FUNKY LUNCH

Dean & Deluca opened in Singapore this week, which is very exciting. I am secretly loving all these fabulous new retailers and cafes/restaurants that have branched out to Asia, especially Singapore. It can be hard to find a favourite lunch spot that is consistent and of course delivers on service and a good coffee.

So in 2012, what are the options for a good work lunch that is – fast, reasonably priced, good quality and has a “cool factor” or buzz from the café/outlet. Here are a few that may be of interest when you are next in that city.

Dean & Deluca
Singapore, New York, Tokyo, Dubai, Bangkok (I know there are more)
The Dean & Deluca NYC Soho flagship store is great for a fast work lunch as the choice of food is varied and high quality, and while not as big, Singapore ticks the boxes too (even a cheeky glass of wine is an option).

Wholefoods
Stores all across the USA and Canada. Love the one in Seattle and it’s spot a celebrity in the Malibu location. Has now opened locations in the UK too.
LOVE the range of salads, soups… you name it (I actually feel overwhelmed in them sometimes). If you can’t find something to eat in here you aren’t looking hard enough. And of course it is all pretty fresh and healthy. Fingers crossed they come to Asia soon.

Selfridges
London
One of my all-time favourite food halls. Perfect for a Friday lunchtime treat of oysters and a glass of champagne and you can still be back in the office in under an hour.

Hardware Lane
Melboure
Basically you are spoilt for choice in this funky laneway in the city that is full of individual cafes. Try Hardware Societe for a pre-work breakfast or lunch.

Wagamama
UK, Europe, Middle East, USA, Australia, New Zealand
If you are craving Asian food that is stock standard, then this is perfect. While you won’t get a very authentic experience the food is still good and served fast.

If all else fails and you are stuck at your desk, you can always go old school and pack a sandwich and piece of fruit from home!

Where is your favourite lunch place during the working week?

CUSTOMS CLEARANCE

Pet hate… being in a line ready to go through security at the airport and someone in front has “forgotten” to empty their pockets or throw a bottle of water away. Seriously what are these people thinking (clearly not much), as they have just had on average 13 to 15 minutes to get organised. That is the time it is taking to clear security at most airports these days.

Checking In
59% of people check-in through the airline’s main counter, which takes an average of 19 minutes
18% use a self-check-in kiosk, which averages 8 minutes
10% check-in at curbside, which averages 13 minutes
5% of passengers obtain their boarding pass through the Internet

Security
The average wait time at large airports is 16 minutes, 15 minutes at medium airports and 13 minutes at small airports

Airports
US immigration officials were given the unwanted tag of being the rudest, followed by India and Russia. I agree with that ranking. On my most recent to trip to India there was a line at immigration due to the fact that every immigration officer had decided to have their dinner at the same time so there was no one working!!

Travelers wanting the shortest queuing times should head for Amsterdam’s Schiphol airport, Changi in Singapore or Frankfurt

Bangkok, Amsterdam and Rome are considered to have the least-thorough security. They were also seen as having the longest wait time for collecting baggage and were considered the most likely to damage luggage.

Heathrow has been voted the worst international airport for passport queues and baggage problems. New York’s JFK and Los Angeles International airports were ranked second and third worst.

TACKY OR TRENDY?

I was travelling this week and was bored sitting in a very average airline lounge. Instead I wondered around aimlessly looking for something to buy in one of the airport shops (which are fast becoming the same shop repeated every 20 metres). Unfortunately I wasn’t in Hong Kong airport with Jimmy Choo at my beckon call, so I had to settle on trying to buy a souvenir for my 3 year old daughter.

Which got me to thinking… what are some of the best souvenirs you can buy at an airport? Here is a list of some of the more interesting ones and you can be the judge if they are tacky or trendy!

Shanghai Pudong Airport
PANDA HAT – a hat and attached mittens (also available a ton of panda-clad merchandise – bags, beer coolers and toys).

Tokyo Narita Airport
HELLO KITTY or ORIGAMI – What can I say, Japan is all things Hello Kitty! A nice alternative is a gift from the Origami museum located in the airport

Cairns Airport, Australia
CANE TOAD COIN PURSE – The perfect gift for someone who has everything.

Stockholm Arlanda Airport
REINDEER PELT – Yes you read correctly. Maybe stick to buying perfume here!

London Heathrow Airport
RUBBER DUCK – Love the Harrods one (my favourite). Of course the usual double decker bus money boxes are available too.
I am yet to see any inspiring souvenirs from the upcoming 2012 Olympics, so would be keen to hear from anyone who has found one.

Los Angeles – LAX
OSCAR – When in LA… how can you resist a fake Oscar statue (quite easily!)

Any USA Airport
CAP/T-SHIRT – Always a great place to buy the local basketball, hockey, football, baseball supporter gear

Singapore Airport
ORCHIDS – Alive and packaged ready to travel. Although check if you are allowed to bring them to your destination.

What did I buy? Pink panda slippers… perfect for a 3 year old!

CARD TRICKS

I am old school and love receiving a business card that is completely out of the box and wows me. Business cards are one thing that you can afford to be creative on as after all, they should leave a lasting impression. And if you receive one that you think is great you are less likely to throw it away as soon as you get back to your desk.

Visiting cards first appeared around the 15th century in China and were used as a means for aristocrats to announce their arrival to whomever they were visiting. This tradition then moved on to nobles in France and England and the business card was born!

Things to consider if you are on the market for new business cards:

Materials and Effects – Most are printed on card stock, but you may want to consider a coating, a embellishment, embossing, or specialized material (eg wood)

Size and Shape – Be creative! They can be any size and not just rectangle, think round edges, cut out shapes…

Printing Methods – Digital is the most popular, Letterpress will give you better quality and Engraved will give you another option.

Colour & Style - There are unlimited options with some imagination. Four colour process is standard and recommended. Try and keep a similar look to your website and let the card reflect what it is you actually do.

But if you are opposed to business cards you may like to try out some new alternatives.

LinkedIn has the CardMunch app that digitizes an analog card. It captures the image of a business card, recognizes it and then saves it on your phone as a contact. It also integrates that person’s information from his or her profile on LinkedIn.

You can also create a digital card using Cardcloud that can be delivered by email.

But one important tip – Try to learn the basics of foreign customs regarding presenting yourself and the exchange of business cards before your next overseas work trip, otherwise it could be over before you have even started your meeting!

BINGO!

Always worthy of a giggle in the office is “business speak”.

And I am not talking about the ability to speak in multiple languages in a meeting, rather the over-used terms that everyone has grown to hate (and can make you sound like you are trying way too hard and actually have no idea of what you are talking about).

Over the years I am sure many of you have played “bingo” with certain words in meetings. And it seems these words aren’t going away, just evolving into different, more elaborate ones. Although always great to see that some of the oldies are still in favour!

Forbes is even running a poll to vote on the most ridiculous ones. http://www.forbes.com/special-report/2012/annoying-business-jargons-12.html

Top tip – What not to say.
So before you get everyone on the same page to drink from the fire hose and give 110%, you may want to drill down and leverage some past learnings while thinking outside of the box. After all we have a hard stop so it will be a challenge to get our ducks in a row by then and take it to the next level.
Phew!

If you know what’s good for your career you won’t use too many of these phrases – instead deliver your message in a clear and concise way, saying exactly what you mean, in the right tone and manner.

And after all… “it is what it is” (no sh*t!!!)

TRAVEL TANTRUMS!

I had an extremely bad travel experience with an airline last night, which I will name… SILK AIR (aka Singapore Airlines) coming back from a relaxing weekend away, which then turned into a not so relaxing one.

As a result I have sent off multiple letters/emails to the airline, posted the story on skytrax and other such airline review websites and am just planning my next move on what to do. Which got me thinking… what, when and how is the best place to complain if you are in a bad travel situation through no fault of your own.

Golden Rule – Talk to the person in charge
Don’t waste your time and effort on arguing with someone who has no power to help you, or solve the problem. Insist on speaking to a manager or supervisor.
Airlines: Gate-agent supervisor
Hotels: General manager or director of sales
Car rentals: Location supervisor or manager

Up it one level and follow up
If you don’t get results on-site, follow up in writing, including all names, documentation and photos.
Airlines: For service complaints, the individual airline’s customer-service manager (you’ll have to call the airline to get this name), and your local in-country Transportation Aviation Consumer Protection Division.
Hotels: Director of public relations or head of sales and marketing, and send a copy to the general manager
Car Rentals: The chain or franchise corporate-relations manager or director of sales

Make your complaint immediately, while you’re still at the hotel or on the plane. It’s generally more effective to talk to someone in person than to call an 800 number a few weeks later and speak with a customer service agent who wasn’t in any way involved with the incident

Know your rights – check your airline or hotel booking conditions

Be specific, focused, and fair when resolving problems
Know how you would like to see the situation resolved. Stay focused, and reiterate your specific demands if the conversation veers away from the problem at hand.
Of course if you have booked a 3 star hotel, don’t expect a 5 star room, be reasonable with your asks.

Use the power of social media.
More people are using facebook, twitter etc to report “live-time” problems as they happen and this can get you a speedier response from an airline or hotel.

Read reviews from fellow travelers – tripadvisor.com is always good (pluschild.com is another one launching soon), and look at industry rankings. Below are the international airlines that get the most complaints –

1.British Airways
2.Lufthansa
3.Air France

And if all else fails, go to the bar!

DOWN & DIRTY ON THE STREET

As you travel the world for business (or pleasure) it’s always fun to experience the local culture through food. Now we aren’t talking fancy restaurants, rather food vendors on the street… and a McCafe doesn’t count!

And yes, I have taken into account cleanliness, so no one is getting sick on my watch!

Here are some of the world’s best, and this is by no means an exhaustive list.

Sfenj, Morocco
Think donuts crossed with a croissant – spongy, deep-fried pastry rings made of unsweetened, sticky yeast dough, with no milk or butter added. Perfect for a morning coffee.The best sfenj are prepared in hanout (closet-sized booths) in the medinas of Morocco’s biggest cities.
Cost – 10 cents each or $2.50 a kilo

Banh mi, Vietnam
I love the food in Vietnam – think French crossed with fresh Asian influences. A baguette grilled over coals – filled with meat, a touch of pâté, crunchy pickled vegetables and fresh herbs, and then add few drops of soy sauce or chilli. The sandwiches are sold almost exclusively from street stalls.
Cost – 90 cents

Currywurst, Germany
Think the perfect hangover food. A thick sausage cut into chunks and doused in curry flavoured ketchup/sauce. You can add chips or bread.
Cost – $3.00

Too many to pick just one, Singapore
Known as one of the cleanest places to eat street food, it also has some of the most varied options. Fish head curry, Hainanese chicken rice (a National dish), chilli crabs, satays. Try Lau Pa Sat for an old school experience.
Cost – from $2.00

Tacos, Mexico
Not just any tacos… but Tacos al pastor (a special in Mexico City) consists of marinated pork and pineapple and of course fresh salsa to accompany it.
Cost – $1.50

Special thanks to WTF reader Nick, for the topic idea!