Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Viva Italia


I love Italy and all things Italian. As the family becomes more and more interlinked with Italy, first through my dearest friend, Paolo Ettorre, and now through daughter-in-law, Clarissa, and granddaughter, Stella, I have an increasing bond for the country and their people. I love their design, their flair, their cars (from Fiat to Ferrari), their hotels (Bulgari and Hotel de Russie), their food, their wines (especially Brunello’s, Barolo’s and Super Tuscan’s), their football teams (Inter Milan and Juventus) and their rugby development. I love Benetton and Fabrica, Renzo Rosso and Diesel, and my two new watches from Giuliano Mazzuoli.

But what on earth is the country doing to itself? A decade ago it was the number one tourist destination in the world. Now it’s number five and is haunted by the specter of organized crime, tons of rubbish on the streets of Naples (now at least gone), terrible customer service, ridiculously high, rip-off tourist prices and a great name like Alitalia - the gateway to the nation - suffering so badly.

There are some bright points, such as Milan being awarded the Expo 2015 through the superb efforts and vision of Letizia Moratti and her team. With the Expo’s sustainability theme, this is worth its weight in gold for Italy.

Many of the regions are working hard on tourism but the national campaign is nonexistent. I believe the country needs to invest massively in a new logo, promise and campaign, and back it up with a revamped airline.

I’m excited by the appointment of Matteo Marzotto to president of the Italian Government Tourist Board. Matteo strikes me as the guy for the job. With his cultivated but down-to-earth style, empathy, radical optimism and leadership experience in the luxury sector, Matteo represents the future of Italy.

A call to the nation to lift the customer service levels and to rally around the country for the benefit of all should be communicated loud and clear. Otherwise Mediterranean neighbors with emerging economies, such as Croatia, will continue to eat Italy’s tourist lunch.

7 comments:

Renato Jannuzzi Cecchettini said...

Hi Mr. Roberts,

Its all true. And its sad they´re loosing a tremendous opportunity to get the accessible luxury wave. The Italian lovemarks (it´s easy to count dozens of them) seems too ignore their real potential. They know they´re the best, but seems their happy with just it.
They could get a big turnaround in their economy with just a few changes.
As a brazilian-italian that visit this marvelous country as much as I can, I can see their loosing a big opportunity. Hope it will change fast.

Renato J Cecchettini

GIANPAOLO GRAZIOLI said...

Hi Kevin thanks for the post.

It is my dream to make Italy working one day. I write this with emotion, rage and hope. Italy is a personal affair, once I have sorted my life, I will come back to see if I can do anything for my country. This is a promise, but I do hope they will not need me anymore as I might take too long.

People are vital for any change, people in Italy are like anesthetized and show no rage against the continuous abuse we get from the caste.

Italy ranks third as the country with the highest public debt. 1600 billions euros or there about. Italy pays 75 billions in interest a year to a private bank named Bank of Italy to borrow us this amount which in turn pay some spread to another private bank called BCE. Do we need to be in the Euro area? Why our central bank is private? Why we have to pay to borrow our own money? Why should we pay this 75 billions in interest to private entity always owned by the same old people including the Benetton family trough different companies?

This is the same problem that has America with the Federal Reserve. It is owned by private families.

Italy has 1000 Members of Parliament which cost Italians about a 1 million a year each. including expenses, travels, offices, secretary etc. This is the first billion and is gone by lunch time. Would 100 do the same job and better?

Italy has a 72 years old prime minister Mr. B, the full name makes me sick, who started his third mandate as Prime minister 5 months ago, and he has spent the first 5 months of this last government making laws only to protect his companies and his future and preventing him from going to jail (Lodo Alfano). Mr. B is the bad copy of Mr. Bush and Mr. Putin.
His next move is to change Italy into a presidential Republic so he can be elected President of the Republic of Italy and stay in charge for another century. Italians have to say no to the worst of the Putin&Bush style. Power in Italy seems to be like a drug, you always need more. Italy is going no where if these people are still in charge. They do not know what customer service is, they act in monopoly, they do not like competition. They like to make their own rule. Italy is the country, where thanks to Mr. B we electors cannot directly vote any member of the parliament, the MPs are all “nominated” directly by the prime minister. Electors give their preference to the party. Party leaders decide who goes there and suit for the golden package.

Italy is the country of Benetton, that owns the concessions for the Italian motorway Autostrade which was made back in the 60ies by the government and paid in 25-30 years ahead and once the motorway was all paid it was given in concession to Benetton in the late 80eighties at a cheap cheap price nationalizing the losses and privatizing the profit. Austostrade is a toll road operator that makes 3 billions euros turnover a year with a huge huge profit that no other Italian company can match, no major investments have been happening in the motor-way from north to south, most of the turnover is a positive profit. Would Italy need this profit?

Italy is the country of the Leonardo Da Vinci Rome airport, where you have to pay 1 euro( no refund) to get a trolley, and if you do not have that damn euro with you, you have to get the luggage on your shoulder. And this airport is in concession to the same Benetton' family mentioned above. I do not have anything against these people, Italy simply deserves more. They are too political. They own almost all the airports, Bologna, Turin, Rome, Florene, and they do too many things without the customer in mind. They want the damn euro from me and no refund. I can not forgive them.

Italy is the country were there is no opposition, the labor party or center left is exactly the same party as the center right of Mr. B’s party they all go for the same pie. They are all friends. Italy is the country were there is no information, all 7 TV channels are in the hands of Mr. B like most news papers and 40 and more magazines. No oppositions. Mr. B is a loved one because he is the only one who talks on TV. They are all his TVS; can you explain this to my ninety one years old grand mother? She loves him and voted for him.
People that do not have access to internet do not know what is happening. Italy is the country of www.beppegrillo.it. Beppe Grillo’s blog is amongst the top 25 blog most viewed in the world and it is not by chance. Italians are realizing that the only form of information available for them is on the web and they go to Beppe’s blog to see the news of the day. Beppe is a comedian by trade and he is leading a new social revolution right from the net, he explains the news the way TV news should do. I am with him all the way through. I am against everything that has represented Italy in the past 25 years or more. They have failed and unfortunately they all had second and third chances, they failed again and repeatedly.

Italy is a country that has had 65 governments in the past 62 years of Republic. Why is that?

Italy is the country of Alitalia the worst airline I have recently flown with. Alitalia had a buyer 6 months ago, it was Air France, they wanted to pay us good money, they agreed to take all the debts and the losses and promising to keep the redundancy number at 2000 people and promised to keep the name. The offer was the best on the market. Italy did not accept it because the previous government was in crisis and we went to elections just after Air France made its move. As soon as elected, Mr. B granted 300 millions Euros special loan to Alitalia to make it survive a few more months and he said that he had the buyer for the Alitalia, and presented 16 old fashion opportunists (Benetton with them) to buy Alitalia with new terms.
The offer from the government was excellent to my ears, all the losses and the debts into one company called Alitalia B, all the assets, the concessions and the aircrafts into another Alitalia A. The greed of the 16 opportunists made the deal go bust; they did not just want to axe 7000 employees instead of the 2000 from Air France but they wanted to pay one third of the current salary to the remaining. Union said no, Alitalia risks closing soon for the happiness of some other opportunists who is ready to buy the assets at a cheap right from the liquidator. Would not we be happier with Air france? Gosh yes.

Italy is the country that does not speak english.
We do not speak english and we are out of this world because english at school is just ridiculous. I do not understand why the politicians do not make this a point.

Italy is the country of the garbage scam, the governor of my region, Mr. Bassolino in his 8 years terms failed to plan a solution for the garbage system in the Napoli area. Napoli was invaded by garbage because the authority did not know what to do with it. They could not collect the garbage for months and months because they did not know where to stock it. A sustainable recycling plan is years away. A dream. Although this was a huge failure and the police are investigating the responsibilities, Mr. Bassolino is still there, getting a huge salary and being the governor of Napoli area. He says he does not have responsibilities.

Italy does not need just a logo and new promises; It needs a change. Italy needs a revolution from within. A social revolution. A cultural revolution. An emotional revolution. A new political establishment with a whole new mind to use the Daniel Pink words. Italy needs a change from the hearth. Italy needs to be able to dream again and show to the world how beautiful this country is.
Anything done by these people at this moment will have the same opposite effect they expect. They are nuts. Kevin you are too good with Italy when you say that it needs a new Logo and promises, this will make thousand of tourists upset and disappointed because Italy will not deliver. Italy is not ready for a logo. Let's be quiet for now. We do not deserve any publicity at the moment. Let's see how we can start a new era from within. Italy should start now to make a plan and strategy to become competitive in the next 20 years. Starting from better schools and forming the managers of tomorrow. This is my hope that a new Italy is still possible. Thanks for getting to this point in reading it.
ciao. gp.

Sophee McPhee said...

What an interesting perspective. I had no idea Italy had become so blasé about its perceived cultural identity in the 21st Century. In Australia, the Italians are still considered to be fiercely patriotic, and their unique ability to integrate pleasure into every aspect of their lives is iconic. After being exposed to the likes of “Under the Tuscan Sun” and Rodrigo Santoro in “Love Actually,” the entire ‘Lady Boomer’ generation (women aged 50+) is ready to pack up, desert the shores of Oz and kick up its heals in Italy. For us Aussies, Italy equals ‘the good life’.

It’s a tough and interesting situation. How does a nation pick up the pace in the tourism race, when its mystery and attractiveness are embedded in its relaxed attitude? Whatever the solution is, it definitely sounds like the Italians could do with a ‘boot’ up the behind!

GIANPAOLO GRAZIOLI said...

http://www.beppegrillo.it/eng/2008/09/sweetly_travelling_slowing_dow.html

In this case timing is just unreal. Please have a look at this link above, it is from the beppegrillo' blog and it was posted 13 hours ago after I wrote my comment on Kevin's blog about Italy. Beppe talks about Autostrade and the Benetton' businesses. Beppe is suggesting to everybody who uses the motor-way to pay the toll 2 weeks later as there will not be any penalty. Funny? I would say dramatic. ciao gp.

Renato Jannuzzi Cecchettini said...

Hello Kevin, Gianpaolo and Sophee,

Caro Gianpaolo,

Comparto com lei la stessa opinione. I agree with you. But instead all the problems, this names: Armani, Ferragamo, Versace, Fendi, D&G, Bulgari, Ferrari, Fiat, Maseratti, Lamborghini, Piaggio, Ducatti,Alitalia, Parmegiano Reggiano, Prosciuto di Parma, Buitoni, Divella, Barolo, Brunello, Amarone, Valpolicella, Fellini, Mastroiani, Antonioni , all the soccer teams, and uncountable other names they´re all stronger and bigger than the problems of the country.

That´s why, in my opinion, it´s still working. The association with “the good life”, as Sophee posted before, is stronger than anything else. When these brands, and all the others I didn’t mentioned, take awareness and control of what can they do for change the country, Italy will be ranked in first place again. The ATMOSPHERE of Italy can´t be copied by others. Italians can´t ignore it. It means very profitable businesses. It means GDP growth. It means reinforce “the good life” of the Italians that are selling “the good life” to the world. It´s extremely consistent.

I think it’s a question of GENERAL brand management of all Italian brands. They´re all means the same essence.

Auguri!

Renato J Cecchettini

Sophee McPhee said...

Renato,

I agree. Culture trumps government, hands down...what an uplifting notion. Culture is long-term and potentially immortal (well, at least in part). It runs in the veins of its people, and exists in their hearts and lives until the day they forget to cherish it. National administration, on the other hand, is unstable and vulnerable. In the presence of war, governments crumble; but, people’s spirits – they remain strong.

While I am an Aussie, my boss is Italian. Every now and then, he will stumble into work with bloodshot eyes and the enthusiasm of a man who has just had the best night of his life. What did he get up to? He watched the bloody soccer until the sun came up! His life gets put on hold when the Italians are on the field. Your blogs seem just as passionate. Evidently, the ‘Italiano essenza’ is well protected.

Piotr Jakubowski said...

I really hope I will have the chance to go to Italy again when I can truly appreciate it. Last time I was there, I wasn't old enough to care too much. One thing I do remember and always will is the culture and architecture that reflects Italy's history so well. If anything, that has been preserved for years to come.

Could it also be that with the price of tickets going down, and the world opening up that people are looking to other destinations as opposed to the "classics"?