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Profits that hang by a thread: Clothing prices have dropped almost 18% in the past 11 years. The relentless deflation is squeezing the life out of some retailers - and there’s no sign it will let up. Canada is becoming a country of cheap fashion….
Globe and Mail,  Marina Strauss, 2/17/2014

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Pretty outside today (if you aren’t driving)

Pretty outside today (if you aren’t driving)

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May 2014 bring you peace and happiness. Happy New Year!

May 2014 bring you peace and happiness. Happy New Year!

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If the Dubai air show is any indication, global aviation seems primed for Persian Gulf carriers at the expense of the west with 86% of the backlog for Boeing’s 777x with Persian Gulf carriers and Emirates making up half of total bookings of the A380.

These carriers are seeing 18% growth without a sizeable domestic market for travellers.

Bloomberg/Globe and Mail

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We are witnessing a seismic change to consumer behaviour. And as a result of that, every company must understand that embracing the status quo as an operating principle is going to be basically a collision course with time
Howard Schultz, Chairman & CEO of Starbucks

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Putting the customer (experience) first…

I know what you did last Saturday night.

Unless you’ve been living under a rock for the past several years, you have undoubtedly heard  that companies and marketers must be thinking with mobile in mind.   As consumers, we only care about the screen that is in front of us. 

Last Saturday, the last day of summer, was cold and rainy.  At dinner time I decided that I wanted to go and see the new movie Prisoners, which, incidentally is the best screenplay that I’ve seen in a long time. Top notch cast too. 

I fired up the Flixster app on my phone and looked for showtimes that were playing nearby.  One nearby Cineplex theater was playing it on two screens, but then I noticed that there was another theater a bit further that was also playing it, and it had the added bonus of playing on the one screen that offered pre-assigned seating. 

How could I pass up the opportunity to avoid crummy nose bleed seats if I didn’t want to get there extra early and line up for a show on opening weekend? 

With that I decided to try and purchase the tickets online. 

What a breathe of fresh air - 

1) My rewards membership number was already auto populated in the app 
2) It was easy to select 2 tickets, and then select pre-assigned seats on the screen. 
3) Payment information was also easy to enter as I could use Paypal to complete my transaction rather than having to input all of my credit card information. 

The entire process from start to finish was a couple of minutes. Bravo Cineplex! 

This was a far cry from my last experience this summer using another app, when neither I or my friend were able to complete the transaction after multiple attempts with our mobile devices. 

With theaters facing declining attendance it is refreshing to see a company innovate and put the customer (experience) first.

Some industries in Canada are still far too protected and lack competition, while others are facing an onslaught of foreign competition, either physically with a brick and mortar presence or virtually in our constant connected new world.  

Are you constantly breaking down barriers and testing and reiterating the end user experience to make it as frictionless as possible?   If not, someone else is doing it right now. 

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Breaking out of your comfort zone: Cycling in Vietnam

Last summer I booked a trip to Vietnam in February to escape the doldrums with Canadian winters.  I’ve been very fortunate to travel as much as I have, but I decided that I wanted to try something different on this trip.  I wanted to explore some of the local countryside in a more active manner, along with a few days to relax and unwind thereafter. 

I can’t say whether this was in part romanticized by the idea of seeing historical images of locals riding bicycles with straw hats before the Vietnamese economy switched from a highly centralized planned one to a socialist oriented one; this was certainly not in the cards as motorbikes have long since replaced bicycles as symbols of independence and freedom in a country that didn’t see a major spike in tourism for a long time after the war ended. 

A planner in so many aspects of my life, I had left arrangements to what I would see while I was there to the last minute.  My partner had to cancel due a work commitment, and it didn’t look very optimistic that I was going to find  a tour company that had anyone matching my specific travel dates.   About a week before my trip I got an email that another company was able to pair me up with someone. With that the adventure portion was on!  I’m glad that it all worked out as it turned out to be the highlight of the trip. 

After meeting my guide, Tung, I learned that most people opt for a one, two or three day trip through the Mekong Delta, but I was drawn to the fact that I was likely to see sights that others didn’t typically get to see by choosing the 4 day trip.  I wasn’t disappointed.    

We travelled a couple hundred kilometers over 4 days, but I knew this was going to be a different type of adventure from the very beginning when we pulled up to a family’s house for lunch on the first day and we were asked what we wanted to eat.  I said  ”chicken” while the other guy  said “fish”.  Our guide replied “great, we are going to catch it”.  Say what?  We paced the yard in pursuit of chickens but the host family was clearly much more experienced as the grandmother ultimately caught the winning (?) chicken before our very eyes. 

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It certainly brought authenticity to what we see packaged in the supermarket as ‘free range chicken’.  

The food was plentiful, and the meals were all really good.  We got to try many local exotic fruits that I wouldn’t have ever tried from local street vendors in Saigon. 

The extra day also afforded us to see some locals that only see foreigners a handful of times every year.   I met a woman who had never left the Mekong Delta in her 80+ years, while at other stops we had fun taking pictures where children were fascinated with seeing themselves instantly with our phones. 

Seeing a developing country through the eyes of the locals is one that can never be replicated by reading about it or seeing it told secondhand in the media.   You quickly gain an appreciation for the hopes, dreams, and pitfalls that go along with the citizens of these countries when you are on a small intimate tour.   

Its also fascinating to see what aspects of infrastructure that these countries can leapfrog over developed countries with advances in technology.   In other respects, they are still clearly in their industrial revolution, and, again, you gain an appreciation for what it is like, and what it must have been like for our ancestors. 

I was very impressed with Le Vietnam Travel and would highly recommend a bike trip for those that are seeking to try something different, and get outside of their comfort zone in traveling.  

Yes, they’re real!
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imageGas station in the Mekong Delta 

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Tried/made kale chips today with leftover kale.   I’m as surprised as you are that it tastes better than it looks. (No filter)

Tried/made kale chips today with leftover kale. I’m as surprised as you are that it tastes better than it looks. (No filter)

1 Notes

Memories of Tibet : August 2013

"For my part, I travel not to go anywhere, but to go. I travel for travel’s sake. The great affair is to move.” – Robert Louis Stevenson

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Bruce Runions shared an Instagram photo with you

Hi there,

Bruce Runions just shared an Instagram photo with you:


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"Nice job branding love the yester-year A Team replica "

Thanks,
The Instagram Team