19 February 2011

Think Different - REALLY Different

You have to see this Geek video.

Amazing stuff


17 February 2011

So Who Blinked First?

Did Travelport blink or did AA?

Clearly AA moved first which gave the opportunity for Travelport to save some face.

However you have to wonder if this was a back door deal?

Either way - its good news for agents all round. But do remember boys and girls - this is a truce not the end of the war.



14 February 2011

Back To The Future - QF's Avoiding Using The F Word

A really interesting commentary in the Sydney Morning Herald today. (Since the Professor is visiting Oz)

It concerns Qantas acquiring a certain - somewhat aged plane type from a now defunct but much celebrated Dutch airframe manufacturer.

Since he probably had to wince at the fact that the planes are powered by Rolls Royce - Mr Alan Joyce the Irish CEO of Qantas was being very careful with his words.

Press the link to see the article. It needs no embellishment from me.


13 February 2011

Nervous Eyes On EXPE and OWW Monday Morning

After a rather calamitous collapse of both Expedia and Orbitz on Friday Feb 11th - all eyes will be on those stocks.

With a significant downgrade from Deutsche Bank last week - the midnight oil is probably being burned in Chicago and Bellevue.

With Amadeus announcing it was finally getting out of the Online World - but at a decent price - then surely OWW and EXPE should have been winners. Opodo is but a fraction of EXPE's traffic and clout.

PCLN is continuing to grow in stature and value.

And what of the airlines?

The airlines are trading pretty much as a group - other than United who seems to be the breakout guy.

Clearly when taken in context - the airlines and OTAs battle is not going unnoticed by the stock market.

Nail Biting time


US Travel Up But Still Below Historic Highs

The US world of travel is growing again. We are seeing better numbers than last year. However we are still below the historic highs of 2006, 2007 and 2008.

ARC's numbers are looking healthy. Remember there are a couple of interesting elements you need to consider.

Ancillaries - those evil things - are hardly reflected in here as the revenue is currently only collected by the airline directly not via ARC.

The percentage of direct revenue is back to increasing. It has hovered at around 50% in recent months. Anecdotal evidence says that American experienced an increase in direct traffic as a percentage measurement of total sales. How that did compared to other airlines will have to be seen.

Finally the increase Y/Y is not as rosy as perhaps it could be. This is both a good sign and a bad sign. On the plus side it shows continuing restraint by the airlines. The bad news is that the passengers are not diving into their wallets and splashing out the cash.

So another year of a certain degree of uncertainty is ahead.


Email Marketing Budgets Race Ahead

Well this is going to be a banner year for someone. Sadly probably not the traditional media.

Latest figures out indicate that despite getting somewhat tired - email marketing will see an increase in its budgets and not by a bit. 41% will show an increase of 10% or greater with only single digit estimating their budgets will decline.

For more details go across to Marketing Sherpa.


The Dark Side Of Search

I think about search a lot these days. At dinner last night with some friends who have nothing to do with Travel - I tried to explain the issue of how search engine optimization affects what they do. When I got to a web browser to illustrate it - they were shocked.

We all know that Search is both good and well not so good.

I really hate the fact that it is SO EASY to game search. The various investigations of the Googleplex demonstrate that Google has a hard time providing true and unbiased search. In deference to the boys and girls there - this is NOT easy.

But I think we should all get to understand the reality that Search is being gamed - both legally (White hat) and illegally (black hat).

Oh yes - you guessed it - who gets to decide what is legal is of course Google - our very own 21st Century version of Big Brother.

So read this article from the New York Times it is very good


For Valentines Day - 10 Reasons Why Luggage Beats Partners

So I will admit to being a bit of a softie.

When Professor Pamela of Cloud 12 PR send this to me - I could not resist it. And I am not one to actually to promote a product but for this time I will make an exception. You will have to find your own way to the company's website though ;-)


Below are 10 of the reasons buying or gifting a high quality bag is a better emotional investment than embarking on yet another relationship:

1. Love doesn’t always last. Briggs and Riley luggage does.

2. You can rest assured that good luggage will not unzip when it shouldn’t.

3. Overstuffed luggage will never ask you if it looks fat

4. Your mother will always approve of good luggage

5. You can shut good luggage up and it will stay shut

6. Good luggage is always available for an impromptu romantic vacation

7. Good luggage actually makes your life easier

8. Good luggage won’t look you up on Facebook ten years from now

9. Good luggage will look as good on your 20 year anniversary as it did the day you bought it

10. Till death do us part is sort of morbid. A lifetime warranty isn’t.

Briggs and Riley offers the strongest guarantee in the industry. Simple as that®.
The guarantees that other brands offer have limits. Ours doesn’t. Our lifetime performance guarantee covers ordinary wear and tear, airline damage and is good on every bag we make.

The Nokia Burning Platform Memo

With special thanks to Professor Stephan for sending me the entire memo.

There is every now and then a seminal event that points out - usually the obvious - a basic truth. For as long as I can recall - Nokia was the platform of choice for Mobile. Nokia was an incredible company that made a huge bet on mobile and basically junked its other businesses in the 1990s because they realized they could not make it in a world populated by cheap clones - PCs and TV/Screens. Well it seems that they forgot the very lessons that got them to where they are today. History seems to be repeating itself.

So are their lessons in Travel? I really think so. I spoke to several of my former colleagues over the past week during the Travel Technology show in Earls Court London. I think some of them might still call me a friend - others not!

The memo from the new CEO of Nokia Stephen Elop could just as easily be written by the CEO of any one of the legacy GDSs except for one thing. They are still making money hand over fist.

BTW in terms of context - this was released before Nokia announced it was partnering with Microsoft to solve the Symbian problem. I am not sure that they have done themselves any favours.

So read this email and especially if you are working for a GDS and ask yourself what happened to your TRUE innovation. Then head the warnings. If you think you are doing the good job and you are totally in sync with your market - then ignore this and pay no attention at all. However if you are REALLY switched on - then compare the event at the show THack and then look at yourself in the mirror and tell me you are not just a tiny bit afraid...

You should be


The email follows...

Hello there,

There is a pertinent story about a man who was working on an oil platform in the North Sea. He woke up one night from a loud explosion, which suddenly set his entire oil platform on fire. In mere moments, he was surrounded by flames. Through the smoke and heat, he barely made his way out of the chaos to the platform's edge. When he looked down over the edge, all he could see were the dark, cold, foreboding Atlantic waters.

As the fire approached him, the man had mere seconds to react. He could stand on the platform, and inevitably be consumed by the burning flames. Or, he could plunge 30 meters in to the freezing waters. The man was standing upon a "burning platform," and he needed to make a choice.

He decided to jump. It was unexpected. In ordinary circumstances, the man would never consider plunging into icy waters. But these were not ordinary times - his platform was on fire. The man survived the fall and the waters. After he was rescued, he noted that a "burning platform" caused a radical change in his behaviour.

We too, are standing on a "burning platform," and we must decide how we are going to change our behaviour.

Over the past few months, I've shared with you what I've heard from our shareholders, operators, developers, suppliers and from you. Today, I'm going to share what I've learned and what I have come to believe.

I have learned that we are standing on a burning platform.

And, we have more than one explosion - we have multiple points of scorching heat that are fuelling a blazing fire around us. For example, there is intense heat coming from our competitors, more rapidly than we ever expected. Apple disrupted the market by redefining the smartphone and attracting developers to a closed, but very powerful ecosystem.

In 2008, Apple's market share in the $300+ price range was 25 percent; by 2010 it escalated to 61 percent. They are enjoying a tremendous growth trajectory with a 78 percent earnings growth year over year in Q4 2010. Apple demonstrated that if designed well, consumers would buy a high-priced phone with a great experience and developers would build applications. They changed the game, and today, Apple owns the high-end range.

And then, there is Android. In about two years, Android created a platform that attracts application developers, service providers and hardware manufacturers. Android came in at the high-end, they are now winning the mid-range, and quickly they are going downstream to phones under €100. Google has become a gravitational force, drawing much of the industry's innovation to its core.

Let's not forget about the low-end price range. In 2008, MediaTek supplied complete reference designs for phone chipsets, which enabled manufacturers in the Shenzhen region of China to produce phones at an unbelievable pace. By some accounts, this ecosystem now produces more than one third of the phones sold globally - taking share from us in emerging markets.

While competitors poured flames on our market share, what happened at Nokia? We fell behind, we missed big trends, and we lost time. At that time, we thought we were making the right decisions; but, with the benefit of hindsight, we now find ourselves years behind.

The first iPhone shipped in 2007, and we still don't have a product that is close to their experience. Android came on the scene just over 2 years ago, and this week they took our leadership position in smartphone volumes. Unbelievable.

We have some brilliant sources of innovation inside Nokia, but we are not bringing it to market fast enough. We thought MeeGo would be a platform for winning high-end smartphones. However, at this rate, by the end of 2011, we might have only one MeeGo product in the market.

At the midrange, we have Symbian. It has proven to be non-competitive in leading markets like North America. Additionally, Symbian is proving to be an increasingly difficult environment in which to
develop to meet the continuously expanding consumer requirements, leading to slowness in product development and also creating a disadvantage when we seek to take advantage of new hardware platforms. As a result, if we continue like before, we will get further and further behind, while our competitors advance further and further ahead.

At the lower-end price range, Chinese OEMs are cranking out a device much faster than, as one Nokia employee said only partially in jest, "the time that it takes us to polish a PowerPoint presentation." They are fast, they are cheap, and they are challenging us. And the truly perplexing aspect is that we're not even fighting with the right weapons. We are still too often trying to approach each price range on a device-to-device basis.

The battle of devices has now become a war of ecosystems, where ecosystems include not only the hardware and software of the device, but developers, applications, ecommerce, advertising, search, social applications, location-based services, unified communications and many other things. Our competitors aren't taking our market share with devices; they are taking our market share with an entire ecosystem. This means we're going to have to decide how we either build, catalyse or join an ecosystem.

This is one of the decisions we need to make. In the meantime, we've lost market share, we've lost mind share and we've lost time.

On Tuesday, Standard & Poor's informed that they will put our A long term and A-1 short term ratings on negative credit watch. This is a similar rating action to the one that Moody's took last week. Basically it means that during the next few weeks they will make an analysis of Nokia, and decide on a possible credit rating downgrade. Why are these credit agencies contemplating these changes? Because they are concerned about our competitiveness.

Consumer preference for Nokia declined worldwide. In the UK, our brand preference has slipped to 20 percent, which is 8 percent lower than last year. That means only 1 out of 5 people in the UK prefer Nokia to other brands. It's also down in the other markets, which are traditionally our strongholds: Russia, Germany, Indonesia, UAE, and on and on and on.

How did we get to this point? Why did we fall behind when the world around us evolved?

This is what I have been trying to understand. I believe at least some of it has been due to our attitude inside Nokia. We poured gasoline on our own burning platform. I believe we have lacked accountability and leadership to align and direct the company through these disruptive times. We had a series of misses. We haven't been delivering innovation fast enough. We're not collaborating internally.

Nokia, our platform is burning.

We are working on a path forward -- a path to rebuild our market leadership. When we share the new strategy on February 11, it will be a huge effort to transform our company. But, I believe that together, we can face the challenges ahead of us. Together, we can choose to define our future.

The burning platform, upon which the man found himself, caused the man to shift his behaviour, and take a bold and brave step into an uncertain future. He was able to tell his story. Now, we have a great opportunity to do the same.