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Dominica Hotelier Calls for Resignation of LIAT’s Chairman

Mr. Gregor Nassief

Mr. Gregor Nassief

CaribPR Wire, PORSTMOUTH, Dominica, Mon. Aug. 19, 2013: Dominica hotelier, Gregor Nassief, has issued a second letter to LIAT, this time to the Chairman of LIAT’s Board of Directors, Mr. Jean Holder, calling for his resignation.  The letter, titled ‘Blameless and Shameless,’ calls for accountability in “what is probably LIAT’s worst operational crisis in its 56 year history.”   The letter calls on the Chairman to address the issues, and adds: “If you are unable to force the necessary executive changes at LIAT then you must step up to take responsibility for the current crisis.”  The public complaint is enclosed for publication.

August 19, 2013

Mr. Jean Holder

Chairman of the Board of Directors

LIAT (1974) LTD

V.C. Bird International Airport

P O Box 819

Coolidge

Antigua

Dear Mr. Holder:

Re:  Blameless & Shameless

I attempted to reply to your last e-mail dated August 12th, but this time my reply was returned with the message “The following organization rejected your message: owa.liat.com.”  As you have blocked my ability to communicate with you via e-mail, I will respond through this letter.

As a reference, I have attached our e-mail exchanges, including my rejected reply, which you never got.  This is not to expose or ridicule you.  In fact many may see wisdom in your points and arguments and come to your defense.

I, however, do not see wisdom, I see avoidance, apathy and a clinging to the notion that LIAT’s management is not in control of or responsible for what is probably LIAT’s worst operational crisis in its 56 year history.  Worst is that you take comfort in an assumption that we are all better off with LIAT than without it, so we should effectively put up and shut up.  That is, in essence, your attitude and your response.  And despite your promise to reply to my letter “in some detail in the very near future,” to date you have addressed none of the issues raised.

Address the Issues, Please

I refer to my open letter dated August 11th titled ‘Heads Must Roll’ and ask the questions again:

Did LIAT appropriately plan for the fact that pilots had to be taken off line for ATR training?

Did LIAT appropriately plan for the fact that pilots trained on the ATRs could not fly Dash 8s?

Why did LIAT reduce its Dash 8 fleet before the ATRs were fully operational?

Why was such a high-stakes venture undertaken during the peak summer season?

Was there a contingency plan for things not going perfectly?

Your CEO, in what amounts to a letter of apology to LIAT customers, published in the Trinidad Guardian on August 16th, speaks of “severe weather conditions” and “airport limitations.”   Amazingly, the letter ends with “we will be open and honest in communicating with you as we address your concerns.”

Let me ask a direct and open question to you and your CEO:  Of the LIAT flights that have been delayed or cancelled since June 1st 2013 until today, please tell me what percent are due to “severe weather conditions” or “airport limitations?”

Another open question – and this one for the benefit of your ultimate shareholders, the taxpayers of the Caribbean: What has this crisis, since June 1st, cost LIAT in terms of having to pay for passenger overnights, food, ground transportation, chartered flights from several other Caribbean carriers to move passengers around, overtime hours, additional contracted crew and so forth?

And then there is of course the unimaginable economic cost to the region as a result of this disaster.  Imagine a class action law suit where everyone claimed for lost time, missed connections and mental anguish.  Imagine the tourism industry stakeholders of the various islands being part of the suit and claiming lost revenue?

A recent couple visiting Dominica for a vacation experience who suffered greatly at the hands of LIAT wrote us the following: “We truly enjoyed the island and we have been to many of the neighboring islands as well. Each has been a different and equally pleasant experience but we will not be back if LIAT is the airline we have to fly. The people of the Islands may not have a choice but we do and our choice will be to go somewhere where we are treated better by the airline and have a fighting chance of getting to our destinations reasonably on time.”

Multiply this by thousands and thousands.  Do you begin to understand the damage and what is at stake?

Your CEO, the key decision maker at LIAT responsible for planning the Dash 8 to ATR transition, who has finally apologized but who has taken no direct responsibility for the planning and implementation errors that have occurred, continues to hold his position.

My letter of August 11th also outlined three incidents/areas where I believe LIAT’s public relations has been disastrous.  Your only response to this has been: “I agree that in the circumstances our PR has not been as effective as it should be.”  Your Commercial & Customer Experience Director, the depth of your indifference to what your customers are suffering, continues to hold her position.

If you are unable to force the necessary executive changes at LIAT then you must step up to take responsibility for the current crisis.

Napoleon once said: “To get power you need to display absolute pettiness; to exercise power, you need to show true greatness.”   I ask you to put the pettiness aside, show true greatness, and resign.  Resign because it is the honorable thing to do, resign because it will set an example of accountability to the sitting and future Directors and Executives, resign because the people of the Caribbean and the visitors to the Caribbean need to see that after the more than two months of suffering that LIAT has put them through that at least one person stands tall, takes the blame and feels the shame.

In Closing

Let’s roll back the clock.  It is June, 2013, and LIAT’s latest edition of Zing Magazine has just hit the back pockets of passenger seats.  Your Commercial & Customer Experience Director opens the issue with: “We are looking forward to a fantastic summer of service.  We hope you’ve realized by now that LIAT is about one thing: YOU!  Yes, this year is the Year of the Customer and we want to make you feel special by giving you the service you deserve.”

How did we get from there, to here?  Oh yes, right, “bad weather,” “airport limitations.”

It is time to care.  It is time for change.  Heads must roll.

Respectfully Yours,

Gregor Nassief

Owner/Director – Secret Bay

Executive Chairman – Fort Young Hotel

ps:        To the staff of LIAT.

A recent visitor wrote to us: “If the governments of the Island who own the airline required that senior management spend some time at the counters dealing with passengers it would at least give these managers a true incentive to improve because the issue stems from the top and not the lower level employees.”

The few moments of calm I experienced in my own tribulations over the last two months were given to me by a member of LIAT staff at the check-in counter in Dominica and an air stewardess on a flight from Trinidad.  A caring attitude, a caring smile and clear communication.  I thank them for this.

I appeal to LIAT’s staff not to fall temptation to work stoppages and strikes.  You will simply be moving the victims – your customers, LIAT’s reason for existence – from the torture chamber to the electric chair.  You will be joining your management in not caring.  Instead, join the call for an executive shake-up at LIAT.

It is time to care.  It is time for change.  Heads must roll.

cc:        LIAT Board of Directors

Prime Ministers of Antigua & Barbuda, Dominica, Barbados and St Vincent & the Grenadines

=== EMAIL EXCHANGE BETWEEN DOMINICA HOTELIER & LIAT CHAIRMAN ===

=== FIRST E-MAIL BELOW IS THE REJECTED E-MAIL THAT NEVER REACHED THE CHAIRMAN ===

=== e-mail addresses and telephone numbers removed ===

From: Gregor Nassief

Date: Tuesday, August 13, 2013 10:11 PM

To: Jean Holder

Subject: Re: Letter to the LIAT Board of Directors

Dear Mr. Holder,

My family arrived last night, and I was very happy that their arrival was only 26 hours late under the circumstances.   Really – no sarcasm – I was relieved.  Many have suffered much worse.  Thanks for your note of concern.  It is appreciated.

I think our e-mail exchanges are not productive, and it is better we speak.  There is a significant disconnect.  From your perspective, your example below of the ATR being down for maintenance proves your point that LIAT management is not responsible while I believe it perfectly proves my point that LIAT management is responsible.  As stated in my letter, had LIAT planned all of this properly, had you contracted pilots to support the transition, had you not returned Dash 8s before the new fleet was operational, had you put in place solid contingency plans, then such an event as what you outline below would not bring the airline to its knees.  Your executives ignored the advice of many, including your pilots, but you refuse to deal with these issues.  Proper planning would have cost LIAT much less and what this crisis is now costing you.  Who is responsible?  I still await a detailed response to my letter.

If you are not prepared to force executive changes at LIAT then you should gracefully step down and take responsibility for the crisis, and let someone who thinks they can make a difference step up.  If I am managing a business in crisis, and I do not feel I can put things right, that everything that goes wrong is beyond my control and ability to improve, then I am in the wrong place, and I need, for the benefit of the business and its customers, to step aside.

Your statement below is interesting: “I hope that when your turn for judgement comes you find a judge with more milk of human kindness than you seem to demonstrate.”  If you, your CEO and your chief commercial officer had such human kindness, you would step aside out of consideration for your customers.  Where is your kindness to them?  As for my kindness, I had a lot of it, more than most, until LIAT sucked it out of me – consistently, dependably and ruthlessly.

My telephone number is below for future communication if you wish to speak, or meet.  I am more than willing.  This is not personal.  I simply believe that the people of the region, and our visitors to the region, deserve better – much better.  It is time that LIAT’s management is held accountable.

Gregor

1 767 XXX XXXX

From: Jean Holder

Date: Tuesday, August 13, 2013 2:32 PM

To: Gregor Nassief

Subject: RE: Letter to the LIAT Board of Directors

Dear Mr Nassief

Let me begin as is proper to express my sincere regret for the experiences of your wife and family and I very much hope that they have reached home. I understand your concern and even your anger.

We are not in any disagreements about the broad principles of management and holding staff at any level accountable. There is a lot of work to be done at LIAT and changes to be made. More work is going on in this area than you seem to know.

I also know the value of encouraging staff and not publicly bashing them, especially when they are being attached on every side.

We  seem, howeve, to have some difficulty agreeing on what situations are, and what are not, caused by incompetence and at what level.

Let us examine a real and existing case. An LIAT airline with brand new engines and 68 seats arrived in Barbados on Sunday. That airline can move 68 persons at a time and is programmed to do 6 sectors. It is quite capable therefore of making a significant contribution to reducing the backlog of passengers all over the system-north and south- caused by other breakdowns.

When it lands there is a puff of smoke in one engine and oil is leaking. An examination by experts  reveals that a new   engine is needed. It has to be flown into Barbados and the plane cannot be ready for re-entering the operation until next Saturday 17th August. Incompetence? No. Very bad luck.

LIAT does everything in its power to deal with the backlog , including wet leasing aircraft. Even this proves difficult as all airlines are stretched at this time.

The impact of this, added to less traumatic incidents,  is that several people remained stranded both at Barbados and at other destinations. The struggle to move them continues but there is progress being made.

Once people are stranded you seem to judge the cause as major incompetence by LIAT’s management and wish the axe to fall.

I hope that when your turn for judgement comes you find a judge with more milk of human kindness than you seem to demonstrate.

Have a Good Day

Best Regards

Jean Holder

From: Gregor Nassief

Sent: Monday, August 12, 2013 1:12 PM

To: Jean Holder

Subject: Re: Letter to the LIAT Board of Directors

Dear Mr. Holder,

Thanks for your reply.  At this moment, my wife Sandra, and our two Children Gaston (8) and Manuela (6) are stuck in St. Marteen as the flight (LI 509) was cancelled last night.  Just a moment ago, LIAT informed her that she could travel tonight to Antigua, and then hopefully to Dominica on Tuesday.  What should have been a 1 hour flight is unfolding into a 36+ hour journey.  This is happening every day, day after day to hundreds, possibly thousands of passengers.

My letter to you and the board deals with executive incompetence at LIAT and the issue of accountability.  This is the matter I would like addressed by you and the board.  The issues are specifically outlined in the letter.  Do you hold your management accountable for the current situation as well as the PR blunders?  And if so what will be done about it?

I am not questioning the decision to buy new ATRs nor am I discussing whether Dominica and LIAT are better off with or without each other.

As long as the board and the executive believes that LIAT’s problems are beyond their control, and that the region on balance is better off with LIAT, then we will get nowhere.  We need a board and an executive team that feel that they can make a difference and they can operate an efficient airline that provides great customer service.   We all understand weather delays, and the fact that safety trumps all else.  We do not understand executive incompetence like what has been demonstrated over the past 8 weeks.  This is what I would like addressed.

My choice should not we whether I want to live with LIAT or without it, it should be whether I want to live with an airline that provides disastrous service or one what provides great service.  I along with the entire Caribbean of course choose the latter.

As you know, any turn around at any organization, private or public, begins at the top.

I would be happy to speak with you as well to discuss the issues.

Regards,

Gregor

From: Jean Holder

Date: Monday, August 12, 2013 9:19 AM

To: Gregor Nassief

Subject: RE: Letter to the LIAT Board of Directors

Dear Mr Nassief

I wish at this time to acknowledge receipt of your email of 11 August 2013 and the letter attached.

I intend to reply to it in some detail in the very near future.

First, however, I wanted to apologize without delay for the problems faced by you and your customers and to any one who has been inconvenienced by LIAT’s present difficulties.

Having been in this business first for 15 years as Head of the Caribbean Tourism Research and development Centre, then another 15 as Head of the Caribbean Tourism Organization and almost 10 as Chairman of LIAT, I appreciate that the customer is always right and I apologize if for any reason whatever LIAT has not been able to deliver what it promised. WE are hard at work to deal with the present difficulties and to deliver a better service.

I mention my experience because I am no stranger to Dominica’s challenges over some 40 years with tourism and air transportation and am willing to have either a private or a public discussion about it with you.  In experiencing the difficulties you mention it is easy to forget that LIAT has stuck with Dominica whence all others have fled for many decades and that in more recent times as American Eagle has left LIAT has supplied the connection to San Juan thus helping to maintain the connection with the students-  a lifeline to Dominica.

The arguments you presented about the ATR and the timing of its introduction sound very familiar to me and this is not the first time nor you the first source from which I have heard them, almost word for word.  There are other technical arguments for a contrary position.

Moreover, unless you are dealing with these matters every day, it is impossible to fully understand the chaos which is caused in a complicated network like LIAT, if at the beginning of every day 3 or 4 planes of your relatively small fleet break down and throws out the schedule. Recovery is difficult. This has happened consistently at LIAT. I noticed that in your letter there is no mention of the times that our pilots who make the very challenging landings at Dominica have to contend with weather and sometimes have to divert to another airport for the safety of the passengers. I agree that in the circumstances our PR has not been as effective as it should be.

The question to you is, would you take the responsibility of waiting until there is a major disaster and people die, to replace the old planes? You fortunately do not have to make the choice.

Finally, If LIAT did not fly to Dominica at all would you be better off?

Let us continue to speak, privately if you wish, or in  public. I believe you will find that on balance LIAT has done Dominica more good than harm.

Best Regards

Jean Holder

From: Gregor Nassief

Sent: Sunday, August 11, 2013 9:30 PM

To: Jean Holder

Subject: Letter to the LIAT Board of Directors

Mr. Holder,

Please find attached a letter to the LIAT Board of Directors.

It is being forwarded to the media.

The damage that has been done to the region and especially to Dominica over the last 2 months is extensive.

It is a call to action for you and your Board to hold your executives accountable for their actions and I hope it is taken seriously and acted upon.

Best Regards,

Gregor Nassief

Owner/Director – Secret Bay

Executive Chairman – Fort Young Hotel

EDITOR’S NOTE: Gregor Nassief is involved in the tourism business in Dominica and the technology business in Latin America.  He is the Owner and Director of Secret Bay, the Executive Chairman of the Fort Young Hotel and the CEO of Tecsys Latin America.

ANTIGUAN-BORN ALPHONSO LAKE APPOINTED AS CHIEF INFORMATION OFFICER OF ELITE ISLAND RESORTS

Mr.  Alphonso Lake

Mr. Alphonso Lake

DEERFIELD BEACH, Fla. – August 16, 2013 – Robert Barrett, chairman and CEO of Elite Island Resorts, proudly announces that Antiguan-born Alphonso Lake has been promoted to Chief Information Officer (CIO). Formerly a systems and operations manager for the company, which is both a sales and marketing leader for the Caribbean travel industry and Antigua’s largest employer, Lake begins his new role effective today.

Lake’s rise to this executive-level position is a testament to his hard work and career-long commitment to the Elite Island Resorts brand. He began his professional journey in the 1990s as a young waiter at the St. James’s Club and Villas and quickly worked up the ranks. After various roles at several of the company’s Antigua resorts, Lake sought higher education in computers and technology. He continued his work at Elite Island Resorts’ corporate office in Deerfield Beach, Florida, while attending Florida Atlantic University where he earned a degree in information technology.

“Alphonso has been and is an integral part of our daily global operations that serve all customers, vendors, suppliers, resorts and employees,” said Elite Island Resorts President Steven Heydt. “He is a valuable asset to our company not only for his creative patchwork fixes but also for his ability to think outside the box to make our systems more efficient. We are fortunate to have him on our executive team and look forward to his contributions in this new leadership role.”

A high-res image of Alphonso Lake is available for download at the following link until August 21, 2013: https://www.hightail.com/download/bWJvTkZzcklqV0JWeHNUQw.

About Elite Island Resorts
Elite Island Resorts represents an impressive collection of unique beachfront properties in the Caribbean. Each Elite Island Resorts property provides something unique to fulfill travelers’ desires, with offerings ranging from destination weddings or romantic escapes to family retreats or eco vacations. Resorts include: St. James’s Club & Villas, The Verandah Resort & Spa, and Galley Bay Resort & Spa all in Antigua; St. James’s Club Morgan Bay, Saint Lucia; Long Bay Beach Club in Tortola; Palm Island Resort in St. Vincent and the Grenadines; and The Club Barbados Resort & Spa and Ocean Hotels in Barbados. For more information visit www.eliteislandresorts.com or call 800-858-4618.

# # #

Media Contacts:
Claire Kunzman / Shannon O’Malley
Cheryl Andrews Marketing Communications
claire@cam-pr.com / shannon@cam-pr.com
305-444-4033

The World’s Largest Message-in-a-Bottle is Lost at Sea

– Ask Caribbean locals to keep their eyes open

OSLO, Norway, Aug. 14, 2013 /PRNewswire/ – The story of the high-tech 30 feet long message-in-a-bottle, which uploaded pictures while crossing the Atlantic, has gained attention world wide, but last Sunday the bottle lost its satellite connection. Now the bottle is in the proximity of the Caribbean islands and the company behind the project is asking people in the area to keep a look out.

(Photo: http://photos.prnewswire.com/prnh/20130814/634061-a )

(Photo: http://photos.prnewswire.com/prnh/20130814/634061-b )

(Photo: http://photos.prnewswire.com/prnh/20130814/634061-c )

The giant bottle was released to the ocean currents outside of Tenerife on March 15th. Besides its own twitter account (@solosoftdrink) it comes with state-of-the-art tracking equipment allowing fans to follow its progress across a world map online, along with a 360 degree camera taking photos every eight hours. But after last week’s heavy sun storms, the satellite connection is down and the company is for the moment not able to get updates on the bottle’s whereabouts.

“We are asking for people in the area to keep a lookout and notify us with any information,” says Joakim Sande, CEO of Solo, the Norwegian soft drink that is behind the project.

“As soon as the bottle drifts ashore and the finder gives us a call, we will come right down and throw him or her a celebration party,” says Sande.

Safety precautions

All kinds of security measures have been taken to ensure that the bottle will not be of danger to others at sea. It has AIS, navigation lights and is built in radar reflecting material that cannot sink.

“We believe Solo is the best soda in the world, but unfortunately not enough people outside of Norway have had the chance to taste it yet. Deciding who should be the lucky ones to get a taste was too heartbreaking, that is why we decided to leave it to the ocean currents in the first place. With the satellite connection lost, it has become an even more authentic message-in-a-bottle and it will definitely be interesting to see where it comes ashore,” says Joakim Sande.

On Solo.no/en people can guess where the bottle ends up. The winner receives a bottle of Solo per nautical mile the bottle drifts, which at the moment of disappearance was a whopping 3539 bottles.

Lost contact

If you have any relevant info about the bottle’s whereabouts please call +47 22069480 or notify Solo on their Facebook page.

“It has been one week since the last position relay. Now we hope to hear back from passing ships or someone spotting it from the air – or indeed if someone should find a big yellow bottle on their local beach,” says Sande.

The world’s largest message-in-a-bottle was launched five months ago and was consequently voted the world’s best PR-stunt by adsoftheworld.com in April. It was expected to cross the Atlantic in about 70 days, but has taken its time – more than 150 days have passed so far.

For more information, contact Joakim Sande, CEO of Solo: joakim@solo.no // (+47)95-43-92-87.

Free video and photos can be downloaded here: http://www.multivu.com/mnr/58710-solo-worlds-largest-message-in-a-bottle

National Safety Council Launches New Driver Safety Program in the Caribbean

Global safety leader introduces driving course for countries that drive on the left side of the road

ITASCA, Ill., Aug. 13, 2013 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ – The National Safety Council, a global leader in driver safety training for almost 50 years, has launched the NSC Defensive Driving Course – Left Side of the Road for the Caribbean nations. This course is designed specifically for motorists who drive in countries with road systems that pass oncoming traffic on the left side.

(Logo: http://photos.prnewswire.com/prnh/20130530/MM23334-b)

“Driving safety is a major global issue,” said Roger Marks, President, International Safety Council (a division of the National Safety Council). “Recognizing that about 30% of the world drives on the left side of the road, the Council felt the need to create this program to better keep people safe in more places around the globe.”

The Council operates in over 100 countries and has certified DDC training centers in 28 countries around the world. DDC-LSR is modeled after the same defensive driving principles that shape the world-renowned NSC DDC 8/6 Hour (9th Edition) program. Participants of the course will learn:

  • Practical knowledge and techniques to avoid collisions and violations
  • Sensible advice for choosing safe and responsible driving behaviors and habits
  • The importance of occupant safety devices and how to use them correctly
  • Guidance for dealing with difficult driving conditions, distractions and fatigue
  • Skills to recognize how attitude can help prevent accidents and improve decision making

To learn more about the DDC-LSR program, or how to become a certified training center in your area, please visit nsc.org/lsr.

About the National Safety Council
Founded in 1913 and chartered by Congress, the National Safety Council, nsc.org, is a nonprofit organization whose mission is to save lives by preventing injuries and deaths at work, in homes and communities, and on the road through leadership, research, education and advocacy. NSC advances this mission by partnering with businesses, government agencies, elected officials and the public in areas where we can make the most impact – distracted driving, teen driving, workplace safety, prescription drug overdoses and Safe Communities.

Connect with NSC:
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Dominica Hotelier Calls for Executive Changes at LIAT

CaribPR Wire, PORSTMOUTH, Dominica, Mon. Aug. 12, 2013: Dominica hotelier Gregor Nassief has issued an open letter to the Board of Directors of regional airlines LIAT calling for an executive shake-up, insisting that “heads must roll.”  The letter complains of disastrous customer service over the past two months as well as disastrous public relations and the damage this is causing to the region and to fragile economies of island states like Dominica so dependent on tourism and the airline’s service. The public complaint is enclosed for publication.

August 12, 2013

Board of Directors

LIAT (1974) LTD

V.C. Bird International Airport

P O Box 819

Coolidge

Antigua

Dear Directors:

Re:  Heads must roll

I respectfully ask you, on behalf of the people of the Caribbean, and the people that visit the Caribbean, and especially on behalf of the people of Dominica who depend on LIAT for their travel and also for their tourism industry, to enforce significant change in the executive ranks at LIAT.

This request is being made first because of 8+ weeks of disastrous customer service which continues to this day due to lack of foresight and planning on the part of LIAT’s executives, and second because of LIAT’s disastrous public relations which has revealed the depth of your executives’ indifference to your customers.

It is your duty to hold your executives accountable for their actions and performance.

Disastrous Service

There has been a complete breakdown in service for over 2 months now, which I and most persons traveling LIAT have experienced.  Here is a list of incidents:

Date Flight Number First name Incident
Aug 11 509, SXM to DOM Sandra & family Flight cancelled
Aug 11 364, BGI to DOM Johan Left 4+ hours late
Aug 11 523, DOM to BGI Janet Left 2+ hours late
Aug 8 310, POS to DOM Gregor Left 55 minutes late
Aug 7 726, POS to DOM Dennis & family Left 2+ hours late and family had to overnight in BGI before getting to DOM the following day
Aug 7 590, DOM to POS Gregor Left 2+ hours late, arrived just before 2 AM
Aug 4 565, SJU to DOM John & Susan Flight cancelled, arrived on the 6th
Aug 4 565, SJU to DOM Melissa Flight cancelled, arrived on the 6th
Aug 4 523, BGI to DOM Jack Arrived 11 hours late
Aug 3 310, DOM to SXM Monique Arrived 11 hours late, missed connecting flight
Jul 23 362, DOM to ANU Shane & Adam Arrived 8 hours late, missed connecting flight to London
Jul 23 364,  BGI to DOM Gary & family Arrived to Dominica 8 hours late
Jul 23 704, POS to DOM Gregor Arrived 4 hours late
Jul 19 362, DOM to SLU Anne Left 8 hours late
Jul 15 361, DOM to POS Gregor Left 2 hours late
Jul 13 563, ANU to DOM Jenny & Brett Arrived 4 hours late
Jul 13 563, ANU to DOM Nick & wife Arrived 3 hours late
Jul 13 563, ANU to DOM Robert & wife Arrived 3 hours late
Jul 20 561, DOM to SJU Robert & wife Left 4 hours late
Jun 21 512,  GEO to DOM Mahadeo, Rudolph, Tomesh, Doodnauth Flight cancelled for 3 successive days, arrived DOM on 24th
June 15 509, SXM to DOM Justin, Mario & Fitzroy Flight to DOM rerouted to ANU, 1st overnight in ANU, sent to SLU, 2nd overnight in SLU, arrive to Dominica on the 17th instead of 15th

20+ incidents in less than 8 weeks related to one island and connected to one person (the affected passengers include me and those known to me).   And none of these are related to Tropical Storm Chantal or bad weather.

LIAT introduced the new ATR aircraft in early July.  Your executives were well aware that pilots operating the new ATRs could not also operate the Dash 8.  LIAT also knew that before the ATRs began operating, pilots would have to be taken off line for training.  LIAT also returned Dash 8s that were on lease before the ATRs were operational.  LIAT went into their peak summer season with the implementation of new aircraft and with the full knowledge of what they were doing and of the risks involved.  There were no contingency plans, and everything fell apart.  The result is too few pilots and too few aircraft to adequately meet the demand and cover the routes.  The results have been a disaster for the region, and especially for Dominica (68% of our arrivals by air are on LIAT).

The inability to properly plan such a major event and to put the airline and its employees and especially its customers through such chaos, further damaging the reputation of LIAT and that of the tourism industry which it serves is, in to my mind, gross negligence. Who pays for the damage done to each customer, and for the damage to Dominica and its tourism industry, and to the region?  Who is accountable?

Do you believe a visitor traveling to the region for a hard-earned vacation can separate LIAT’s disastrous service from the rest of their experience?  Do think they will return or encourage others to come?

So many that work so hard to bring visitors to our region and to our island cannot and should not continue to the pay the price for the incompetence and actions of your executives.

Disastrous Public Relations

Your CEO has gone on record only once, as far I can see, explaining the crisis as follows: “an increase in unscheduled maintenance at a time when our schedule calls for maximum aircraft availability; crew shortages; bad weather; airport limitations; and delays in obtaining licences for operating our new ATR aircraft in some territories”.

Your Chairman has focused on maintenance issues with the old Dash 8s being the heart of the problem.

This is only part of the truth – poor planning and implementation is the crux of the matter.  It is a great disservice to your ultimate shareholders – the people of the Caribbean – to not deal with the crisis truthfully and clearly and to ensure swift correction action.  Who is accountable?

In the most baffling public relations event that I have ever witnessed, your Chief Commercial Officer responded via a YouTube video to a customer complaint letter which was publicized by Richard Branson.   Your executive said that “LIAT is second only to Virgin to receive the funniest complaint letter every written” and challenged Branson to a race to Necker Island saying that “the loser can wipe the other airline’s tail” or Branson can dress up as a flight attendant for LIAT.

This is your top marketing, commercial and PR executive, the face of your organization, the depth of your indifference to what customers suffer, and for me, the lowest point in my perception of what LIAT stands for.  Who is accountable?

Your customer-facing staff, who through this crisis have had to work incredible hours and deal with an unimaginable number of irate clients, are clueless as to what is happening operationally on a day to day basis.  They are typically unable to answer customer questions as to when or if a scheduled flight will arrive or depart.

Your customer-facing staff are your public relations link to your clients and are your best hope of lifting clients up in their moments of despair, yet your executives give them no information and no tools to manager your most important asset – your customers – through this crisis.  Who is accountable?

In Closing

A friend once said to me that the secret to a stress-free life is simply to lower your expectations, that way you are never disappointed.   I didn’t have to lower them, LIAT’s service to me and several people connected to me, did that for me.  LIAT did it consistently, dependably and ruthlessly.  Through a crisis like this, LIAT could have recovered at least to some extent the understanding and trust of its customers, through clear, honest and appropriate communication and public relations, followed with decisive action, all of which would have demonstrated that LIAT cares, that you care.

But do you care? Do you care about LIAT’s customers who get on and off its planes every day?  Do you care about the disruption to their personal and professional lives caused by LIAT’s incompetence and indifference?  Do you care about the damage LIAT’s poor service and reputation does to the fragile economies of island states like Dominica so dependent on tourism and the airline’s service?  Do you care that your customers are not getting what they pay for?  Do you care that your customers do not travel LIAT by choice, but because they have no other choice?  Caring for your customers is the first step and the raison d’être – the reason for existence – of a business.

It is time to care.  It is time for change.  Heads must roll.

Respectfully Yours,

Gregor Nassief

Owner/Director – Secret Bay

Executive Chairman – Fort Young Hotel

EDITOR’S NOTE: Gregor Nassief is involved in the tourism business in Dominica and the technology business in Latin America.  He is the Owner and Director of Secret Bay, the Exeuctive Chairman of the Fort Young Hotel and the CEO of Tecsys Latin America.

See more at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kFPNSAVt9qY and http://www.scribd.com/doc/159417966/Letter-to-LIAT-Board-of-Directors

Jamaica’s International Jazz Pianist Brings ‘One Love’ Vibrations To Dizzy’s Club Coca Cola, NYC

Jamaican-Born Jazz Great, Monty Alexander.

Jamaican-Born Jazz Great, Monty Alexander.

CaribPR, NEW YORK, NY, Tues. Aug. 6, 2013:  Monty Alexander, Jamaica’s legendary, international jazz pianist, will celebrate the 51st independence anniversary of his homeland with a return to Dizzy’s Club Coca Cola in New York City from August 14-18, 2013.

Alexander and his Grammy-nominated Harlem-Kingston Express band,  will soar with his positive vibrations of ‘One Love and Upliftment several stories above the expansive vista of Central Park at Dizzy’s Club Coca Cola at Jazz at Lincoln Center in the Time Warner building, 10 Columbus Circle in New York City.

Show times each day are at 7:30 and 9:30 p.m., respectively.

The musician, whose 50th anniversary album, “Harlem-Kingston Express: Live!” was nominated for a Reggae Grammy and won rave reviews from The Wall Street Journal, The London Evening Standard and Jazz Times among dozens of other media houses, will return to his home state of New York from performances  in Seattle, WA.

Tickets for The Dizzy’s show are $40-45 and can be obtained by logging on here or to https://jalc.org/dizzys/events/event/av-136063#.UcSCc5wmwdo

“This is a celebration of my Jamaican roots and of Jamaica’s 51st anniversary of independence and I look forward to seeing my Caribbean music fans in the house,” said Alexander. “My band and I will be celebrating the vibes of one love and positive upliftment.”

Jamaica’s Commander of Distinction and ‘Luminary Award’ 2012 recipient, will next head to Ozawa Hall in Lenox, Massachusetts for an August 25th performance and celebrate Labor Day Weekend, August 29th to September 1st with the ‘Monty Alexander Jazz Festival’ in Easton, Maryland.

About Monty Alexander

In a career spanning five decades, pianist Monty Alexander has built a reputation exploring and bridging the worlds of American jazz, popular song, and the music of his native Jamaica, finding in each a sincere spirit of musical expression. In the process, he has performed and recorded with artists from every corner of the musical universe and entertainment world: Frank Sinatra, Tony Bennett, Ray Brown, Dizzy Gillespie, Sonny Rollins, Clark Terry, Quincy Jones, Ernest Ranglin, Barbara Hendricks, Bill Cosby, Bobby McFerrin, Sly Dunbar, and Robbie Shakespeare, among others.

Alexander’s collaborations span multiple genres, styles, and generations. His projects have been as varied as assisting Natalie Cole in her tribute album to her father, Nat “King” Cole in 1991 (the resulting album, Unforgettable, won seven Grammy awards), performing George Gershwin’s “Rhapsody in Blue” under the direction of Bobby McFerrin at the Verbier Festival in Switzerland, and recording the piano track for the film score of Clint Eastwood’s Bird, a movie about the life of jazz titan Charlie Parker.

In August 2000, the Jamaican government awarded Monty Alexander the title of Commander in the Order of Distinction for outstanding services to Jamaica as a worldwide music ambassador. Two collections were released in 2011 that capture the excitement of Monty Alexander’s live performances around the world: Uplift, a trio album on JLP Records, and Harlem-Kingston Express on Motema Music.

Harlem Kinston Express: Live! was singled out by both the recording industry and fans and received a Grammy award nomination in 2012.

In the summer of 2012 Monty Alexander was awarded the prestigious German Jazz Trophy, “A Life for Jazz” and in November 2012 he received the Caribbean American Heritage Luminary Award from the Institute of Caribbean Studies in Washington, D.C. For more on the Caribbean’s greatest jazz pianist and his music visit www.montyalexander.com.

Guggenheim Expands Its Global Dialogue with Phase 2 of the Guggenheim UBS MAP Global Art Initiative

Pablo León de la Barra Appointed Guggenheim UBS MAP Curator, Latin America

NEW YORK, Aug. 2, 2013 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ – Richard Armstrong, Director, Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum and Foundation, today announced that distinguished independent curator Pablo León de la Barra has been selected as Guggenheim UBS MAP Curator, Latin America. He is the second curator to have been chosen to participate in the Guggenheim UBS MAP Global Art Initiative, an ambitious collaboration between the Guggenheim Museum and UBS that was launched last year.

(Photo: http://photos.prnewswire.com/prnh/20130802/DC54198)

Through the Initiative, the Guggenheim is engaged in a multi-year effort to identify and support a network of artists and curators from three major regions—South and Southeast Asia, Latin America, and the Middle East and North Africa—in a comprehensive program involving curatorial residencies, acquisitions for the Guggenheim’s permanent collection, international touring exhibitions, and extensive educational and online activities.

Pablo León de la Barra will undertake a two-year residency in New York, where he will work with the Guggenheim’s curatorial staff to identify recent artworks by artists of Latin American origin that reflect some of the region’s most significant contemporary cultural practices and ideas. Artworks chosen by León de la Barra will enter the collection and form the basis of an exhibition planned to open at the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum in 2014 before traveling to two international venues.

León de la Barra was nominated by a committee of five esteemed experts on this region: Magalí Arriola, Curator, Fundación Jumex, Ecatepec de Morelos, Mexico; José Falconi, Fellow, Department of History of Art and Architecture, Harvard University; Gabriela Rangel, Director of Visual Arts and Chief Curator, Americas Society, New York; Ana Sokoloff, art advisor, New York, and Yolanda Wood Pujols, Director, Center for Caribbean Studies, Casa de las Américas, Havana.

About Pablo León de la Barra

Born in Mexico City in 1972, Pablo León de la Barra earned his Ph.D in Histories and Theories from the Architectural Association, London. He has curated or co-curated more than a dozen exhibitions over the past decade. In London, he was founding member of 24-7, a collective of artists and curators (2002–05), artistic director of Blow de la Barra Gallery (2005–08), and founder and co-curator of the community art space White Cubicle Gallery (2005–12). He is also the founder of the Novo Museo Tropical, and was the curator of the first Bienal Tropical in San Juan, Puerto Rico (2011). León de la Barra serves on the advisory committees of the Cisneros Fontanals Art Foundation, Miami, and the Fundación Luis Barragán, Mexico. In 2012, he received the first Colección Patricia Phelps de Cisneros Travel Award for Central America and the Caribbean. For a complete bio, please visit
www.guggenheim.org/new-york/about/staff-profiles/curators/pablo-leon-de-la-barra.

About Guggenheim UBS MAP Global Art Initiative

Launched in April 2012, the Guggenheim UBS MAP Global Art Initiative is a multi-year collaboration that seeks to stimulate dialogue and creative interaction both regionally and globally through curatorial residencies, public and online programming, and collection building. The program is designed to reflect and augment the Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation’s distinguished history of internationalism.

Website:
guggenheim.org/MAP

UBS Website:
ubs.com/Guggenheim

Social Media:
twitter.com/guggenheim
facebook.com/guggenheimmuseum
youtube.com/guggenheim
flickr.com/guggenheim_museum
foursquare.com/guggenheim

For updates on the Guggenheim UBS MAP Global Art Initiative, follow #GuggUBSMAP on Twitter.

For translations of the media release in Arabic, Brazilian Portuguese, Chinese (traditional and simplified), German, Spanish, Basque, and Italian, visit: http://www.guggenheim.org/new-york/press-room/releases/5551-maplatinamericacurator

For publicity images, visit: guggenheim.org/pressimages User ID: photoservice Password: presspass

CONTACT: Betsy Ennis/Lauren Van Natten, Guggenheim Museum, +1 212 423 3840, pressoffice@guggenheim.org; Amy Wentz, Polskin Arts, +1 212 715 1551, wentza@finnpartners.com; For inquiries about UBS Corporate Communications: Karina Byrne, UBS Americas, +1 212 882 5692, Karina.Byrne@ubs.com; or Dominique Scheiwiller, UBS Switzerland, +41 44 234 84 28, Dominique.scheiwiller@ubs.com

Verus International receives support of Central Bank of Barbados

BRIDGETOWN, Barbados, July 22, 2013 /PRNewswire/ — The Central Bank of Barbados has confirmed that any misunderstanding regarding the status of Verus International has been clarified and resolved.  Verus International is in good standing to conduct its business in Barbados.

In making the announcement, Governor of the Central Bank DeLisle Worrell explained, “Verus International has met all the criteria to operate as a private investment firm.”  He added, “The Company has been licensed under the International Business Companies Act in Barbados since 1999, and is approved to conduct business here.  We value Verus International’s long-standing presence in Barbados and are grateful for their vision and commitment to the region.”

Ajmal Khan, Chairman and CEO of Verus International, was pleased any miscommunication is now cleared up and reiterated the Company’s commitment to Barbados and continued investment in the Caribbean.  Mr. Khan explained, “Verus International has operated in Barbados for 15 years.  We appreciate the professionalism and support of the Central Bank of Barbados in this matter.”

Verus International, a leading diversified global investment group based in New York and Barbados, invests across multiple sectors including Energy, Infrastructure, Real Estate, Education and Health & Wellness.  Having already made significant investments into Real Estate, Hospitality, and Sports and Entertainment in the Caribbean, the Company is seeking additional opportunities in the Caribbean that leverage its global relationships and generate significant economic development for the region.

Diplomatic Service Dog Opens Doors in Cuba and Fetches Cuban Student

Bergin University of Canine Studies Awards a Cuban Scholarship

ROHNERT PARK, Calif., July 19, 2013 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ — Bergin University of Canine Studies Project Fidelity promotes International relations by awarding a scholarship to a Cuban student.

(Photo: http://photos.prnewswire.com/prnh/20130719/DC49381)

Bergin University of Canine Studies (BUCS) is the only fully accredited college in the world that offers degrees in Canine Life Sciences. Cuban scholarship recipient Beatriz Amparo Labrador de la Osa has arrived at the Rohnert Park, Ca. campus. She has dreams of returning to Cuba and working to better the lives of the disabled by introducing the Assistance Dog concept in her native country. Beatriz fondly recalls Booster, the yellow Labrador retriever Service Dog who travelled to Cuba twice in recent years to demonstrate what he can do to help people. Booster travelled to Havana, Cuba as an ambassador for BUCS Master’s student Davis Hawn’s Project Fidelity.

According to Hawn, “My Project Fidelity sought to project fidelity between two Cold War adversaries utilizing my Service Dog Booster to prove my thesis that dogs are a social lubricant. With International help of Canadians and Bahamians we ventured into Cuba not speaking a word of Spanish. Booster was so successful that we met myriad leaders of organizations for the disabled. Booster removed the socks from a paralyzed man’s feet and we later appeared together on live educational television in Havana! The International relations spawned by my dog and a canine related education opened doors of enlightenment that I never previously envisioned. My life began at Bergin University.”

“In recognition of the warm Cuban reception we received I offered a scholarship for a Cuban dog lover to come to the U.S. to learn to train Assistance Dogs. The Cuban animal welfare association ANIPLANT introduced me to Beatriz. I was instantly impressed by her overwhelming love of dogs. She is currently attending BUCS’ classes under the tutelage of Dr. Bonita Bergin the founder of the Service Dog concept and Canine Companions for Independence (CCI). Beatriz  plans to open the first Assistance Dog training facility in Cuba and aptly name it The Booster Center in honor of my now cancer stricken dog Booster. I am so honored. I welcome any inquiries about my Project Fidelity and BUCS related educational experiences.”

“None of this would have been possible without the International help of Canadians and Bahamians. A Canadian firm, Cuba Education Tours arranged many important meetings. Bahamasair flew me with Booster at my feet into Havana and as a direct result Bahamasair now accommodates Assistance Dogs on all flights. When I fell in love with a homeless Cuban street dog, Canadian airline Airtransat flew him to Toronto free of charge. The little dog is Booster’s step-brother and his name is Fidelity!  I welcome any inquiries about my Project Fidelity and BUCS related educational experiences. My experience with both has created life-changing passion. “

Bergin University of Canine Studies attracts students from all over the world. Historically, students have come from 16 countries seeking a canine related education.  They aspire to implement canine related programs in their native countries. BUCS faculty, staff and students work together to create novel programs utilizing canines to help humans. For example, the BUCS program Paws for Purple Hearts teaches war veterans to train dogs for other disabled veterans in order to help them reintegrate into society when they return home. Anyone interested in attending classes, lending a hand, or donating is encouraged to contact the university.

For more information, please visit Bergin University of Canine Studies (BUCS)
http://www.berginu.edu/contact.html
707-545-3647

Caribbean Trade Mission Trip To China Planned

The Chinese panel at the 2013 Avalon Invest Caribbean Now forum on June 5 in NYC. (Hayden Roger Celestin image)

The Chinese panel at the 2013 Avalon Invest Caribbean Now forum on June 5 in NYC. (Hayden Roger Celestin image)

CaribPR Wire, NEW YORK, NY, Fri. July 12, 2013: Caribbean governments and top private sector executives in the tourism and investment sectors are being urged to participate in a 10-day trade mission to four top cities in China, set for this September 14th-23rd.

The trip comes on the heels of the June 5th Avalon Invest Caribbean Now Forum in New York City and is being planned by Peter Zhang and Li Li of the Chinese American Business Development Center, in collaboration with Hard Beat Communications’ CMO, Felicia Persaud.

CABC has been leading trade missions for U.S. companies to China for the past 10 years while Hard Beat’s Invest Caribbean Now forum is in its third year.

The planned trip to Beijing, Shannxi , Zhejiang and Guangdong comes on the heels of Chinese President’s Xi Jinping first visit to the Caribbean island of Trinidad on May 31st and his pledge of more than $3 billion in loans to 10 Caribbean nations and Costa Rica on June 2nd.

The 2013 Caribbean/China Trade Mission is designed to help Caribbean premiers, ministers of governments, investment agencies and C-level private sector business leaders, meet with top Chinese officials from varied ministries, such as tourism and finance as well as  C-level company execs  including from the China Import Export Bank, to: promote  direct in country investment opportunities and company products and services; establish strategic connections, strengthen existing relations, explore opportunities for joint ventures, source potential suppliers and extend friendships and create relationships for return visits to the  Caribbean region.

The Mission will provide Caribbean governments and business leaders’ new access and close-up insight into the dynamic Chinese market— including its scale, diversity and potential.

Consequently,  the Chinese ministry and private sector executives will  be able to enhance  and expand business and investments to the Caribbean in their quest to  compete effectively in today’s global marketplace.

China’s 1.3 billion people are rapidly gaining purchasing power. In fact, by 2020, China will surpass the U.S. in middle class consumption. And as quickly as China is emerging as a new market for Caribbean real estate and products like tourism.

For event details and participation in the trip contact Felicia Persaud at felicia@caribpr.com.