Companies. The name game.

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

November 25 2010

Companies. The name game.

AM quite enjoying this – thinking of appropriate names for companies.

I started some time ago when Accor owned a backpack-hotel division, based in Australia. I suggested either ‘Walk Inn’, ‘Budgis’, or a mere ‘Bagotel’. I like to think that the division failed for Accor because it ignored me, and chose the meaningless X Base Backpackers (yes, XBB) instead of my brilliant suggestions.

Continuing from that unrequited success, I told management at Malaysia’s Tune Hotels, which should know better, that they should name their hotels ‘Tune Inn’. To me that is a no-brainer once you get to ‘Tune’ and the hotel business. But obviously TH management’s brains don’t work in the same way as mine, because they stuck with the almost-great Tune Hotels. Ah well.

Refusing to be beaten – and waiting for the fame that surely one day will be mine – I am offering the following to the market:

1. This is for hotels that are trendy – light-pine, minimalist-design, Design Hotels sort of hotel. In fact, DH itself might be interested. The name? ‘ImageInn’. Good, yes?

2. Not satisfied, I have now moved on to the airline business. First, a planned low-fare-airline in Japan. It’s would be a partly-owned subsidiary of All Nippon Airways. Elsewhere, I have noted the mistakes the owners have made even before getting the airline started, and one of them was that they have not even chosen the airline’s name.

Now for free, I can give them the name – ‘NihonGo’. That actually means ‘Japanese’. A common corruption of this is Nippongo, and I am still not 100% sure that the airline should be named NihonGo instead of NipponGo.

3. And that leads me to my proposal for Easyjet. This UK-based LFA has just signed an onerous legal commitment to pay a bunch of money (every year for 50 years!) to the owner of its name, Stelios Haji-Ioannou. He is still a substantial shareholder, with about 36%.

I find it ironic that for Easyjet he actually followed the businessplan of another airline when he founded Easyjet. At that time, the businessplan was more important than the name.

Stelios paid nothing for the idea – which came from Southwest in the US, although Stelios might not know what SW actually got the LFA businessplan from long-defunct airline, PSA in California.

All Easyjet needs to do is look back at its old back-up computer files, and take the name of a British Airways-started airline that Easyjet bought – Go, or its fuller name, GoFly.

Surely that advice is worth half of the royalty payment that Easyjet is due to pay Stelios for the first year – US$6mn.

The Fox

Research & Markets. A report on reports.

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

Foxtrots – leading the industry in a dance.

November 21 2010


Research & Markets. A report on reports.



GET a perverse pleasure out of reading of the new reports from Research and Markets, a company. That is because the faults are not only obvious – to an experienced observer such as myself – but they are often ludicrous.

Here are three reports:

[] R&M’s ‘Malaysia Medical Tourism Outlook’ forecasts the medical tourism (MT) industry will grow at an annual average of 20% over 2009-12. But this report deserves at best healthy (or, given the subject, ‘unhealthy’?) scepticism.

As well as some meaningless fluff*, R&M also mis-interprets Malaysia’s basic travel figures:

-It names Malaysia “one of the most popular tourist destinations” in Asean. Firstly, only casual visitors to analysis of the travel business equate numbers with popularity; that is another measure. Secondly, R&M notes Malaysia counted 24mn visitors, up 7%, in 2009, but using that figure would make it easily the largest in Asean, by about 10mn.

-R&M notes “Singapore, Indonesia, and Thailand” are important sources of visitors for Malaysia. It is a dis-service to its clients than R&M fails to note that Singapore produces half Malaysia’s visitors, because Malaysia counts many categories of land-arrivals from Singapore. Linked to that, R&M fails to note that Singapore includes no category of land-arrivals from Malaysia – because it believes it could distort the overall view. If Singapore counted land arrivals, or if Malaysia didn’t, then Singapore would count more arrivals than Malaysia.

R&M provides no figures on the medical tourists, or even the definition, noting only that in 2009, about 69% of its medical tourists came from Indonesia, and 12% from Singapore. 

*-“Medical tourism is the new buzzword in tourism industry.”

-“The erosion of spending power in the West due to slowdown and low cost of treatments in countries like India, Malaysia, and Thailand have coincided to provide a mega boost to the Asian medical tourism sector.”

-“With the rising clout of Asian countries compared to others, medical tourism is offering immense potential for future growth and development.




[] R&M also has a general Malaysia inbound report, with forecasts to 2012. It forecasts 8% annual average growth in visitors over 2011-13 (despite having ‘2012’ in the report title), with annual average spending growth up 8%, to US$22.4bn (MR70bn) in 2013.

R&M has learned little since my last critique. Or, worse, because the following are exactly the same comments it made in an earlier report, is R&M still not capable of reading the market?

It says growth will be “on the back of increasing promotional activities by the government” – whereas, of course, it is not necessarily growth in promotional activity that makes a difference, but effective promotion.

Also, R&M continues to talk of Malaysia’s “growing reputation of the country as a shopping hub”. I think R&M means ‘centre’; ‘hub’ is a part of ‘hub-and-spoke’ and that can hardly be the meaning. In fact, R&M once again has shown its non-professional proclivities and chosen a buzz word rather than a descriptive one that should be in report such as this.

There are also oddities. It describes, for instance, that various “forces” are making Malaysia “a potential tourism destination”. Eh?


[] R&M’s report on ‘Indian Medical Tourism’ reports 570,000 “patients” visited India in 2008 (no 2009 data), spending US$880mn. That calculates to US$1543.

With official figures indicating that all-visitor-types spent US$2000 per visitor in 2009 (although there might be some valid questions on that), either R&M’s MT figures are wrong or an explanation is needed.


The Fox

Imex, Ryanair. Laugh, Grimace.

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

Foxtrots – leading the industry in a dance.

November 5 2010


Imex, Ryanair. Laugh, Grimace.



 MORE travel industry observations:

[] Imex America, a MICE event planned for 2011, makes some amusing remarks in its desire to hype-up simple comments, viz:

-Buyers will be ‘highly-qualified’. Thank goodness; I hate meeting ‘lowly-qualified’ or even just ‘qualified’ people.


-80% of buyers will come from North America, and 20% from international markets. I’m glad they told me where those 20% came from; otherwise I might have wondered if there were any buyers from Mars (the planet, not the company).


-Irrepressible Imex chairman Ray Bloom tells me that forecasts for exhibitor numbers and hosted buyers for the US Imex are likely to be exceeded. He often tells me that about his other shows as well, so I suspect forecasts are pitched low so they can be easily exceeded.


Another way of looking at it – as the event is still one year away, and Bloom expects the forecast to be exceeded, then he should change his forecast. A forecast is supposed to be an expectation, not a PR plus point.

[] I have great admiration for Michael O’Leary who has driven Ryanair to wondrous success – loved by investors (usually), and passengers. Only the carping media seem to dislike the man, or his success.

And many of those that provide services to the airline (such as airports and licensing bodies) must understandably want to dislike him, even if they need to work with him.

OL’s latest outburst is against BAA, nee British Airports Authority, the Spain-owned company that owns London Heathrow and Stansted airports (and others) and until recently also owned London Gatwick. Courts have decided that BAA must sell some of its airports, and probably Stansted will be one of them.

OL is crowing, and hysterically describes BAA a ‘monopoly’ incessantly. We presume he is sufficiently educated to know that is a joke – or every airport in the world is a monopoly because by definition there can not be two airports on one site.

 (Or could there be? Military and commercial operators share many airports. Could two companies work on one site, as now some train services operate on the same but separately-owned track?)


But BAA is not even a monopoly in London, and was not even before it sold Gatwick. There are two other London airports, City and Luton. And they compete with one another.

OL says BAA’s ownership of Stansted is the reason for its traffic decline this year. At half year, Stansted was falling 8%, but Luton was down also 8%, City 1%, Gatwick 4%, and Heathrow 4%. Not quite as clear-cut as OL would like – but he often does not bother with niceties.


The Fox


Trottings. The weird and wonderful world of travel.

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The Fox Trots: Travel Stories from The Fox.

November 2 2010


Trottings. The weird and wonderful world of travel.


SOME recent travel observations:


[] Cathay Pacific. I watched its on-board animated video safety announcement recently.

  1. I am a little concerned because the kid keeps vanishing from the seat next to his father. Has he been sucked out of the plane or is he playing under the seat, or has the film director made a mistake and rubbed out the kid?

  2. The announcement says smoking is forbidden under Hong Kong law and transgressors could be liable to imprisonment. As an expert in international law (well, today), I note that this means you can smoke on flights outbound from HK, because Cathay would have to take you back to HK for an imprisonment case and that would require extradition from the country to which you are flying. Except China, of course, where the punishment for smoking in an aircraft toilet is probably execution.

[] London Stansted. Some shops in the departure lounge close at 2130, well before the last flight. On a recent visit I had to buy £9 roll-on designer-deodorant (yes, there is such a thing) rather than the functional £1 version from the general store. Management told me that airport management lets them close early if they have no customers. That is sort of Catch-22 because they have no customers if they are closed. Me, I think it is another example of Stansted’s business-philosophy of taking money from passengers/clients (ie shops) first, and providing services second.

[] Aircraft meals. It struck me recently that in some ways, ‘real airlines’ handing out meals – particularly snacks on intra-Europe flights – is less of a service than that provided by low-fare-airlines. On a recent real-airline flight I had no choice of sandwich – eat it or leave it. But on an LFA I could have had cookies, cake, choice of sandwich, soup, and so on. Ok I would have to pay, but for most passengers that would not be a problem. And particularly passengers on real airlines, who on average have a higher income.

[] My mistake-spotting now extends to the French language! Nice airport advises passengers when they are entering an ‘Espace Non Tabac’ – no-tobacco area. I was carrying cigarettes in my bag, so was I breaking the law? I think what airport management should be saying is ‘Espace Non Fumeur’ – no-smoking area.


The Fox

Interview: Akbar Al Baker.

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

Foxtrots – leading the industry in a dance.

November 1 2010


Interview: Akbar Al Baker.




SOME paraphrased comments from the head of Qatar Airways:

[] On growth. “We are adding 10-20 destinations a year each year. We will have added 15 destinations this year, including Argentina and Brazil.”

[] On low-fare-airlines. “All LFAs are crap airlines. You have to pay for a glass of water, or to go the toilet”. Doesn’t that make them no-crap airlines?

[] On LFA competition. “We are ready with a name and aircraft if LFAs take some of our market share. We can start-up in 90 days.”

[] On why QA remains a ‘5-star airline’ (it once awarded itself six stars) when fewer of its aircraft have first-class cabins. “Our business-class is better than FC in many other airlines”.

[] Others. “We are now preparing for an IPO (offering to the public of some shares in the airline)…We go to Melbourne because Sydney is over-served, and so I would have to lower yield.”

The Fox