CEO Soundbites: Tourism Indonesia; PATA; IPK; SLH.

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FOXTROTS

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

Foxtrots – leading the industry in a dance.

May 27 2012

CEO Soundbites: Tourism Indonesia; PATA; IPK; SLH.

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OME soundbites from heads of their organisations – Mari Elka Pangestu, Indonesia’s minister of tourism; Martin Craigs, Pacific Asia Travel Association; Rolf Freitag , IPK a travel research company; Paul Kerr, Small Luxury Hotels of the World.

[] Mari Elka Pangestu, minister of tourism* for Indonesia:

-We have two director generals for tourism (infrastructure, marketing), and two DGs for creative economy.

-We will develop 50 destinations by 2025. We want to develop a cooperative approach, taking account of the environment and local people.

-Denpasar (where most tourism development on Bali is concentrated) has its own problems.

-We want to develop northern Bali – but this will be community based development, a ‘tourism village’, with something similar to a local administration in terms of government. In the next three years we will probably have a new airport in northern Bali. We are also planning a round-Bali train service (this project has been around for 10 years).

-Creative economy. There are various parts of the economy – such as agriculture, oil – so ‘creative’ in terms of tourism is such things as painting, music, etc.

-There are already some ‘creative clusters’ – such as Jogja, Bali. But we want to create other centres. One could be Kota Tua in Jakarta – also known as Old Jakarta or Old Batavia, which has been earmarked for rehabilitation a few times in the past. The marketing side is how to package it, to entice people to come. A lot of creative people are not ‘bankable’ yet.

-We will also promote MICE and Special Interest travel – such as medical, golf, culinary.

-Also, we have just got started on domestic tourism. I have to persuade the president to increase public holidays – where if a public holiday falls on a Sunday, for instance, then it is taken on Monday.

*Pangetsu also has ‘Creative Economy’ in her portfolio. The report above should explain what this means.

[] Martin Craigs, head of PATA (Pacific Asia Travel Association):

-I find PATA is well known, but it needs to be refreshed, and to be involved with the new generation. So we are including students in all events, adding ‘Next Gen’ to our emblem and on our business cards, etc. Every association has to realise the world has changed.

-PATA was dis-integrated. There were a lot of people saying which direction to go.

-I think that we need to be better communicators to the media – general, not necessarily travel. We must feed the industry with news.

-We have links with travel advisory centres. We are one of links to these offices. We know we must have a response to crises.

-We all have power now because of the internet.

[] Rolf Freitag of IPK – a travel research company, although his comments are outside that discipline:

-[Alan] Greenspan [who ran the US central bank 1987-2006) caused the financial crisis. They are all crooks. California, Illinois, Greece and Ireland are bankrupt.

-Capitalism is fighting for survival.

[] Paul Kerr, Small Luxury Hotels of the World:

-In 1991, SLH’s rooms breakdown was 67% Europe, 31% US, 2% AsPac. Today, 60% E, 17% US, 23% AP.

-Each year it gets 1200 applications from hotels wanting to join SLH; about 5% are accepted.

-It does not accept hotel groups, but some are there for historical reasons (such as Malaysia’s YTL Hotels).

-It is full in terms of hotels in the system in Maldives and Phuket. In AsPac it is looking at hotels in Hong Kong and Shanghai.

-SLH has 45,000 ‘fans’ on Facebook and 8500 on Twitter. Kerr: I don’t know yet what those numbers are worth.

-SLH has sales offices in London, New York, Singapore. Kerr: No plans for others – too costly.

-SLH has converting offices to handle its own voice mail; before it used Trust International. Kerr: The conversion rate was 12% when we outsourced voice reservations; now it is 20%.

 

-Kerr: Most important about loyalty programs is that we learn more about the customer. 40% of our bookings are from our 128,000 loyalty-club members; 16% of members are ‘active members’.

 

-Kerr: We are not doing the brand-extension business; a competitor tried that and it didn’t work. PinT: presumed to be a reference to Leading Hotels. However, HGA, the company that Kerr uses to manage SLH, formed Luxury Hotel Partners in 2002 to manage some hotels in Europe.

 

The Fox

 

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Trottings: Conrad Tokyo, France train, Paris airport, Geneva airport.

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TROTTINGS = Trip Jottings

 

The Fox Trots: Travel Stories from The Fox’s Friends.

 

 

 

May 20 2012

 

 

Trottings: Conrad Tokyo, France train, Paris airport, Geneva airport.

 

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

 

 

 

Conrad Tokyo

In the room were instructions on how to make tea (“put bag in cup; add water”) – although I might have worked that out for myself. But nothing for the coffee, which was one of those percolating-type machines – Do you empty the whole bag for one serving? How long before using the plunger? (I am an expresso person, so this is not easy for me.)

 

Plus, I challenge anyone to open the bag and not spill at least some coffee. Also, it is a machine for almost two cups. Why? Most guests would want only one cup, and if you do want a second cup then it will be cold when you have finished the first.

 

If a professional chain hotel management company such as Hilton makes such a mess of the simplest things, I recommend never staying in an independent hotel…

 

I was also reminded of my old favourite on the ‘no towel/linen wash’ etc. The proper way to handle this is to ask guests who want a change/wash to do something – such as putting the towel on the floor. Otherwise, from time to time, I forget to put my towel in the right place for no-wash (such as the towel rack), or put the no-linen-change notice.

 

Do it the other way round. The hotel business is presumably full of intelligent people; how come none has had the intelligence to do this?

 

 

 

French railways

On my way on France’s TGV to the Paris CDG airport, the train stopped at Marne La Vallee. The announcement said, unsurprisingly, that this was Marne La Vallee station.

 

But the reason the TGV stopped there, and almost the reason for MLV itself, is that this is the station for Disneyland Paris. No mention of that; is this chauvinism?

 

Because at the next stop it did say ‘Roissy’ but it also added the not-unimportant additional information that this was Paris Charles de Gaulle airport.

 

Also, the train conductors say, in English – “mind the gap between the stairs and the platform”. The French is correct – mind the gap between the train and the platform. I presume that this was mis-translated at the manual-writing stage, and the ‘system’ has not capable of changing it – 15 years on.

 

I hope they used a different translator for the driver’s safety manual.

 

 

 

Paris CDG airport

On my arrival in Terminal 2, I followed carefully the signs to ‘Baggage’. Once there, I walked down the stairs in the big hall. Where was my bag?

 

You won’t believe this, but there was no central board – so I had to walk up to the screen for each baggage belt one to see which belt was for my flight! After walking to the end of the hall, I saw there was actually another hall of baggage belts – so I had to go back through the first hall.

 

And there, between the two halls, I found a board which did list all the flights and belts. The designers should have known that this is placed best at the entrance to the hall.

 

As it was, my belt was right at the other end. After I collected my bags I had to walk back again to the centre for customs, out and then back again for the direction for my exit.

 

 

 

Geneva airport

We probably assume there are not many PAGPFTs in Switzerland, where efficiency was invented. However, the travel business has managed the near-impossible…

 

As you go towards immigration at Geneva airport there is a sign saying ‘France’ and ‘Switzerland’. As I was coming from France, I assumed I had to follow the ‘France’ sign, as there is no border controls between the two countries.

 

Alas no, the sign was for people who were going into France directly (the airport is on the border).

 

The people who designed the airport obviously assume that all travellers know there is direct access to France. I didn’t, although now I do, I accept it is not surprising.

 

This system was designed by people who presumably were getting a good salary – to do bad work.

 

 

 

 

The Fox’s Friends

 

Thoughts: AEA dropout; Indonesia’s creativity; light-shy G24.

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FOXTROTS

 

 

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

Foxtrots – leading the industry in a dance.

 

 

May 20 2012

 

 

Thoughts: AEA dropout; Indonesia’s creativity; light-shy G24.

 

S

OME reflections on aspects of the travel business. AEA goes into reverse. Indonesia’s bright idea. More light needed at G24.

 

 

 

AEA retreat

After so-many years of advancement, AEA (the Association of European Airlines) has taken a big backward step. It has stopped reporting traffic data of its members. Its two regional equivalents – BTS in the US, AAPA in Asia Pacific – continue.

 

I am sure BTS will continue, but AAPA may well follow this bad example – as many airlines in Asia Pacific are uncomfortable with even the simplest scrutiny.

 

The main objections that led to the AEA decision were from private companies Alitalia and Virgin.

 

I can understand Virgin’s concern – because its traffic is falling, and that would lower the price it can get for the sale it is seeking. But Alitalia is growing (albeit after falling so long), so it should want to publicise its recovery.

 

My strongest condemnation, however, is reserved for AEA – which has buckled under pressure. With most of the world moving towards greater disclosure, it is sad that AEA moves the other way.

 

Worse, I think this is the start of a decline in the importance of AEA. If it reacts to petty pressure this way, what other pressures has it given way to in its other activities?

 

And its public output is now decided by which airlines? Which part of a subject might be censored by its members?

 

 

 

Indonesia’s creative thinking

At first I thought that the ‘creative industry’ descriptive adjunct to Indonesia’s tourism minister’s title was an advertising-type no-meaning nonsense.

 

On reflection, it makes super sense. (How’s that for a U-turn!)

 

Think of it as the philosophical equivalent of the so-called Tourism Satellite Accounts, the visitor-counting system that adds things other than the direct spending of travellers – taking a share of the construction cost of a rental car, for instance.

 

For instance, in Indonesia’s ‘creative industry’ elements are TV/radio, film/video/photography, music, IT/software, R&D, design, fashion, etc. Indonesia’s idea is to ‘manage’ these elements when they are a factor in the visitor business.

 

This happens anyway, but to bring it within the ministerial portfolio might make good sense.

 

 

 

No shining light here

There’s a company (G24, based in the UK) that has invented solar panels that get power from your room light. That is very important progress.

 

G24 has apparently sold its system to a hotel in Las Vegas, which uses it to open and close blinds in its rooms.

 

Unfortunately, G24 won’t tell me which hotel.

 

Perhaps it can turn its invention to shining more light on its own activities?

 

 

 

 

The Fox

Trottings: InterContinental’s new brand is ‘Toast’.

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TROTTINGS = Trip Jottings

 

The Fox Trots: Travel Stories from The Fox’s Friends.

 

 

May 7 2012

 

 

Trottings: InterContinental’s new brand is ‘Toast’.

 

A

FTER a successful launch of its health-style brand, Even (sic), InterContinental Hotels Group is introducing another customer-targetted hotel brand, Toast Hotels.

 

 

“We have done comprehensive research,” revealed a spokesman, “and we found that 75% of our guests like toast*. As a result, our new brand, Toast, will serve those customers and we expect to attract other guests who might also like toast.”

 

All rooms in InterContinental’s Toasts will be equipped with a state-of-the-art multi-dial four-pieced toaster, and bread in the room will be replaced daily. It is expected that up to one loaf of bread daily will be included in the room rate.

 

In response to comment that ‘toast’ to some travellers will mean ‘cheers’ or champagne, InterContinental’s Director of Service Delivery (Toast) said that guests will be able to order champagne with their toast for special occasions.

 

There have been reports that InterContinental is working on another brand launch, possibly related to champagne. However, because that name is copyrighted by the makers of the drink in France, the next new brand from InterContinental may be called ‘Cheers’.

 

*The percentage in China, however, was only 28%. As a result, the Toast brand in China will be named Noodle, with many of the same service-delivery guidelines as for Toast.

 

 

 

The Fox’s Friends

 

Trottings: Three hotels in Bali.

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TROTTINGS = Trip Jottings

 

The Fox Trots: Travel Stories from The Fox’s Friends.

 

 

May 6 2012

 

 

Trottings: Three hotels in Bali.

 

V

ISITS to three hotels. A newish resort (Jimbaran Puri) that holds the hope of its group owner, a long-established resort (40 years; the Oberoi) synonymous with the now-almost-mythical peaceful Bali, and the W, a trendy property that proudly shouts ‘resort-life-fun!’.

 

 

This report is on personal aspects of my visit. A report on travel business matters was published in the April issue of the Asia Pacific edition of Travel Business Analyst.

 

For reasons of space, this has been presented in brief, bullet-point style. I apologise for the sometimes-harsh outcome. Quotes are from various managers at the resorts.

 

 

 

  • Jimbaran Puri.

-Introduction. A resort in the Orient Express hotel (and trains and boats) group. The OE name might have a bigger pull than JP.

 

Unfortunately, there is a 2-star hotel of the same name in the same district, so it might have made more sense to keep the resort’s original Pansea name, although Pansea is generally associated with standards lower than OE’s. Or to have chosen another name.

 

Or, given current thinking at the OE group, simply ‘Orient Express’. However, as I noted in an earlier post, ‘Express’ in the hotel world is now more associated with ‘budget’. Hard one.

 

 

-Sentiment. “As part of Orient Express we have to be authentic.” “If you stay at W you could be in Miami.” “Don’t think that places like W are in the local spirit.” “Jimbaran Puri is also part of the authenticity.”

 

 

-Product. From the outside, the cottages are not visually attractive. The attractiveness of the villas is not obvious either because they are behind walls, Balinese village style, with Balinese doors. But inside the ‘court’ they are very impressive and very Balinese.

 

Mine was a two-unit unit, including private swimming pool, two external day-bed lounges with roofs, two comfy loungers, table and chairs with sun umbrella. And even the bed/bath-room unit includes bath, and an internal and external shower (with rain-shower head).

 

Some of the public areas are not up to 5-star standard, but the villas are, as is the level of service. My visit was in the rainy season, and in the evenings there were a few small frogs around; even they seemed friendly.

 

 

-Places. The resort has a ‘beach spa’ – that means an external one. At one time, a ‘beach spa’ would actually have created an exotic image fitting the peaceful Bali image of the past. But today more customers seem to prefer a spa structure that might be found in any urban hotel, so JP management plans a bigger and air-conditioned spa.

 

 

-Niggles. None.

 

 

 

  • Oberoi.

-Sentiment. This is the real (old) Bali, thus peaceful. Wonderful gardens and beachfront. Breakfast on grass 2m from beach. When I arrived at the resort I told myself this is a haven; now I have entered Bali.

 

Management goes further. “People are looking for spiritual experience. The moment you enter it is different. People say Bali has spiritual feeling like Hawaii has. There are people that come here, to this hotel, for meditation. They say they feel the spirituality.” The manager has three philosophies – man with man, man with nature, man with god.

 

 

-Stories. Once upon a time, an Italian princess stayed at the resort. She wanted her child born there and so, in 2009, it was. In a part of the garden a tree was planted, and named after the new-born.

 

 

-Eating. “From the beginning, we thought that if people wanted a pizza, there are many places outside the resort. So we decided on fine dining.” The resort has had its German chef for the past five years, who has put his style on that fine dining.

 

He uses fresh foods; even the foie gras is not from force-fed geese. Especially recommended is the ‘Tasters’ choice on the menu; not cheap but a culinary experience that also sets apart the Oberoi.

 

 

-Differences. “One year we had four turtles on our beach; they laid 500 eggs.” In Denpasar there is something like a music conservatory. Its creator is fascinated by gamelan music, and has travelled the island to seek different types, and saving them. Twice monthly they perform at the Oberoi; they cost near double other gamelan groups.

 

 

-Problems. There is loud music from an adjacent disco. “You hear boom-boom-boom as if you were in Mallorca.” The noise peak season is July and August, but it is there June-October. It starts around 2300 and goes through the night, and can be heard from all sides, except the sea-side. Biggest problem is garden maintenance.

 

 

-Niggles. Small desk. Electric computer point in desk drawer, so need to keep open. No master switch for room. Could not turn on or off three lights separately (none or all-3 must be on/off). No shower curtain (so water sprays on marble floor, making it slippery). No buffet breakfast*.

 

*For instance, I want cereal, but I decide when I see the buffet that I will have more muesli, and add some fruit pieces to the combination. With a la carte, if I order cereal, I get just that, and I do not have fruit. If I ask for cereal and fruit pieces, they put too much pineapple and not enough papaya, or whatever. To me quality is choice.

 

 

 

  • W.

-Prestige. “There are so many ‘best practices’ here that we have become the W flagship of W in the world. So everyone in the company comes here to look.” Given some of my ‘Niggles’, below, this surprises me.

 

 

-Differences. “Our chef’s job is to be out and talking to the guest.” “8/10 comments in Trip Advisor are about the chef.” “We did not expect so many kids; so we have set up programs.” “W is a ‘party party party’ hotel.”

 

“We respect our staff. We respect their religion – whether christian, hindu, moslem.” “We have a director of entertainment.” “We are tsunami certified up to 3rd; it is stronger structure in the lower floors.”

 

 

-Niggles. Some are design faults and thus surprising in that this should be its strength as part of the mighty Starwood group.

 

-Bathroom. Open-bathroom concept. But from the bath or shower, you can see only the wardrobe, not outside. So it is ‘open’ only in the sense that people can see in.

 

Indeed, I was sharing the room as a twin. But if you try to close the curtains for privacy, they do not cover the whole gap. So, for instance, you could not take a shower if you had a guest waiting in the room.

 

The shower-head unit is so low – to chest level – that you have to bend down to wash your head. And because you have to direct the water out rather than down (where it would not touch you), it sprays water out of the shower area.

 

The toilet room has frosted glass – but not complete privacy.

 

-Lifts. You press the button, then have to stand back to see when the lift arrives – because the lift entrance-way is hidden by the wall. Also, there are two buttons but not coordinated, so most guests press two buttons – which doubles the amount of electricity that the lifts use.

 

 

The Fox’s Friends