Afternoon Coffee: Unlimited Vacation, Mac Users vs. Orbitz, the True Value of Consulting Firms

"A more personalized, relevant shopping experience?"
What companies can learn from the Orbitz Mac pricing 'scandal' -- Last week, The Wall Street Journal reported that Orbitz is recommending higher priced hotels to Mac users than to PC users. Apple fans immediately took to Twitter with their outrage and the media was ablaze with follow-up articles condemning Orbitz's discrimination against Mac users. Well here's one more article. However, this article is not going to warn businesses of the ills of treating customers differently, as you may have assumed from the title. No, this article celebrates it. In defense of the travel site, Orbitz's PR firm released a statement highlighting what the company considered an overlooked fact that Orbitz does not show Mac and PC users the same hotel at different prices. The company blamed The Wall Street Journal for burying this fact in the middle of the article, ultimately misleading many readers. However, people seemed to understand this was the case from the very beginning, and yet were still outraged that Orbitz is even recommending pricier hotels to Mac users. Here's why Orbitz is actually doing Mac users a favor.

Can we even process this?
Unlimited Vacation Time Not A Dream For Some -- Rosemary O'Neill's employees weren't sure whether to believe her when she announced a change in vacation policy early this year. "When I said, 'Unlimited paid leave, no strings attached,' there was a moment of, 'Are you punking us? Is this a joke?' " O'Neill says. It was not a joke. O'Neill and her husband, Ted, own Social Strata, a small social media outfit in Seattle. Their business has joined a tiny but growing group: For the first time this year, 1 percent of U.S. businesses say they offer unlimited paid vacation.

What Value Do Consulting Firms Like McKinsey, Bain, Et Al. Really Add To An Operation?
What Value Do Consulting Firms Like McKinsey, Bain, Et Al. Really Add To An Operation? -- I interned at Bain & Co., started my career at McKinsey & Co, worked in the operations/turnaround group at KKR with ex-BCG consultants, worked at an internal consulting function at Bear Stearns, and was an independent consultant to small and medium businesses before co-founding a company (Loku). I first want to make the distinction between generalist strategy consulting shops (McKinsey, Bain, and BCG) vs. specialized or technical shops (Accenture, boutiques). I can only speak credibly about the former (though, as a former consultant, a lack of credibility has never stopped me from talking on any subject...).

Panasonic's growing pains.
Panasonic President Sees Short-Term Pain in Restructuring -- Panasonic Corp.'s new president warned that the company's sales could decline in the short term as he looks to overhaul the struggling Japanese electronics conglomerate and cement its long-term return to profitability. "If we don't accept that revenue will decline to a certain degree, our structure won't change and we can't prioritize profitability," Kazuhiro Tsuga told reporters on Monday. "The fact that sales will decline for a short time can't be helped, and from the long-term viewpoint it's a strategic way to prioritize profitability above all else."

- Sheena Moore

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