Airports are always expensive places for coffee and other refreshments, though some are more expensive than others.
This morning I'm en route to Tivat, via Paris, so I'm having coffee in terminal 2B of Paris CDG.
There is only one cafe, so they have a monopoly on all passengers who are "airside". This monopoly is reflected in the prices:
small bottle of water - between €2.90 and €3.40
Cappuccino €4.50! (and that's not a tall one)
If the cafe had some competition I suspect its prices would be a LOT lower, though the cost of doing business in an airport (rent etc) would probably mean that the prices were still higher than what you'd pay "downtown".
Competition in any market is a good thing. It stimulates and motivates companies to provide better services and products to retain and grow their market share. Consumers benefit.
Pity the same rules don't apply in CDG
Hunky Dorys are a brand of potato crisp. I guess there isn't much that you can say about potato crisps. You either like them or you don't. You might like one brand over another, but I don't normally associate crisps with scantily clad women.
That was until last year when Hunky Dorys ran an advertising campaign featuring scantily clad female rugby "players".
This year they've switched their focus to Gaelic football, but the imagery is very similar:
I'm a guy. I like attractive women, so I'm not going to complain about the ad campaign. I could go on about it at an intellectual level, but I'm more curious to know if the ads have a negative impact on the brand. And according to an article in today's Sunday Business Post the advertising campaign didn't damage them at all. If anything it probably helped boost their sales.
So sex obviously sells.
I've always wondered about using provocative images in advertising. The problem, of course, is that you always run a risk of alienating part of your existing customer base, so it's something I've been careful to avoid. When we were doing a promotion on .me domain names last year, however, we did a few experiments.
This image would probably have upset some people, though the feedback we got on it (in general) was a lot more positive than I'd expected:
In the end we went with a slightly toned down version:
We even came up with a male image:
Some people might view this kind of marketing message as being "lazy" in some respects, but if it increases your sales, why wouldn't you use it?
Other companies in the domain / hosting space have used "cheeky" advertising for years and while there's always a backlash it still seems to work. Though, admittedly, I haven't seen any European companies doing anything on a large scale. Most advertising for internet services is pretty bland, which is a pity.
So would a provocative ad change your opinion of a brand?
Or do you even care?
- Irish Sporting Organization Not Happy With Hunky Dorys Hotties (adrants.com)
- New Hunky Dory adds (politics.ie)
I've had an account with Crowdbooster for the last couple of weeks, but wanted to give it a bit of time before even attempting to give it any kind of review.
What is it?
Crowdbooster helps you achieve an effective presence on Twitter and Facebook. We show you analytics that aren't based on abstract scores but numbers that are connected to your business and your social media strategies: impressions, total reach, engagement, and more. We then give you the tools and recommendations you need to take action and improve each one of these metrics.
The concept is a good one - measurement, metrics, analysis and actions based on them. However until you actually use the tool it's quite hard to see what they mean or if they've achieved it.
The service comes in a three flavours, varying from the free account which is limited to 3 social media accounts, to the "business" one at $20 / month which can take 10 accounts or the "agency" one which is unlimited, but also doesn't have any published pricing. Both the free account and the business one are limited to one user, which I'd see a rather large limitation if they're targeting businesses.
But what about the actual service itself?
First off - a word of warning - when you first signup you are NOT going to be "wowed", if anything you'll be left wondering what, if any, purpose the service serves.
Well the way it works is based on analysis of your Twitter account(s) and your Facebook page(s). It will analyse some of your activity prior to your account activation, but it only really starts to "work" on your account from when you signup. So to actually be able to do anything useful with it you need to signup, connect your accounts and then leave it alone for a few days. After a few days it will hopefully have enough data for you to be able to actually do something with it.
I setup my account to pull in data related to my personal Twitter account (@mneylon) the company's main account (@blacknight) and the company's Facebook page, as is reflected in the screenshot below.
So this is roughly how my "dashboard" for the @mneylon Twitter account currently looks - I've highlighted a couple of things that caught my eye
The most important part would seem to be the "recommendations", which are based in part on the activity analysis (the big graph bit below). Based on what they've seen so far they're suggesting that I tweet at a specific time as that's when I tend to get the best response.
They make the recommendation that bit more useful by offering you the ability to schedule a tweet to go out at the appropriate time, which is a nice feature.
What's also quite interesting is the "engage" call to action, though when you explore it further it's not as helpful as it could be. It essentially tells you about users with a high Klout score that have recently followed you. While that's a nice idea it doesn't tell you if they are still following you or not, so it's not nearly as useful as it could be.
There's an "influential followers" dashboard which is, again, semi-useful, but doesn't tell you anything more than those users follow you ..(it's not even clear if they're still following you.. )
The Facebook analytics work along the same lines as the ones for Twitter. While the data is already available in Facebook indirectly, Crowdbooster does a very good job of linking the reaction to a specific message, which is useful. Unfortunately there's no way to schedule a Facebook update, which would be a nice feature to have. As the Facebook API does support 3rd party applications posting to pages it is technically possible to do it, so it's a pity they haven't enabled that.
So while the system has got a couple of nice features it's got more potential than anything else at the moment.
The lack of multi-user access is a shortcoming and there are several other areas where there is a clear opportunity that they haven't taken advantage of. Whether they will or not remains to be seen.
Is it worth using? Possibly, but it's not a "game changer" for me at least.
This is more of a rant than anything else..
While the US dollar and the Euro might be close in value from time to time they aren't the same currency.
1 US dollar is worth less than 1 Euro.
However there are software vendors out there that think it's "acceptable" to charge the same to both their European customers as they do their US based ones - simply changing the currency symbol, but not the figure.
So a European company gets charged €10 while their US counterpart only pays $10 for the same product!
And people wonder why European companies have difficulties competing on price!
It's been an interesting couple of days .. I've been trying to follow all the comments on this debate across various blogs, LinkedIn and Twitter and it's fascinating to see the visceral reaction that the debate has provoked.
So what happened?
Yesterday morning James put the slaves.ie site live. The domain was registered by me back in February of this year, but,like so many side projects of ours, had been put to one side..Put on a virtual shelf ..
Where did this idea come from?
Earlier this year a few of us were chatting about how some companies abuse the concept of interns.
Paul created a twitter account
Both James and Stewart have blogged on the subject. I don't agree with everything the others have been saying, and I sincerely doubt they all agree with each other on everything either. However there are some points where I think we all agree.
I hadn't written about my views until now, (though I have ended up doing an interview or two about it in the last couple of days)
First things first.
I do not have an issue with the concept of interns and a lot of companies and organisations respect how internships can work for the benefit of all parties involved. However some companies abuse the "system". And that, in my opinion, is not right. I don't think it's ethical.
Running a business is not cheap and one of the biggest costs is staffing. However, staff are, in many respects, a company's single biggest assets. If you hire the right people and treat them properly then you can reap the rewards, but if you hire the wrong people and/ or treat them badly I don't see how it can work out well for anyone.
An intern should, in my view, gain from their time working in a company. A company obviously has to get something out of the relationship as well, even if it is just relatively cheap labour. However, and this is the key for me, an intern should not replace a "normal" employee. In fact if you look at the terms associated with "Job Bridge", for example, it's pretty clear what you can and can't use the system for:
The host organisation may not provide an internship opportunity under the Scheme to an individual they have existing employment relationship with
So you can't lay somebody off and re-hire them as an intern.
The host organisation currently may not have vacancies in the area of activity in which the internship is offered.
The internship will not be provided to displace an employee. The scheme administrator reserves the right to review cases where it is reported that this is the case.
So you can't replace your paid employees with interns or take on an intern instead of the more expensive staff member that you advertised last week ..
In our case, for example, we have an "intern" who works for us. He's doing things that our "normal" staff never get round to and we try to keep the work as varied as possible for him, so that he doesn't get bored. We didn't look for him - he came to us looking for the work. And we pay him properly.
Taking on an intern, for us at least, is not an easy thing to do. Most of the roles in the company require specialised knowledge. If we hire someone for our customer service team it can easily take 2 or 3 months for them to fully trained and able to work without close supervision. During that initial training period they're going to cost We're not going to take someone on for 2 or 3 months for that kind of role. We might take someone on for a contract job, but again, most of those types of roles are specialised.
The problem arises when companies take the idea of an "intern" and abuse it.
Advertising a full-time job or a contract job and calling it an "internship" is, in my opinion, an abuse.
Here's the kind of advert that annoys me:
There are plenty of qualified and skilled people out there who could fill that role, but expecting anyone to do all that without paying them? Not even a stipend .. nothing?
Of course, as several people have pointed out, nobody is forcing anyone to take up a position with a company if they feel that the conditions are unreasonable. However, it still doesn't make it right.
And using the defence that it's "creating opportunities" is incredibly weak. If you have an open position in your company, then why don't you simply hire someone to fill it?
And as for the LinkedIn discussion / debate / heated argument .. It's well worth reading through all the comments. Some of the points being raised by both sides of the debate are very valid and it's a healthy discussion. Unfortunately some people have descended into name calling, which I think is unfortunate.
As for the website and the hashtag .. It's provocative and some of the people using the hashtag are saying things that I'd never agree with, but that's the nature of hashtags or the internet in general. Once the "genie" is out of the bottle it's very hard to put it back in.
All in all it's an interesting debate and there's been some very healthy discussion.
Feel free to continue it (politely) in the comments below.
I hate spammers. Anyone who resorts to spamming obviously doesn't have enough skill to market successfully using acceptable methods.It's that simple.
Yesterday afternoon I was spammed by Kantar Media - seemingly because I was "nominated for an award" (We were shortlisted for several and won one, but since spammers are incredibly lazy this lack of attention to detail is probably to be expected)
The email was pretty terrible:
I happened to be at the Social Media Awards last month and noticed you were nominated for an award.
We Kantar Media sponsored one of the categories as a media monitoring and evaluation provider I thought you might be interested in the services we have to offer - Social, Internet, Press and Broadcast Media Monitoring and Evaluation.
I have attached some product sheets for you to review along with a link to our Social Monitoring demo - below.
We run free trials of our offline services and webinars of the social media which you might like to avail of.
Please let me know if this is of interest.
Why on earth would anyone who was nominated for a social media award want to pay these clowns for their services?
The attachment, which was a PDF, weighed in at close to 8 megs! If I'd been out of the country ie. on data roaming, then it would have cost me a fortune to download this junk.
So I replied:
So you think it's "ok" to send me a 7 meg PDF unsolicited?
You'd think that my reply would either get no response or a brief apology..
Good Morning Michele,
Apologies for the unsolicited e-mail. I have never had a complaint
before though I have taken your feedback on board and immediately
shortened it significantly.
I appreciate you probably wish for me not to contact you again, however
if you managed to open the attachment and any of our services would be
of interest to you or your clients please feel free to contact me.
Seriously? Are these people for real?
So you spam me. I complain. You then screw up the apology completely and still try to flog me your snake oil?
You then state that you're going to "shorten" your spam to better target your victims?
And people wonder why social media gurus get a bad rep ..
Back in October of last year I got bitten by Hilton Brussels City's stupid broadband limits.
The limits are inane, but the false advertising is what really bugs me.
Several months later and I see nothing has changed even though they assured me at the time that it was a "mistake".
Here is what I'm seeing this morning (again!):
Last time I checked 250 megs is NOT unlimited.
No wonder some of my American friends think European hotels are backwards!
Image by blacknight via Flickr
As I mentioned before Christmas, I was looking into carry on bags.
In the end I opted for the Red Oxx Air Boss and added the laptop bag as well.
I got to try it out properly this week when I was over in Brussels.
Packing 4 days worth of clothes and various other bits and bobs into the bag wasn't an issue and the shoulder straps on both the main bag and the laptop one worked well.
As I was only going away for a couple of days I didn't need to worry too much about wedging a large volume of clothes into a small space, but I can see how you could pack quite a bit in if needed.
Checkin on the way out of Dublin took all of 30 seconds, as I simply had to collect a boarding pass (which I could have done online if I'd really wanted to).
Checkin on the way out of Brussels was painless as well, though they don't have automatic machines there for Aer Lingus passengers
Arriving back in Dublin's Terminal 2 today I was able to walk straight off the plane and probably saved myself about 30 minutes. I'd have been faster if I could have found my way to the exit!
Saving so far 30 euro.
EDIT: I've been asked by a couple of people where you can buy the Red Oxx bags. The only place I'm aware of is directly from their website.