WTO goals; any point?

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 FOXTROTS  Fox – sly.  Trots – left-leaning (Trotsky) plus its more insalubrious meaning.  Foxtrots – leading the industry in a dance. 


2007 June 29

WTO goals; any point?  

We will still look to the World Tourism Organization for leadership for in the visitor business, not obfuscation.  It says that 2007 “should be a critical year to consolidate tourism as a key agent in the fight against poverty and a primary tool for sustainable development.” Sorry, obfuscation. Why ‘critical’?   

The WTO calls for “renewed effort to include sustainable tourism in the international development agenda, as a key tool to advance the Millennium Development Goals” viz:

[] For Industrialised and “Newly Emerging States”. “To craft pro-development strategies and agreements which encourage tourism to the world’s poorest countries to advance economic well being, social development and mutual understanding.” 

While we are not sure what an NES is, is WTO asking states to promote travel to (how-many) “poorest” countries? The bottom 10 are Chad (poorest) then Cambodia, Bhutan, Tanzania, Gambia, Tajikistan, Uganda, Niger, Nepal, Mozambique. Or does WTO mean something else?  And we also note that Bhutan wants (really) to shun economic measures and concentrate on a Gross National Happiness index, so drop it from WTO’s list?

[] For “Least Developed States”. To “collectively recognize the impact and potential of tourism across their economies, integrate it into national accounting systems using the UN Tourism Satellite Account and place it at the heart of their Poverty Reduction Strategy Programs”.  Yes, but we do not understand why they need to do this collectively.

[] For all states. “In acting within the Doha Development Round of the World Trade Organization, to increase tourism commitments and provide specific tools to help poor countries use tourism services to fight poverty and promote sustainable development.   “In acting on Climate Change, to build a pro development element into tourism and climate strategies, particularly for airline flights, taxation and emission trading.   “In acting on Security Enhancement, to recognize the importance of tourism in building understanding between people and to facilitate tourism links between industrialized and developing states as well as providing the technology and training support to poor countries.”  Cannot fault all that, although parts are meaningless, viz “…pro development element [for] tourism and climate strategies…” even if they sound good.

[] For International Development Agencies – the World Bank Group, the Regional Development Banks, National Aid Agencies. To “place tourism amongst their key priorities for infrastructure and entrepreneurial support”. Faultless.

[] For “tourism stakeholders – public sector, private sector, non government organizations, tourists and the destinations they visit”. To “embrace the Millennium Development Goals and pursue sustainable and responsible practices laid out in the WTO’s ethics code.  

We suspect many, like us, do not know all the MDGs or WTO’s ethics code. We would ask for that ethics code, but suspect that it is full of long WTO-speak meaning “be considerate when you travel”.  

The WTO goes off track again, though with its head asking us to consider “…the difference the huge numbers of travellers forecast from India…could make in Africa and the Asia Pacific region.”  A trip to his own statistics department would show him India might reach the Netherlands’ current total in 10 years. Again, we point this out because we look to the WTO for leadership, but much output risks being little more than publicity-puff-points.  

Yet the WTO does create opportunities that may bring about social and economic improvements. This year these include a Tourism & Religion summit in Spain, the second Tourism & Climate Change summit in the UK, a conference for parliamentarians and local authorities in Tunisia, and more.

The Fox

Best airport? Wrong again.

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 FOXTROTS  Fox – sly.  Trots – left-leaning (Trotsky) plus its more insalubrious meaning.  Foxtrots – leading the industry in a dance. 


2007 June 28

  Best airport? Wrong again.  Across my desk (well over my screen), I receive many results of ‘Best Of’ contests. Most I ignore, probably like most of us.   I am a subscriber to the belief that the only awards worth winning are the ones I win. I presume that is one reason why I haven’t won many…ok, I won one.   However, for some reason I do follow the ‘best of’ airports. I think the reason is that I believe any competition that does not name Singapore’s Changi as the best airport in the world is simply wrong.   I presume the problem for the organisers is that they cannot have Singapore winning every year because the competition would look like it was fixed.   I once asked Skytrax about how they arrived at their findings (in that case, that Hong Kong airport was the world’s best), and added the reason for my question – that I didn’t believe it. They refused to answer, because my question did not seem to be serious.   (Since then, of course, I have seriously dismissed all Skytrax findings as unjustified – a legally-true statement as far as I am concerned.)   Back to airports. The latest ‘Best Of’ finding – from Airports Council International, so one which should be credible – put Singapore fourth after the airports in Seoul, Hong Kong, and Kuala Lumpur!   This is so wrong that it is almost a joke.   But some comments about Hong Kong can serve to indicate why it should not be in the top-five. (I am biased, however; I wrote a report entitled ‘Design Disaster’ after inspecting the terminal one month before it opened.)   Hong Kong’s airport is impressive architecturally, and has excellent transport links into town. Apart from that, almost nothing else is good. Airport architects (shamefully, Hong Kong was actually this designer’s second airport) should visit Hong Kong to learn what not to do.   I will make just a few remarks about Changi to help support my feelings:   -It is the only airport where I voluntarily spent an overnight (flight arrival 2350; connecting flight 0700) because I knew there was enough to do. Rest, eat, watch movies, shop. I found that the lounge chairs even incorporate timers, so you can sleep without worrying about missing your flight, with a head vibrator to wake you up (instead, for obvious reasons, of an alarm).   -I once asked an information desk for directions. She replied “straight down there, and turn left after the second waterfall”. How many airports would be able to give a direction with even just one waterfall?   -The other night there was live pianist and singer at bar in the departure lounge after immigration checks.   

Perhaps I should end by saying Singapore has made a mistake in building a Budget Terminal. The government owners have already realised this (even if they will never say so), but within a year they will announce what they plan to do that will correct the error. Convert the terminal to add regular flights, to small-parcel freight, administration, conferences, hotels? Of course it will be a face saver, so the reason given will be high demand for, say, additional office space.

The Fox

Writing wrongs. And other miscommunication.

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 FOXTROTS  Fox – sly.  Trots – left-leaning (Trotsky) plus its more insalubrious meaning.  Foxtrots – leading the industry in a dance. 


2007 June 26




Writing wrongs. And other miscommunication.   Taking the high ground, I am surprised at the number of mistakes that the travel industry makes in its communication with consumers. Some examples:   – Jetstar’s inflight safety announcement says that “…smoking could result in fines or prosecution…” This means the fines could come before the prosecution. On-the-spot fines? Be doubly-cautious.   – Its Asian partner, Jetstar Asia, is not much better. It says it has “the most experienced pilots”. Although owner Qantas might dispute that, but in reality this is nothing more than erroneous-therefore-meaningless hype.   Jetstar compounds its error by saying that these pilots “[ensure] on-time arrival…” Now my flight was nearly one-hour late, so does this mean that my flight was flown by inexperienced pilots?.   – Qantas’s mistake is grammatical. “Subtlely,” says the voice in its safety announcement, “every aircraft is different.” Wrong. What I think the airline wants to say is “Many aircraft have subtle differences”. Or, if Qantas insists, “All aircraft have subtle differences.”   Singapore’s Silk Air is clearly providing something more than an air transport service.   It has started to list the number of passengers it “uplifts” each month. With totals of around 50,000 monthly, is that still short of some revivalist churches in the US?   – Some airlines have a rather-low notion of passenger intelligence. The video shown to passengers arriving in Bangkok on Thai Airways helps them to fill out the immigration form. “Where it says ‘Family Name’,” the voice advises, in English, “enter your family name. Next, you will see ‘Home Address’; here you should note where you live”.   And so on. One wonders what passengers travelling on other airlines do without getting this advice. Answer ‘Yes’ in the ‘Sex’ box, ‘Human’ against ‘Race’?   – Then there is a classic comment in the current inflight programme of Malaysia Airlines on inflight health tips: “…It’s important to keep your blood circulating…” Wow, I appreciate that advice; otherwise I might have stopped circulating it.   – This one from London Luton airport, but others make the same mistake. Different meanings if ‘only’ is inserted in positions as marked 123 following: “1 smoking will 2 be permitted 3 in the designated areas”.   Note which one is correct for what we assume airports want to say (3?) and then listen to see if your airport permits smoking anywhere, even though it thinks it doesn’t.   – Ryanair has a recorded announcement for when a flight arrives early – praising “another on-time arrival”. So it is up to clever-me to point out that an early arrival is not “on-time” – in the same way that a late arrival is not “on-time”.   – Silverjet promotions promise “minimal flight announcements”. That would mean “Fasten seatbelt”, “Don’t smoke”, “Landed” – or because a landing would be obvious to most, perhaps just the sound of breathing over the announcement system? That would be minimal. Perhaps Silverjet means the “minimum number of announcements”? Although even that, a minimum would be only one.   – And yet another, for a hotel which has a “unique setting that you won’t find anywhere else”. In fact, all unique settings are just that – unique.   


The Fox

Airlines. Not code share – plane share.

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 FOXTROTS  Fox – sly.  Trots – left-leaning (Trotsky) plus its more insalubrious meaning.  Foxtrots – leading the industry in a dance. 


2007 June 22

  Airlines. Not code share – plane share.   I have an idea.   This one is borrowed or rather a mix of current practices – code share by the airlines, and mixed-category/single-site hotel buildings.   You will know of those two-or-more hotel complexes where different standard hotels are operated. A Holiday Inn and a Crowne Plaza, for instance, or a Novotel and a Sofitel.   In fact there are some within the same building – with separate entrance and floors for the budget hotel, and for the mid-range hotel.   Flash over to the airline business.   Why not apply this concept to airlines, particularly those that will be operating the double-deck A380?   Most suited would seem to be in Australia, where Qantas is in the process of turning over much of its expansion to its lower-cost division, Jetstar.   (That is not, I hasten to add, how Qantas describes its strategy, but I am just reading what Qantas is doing, and not just what its management is saying it is doing.)   At one recent presentation, Qantas made a rather odd statement. That Jetstar was the natural airline to operate into West Japan, meaning that Qantas was the natural airline to fly into Tokyo, on the east.   Eh? Not quite sure where nature got into this, but to me the reason sounds like business – Jetstar is better for routes to Nagoya and Osaka than Qantas.   But why, for instance, could not Qantas fly its A380s into Tokyo, and alongside (or, rather, just below) Jetstar fly into Tokyo? Check-in could be separate, as could boarding. And, of course, inflight service. There would still be links between the two levels of the aircraft, but available only to staff. Downstairs, you pay for coffee; upstairs, free champagne!   And the (downstairs) level when not being used by Jetstar, that aircraft could be used by Qantas on its London flights – configuration in Qantas economy would be the same as Jetstar’s all-economy.   Design of the cabin could be ‘airline neutral’ with the personalisation in the form of cabin crew, seat pocket material, or even stick-on identifiers. After all, who cares?


  The Fox

Empowerment at British Airways. To make bad choices.

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Fox – sly.  Trots – left-leaning (Trotsky) plus its more insalubrious meaning.

Foxtrots – leading the industry in a dance.


Empowerment at British AW. To make bad choices. 

I have heard of a case where giving empowerment to some staff means empowerment to make bad decisions.   In a recent situation, a passenger travelled on a business class ticket from Italy to Australia. On his return, he was scheduled in transit through London Heathrow – always a difficult place if you are seeking special service.

Transit time was four hours for a flight to another country in the European Union. (There was a flight after two hours, but those that made the booking had preferred to allow more time for possible delays.)

The complication came in that the business-class ticket was written back to Italy – where the journey had started. But the passenger needed to go to France, and because of complications with ticketing, it proved simpler to purchase a separate ticket for UK-France, and not-use/throw-away the UK-Italy ticket.   But the extra ticket to France was in economy class.

Over to the British Airways business-class lounge. After listening to the story, and conferring with a colleague, the reply was “Sorry, this lounge is for business-class…” etc. They added that staff in the customer service desk near the lounge could authorise entry.

Over to the customer-service desk. Even before the traveller arrived, the lounge staff had telephoned the staff to say they had refused access to the traveller. In other words, don’t mess, and, presumably, to ensure that the traveller did not lie. Then the customer-service staff said only the lounge-staff had the right to approve access to the lounge. In other words, someone was lying.

Of course, the traveller was told he could speak to a Duty Officer or even phone a complaint line. That was declined as being futile – merely a third person saying “I am sorry, sir. But this lounge is just for business-class passengers, and you have an economy ticket.”

Pointless also to complain officially; the response would be the same. Even readers will agree the staff response was ‘correct’. But most will also agree that the airline should have allowed access.

That they did not, and presumably treat other passengers in a similar way, the outcome can be seen in traffic figures for British Airways – the airline is losing market share.

Now, most people know that Ryanair fills more seats than British Airways does. But although a budget product like Ryan should not be compared with a premium product like BA, surely BA can see that it is providing budget service?

The difference is that budget service on BA costs 10-times more than the budget service on Ryan.

The Fox

Ideas. Emirates; Australia.

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FOXTROTS  Fox – sly.  Trots – left-leaning (Trotsky) plus its more insalubrious meaning.  Foxtrots – leading the industry in a dance. 


Ideas. Changing the way we work.   

Some ideas, maybe most, come by accident. Here are two recent ones that hit me:   

During a meeting with the head of Emirates, Tim Clark, I asked him how he planned to improve the transit process particularly at Dubai airport.    

Currently, this is not ‘consumer comfortable’ for any airline. But for Emirates and its two main local rivals Etihad and Qatar, this activity is more important – because of the high ratio (around 50%) of its passengers that are in transit.   

Clark gave me an answer – but one which meant he had no answer. So I thought about it and now have an idea.   

Instead of a transit card, all transit passengers should be given a GPS phone/device that gives directions to help them find their flight – and other information. For those that worry about loss, the device (which could also be programmed to disable itself) would be needed for boarding their connecting flight. They could not board without it.   

Meanwhile, down in Australia, I was once told by the head of marketing of the country’s visitor bureau, Tourism Australia, that communications has changed so much it needs to look at a much wider range of methods to reach its target audience.   

To illustrate the point, one example given was getting something that signifies Australia into a ring tone option on mobile devices.   

Taking a cue from TA’s current marketing theme – SWTBHAY, So Where The Bloody Hell Are You? – I present the proposed content of a ring tone:   “It’s your bloody phone, mate”. 


The Fox