retail news in context, analysis with attitude

Responding to pieces that Michael and I wrote this week about USA Today and the passing of its founder, Al Neuharth, MNB user Clay P. Dockery wrote:

After reading Michael's commentary along with Kevin’s “prequel," I have to offer a differing opinion on what made USA Today special.  That newspaper was a LIFELINE to me when it launched!  I had recently completed a move to an unfamiliar part of the country and as an avid fan of news in print, I quickly subscribed to the local paper.  I found the section about national news to be of value, but little else.  The connectivity that USA Today provided BC (before computers) was immeasurable for someone who craved a chance for a quick scan of “local news” that was a distance away.  It wasn’t the pictures, the weather map, or the color on a previously known black and white entity that counted; it was the synopsis of relevant news to me that I could not get any where else.

And MNB user Bryan Silbermann added:

Bravo Michael for focusing us time-starved, attention-diminished mortals on the long run view envisioned by Al Neuharth.  The quote from "The West Wing" – “There's been a time in the evolution of everything that works when it didn't work" – reminds me of the lovely line from the delightful movie The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel…. "Everything will be all right in the end... if it's not all right then it's not yet the end.”

Bonus points to Bryan for a movie reference.




Regarding Amazon's investment in TV pilots and its letting consumers decide which ones will get turned into series, one MNB user wrote:

Appreciate the value of Amazon's democratizing program evaluation - BUT -  if sheer numbers become the criteria, it seems we're on the path to more bottom-feeding 'Two and a Half Men' clones at the expense of shows like 'Arrested Development' that might take more than a pilot episode to get traction.  Maybe there's a difference between optimizing merchandise and optimizing art.

Maybe.

On the other hand, Garry Trudeau of "Doonesbury" fame is behind one of the pilots, and that's hardly bottom-feeding talent.

I haven't seen any of the pilots yet, but I'm going to make an attempt to do so when I can.




I cited the use of 3D printing technology the other day to build a house in Amsterdam, which prompted one MNB user to write:

If it took a reader to bring your attention to this -- I can't even begin to tell you how far behind you are on this subject. 3D has been exploding in applications for some time now. This is not news.

Maybe not. But using it to build a house seemed to be pretty innovative.




Regarding technological solutions to personalizing the hotel experience, MNB user Jeff Folloder wrote:

Not sure if I am looking forwarded to the technological advances of the hotelier world.  One tends to crave the *human* touch when one is away from home so as to make the experience less antiseptic.  True story:  I used to travel to the DC area near Dulles airport about every 6 weeks.  Always took the same flight that got me into Dulles in the late evening.  Always got to my room at the Reston Hyatt with not enough energy to go forage for food. Two times in a row I ordered a Caesar salad and matzo ball soup from room service.  Some enterprising manager noticed this and the third (and subsequent) time I showed up, room service met me as I was getting to my room.  Nice touch!  There has never been a hotel to match that performance in my experience.  And I have been in a *lot* of hotels.  So I will hope that the human touch stays engaged in this particular vertical...

From another reader:

I have to say, if I went to the front desk asking for advice and was handed an iPad, I’d likely be pretty P.O.‘ed.

Firstly, I’ve got my own smartphone and could do that myself.

Secondly, I’ve likely researched the area prior to arriving.

If I go to the staff seeking recommendations, it’s because they LIVE in the area; they are familiar with it and can tell me which restaurant is going to have the best food, the worst service, etc. Rather than taking a couple minutes to have a friendly conversation with the guest, rather than making that connection that the guest will remember and appreciate, handing them off to a piece of technology seems to me like giving them the cold shoulder. It says, under the guise of modernity, "I don't have time for you, do it yourself."


And MNB user Ken Pentheny chimed in:

I thought the concept was interesting also, as you said.  However, when they start using a robot names Rosie (from the Jetsons cartoon) to wait my table or clean my room, I am drawing the line.  I think we need to be looking at technology to help us accomplish tasks in our daily life, but not at the expense of human contact.  There is a lot to be said for talking to a real live person.

Agreed.
KC's View: