Pages

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Detroit - the city that won't quit

The super-modern Renaissance Center
(also known as the GM Renaissance Center and nicknamed the RenCen)
Photo: Roderick Eime
Detroit is a city that just won't quit.

Born in an exuberant Jazz-age burst in the 1920s, elegant downtown Detroit grew rapidly in line with the fast paced fortunes of the motor industry. Ford, General Motors, Chrysler and others fuelled this glorious period when magnificent Art Deco skyscrapers shot up like sunflowers in tandem with the sprawling industrial complexes like Ford's enormous Rouge plant.

The Great Depression of the '30s hit hard, but the Second World War revived its industrial might, earning Detroit the mantle: The Arsenal of Democracy.

From a peak population of almost two million in the '50s, Detroit has shrunk to around 700,000 today as a result of the changing fortunes of the auto industry and the introduction of automation to the existing facilities.

Greenfield Village is part of The Henry Ford's fascinating interpretive experience. (Supplied)
But Detroit won't be deterred. A massive urban rejuvenation and reinvention program is in place, readjusting the city to the needs of the 21st century. Visionary entrepreneurs like Dan Gilbert are adding their shoulder to the wheel to make Detroit relevant and vibrant in these challenging times.

Cars, American culture, gaming, music and sports are all part of this formula. Join Rod as he investigates this resilient metropolis and its plans for a bright new American future.

Tuesday, April 01, 2014

Ten ways to be a good guest on a travel media famil


Travel trade famil group hosted by Qantas (source: etbnews)

Let’s face it. It’s all about the travel. Why else would we work for pittance (or less) if it weren’t for the degustation menus and limousine transfers? But don’t blow it by being the [undesirable person]. You want to be invited again, right?

I feel completely qualified to write this article based on the fact that I have committed almost every travesty on this list or seen it done at close quarters. Of course, there will be many more items you can think of, so feel free to comment.

Famils (familiarisation trips) come in all shapes and sizes from simple twos and threes to massive ‘megafams’ where guests arrive in waves by coach. Even when you are travelling solo and being ‘comped’ (receiving complimentary services) - it counts.

Firstly, always remember that you are there, not because you are the coolest, but because your host(s) expect ROI (return on investment). I have written a separate item on delivering ROI here.
  1. Be on time. Whether you are in a group of journalists or grafted into a regular group trip, don’t be the one everyone is always waiting for. We all know these people and we don’t like them.
  2. Don’t be pushy. Don’t throw your weight around trying to get an upgrade or gain extra favours. Usually the host has already comped you to the extent of their budget, so grinding your chaperone will only make them want to leave you at the next gas station.
  3. Dress nicely. Dress appropriately. Please don’t turn up at Business Class check-in in last night’s T-shirt and flip-flop sandals. Brush your hair even if you don’t have any. Same for dinners and inspections. Look sharp.
  4. Don’t be a smartarse or loudmouth. I’ve caught myself out here more than once. Don’t turn your hotel review into a Shakespearean soliloquy or try to one-up the next writer with your better-than-heaven spa experience. It’s okay to share notes and experiences, encouraged even, but don’t try and make yourself out to be the expert on everything. Please tell me if I am.
  5. Be nice. Cab drivers, check-in staff and waiters don’t care who you are even if you think you’re someone. Be gracious, patient, clear and a little bit forgiving. Tip. Don’t ever (EVER) dress down staff or hosts in front of the group. If you have a genuine issue, wait for (or make) a private moment to discuss with your host. Be objective and don’t make it all about you.
  6. Give your colleagues some space. If someone wants to chase a unique angle, photograph or side-story, let them. Don’t read notes over their shoulder, photo-bomb their subject or ask them about their idea. It’s our personal take on things that give us our commercial edge. Go find your own ideas.
  7. Don’t stalk editors. Oh my, I see this all the time. If one of the guests is a commissioning editor for a magazine or newspaper, don’t latch onto them like a limpet, hounding them with pitches. Be subtle and intelligent with your strategy. Sure, you want them to remember you, but not as ‘that jerk’.
  8. Behave. We’ve all seen it. Sometimes there’s a bit of chemistry between travellers and romance is one of the joys of travel, but don’t force unwanted advances onto someone. Usually this is men, but I’ve seen some ladies get a bit forward too, especially after a couple of gins. Don’t be ‘the creep’.
  9. Thank people. Don’t get all gushy, but make sure your hosts know you are grateful for the opportunity and respect the work they have done to put the whole thing together. Sure they get paid to do it, but big trips are often a lot of work and sleepless nights. Sound familiar? Empathise.
  10. When you get home, send clippings and web links to your host. This is the best ‘thank you’ ever.