It may be time for me to re-evaluate a number of aspects of my life. Such thought processes are normally precipitated by an episode of high crisis, which is hardly the way one can describe a 36-hour journey to Winnipeg, even if one’s luggage takes nearly 48 hours to make the same journey. Add to the mix a seven-hour time difference, 3°C temperatures for which one obviously isn’t equipped, dirty clothes against freshly-showered skin, interminable airport experiences, and one does start to get close to a state that, if not crisis-like in nature, is certainly something that suggests a fresh approach should be considered.
Let’s begin with the Edward de Bono-type solution. I could sign up with an international pay-per-use service – let’s call it iValet – that keeps track of my clothes sizes and itinerary. iValet would be aware of my itinerary (and the local weather conditions) and would mail the necessary clothing to my hotel. Before checking out I mail the dirty clothes back to them, in the process killing a whole flock of birds. For starters, there wouldn’t be any need to use overpriced hotel laundry. I also wouldn’t need to check any luggage (I wonder if there’s any chance of the airline giving me a rebate for that?), which then couldn’t go missing. Perhaps I could even wear Ted Baker shirts every day, without having to splash out £90 each?
On the other hand I could pretend to be an advertising or music industry type, which would enable me to standardise on a wardrobe of black t-shirts, black jeans, black jacket and appropriately utilitarian black shoes. Two weeks’ worth could easily fit into carry-on luggage (but I’d have to start bringing home gifts to my collection of colourful shirts, which may get very grumpy with me). I could – of course – also stop travelling, which at the moment I’m not quite ready to forego!
On the subject of carry-on luggage, I’m amazed at how few players in the greater toiletries industry have made any effort to cash in on the 100ml maximum size for liquids, aerosols and gels. The majority of my preferred bathroom arsenal is not available in sizes smaller than 125ml. And companies complain that sales are slowing down!
Back to Winnipeg, where our wine sales keep growing (OK, only in 750ml units). I’m here for their annual Wine Festival, which is expected to draw 6500 consumers over the course of the weekend. On the opening night I was chatting to the very gorgeous woman responsible for marketing the Saskatchewan liquor/wine stores (she was here to get some ideas in preparation for holding similar events there). She asked me how this event was different to similar ones elsewhere in the world, and was amazed when I told her that wine drinkers are the same wherever one goes. OK, so those at the Decanter Fine Wine Encounter in London (which we took part in earlier today) may ask more challenging questions, but basically whether it’s Cape Town, Johannesburg, Tokyo, Beijing, Oslo or Winnipeg, the people are very similar.
There was a period last night, when people were standing six deep waiting for their turn to get a pouring of The Dark Side, Daisy Darling, Cellar Blend or Happy Dragon, that the 36 hours of travel, lost luggage, immigration officials and airports vanished from my brain. There really is no better cure for jet lag than have all these people come up to the table, using the names of the wines with familiarity and appreciation (if just one woman had thrown underwear at the table I could – even if only for a moment – have pretended that I am in the music industry).
In a sense, what we’ve tried to do with the way that Cloof wines are branded and labelled is to create a group of celebrities, or (aspirant) rock stars. It’s all about bringing character and personality to a lifestyle product with which consumers have a relationship that is quite intimate.
The wine industry – at every step of the process – is built upon relationships. Theoretically there is technology available that obviates the need for me to spend 36 hours getting to Winnipeg, but I don’t believe it truly is a substitute for face-to-face contact (in any case, I wouldn’t want to miss out on that six-deep crush!). Numbers on an income statement are important, but it’s real, live people that spend the money that puts the numbers there.
If only this person could have real, live clothes to wear when he gets to places!