Thursday, October 20, 2011
So if you or a loved one is a fanatic for the rock band KISS, can there be anything better than the first ever KISS KRUISE presented by Sixthman and Carnival? Heck no!
Shout It Out Loud!!! KISS KISS KISS KISS!!!
I'll try to give an unbiased review so that others can consider these music cruises by Sixthman.
The Cruise left the Port of Miami on October 13th and returned on October 17th on the Carnival Destiny.
Approximately 2000+ KISS fans were on the boat, we heard that the cruise sold out in the last few weeks (our family signed up Day 1, we are sick, sick people).
The cruise was put on by Sixthman out of Atlanta. They put on a series of these fantasy musical cruises. The personnel from Sixthman are young and energetic.
Sail Away Day
At 5pm on the 13th, KISS held a unplugged, unmasked concert on the Lido deck for everyone. The band was supposed to play for 45 minutes, ended up playing for 75 minutes. Completely relaxed, they played a number of tunes that they hadn't played in years.
Then the band held a Q&A with randomly selected audience members who had submitted questions prior to the cruise. Very good event, the band took far more questions than I thought, almost an hour's worth.
Probably the highlight for us were the concerts in the Palladium Lounge. Every cruiser was given at least one ticket with assigned seating. It was a great venue. Paul Stanley made the remark it was like taking them back to playing in a club. Not many KISS fans have seen the band in this type of venue, and it paid off. KISS played mainly songs from the 70s, and with 1000+ screaming fans who knew every word, it was quite the atmosphere.
We were fortunate enough to be selected to get tickets for the second show as well, and the band mixed up the set list, again going to some songs they had never played live before. The sound on the second show was improved from show one, but both were equally good. Great venue to see your favorite performers.
Sixthman does a good job of rounding up other bands to come along on cruises and you really couldn't walk through the halls without some old favorites (Skid Row) and new and upcoming bands playing throughout the night. Just depends what your taste in music is like, but you had multiple opportunities to see the 4-5 other bands on the ship.
Craig Gass from the Howard Stern show performed two shows, we attended both. Impressed with both shows, we had never seen him before. Definitely worth seeing if you get the chance. The second show had an opening comic that was horrific in our opinion, I think the name was Skippy Greene, just not up to snuff.
Other KISS Events
I won't do this section justice, but Sixthman arranged a number of events for KISS Fans such as:
KISS Pajama Party
KISS Halloween Party
KISS Movie Night (Detroit Rock City)
KISS Karaoke (multiple nights)
KISS Kasino Night with the Drummer Eric Singer
KISS Miniature Golf with the Guitarist Tommy Thayer
KISS Tatoo contest
All well attended from what I could tell, some challenges with the Pajama party being a bit chaotic and the fans acting like children. But you had your share of events to attend.
KISS Photo Opportunity
Every person was granted a chance as part of a group of 6-8 to get their picture with KISS. They spread this over two nights for the entire ship. In every fan's mind it could have been more personal, but with 2000 plus fans, the logistics make it difficult. We were one of the last groups on the second night and it was like being shoved into the picture then yanked out with a shephard's crook. We could have had Abba stand behind us and not known. But the picture came out ok, just wish my 12 year old had a better chance to meet the band (so did 1997 others).
Days on Shore
We stopped at Half Moon Cay and Nassau, standard cruise excursions, although I loved Blue Lagoon Sea Lion Adventure in Nassau.
You pay a premium to be near the folks you idolize which we did for our 12 year old. He loved it, was actually worn out by the last full day. Again, wish it would have been more personal, but that's a wish.
We were actually impressed by Carnival Destiny. Maybe we expected the worst having never been on a Carnival cruise, but they exceeded our expectations. Everything was very smooth.
The Sixthman group has something good going. They are young and energetic, and with that comes some immaturity amongst their staff. I've shared that feedback with them after the cruise, but they keep it lively, not only on the ship, but with communications prior to the cruise.
Rumor has it that the KISS Kruise will continue on next year. We might go back depending on what's new and different about it.
YOU WANTED THE BEST, YOU GOT THE BEST, THE HOTTEST ROCK BAND IN THE WORLD.
Friday, October 7, 2011
Airline travel, no surprise it crowded, uncomfortable, expensive, and you're lucky if you get to where you are going on time. Everything from a pillow to a ply of toilet paper is charge for today.
So as I was traveling this week, I wondered which Customer Service Braniac came up with the idea below? What is the actual message that they are trying to convey and to whom? (apologize for the poor quality photo)
So for example, the 30-40% of the customers flying first class or having frequent flier status get to use the lane with the red sign, while the other 60-70% of the customers must settle for using the blue lane, which are a whopping 10 inches from each other.
I have actually seen gate agents move up and pull the little rope across the "red lane" when they were done with the first customers who boarded the plane.
Imagine how the rest of the rest of the passengers felt, made to walk under the lowly blue sign. If only they had flown American for 30 segments or 25,000 miles that year, they could walk in the red lane.
My point in this besides showing the absurdity of this perk for frequent fliers is that if anything it alienates those who don't fly as often AND don't necessarily have brand loyalty. They have a choice.
When I used to fly United religiously, they could have beat me with a cattle prod as i boarded, because I was still going to fly them and wanted to maintain my status and miles with them.
Seems to me, the airlines should be catering to those who do make a choice.
I'd love to hear some of your examples of things you've seen that are customer service in reverse. Please use the comment section below.
Wednesday, October 5, 2011
We all do it I think to some extent. We push our kids to use this expression, and hope it stays with them for the rest of their lives. Its a phrase that we probably don't tell our spouse or significant others enough...
Its a very powerful phrase, and as adults, we don't use it enough. Think about its uses
Appreciation - Letting someone know what they did meant something to you
Recognition - Used in a large group, can single out someone for their work or efforts
Difuser - Think about heated arguments you've been in, and how even though you might be angry at the other person on the phone, interjecting thank you can diffuse the situation at times.
Courtesy - Shows that you are a courteous person, may make the other person think more highly of you.
I've been traveling a lot the past 4 weeks, and I always say Thank You to the flight attendant and to the pilot at the end of the flight, no matter how long, how uncomfortable the flight was. Because when dealing with a jet fuel filled machine that goes 500 mph, the alternative to them not doing their job well, is the end of this blog (think about that)....
So make it a goal next week to say Thank You to 3 people (just 3) that you wouldn't normally say that to and see how it works. See how it makes you feel. Then tell someone else to do the same.
Saturday, October 1, 2011
So Season 2 of Extreme Couponing is on again. People buying hundreds if not thousands of dollars of merchandise for less than 10% of the retail value.
Hundreds of packages of soda, Ramen Noodles, etc. etc. etc.
So despite the over the top production, it has had an impact on our family. In what started out as a way for the kids to make a few bucks a week has turned into a hobby/quest for us.
We've gone from clipping a few Sunday paper coupons and hitting up Walmart the same day, to buying coupons from clipping services, using CVS and Kroger cards to the max, to making multiple purchases during the same visit at the store.
The impact for the Saathoff family has been about 35-45% savings at the checkout, if not more. We now no longer shop at Walmart, instead choosing to shop at a collection of Meiers, Kroger, CVS (yes CVS), Walgreens, and occasionally Jewel.
Many on the show have a "stockpile" of items, some in the hundred thousand dollar range. We too have a stockpile, in the $100 range, but its there.
When we have had great deals, we've shared the bounty with a local food pantry called the Clare House here in Bloomington, taking multiple bags of food and health and beauty products for delivery.
Probably the biggest change as mentioned before was the use of drugstores such as CVS. CVS is heads and shoulders above Walgreens with its reward system, keeping track of your purchases, and overall customer friendliness.
Our favorite websites are http://www.couponmom.com/ where you can see next weeks sales at stores and sort by the % of savings on an item. We usually start with the FREE items to see if its something we need or can give to charity.
I also use http://www.thecouponclippers.com/ to buy clipped coupons for pennies on the dollar. It allows you to focus on items you want, and buy bulk coupons. It's key to watch for coupons with long expiration dates.
The other change for us is holding coupons to match with the best sale. We've developed a pretty good level of patience on waiting to maximize the value of the coupon, looking to double coupons where we can or match with the best sale.
We've also got a keen idea on grocery prices. We would have never blinked before to pay $3 or $4 for name brand cereal. Now I get tremors when I spend $1.99 a box, its too much.
If you want to know more, feel free to drop me a line or make a comment on the blog. We have a few people at work that share ideas and coupons, and if you want to make a dent on the bottom line, its a good way to start.
So get clipping!!