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Are streaming services killing Cinema?

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Facade of the venue where the 74th Cannes Film Festival is taking place in 2021
The 74th Cannes Film Festival takes place from July 6 – 17th, at the French Riviera. | Photo: Marcio Delgado

On its second week, the Cannes Film Festival is a reminder that large in-person events can be hosted in the new normal that is a post-pandemic world. Despite COVID-19 still looming in several countries, its organisers decided to go ahead with the festival by introducing restrictions. Mandatory face masks during all film sessions and putting in place a dedicated Covid test centre providing free tests for all attendees. Remarkably these compulsory tests have returned an average of only three positive cases per day since the festival got underway on July 6th.

The biggest film festival in the world, currently on its 74th edition, is a reminder that there is life beyond our TVs and digital devices in a time when traditional Cinema and streaming services are fighting, daily, for their audiences’ attention.

After 15 months of Netflix, Amazon TV or Apple filling the gap of closed cinemas, can streaming services and cinemas now coexist in 2021 and beyond?

For American filmmaker Spike Lee, who is the President of the Cannes Festival jury this year, things should move back to normal post-pandemic. In the same way people have been making a choice between TV and the big screens since moving pictures were introduced, people will be left with the same dilemma post-Covid.

“Cinema and screening platforms can coexist. At one time, there was a thinking that TV was going to kill cinema. This stuff is not new.” – Lee reminded everyone at a press conference held during the Cannes Film Festival.

For screenwriter Terence O’Toole, cinema as we once knew it no longer exists. And that process might have started way before the first case of coronavirus was spotted in China at the end of 2019.

“I think cinema will survive. But it will now be more of an art house experience – like our current fascination with vinyl records and film cameras. We will continue to need cultural touchpoints that we can look back at as we move forward. Just very recently, Quentin Tarantino purchased the historic Vista Theatre on Sunset Boulevard in Los Feliz and hopefully, historic movie places like this will survive and thrive as so many talented individuals still love and support the medium. Hopefully, the community experience of watching a film in a dark theatre will never vanish.” – believes O’Toole.

The reason people are staying away from screenings may have as much to do with their pockets as it has with a fear of catching a virus.

“For people in their 30s and older, there is a nostalgia of going to the movies. But that nostalgia now ends with ticket prices and the cost of a drink and popcorn. One movie ticket now costs more than a monthly subscription to a streaming service, and a drink and a popcorn for one costs more than the ticket. Taking a date or the family to the movies could cost more than a streaming service for six-months.” – Says Andrew Selepak, Director of a Master’s program in Social Media at University of Florida.

Convenience also plays a big part in the decision process, as Selepak explains: “With streaming platforms, if we don’t like a movie we have just started watching we can easily exit out and find a new one. It doesn’t cost anything more than our monthly subscription. We can even watch a trailer for the film before we start watching it and decide we don’t want to see it and save time. I believe that, for younger people, movies don’t have the same romanticization that they do for people in their 30s and older. This is partly because of the excess of sequels, prequels, and remakes. Besides, we now have big TVs at home – and if we need to pause a movie to get food, use the bathroom, or look up the name of that actor we can’t remember, we can do it without feeling guilty about disturbing others.” – advocates Andrew, whose academic specialisation is in popular culture and media.

Cannes Film Festival has been fighting the corner of films being released as they used to be: in the cinemas. In 2017, the event allowed two Netflix films, Bong Joon-ho’s Okja and Noah Baumbach’s The Meyerowitz Stories, enter their competition for the first time ever. However, the festival then declared that, starting in 2018, all competition films must receive a theatrical release in France. As premiering a film in the cinemas, instead of exclusively for their paying subscribers, didn’t make much sense for an online service, Netflix decided not to return to Cannes.

The show went on for both parties, though. Netflix added more than 36 million new subscribers in 2020 to pass 200 million subscribers worldwide. On the other side, Cannes film festival received over 2500 films willing to compete for a coveted Palm D’or. Only 24 of those submitted movies, less than 1%, made it to the official competition selection.

As long as people continue to pay for streaming services, it is likely that film studios will continue to release media on streaming platforms in order to reach as many viewers as possible.

As lockdown restrictions for entertainment venues comes to an end, it will be interesting to see if people will leave their houses and make a come-back to the cinemas – or if streaming will become our preferred way to watch films, moving forward.

Business

Is it safe to start planning business trips abroad in 2022?

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Young business man arriving at airport
Overall, corporate travel ticket volumes finished 2021 down 43% compared to pre-pandemic levels | Source: ARC

Over the past 20 months, millions of business trips were put on hold or cancelled all together. For some, switching luxury airport lounges for the lounges of their own homes, even when it offered far less entertainment perks, was not a big issue. But for others, travelling as part of a job spec became part of their DNA – and that DNA went through many changes in 2020 and 2021.

“Corporate air travel ticket volumes started to pick up in October as the impact of the Delta variant wore off. Recovery flattened toward the end of the year which is typical given the holidays. Overall, corporate travel ticket volumes finished 2021 down 43% compared to pre-pandemic levels. Our current projections have it finishing 2022 down, once again, at 25% compared to pre-pandemic levels – and we still don’t expect them to hit pre-pandemic levels until late 2026.” – says Jim Allen, senior financial analyst at Airlines Reporting Corporation (ARC), an air travel intelligence and omnichannel providing tools and insights that connect the global travel community.

As not everyone is convinced that they can carry on working from home and, instead, would rather pack their laptop and board their first business trip of the new year, I asked entrepreneurs and professionals, from the travel industry, if it is safe yet to start planning a business trip abroad in 2022. The result was a mixed bag: 30% of those responding to my query posted online on the last day of 2021 are against rushing plans too far from your postcode any time soon. However, over 45% of almost 1,800 people who replied, believe that this is the year they will be dusting off their passport for one or more business trips.

Here are some of the highlights, including the professionals who will stay put for a bit longer, and those ready to go.

 

Postpone business trips if you can
“I was supposed to go on my first business trip this January. However, the current surge of the Omicron variant is wreaking havoc in our lives once again. The back-to-back flight cancellations and COVID-related travel restrictions are changing by the day, while more and more travel plans are getting affected.
If the travel is non-essential, I would advise travellers to postpone traveling until the worldwide COVID-19 situation gets better. If the travel is urgent, make it a point to know all the travel requirements and quarantine protocols. It is also important to practice extra caution when in transit, as a lot of the new cases were transmitted while flying.”

Emily Cooper – founder at luxury Italian menswear brand Oliver Wicks

 

Current necessary logistics aren’t worth the hassle

“Before the omicron variant, I was very optimistic about business trips and thought I could finally meet with some of the partners in person. However, the situation keeps changing and a lot of European countries are closing their borders or tightening COVID-related policies. I think now is the worst time to plan any trips abroad because of the uncertainties and potential existence of new variants. I’m not sure when it will be possible to plan, but I expect to see a similar situation for another 6 months at least. The only option is to plan a week or two in advance, in case of shorter trips. However, this doesn’t mean much because of the necessary logistics for trips, so it’s better to simply avoid traveling for some time.”

Malte Scholz – CEO at software solution company Airfocus

 

Renting a car is still safe

“From a car rental perspective, I would suggest it is very safe. Despite what the last 2 years have thrown at the travel industry, car rentals (when pre-booked) have remained one of the only travel services to offer a full refund up to 24 hours prior to travel, meaning that should your plans change due to personal isolation, airline cancellation or even government travel restrictions, you’ll never be left out of pocket with the rental car. Simply cancel for a full refund as soon as you know of your plans changing.
Equally, if you opt for pay on arrival (common place in the US), if you do not show at the rental counter, there will again, of course, be no charge.”

Phil Partridge – Marketing Manager at rental company Rhinocarhire

 

Some travel insurance will not cover borders being closed

“Pandemic protocols could affect the travel industry for years, so it is important to be flexible and resilient when planning a business trip. With countries re-adding limitations to travel in an effort to stop the spread of new variants, business travelers should be careful of traveling internationally as most travel insurance policies don’t cover when your destination closes its borders. With searches for “business travel accident insurance” up 350% in the past 12 months, ensure that your insurance covers cancellations, lost baggage, medical emergencies, trip interruptions, and delays. As you may need to cancel or rearrange your business trip, make sure to book a refundable ticket. These tickets are at a higher price point but are a good option if you’re uncertain about your travel plans.”

Naveen Dittakavi – CEO at Next Vacay

 

Yes, it can be done safely
Our agency, Haute, plans domestic and international incentive trips for corporations as well as other in-person events, so we are extremely conscious of safety policies for gatherings.

From small groups of 10 people to larger meetings of several hundred, we believe that it is possible to safely travel and meet for business. Throughout 2021, my colleagues and I visited seven countries safely (UAE, Maldives, Belize, USA, Bahamas, Mexico, and Colombia). We were vaccinated, masked, and cautious in crowded places. Although some countries had strict requirements for entry, some had completely open borders with no testing necessary. We had to stay up-to-date on country guidelines and airline policies, and we tried to fly business class where possible to get more personal space on the plane, especially the overnight flights. Having business meetings and seeing local cultural sites was easy – we primarily stayed with outdoor dining, or a private room in a restaurant when we were with a group.

Liz Lathan – Chief Marketing Officer at Haute Companies

 

You could be stranded abroad

“One is not fully immune to the virus even after taking the vaccines. Not only is health the issue but with rapidly fluctuating travel restrictions, it can be a game-changer for your plans. Imagine the borders closing just a few days before your departure. That would change everything, and you will have only a few days to stop things from falling apart. This would be a hectic drama to deal with. Hence, plan with the future in mind and a strong backup. Thus, be careful and alert while you plan trips this year.”

Hilda Wong – Founder at content writing agency Content Dog

 

Be flexible when planning your next trip

“Travel disruptions are likely to continue for the foreseeable future, so it’s important to stay flexible. Make sure you’re up to date on entry requirements at your destination, as these could change before your trip. If you don’t generally purchase travel insurance, it may be a good idea to consider it for travel this year.

We’re still seeing a return of pre-pandemic demand for travel, and there seems to be a reluctance to return to the travel restrictions of the past two years. While the situation could certainly change, it does appear that 2022 will be a better year for traveling abroad.”

Steve Oliverez – CEO at travel comparison website InsanelyCheapFlights

 

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New Year. New Fiscal Quarter. New Goals. New Copy?

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Need new copy for your business? Here’s the thing about copy. It’s not static. It is living and breathing. It should move. It should be growing with you and your business. So…

Is it time for new copy for your business?

Confession time: the hardest copy I have to write, is my own. For my own business. And I’M A COPYWRITER, PEOPLE.

 

It got me thinking about why it’s so damn hard, and what I can do about it.

And then at the end of last year, I decided to buy myself a Black Friday/Cyber Monday/39th birthday/Christmas present: COPY SCHOOL. *cue violins, unicorns, and hearts floating out of a sea of chocolate in the middle of Bilbao*

Copy School is the greatest, most awesome, and beautiful wondrous thing I have ever experienced. Okay…apart from that time in Cape Town *wiggles eyebrows*

Whyyyyyyy? Because Copy School is making me a better copywriter. Like, every single day, I get better and better. Here’s what I’m learning. Maybe you can implement some of this into your world when you start looking into new copy for your business. Or…you know…hire me to do it. Because ain’t nobody got no time to write copy, except copywriters.

  1. Research

I always thought I was doing research. Oh, hell, no. I’ve just written a sales page for a summit – and I used Copy School to do it. If I tell you that the amount of research you should be doing vs the amount of research you’re actually doing is, like…well, it’s not the same. You need to do waaaay more research than you think. Waaaaaaaaaaahaaaaaay more. And there are very specific and vital methods you should be employing when you do it. When that happens, your new copy for your business goes from meh to OMFG this is POWAH.

  1. It’s not about you

I say this all the time. I don’t write copy that focuses on the client. But sometimes you get a client who wants their copy to be about them. No. No, no, no, no. ‘Nuff said. You gotta fight that client if you want your copy to convert. And if they still don’t listen? Then you have to put in writing that the copy they’re pushing for isn’t going to yield the results they want.

  1. The power of one

You’re going to want to write copy that focuses on many, many things. Don’t. Remember, your copy isn’t about you. It’s about your reader. Keep it simple, clear, focused. Only explore one thing. Have one CTA. This is extremely important.

  1. Scanners vs the detail-obsessed

Different people read in different ways. Some people LOVE a good, old READ. They plan their first cup of coffee around it. They sit down and read every single word of your email, website, sales page. They want the details. The details make them feel comfortable. Safe. When they have all the information they need, that’s when they can make an informed purchase decision. But other people scan. Me? I’m a scanner. I don’t have time to read every single word on a page. I need to get the important stuff quickly and then move on. So, your copy needs to cater to both kinds of people, mmmkay? Cool.

  1. Emotional vs intellectual buyers

The same thing applies here. Some people are going to buy with their feelings. They’re buying because they want all your many bennies (benefits), and they want to make their lives easier/more chilled/more money-filled/dreamier. Other people want the facts. What are they getting for the price they’re paying? What are the numbers? What’s the ROI? Now, I’m not saying that people ONLY buy with their hearts, or ONLY buy with their heads. We are much more complex than that. But you do need to keep in mind that there is an overlap, so your copy can’t be too much about the benefits or too much about the features.

  1. Specificity

I’m talking specificity with everything. Your ideal client doesn’t just ‘dream of more money and more time.’

They…

‘Are putting their blood, sweat, and tears into their business every single day, trying to make it profitable, while they work overtime, worrying that they’re not going to bring in the bucks, as people constantly ask them “Are you sure this is what you should be doing” and they sit on the side-lines watching other people slam their goals, while they invest in another online course hoping this one will be the one that gets them to six figures (hell, five figures would be a win right now).’

See? Specific. (Oh, and PS, if you do want to give your business’s visibility a boost, here are five ways you can do that.)

Finally …

When done right, copy is your best friend. It can move people through a journey and get them to a solution for their problems. And then? They buy. Try these out when you decide to create new copy for your business. And then take a look at this, and then at this. And remember, research is your BESTIE.

 

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Emirates re-opens premium lounges at selected airports in Europe

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Customers at an Emirates premium lounge
Depending on specific local guidelines in each market, either buffet service or a la carte dining are offered to customers.

Emirates, which has resumed operations to over 90 percent of its pre-pandemic network, is re-opening lounges facilities for first class, business, Platinum and Gold Skywards members. The company, currently flying to over 120 destinations worldwide via its hub in Dubai, will allow customers to use signature premium lounge services at airports in its network, comprising popular destinations across Europe, Africa, the USA and Asia.

Lounges at several airports in the UK, including London Heathrow, Birmingham, and Manchester, are expected to have re-opened their doors for customers to immerse themselves in the pre-flight premium experience by the end of December, while the lounges in London Gatwick and Glasgow will welcome customers in January 2022.

In Europe, Emirates lounges in Germany, namely Munich, Frankfurt, Hamburg and Dusseldorf, in addition to lounges in Milan and Rome, have already re-opened for passengers to enjoy their premium facilities, while the lounge in Paris is scheduled to open later this month.

Emirates’ First Class passengers and Platinum Skywards members can enjoy complimentary access for the first passenger and up to three additional guests, including one adult and two children under 17 in the airline’s lounge facilities. Before flights, passengers in Concourse A can savour the unique flavours of gourmet dishes prepared by chefs in show kitchens, enjoy a drink at the Cigar Bar or let expert sommeliers guide them on the best vintages to indulge in, at Le Clos Wine Cellar. The lounges also feature spa services and shower facilities, a dedicated duty-free shopping area in First Class and a Concierge Duty-Free service in Business Class. Customers enjoying the lounge facilities will also have direct access to boarding gates at the airline’s dedicated A380 hub.

In addition to Emirates’ exclusive lounge experience in Dubai and select airports within its network, First Class and Business Class customers in addition to Emirates Skywards Platinum and Gold members can also enjoy access to 96 partner lounges across its network and benefit from their services before flights, with an additional 15 partner lounges to be phased in. Customers can check availability of lounges before their flights and eligibility requirements for complimentary or discounted access.

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