Olympics threats – a personal note…

I am sad when I hear about fear of traveling, cancellations (loosing opportunities) due to threats from various individual sources and massive information from the media – creating an oversized proportion of biased analysis making headlines.


The security during the Olympics based on our own witnesses in Sochi at the moment are very strict with controls especially on Airports in the main hubs (Moscow, Sochi & St. Petersburg) and elsewhere in the country as well as security controls on all venues, local transportation, vehicle, transport and driver permission and a security force of some 70.000 people in Sochi itself.

The general infra-structure compared with previous games are more protected then ever before as all Olympic Venus are within the accreditation zone (Airport, Costal Cluster and Mountain Cluster which is closed for admissions and spectators only including confirmed and accredited transportation and drivers by both SOCOG and Federal Security). Locally there is no stress or concerns and even the boarder to the neighboring break-out republic Abkhazia is closed.

In addition to a mhockeyassive security from the official Russian side many of the main sponsors have their own security measures set up and as one of the Olympic Board members stated some weeks ago “Sochi will probably be the safest place in the world during the games”. During the following Paralympic Games I believe that any threats to people involved with limited mobility’s would definitely harm any course of actions as it would be condemned by all.

Personally, having our staff and family members at place (as well the responsibilities for our own clients) we do not consider this an extraordinary threat and I feel by avoiding a presence due to threats by anyone posting anonymously messages in any media will accept the facts of success for the threats made. We have done the evaluation that we will support the right of free travel and resistance to threats by sport-management-sochisystematically minimizing the efforts by terrorism threats as publicity victories which I believe (unfortunately) media on the contrary is making an oversized assistance to encourage.

The official information given on the public website of the state departments are no different from other public events of the seize of Olympics according to my view and believe that being in contact with the respective Embassies in Moscow they would be more able to give an unbiased recommendation if considering it an extraordinary risky event or not as they in constant contact with respective International companies  measures going to be present:

Ice Hockey Quarter Final - Day 13 - Russia v CanadaOf course I accept and understand internal decisions and policies but feel it’s important that we all express our personal opinion and views as I am strongly opposing medias way of limiting and sometimes scaring away opportunities of public interest and good cause.

Ola Kastensson


23 things Russian’s do….

Ola500002Some short generalizations that I have encountered since my arrival to Russia in 1992 which helped me to understand this fantastic country and its people. I hope these hints will explain how “we” might do things differently and share my excitement and enthusiasm for being here! Enjoy!

1. WHO ARE “WE”? First of all don’t forget that we have 20 fingers and 2 brains (no different word for toes & fingers – only location). The brain and the spine have the same name.

2. Carpe Diem: We seize the moment and do what we think is right solving any issues on the spot!

3. Cars & Traffic: We love our cars and we drive against yellow lights – watch out! Traffic can be intense during weekdays and we DON’T avoid peak hours. During summer weekends we leave the city for our “dachas”!

4. Coats & Jackets: We never enter a restaurant with the coat on – even to have a quick look!

5. Whistle: We never whistle inside as we don’t want to lose our money – be careful! You can show happiness in so many other different ways!

Ola5000106. Foreigners & understanding: We have a great tolerance to foreigners speaking “broken” Russian and during Soviet Union era we had 123 different language groups “speaking” our language. Try for example “Yellow Blue Bus” which in Russian means “I love you” in a formal way. An immediate response is guaranteed…

7. Going Home: In St. Petersburg we make a quick decision to go home or stay – usually around an hour or two after midnight. Instead it might be worth waiting until after 4am when the bridges are down again! In Moscow we stay as long as we want and might have breakfast before going home…

8. Hello & Goodbye: When we are polite, we put the coat on before saying goodbye and we never greet one another on the threshold which brings bad luck!

9. Horoscopes: We know everything about horoscopes and star signs, all about the elements and Chinese symbolism for every New Year. So watch out – we might know more about you than you think…

10. Ice cream: We usually have ice cream for dessert and eat it outdoors in the winter time – as long as it’s cold it makes us feel fresh…

11. Information: If you want to know something – why don’t you ask? Why should we talk too much if nobody is interested? Do you really want to know?

12. Meat: In our local Russian restaurants meat should always be well done and it will be – a delicious alternative is Beef Stroganoff!

Ola50000613. Mobile Phones: If the telephone rings, we take it – what ever is happening around us and in any conditions. What happens NOW is more important than important things later – it’s even impolite to not answer!

15. Opinions: There are 145 million people in Russia – and as many opinions! If you want to find out the truth you have to collect as many opinions as you can and make up your own mind.

16. Photos: We don’t want to upset anyone by taking pictures of people in restaurants, bars or night clubs – maybe they don’t want to be seen and probably we don’t know them anyway!

17. Possibly yes? Nothing is possible – rather wait to see for ourselves! We start with a “no” and then… maybe rain, maybe snow…!

18. Presents: We love presents, small gifts and surprises, but we are shy and might not show you enough appreciation! So on behalf of an entire nation – thank you!

19. Smiles: We love a good story and we are very family and friend-orientated, but expect you to take the first step before being emotional with strangers. We might be more Latin or Eastern in our mentality than “Northern European”.

20. Specifics: It’s very difficult to generalize about Russia – so we don’t – things are good and bad, black and white, close or far away but not yet standardized. Everything and everyone should be evaluated as entirely unique!

21. Speeches: We love speeches with the drinks – but not too long – only spontaneously and from the heart!

22. Talking: We are very direct – so is our language. We start with the actual point and leave arguments and description to the end…if anyone’s still listening!

Ola50000123. Evenings: We usually go out to night clubs just before midnight and sometimes the “entertainment” is spiced with a short strip tease . You either enjoy it or ignore it – just don’t get upset, it is not our intention to offend.

Ola Kastensson

Will a hotel listen to 51.000 comments?

St. Petersburg, Russia.

Traveling means staying days after days in different hotels all over the world – our home away from home… In today’s world who is not traveling with devices? Communicators, iPads or tablets, phones, cameras and computers. Arriving to the hotel with all our gadgets we stare hysterically at the single electricity circuit hidden behind the TV or sideboard of our beds, even under the writing tables.

“In our business attire we crawl on the floor disconnecting the only source of light in order to install at least one of our business tools (not talking about our companions need for hair dryers)…”
imageSometimes we are rewarded by an empty circuit located near the entrance door located conveniently for the use of the maids vacuum cleaner. We run up – totally confused – in the morning to disconnect the phone alarm (I am tired of learning all different types of alarm provided by the hotels). For a modern couple traveling today a minimum of 6 connections is needed. Why not simply provide to all rooms an extension cable with multi connections – I just can’t understand. For a hotel of 200 rooms with 70% occupancy there are more then 140 people daily with the same problem (in a year 51.000 clients who does not complain)…

For all of over 40 there there is another thing that annoys me. Running to the bathroom every hotel have a special collection branded shampoo, bath gel and conditioners (we all know from the site inspections). When standing as god created me in the shower – I can without my reading glasses clearly identify the brand (or the hotel name) – however to see if it’s shampoo, conditioner or bath gel – I have to get back inside the room to fetch my glasses – already wet and with complaints from my partner. The next day I better remember the slight different colors of the liquid for the next time…

Chocolate on the pillows is of course a nice tradition – but looking for creativity. A focus group could be in place to show originality or local touch! If every chocolate (using my above example) is 10 grams the hotels are contributing an amount of 511 kg per year

The world changes – but who listens to the small comments that nobody even bothers to mention?

Ola Kastensson