shoes, standing ahead of us in the queue and she asked for the headset with the tour in Russian.

Her hair was tied up nicely, she wore a gold watch and some discreet jewellery.

We collected our headsets and they took us from station of interest to station of interest, each with a sequential number in your headset that told you all about that part of the church.

Our Russian friend was one stop ahead of us as we went from station to station.

At stop number 10 we were overdosing on too much historical information and we just wandered on until we completed the visit and went on our journey to the main cathedral in the city.

The location for this was stunning, at the beginning of the Jewish quarter, a huge imposing building towering over the city. We climbed the steps to the cathedral, grabbed our headsets and started the 1,2,3,4 sequence of each historic spot within. There was our Russian friend again with the unusual shoes.

Judging from the guests in our hotel many Russians seem to come here on holidays.

The fantastic hotel where we were staying near Lloret de Mar, the Santa Maria, seemed to have many while we were there including a group of women, who were definitely enjoying themselves by the pool, at the bar and at breakfast – the Cava was flowing on the one morning when a ferocious storm spent the day visiting.

After all, what else could you do?!

Was our Russian friend alone I wondered?

If I was alone, would I go visiting cathedrals or even come on a holiday like this by myself? It must be difficult for anyone who is alone I pondered.

We hit fast forward, exited the cathedral and wandered through the Jewish quarter, passing the beautiful, unusual shops, restaurants and buildings and then we made our way up, up, up to the beginning of the famous wall.

Climbing those steps was tough in the heat, when in particular en route we had to pass a few restaurants with people enjoying paella and cold drinks!

Girona

The wall towered over the city and it snaked it’s way parallel to the river on the opposite side of the city centre. We walked and walked and eventually came to the end of the wall and back where our day started near the tourist office.

With the knowledge we now had of the city we made our way to the Jewish quarter and settled on a beautiful old restaurant and sat outside to enjoy the food and the brilliant pastime of some people watching.

The menu carrying salesman at the front of the restaurant carefully moved in when anyone showed interest in the menu. All dishes were for two, and we settled on a walnut, blue cheese and apple salad for €16, which included two glasses of Cava. The dish was huge as well as being delicious and we just had to order ‘Dos copas du vino blanco‘ to complete the course!

The people watching was as enjoyable as the meal as all sorts of unusual people, young and old passed by … holidays are just great!

Our Russian friend came into my mind as I thought about the ‘meals for two menu‘ at the restaurant.

As I sat there I asked Dee “would you come to a place like this on your own”?

No sooner as the words came out of my mouth, our Russian friend with the blue shoes and the lime green heels walked by.

How is it that the second we think about someone, they appear?

I swear, there are no coincidences, we are all truly connected, even with Russian women in Girona!

There would be no need for dinner after that feast so we bought a baguette and some cheese on the way back to the car to eat later on the balcony of the hotel.

That was a good day ..

Greg

Greg Canty is a Partner of Fuzion Communications, a full service Marketing, PR, Graphic Design and Digital Marketing agency with offices in Dublin and Cork, Ireland

Orange Pride?

August 11, 2019

Orange Parade

When I received an invitation from Niall Gibbons, Chief Executive of Tourism Ireland and President of Dublin Chamber to attend a very small gathering in Belfast to observe the Orange Parade on the 12th July, I must admit I was quiet surprised.

This initiative is something that Niall has been working on for a number of years to build bridges and trust across communities.

After some consideration and diary juggling, I decided to make the trip, mainly out of curiosity and to get a deeper understanding of the political climate in the North.

I was warned by many to be extremely careful where I drove, where I parked the car and not to wander out of the hotel alone for any reason. 

I must admit to feeling some trepidation as I drove into Belfast on the afternoon of the 11th watching the many Northern reg cars going in the opposite direction.

My Google Maps took me safely to the door of the newest hotel in Belfast, the superb Grand Central and I chose the valet parking to avoid any risk of going down a wrong street!

On the evening of the 11th there was a mini gathering in the breathtaking Observatory Bar at the top of the hotel, which was a spectacular location to look over the city and the various bonfires that could be seen in different parts.

The gathering included our small group, representatives from Northern Ireland Chamber of Commerce, some tourism officials as well as Rev. Meryn Gibson, Grand Secretary of the Orange Order and some business people from the city.

As we enjoyed the wine and tasty treats we watched as the crowds started to gather close by, at a site where they were getting ready to set their bonfire alight at midnight.

It was a very strange and uneasy feeling watching the huge structure, higher than a house, with our Irish flag on top and an election poster for a female Sinn Fein candidate tied onto it… I understood why people left the North for these few days.

One of the group who lived in Belfast left the function briefly with her niece to observe the bonfire from the street and I asked if could I tag along … I did ask if it was safe first !!

The scene around the bonfire was strange with couples, families, friends and a random but large assortment of people of all ages all with their smartphones ready to capture the moment when the fire was lit. 

For some it was a mini party and they had their bottles of beer and cider on the go.

I felt more than a little strange witnessing what was going on and I was careful not to engage with anyone as the Cork accent might just be difficult to disguise!

Eventually the bonfire was lit and in no time at all the fire was raging, smoke bellowing into the sky and a strong blast of heat made it to us , even though we were across the street.

There was some cheering when the bonfire was lit and a small group started to chant something that I couldn’t make out – while everyone was busy capturing the “moment” on their smartphones. I really didn’t get a sense of huge celebration from the onlookers and I wondered was there a degree of discomfort with them as well, watching a flag burning that represented their neighbours and the poster of a female politician?

We returned to the hotel with our thoughts, had a nightcap and headed to bed.

The following morning there was a breakfast reception at the hotel with some of the leaders from the different Orange Lodges.

Before we sat down for breakfast there was lots of chit chat as the various people arrived in our private room at the hotel. It was clear already that this was a very special day for the ‘Orange Order’ community as they started to give us insights into their day of marching. Some were from Belfast and others had travelled from places as far away as Scotland and they spoke with pride about what this day meant to them.

Needless to say they were all turned out immaculately for this special day.

Finally the group sat down for breakfast and we had a chance to chat in more depth with those sitting either side of us.

I was sitting next to a very nice gentleman called William Hughes, The Deputy County Grand Master of the Belfast Grand Orange Lodge.

I shared with him my lack of knowledge about the day and the warnings that people had given me about a visit to Belfast.

He used some of the promotional material on the table for the “Twelfth” to describe the day to me, what it meant to the Orange Order and what collectively they were trying to achieve with the day.

There was a square beer mat with the campaign key message “Its about the Battle, not the Bottle”.

Basically, it’s about the significance of the Battle of the Boyne and the celebration of this and not a day for getting drunk! 

On the other side of the beer mat there was an image of people standing at a bonfire with the words “Heritage, Respect, Remembrance, Tradition and Culture”.

The overriding idea is that this is an ‘OrangeFest’ for everyone to enjoy and instead of it being an occasion that would make people avoid the North, it should be the opposite, an attraction that people would want to experience and enjoy.

He explained to me how the Orange Order and the Orange Lodges worked, how they are rooted in religion and good living and how they are an important part of people’s identities and lives.

He did explain that from time to time they clash with the church, as the view is that if they really are upholding the values of their religion then they should be attending church regularly, which is not the case.

It did strike me that they were a very close knit community and that there was a huge tradition around the Lodges that passed from generation to generation and the Orange Parades were the ultimate expression and celebration of this.

I asked about the significance of the bonfires and I was given lots of rational explanations about a guiding light, about warmth and a sign of life. I shared my extreme discomfort about the Irish flag and the election posters as part of the fire and expressed the view that this seriously clashed with how the Orange celebrations had been explained to me by him and that it felt quite disturbing to witness.

His response to me was that this was very unfortunate, definitely not in the spirit of the occasion and it was effectively the work of some hooligans.

While I was glad to hear this explanation, I rationalised it by comparing it to hooligans at soccer matches who can chant and do stupid things and give all fans a bad reputation.

However, it did niggle at me that if the bonfires were so significant and a key symbol to mark this time of the year, then there should have been a huge effort to remove these emotive symbols from the bonfires. Where there is a strong will, there is a way?

Of course the TV crews picked up on these symbols as part of their coverage of the occasion, which sends a poor message to everyone, possibly confirming what many people have in their heads about this society and the unease in the North.

As part of the format of the breakfast everyone present introduced themselves and said a few words. Everyone was made feel very welcome and without doubt the hands of friendship were offered openly.

When it came to my turn I explained how much my opinion had shifted as a result of the experience and I thanked them for their hospitality.

Orange parade

Outside our window along the route we could see people gathering, getting in position for the few hours of marches. These people were organised, with their fold up chairs, their British flags and their refreshments.

As time passed by, the Orange Lodge members were starting to get anxious as they were checking their watches as they all had to be ready to take their position and march with their Lodge.

Our new Orange friends put on their sashes, there was a presentation, photographs and very brief speeches and they headed off to join their respective Lodges.

I took my beer mat and the souvenir programme as momentos of the occasion and to study them in detail later.

We left the wonderful Central Hotel and we were led down the road to a spot which was deemed good for observing the marches.

The walk towards our “spot” was a little embarrassing as the street was lined on each side by eager people all waiting for the marches to begin.

I suspected that many thought that our smartly dressed group were VIPs of some sort as we walked in between them – there was a lot of attention on us and many had their cameras and smartphones ready, just in case there was someone worth snapping!

You could get a huge sense of community as we walked and many of those watching seemed to know the guys who were leading our little group and there was plenty of friendly banter between them.

We finally settled at a spot to watch the marches and waited.

I was observing the people around me waiting – there were old and young, families, couples, bunches of friends and just the very odd person walking by with a drink in their hand – It’s about the Battle, not the Bottle I thought!

Orange parade

In particular, I was observing two young girls in front of me, 20 years of age at most. They were well prepared with their refreshments, their seats and the British flags in hand and they were enjoying their day. One of them had a baby and she held it in her arms getting ready for what was probably the child’s “first” parade – another tradition begins.

After a while we could see the first Orange Lodge appearing with flags, band and other members all marching proudly.

Our wait was a short one, but for many of the people who were waiting it must have been quite a while – it surprised me that when the marching bands did eventually reach our area there was no one cheering or even clapping, just watching.

Orange parade

Band after band marched by, some large and some small, predominantly male and a big mix of ages. The one thing they all had in common was the sense of pride and honour that they carried with them with each step.

Eventually all of the bands had passed by, possibly after an hour and a half and that was that.

As part of our itinerary there was an option to visit the new James Connolly Visitor Centre on the Falls Road and in a way get a sense of how the “other part” of the community in Belfast treated these few days.

I was really impressed by the little Visitor Centre and cafe and we had the opportunity to chat to the manager there, Séanna Walsh and one of the local political representatives for the area.

They explained to us all of the hard work that is being put in year after year, to keep people away from trouble and to give them positive things to do. We heard about the free music festival ‘Feile’ that has been going on for decades and we also heard about the activities on the ground to ensure trouble does not break out.

The Falls Road in the ‘Gaeltacht Quarter’ was not at all what I was expecting!

Before I knew it my Orange visit was over and I had lots to mull over about the very positive experience on the long drive home.

The following morning with a cup of coffee in hand I took out the programme for the “Twelfth” which I had from the breakfast the day before,

I turned the pages and started to read the foreword, which was written by a senior member of the Orange Order.

Two paragraphs in I found myself reading about the “disgusting Sinn Fein politicians” and further on I read about fascists and it got worse.

As much as I had heard about an OrangeFest, celebrating “Hertitage, Respect, Remembrance, Tradition and Culture“, the deep wounds and raw hatred are still very close to the surface witnessed by this rhetoric being used by the leadership in the “souvenir” programme.

I reflected on the bonfire, the Irish flag and the posters of the female Sinn Fein candidate and it made sense to me that many would be quite truthfully more than happy to see these go up in flames.

Maybe it wasn’t a few hooligans after all?

It is hard for us to properly understand what it is like in the North, the deep divisions and the deeper scars.

I do fully understand why people leave the North, and their plans next year and the year after will be no different.

I can’t see how this time will be a festival that attracts visitors anytime soon, which is very unfortunate for the fine place.

Orange parade

I do admire the great work that many are doing to keep the peace and to reach out, but more leaders will need to show more leadership and change their rhetoric for the sake of future generations.

I do sincerely thank the people I met for their hospitality and for sharing their special occasion with us.

Finally, I do admire the huge sense of pride and identity that they have for their history, culture and way of life and wish that maybe we should have more of that about Ireland and our Patrick’s day.

Greg

Greg Canty is a Partner of Fuzion Communications, a full service Marketing, PR and Graphic Design agency with offices in Dublin and Cork, Ireland

 

 

Why Cheltenham?

March 19, 2018

Cheltenham

I was standing in the queue at the Spar on Mount Street in Dublin waiting to order a coffee to get me in shape for the day’s work in the office.

I spotted Dave, a buddy of mine from the drinks industry who I hadn’t seen for a few months collecting his coffee and he nodded across to me.

He made his way over and as jovial as ever he explained that he was exhausted after a few days at Cheltenham: “Jesus, I’m getting too old for this crack and I have a mountain of work to catch up on“.

When we both worked in the drinks industry these “junkets” were part and parcel of the job and while fantastic fun they invariably involved lots of travelling, late nights with more than a drink or two!

Dave is still working in the industry “The recovery time seems to be much longer these days” he told me.

The conversation went on and he asked that question: “How’s your dad doing?

He obviously hadn’t heard.

This is always tough because the answer always leads to some awkwardness and invariably warrants a much bigger conversation.

Dad, sadly passed away at the end of January” I replied and I started to give him some of the details including how he passed, how everyone was coping and both of us stood there holding our takeaway cups and we spoke about mortality and our different experiences.

Life is short” he said “and we never quite know how short it will be“.

We both stood there nodding and contemplating in silence.

That’s why we have to go to Cheltenham” he said and we both went on with our respective days.

He is right..

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

 

 

 

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

 

 

 

 

Back to life

June 20, 2017

Back to Life

….another holiday done.

This time it was with Dee and a gang of family and friends who went to Arezzo in Tuscany in Italy for their very tribal Jousting Festival – if you haven’t been, then check it out as it is a very special ritual that happens twice every summer in the city.

For the most part the whole of our gang stayed together in an Agri Tourism holiday farm development in the country about 15 miles from the city.

We lounged by the pool, we walked in the soaring heat into the local town of Subbiano for the cheapest fresh bread, rolls, prosciutto, cheese and fruit, we enjoyed our coffees and delicious pastries, we joked about how it was impossible to break 5 Euros (it was incredibly cheap everywhere!), we went to a vineyard, we had meals out, we drove to the wonderful Sienna and we sat about day and night sharing beer, great wine, delicious food, endless chit chat and lots of laughter.

Dee and I also spent two days at the beginning of the holiday by ourselves in the beautiful city of Verona, the home of Romeo and Juliet and many superb restaurants.

And now it’s all done, I’m sitting in the temporary boarding lounge at Bergamo Airpost as we make our journey “back to life“, ordinary life, until the next time.

I did manage to unwind a little, I stayed on top of work by keeping an eye on emails each day and I did really enjoy the time with friends and loved ones. 11 days is never enough time to properly relax but you have to make the most of your downtime.

So …normal life waits, the sun is shining in Ireland thankfully, I’m looking forward to seeing the two dogs, Honey and Bert, I’m looking forward to catching up with friends, mum and dad, I’m looking forward to seeing my work buddies and then there is the work itself.

Work – that thing that I seem to spend most of my life on, that thing that seems to give me a sense of purpose, that thing that definitely consumes me.

People talk about Work/Life/Balance and this is mostly measured by how much time you spend working and how much time you have for other things.

For me it all depends on what the “W” looks like – if it’s a grind, providing no satisfaction, then a minute spent working is a minute too much.

I love what I do as we have carefully created something very special, that is interesting, rewarding and challenging. I do know however that you have to have downtime, so that it stays interesting, rewarding and challenging and you are able to apply yourself to it fresh, with energy and enjoyment.

I run that battery down a little too much so I do need to be careful, which is my big post-holiday resolution to myself.

So, back to life?

I’m lucky, It’s a good life..

#WinHappy

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

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? 

The St.Patrick’s Day lost opportunity

March 16, 2017

St.Patrick's DAy

Can you imagine getting off the plane today, 16th March visiting Ireland for the first time. It’s the eve of St.Patrick’s Day, the iconic Irish festival and I wonder what are your expectations?

You have heard all about it, you have seen some footage on the TV, you know about the Irish dignitaries visiting foreign lands pressing the flesh and exchanging gifts of the shamrock. You know about the Irish celebrations all over the world on this special day where the Irish (and so many who would love to be Irish!) celebrate their Irishness. You have heard about Ireland, the friendly, beautiful country that is famous for the warm welcome, the craic and of course the pubs with that iconic drink, Guinness.

You must be excited..

I’ve just parked the car, grabbed a coffee and walked to the office and I’ve tried to put myself in the shoes of this visitor – what do they see, what do they experience, what are they thinking?

Except for the window of the Tourist Office you really wouldn’t even know that there was a festival. That poor tourist must be a little confused!

I haven’t come to town to see the parade for donkey’s years (even though I do hear its got a lot better) and I haven’t considered it either this year either despite our office being on the route with a perfect view. Outside of the parade is there anything else that would bring me to town to celebrate my Irishness? I know there are some activities planned around the city for the weekend but the occasion just hasn’t crept inside my skin, it doesn’t connect with me.

Palio

Twice a year in Siena (start and end of the summer) in Tuscany there is a festival called the Palio of ‘Palio di Siena‘ which is basically a local festival that runs for a week each time that culminates in a bare back horse race in the Piazzo del Campo at the centre of the town.

Palio

Every man, woman and child comes out and celebrates. They sing, they parade behind their horses and at night they eat and drink together.

The Guardian refer to it “It’s not a horse race, it’s a way of life” and they talk about it being an “embodiment of civic pride”.

We have been there about six times as I am totally seduced by this special feeling of being connected and part of a community spirit, a coming together.

Everytime I go there I wish and long for something in Ireland that can bring out the same spirit and feeling of community, pride and connectedness –  St.Patrick’s Day should be that day but for some reason it falls short.

St.Patrick’s Day is one of our greatest assets and it should be the most special day in all of our calendars. Every man, woman and child, let’s celebrate together!

How can we make that happen?

Greg Canty 

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

 

 

 

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