Miscellaneous Ramblings by Tony Clegg-Butt

Posted on March 7th, 2012
Categories: News

Students of the Chinese calendar will note that 2012 is the year of the Black Water Dragon, symbol of action, energy, leadership and vitality. The dragon is also, however, associated with unpredictability and times of transformation.

Which might prove to be highly apt for our tourism industry and, for that matter, our country.

In last month’s edition, Jane Barsby wrote an article titled Squeeze, all about her in-flight experiences on Virgin Atlantic – it was funny, bouncy, buzzy and to the point. The airline’s response, which we also included with the article, was in my humble opinion dull and drab; pretty much reflecting most airlines’ stock responses to customer concerns.

Concerns – that’s airline-speak for complaints.

I’d have thought that of all airlines Virgin would have responded like for like – as that is the perception we all have of the airline. Sadly not the case this time around.

You’ll recall the image of a Virgin in-flight attendant with an ice cream tray, and Jane waxing lyrical that all she got was a small packet of wine gums and not the much talked-about ice cream bar.

Interestingly, Richard Branson alludes to this ice cream bar in an article in a recent edition of the New York Times. Reproduced here by kind permission:

When you are cutting costs, you have to be careful to protect your business’ signature details, which differentiate your company from the competition.

At Virgin Atlantic, it is a story about ice cream bars which are always handed out midway through our daylight flights. We knew that our passengers liked them, but we had no idea how beloved this seemingly insignificant item was until the day we stopped giving them out, to save money.

There was an uproar. I got phone calls and letters from angry customers saying they were shocked at the decision to ‘take away our ice creams.’ I’ll never forget one particular letter writer who said in his note: ‘If you want to be like all the others, then go right ahead, but you should know that it’s little touches like this that make your airline different.’

How could I argue with that?

We re-introduced them right away, and our customers are still eating ice cream to this day.

Well not quite in time for young Jane’s paid-for flight to the UK. Nuff said, except to say it’s a brilliant airline and ice cream dramas aside, it does the biz.

Talking of uproars – why have all the malls and not-so-malls in the nation’s capital taken to charging their customers for the honour of parking while shopping? Surely the orginal idea was to have free secure parking to entice customers to exercise their credit cards in their tenants’ shops.

Works well around the world and I’m sure it did the same here.

The latest mall to introduce pay parking is the Village Market. A once bustling place with parking always hard to find, it now boasts acres of empty parking spaces. Tenants are up in arms, ditto customers, and who can blame them? The landlords of this mall and all the others don’t seem to care, working on the principle that sooner or later we all have to shop.

Let’s try and prove them wrong and go elsewhere.

Last month I talked of the grand plans I envisaged when roadwork started outside the UN HQ – and how I was shocked to see not a grand boulevard but the same old road now enhanced by a footpath and a bicycle lane.

Both are now used as parking by the many many taxis that vie for the UN’s business.

Not a bike in sight.

A friend of mine who is a mental biker tells me even if the taxis were turfed from the bike lane he couldn’t use it – seems they forgot to remove all the utility poles and most of these sit squarely in the bike lane. Not forgetting all the royal palms and other trees that were axed.

A word to the wise, this is not progress. Whomever planned this abomination, if indeed it was planned, needs lessons in sensibility at the very least. Good grief!

Have a great March – the Easter bunny is about and I’m off to Oz for the Grand Prix, with special thanks to Qatar Airways.

I know what you’ll all be saying, but it’s a tough life and someone’s got to live it; and I’m very very  very happy that it’s moi!

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