Service with a smile in Shanghai

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Martin Moodie
Martin Moodie is the Founder & Chairman of The Moodie Report.

I’ve arrived in Shanghai for the China Travel Retail Event, being run by Ink and GIS Events over the next three days.

Once again I’ve established a temporary Moodie Report Bureau, this time on the 19th floor of the Marriott Shanghai City Centre with a panoramic view (above) over this enthralling city. I’m working in tandem with my cohort Dermot Davitt (always a dangerous thing in a party town), who’s stationed nine floors above (but that’s another storey, as they say) and the Bureau’s already in full production mode.

I flew in to Shanghai Pudong Airport and was impressed by the signage, cleanliness and efficiency. The small, modest Sunrise Duty Free Arrivals shops (above) were doing good business [compare and contrast China v the European Union: The latter scraps intra-EU duty free back in 1999 on a theoretical, never to be fulfilled platform of fiscal harmony; China introduces Arrivals duty free shopping as a wholly sensible measure to try to ensure a bigger proportion of Chinese travellers’ spending stays in the country].

I love the ‘Very satisfied’ to ‘Not at all surprised’ buttons they have at the Pudong immigration counters (complete with a range of smile to frown icons) so you can rate the friendliness and service of the immigration officers.

Imagine if you had that concept at LAX . If you gave a low rating you might well be incarcerated in San Quentin. Heathrow’s roughly on a par, sometimes worse.

In either location you could change the buttons from ‘Only quite rude’ (the top score) to ‘I wanted to punch his lights out’ (mid-range) to ‘Get me out of this country fast, I didn’t really want to come here anyway and I won’t be back sometime soon’ (the lowest)’. The images would range from tears to a shaking fist to a Vesuvious-like eruption of the traveller’s head.

At LAX a week or so back my opening exchange with a very burly officer (actually they all seemed to be big guys. I read the other day that LA has been without a NFL team for 17 years. Now I know why, they all work for LAX immigration.) went something like this.

(Me) “Good day, Sir.”

“What’d you call me?”

“Er… Sir.”


“Sir.” [Apparently, as my American colleague Jaclyn Wampler tells me, Sir is a no no in that part of the US but compulsory in the south. What’s a man to do?]

“Right… (intimidating frown) Sir (sneer). Tell me your story.”

“Excuse me?”

(Louder) “Tell me your story!”

[After deciding not to start with “I was born on a remote sheep farm in rural New Zealand, the pallid, emaciated son of a sheep shearer and a ewe called Flossie”, I continued] “I’m sorry…”

“Why are you here? What brings you to America?”

Now I could have answered “Because I wanted to see your country, spend some money and help keep you in gainful employment.” But the truth is I didn’t, nor indeed said  anything remotely of the sort. In fact in the face of this onslaught I think I blushed, and stammered out something about being en route to Hawaii on business. Heck I might even have said sorry.

As intimidation goes, this guy was right up there with the best. Having asked for it, the officer looked disinterested in my story, suddenly stamped my passport and said (believe it or not with a smile) “Welcome to America.” Wow, I’d hate to be the guy who wasn’t.

But I digress… on the way out, I looked to see how London Heathrow Airport Terminal 5 is dressing itself up for the Olympics which are about to start in the capital city.

My first stop, as always at T5, was at Expo Gallery, a landside outlet that features some magnificent sculptures and other art works. It’s part of the UK’s artistic journey towards the Olympic and Paralympic games and as you can see from the pictures below, it’s got some exquisite pieces and great imagery.

Airside there was a limited amount of Olympic Games activity on show, most notably a slightly lacklustre Cadbury ‘Go for Gold’ promotion with a pretty unappetising chocolate-coloured medal podium. No medals either for the confectionery display along the way (sorry, an old bugbear), including the dump-stacked KitKat and Toblerone (at least the latter was in gold, I suppose).

World Duty Free’s big windows to the side of its main stores though were a big lift. And I love the image below I snapped of the young man having fun (and perhaps living out his Olympian dreams) on the altogether classier Omega podium.

Half a day or so later I’m in Shanghai and looking forward to what I hope will be a quality event (Dermot Davitt and I are moderating it, though The Moodie Report has no other involvement other than being a media sponsor). We’ll find out soon enough.

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