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AIRLINE FORCED TO PAY COMPENSATION
These, now say the European Court are within the control of the airline and aspects for which they should be pre-planning solutions, unlike severe weather events or volcanic ash clouds which the Court would classify as "extraordinary circumstances" outside anyone's control and deny compensation Accordingly a couple delayed, along with 200 others, for 26 hours at Palma de Mallorca airport last July have just been awarded £430 compensation, plus their legal costs by a judge at Worcester County Court, where Monarch sent in two barristers and a solicitor to contest it.
According to the couple, Kim and Sue Brittain from Birmingham, the delay was handled very badly by Monarch's "unhelpful staff" at the airport, and Monarch's "bullying" management who reportedly took pains to advise them of the likely high cost of two barristers and a solicitor if the couple lost the case and had to pay Monarch's legal fees, a standard legal ploy used by large organisations to frighten off plaintiffs.
Having refused to be bullied the couple have donated the compensation paid by Monarch to charity. The award is expected to encourage a large number of similar actions against airlines. "Heavy delays" are deemed by the courts to be three hours or more.
GO KARTING LESSONS
Having had excellent lunches around thirty delegates visited Pole Position Indoor Karting (PPIK) which offers 580 metres of tarmac indoor circuit and a capacity of 18 karts capable of speeds up to 45 mph. After a comprehensive safety briefing the delegates were formed into teams, helmeted up and jumped in their karts to race.
After 15 minutes or so one delegate was pulled over, told they were driving "erratically" and asked if they had had any alcohol before attending. The answer "Yes. We all have" caused the PPIK representative to stop the race and tell all the organisers in the cars "It has come to my notice that some of you had a drink before coming here. We have a zero-tolerance of alcohol and drugs. Please put up your hands if you had a drink".
Around ten did so and were told to take off their helmets and leave the track, after which the PPIK representative rather hectored them asking "Whatever were you thinking of, having a drink before coming on a racetrack?" and waving the form that all organisers had signed on admittance stating that they were not under the influence of alcohol or drugs. This led to some of those sent off, who had admitted having a drink, grumbling that they were "being talked to like children".
It seems to us there are lessons that the delegate organisers, the Leeds Hotel Association and PPIK can learn from this.
DONT GET UP
The seat belt lights were on at the time, the pilot had warned of turbulence and the breakfast service had been suspended because of the risks.
There have been incidents where passengers caught standing up during severe turbulence have been hurled around the cabin, injuring other passengers strapped in their seats. And some passengers have been killed, and many others seriously injured when expected or unexpected turbulence has hit flights.
So why do some still compromise their own safety, and that of others, by standing up or moving around the cabin when the seat belt lights are lit?
STARWOOD SUED FOR PROSTITUTE ATTACK
Anna Burgese and her husband Joseph, who are regular guests at the hotel, claim that the attack was carried out in the early hours of January 19 when Mrs Burgese was mistaken for a prostitute competing with those reportedly canvassing in the hotel's lobby. It is further claimed that the hotel "fosters a prostitute-friendly environment", that hotel staff helped the assailant(s) flee the scene in cabs, that the hotel's management and staff have been "evasive and unresponsive" over the issue and that postings on a number of travel websites prove that the hotel allows prostitutes to market themselves there.
The case has been referred to arbitration.
EXPANSION FOR EVENTS AT HISTORIC COUNTRY HOUSE
This complements the hotel's seven other main spaces for events, which hold from 25 to 180 and include a mediaeval banqueting hall for up to 160, two rooms for 180 in a self-contained conference suite which was formerly an 18th century indoor tennis court and a distinctively clubby room for 40 with floor to ceiling antique wood panelling, some rooms offering views over the formal gardens designed by Lancelot "Capability" Brown and all with free wireless and cabled internet access. There are 119 bedrooms ranging in price from £75 to £350, including for the lucky organiser Feature and Grand Feature bedchambers offering such features as decadent furnishings, four-poster beds, Victorian roll-top baths and shower rooms with seats big enough for two.
Outside there are spaces for a range of corporate team-building activities such as archery, go-karting and clay-pigeon shooting and, perhaps for contrast, the hotel is located adjacent to Coombe Park, a 500-acre expanse of parkland popular with the public and offering some quiet contemplation along its rivers, floral walks and forest trails. The long history of the Abbey of Coombe, founded by Cistercian monks in 1150 is also interesting, with connections to the syphilitic serial killer King Henry VIII, who grabbed it in 1539, and one Guidio Fawkes, said by some to be the only person to ever enter Parliament with honest intentions.
Host hotel for the event, which also attracted organisers from Belgium, Denmark and the Czech Republic, was the traditional and relaxing five-star Elba Palace Golf, set in the middle of the island's first golf course near the modern east-coast beach town of Caleta del Fuste and offering 61 luxury bedrooms and suites with such welcome features as terraces or balconies, deep baths, separate shower stalls and toilets tea and coffee facilities and three-speed ceiling fans. The Elba Group have two other four-star properties in the area that delegates were able to sample, the modern 323 bedroom Elba Carlota with a 700 capacity Convention Centre where the Forum was held, and the 249 bedroom Elba Sara. Also associated, and where the delegates enjoyed some superb cooking, is the five-star 266 bedroom Sheraton Fuerteventura.
As well as the above the buyers visited the five-star Gran Hotel Atlantis Bahia Real, located in the North of the island at Corralejo and offering 170 rooms and 72 suites as well as meeting spaces for up to 500 delegates, and the casino at Caleta de Fuste. Canarian cuisine was on the menu with meals at the hotels and a selection of the island's restaurants - the canarian potatoes cooked in their skins, encrusted with salt and served with the famous red and green dips (mojo) were a crowd-pleaser, as was a more unusual but seriously tasty goat soup with saffron and pasta.
Salt was also a highlight in the educational part of the programme with a visit to a very interesting salt museum nearby, with its working salt pans evaporating around 200 tons a year from 600,000 litres of seawater, or 35 grammes from a litre. .Did you know that salt, now widely available and cheap was once rare, highly prized and highly taxed? That the salt from foam, or spume, costs ten times more than the stuff from water? Or that we all have around 250 grammes of salt in our bodies, that we lose around 4-6 grammes a day in sweat, tears, blood, urine and semen, more in very hot conditions and/or periods of exertion, and that serious shortages of salt can kill you? You do now. More education was provided with a visit to a farm growing olives and the island's best known medicinal and cosmetic plant, aloe vera, with samples to take home. A jeep safari gave a look at Fuerteventura's dark volcanic moonscape inland, a contrast to the 150 kilometres of large and fabulous white sand beaches that bring most here, along with 300+ days of sunshine and warm spring temperatures.
Suppliers also exhibiting at the Forum included other hotels on Fuerteventura, hotel chains NH Resorts, Seaside Hotels, H10 Hotels and Melia, hotels and venues on other Canarian islands such as neighbouring Lanzarote, 30 minutes away by ferry, Tenerife and Gran Canaria, and in locations such as Madrid, Mallorca and Malaga. Specialist activity companies MT Global, Teamfactory and Discovery Safari were also there to help the buyers with their events, as were the Fuerteventura and Antigua Tourist boards.
The next Meet & Talk Forum is taking place in Cadiz, in early October. www.meetandtalkforum.com
BIG NEW ONE IN LEEDS
Capacity is from 10, in one of the lounges, to 13,000 in the auditorium and the tiered half-round layout with no columns to hide behind ensures that all have an uninterrupted view of the action and no-one is too far from it. Excellent acoustics and a covered loading area add to the quality and performers such as Elton John, Andrea Bocelli, Rod Stewart, Status Quo and Boyzone are booked to appear, along with events such as a Classical Spectacular and the BBC Sports Personality of the Year.
One possibly sour note was sounded by one organiser attending a show-round and presentation there and asking if the leg-room could be increased for those, like himself, who was over 6 feet tall. Another, with arthritis problems in one knee, moved to an aisle seat to stretch out and be comfortable, some design issues that those creating our modern arenas, and those booking them, will need to address.
The Melia Villaitana hotel, which has four and five-star areas, comprises 25 individual buildings based on various historic Spanish architecture, as opposed to skyscrapers, laid out like a Meditterranean village and located between two Nicklaus Design golf courses in the hills above Benidorm city and 4 kilometres away. Five-star adult guests occupying one of the 99 rooms of the total 455 doubles can sit on their balconies, sipping a beverage (and as guests of the five-star The Level they get a fridge to keep their own booze cold and a kettle to make their tea and coffee) and looking down on Benidorm, in both senses of the phrase. That's when they are not enjoying a dip in a bit of the 5,000 square metres of outdoor pools, playing tennis or paddle tennis or relaxing/perspiring in the Spa and Wellness Centre with its 13 treatment rooms, thermal pools and gym. Guests of The Level can also enjoy child-free meals in their own restaurant and use of an exclusive lounge area where free hot and soft drinks and nibbles are served from 11.00am, and between 7.00 and 8.00 pm more substantial nibbles along with unlimited beer, wine and a range of spirits.
For events of all kinds the Melia Villaitania has a collection of 17 rooms accommodating from 20-1,200 delegates, with one of the largest, the cathedral-like Salon La Cupola for 1,000, part of the church building and offering an impressively special banqueting space with huge columns supporting soaring, 27 metre-high ceilings, rather higher than the more normal 2.6 - 5.00 metre ceilings of the other meetings spaces for more traditional conferences.
We also experienced the lively Old Town area, a must for visitors wanting the best of the place, with its narrow streets, boutique shops, fabulous viewpoint over the two vast beaches and dozens of authentic tapas bars. One we were hosted at for an enjoyable and varied lunch collection of meat and fish dishes, and seriously cold Spanish beer, was La Taperia de Aurrera. www.grupoaurrera.com
RIP OFF BENIDORM?
We were taking the excellent coastal tram service from our five-star hotel in Benidorm (see above) back to Alicante and asked the hotel to book us a taxi to the nearest stop, which we were advised was about a mile away at Terra Mitica, the local theme-park. This they did but when our taxi arrived the pleasant and well groomed lady driving it told the hotel staff, and us, that only one tram a day from Benidorm, one stop further away, called there, that it was out in the open with no shade and that she recommended taking us to Benidorm. All this took five minutes, with the meter running of course, so we climbed in.
Arriving at Benidorm the fare was more than double what we had been led to expect, so, unloading our own luggage out of the boot this tightwad paid it without a tip, enduring some black looks. On the tram and approaching the stop at Terra Mitica we originally wanted we noted that it stopped there and that there was a little covered bar there with people drinking in the shade. On getting chatting, like you do, to a fellow Brit on the tram we were told that every tram, that is one every half-hour, stopped at Terra Mitica, but like some other stops it was on request. All you had to do if you were on the station platform was to stick your hand out, and for those on the tram there was a button to push.
Now we know..........
MORE HOTEL GRIPES
FROM OUR READERS
1) From Michael Webb
BTW, Monarch fly into Alicante from East Midlands (not on your list). How do I know? I did it a week ago.
Monarch are not the cheapest but they have a fleet of modern planes and very helpful staff. Definitely a cut above one or two you could name!
2) From Shawn Bell
A few videos were posted by PTTOW! that I thought might be of interest to the readers of Event Organisers Update. The videos are a Tedtalk style of George T. Whitesides, CEO & President of Virgin Galactic discussing Virgin Galactics view of Space Travel for all.
There is also a video with Esther Lee, SVP Brand Marketing & Advertising for AT&T which is focused on building a movement and discusses AT&T's endeavors with Texting and driving.
I thought the videos might interest your viewers because of how popular Space travel news has been lately and also the conversation that continues to happen surrounding texting and driving.. Let me know if you need additional information or have any questions and I'll do my best to help.
I'd love to be the first event industry journalist into space.
Are Virgin Galactic running any press trips?
Wouldn't that be great? I hear they're sending press up after all pr teams.
Is that to make sure it's safe for us scribblers first?
PS Sorry for calling you Sharon.
OLD GRITS DIARY
To improve this for everyone's benefit OG is proposing a voluntary code of conduct including the items below, which are based on his own observations and those of others over the years. All readers, whether organiser, destination, venue or other supplier are welcome to comment, and add to the list from their own experiences, for publication.
Any others, anyone?
Apparently it has something to do with the vibrations that travel up and stimulate the brain when we are walking along, and may also be helped by deeper breathing and more oxygen flow to the brain. Hence the fact that lots of us get up and pace the floor when we are struggling with a decision, or go out for a walk.
Personally OG has never been able to work out why organisers book country house properties with fabulous gardens or grounds and then stick the delegates in front of computers all day. Why not use the gardens for a healthy and stimulating walking around session, preferably in the graveyard period after lunch and perhaps pairing off the delegates, giving them a problem and briefing them to come back with a solution?
Don’t knock it till you've tried it..........
Attendance at the recent Leeds Big Sleepover gave Old Gannett a welcome chance to try some of city's eateries, as below.
STOP THE SALES PITCHES SURVEY
Please complete this survey if you have attended, in 2013, an "educational" seminar at an exhibition, or session at a conference that turned out to be a sales pitch, and you feel that others should be warned.
Monarch admit " In the light of our recent ground-breaking failure in court our aggressive legal strategy towards our customers needs amending".......... A stag-party attendee, shown to be drunk in charge of a go-kart after a fatal accident, is the subject of a massive private claim for damages, along with the brewery that sponsored the event.......... another massive and successful legal claim is brought against a fifteen-stone passenger on a plane, who was standing up during a period of unexpected and severe turbulence and was hurled around the cabin, seriously injuring five senior personal injury lawyers, and himself......... An advertising strap line "Starwood - for your next coming together" is quietly dropped by the company.......... Destinations hosting familiarisation trips install a Meals-On-Wheels service for their valued guests who want to bunk off part of the arranged programme to watch TV in their room and don’t want to miss any free food or drink. A top UK event agency head comments "Speaking as a top UK event agency head this welcome and appropriate level of servitude confirms my importance in the sector and will definitely persuade me to professionally and impartially recommend the destination to my clients, subject of course to the amount of free alcohol I can pour down my neck and the resale value of items in the goody bag".......... and much, much more.........
Text only ANNOUNCEMENTS can be run once for new products, new venues, venue refurbishments, new packages, organiser's trips, and industry showcases, receptions, seminars, conferences and exhibitions likely to be of high interest to event organisers.
Sizes, when printed out on an A4 page, and prices of ANNOUNCEMENT boxes available are:
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