Protocol advice for Vancouver 2010 draws howls...No sex please, we're Kiwi's...
This is one of the things I love about covering the Olympics.
There's a big fuss out Vancouver way over a city of Vancouver protocol report that outlines everything from proper dress and hand-shaking advice to dealing with dignitaries who make unusual requests (gee, ya think?).
I took a half-hour to read it this morning and nearly coughed up my Tim Horton's coffee. Some of it serious, of course, including a small bit about how some dignitaries could be targeted for assassination. There's no doubt that it's important to greet Prime Ministers the right way and to treat the Canadian flag with respect, but I had to laugh out loud at some of the advice. Apparently brightly coloured shoes aren't allowed, which means I'll have to ditch the yellow crocs I was going to wear to the Opening Ceremony (not really. I'm not going to the Opening Ceremony). And socks are supposed to match the colour of one's pants, as well as not show embarrassing skin.
Here are a few I really enjoyed:
- "Avoid playing with your hair, tie or jewellery, biting your lip, drumming fingers unconsciously, snapping the clip on a ball-point pen and jiggling coins or keys in your pocket."
- "Try not to be chatty. Conversation about the weather is acceptable and doesn't have to be cliche. 'Yes, our climate is generally mild year-round.'" This section left me confused. Is the bit about the year-round mild climate in Vancouver considered acceptable conversation or is that the cliche?
- "Avoid topics such as politics or religion, personal health issues, marital problems, rumours or gossip." I was disappointed. This being a Vancouver document, I half expected the following sentence: "Rubbing your hands together with glee and saying 'Don't those Toronto Maple Leafs really SUCK' is a perfect introduction to almost all visiting sports dignitaries."
- On a section about shaking hands, folks were told to "make eye contact and extend your right hand with your thumb facing up." Really? I've been doing it wrong all these years? Also, "don't use a loose, limp grip." Not even when meeting figure skating judges, apparently.
- There's a great section about awkward situations and "balancing the protocol scale." One bit mentions that folks should consider the organization's finances. "If a dignitary asks for a ticket to the Games Opening Ceremonies, the cost is $1,100. If they want a ticket to the China/Finland hockey game, the cost is $75."
- Another bit talks about how workers shouldn't accept money from dignitaries. Um, aren't there going to be a bunch of International Olympic Committee members in town? Hasn't the money distribution pattern been the other way around most of the time?
- "Advise dignitaries who you're assisting that public transportation will be the most efficient way to get around." Okay, Mr. Putin, just step right onto this SkyTrain and we'll have you at the airport in no time.
Apparently, security types did a practice run and pretended that former British PM Tony Blair came to town and showed up at a venue without accreditation. Organizers were able to get him a ticket in a non-secured area but he had to go into the arena with the riff-raff (could've been worse, they could've stuck him with the media). They also made the fake Blair pay for his ticket. (Excuse me, Mr. Blair, can we get your American Express number?)
Great stuff. The Chinese got flack in advance of the 2008 Summer Games for telling flight attendants how to dress and advising taxi drivers not to hack and spit. I'm not so sure this is all that much better.
AIR CANADA EXPANDING
Air Canada today said they're adding more U.S. flights from Toronto, including direct flights to Orange County, California, San Diego, Portland, Oregon, Portland, Maine, Cincinnati, Syracuse N.Y. and Memphis. The flghts begin at various times, mostly in April May and June of this year.
They're also adding direct summer flights to Barcelona, Athens and Copenhagen, with flights to Brussels via Montreal without changing planes.
"Today's route announcement is great news for passengers flying between Canada and the US," according to Pamela Griffith-Jones, Vice President, Chief Marketing and Commercial Officer for the Greater Toronto Airports Authority (GTAA). "We have worked with our airline customers' needs in mind to create opportunities for route expansion. We are very pleased with Air Canada's continued commitment to using Pearson as a connection point with the US, and as a gateway to connect passengers to destinations around the world."
KEEP IT CLEAN, FOLKS
Spotted an item on Travelmole that says economy class "lie-flat beds" are coming later this year on AIr New Zealand flights.
Apparently the airline will install what's called the "Skycouch," a specially designed row of three seats that can be arranged into a flat space;presumably without arm rests clanging you on the head and not so many big bumps and all like you usually get if you try to commandeer a row of empty seats in coach.
Twenty two sets of the seats will be available; the first 11 window rows in economy on the new, long-range Boeing 777 plans coming in November. Two adults will be able to purchase the Skycouch, paying regular price for two seats and about half-off for the third, and that seems like a damn good deal to me ... or anyone who's been stuck on a 12-hour flight. Great idea.
The service apparently will be available between Auckland and London and Auckland and Los Angeles. They're also promising better food options and food that can be cooked from scratch and not just reheated, which sounds intriguing.
"For the past three years we have been designing a new long-haul experience that will reignite the passion of today's travelers," said CEO Rob Fyfe. "For those who choose, the days of sitting in economy and yearning to lie down and sleep are gone. The dream is now a reality, one that you can even share with a traveling companion - just keep your clothes on, thanks."
WOMEN TAKE CONTROL
Friday Feb. 5 is the day when villages in Spain honour Santa Agueda, or Saint Agatha, by giving women the chance to take control of men in special parties.
For those unaware (guilty), Saint Agueda was a Christian martyr who was tortured and killed and even had her breasts brutally cut off. She strongly believed in chastity, but things have changed and now, while Spanish women in villages such as Formigal in the Spanish Pyrenees celebrate her strength of character, they also celebrate by letting ladies remove the shirt - or other items of clothing - from whatever man they choose. I don't think many men are going to have a problem with this, but that's just a guess.
The story I saw said that as a final honour to her sacrifice, desserts served on the night of Friday the 5th are two round cakes with cherries on top, and, no, I'm not making this up.
BRITS ARE TWITS (Sorry, Tweets)
I see where the VisitBritain folks want to take advantage of the 2010 Summer Olympics with a major tourism marketing strategy that includes mobile technology and social media such as Twitter. They'll use five core themes: dynamic, luxury, classic, generation Y and gay/lesbian, with social media at the forefront.