27 June 2007

Foreign cash dispensers from Raphael Bank

Here's something new. Or at least, new to me.

I've never heard of Raphaels Bank before. They are based in Aylesbury and they are "one of the oldest independent banking houses in the United Kingdom established in 1787".

Anyway, they've sent me a press release, using the 40th anniversary of the first cash dispenser in the UK as an opportunity to highlight their foreign exchange and ATM activities.

It turns out they have their own ATMs at Luton Airport, Gatwick Airport and the Eurostar terminal at Waterloo, which dispense Euros and US dollars.

So if you see one, and think 'Raphaels...eh?' - that's who they are.

Make travel bookings by phone without talking to a machine

Cheapflights have come up with an excellent idea.... a cheatsheet for making travel bookings by phone.

Actually, it's not a new idea. It's an updated edition of their cheatsheet....but it's the first time I've seen it!

The cheatsheet has contact details for the top airlines, travel companies and hotels. It
lists the name of the company, its telephone number and website, and simple instructions on which keystrokes to make to bypass the boring automated voices on the telephone and speak to an actual human.

It also has instructions on how to make a complaint.

25 June 2007

Funny phone call

More anecdotal evidence that Romania is being 'discovered' this year.... though it came accidently in a wrong number phone call a few moments ago.

The caller wanted me to sort out some travel arrangements to Romania, involving a visa.

I explained we were not a travel agency.

"But you did it for us last year when we went to Canada"

"Um, no I don't think so"

"Yes, you did"

"No we don't do that sort of thing"

"Yes you absolutely did!"

Then the penny dropped and I heard myself say "Who do you think you are talking to?"



Aha! I know Travcour. One of the visa specialists. In a flash I was able to look it up on the site, give him the phone number and send him on his happy way.

Now, for interest's sake, I wish I'd asked him what he & his wife were going for - Sibiu (Euro culture city this year)? Dracula? Wildlife watching on the Danube Delta? or in the Carpathians?

Still.... "who do you think you are talking to?" - not often you get to say that, and come away unscathed.

12 June 2007

Possible film boost for Belgium

If there is one promotional vehicle that the marketing people from any destination crave, it's a movie.

So the folks at Tourism Flanders-Brussels are clutching themselves with glee that Dreamworks Studios have announced plans to produce a series of films based on Belgium's most famous export (after Leffe beer)... Herge's Adventures of Tintin.

05 June 2007

Hotel company & Kids' TV get together

Sleepover Club
Drake & Josh **
Genie in the House
Ned's declassified School Survival Kit *
Zoey 101 *
Kenan & Kel
Naked Brothers Band
Genie in the House
H2O *
Sabrina the Teenage Witch *
My Parents are Aliens **

Do any of these names mean anything to you?

How about...

Spongebob Squarepants

Nothing? Good, well you can leave the room now and get on with your life.

For the rest of us - those who know only too well that these are all programmes on the kids tv channel, Nickelodeon - there's bad news on the way.

Marriott and Nickelodeon are launching Nickelodeon-themed hotels - a case where the sum of the two brands will probably weigh considerably less than their individual parts.

I like and respect Marriott. A very good hotel company. I certainly like and admire Nickelodeon. They broadcast some very good kids programmes (I've marked them with an asterisk, and the best with two). Having an 11 year old son I am VERY familiar with all their output!

But the idea of a 'Nick'-themed resort hotel is not appealing. We all know what it's about. Some corporate drones are attempting to "leverage the brands". (Ugh! How that 'L' word makes my skin crawl!). The result will be as lovely, individual, creative, natural and authentic as a Hard Rock Cafe or Disney shop.

If you recognised those names, the chances are your kid will have outgrown 'Nick' by the time they are built. But you have to feel sorry for the next generation of parents who might get caught up in it.