Tuesday, December 22, 2009


Feels good

A comment on Facebook about Massar from one of our great volunteers in Lattakia, Ahmad Shallouf "Well.. Here's the thing, the first lady said to us once that one hand cannot clap on its own so.. We must thank you all for giving us the opportunity.. Without you we couldn't have done anything either.. It was quite letterally the best experience of my life, Massar.. And its still going.. It still is.."


Monday, December 14, 2009


Thoughts about airlines - and payphones

If I have a general observation about airlines it is that they over-pamper their business and first class passengers, and treat their economy passengers too casually. Of course people who fly first and business are paying for the special treatment, but it is dangerous to make economy flyers feel they are viewed and treated by the airline as a sub-class, second rate, a necessary nuisance and not appreciated. Many years ago when I worked for British Telecom I was responsible for public relations for payphones - at that time BT's unloved orphan child. Payphones in the UK at that time were legendary for being out of service, used as urinals, covered with graffiti and robbed of cash. They were disgraceful, and of course PR on its own could do little or nothing to change that. BT was investing slowly in card phones to deal with the security problems, but management really wished they could be shot of the whole embarassing operation, which of course as the national phone company they could not get rid of.

What turned management attitudes completely around was the discovery that their dismal treatment of payphones had a significant impact on how their (commercially very important) corporate customers viewed BT. These business buyers - rightly - saw payphones as exemplifying BT's attitude towards all of its operations; payphones made an important and very public brand statement. And by ignoring their own public face BT was sending out a strong "don't care" message to the people it really wanted to impress and do business with. Once management realised this, payphones started getting some very serious attention and investment, and the situation rapidly improved.

What does this have to do with airlines? Well, I believe they are running the risk of viewing economy customers much as BT saw its payphones - something to be put up with grudgingly while the "real" business is elsewhere. Today that is a huge mistake. More and more senior business people are flying economy. The attitudes they find there will either make an airline's brand or ruin it, just as much if not more than the attitude towards "turn left" passengers. There is the same brand crossover and connection being made. Airlines who invest in making economy class passengers feel appreciated (which needn't take lots of investment, just attitude) have everything to gain.

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Friday, December 11, 2009


Open house at the Lattakia centre

To launch the new IT/Debate part of the centre we threw a party, and just a few more people came than we were expecting...



View from the Rotana Hotel, Lattakia


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