Tag: Lufthansa

d:pulse – the new digital must-attend event in Europe!

You have to admit that flying to Zurich to a conference from London, staying over night, has to be a good conference, right? A conference that adds value to a coach and consultant. So when my friends, Frank and Christian, invited me to join them in Zurich for d:pulse, I was on fire. They have built dmexco, brought the industry together a few times, and just understand the concept of good conferencing, adding value and getting the right people on board.

So there I was, and admittedly, not knowing who Sven Hannawald was, he started the conference talking about burn-out, life-life balance and taking breaks. I thought I was on a personal development conference for a moment, as the multi Olympia winner talked about his struggle with mental health, performance and not being able to take a break. He spoke to what I preach, and that at a digital conference. It reiterated my point about the industry having to come closer together to not overwork people and look after each other. Besides us being a billion dollar industry, we are still a close knit team, and we have to work together to make it a sustainable industry not only from a money perspective, but from a people perspective too.

Throughout the day it was nice to see that brands like Lufthansa or Deutsche Bank embracing new technologies, Discovery mentioning how TV is changing, and I saw attempts to take the execution of technology in-house. Companies start trying things, but also admit that they don’t have the specialists in house. Technology is still a grey area for some, or at least they understand it strategically but not from an execution or operational point of view. No surprise to find a lot of consulting friends in the audience, seeing opportunity to help bigger brands on their journey.

Emotional bonding with brands is key. Whilst Deutsche admitted that in their presentation, a millennial social media company, Visual Statements, showcases emotions and how this impacts social media campaigns. All around data analysis, they test concepts on social which then inform them which products should be produced for brick and mortar stores. Throughout every presentation was a trail of data, data analysis and how they can inform decisions.

Emotions were of course also mentioned by Unruly who have looked at different meanings of gestures and how certain advertising resonates with different countries for many years (see picture). Again, their data plus the ability to change the ads according to audience, deliver a real difference.

I enjoyed the conference. New and old mingled, GenZ, Millennials and people like me ;-), the industry seems to rejuvenate itself, looking at new topics, being more experimental. All captured by the organisers in a fantastic event in Zurich. What is not to like?

And of course, Sir Martin was there. He was relaxed, talked about the industry and about how things will de-consolidate. He also made the point about content that is data driven and digital being the way forward. Take it from a man who knows, and one sentence will stick in my mind. He said, given the US media industry is 20 trillion dollars vs. 3 trillion in the UK, an hour in the US would make him 7 times more effective. I like his thinking!

In case you attended the event, let me know what you think. If you didn’t, make sure you head over to the d:pulse website and register for the next event. This is a conference that will be the must-attend event in years to come.

Thanks!

Sunday Column (189)

Where to start this week. The good things first. I was in Milan for work and it was fantastic. Seeing an industry crying out for RTB (real time bidding), asking for monetization for inventory and technology is fantastic. I had fantastic meetings with both Influential Italian industry leaders and international visitors to the the show. Watch out, Italy is coming!

On that note: I love Italians. My sister in law is Italian, but also their life style. The honking when traffic stops in its tracks, the old woman wanting something, the noise and buzz in the streets. This country and its people are about living. Life is important. Culture and family is important. A great attitude to life paired with a good Southern European attitude. La dolce vita.

When flying over to Milan I was astonished about something. There were plane spotters on the flight. We hadn’t even landed when they took their binoculars out to spot and note down planes. I have seen them at airports before, or the other species, train spotters, at London Bridge. For some reason I cannot understand their motivation. Whilst as a child of seven or eight I noted down car license plates, as an adult I hardly keep up with my day to day life, would love more time with the family or read more. I personally think chasing something you cannot collect physically is just a bit odd. Bird watching I can understand, seeing something alive and moving, understanding nature. But plane numbers, train numbers, not sure. Each to their own though.

As I get older I might take on more odd hobbies too, you never know. I saw those retired guys down in Hassocks with their steam engines, or the elder running the Jack & Jill windmills. For now I find it odd enough to wash and polish my car at weekends and being all middle class, middle age. Oh dear.

Just to keep you posted on a few things. Lufhansa, after engaging with me on twitter, decided to apologise and give me 150 Euros to spend in their world shop. Nice, and much appreciated. If that had happened sooner it would have been better, but hey, I am not complaining. I am still cross (middle age, right?) but happy they are making the effort to make me happy. Now I need to decide what to buy 😉 it wasn’t money I was after but the apology and that is what I appreciate most. Of course, I don’t mind a wee pressie 😉

To the bad things. I wrote about that last week and now it starts to haunt me. Cancer. A good industry friend from Italy was diagnosed with Leukaemia. He is recovering well but only a few months ago we enjoyed la dolce vita over diner and drinks. One of my best friend’s dad got diagnosed with cancer a few years ago, but it came back now and he is having a major operation next week. We can beat cancer if we notice it early enough. We can try to cure it but we NEED to prevent it. In a discussion this week I was reminded that there is enough medicine out there to cure most diseases like Malaria but they are unequally distributed. And pharmaceutical companies still want to make a profit. Is that right?

20121012-075358.jpg But I am not sure if I can judge that as black and white as it sounds but in the greater scale of things we need to make sure that we look after ourselves.

Hence I am doing the research I am doing into nutrition, what to eat and how to live healthy. To my, rather positive, surprise Britain is a country that ranks well in the table of cancer rates. Number 22. Germany is number 16, Italy 18, Spain and France in the early 30ies. I didn’t expect that. USA, NZ and Australia are worse. I need to research if there are specific cancer per country, like pancreas in the USA or skin cancer in Australia. But as a British nation we are doing well. Better than Germany to my surprise. Does that have to do with diet or attitude? I believe the latter plays a major part in illnesses in general. How you approach it, how you deal with it, and whether society talks about it. We Brits, as I might allow calling myself after 11 years, are eating a lot of wrong food (deep fried Mars bars as an example) but also drink a lot – but I believe we worry less, have a good time and frankly don’t give a shit about lots of things. It’s going to be ok.

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Of course that is not the case for everything but what I am trying to get at is that we are a lot healthier than we think we are. A few other notes. As of next week I will intrude a fast day a week. Mondays from now on I will not eat or very little. The idea is that if you eat consistently across the day, your cells grow and grow and grow. Whilst if you ideally fast for two days a week, your cells stop multiplying and use your body’s energy to survive. That keeps the body on track. For the interested reader google for articles on “intermittent fasting”. Of course you are supposed to loose weight too. I started putting on weight again as I still haven’t been able to go running again. First my back which after last week’s treatment seems almost worse again, put my exercise regime on hold for four weeks. Once I was back on it, the evil man flu strikes from which I am still suffering. I hope to be back on track soon. Fingers crossed. I actually need exercise, it balances me.

At the weekend we had good friends over for cheese fondue and the odd glass of wine and whisky. I love being a host. A kilogram of cheese between four of us, good wine and good times. Good chats. And another muddy but fantastic walk in the South Downs.

And quality time with my boys. They missed me this week when I was away. I try to ignore it but it isn’t easy.

Nothing like a good life, isn’t it?
La dolce vita.

Have a great week,
Volker

Sunday Column (186)

The frequent reader will notice that some weeks I have more to say than others. Normal I guess. This week I startled writing this column on my way back from Milan, one of the three Mexad offices I look after. Every time I take off from Malpensa airport in Milan I forget we are literally on the edge of the alps. Nice views, bumpy and windy starts. I got used to it now. My first trip with my Easyjet plus card, which allows me to speedy board, and it makes my life a lot easier. Thanks boss 😉

I should have done that much earlier. Next week Madrid, a week in London, Milan, Germany…the card already paid for itself in 4 weeks. I love it. But do I really? Speaking to a recruiter this week, and I must stress a recruiter working on our side in Italy, one makes the choice in life whether to travel, progress in a career, and potentially travel more and ultimately don’t see one’s children, or if one wants a 9 to 5 job with lots of time for the kids.

I agree. During the week, thanks to my commute, I hardly ever see the kids. The odd day working from home might mean I see them a bit more that day but catch up on work late into the night. The trade off.

20120920-190658.jpg With us moving out of town to provide a better life for the family, we made the conscious decision that life is just like that – in return when I am home, weekends in particular, I have to be 120% home and with the kids. I comply. Happily. Best of both worlds. Trade off. I

I couldn’t do it without the wife though, and 1 night away a week on average three times a month is not too bad. Lots of “me time” too. Now this week has been busy. After last week’s mega event dmexco we hat the ad trading summit hosted by exchangewire this week. A fantastic get together of the industry leaders and a networking second to one. Great content around RTB and data with some good discussions. Unfortunately, or luckily, I had to leave early to see the kids and prepare for my 4 am start to Italy. Tiring weeks with shows and events, so I am glad I missed ad:tech in London vs. the trip to Milan. Priorities.

One more remark re family: Rohan was ill at the weekend and early last week. This means getting up almost every hour at night. That is draining, but of course you do. One does’t have a choice but to help an ill child. Tiring and frustrating as one can comfort but not release any pain, this makes having kids worthwhile. Sounds funny? I feel deep affection and satisfaction to be able to comfort anyone, and being able to help in general. Being able to make a miserable child feel better, particular one’s own, is a VERY good feeling. I love them both very much.

One last word still about Lufthansa. I have been praising Easyjet on twitter for excellent customer service, quick response times for both email but also social media (twitter) responses. I kept including Lufthansa and only after 3 weeks they replied very “stiffly” that if I tweeted my reference number for the email contact, they would let me know which place in the queue I had. It just shows that Lufthansa has no idea how to approach clients in social media. Not only did I only sent them the link to my Lufthansa article for info, I also complained on twitter about their apology email they sent 3 weeks after the strike, offering me £15 off my next booking. Ridiculous and rude! I spend close to £500 on the flights, another £150 unplanned on clothes as they didn’t get the luggage sorted, and they offer me next to no money as compensation. F@ off Lufthansa. If you had offered me £100 plus a miles & more card crediting my last flight on it and sent this as a nice letter, then maybe I would have said “wow they care”. This way I don’t.

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Why I get so aggravated about it? Because my understanding and standard for customer service is a lot higher! This wouldn’t happen if I was in charge. Imagine I was to fly 4 times with Lufthansa this month instead of Easyjet….but never mind. Let them do it their way, I will try to avoid them like the plague 😉 until of course I have no choice. Even British Airways and I fell out a few years and they managed to get it right at the end. And I love BA for that, great customer service and being a true British airline. However, Easyjet for within Europe is the easiest and most convenient airline for me right now. Enough about this.

The weekend was relaxing. Lots of kids time, hugs and cuddles. I love being a dad. The cat got bitten again and much as a surprise we thinking of welcoming a new addition shortly. More about that in the next few weeks 😉 At the same time we are debating to give away one of our cats as she just doesn’t seem to settle.

Sunday I was hungover, worst one for 2 years. Plus I come down with the man flu, whilst it was raining cats and dogs…..

Have a good week,
Volker

Lufthansa

Oh dear. I suppose you are not surprised to find a blog post about my recent experience with Lufthansa here. Instead of writing a complaint letter, I am writing this blog post of which I will send a link to the Lufthansa service team.

The story. After 5 hours sleep we woke up to get ready to go to Gatwick airport to catch a Lufthansa flight to Frankfurt. We woke up the boys, 3 years and 18 months, and made it to the airport for 8 am. Tired and with heavy bags.

Given my recent back problems this was pushing it and as you see later, if I had known what day was ahead of us, I had asked for someone to carry my luggage. So I also blame Lufthansa for my continuous back pain. But never mind, no way of proving it.

At Gatwick we were informed about a strike. Lufthansa was on strike. I had no idea. Nor did anyone email, call or text us. A friendly lady advised us that we would get some vouchers, a ticket for the bus to London Heathrow, and that we are booked on the next flight to Frankfurt with Lufthansa.

We complied as we had a wedding to attend. We had ordered kilts, kilt accessories, and the whole lovely outfit for the boys for this special day. Family and friends were looking forward to meet the Scottish family, the three men in kilts. I was proud and excited.

After a bus journey which was fun for the boys but dangerous since buses do not have child seats and our boys are far too small for booster seats, we arrived at Heathrow. Lufthansa put us in the wrong queue which we found out in time to save about 45 minutes. A friendly check in, an almost free meal and we had an hour left to board the plane….so we thought.

Our friends in Germany called and said we were delayed. No word at Heathrow. It seemed as if Lufthansa kept us in the dark but made information available online and in Germany. Further delays caused me to ask at the help desk how long it would take.

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Lufthansa totally understood, they said: travelling with children? Wife and you at breaking point? Only oldest boy allowed in play area (open for 2-8 year olds), affected by strike action, tired and at airports for 5 solid hours. Lufthansa booked us on a plane that was supposed to leave 5 minutes earlier than our delayed one. How nice I thought…

Whilst walking away from the Lufthansa service desk our delayed flight got cancelled. I thought that I at least saved to queue for changing the flight now. But will my new flight actually leave? Will Lufthansa in Germany have more information and will Lufthansa in Heathrow withhold information again?

Maybe I check? No one at Lufthansa in Heathrow was helpful. Best Lufthansa could do was a high rate German phone number they suggested I call from my UK mobile. Seriously? All you can do? No information, no caring, no love. We later called that number from a German landline and hang up after 30 minutes at 14 ct/ minute rate. Assuming this line had been busy on Friday it might have cost me a little fortune to call. So I am glad I didn’t.

When, at the end of my willpower to fly anywhere, I asked at the desk whether our flight will go today, they announce the gate. We got on first. The boys were asleep before take off (almost), very exhausted. I couldn’t sleep. We were advised there was limited food on board. I was starving. To cut it short: we landed in Frankfurt, asked the Lufthansa stewardess whether the buggy will be brought to the plane and they said yes.

I guess at that point I should have known to not listen to Lufthansa anymore. We waited 25 minutes to find out that the buggy would be delivered to the carousel. And as I found out much later, to one for extra sized luggage pieces. So we waited at the baggage reclaim for nothing. And this was literal, as our bag never turned up.

The lady we filed the claim with told us that up to 90% the bag should arrive that night. She offered to drive it to where we stayed as she lived close by. It never came that night. We went shopping that night for nappies, underwear and deodorant, toothbrushes and hygiene articles. We got our medication, contact lenses, new cloths for the boys, iPad charger, new dress for the wife etc. etc. the next day. We spend 660 Euros in 2 hours (or the wife did to be precise).

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The case never turned up until Sunday night. Many phone calls, attempted calls, being on hold, arguing with a stressed Mr. Stratmann, until I spoke to a very nice lady. I spoke to her twice on the phone, clarified things and had my case back. Lufthansa delivered the case at the end. With a taxi. Straight to the door.

A day late for celebrating the wedding in style.
A day late for handing over the wedding gift.
A day late for the presents we brought.

Never mind. We got there at the end. When checking in for our flight back with Lufthansa they checked our bag and it was 27 kg. They almost wouldn’t allow us on. I offered to buy another bag and get Lufthansa to pay for it. I couldn’t care less. They got us into the trouble. Their fault.

We got 485 Euros reimbursed. So we can’t complain too much as this is reasonable for the cloths we got. Still we would have never spent that money in the first place. Others couldn’t afford to. Luckily my kilt was in the hand luggage. Imagine finding a kilt maker in Frankfurt on a Saturday morning.

The flight home was pleasant. Colin and I looked into the cock pit, we had a friendly and good service, got our buggy and luggage and made it home. Exhausted. Drained.

Unnecessary evil. Maybe this could have happened with any airline. However, only with Lufthansa I had bad experiences in the past 3 years. And I fly almost weekly across Europe. Only at Lufthansa I applied 3 times to their miles and more programme and never heard back. Only at Lufthansa I get the impression they don’t really care.

This is my personal opinion. It leaves a bitter taste.

If in doubt or given the choice I would prefer other airlines. Solely based on this weekend. Plus past experiences. But those had been forgotten when I booked these flights. And this experience will fade also.

Safe travels,

Volker

Sunday Column (183)

Another week, another holiday.

Since my wife was away I decided to take the week off to pick her and the kids up from the airport on Tuesday, it is great to have the family back, and I really enjoyed spending so much time with the boys. Proper family time.

Having said that we set off to go to a wedding in Frankfurt on Friday. An early start which got us to Gatwick for 8 am. Lufthansa however cancelled the flight due to strike actions. This generally wasn’t a big problem I thought. They booked us on a plane from Heathrow that was suppose to land at 4 pm, got us some vouchers and put us on the bus. Whilst not very safe, Colin loved the bus ride and we were ready for take off when the Lufthansa flight got more and more delayed.

I tried to stay calm, asked Lufthansa what we or they can do to ease our pain and they booked us on an earlier plane. I thought that was nice until they cancelled our old flight the minute I left their counter. Fair enough, but our final flight got delayed now too. Anyone who has kids can just imagine how I felt with 2 kids at a busy airport. At the end we made it. Some more empty promises from Lufthansa about luggage, about whether our pram will be collected at the gate etc, and a service which was just appalling.

Last but not least we arrived at our destination and celebrated a fantastic wedding. Unfortunately without the children’s kilts. They and my wife’s dress, the wedding gifts and toiletries were in our bag. And that bag still hasn’t arrived at time of writing. I assume we get it some time next week. As I am about to publish the post the case arrived 🙂 Who would have guessed?

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We had to buy new cloths last minute which we didn’t budget for and Lufthansa will only reimburse 50%. Wow. What a nightmare. I just hope we manage to get back tomorrow. I can’t take another day off work, and I cannot work from a hotel room. Is Lufthansa insured against me not being able to work?

Anyway I will write the whole story up one day and copy it to Lufthansa customer service. If there’s such a thing. Will be a few hundred pounds out of pocket for a few week thanks to Lufthansa, and I have cloths I don’t need. Never mind. They better not be funny about reimbursements.

Otherwise the week was great. We met with some really good friends, my family and brother’s family. The kids and us had a great time. That is all what matters. A slight pressure on and in my head after the wedding but a great wedding party 🙂 what else does really matter.

Lufthansa however went down in brand perception. With me and thousands of other stranded passengers. They probably lost more money than they had to pay for additional salaries. Silly, annoying and stupid. That paired with bad customer service is just wrong. How can or will those companies survive?

I better stop ranting. We didn’t let ourselves down or got miserable just because some company couldn’t deliver on their promise. I guess I am getting old.

Have a better week,
Volker