Note that I have a leather only blog that seems aftter a couple of years to have a lot of regular readers at:
Travelling to Chennai for LERIG and the IILF
After half a year of negative comments all round the world I have to say the couple of experiences I have had with Heathrow T5 in 2009 have been very good. If you print out your boarding card at home, or in the machines in the departure hall, you can get very quickly from car to lounge. I also used the pre booking car parking which gives big discounts at most airports (I used it at Stansted the other day) for the short stay park which means a quick walk from the car to departures.
So this is now without question a good airport terminal in terms of looks and functionality, and its construction was one of the few big British projects completed on schedule. What a tragedy that the reputation of Heathrow, BA and the UK in general was so badly damaged by the chaos at the opening. Bad training, bad testing and using marketing communications, not the least forgetting how much the press and public like to delight in our home grown British errors. All this is a message for making sure your CMO (Chief Marketing Officer) is involved from the start, not doing other peoples’ jobs, but contributing to the process, and personally developing the messages that will be sent out. In the leather industry we used to talk about HIPI (Hype it and Pipe it) with the Pipe being all about “post introduction product engineering”. This is all about the fact that in tanneries you often take a new leather to market before bulk loads have been done and the transfer to the big drums frequently produces slightly different results leading to a second round of product development after the first volumes have been sold. We are not used to Hype It and then…..well crash. So at least if your marketing team have been fully involved in the new product, in creating the messages, and in sending them out then they will be ready to discuss any shortcomings if things go wrong and won’t need briefing. And the situation of an operations director running away from press with cameras running can be avoided.
But even a good T5 has huge competition in the mind of the modern world traveller. Beijing, Shanghai, Hong Kong and Singapore are all destinations frequently used by those who source in Asia, especially in the leather industry. In Europe I have used Vienna (free WiFi which meant I could watch the Obama Inauguration on my laptop) and Eindhoven lately and they were both excellent in comparison with Bristol who seem determined to use security checks to spoil any journey.
It is curious then that India has not joined the family of countries with excellent airports. Arriving in Chennai at 1am this morning some improvements are noticeable over the last 20 years but really not many. You do wonder if the planners here have ever visited China. Not just the top airports already mentioned but Chengdu, Xian and Xiamen where the leather people go. Fast and efficient, clean and friendly, most with free WiFi throughout.
A recession is a good time to put these infrastructure right and let’s hope that during this one India has the money and the will to do so.