April 18, 2021

At Airports, a World of Services for Business Fliers and Workers

Jim Rosenberg, the head of online and social media for the World Bank, can vouch that some airports offer a lot more than places to eat and newsstands filled with gossipy magazines.

On a flight from Washington to Tbilisi, Georgia, Mr. Rosenberg realized during a stop in Munich that he “didn’t have this asthma medicine I take every day,” he said. But, luckily, the airport had a pharmacy. “I knew the generic name to tell them what I needed,” he said. “They told me I had to go to the clinic for a prescription. It was just down the hall.”

Mr. Rosenberg said he was surprised at how easy it was. “The most this all cost me was mainly time and money from being disorganized.”

Even the most efficient business travelers may find themselves forgetting something or running out of time to take care of a personal errand before a flight. Airports, particularly those in Europe and Asia, are responding by offering an increasing array of services like hair salons, medical clinics and dry cleaners.

Rainer Perry, the United States representative for Düsseldorf International Airport, said that “the city is known for trade shows and conventions, so we get a lot of business travelers.” The airport’s advantage, Mr. Perry said, is its small size, with all services “in one terminal building, so no long distances.” He said the services included meeting rooms, pharmacies, a hairdresser, a post office and an airport dentist, open even on Sundays and holidays, allowing travelers to schedule visits or have emergency dental work between connections.

Wilko W. Geesink, a pharmacist, is the managing director of Apotheek Schiphol Plaza, the pharmacy inside Arrivals Hall 3 in Amsterdam’s Schiphol Airport, which opened in 2009. Mr. Geesink said his clients included “locals, people working at Schiphol Airport or living nearby, commuters, travelers, hospitals from abroad, oil platforms, you name it.”

Many business travelers are repeat clients who send “prescriptions by e-mail in advance, together with their travel schedule,” he said. “When they pass by, everything is ready to be picked up and paid for.”

Jonathan Massey, a principal with the airport design firm Corgan Associates, says several factors have led to the expansion of airport services. “Functionality was once the leading decision point in design,” he said in an e-mail, “but now the traveler’s ease and experience are among an airport’s key priorities.”

He added that passengers had more time than in the past as “some people try to get to the airport earlier to reduce the stress of the check-in and security procedure, resulting in more time at the gate.” The expanded services also help airport management “to increase revenue generation,” he said.

Foreign airports have led the way in services, Mr. Massey said, starting with duty-free shopping. “Flying between countries in Europe could be compared to flying between the states in the United States,” he said, resulting in a much higher percentage of Europeans traveling internationally and supporting a greater range of services.

“Asian airports,” he added, “have been innovative in providing amenities that cater to long-haul passengers with very long layovers.” He cited services as diverse as short-stay hotels, movie theaters and pay-per-use airline lounges.

“The majority of traffic through airports is your typical personal or business traveler,” he said, but “airport workers and airline employees also make use of terminals.”

That is the case with the SFO Medical Clinic at San Francisco International Airport, which opened in 1972 and is one of only a handful of airport medical clinics in the United States. “We do see a lot of travelers in between flights and employees who work at the airport who walk in when they don’t feel well,” said Neil Sol, the clinic’s director.

Article source: http://www.nytimes.com/2013/03/26/business/airport-services-go-beyond-newsstands-and-ready-made-sandwiches.html?partner=rss&emc=rss

As Protest Ends, Chinese Censorship Battle Remains

Southern Weekend has been a weather vane for restrictions on news organizations in China since its founding 29 years ago, and its journalists say their frustration with those constraints has been building for years, turning their relationship with provincial party officials into something of a cat-and-mouse battle.

The restrictions have tightened since last summer, leading to the protests that erupted at Southern Weekend’s offices last week over a rewritten New Year’s editorial, one of the sharpest outbreaks of friction so far.

The newspaper appeared on newsstands on Thursday, after protesting journalists accepted a compromise in which provincial propaganda officials promised to loosen some of the more intrusive censorship controls. The police in Guangzhou, the capital of Guangdong Province, moved to quell any new demonstrations at the offices of the Nanfang Media Group, which owns the paper.

The latest issue of Southern Weekend featured an investigation into a fire at an orphanage that left seven people dead, as well as discussions of proposed changes to labor-camp and farmland-seizure laws. It made no direct mention of the protests that turned the newspaper itself into the biggest story in China so far this year.

The protesting journalists directed their anger at Tuo Zhen, the head of party propaganda in Guangdong, whom they blamed for tampering with the editorial, changing it from an essay urging respect for constitutional rights into an error-marred paean to party rule. But the closest that anything in the latest issue came to touching on that controversy was a reprint of a commentary from People’s Daily, the Communist Party’s main national paper, on the role of the news media.

“Party control of the media is a principle, but the manner in which the party controls the media must keep up with the times,” Southern Weekend said in reference to the People’s Daily commentary.

Southern Weekend has been at the forefront of changes in China’s increasingly commercial news organizations. By reporting aggressively on scandals, corruption, popular protests and other delicate subjects, the newspaper and others like it have collided with party restrictions. Now Southern Weekend is at the heart of the next big test: whether the Communist Party’s new leader, Xi Jinping, intends to extend his promises of economic reform into a measure of political liberalization, including more scope for the news media to challenge officials.

“There was an accidental element to the Tuo Zhen incident, but it also erupted out of long-accumulated grievances over interference in reporting and editing,” said Zhang Ping, a former editor and columnist with the paper who was dismissed from the Nanfang Media Group under official pressure in 2011.

“For me, the most important thing about this incident is that it’s exposed the dark insides of the Propaganda Department,” Mr. Zhang said, speaking about the censorship uproar from Germany, where he now lives. “It’s almost impossible to appeal against the Propaganda Department. You couldn’t question their decisions.”

Much more was at stake than one botched editorial. Mr. Tuo, who took up his post last May, was the embodiment of increasingly meddlesome censorship, according to people who have worked for Southern Weekend and academics who have studied the newspaper.

“Tuo Zhen seemed to have no understanding that running a paper is a business,” said Yan Lieshan, a senior editor with the Nanfang Media Group. “Nowadays, most newspapers in China have to pay their own way and make a living, but when editors act like censors, they can throttle a paper to death.”

The journalists’ grievances go back years, including an incident in 2009 when propaganda and Foreign Ministry officials micromanaged publication of an interview with President Obama, Mr. Zhang and other former Southern Weekend journalists said. The White House reached out to Southern Weekend as a relatively liberal and sympathetic outlet, but censors took that as proof of the paper’s political unreliability. The version of the interview the paper ultimately published was bland and heavily cut.

Edward Wong reported from Guangzhou, and Chris Buckley from Hong Kong. Jonathan Ansfield and Shi Da contributed reporting from Beijing.

Article source: http://www.nytimes.com/2013/01/11/world/asia/as-protest-ends-chinese-censorship-battle-remains.html?partner=rss&emc=rss

Advertising: Back to School? Summer Season for Shopping Is Early This Year

Many retailers and advertisers are moving up the start of their sales and marketing campaigns devoted to children’s clothing, stationery, computers and other back-to-school merchandise. In at least one instance, ads that promote buying such items on layaway appeared in mid-June — when schools in several parts of the country were still in session.

The front-running of the back-to-school shopping season is not unlike how Madison Avenue has for years been advancing the start of the Christmas shopping season. Indeed, even as some retailers begin their back-to-school sales early, they are also sponsoring “Christmas in July” sales.

In both instances, the reason for getting an early start is the same: with an uncertain economy, the goal is to gather ye consumer dollars while ye may, even if it may peeve some tradition-minded shoppers.

“We’re not trying to shorten summer,” said Mark Snyder, chief marketing officer at Kmart, part of the Sears Holdings Corporation, which moved up its annual ads about buying on layaway to mid-June from around the Fourth of July.

Instead, Mr. Snyder said, it is in response to changes in consumer behavior as “the high price of gas has compressed the frequency of trips” to shop.

“Rather than having to make additional trips,” he added, consumers are “doing it early.”

The first weekend in July brought newspaper circulars with back-to-school pitches from retailers like Staples, Target and Toys “R” Us. The next weekend, they reprised those themes and were joined by other chains like Best Buy (“Your back-to-school destination”).

At the same time, August issues of magazines like All You, Family Circle, Martha Stewart Living and Parents have been arriving on newsstands and in subscribers’ mailboxes with back-to-school ads from Lands’ End Kids, Target and Wal-Mart along with brands like Frito-Lay, Kellogg’s, Germ-X hand sanitizer (“A back-to-school necessity”) and Microsoft (make a new PC “school-ready with Office 2010”).

Also last week, the declaration that “Back to school is kicking off at @Macys!” was received by those on Twitter who follow the Macy’s division of Macy’s Inc.

Marketers and retailers “have some reason to be nervous” and thus are “more proactive in reaching out to shoppers these days,” said Frank Badillo, senior economist for the Kantar Retail unit of WPP in Columbus, Ohio.

Consumers, particularly in lower-income households, are “stepping up their efforts to look for deals,” Mr. Badillo said, so “to be successful your message needs to be, ‘This is what I can do to help you make ends meet in this economy.’ ”

Entertainment Promotions, which offers discounts through properties like Entertainment Book Membership and entertainment.com, started its back-to-school campaign on June 20, about a month earlier than last year.

“Consumers are worried, and they’re stretched,” said Dean DeBiase, chairman and chief executive at Entertainment Promotions in Troy, Mich. “They say, ‘If I have to spend that money anyway, I might as well snag some deals in the dog days of summer.’ ”

The company also sells coupon books to schools as fund-raisers to sell to consumers, he added, and activity there “is also much earlier this year.”

“It’s almost like nothing stopped for summer,” Mr. DeBiase said.

At Staples, said Carrie McElwee, a spokeswoman in Framingham, Mass., savings “always is a focus, but today it is more so.” Although the back-to-school ads have “about the same timing for us as in previous years,” she said, Staples is bringing out new offers for 2011 like a Back to School Savings Pass.

The pass entitles customers to 15 percent off purchases of items like backpacks, calculators and notebooks. It costs $10 and can be used once a day in Staples stores from July 3 through Sept. 17.

Also, students who show school IDs can receive a $100 Visa prepaid card through the Staples Easy Rebate program with the purchase of one of four laptop computers “that were chosen specifically for student needs,” Ms. McElwee said.

A spokeswoman for Target in Minneapolis, Jennifer Mooney, said the retailer was “focused on delivering more value than ever” at Target stores and on target.com.

Although the back-to-school merchandise “is available at the same time this year as it was last year,” she added, there is a renewed emphasis on savings through coupon offers.

For instance, “new this year,” Ms. Mooney said, is a promotion in certain stores called Text to Get Coupon, by which shoppers can receive “an instant mobile coupon on specific items” like General Electric light bulbs.

One retailer is zagging while the others are zigging. J. C. Penney plans to introduce its back-to-school campaign next week, which will be a week later than last year.

“There is still a peak in the middle of August” to back-to-school shopping patterns, said Bill Gentner at Penney in Plano, Tex., who is serving as interim chief marketing officer after the retirement this month of Michael J. Boylson.

The later start is to help “make sure the campaign resonated with our customers,” Mr. Gentner said. The ads will present Penney as “a headquarters for style and, at a time when it’s so important, value,” he added.

There will also be a cause marketing campaign, carrying the theme “Pennies From Heaven,” that is to run through Aug. 27. Shoppers will be invited to round up purchases to the nearest dollar, with the additional sums, up to $1 million, being donated by Penney to local after-school programs like the Boys and Girls Clubs of America and the Y.M.C.A. of the U.S.A.

Article source: http://feeds.nytimes.com/click.phdo?i=956de38c1a00825333195f69f3769064