Multilingual Business Communication

June 13, 2009

Each day is a holiday

Filed under: internship, Karen Decabooter — meertaligebedrijfscommunicatie @ 10:05 pm

Since April 27, I am working as a trainee at Thomas Cook Belgium (TCB). In Belgium, Jetair and TCB are the leading, well matched,  tour operators. However, most people don’t know that Thomas Cook Belgium does not only represent the brand Thomas Cook. In fact, TCB unites three famous brands: Neckermann, Thomas Cook and Pegase. Bekijk de afbeelding op ware grootte   


  You could describe the marketing strategies of the three brands in a nutshell by stating that Thomas Cook wants to be ‘Delhaize’ among the Belgian tour operators, Pegase compares itself to ‘Rob market’ and Neckermann wants to be ‘Colruyt’ in the Belgian tour operator market. On the one hand, these brands have to join forces in order to beat their common competitor Jetair. On the other hand, you can feel that there is also some interbrand competition within the TCB group. 

I am working at the marketing and communication department of Neckermann, where I get the opportunity to make advertisements and competition forms, to attend meetings, to organize sponsor events such as Q Beach House and to work on research projects, etc. I enjoy working in the touristic sector because you are working together with people who all share the same passion, namely travelling. Moreover, Neckermann is working together with interesting companies such as VRT, Q Music, Sanoma Magazines (Humo), Concentra,etc. Although there are many deadlines, working at Thomas Cook Belgium brings you in a holiday mood every day…

(Karen Decabooter)


April 5, 2009

Carrefour buries GB

Filed under: Karen Decabooter, marketing communication — meertaligebedrijfscommunicatie @ 8:01 pm


A few days ago, Belgian newspapers, including De Tijd and De Standaard,  announced that Carrefour will bury the brand name GB forever. Shortly, the French giant will present itself on the Belgian market with one unique brand name, Carrefour, and with fresh products as its signboard.

Although Carrefour had already replaced the GB labels by Carrefour labels  in the GB supermarkets, these supermarkets still carried the name GB. It took Carrefour nine years to decide that the name GB will disappear forever in all shops. With this, Carrefour complies with the request of clients to use one brand name in order to avoid confusion. It is also a remedy for the fact that the brand name GB has become less popular. Hilde Decadt, who is responsible for the integration of the supermarkets, confirms that 70% of the GB shops will carry the name Carrefour Hyper, Carrefour Market or Carrefour Express by the end of 2009.

In my opinion, this is a good marketing strategy. The past few years, the market share of Carrefour has decreased from 30% to 26%. Keeping in mind that the market share of runner-up Delhaize is 25%, Carrefour definitely needed a new competitive strategy. The name change is coupled with an extension of Carrefour’s own label products and with an introduction of thirty new Carrefour shops. Moreover, € 50 million will be invested in promotions to increase the purchasing power of clients. Since Carrefour cannot win the price battle from Colruyt, the management decided to use fresh products as the company’s signboard. In imitation of its competitors, Carrefour will also introduce an e-shop. In other words, the future of Carrefour looks rose-coloured.    R.I.P. GB. 

(Karen Decabooter)

Fired by Big Brother!

Filed under: crisis communication, employee communication, Karen Decabooter, Uncategorized — meertaligebedrijfscommunicatie @ 1:54 pm

You're fired

Endemol, one of world’s largest television production companies, recently unveiled  a new generation of ‘spectacular entertainment programs’, including the reality show ‘Someone’s gotta go’. The current economic crisis is the source of inspiration of Endemol’s new reality show in which a SME is facing financial difficulties and therefore has to dismiss some of its employees. While Big Brother is watching them, the employees have to decide themselves who should be paid more or less. In the end, one of them is fired by his or her own colleagues.  The rights of the concept have already been sold to the American broadcasting station Fox. Luc Vrancken, TV director at Endemol Belgium, announces that there are no concrete plans yet to introduce this program in Belgium. He claims that legislation and Flemish discretion about pay and dismissals are an obstacle for success.

However, the concept of this TV show has already caused a lot of fuss and controversy. Trade unions cry blue murder and claim that dismissals are no entertainment subject and that good crisis and employee communication are necessary in case of dismissals. I understand their concern and I am also an advocate of a more careful approach in case of dismissals. Which companies will throw good communication principles to the winds and will participate in this sensation-hungry program?

(Karen Decabooter)


Toyota begs employees to return Blackberries

Filed under: crisis communication, Karen Decabooter, Uncategorized — meertaligebedrijfscommunicatie @ 11:44 am


Asking employees to return their Blackberries is one of the economy measures that Toyota Motor Europe has taken to fight against the economic crisis.

Three months ago, Katsuaki Watanabe, senior executive of the Japanese car producer Toyota , announced that it is difficult for Toyota to keep its head above water during the current economic crisis. He announced an expected operational loss of € 1.19 billion for the financial year that ended on March 21, 2009. To make up for these historical losses, Toyota decided to introduce heavy productions cuts and to reduce working-hours in 75% of its production plants. Moreover, general managers will receive smaller bonuses and they will lose a lot of their fringe benefits. 

Two weeks ago, some sixty Belgian managers of Toyota Motor Europe were asked to return their Blackberries immediately. Although Blackberries are useful devices with a lot of e-mail and agenda applications for travelling managers, the communication costs of these devices are relatively high. According to Frederique Verbiest, spokeswoman of Belgacom, telecom expenses are often revised in times of crisis. However, Toyota is one of the first companies that interferes in the use of Blackberries.

It is a question whether this is the most efficient and paying measure to handle the economic crisis. The majority of managers are already addicted to this business toy. “For most of us, it will be difficult to return our Blackberry”, says one of the employees of Toyota Motor Europe. Don’t you think that this will stir strong feelings among managers who will be less motivated to fight against the crisis? Wouldn’t it be a better idea to let them keep their Blackberries and merely economize on future perks? 

(Karen Decabooter)

April 2, 2009

Cities turn into stars thanks to Sultan Sushi!

Filed under: Anja Peleman, company, Jana Mahieu, Karen Decabooter, Kirsten De Weerdt — meertaligebedrijfscommunicatie @ 11:08 am

Nowadays, an increasing number of city governments are discovering the benefits of promoting their city. Therefore, it is not surprising that city marketing is gaining more importance. Most city marketing projects mainly focus on attracting tourists and investors. Think of the city Hasselt, that wants to present itself as ‘The city of taste’ to attract tourists. However, we can ask ourselves whether tourists and investors are really the most important target groups of a city.

ss2 Sultan Sushi, a Belgian production company, believes in another city marketing strategy by mainly focusing on inhabitants. Since they are the producers of the popular television program Fata Morgana, they want to translate this Fata Morgana concept into a creative city marketing project. For those who are not familiar with the program: in Fata Morgana, citizens were challenged to fulfil five assignments in order to win stars for their city.

Sultan Sushi would like to provoke the same emotions and togetherness between the inhabitants with their new city marketing project.  The main difference is that  the assignments will  focus on social responsibility, so the result will be something permanent and beneficial for the inhabitants.

We are looking forward to witness their first city marketing project. Cities, seize this unique opportunity!

(Karen Decabooter, Kirsten De Weerdt, Jana Mahieu, Anja Peleman)

March 29, 2009

Exactly what Gen Y is looking for: Rypple at work

Filed under: employee communication, Karen Decabooter — meertaligebedrijfscommunicatie @ 12:26 pm



The Economist recently discovered a new online feedback tool that allows teachers, students, employees, managers, etc. to give and receive feedback on different topics. The Rypple tool can be used for bottom-up performance management at work.

Mr. Don Tapscott is the author of 12 books concerning the impact of Internet on society including ‘Grown up digital’. He claims that the top-down model of performance management, that  consists of one yearly feedback moment between managers and employees,  is  outdated. Just as they monitor their video games scores, the Net Generation wants to receive regular and interactive feedback at work too. If employers do not engage in a reciprocal relationship with their employees, the generation gap will endanger communication at work.

Thanks to Rypple, short questions and polls can be forwarded to managers, employees, clients or suppliers, who can answer quickly and anonymously. On the one hand, Rypple is an effective tool to get to know your strengths and weaknesses. Moreover, it saves time and money since it is free. On the other hand, older workers may feel intimidated and it may spoil the atmosphere at work since feedback is anonymous and not always constructive.  In conclusion, Rypple may not be perfect and it is still in its experimental phase, but don’t you think it is a useful, complementary tool next to traditional performance reviews?

 (Karen Decabooter)


Remark:  Rypple meets Facebook: On Facebook, you can add the tool Rypple NOW!. Moreover, Facebook Connect allows you to log on to Rypple using your Facebook password, and to bring your social context to Rypple.

November 1, 2008

Telework: death of a nomadic warrior?

Filed under: employee communication, Karen Decabooter — Tags: , — meertaligebedrijfscommunicatie @ 5:31 pm

                                                                  These days, all around the world about 100 million employees are working at home, instead of commuting to the office every day. This phenomenon, called ‘teleworking‘, has consequences for the communication between employers and employees as well as for family communication.

On the one hand, teleworking can be a godsend for some people since it reduces travel time, pollution and office costs. On the other hand, it can turn into a nightmare for others since they are working more hours to ensure colleagues that they are not taking advantage of the flexible system. Research from a business school in Nottingham confirms that teleworking disturbs family communication since other family members e.g. have to give up rooms for office use and since the teleworker can be disturbed by nagging children.

Moreover, teleworking can also lead to communication problems between employers and employees because information exchange and measuring performance cannot be as effective as it is in conventional, face-to-face, working environments. The lack of social contact may turn teleworkers into isolated desk potatoes. Managers could try to keep the team connected by scheduling staff meetings and by using videoconferencing and collaboration software.

 Technologies such as Blackberry, Wi-Fi spots, … promote ‘nomadism’. This term refers to the fact that any place, e.g. a coffee-house, can serve as an office. Separating work and leisure becomes more difficult. Think of couples who are negotiating whether blackberries are allowed in the bedroom or not. Contrary to normal working days that end when people leave the office, a nomad’s working day never stops. In my opinion, commuting and the search for suitable child care are worth the trouble…

 (Karen Decabooter)





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