12 June 2011

Can't be Arsed with the Adverts

[I'll soon be moving to a new blog in my new Travel-Lists website. Rather than simply close this blog, I'm intending to change the title and use it for occasional off-topic posts. Consider this as the first of those.]


TV remote control
I started watching the new drama series Camelot last night. It looked quite promising.

Then, 15 mins in came an ad break, and I gave up on it. Pity.

It's not that I don't watch commercial programmes. I do... but thinking about it, I realised that I don't watch things I want to watch, or, as in this case, things I expect to be drawn into on commercial TV. I realised that on commercial/satellite channels the only programmes I watch are movies & programmes I've seen before or don't care about.

The reason in simple enough.

As ex-TV camerman, Jeremy Hoare, dryly pointed out on twitter: "#cantbearsedwiththeadverts If it wasn't for the adverts you wouldn't see the programme - been true since ITV started in 1955."

True, but satellite, and to a slightly lesser extent, terrestrial commercial TV has been 'Americanised' since then. I haven't sat there with a stop watch, but it often feels like there's more adverts than content. They seem to appear at 10 minute intervals, all sychronised (+10 mins, +20 mins, +30 mins, +40 mins, and usually in the last few minutes before the top of the hour) so you can't easily channel-hop from adverts to content.

(I don't know about TV but I can't help comparing with the license terms for Classic FM (UK's first national commercial radio station) when we launched in 1992 - we were allowed six minutes of advertising per hour max, in 3 x 2 min breaks. I expect the lobby groups have had those regs 'Americanised' since I left in 98, but probably not by much.)

So, like most normal people, I get up when the adverts come on, and wander away. But, and here's the important bit, since I already know the movie, or don't care about the programme, I'm under no pressure to return in good time. It doesn't matter if I miss the first few minutes of the next content section, or the next section, or the rest of the programme. Adverts can break the flow of the programme as much as they like because I HAVE NOTHING INVESTED IN IT.

Five or six advert breaks of between 2-3 mins mean that at least 15 mins in every hour is advertising. 25% ffs! Reduce it to 10% and I might watch new content on commercial/satellite TV.

Meanwhile, if I get the urge to watch Camelot, maybe I'll wait to rent or download the box set.

06 June 2011

Shall we rent our holiday villa, darling? Or buy it?

The Istana's swimming pool
Well there's something I've not seen before - a real estate press release, distributed to travel journos.
You can sort of see the thinking though.

The Istana is a luxurious villa in Bali, available for holiday lets and has apparantly been regularly featured in the likes of Conde Naste Traveller and the New York Times... and it's up for sale.

What does the spec say?

As one would expect from a property of this calibre, The Istana transitions seamlessly between opulent entertaining and private areas, such as the library, home theatre and dedicated spa and beauty treatment area that have been thoughtfully integrated into an estate that offers a something to everyone. Families will feel especially welcome owing to the vast children?s room and games room. The long manicured lawn and extensive service areas, along with the striking azure of the ocean, explain its popularity for weddings and events.
Bali's modern lifestyle is reflected in The Istana's delicious blend of indoor and outdoor spaces. The main swimming pool is 32 metres in length and offers yet another pleasant sanctuary. The 120 square metre master bedroom suite is an independent structure set aside from the main house with its own infinity edge pool.
The onsite team features a western chef who ensures an indulgent fusion menu from the villa's restaurant-grade kitchen. The management team consists of four butlers, two drivers, two masseuse and spa staff and countless housekeeping and maintenance people and round-the-clock security team.
Separate staff entrances, quarters and parking allow The Istana to remain an idyllic escape where guests can be comfortable in the knowledge that impeccably trained service staff are working behind the scenes to cheerfully cater for all requests.
The Istana has been competently operated as both a private residence and a commercial villa and currently has a substantial forward booking calendar of committed guests and repeat clients.

What doesn't the spec say?

...What the asking price is! It's simply too vulgar to talk money at this stage. Have your PA or manservant make discrete enquiries.

02 June 2011

Visiting Friends & 'Rellies' is risky for some

This is a bit startling.

The Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) is launching a campaign to try and convince British nationals (they estimate there are 12m of them) who might be planning to visit friends and family abroad - what we used to call "the VFR market" (Visiting Friend and Relatives) in the old days - to take travel insurance with them as well as teabags.

They've been doing some research. Their survey (of 4,647 UK adults) shows that a third of people did not take out travel insurance the last time they stayed with family and friends overseas. More than three quarters (77%) of those who stated they were visiting friends and family this year said that saving money is a key factor in this decision.

A third!

Minister for Consular Affairs, Jeremy Browne, said: “With over 5 million Britons living abroad, people are increasingly making the most of opportunities to visit their loved ones across the world. However, it’s important to understand that staying in someone’s home does not make you exempt from encountering serious problems. Take the same steps before you go as you would for any other holiday, such as taking out travel insurance and doing some pre-trip research, to ensure you are prepared if something does go wrong.”

Despite the belief that they don’t have to prepare for a holiday when visiting friends and family, 39% of British nationals have ended up relying on their host when things have gone wrong during their trip. British expats hosting visitors have to deal with a range of problems from taking their guests to hospital when they fall ill to providing financial help.

Of course it's not just the 'rellies' who end up sorting things out if there's a problem. Often the British Consulate get drawn in too..... which is why they want to highlight it!


They've given some examples of cases handled by the Foreign Office:

  • A man was visiting his mother in Canada and extended his stay. He suffered a heart attack and had to pay over $40,000 in medical bills as his insurance had lapsed during the prolonged trip.
  • A man had a stroke while visiting family in Cape Town. He was taken to a private hospital but could not pay for the treatment nor did he have any health insurance. The family could not cover the increasing costs and he was moved to state facilities where the level of treatment is significantly lower and where he eventually died.
  • A woman did not take anti-malarial medication before visiting her mother in Tanzania as she’d been to the area many times before. She became sick and was diagnosed with cerebral malaria which she later died from.

But what really caught my eye was this video. It's hard to believe people can be so blasé!