Friday, December 29, 2006

Air Travel

A typical Gujju gang seated on the floor, playing Rummy (like the ones on the 9.14 CST local), families sitting on the floor, in front of the television screen and munching on the latest chivdaas and namkeens (like watching some soap opera), some guy, (or in other words, a dissatisfied customer) shouting at the top of his voice (I can shout louder than anyone !!), and a team trying to pacify him, young hip couples seated at several corners, some smooching away to glory while others in their own world not at all fazed by the happenings around them and of course a sea of onlookers, enjoying the tamashaa, a group of foreigners or should I say backpackers with a book (mostly Discovery India) in their hands wondering at whats going on !!!. Welcome to the Chatrapati Shivaji International Airport in Mumbai. !!!!..........

Yes, that’s the scene that you are most likely to find if you choose to travel by air today. The so called ‘low cost airlines’ that are mushrooming so rapidly makes traveling by air a lot more pleasurable…Is it really so ? I don’t think so. The airports just don’t have the infrastructure to support the number of airlines and it invariably results in flight delays. Not to mention the time taken to get the baggage checked in. Last month I reached Chennai airport at around 5.15 in the morning to board a flight for Mumbai. There was a long queue. For a moment I felt that instead of coming to airport I have landed at the Tirupati temple for an early morning darshan!. (I think the darshan would take lesser time). After an hour and fifteen minutes I finally proceeded for my security check.

At the Mumbai airport I had to face a slight delay of around 8 hours !. Why? There were two reasons given. First due to the fog in the morning the flight got rescheduled and then the airport authorities had closed down one run way for maintenance purposes !...Whew……

I really don’t know how long it would take for things to fall in place. Or, if it would ever fall in place. One thing is for sure though. The next time I decide to travel to some place in India, I will definitely think long and hard…..

Thursday, December 14, 2006

Product Differentiation through sheer Quality

After 2 quarters, 4 months, 12 subjects of intense study (I prefer study to hardwork!) it is but natural that I start looking at things from a ‘manger’s perspective. Even while buying wada - pav from the ‘wadapavwala’ across the street, I think about the ‘product’, ‘price’ and ‘place’. (For a 5 rupee wada-pav, I don’t think promotion can be used as a tool to increase his sales!)

Jokes apart, it really is amazing to see how Channel 9 continues to innovate and augment the product (which is broadcasting cricket matches). They have been in this business from the time Kerry Packer revolutionized cricket in Australia and for purists, watching cricket being played down under is the ultimate delight. Getting up at 5.30 in the morning..err 5.27 on a cool November morning and switching on the television set to watch the cricket season in Australia kick of at Brisbane is the ultimate feeling. I have been doing it for years. And I also know quite a few people who passionately follow this routine. From November to January every year, even the late risers get up at the wee hours of the morning to hear the great Bill Lawry say ‘Its all happening out here at the Gabba’. The Aussies have their rituals…the 1st test would always start at Brisbane (or GABBA as it is so lovingly called). The traditional Boxing Day test match at the MCG and the New-Year test match at the SCG played to packed audiences.

They have an excellent product, amazing cricket grounds, great telecast, easily the best commentators ever. Richie Benaud whose words are like gospel, Bill Lawry, with his amazing energy and that great tone, Ian Chappel, with his no-nonsense approach to commentary and the others chipping in take cricket viewing to a completely different level. The amazing thing is the way they continue to innovate. This year we have three of them on air at a time, as opposed to the traditional system of two commentators being on air. After bowling out Australia for 244 on the first day of the third test at Perth when the English openers had 17 overs to survive that night, we had Ian Chappel, Bill Lawry and Michael Slater on air. Ian queried Slats and Bill about how they approached such situations. For a young cricketer there could be nothing better than listening to the ‘traditional’ approach from Bill and the ‘modern’ approach from Slats.

We have the super-super slow motion that lets us know if they batsman really nicked the ball, if the ball pitched on line and would be hitting the stumps and various minute details. And the score-board…It just keeps getting better and better. And finally, the cricket memorabilia which is an integral part of Aussie cricket! They keep coming out with innovative themes and ideas and just a view of one of them and you feel like you want to order it. But…for a student like me..its way too expensive…..(One day I will also buy a couple of them!).

A great product (test match cricket), played at a great place (Australia) available at a great price (paying 275 bucks to the cable operator for this high quality product is peanuts) and finally great promotions (like the trivia of the day, memorabilia items available) makes Channel Nine the best ever. Keep it up guys…..