03 September 2010

How Media Treats Mexico

I consume a lot of media each day - we all do.

So I have always been struck by the way Travel Media - particularly traditional based media outlets - treat news.

A case in point is to see how Mexico has been faring lately. The reality of the situation is that Mexico experienced one of the more severe of the impacts of the GFC. This has been compounded by the current war on drugs being waged between the cartels and the Federal Government. Yesterday listening to the BBC News about Calderon's crusading anti drug war on my local NPR station in Seattle it struck me that media is always focusing on the extremes.

So today I looked at contrasting stories about Mexico. I found two that more than anything illustrate my point.

From USA Today the focus on the bar killings in Cancun. (BTW I am going there next week for a conference). Yet there is a much more upbeat message on Travel Daily News about how things are really looking up in Mexico.

The fact that Mexicana its largest airline just stopped flying and the tourism numbers are abysmal - you have to question why they would put out a story like this?

I like Mexico. The people and the locale are wonderful. But is everything in the garden so rosy?

Probably not.

For Old Fogies Like Me...

Social Networking stats show we are SLOWLY catching up to those youngsters.

Social Media usage amongst seniors is climbing - it has now reached about 1/3rd of the Millenials and Gen Yers. For Boomers (that includes me) the penetration (ouch) of social media usage is now approaching 50%.

So now we are all connected - what are we going to do with ourselves.

This is from emarketer... probably written by a bunch of less than aged folks who don't use scooters.


Users As Beta Guinea Pigs - Now SKYPE

Taking a leaf out of Google's (bad) books - Skype has a new version of its software.

I quote directly from their email notification:

So that everyone in the beta program can participate in group video calling, we will require all users to upgrade to Beta 2 by Friday, 10 September; if you don't want to wait, you can download it right now.

If this is a commercial service why do we have to "upgrade" to a Beta piece of code?

The arrogance of these people astounds me...

And I love Skype and use it every day.


Thanks to Intuitive Business for the appropriate image.

Personalization Loses It!

I have a story I love to tell about how personalization based on user interaction can be a bust.

I have a friend who is an absolute nut about Bonzai Trees. He buys books on Amazon on the subject all the time. He is also divorced and has a teenage daughter. He let her use his account to buy a book she desperately wanted. It was a book fan book on one of the latest Movie Stars.

Net result - now 6 years after the fact he still gets books on Cooking with several movie stars.

Let me provide another example. I love internet radio. My favorites are Rdio (sorry dont want to pay the fee so its turned off) Pandora (limited to 40 hours per month so I use them up and then move on) and LastFM. However I recently started to get a bunch of polish rock music in my mix. I didn't ask for it and constantly forbid it - but it comes back all the time.

I tracked back to when it happened and I think its because I (hearted) a French band - AIR.

Now I cannot get rid of all the Czech and Polish music - fine though I am sure it is to someone who speaks that language.


with thanks to SocialWrite for the use of the image.

Another MOL Story - Is He On The Charm Offensive?

The irrascible CEO of Ryanair is at it again.

This time in Bloomberg.

To most in the world - the treatment of passengers as a commodity - Bovine Air - is the fact but the fiction of travel as a sexy experience persists.

The reality of the process is that the actual flying portion of the trip has become the least offensive part. In days of yore there were flights from places that were close in. Today - the airport entrance to the airport exit point has become so long and complicated not to mention cattle like that the degrading of the human spirit is an accepted form of treatment.

Bless him - Michael O'Leary calls a spade a spade.

How many of us/them can actually say that - at the same driving their company to now the second most valuable airline in the world?


02 September 2010

First Official Green Tax Approved

For the first time a major country has implemented a Green tax. Germany introduces “green” air passenger tax for all departures from German airports as of January 1. Passengers will be forced to pay between US$10-57 depending on length of flight.

There will be a lot of ink spilled on this one

01 September 2010

Is There A Perfect "What Next" Site/App?

I went to Southern California to hang out with family last weekend. It was really good to catch up.

One of my fellow bloggers Mr Boot (ably assisted by Madam Boot) is also on the hunt for this and I think he has a better handle on this than me. But here are some ramblings from my aged viewpoint.

I had some spare time to do things that are fun to do. I used to live in LA for 8 years in the 1980s. I really liked it! But to see what is there now is a little daunting - so much information.

Who can I trust and where do I go that doesn't require me to sift through dumpsters of useless information?

I love Daily Candy. Its a fun site filled with interesting stuff - but it is not really that useful as an "on demand" service. So I am delisting myself from there. TimeOut used to be my favorite for London - but it too has lost a lot of its sparkle and spunk. In Seattle "The Stranger" is the best local guide. In LA -LA Weekly is pretty good - but newsprint is loosing its lustre.

One of my favorite sources of information is BeDynamic. I love the work the Anne and her crew have done. Really useful stuff. if you are not from here - its a good place to start.

My new favourite site though for simplicity and value is Goby. It was good for LA. Not sure if it will work in other places.

So if you have any suggestions for the cities on my jaunt - I will be most grateful

The Professor will be in the following places over the coming months:

In random order...
Los Angeles

Suggestions welcomed.


Mummy Do I Need An App For That?

I had a chance to see several people's iPhones and iTouches this past weekend. It is quite interesting to see what people have as Apps.

There is clearly no shortage of apps for the iOS family of products. I was roving around the iTunes store and looked under the category of travel.

Actually the way I navigated was via Facebook - so many imprecise ways to navigate - its scary. The top apps in all categories can be viewed on Facebook easily.

I am at least gratified that iFart is no longer the number one application for iPhone.

What is interesting is that the iPad apps are now diverging from the iPhone apps. I would have expected a certain degree of this driven by the form factor. However I would have expected people to have loaded all their favorite apps from the iPhone onto their iPads (I believe but cannot find hard evidence that the iPad users are mostly former/current iPhone users as early adopters).

And I am really grateful that so far no one has come up with an App that addresses Thumb Sucking.

(With special thanks to the Daily Telegraph for this fascinating subject). I am sure that before too long the clinic will have its own App.


Are We Headed For Travel Industry Megalomania?

OK so we all know the Travel Industry has a few egos here and there. But are we headed for a lustful grab for power in many sectors?

It seems we may be headed for a major adjustment of the status quo. Let's look at the facts.

The airlines are coalescing around 3 global alliances. The US market has seen 2 major mergers in 3 years - DL+NW and CO+UA. In Europe LH is gobbling everyone up who wasn't AF, KL or BA, IB. In Australia the big players came down to 2. In Europe already dominated in leisure by TUI and Thos Cook. There are now only 3 major legacy international GDSs. There are really only 4 major global travel industry networks. There are four major online players....

I think you get my point.

The pyramid that used to be nice and flat is now getting pretty pointy looking


Rabid IPad Owners

So no new news for iPads in Apples fun day today.

However buried deep inside was a bit of new news... iOS4.2. This should have the fixes you have all been waiting for - but wait a little longer it will be November before it sees the light of day(glo).

So what have you little iPad users been doing with your machines, what is your usage profile and well how sad are you really?

I did a little digging and found some research on the subject.

Firstly let's be real clear. Like the iPhone before it - an iPad is best used as a consumption device. it is better as a creation device than its smaller siblings but it follows Apple's very clear philosophy. Consumption devices and Creation devices are mostly separated. The MAC was always seen as a good content creation device. It became its role in life. As 1:Many content creation has become more important so to has the Mac's growth and adoption mirror'd the trend. This contrasts with Microsoft's philosophy of a 1:1 communication device with content consumption via the web browser. Apple made their hardware devices optimized for one or the other NOT BOTH. So thus the iPad is indeed a very cool consumption device.

This somewhat goes against the grain of an "all in one" device. But who knows. It comes down in my opinion to not form over function but a unique mix of both. For that Apple needs a good pat on the back.

And of all the failings that Microsoft has - this is perhaps their clearest one. They didn't understand that personal consumption is individual. The parallels in how Apple got this right and Microsoft got it wrong becomes so obvious with hindsight.

Another observation is that Apple understood - or its just happened that way - that the iPad is not really a device for toting around. It is just ideal as the device for the home. Because people don't like creating stuff at home - they like consuming.

The iPad in my view is personal TV. Its form factor really does a great job in that score. Again Apple got this right and everyone else got it wrong.

What is interesting is that this actually may be the saviour of general media. With the demand for short form content exceeding that of long form but not having to make the choice - traditional media should feel happy.

But this is not just my view. A study by cooper murphy webb shows how the device gets used. It shows a usage preference that mirrors print. But remember the audience who was asked... early adopters. In my view this will give some significant usage pointers for the future use of the device.

So maybe you are not so sad at all....

Does this mean the Professor will breakdown and get an iPad... not just yet... but maybe when they refresh the device.


Er Excuse Me ... But Americans Are Really Stupid...

I guess that got your attention didn't it!

But it seems I am right. On this US Labor Day weekend when the country celebrates its workers - I thought I would have a look at what the rest of the world does.

First let's talk De Jure - by Law. Americans are just sad people. They don't get any holiday. The only OECD country to so be.
And no that is not a misprint the US has ZERO.

So what about in practice?

Americans get an average of 13 vacation days per year. This is comprised of 10-11 full actual "vacation" days and 2-3 days of "flex time".

However the AVERAGE American leaves 3 of these total days unused every year.

There is even an organization formed to help you (and presumably to selling books on the subject).

But have no fear... you are not the least or worst off.

According to Financial Calendar the worst off is in order:

Bosnia has only 2.8 days. Probably an aberration. But Cuba, Serbia, Mongolia and Uzbekistan are all around 6 days.

Clearly a workers paradise.

But for now I think I am heading to Nepal where you get on average 24 days.

For a good report - head over the the Harvard Law Review and check out their full report.

Cheers and TAKE THE DAY OFF... I am going to Bumbershoot in Seattle. Should be fun


For Apple Lovers - This Is Your Day

So sorry pilgrims of the Black Turtle Necked one.

Today will see some fun things - a real refresh of the Nano - I think we can bank on that one.

But of the others... probably nothing on the iPad other than more features in the OSv4. So from today or the near future you might be actual able to get an iPhone that works. Even a white one! I was in the AT&T store yesterday and they said that now iPhones are available but still on "special" order. IE you have to formally order them and then they arrive and are handed out on a first come first served basis.

So if you have a Mac and Safari - then head on over to the Apple Website at about 1245 PST.

For the rest of us plebs - we can read about it later.


Still Flying Bovine Air?

Like almost everyone else on the planet - I cannot afford first class fares nor private jet travel.

Occasionally the droppings from the airline table allow me to fly in a "premium" class. But its rare. On long haul I try to fly business class - the best deal is still the Round The World fares. Right now with the dollar reasonably strong the best place to buy them is in the UK. The best deal I find is the joint BA/QF fare. Its pretty cool if you can get it. It requires a lot of planning and being adaptive. But I can get from UK to Oz to Singapore, India and then Europe. if you pay a regular RTW then this adds 40% to the cost. But you get a heck of a lot of extra flexibility.

But what about the service?

Well in general despite my FF status - the flights on long haul biz class have declined in recent years.

Apparently though not for everyone. Here is a little piece from CNN you might find amusing

Dream on...

I wonder if Bristol Palin flies like this?


Shameless Self Promotion

Normally I would not do this - so regard this as a plea request.

I am soliciting nomination for the following awards:

UK Travel Press Awards

if you could vote for the Professor in Categories 4 and 11 that would be great.

Now whether I qualify as a "Journalist" or whether the Professor's Blog is able to be categorized as a "Publication" would seem to be a moot point in this day and age.


Sabre Retreating From Competing With Agents Or Could It Be Incentives Reach New Heights? Nexion 'Sale' to Tzell.

At one stage Sabre had two separate travel agent networks. Well it has just offloaded one of them. Nexion the netowrk focussed on larger agents with a more corporate focus has gone to New York Agent TZell. "Terms were not disclosed" caught my eye. So being a little curious I checked....

Interesting that this should occur now - Tzell's contract with Sabre is up next year so this could be that the sale makes several people happy. So if you are a large agency - it seems the incentives to stay with your GDS in the USA is getting pretty lucrative.

So Expedia will get Travelocity when it re-ups with Sabre for its primary US GDS!!!!
If you are a large Travelport agency - perhaps you can ask for Orbitz or GTA.

The possibilities are endless! Now there is a thought....


31 August 2010

Oz Returns to the Duopoly Market Structure

The formal and expected announcement from the Australian Competition authorities (more correctly the ACCC) has approved the merger of Stella and Jetset/QBT. Thus creating in effect a duopoly in the market of Flight Centre and Stella Group.

With the airlines now coalesced around Qantas (including Jetstar) and Virgin Blue - the old Australian model of two of everything seems to have returned


is AA in Plan?

AMR stock is bouncing around and there are a lot of call options out there. The initial (denied) rumour was that EK was buying them. EK has no alliance partnership so this could fill a huge hole.

Now there are many other scenarios. BA is back in the frame fresh with Spanish Money and of course Sabre's Good Friend TPG is out there.

However AMR needs restructuring. It has a lot of junk in its financial house that needs to be cleaned up.

Whoever takes them on will need to clean out the stables. But the fundementals of the business are pretty good.

Right time - Right Place?