Archive for the ‘Travel’ Category

Too much, too little and two mishaps

December 10, 2017

Cliff House Hotel, Ardmore

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

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

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

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

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

Cliff Walk, Ardmore

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Kathleen O'Sullivan

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

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

Merry Christmas to all..

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

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

Greg Canty 

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

Ryanair – The bit that comes before the Crisis

September 25, 2017

Ryanair - Always Getting Better

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

In a crisis situation we always advise –

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

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

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

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

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

Ryanair - Cancelled Flights

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

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

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

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

A different scenario? 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Greg Canty 

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

 

 

 

 

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

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