Sunday, July 19, 2015

Four tips for Explorers

The season of vacations and travel is well underway.   People are talking about where they’re going, what they did while they were gone or seemingly have just vanished.  Out of office messages fill our mail boxes.

Meanwhile, recommendations for where to travel, what to do sprout up everywhere.   I came across one article that I thought offered some useful advice about how to explore a destination.  Afar magazine ( calls their tips How to Travel Deeper. They offer four simple steps that can help you learn about a new place (or more about a place you’ve checked out before).

Whether your trip is for pleasure or business you may find their ideas useful

1.  Take a cooking class.  Get to know something about the food beyond what you experience in a restaurant – even one recommended by the locals.

2. Drink the local Wine (or whatever is the local favorite liquid refreshment – wine, beer, coffee, tea or something else.  At a tasting of food and drink from Peru organized by the Consul General of Peru in San Francisco, I tasted Pisco, the brandy developed in the 16th century by a Spanish settler. Famous in Peru it was new to me. Along with discovering a new taste treat I learned something about Peru at the same time).

3. Visit churches, temples, and sacred places.  (Discover art, architecture and places of importance in the community.)

4.  Tour by bike  - (or for those of us who don’t do bikes - walking, taking local transportation – also offer ways to engage with the locale more directly than running from place to place by taxi or tour bus.)

Every traveler has a special way of exploring and enjoying where they go.  What else would you suggest to a friend who ask for your advice?  Will you try one of these steps - or all four -- on your next trip?

Sunday, July 12, 2015

The Even More Independent Traveler

To some of you this is old news – to others it’s a startling surprise.  One more step making the airline traveler independent.  Or making flying more self-service.  Airlines now say:  tag that bag (that you are paying to check) and put it on the belt – yourself.

Alaska Airline travelers are familiar with this practice that they started several years. Travelers can print their bag tags with their boarding passes.  But for me – it was a surprise.

Returning from Paris earlier this year I was puzzled, a bit confused when an Air France staff member told me that I could avoid the very, very, very long check in line if I’d print a luggage tag and attach to my bag myself.  The line for self tagged bags was as short as the other was long.  No question.  I’d figure out the tag (and wonder all through the flight if it really would stay on).  No problem.  Luggage and tag arrived in San Francisco as planned.

But just as I adapted to this new step I discovered there are more changes to come.  According to the Wall Street Journal ( digital tags are on the horizon.  These will be permanent bag tags that digitally update if flight plans change.

According to the article “more than a third of global airlines now ask fliers to tag their own bags, compared with 13% in 2009, according to SITA, an airline-technology firm. By 2018, more than three-quarters of carriers intend to offer the service.”

Progress or a bother for the traveler?  Will it help avoid lost luggage or send our bags randomly around the world? 

Sunday, July 5, 2015

Brands: Which ones are Enlightened?

Once upon a time a brand was a mark burned onto an animal to indicate ownership. Later brands came to mean the names of products.

Today a brand is much more than the name of a product.  We now consider brands as if they were a living, evolving entity, not simply the name of a car, airline, or a pair of shoes.  Nations are branded and individuals are urged to consider their personal brand. 

Brand characteristics are studied, discussed and worried over by marketing people worldwide hoping to find ways to engage (obtain, hold) customers.  It isn’t enough to have a good product, price and pretty logo.  A brand must somehow be something special.

Which takes us to a recent publication by the trend forecasting service Trend Watching.  They provide information on consumer trends around the world.  Their most recent report highlighted what they call the newest type of brand:  one that is Enlightened.  What does that mean?   Enlightened brands “will take meaningful action to improve individual lives and the wider world.”

According to their research these entities are: Restless (working to make the world a better place), Empathetic (know what pains their customers and how to help them) and Demanding  (expecting to change their customers to become their best selves)

Who’s Enlightened these days?

E4, a UK television channel suspended service on the day of the general election, encouraging viewers to vote.  

Audi created an app that connects stranded drivers with drivers of Audi’s 4x4 vehicles who could rescue them.

Vodafone offers guaranteed maternity pay worldwide – even in countries where it isn’t required.  

No longer static marks - brands are alive and active. (At least in our imaginations).  Which ones should have this designation?  Which ones should be added to the list of The Restless (innovators), Empathetic and Demanding (be your best self)  - the Enlightened ones?