By: Peter Marshall, Founder: www.trunblocked.com

Hi Everyone

Well I thought I would take a short break from the normal editorial on this site to give you a hint of the last 120 days or so of my time here.

This is a country I love – the scenery, the food, the people, the architecture, the overall quality of life. It’s best to avoid talking politics, though!  In business here there are two things to remember to survive. First, never expect an early decision on anything. And second, always expect a negotiation on price – even on the smallest item. It’s just part of the DNA.

I have the great advantage of having a home in Istanbul, as well as a small apartment in the wonderful resort of Kas which provides a great work/life balance.  

I was in Kas when Covid struck and lockdown imposed.  Everyone here largely abided by the self-isolation rules. But they changed regularly. The one constant was that the over 64’s were targeted – perhaps unfairly – even after the worst was over. For example, in 81 days of permanent home isolation, this age group – of which I am one  – were not allowed out at all. Correction, we were allowed out for no more than 28 hours for the entire period. Over the last three weeks, this has changed to enjoying ‘freedom’ from between 1000 and 2000. The logic here is flawed, however. First, there is always a risk when you are out because you are mixing with all age groups. And second, those now most affected by Covid are in the 18-24 age group. Yet 64+ are deemed to be at risk.

Curiously there are now no restrictions at all for any age group if you are a tourist to the country!

One thing remains, if you are chronically ill – although there is no actual definition of chronic illness anywhere – you are still confined to the house.

Now let’s move on to flying anywhere. Here there is utter confusion as most of the regions are applying different rules. Confused? Anyone would be. First, you need an HES code, a code linked for everyone to their individual travel arrangements. You cannot move without this. So, last week I wanted to travel from Kas to Istanbul. I started with my HES code. I then proceeded to buy a ticket with Turkish Airlines from Dalaman to IST. So far so good. But then I also needed a permit from the local mayoral office or the police to travel from one regional zone to another – even though I have residency here –  to complete the package for successful travel.

Actually I didn’t need this, because I could get a ‘holiday’ travel permit instead, where I had to detail my travel dates, airline, ticket number, hotel reservation number. It wouldn’t have surprised me if they wanted my inside leg measurement! But I did get a code sent to my phone and double checked with the police that all was in order.

So I was ready to travel Or was I? It transpired that Turkish Airlines did not apply my HES code, so another hour’s conversation put that right.  Anyway, the day of travel I had to go to the shuttle location. They had to take my temperature and issue (yet) another piece of paper to say that I was fit to travel. Was that it? No. It was 1000 am and the temperature outside was already 34 degrees centigrade. They took my temperature – twice – and it showed 32 degrees Fahrenheit. Apparently I had hypothermia and was medically about to die.

Shock, horror!

And then I politely pointed to the air conditioning unit, under which we were standing, and suggested that this might be impacting the reading. Yup. After a few minutes, all was good and we were on our way.

When we got to Dalaman Airport two hours later, there was a short line of police checking all papers of cars and individuals entering the airport. I handed mine over and seemed to wait an inordinate time to be given the OK. A little stress here, but all OK.

Then, on entering the airport, another temperature check. I was actually very impressed by the professionalism of the staff, all of whom were properly PPE’d and where everything was fully sanitised. They were all putting on a brave face. Not so good was the clear discomfort of the passengers, most of whom were not masking their mask experience. In domestic departures no one was anywhere near the F & B offering and all were sitting quietly. If anyone coughed, everyone turned around to look at the ‘guilty’ party as if they had the plague. Paranoia in extremis.

I had booked business, but the lounge at Dalaman was not open and there was no food on the plane. Just water was dispensed. For an hour’s journey, that was fine.

Not so good was the fact that, when I booked the ticket, I was not alerted that the in-plane hand luggage allowance has dropped from 8kgs for one bag + carry on to 4kgs only. So I had to wait for my holdall on arrival at IST. Again the arrivals process was seamless, although we had to be bussed from the plane.

Returning from IST was fine. The airport has everything buttoned down.

And then I find out that, as a foreigner, all I needed was a passport and a ticket and all the above brain damage sourcing paperwork was unnecessary. Still, here it’s best to be belt and braces.

So, go on, you define ”new normal”!

I have written before about the myth of the so-called ‘new normal’. That implies a degree of things being constant. Well, the only things that will be constant will be change, so I believe we will be going through a period of ‘new newness’ for some time.

The ‘new newness’ is something I had a lot of time to think about during my self-isolation. There is a clear concern whether existing management at airports and retailers, having been largely cocooned for such a long time, can cope with the new economic climate and the changes in customer behaviours. That is why, with Portland Design, we spent a great deal of time these past months developing the content for a pivotal webinar series: Future Airports: From Here to Where? Staged over two days – September 15 and 16, this series will be no talking shop. As you can see from the Programme Schedule below, each session is designed specifically to provide solutions to repurposing and reimagining the airport experience.
There will be studio panel sessions, pre-recorded interviews and location filming, combined with all things virtual. There will even be some fun segments. There will no platforms for advertisers or sponsors –  no space or time for corporate ‘puff’.
Everything is on the table. Our sole focus is to effect change within the business community and we are delighted to have assembled a remarkable combination of talent represented by the speakers and panellists – from both outside and inside the business. There is a cost, yes, and it’s 60 GBP for the two days. That will be money very well spent.  Importantly, the profits will be passed on to the Duty Free World Council’s Academy to cover newly created bursaries for their online training programme that will be available for the disadvantaged and for those with diverse backgrounds who want to join the business. We want to realise new opportunities for new talent. So please, take up this unique opportunity and REGISTER now here – there are a limited number of places available. 
Peter Marshall

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