Are You Good At Selling Yourself?

Juergen is one of the very few people, I really mean, VERY FEW, people that understand both airlines and airports.

MomoA discussion on LinkedIn triggered thoughts about personal priorities in business. And keep in mind that it’s the (wo)man in the mirror that makes a change (or doesn’t).

I do think we far too much try “selling” and many people have forgotten the good old habits of reliability, honesty, trust and faith. We spend all our time making money to spend on luxuries and saving it for spare time we do not have. We forgot how to live.

Many managers nowadays aren’t any better than Ebenezer Scrooge and one just wishes the Ghosts of Christmas to visit them! What is important? The money you make? The money some unknown investor makes? Welcome to the Grey Gentlemen! If you are a manager, what are your values? Think about it!

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Do you still enjoy privacy or do you Google already?

Juergen is one of the very few people, I really mean, VERY FEW, people that understand both airlines and airports.
Click to enlarge
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A German saying asked “Do you still have sex or do you play golf already?” (Hast Du noch Sex oder golfst Du schon?). Adapting it this week to “Hast Du noch Privatsphäre oder googlest Du schon?” (see title).

Following the general and naive media hype (can the media be truly that naive?!) about the new Google Chrome, German ZDF and some other more reputable news media took a closer look. Do you remember the public outcry when Microsoft was found “phoning home”? Google’s Chrome does not just call home. Your browsing history (aside others) is stored right on the Google servers. Interesting enough, despite ability to develop tools cross-plattform, the Chrome browser is only available for the Windows environment.

Another report did address the fact that Google builds “The Cloud“. As most my readers are travel industry related, you may recall that Amadeus Germany (“Start”) replaced the last “dummy terminal” in 1993 with a “PC”. Enabling storage of information locally. With “The Cloud”, you need to be always online, but you do not need a large hard drive any more, as all programs and data is stored on the servers in the web. The Google servers that is if you ask Google… Welcome back to our roots!

1 ½ years ago, at my anual ASRA presentation (4,1 MB), I addressed data security. The friends in ASRA joked about me being paranoid. Last weeks the “loss” and misuse of private government data (in large style) is all over media and politics in Europe, especially U.K. and Germany. In Germany even the official registration office (where any citizen must register one’s address) sells the data quite publicly. So paranoid? Or just realistic? Or underestimating the case?

The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) is reported to actually pick laptops from travelers without a particular security concern (“spot checks”). Too bad, if that happens to an Airbus official, who denies to give the passwords to access the encrypted data. And there is no official information, how the data is secured by the DHS. So the data may end up at Boeing quite “legally”. And yes, sure there are many ways to ensure the DHS not getting access to any privacy data. The Cloud Computing can also be set to communicate not with Google but with your own server(s) and a nice, unobtrusive special login allows you to invisibly purge (not just “delete” recoverably) all private data including server accesses in case that becomes necessary. Then you login in via VPN (access details not on the computer) and just restore your work environment. On this or just another PC… Details on request 😉

Hmmm… The DHS and politicians sure know that terrorists are not so stupid as to answer “did you pack a bomb” with “yes” (still “normal” question at U.S. airport check-in) or that they are usually organized good enough to secure their backs better. So if they know that, am I paranoid to believe them to not be interested in terrorists but to increase their control of us, their citizens?!
It is a radical change of the legal paradigm that one is innocent until proven guilty. Today we are all presumed terrorists and have to proof we are innocent citizens! All that under the argument that an innoncent person does not have to hide anything? What a complete farce!
George Bush, Wolfgang Schäuble, read my lipps: You will be going into history for having brought down freedom and established the surveillance state. Oh, sorry George Bush, you did better, you’ve become the president leading the U.S. into global wars being proven lier, using faked proof for “weapons of mass destruction”. Your “holy wars” have as much justification as the holy wars of the mideval ages! What was that movie? Wag the dog… Good to start a war to cover up the real business – such as to establish a surveillance state? The land of the free… The what? … Well done Mr. President!

So as a summary: Be careful with your private data and start to consider preference of non-commercial Open Source software, such as Mozilla, Open Office and Linux instead of Windows – it becomes increasingly a (vital) privacy issue! Not only privately, but increasingly also for corporations…

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Data Security

Juergen is one of the very few people, I really mean, VERY FEW, people that understand both airlines and airports.

Best Western hit the media this week being reported to have been hacked and 8 million customer datasets being stolen. Best Western objected the news, mentioning they have no proof for such hack and they would delete their data anyway frequently.

Say WHAT? Corporations spend millions acquiring customer data and Best Western deletes them? Hmmm…

asra2007datasecurityNo matter, if this has been a newspaper hoax, there is something good in this. Who knows today, where data is collected, how it is stored, kept secure, who has access to it? How “secure” is “secure”? The Internet by definition is insecure. An old – even pre-WWW saying in IT: To have a secure system, remove all input… If a user in old DOS entered “format c: /u” the drive was formated irreversably. Oops, I forgot to backup that file? Too late. In my 2007 ASRA-presentation on Airline Sales & e-Commerce, my friends in ASRA joked that I would be paranoid… Today they know better, thanks to media coverage of data insecurities. I get increasing inquiries.
Most large corporates have a faulty and flawed security. Most even do not use encrypted communication with the most sensitive data they send through the web. Discussions on LinkedIn confirm the U.S. Department of Homeland Security to pick Laptops. Where does the data on them end up? Maybe your U.S. competitor has access to it?

But now we talk about personal profiles. Where is what data stored electronically about you? Have “they” told you they store the data beyond the immediate transaction? No. We only learn by security breaches becoming public that such behavior is not the exception but the rule. And thanks to the global networked world we live in, data is no longer limited to “my hotel”, “my supermarket”, “my anything”. But the hotel reports some or all of the data to the central server somewhere. Next you arrive in another city, they do have your address data on file. Hmmm… What else do they have???

And then we come to the new laws in the U.S., Germany and sure elsewhere, legally forcing providers to collect data and make it available to their government representatives. Said what? What is a “government representative”? Do I trust him or her? Not the government – I don’t trust “government”. But worse, “the representative”. Who controls the controller?

So sorry for the bad publicity Best Western, but thank you for another example to make people aware and think about their personal information. Did you ever read 1984? George Orwell did not even imagine what exists today!

Shift happens! Internet meet World. World meet Internet…

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Tourism in/to Russia

Juergen is one of the very few people, I really mean, VERY FEW, people that understand both airlines and airports.

Thanks to last weeks blog and the war-situation between Russia and Georgia, this week, I had a rather emotional and some more reasoned discussions about the Russian Tourism Market. There are many obstacles that were addressed, but I found only very few being valid.
RussiaTourism
» Understanding travel as an economic factor. According to Wikipedia, travel is one of the top three economic factors world wide. Easing (leisure) travel to and from a country is a cash cow for the country.

» Infrastructure. People travel everywhere, they are found in the middle of the Amazonas. It cannot really be the infrastructure. Only if there is justification by people traveling somewhere, infrastructures are building themselves. Funny, the people who traveled there for the “untouched nature” then are replaced by the masses expecting the bus to take them somewhere to watch “untouched nature”. People breaking their bones for taking the cable car up into the mountains walking there with inadequate footwear!

» Language. I love doing my vacation in Spain, but my Spanish is rudimentary at best. But I learn enough to get around. People go to Greece and cannot read Greek either, less understand it.
Where language is a limiting factor is when Russians want to address another market. There are flights from Frankfurt to Saratov (14th largest Russian city!) and you can purchase tickets only at the airport…?
It is important to understand that as much as we ourselves may ponder reservations about Russia, the Russians ponder reservations about us. It”s important to overcome such reservations, but that only works with trust, not by overpowering it!

» Technology. The Internet made it”s way to Russia. For students, Internet is quite “normal”. The (commercial) e-Commerce still is sometimes very badly addressed. There is quite some potential there! But keep in mind these vast distances!

» Visa. The requirements for visa are counter-productive to any country, but other countries require visa too and they prosper. I just hope that Russia lowers visa-bureaucracy.

PlattenbauOther issues:
I was very much concerned hearing that virtually all mail is opened, I admit, I was not used to that in the “western hemisphere” and it strikes me very “old-fashined”, reminding me of the times of a cold war. But (except maybe for George Bush) that is history and it is difficult to overcome old habbits. Like myself. Forced to look into the Russian market I found many images in my head being simply wrong and outdated. I watch recent TV travel reports about Russia, seeing the wrong, outdated image they show. But all truths I learn impress me. There is another “tiger”-industry waking up.

We all know that the U.S. “land of the free” is only the land of the “adjusted”. Black”s to date are second class citizens, slums exist in every township there, there is Guantanamo and the Homeland Security under the cloak of “war against terrorism” adds more eavesdropping daily. Germany, “partner” in that “war against terrorism” (and approach towards a totally controlled society) is strangled by commercial lobbies. If that is the “good”, I must admit, I prefer Putin”s way to keep the oligarchs and the commerce strictly out of government. Freely quoted from Wikipedia: Do what you want, but don”t interfere with the politics.

Then a German feedback claimed Siberia as “fallen behind”. If I go just 30 km”s out of Leipzig, there are ghost towns. Visit Halle or other small cities in East Germany. Did the luxury of “civilization” equalize these areas with the West German regions? Far far missed that goal! Leipzig, Dresden, Berlin are the main centers of commerce, as are Moscow and St. Petersburg. It takes time to build up infrastructure, but even in Saratov students enjoy modern PCs and Internet…

About the war, German ZDF-TV pointed out very correctly: It”s another powergame by America (namely Cowboy George Bush), trying to secure the pipeline (= oil = energy = power) bypassing Russia there. They position rockets in Poland. All very “friendly” gestures? For experts a Russian reaction was overdue. Again, this was the summary of a special report by renowned ZDF.

My summary about the many discussions on Russia last week.

Remember: This blog is called food for thought and I do like your feedback, it is your feedback that makes me post here!

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Do you eat insects?

Juergen is one of the very few people, I really mean, VERY FEW, people that understand both airlines and airports.

LobsterSkorpionNo? I couldn”t make you consider eating that scorpion? Hmm… How about Lobster? Shrimp? That is something different? Okay. They live in the sea, they are larger. But matter of fact, they both are crustaceans! [1]

So what are cultural differences all about? I was asked lately – by a beautiful lady I must admit – if I wouldn”t have problems the different culture and mentality…? From what I learned doing international sales and projects: Sales as well as friendship are based on mutual respect. That includes to (temporarily) accept local customs and traditions, as well as those of your guest. To be friendly, honest and trustworthy are keys to success. Lies have an extremely low half-time and they tend to hit you in the back at the most awkward of times.


[1] Based on a comparison by Gordon Ramsay
[2] Image Ron Harris

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