Corrs Corner

Editor Frank Corr gives his views on the hospitality and tourism industries, shares anecdotes and gossip and welcomes your contributions.

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Leo and the Rabbits

Way back in the 1950s, James Dillon, a Fine Gael Minister,  predicted that before very long, rabbits would be running free on the runway at the then fledgling Shannon Airport.

Neither he nor Fine Gael were ever allowed to forget those words, which have been used as a rallying call during the many occasions in which the future of the airport has been at risk.

Now it seems Minister Leo Varadkar has a similar outlook for Shannon. Judging by his downbeat comments at the weekend,  the County Clare airport would seem to have no real future. He will not provide subsidies, he will not write off debt and he says that passenger numbers have fallen to a level at which Shannnon is no longer important.

Buit it is. Indeed it has a highly important strategic role to play in attracting visitors to the entire Western Seaboard, now that the Governmenr has effectively
closed down every other regional airport from Clare to Donegal.

Shannon's difficulties have been many and severe, but have only become critical since its management was bundled with that of Dublin Airport. The DAA has been disastrious for Shannon and its future is largely dependent on breaking that link. Given any decent chance,  the airport which invented Duty Free, which created the Ireland's first Industrial Zone, which pioneered pre-flight iimmigration and customs checks into the USA, which gave us Bunratty Castle and Folk Parkand  Rent an Irish Cottage, can tap into its proud history of innovation and once again re-invent itself. But it needs to be indepeendent and free of other people's debts.

The immediate future of Shannon may seem bleak, but when (rather than if) it survives, Leo's remarks at the week-end could well earn him the immortality of  Dillon's rabbits.

And he wouldn't want that.

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The Luvvie Season

The Luvvie Season is well under way as hundeds of hospitality people gather for banquets at which awards are distributed. Both the number of events and the numbers eligible to attend are growing with each passing year. One Awards ceremony a few weeks ago had more than 80 nominees and 15 winners.

The economics of these award schemes are based around signing up sponsors for the various 'categories' and selling tickets for the banquet to nominees and their guests. So the more categories and the more nominees, the happier are the organisers.

The awards in most cases are for 'Best Hotel', 'Best Restaurant', 'Best Customer Service' etc. and in the best-run schemes all,  or the majority of the enterprises entering are visited anonymously by judges. Various ssystems can be used to make the assessments as fair as possible, but inevitably all of the awards are based to some extent on the subjective opinion of the judges.

What if we had truly objective awards based on cold facts rather than opinions ?.


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Enda and 'Crazy Paddy'


Management consultant  and author Enda Larkin, who is well known here in his native Ireland where he has worked extensively in the hospitality sector, now lives in the USA from where he writes an informative and entertaining daily blog. You can access this at www.htc-consult.com , but first read this extract:


“Hi, I’m really sorry about this, but my steak is far too tough to eat. And, it’s also kind of cold.”
“Oh, really? That’s strange, because nobody else has complained about that tonight. (A response accompanied by a faint throwing of eyes to heaven – a sort of ‘side-order’ of petulence, if you like).
“Well, thanks for sharing that with me and, honestly, I’m very happy for everyone else, but I think it’s too tough. And, as I said, it’s lukewarm.”
“So, what would you like me to do then, Sir.”
Biting tongue at this stage; restraining Crazy Paddy.
“How about you just get the manager for me, please…”
I made a complaint yesterday.
It’s something I rarely do and now I’ve been reminded why. Of the, maybe, five times I have ever complained about anything in my life, most of them have ended in me having to cross swords with one jerk after another to get a resolution.

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Stress Test

What to do after a busy and stressful day?.

I opt to make a mug of coffee and turn on the telly- and there sits the guy who heads the Department of Finance which managed to 'lose' €3.6bn from our National Accounts. He is appearing before an Oireachtas Committee for the last time. And why?- Because we have nominated him to sit on the European Court of Auditors, which has the job of checking the books for the entire EU. I am very afraid.

So I decide to catch Shamrock Rovers game against PAOK, only that is not on RTE or T na G or TV3. I eventually fuind it on something called 3e, which normally shows wall-to-wall X Factor or The Apprentice. It is half time and Rovers are already three goals down. They get their act together and pull a goal back during a riveting second half. These guys are heroes.

The best bit however was a large banner which proclaimed 'Get the PAOK Out of Here'. It was difficult to read the signature, but it looked like 'A. Merkel.'

The the stress-basher ?. It finally arrived in the guise of the first of four programmes on BBC4 called 'The Symphony'. If you want to develop a better appreciation of classical music- catch it.

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Is this YOUR Accountant?

Say you have an accountant who told you that your business owes €3.2m to the bank. You dash around to see the manager and after very difficult negotiations you agree on a costly pay-back regime.

Six months later the same accountant says 'Oops, I forgot to credit the business with €3.2m that was paid to us. The good news is that you don't owe the money after all'.

Given the acute embarassment, the reputational damage to your business and the expensive deal you cut with the bank, how long do you think it would be before you waved a P45 ?

Seconds, I imagine.

Yet that is what some genius in the Department of Finance has just done- except that the figure owed by his employer (the Government, or more precisely you and me), is not €3.2m but €3.2 billion.

Will he or she be fired, demoted or even lose an increment ?

About the same chance as Sean Fitzpatrick paying back those millions.

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