Category Archives: Business

USA Business/Convention Travel Forecast

This sobering article about the next few years of USA business/convention travel from Convene magazine certainly is food for thought. There will be a serious impact on the industry.

Top 10 Destinations for Canadian this Summer

Food for thought from Virtuoso… But, I wonder how many Canadians, instead of going abroad, are going to explore their own country? After all, it is Canada’s 150th birthday this year!

NEW YORK (May 17, 2017) – International luxury travel network Virtuoso®, acknowledged as an influential trend predictor in the industry, has mined its data warehouse of more than $39.7 billion in transactions to reveal Canadians’ top choices for the upcoming 2017 summer travel season. Upscale globetrotters are booking eternal European favorites for this summer’s travels, with a couple of other international destinations rounding out the list.

The Virtuoso Top 10:

The most popular destinations for summer vacations based on future bookings.

1. Italy

2. United Kingdom

3. Israel

4. United States

5. Germany

6. France

7. Spain

8. Netherlands

9. Greece

10. Portugal

The Top 10 analysis: As is typical for summer travel, Europe dominates the rankings with eight of the 10 countries. Italy continues its reign atop the list, followed by the perennially popular U.K., with France and Spain also placing highly. Israel, always popular among Canadians for its religious and cultural significance, takes third place. Following is the U.S., by far the most visited country overall for Canadians. Countries with strong ocean and river cruising appeal are benefiting from robust interest in those segments, as travelers extend their vacations with pre- and post-cruise stays in Germany and the Netherlands. Greece, with its wealth of ancient sites, famed islands and affordability, is beckoning upscale travelers. Interest in Portugal has been surging of late, with travelers praising its compelling history, scenic coastline and relative value compared to other Western European destinations.

Data is sourced from Virtuoso’s Canada-based travel agency members and reflects future travel for June, July and August 2017. The findings were announced during the network’s annual Virtuoso Symposium, which recently took place in Vancouver, British Columbia.

Best Countries for Women Working Abroad


From InterNations Insider’s Survey

Hungary and Bahrain prove great locations for expat women who want to work abroad, but Luxembourg, Taiwan, and Germany top the chart

An above-average share of women worry about the cost of living and taxation abroad before their move and more than one-third actually end up earning less than at home (36%).
But money is not everything: six in ten are satisfied with their occupation, work-life balance, and financial situation abroad.
Nearly 80% of expat women consider themselves happy with their life and three in ten are even thinking about staying abroad forever (31%).

Munich, 07 March 2017 — Almost half of the women who currently live abroad (46 percent) mentioned their job or business as a reason for expatriating. This share is still lower than among their male counterparts, of which seven out of ten (71 percent) say the same. Nonetheless, it is the factor most often given by expat women, followed by 33 percent who moved for their partner and 26 percent who were looking for an adventure. Based on the insights of more than 6,000 women given in the annual Expat Insider survey, InterNations, the world’s largest network for people who live and work abroad, compiled a so-far unpublished ranking of the top countries for women working abroad, which varies quite a bit from male expats’ picks. Luxembourg, Taiwan, and Germany top the chart, and they all do particularly well for women’s job security. More surprisingly, Hungary and Bahrain follow just behind in the top five, performing extremely well for job satisfaction and career opportunities for women — as opposed to the more negative perception of men working in these countries.

Check out the results of InterNations Insider Survey!


Rolls Royces and Bicycles: The 1% of Vietnam

Since I’ve been in Vietnam, I’ve noticed more luxe cars than I ever see at home in Canada. The other day a white Rolls Royce was parked outside a hotel in my Hanoi neighbourhood. Bentleys and Mercedes are the other cars of elite choice here.
This article in the LA Times sums up all my questions about inequality and gross extravagance in a country where people were starving 3 decades ago. A country where teachers earn $100 US a month.

South Vietnam College Tour

A warm welcome at Vinh Long Community College.

A warm thank you for our workshops at Vinh Long Community College.

My three-week tour of Southern Vietnam educational institutes has been full of pleasant surprises. Not only did our workshops go smoothly, I’ve made new friends and been able to explore some very cool places in the Mekong Delta. Ashley Laracy, another WUSC volunteer, and I visited Vinh Long Community College, Kien Giang TEC and Tra Vinh University. At our first stop in Vinh Long, I was so pleased to see they had made a banner to promote our workshops.VingLongWksp Mine was “Creating Powerful Stories For Marketing and Promotion.” Ashley’s was “Partnership Development.” The college was a little outside the downtown core, so on a few evenings Ashley and I hiked the 5 km into town to enjoy a coconut water or dark beer…worth the walk! Translator Minh Chao was a wonderful help, from making sure the room was ready, to providing us with her impeccable English skills.
Peace with Minh Chau in front of VLCC.

Peace with Minh Chau in front of VLCC.

She was also in charge of writing up the college’s “Success Stories” so I coached her and we interviewed two very impressive alumni, the president of a rice processing company and high ranking manager in an international rice company. On our last day we took a boat tour and completed our evening at a delicious seafood restaurant.

Enjoying some java at Cafe Bale in Kien Giang.

Enjoying some java at Cafe Bale in Kien Giang.

Kien Giang is a seaside resort town full of charm and fantastic coffee shops. Watching the sunrise and sunset with an iced café sua da was spectacular.
Kien Giang Tec: A very well-attended workshop.

Kien Giang Tec: A very well-attended workshop.

We presented our workshops to the largest groups yet, 50 people per workshop. The rector and vice rector attended, as did many teachers and administration staff. Each evening our hosts took us to a new eating spot. My favorite was a place that offered a huge pancake stuffed with veggies and shrimp. Yum! We also were judges at an English Speaking Contest where students competed for prizes based on grammar, comprehension and delivery. Lots of fun. One of the staff took us out to have our hair washed – an amazing Vietnamese tradition that took more than an hour and was super relaxing. My hair never felt so clean!

Tra Vinh University: Auspicious yellow rules.

Tra Vinh University: Yellow rules!

A gorgeous campus full of sparkling yellow buildings welcomed us at Tra Vinh University. Each morning while sipping our iced coffees on the patio of the school canteen we watched exuberant students play soccer or volleyball on the nearby pitch. Here, our workshops were given to staff in charge of international collaboration and international partnerships, so we were able to give them in English with no translation. Much easier.
A wonderful place to reflect.

A wonderful place to reflect.

Tra Vinh is a lovely place, divided by a canal. We spent many evenings sitting and chatting in restaurants by the water. One day we even saw a dragon boat team practicing.

The south of Vietnam is very different from the north. People are not in such a hurry. They are warm and friendly and very inclined to share a plate of seafood or an iced drink with you. The participants in our workshops were also really engaged and I’m looking forward to seeing them implement what they’ve learned in the next few months.

Kien Giang Sunset...the best in the south!

Kien Giang Sunset…the best in the south.

Media Training in Mambane, Swaziland

Enjoying the day with the ladies of Mambane.

This week’s highlight was a media training session I facilitated along with MISA Swaziland (Media Institute of Southern Africa) and EU Cospe (an Italian NGO that works on numerous programs with SWAGAA.

Discussing gender-based violence and news challenges with journalists from the Swaziland Observer and Times.

Six journalists came tot he MISA office in Mbabane for a round table discussion that I led on how best to cover gender-based violence stories. It was great sharing experiences and finding out about their challenges. The journalists were from the Observer and the Times. We discussed the need for confidentiality so survivors can avoid stigma, and also how to include a survivor’s voice. So often here the articles are merely court reports, which is due to the fact that these news reporters have to file at least three stories a day. That’s a lot.

We talked about ethics and policies, patriarchal attitudes in the newsroom (2 of the journos were women) and how gender-based violence stories are often churned out without much sensitivity to the parties involved. I had them put themselves in a GBV subject’s shoes, walking back into a homestead where people would talk, laugh, accuse, point fingers and ostracize them. Humanizing the subject makes for less provocative, damaging reporting. It was good food for thought.

Mambane gate. Love the cow-horn motif!

The second part of the training was to head out in a couple of vehicles to a community called Mambane on the South African/Mozambique border. One vehicle broke down, delaying one group, but luckily my vehicle made the 2-hour, gravel road trip without mishap. We were scheduled to meet a group of women at a community Gogo Centre (Gogo is the term for grandmother, and these centres are used for gatherings, teachings and various projects). The Gogo centre we visited had just received a voter registration machine. Part of EU Cospe’s mandate is to get women in more leadership positions. The rule in Swaziland is 30% of politicians should be female, but in reality the number is much lower. None of the journalists even knew what the actual figure was.

We took the journalists out because media outlets here have limited resources and seldom do Mbabane-based staff get the chance to gather grassroots level stories out in the country. This is where 80 percent of the population lives and yet their voices are seldom heard.

The day was perfect, sunny and hot. We met a group of around 30 women who had gathered at the Gogo centre for a pickle-making session. The three-legged pot was on the fire and filled with a delicious smelling mixture of cabbage, carrots and pepper when we arrived.

Pickle-making at the Gogo Centre.

The journalists paired off with some of the women and began their search for stories. Topics covered were voting, female MPs, education, health services and prevalence of gender-based violence.

Getting the scoop.

After a couple of hours the pickles were made and the stories scooped. Driving back to Manzini and Mbabane, I picked the journalists’ brains. Some women didn’t want to vote for other women because they couldn’t see how they would get anything done. Women don’t support other women due to jealousy and maybe because there are very few role models. The women at the Gogo centre were all taking adult education classes, trying to get through primary school studies, which for various reasons they had never received (married young, needed to care for siblings, needed to do chores around the house). When asked if they would think of running for office, the answer was, ‘Who would vote for me? I can’t even read or write. I need to get my education first.’

It’s been five days since we had the training and so far at least five stories have resulted. For some reason the paper used a shot of the women, plus me. Oh well. The stories are great and the voices of community women are getting out there. Yeah!

Here are some of the stories: