Just a quick note: former French foreign minister D. de Villepin (who made a fantastic speech opposing the war in Irak at the UN Security Council - total respect for that), until yesterday French Interior Minister (nothing worth saying), former Chief of Staff of President Chirac (hence a very close ally), was nominated today at noon as the new French Prime Minister.
Interesting: this guy is a pure technocrat, somewhat poet and philosopher (see his latest book): he has never been elected to any public office before.
I respect him for his panache at the UN. I wonder however how his personnality will help boost the French economy and the French public morale.
Stelios is really an interesting man. He's based the creation of his group of companies around the concept of yield management: perishable goods (internet connexion time, car rental time, aircraft passenger seats, etc.) are sold with different prices according to demand. Very smart.
He also has another characteristic: he's able to sell his services for dirt-cheap prices, without sacrificing the real stuff people are paying for. So without writing up an HBR case study, here are my impressions of the EasyJet flight I tool the other day, for the first time:
* reservation: everything is done online on their website. Cool! No intermediary, straight from the company to the end-customer. Seems they are applying DELL's magic formula for selling services. Interestingly, the web site is rather well done: you can check availability online for any flight, and get the current price (gets more expensive when you get closed to the date).
* airport terminals: realizing that customers are not really willing to travel for about 1h to some obscure airport in the middle of corn fields, EasyJet has taken up slots at real airports: envertheless you get to walk for a very loooooooong time at the airport before you get to the boarding gate. I guess these are the cheapest. Hey, customers are willing to walk in airports: => rule #1: understand the value you are selling to customers...
By the way, as long as you are reasonable, you won't be charged for extra weight...
* once at the checking gate, no need to tag your bags. EasyJet uses barcode stickers they put on the bag. They are confortable that your suitcase can't be lost as they are the only ones using their sides of the terminal.
* ground and air crew: funnily enough, orange seems to be the company colour everywhere. Easy to recognise the brand everywhere for very little effort on their side. THe crew is dressed up in casual orange and grey uniforms: no need for the formal stuff: it has to be functional. Hey, maybe even cheaper ?
* planes: my understanding is that EasyJet currently has 70 planes, with an option for 70 more (maybe I got these numbers wrong, and they are more). All the planes are the same: Airbus A119 for mid-haul flights, perfectly suited to the task. WHy all the same:
- discount prices when they buy planes bulk
- all pilots are trained ONCE on all planes
- all planes are BRAND new, so that the mean time between failure is very low
- all spare parts are the same
- all technical personal is trained on the same equipment
=> you know what, a crowd of brand new and identical planes brings the overall cost down...
* crew: rather amazing crew. The chief steward told me he had EXACTLY 20 minutes on the ground from the minute he asks passengers to disembark (from the opening of the door) to the moment when he closes the door (all passengers having boarded the plane). What ? 20 minutes ? yes, that's 6 min for passengers to leave the plane, 8 min to tidy up the plane, 6 min to allow passengers to board.
Whenever he misses the 20 min target by just 2 min, the Chief Steward is called to go up to HQ and explain himself. With 5 "invitations", the guy is fired. FIRED! some discipline in cost control right ?
How does it work:
- food & beverages are SOLD on board. Sure, who wants that crappy sandwich? who values it ? If you want something pay for it. OK. That also means that there is very little litter on board, and a stewardess (they are 3 in total on board + 2 pilots) passes just before landing with a big bag to clean up. During their 8 min on the ground, they just tidy up the buckle and magazines.
Indeed, magazines are handed over only to those passengers who wish to read them, and collected again before landing.
The crew also deos the duty-free selling, serves paying food, puts toilet paper back where it is due, etc. A non stop journey. The day I flew, the crew was meant to fly 5 times between Paris and Cannes.
And algthough you are flying a discount company, they are obsessed with security and won't let you transgress any rule.
The Crew is happy to work the EasyJet way: a steward makes about £1200-1500/month, the Chief Pursuer makes between £1500-2000 /month. They are all paid in the UK, hence probably less taxes too. That's about twice as much as what they would be making on Air France for instance (their estimate).
I was reading Stelios' magazine on the plane: he was advertising EsayCruises, starting £25. You know what, if you are going to sell anything at such low prices, you'd better have a perfectly refined process and costs back home.
Startups: have a look at some of the intrinsics of EasyGroups' companies. You'd be surprised and you'll learn many tricks that will help the fittest survive.
PS: I'm aware of all the litterature about the industry's poster child and first example: Southwest Airlines. I just thought it would nice to share with you some thoughts on a company where execution matters more than just the idea.
This is getting on my nerves: I am completely unable to plan my summer holidays (nor winter holidays as a matter of fact) any time before. So I tried to change my habit, and I've been thinking for the past few weeks where I should go this summer. What a nightmare, and I'm jsut only deciding on the destination, not even yet on airfares, nor hotels. I don't even know when I should leave: probably August, as the nanny of Mr. A. is on holidays.
So here are the criteria:
* it must not be too far, otherwise the kid might get tired on the plane (we did make it to South Africa last January, 12 hours flight - we all survived); maybe Chile to visit family, but hey, hot places in the northern hemisphere sound good as well
* I really don't like crowded places: do forget the French Riviera, Croatia, or the Spanish coast line
* I would prefer some ethnic / cultural travel: hence Cracow is an option (seems a great place), or somewhere in Africa: hence something to visit or to discover
* if there is absolutely nothing to do, such as a sea resort, then there must a be a golf course neaer by, and a reasonably good restaurant. With Golf, a couple of books and food, I can survive holidays pretty well ;)
* the "leader of the opposition" :) would prefer to settle in one place and not move too much around. Ha! I like travelling and changing places all the time, but I will indulge her.
Therefore top of my short-list:
- a trip somewhere in the northern Baltic states: a trip to Riga, Tallin and Vilnius. They're part of the EU, and I can't distinguish their culture. Sounds like a real nice option.
- just realized that it's been forever that we've wanted to visit Napoli, Sicily, the Amalfi Coast. Just saw pictures by Jacques, and it would be a GREAT option.
Maybe we'll do these 2 destinations. Other suggestions more than welcome. And you? where are you going this summer ?
It seems that our friend Russ has a lot of time of his hands: he's just crafted one of those spectacular posts where he puts up a selection of supply of something on his blog, in this case recent mobile games.
His post is really worth checking out.
In particular I appreciate his perfect wisdom when he says:
Finally, like I've said before, I think that mobile media is going to start sucking up a lot of the time that people are now spending playing games on their mobile. Professional content, amateur content and your PVR's content are going to be available on the go.
I can't seem to agree more. Consumer needs are getting more and more different to what mobile companies are offering them. For instance, I'd really love an easy-to-understand/buy/find all-you-can-eat mobile Internet connexion that works anywhere, FOR A FLAT FEE per month, just what I get at home. I could even stretch myself to a price plan, such as my mobile subscription, BUT that works with any operator.
It doesn't exist today with all operators (do I care abouthe Wi-Fi, Wimax, GPRS, EDGE, UMTS technologies?), and it's very hard to buy from one single operator (hidden somewhere at the 30th layer of a professional solution for the hard core nomad traveller).
So operators want me to use bandwidth, and buy content from them. Russ is right: too much demand, difficult to find, too expensive. I would only pay a subscription to a service, and I would download every now and then, some content such as games, not to be bored. Maybe. I would pay for connectivity but at a reasonable price.
All this blurp to say that mobile companies have almost completely lost touch with their customers...
Now that the Cannes Film Festival 2005 is over, I thought I'd share with you same small clips taken backstage. Sorry I didn't have time to post them on the official blog http://glowria.fr/live.
Here you get a good view of hackers in Cannes, trying to get access to giant billboards:
Of course, the Prague Symphonic Orchestra playing to a huge crowd on the Croisette for the Star Wars III premiere was not to be missed:
And super-model Adriana Karembeu needed a little extra attention before walking up the stairs...
Just saw this ad on the street. It's a trade fair on the Italian LifeStyle! Sounds like a must-go right ?
Design by Pininfarina and Alessi, Parmiggiano, Mozarella, Brunello di Montalcino, Montepulciano, Amarone...
Everything I absolutely love. Anyone care to go with me ?
There even is a web site up: www.salonitalia.com
In the meantime, with all the noise about the EU constitution, almost nothing (or even nothing) on another important piece of news (maybe...) in the French press this week.
The wife of presidential candidate, and UMP (France's largest right-wing party) leader - Nicolas Sarkozy - has just dumped him, for the guy behind the organisation of the World Economic Forum, Richard Attias.
Hey, good for her, really bad for their kid - 8 years old -, and too bad for him as well. You know what? we still live in a decent contry: this is not big news here, and articles are to be found only in the Foreign press.
Nevertheless, I stumbled upon Emery on Tuesday noon who broke the news to me, heard it again over dinner on Tuesday; and again all over when I dropped by the media agency Publicis later in the week. Pretty good word-of-mouth :)
Anyways. Let's focus on what is happening tomorrow ? Nicolas might actually make it to the Prime Minister job. Whatever. Let's focus on a political program for our country and our European Union.
Hugh McLeod's drawing summarizes it all. Don't get me wrong: I respect enormously the democratic process.
But I despise those who use an election that has to decide the future of our children:
- for a personal political agenda
- to sanction home politics
- to concentrate personal fears.
The Socialists take the blame tonight, and so do the young people. I feel ashamed of living in a country that had to vote at more than 80% for Jacques Chirac to get rid of a right-wing presidential candidate, because the Socialists didn't have a program for the nation. I'm aiming here at my own political family.
9 countries had already voted yes, including Germany and Italy. Are these Frenchmen insane ?
In the land of Jean Monnet, Robert Schuman, Jacques Delors ?
Update @ 22:47: this is insane. All the political leaders are talking about kicking Chirac out of his job, and about who is getting the Prime Minister job tomorrow. Hey!!! Wasn't this supposed to be an election on EUROPE and not on domestic politics ?
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