Heads heard: Andrew Cosslett.

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FOXTROTS

 

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

Foxtrots – leading the industry in a dance.

 

2009 September 16

 

Heads heard: Andrew Cosslett.

 

Paraphrased and unsynchronised comments from Andrew Cosslett, CEO of InterContinental Hotels:

 

-We have a big system to drive all the demand there is. The downturn will last at least through most of this year if not into 2010. There will be many more brands. We have been removing 25,000 hotel rooms a year in Holiday Inn, mainly in the US, and so with the number of new HIs opening we will have a new group in a few years’ time.

 

[On why InterContinental is selling most of its hotels.] Well, for example, Singapore Airlines does not build its own planes. [Yes, but it does own them…]

 

[On why so many hotel brands.] Look at the car industry. They have so many brands and many provide facilities we did not even know we needed. And all packaged in a way to make it attractive to us. [Mixing the troubled car business into something that sounds similar to the sub-prime financial packaging, and saying this is a good example, seems untimely at best.]

 

-We think we need to know more about sleep – because these days the business traveller gets has less downtime. [Although we do not agree with much of what Cosslett says, this is smart thinking. A hotel room needs to have more facilities which support the ‘travel lifestyle’ of a key market segment. This could be, for instance, an easy chair with facilities for working on a laptop (a movable rest for the computer) and facing the television, so that the guest can work, relax and watch TV screen at the same time.]

 

 

The Fox

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Gabriele Burgio. Head of NH Hoteles.

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FOXTROTS

 

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

Foxtrots – leading the industry in a dance.

 

2009 September 14

 

Gabriele Burgio. Head of NH Hoteles.

 

Paraphrased:

 

-60% of our growth comes from acquisitions. In theory, hotels are cheap as a result of the crisis, but this is not reflected in the prices currently asked – except in the stock price of companies that are quoted in the stock market. We have not seen opportunities; maybe some will come.

 

-We bought a hotel company in Italy [Jolly], but in general Italy is not doing well. There has been a severe drop in tourists in Rome, and there have been a lot of special problems. Like for like, Italy is losing at least 5%. We are relaunching in Italy – we had stopped marketing.

 

-We have abandoned the ‘EdeNH’ [sic] brandname because there were too many ‘Eden’ hotels in the world; not EdeNH, but it was causing complications nevertheless. What speaks is the resort itself, so our top hotels will have a name, not necessarily NH. [When EdeNH was introduced, we said it would not last because it could not be pronounced, in Spanish or English.]

 

-We have a special hotel in Milan, with which we will launch our new brandname, ‘NHow’. And we plan to open a NHow in Berlin in the second part of this year. [I think the NHow brandname is particularly good – as good as EdeNH was bad.]

 

-There are plenty of expansion opportunities in Latin America. We have five new hotels in Mexico, plus Colombia and Panama. For instance, Buenos Aires has huge potential. We could have 50 hotels there; after all, we have 42 in Madrid. But we are not interested in new regions such as Asia Pacific, because we don’t have enough resources.

 

-Our focus is on corporate clients. Our main markets are Spain, Germany, then Italy. We do surprisingly well in Germany. One survey showed that we are the second brand of choice for German travellers in Germany, and the 7th for German travellers in the world.

 

-Distribution – travel agencies, intermediaries, companies – is complex. There is no solution; you just have to understand it, and have the right management; it is like mixing hot and cold water in a shower.

 

 

The Fox

Hire education. Geoffrey Lipman.

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FOXTROTS

 

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

Foxtrots – leading the industry in a dance.

 

2009 September 12

 

Hire education. Geoffrey Lipman.

 

He is no longer Mr Geoffrey Lipman, but Professor Lipman. By custom, the recipient of an honorary degree – this one was awarded by the Griffith University in Queensland – does not use the title in this way. But Lipman is, well, Lipman.

 

He founded and headed WTTC (World Travel & Tourism Council), now widely accepted as the top-level link between the travel business and governments. He could even be credited with creating the (admittedly superfluous) multiple-noun ‘travel and tourism’. We suspect T&T because he could hardly call his WTTC merely WTC – too close to rival WTO.

 

After leaving WTTC, Lipman busied himself with other activities and associations, but did not achieve the success he had with WTTC. He then moved into (you could say “moved onto”) the World Tourism Organization.

 

He has never been a success in business; only with associations.

 

He is now assistant secretary-general at the WTO, and has built this (new; his creation) position into an important one. In many ways, he has been the leader, leaving WTO’s head Francesco Frangialli to be what he was best at – administration.

 

But with headmaster-Frangialli going, formally, end of last month, could the professor get expelled? Or will he try to stay on as deputy headmaster, or even try to become headmaster?

 

(In one sense he must hurry. He is a UK national, and the WTO has an archaic rule that its staff must be nationals of a WTO member. Visit Britain is a member but – to WTO’s embarrassment – is resigning only two years after rejoining.)

 

Discuss.

 

The Fox

PAGPFT (pronounced PAG-puffed); People Are Getting Paid For This.

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FOXTROTS

 

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

Foxtrots – leading the industry in a dance.

 

2009 September 09

 

PAGPFT (pronounced PAG-puffed); People Are Getting Paid For This.

 

-This story is a little complex, so I have omitted certain parts. I was travelling Melbourne-Rome on Qantas with a day-long stopover in Hong Kong. Leaving Hong Kong on British Airways I had a single-bag allowance.

 

But ex-Australia, one of my two bags missed a connection, and was to be delivered hours before my departure from Hong Kong. BA would not relent; I could not check in the 2nd bag (which normally fits into the first suitcase). The supervisor even suggested that I could take the second bag as cabin baggage. If I would get past first controls in HK, I would not get past others.

 

This is another example of ‘empowerment’ gone wrong – empowerment to make bad decisions.

 

 

-For health control in Hong Kong, we had been asked to complete a form – for identification for swine flu. The form asked me for ‘Flight Number’, so I prepared that document. When my turn came at the desk, the agent asked “Seat Number Please”. I now realise that the words “Flight Number” really mean “Flight Number and Seat Number”. I should have guessed.

 

 

-Am I spoiling the fun to point out that sealing bags for duty-free goods is not really safe? It would be rather simple for terrorists to make their own sealed bags – or simply buy them from a rogue employee.

 

 

-Finally, I hear that Qantas has changed its safety announcement. Before it said about aircraft seating, that “every aircraft is different”. In an earlier column, The Fox pointed out that this was wrong. Qantas has now changed it to “every aircraft type is different”, as I suggested. I won’t be a curmudgeon to point out that although this is now technically correct, isn’t it sort-of silly? It is simply a more sophisticated way of saying “different aircraft are different”.

 

 

The Fox

London PAGPFT (pronounced PAG-puffed); People Are Getting Paid For This.

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FOXTROTS

 

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

Foxtrots – leading the industry in a dance.

 

 

2009 September 07

 

London PAGPFT (pronounced PAG-puffed); People Are Getting Paid For This.

 

-Transferring at London Heathrow, international-to-international, I passed four signs asking me to ‘Show Boarding Pass’, so I prepared that document. When my turn came at the desk, the agent asked “Passport Please”. I now realise that the words “Show Boarding Pass” really mean “Show Passport and Boarding Pass”. I should have guessed.

 

 

-Some authorities need an Editor. Who was the person who got paid for a decision to change the word ‘Immigration’ to ‘Border Control’? I accept that BC is well understood by say 75% of people who arrive in the UK, but that compares with 95% that I reckon understand ‘Immigration’.

 

 

-Someone else who needs an Editor – A British Airways on-board announcement talks of “dedicated coaches” for transfer passengers to other terminals. Are “dedicated coaches” actually “enthusiastic helpers”, or would using the word “buses” be understood by more people?

 

 

-French-language translation of security warning at London Heathrow is wrong. It advises that ‘baggage abandonee’ will be destroyed, but the warning is not for baggage abandoned, it is actually for ‘baggage non-supervisee’.

 

 

-The aviation industry has security problems with passengers making direct transfers, particularly when they have bought duty-free liquor – which is cleared at the departure airport, but not at a transfer airport. But I came across something odd the other day. I was not allowed to buy liquor in a sealed bag from Hong Kong airport if I was making a transfer at London. But I found I was allowed if I bought liquor in a sealed bag on board British Airways. If there is a difference in security, it is minor. This sounds more like a commercial arrangement; BA has made an agreement with security for special clearance. I propose this loophole is closed – in the interests of security.

 

 

 

The Fox