Yell Group’s Rebrand as Hibu not Pain Free Online

hibuYell Group, that’s the debt-laden paper-based directories business and publisher of the Yellow Pages in the UK, managed in May to rebrand itself as a term which yields some not so family friendly results in Google Image Search  reports the Standard.

Here’s the link which is NSFW even with Moderate SafeSearch enabled.

The group which thinks the best way to organise advertisements in its directory is by who has inserted the most “A” characters in front of their business name and messes up waste paper recycling was sold by BT for an incredible £2.14bn in 2001 back when only a third of the UK had access to the Internet.  By 2002 closer to two thirds of the population were online according to the World Bank, and there-in comes the inevitable demise.

The company which runs the shrinking directory owes £2.2 billion and is only worth £28 million according to the FT (bypass Paywall).

When they moved from YellGroup.com to corporate.hibu.com they didn’t even implement 301 redirects properly on many internal pages of their site so their entry on Wikipedia is full of broken links in the references section.  Perhaps they need to buy one of their own digital packages which includes “search marketing services” or read something better than their own SEO advice section (all I could find there about redirects was something recommending that you register 3-5 domains and 301 them all to your main site in order to ‘grab more website traffic’).

As an aside – One thing I find absolutely ridiculous is that the company currently has its advertising prices regulated and restricted to increases at the rate of inflation! Like paper-based yellow directories that is a legacy from a bygone era!

A Comparison of Orange Juice Serving methodologies in European Hotels and Guesthouses

Orange JuiceOrange juice is a staple of many a hotel breakfast. Because of its ubiquitous nature a wide variety of serving methods are currently used to serve this vitamin-C rich fruit extract. This article examines 5 solutions observed in practice in European cities.

Single glass of Orange juice for each guest placed on their table ahead of their arrival.
Pros: No equipment needed
Cons: What if another guest steals your drink before you get up, most self respecting travelers will require more than one glass of juice to start the day.
Verdict:  Cheap to provide but underwhelming.
As experienced in:  Amsterdam

Closed top jug, self service from buffet table.
Pros: Simple equipment, able to have as much or little juice as you desire.  You can’t drop toast in the jug.
Cons: Jug size meant regular refilling of the jug was required.
Verdict:  Best for small guesthouses.
As experienced in: Berlin

Self-service urn-style dispenser automatically refilled from large refrigerated tank.
Pros: Juice didn’t run dry at any point or need attention from staff other than a brief glance when the wandered past.
Cons: High set up cost.
Verdict:  Minimal demands on staff time during the busy breakfast period and rapid drink pouring rate.  High throughput coupled with larger installation costs means this is the best system for large high occupancy hotels.
As experienced in: Prague

Standard urn of orange juice.
Pros:  Ability for guests to serve themselves as much as they like at a good speed.
Cons: Lack of chilling means juice is likely to warm as it sits waiting to be released from urn.
Verdict:  A real low-tech solution to the age-old How best to serve Orange Juice at a hotel breakfast problem it works well so long as the urn is of sufficient size.
As experienced in: Vienna

Push button vending machine combining Orange juice concentrate and water.
A button press results in juice being diluted and dropping from a nozzle into a glass the guest has hopefully positioned correctly.
Pros: concentrate means refilling does not require the manual transportation of vast amounts of heavy liquid.  Customers can (in practice) obtain sufficient juice for their vitamin-C rich hydration need.
Cons:  

  • When concentrate runs low juice is dispensed in an increasingly diluted state through drinks with the constituency of orange squash to water.
  • Each press of the machine releases a programmed amount of liquid which is unlikely to sufficiently fill the provided glass.
  • A delay means it is not possible to activate pouring multiple times in rapid succession, prolonged the serve time per customer.
  • Splash.  The liquid falls a fair way between the machine and base of the placed glass.
  • In practice hotel staff were slow to identify Orange squash syndrome and replacing the concentrate seemed to require a needlessly complicated procedure, including flushing out remaining water in the system between concentrate hopper and nozzle

Verdict: Poor guest experience, demands staff time, though savings on buying concentrate.
As seen in: Mestre

So, if you’re looking to set up a hotel or guest-house, you now have something to work off…

Photo: oranges & juice 5 by helter-skelter (CC BY-NC-SA 2.0)

Europe 2012: Amsterdam, Holland

Amsterdam

A city of canals, bridges, crazy paving, fixed gear bikes, weed and hookers.

Everything is made of brick.  Almost every single inch of the city is paved with rectangular bricks of various size.  There aren’t many parks and barely any tarmac.  Buildings leaning at scary angles and surfaces paved with hexagonal bricks are as exciting as it gets.

Bricks in Amsterdam Road

Leading brick building in Amsterdam

The bike is king.  They are everywhere, most with high wide handle bars and without gears or brakes.  Kids sit in wheel-barrow type contraptions affixed to the front of bikes and dogs/shopping in a crate on the back.  Some of the bikes are nicely decorated with flowers.

There are lots of canals.  They run in a series of semi-circular rings around the city centre with some narrower perpendicular connections.  Consequently there are a lot of bridges over which bikes, pedestrians, trams and cars must compete to cross.

The pavements are too narrow. We weren’t even there at the weekend which I imagine is busier.  Grade separated cars, bikes and pedestrians – pah!  In practice at least.  Along the canals pavements are mostly on a single side only – right in front of the houses, separated from a road in most places wide enough for a single lane of traffic only.  Not that there is much traffic aside from cycles and scooters on these lanes.  Sounds ideal until you actually try to walk on the pavements, avoiding steps down to doors below street level, bikes which seemingly can be parked pretty much anywhere and bags of rubbish.

There aren’t many cars which is good and those that are on the streets must wait for trams to get out their way.  Trams ring a bell to alert cyclists and pedestrians that they are about to mow them down.  When you cross the road at a pedestrian crossing the button emits a sounds which suggests you are getting mowed down by a machine gun.

Most buildings were 5 or 6 stories tall, very little rose higher than this which is rather unusual for a European capital city.

And yes the smell of weed emerges from coffee shops and spills out on to the street and the Red light district is as cringe-worthy as you predict.

Getting there: Very simple.  We flew out to Schiphol and took the 197 bus into Amsterdam, cost €4 and took about half an hour.

Where we stayed: Hotel Kooyk (1 star guest house). Old building by a canal with sloping floors downstairs, rather chaotic check-in process but all went well. It wasn’t very busy when we went, the shared bathroom facilities on our floor were always free. During the night the Amsterdam Schiphol airport flight paths must have changed since loud planes were coming in/taking off every couple of minutes in the morning but not during the previous evening/night.

Free open WiFi was surprisingly hard to find around the city.  Our budget hotel was looking to charge 10 Euros a day for access!

Breakfast: 3 choices of bread, butter, jam, cheese slices, 3 ham/salami, very nice coffee, hard boiled egg, help yourself, single small glass of orange juice.  My friends incredibly were nowhere near as hungry as me.

Getting around: The center is fairly compact and perfectly walkable.

Onward Journey (ease of using Interrail):
On our onward journey (to Berlin) reservations weren’t necessary, no additional fees to pay we just turned up and traveled (after checking in the station information kiosk moments before).  There were several other English speaking inter-railers in our carriage on the way to Berlin.

Double Decker Train in Amsterdam
Double-Decker Train

The first stage of our journey was provided by a double-decker train, like so many others serving Amsterdam Centraal.  Since we don’t have these in the UK we of course headed straight upstairs even though we were only going a couple of stops. Spacious, clean, comfy and about a quarter full we took seats around a central table.  An LCD screen at the end of the carriage switched between displaying journey information and a live stream of the Olympics.

A free Dutch newspaper even enabled us to see that team GB had bagged 2 more gold medals since we had left home early the previous day!

Europe 2012: Interrailing

I have recently returned from 11 days interrailing in Europe with 3 friends from school.

Photos on Facebook if you’re my friend, but I will be blogging about the cities we visited here over the coming weeks.

We visited:

  • Amsterdam, The Netherlands
  • Berlin, Germany
  • Prague, Czech Republic
  • Vienna, Austria
  • Venice, Italy

So if you care, you can look forward to reviews of hotel breakfasts and trains…