The best iPhone / Droid app you're not using

Question: What's the best iPhone / Android app that you're *NOT* using? 

For 95+% of the iOS and Droid users, the answer is BUMP

This great app allows you to quickly share your contact information or photos with other new contacts by simply bumping your phones together. Seriously, it's that easy. You don't have to call one another and save the number in your phone, download VCards or any other legacy sharing strategy. Just bump and done!

Recently the development team upped the ante a new update that allows you to bump photos from your phone directly to your computer. How cool is that?

And the best part? Yeah… it's free. Download Bump for iPhone and Android

Still have questions? Watch this video demo. 

 

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Why you NEED a Travel Agent

You already know how to use Expedia, Travelocity, and TripAdvisor. You're not an online travel novice. Perhaps you're using more advanced tools like Kayak, Hipmunk, and TripIt to plan your vacations. But are you neglecting to use the #1 travel resource in the world? If you're not using a professional travel agent, then you're putting your time, money, and experience at risk. Travel agents are travel EXPERTS. They've been there, done that, and donated the t-shirt. 

But don't just take my word for it. Here's a Forbes.com post on why you need a travel agent:

There are many, many good reasons, which I will explain. But the bottom line is that they know more than you do, they are better connected than you, they have access to benefits you can’t get otherwise, they can often beat any other prices available (even online, yes), and after you have planned everything, they provide a safety net during your trip that you simply won’t get by booking yourself or buying insurance. Having a top travel agent can also make you an instant VIP – free room upgrades, hard to get restaurant reservations, cutting lines, access to otherwise closed stores and exhibits, private guides, and cheaper – often much cheaper – premium airfares. Here’s the best part: even though most top agents charge fees, in almost every firsthand experience I or my friends, family, and acquaintances have had, travel agents have saved money, often a lot of money, thousands of dollars, and in every case, more than paid for themselves.

Why you need a travel agent – Forbes.com 

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The Sales Rep vs The Sales Expert

Ryan Estis posts a great blog on the value of sales positioning and how the role of the sales professional has changed in the last ten years, including this slide on the difference between the sales rep and the sales expert.

 

 

 

I'll give you two shots on who wins more business, but I bet you'll get it on the first guess.

More from Ryan Estis here.

 

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If you don't like something… the Holstee Manifesto

The new year brings opportunities for introspection and resolutions. For me, that means trying to live the words of the Holstee Manifesto.

This is your life. Do what you love, and do it often. If you don’t like something, change it. If you don’t like your job, quit. If you don’t have enough time, stop watching TV. If you are looking for the love of your life, stop, they will be waiting for you when you start doing things you love. Stop over analyzing, life is simple. All emotions are beautiful. When you eat, appreciate every last bite. Open your mind, arms and heart to new things and people, we are united in our differences. Ask the next person you see what their passion is, and share your inspiring dream with them. Travel often; getting lost will help you find yourself. Some opportunities only come once, seize them. Life is about the people you meet, and the things you create with them. So go out and start creating. Life is short. Live your dream and share your passion.

Here's to a wonderful new year!

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How To: Speed Up Safari Browser in OSX Lion

If Safari is launching slowing or slow to load web pages in OS X Lion, there's an easy (yet not obvious) resolution.

To make Safari launch, load, and browse faster, follow the following tip:

1) In FINDER select GO from the top menu.
2) While the drop down list is displayed, press the ALT / OPTION key
3) You should notice a new item in the drop down menu called LIBRARY
4) Select LIBRARY
5) A new window in the FINDER will open
6) Scroll down and open the folder called CACHES
7) Inside CACHES open the folder named COM.APPLE.SAFARI
9) Locate and delete file called CACHE.DB
10) Close and relaunch Safari.

If you follow this tip, you should notice the Safari browser is MUCH faster to start and load web pages in OSX Lion.

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5+1 Changes to Make to Your Resume NOW!

I read an interesting article on Glassdoor entitled, "5 Changes to Make to Your Resume NOW" in which some often overlooked points were resurfaced. It's worth a read. 

One point that was not mentioned and should be emphasized is how important it is to communicate your social media handles along with your contact information. Your social media standing is a direct reflection of your professional interests and network. and can demonstrate industry engagement

This important engagement element should not be overlooked. After all, there are (literally) hundreds of studies showing that prospective employers are going to seek you out through social media. If this is a point of distinction for you, then you should showcase it, right? 

If you're actively promoting yourself professionally through a blog, Facebook page, or Twitter, you should definitely include a handle or link in the header of your resume. Don't miss a chance to make this positive impression!

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How To Make Press Releases "Twitter Friendly"

PRNewser had an interesting read this week on the importance of making your press releases Twitter friendly. Why should you tailor a press release to be easily distributed via Twitter, you ask? Simple. Twitter drives more traffic to press releases than any other top-level social media resource.

So, how do you make your press release "twitter friendly"? PRNewser has some obvious steps as well as some a-ha steps that can greatly impact how your release gets distributed via social networks.  

“It starts with the headline,” says Sarah Skerik, PRNewswire’s VP of social media. “The press releases that got the most shares and views were those that had headlines that were in the range of 120 characters, which makes them the perfect tweetable link.”

twitter logoObviously good headlines are important, but it's equally important to monitor the length of the headline. Since Twitter users will want to retweet your post and (potentially) add comments, you need to leave enogh characters to support the "RT @[yourusername]" device, at a minimum. A good rule of thumb would be to limit the length of your tweet to 110-120 characters maximum. 

Using twitter best practices is also important in making your press release twitter friendly and ensuring that you are hitting your core audience. One obvious device is through the use of appropriate hashtags. Hashtags make your content easy to find through twitter search, lists, and dedicated industry feeds. 

Another great tip is to make your pullquotes tweet-able. 

Why not make the quote more interesting and substantive? “If I knew my audience was active on Twitter, I would make sure that quote is tweet-able, and include the brand’s or person’s Twitter handle….”

Including a twitter handle within your press release (or within the pullquote itself) is a really clever idea that could pay off in many ways. Not only will it get your important themes noticed and retweeted, but it could help to gain followers for your internal twitter accounts, further enhancing your brand's credibility in the marketplace. 

For more ways to make your press releases twitter friendly, check out the rest at PRNewser.

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The hidden opportunity behind "low hotel occupancy" in China

As hotel companies continue the unprecedented rush to develop properties in China, new analysis shows that the hotel occupancy rate in China to be among the lowest in Asia.

“Hotels in some markets of China are clearly oversupplied in the next three to five years, and they won’t be generating good returns,” said Nigel Summers, Hong Kong-based director at Horwath Asia Pacific, which tracks the hospitality industry. “China has had a very strong demand. The question is whether the increase in demand is going to be big enough to handle all the new hotels.”

Sixty-one percent occupancy is not a strong indicator, however it is must be taken in context. 

According to USA Today, China had 14,100 recognized hotels (those with at least one-star rating) in 2008, nearly double the 7,400 recognized hotels in 2001. By the end of 2012, the number of recognized hotels in China is expected to top 18,000. 

Given the rapid supply expansion and downward economic indicators, it's quite remarkable that the country was able to maintain its 61% occupancy rate so far in 2011 – flat to the previous year.

And therein lies the hidden opportunity behind the "low" hotel occupancy numbers in China.

Hoteliers were able to expand supply at a pace roughly equal to the increase in demand. In other words, expansion in China has done nothing to dilute the market. To the contrary, international brands are reporting 23% growth in RevPAR, with continued upward pressure on both occupancy and rate.

Despite the shock value of "low occupancy" headlining the Bloomberg News report, this RevPAR growth speaks volumes to the hidden opportunity presented by both international and domestic travel in China and why so many are bullish on China. 

 

 

 

 

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The Unparalleled Importance of a Crisis Management Plan

As the stories of the Casa Monica Hotel firing an employee for wearing a US flag pin began to break this weekend, I was struck by just how unprepared the hotel and Kessler Collection were for the public relations firestorm which erupted in response to the media coverage. 

(DISCLOSURE: I once worked in Sales & Marketing for the Kessler Collection and, as I said on Twitter this weekend, it was troubling to see former colleagues in such a position.) 

Instead of arguing the merits of uniform policy versus patriotism versus two-year history of wearing the pin, it's important for hoteliers (and businesses in general) to take note of how this incident escalated from a policy decision to an immeasurable public relations incident.

Buoyed by (literally) tens of thousands of tweets, facebook posts, and hotel reviews through social media channels, the story grew from a local Jacksonville story on Thursday into a top five feature on nearly every broadcast and cable news channel in just two days time.

As this groundswell grew against the Casa Monica Hotel's decision, the Kessler Collection was notably silent on the issue. Neither the hotel nor the company responded to requests for comment by the local and national media. Neither the company nor the hotel made any posts to their official websites or social media pages to address the questions. In fact, the only tangible response the company seemed to undertake was to attempt to delete a number of strongly worded posts and comments from the hotel's Facebook page.

The Casa Monica Hotel finds itself at the center of a textbook public relations crisis – albeit one that it should have reasonably anticipated and managed – that threatens to damage its brand. The lack of preparedness and response beg the question: Does the hotel or company have a crisis management plan? 

Crisis management is not and never should be an extemporaneous endeavor. It involves forethought, resources, planning and practice. There are thousands of books, blogs, degree programs, etc to pull from but to briefly summarize, there are three active stages in a crisis – all of which need management:

  1. Before all hell breaks loose
  2. All hell breaks loose
  3. After the crisis

Before all hell breaks loose is the "simple" phase, although it is the one that requires the most work. The "voice" of the company must to be defined. Rules around when different members of the organization will be made available to the media must be written. Responses to reasonably anticipated situations (accidents, acts of God, etc) should be drafted. The channels by which the responses will be routed should be tested. And – most importantly – the entire act of responding to a crisis must be simulated and practiced by the entire organization. 

Once all hell breaks loose, which is where the Casa Monica currently finds itself, the work investing in stage one will begin to bear fruit. The most critical elements are the seemingly contradictory goals of speed and calm. Timely statements and media responses must be effectively managed to turn (and eventually tame) the crisis. 

After the crisis, there are two parallel, urgent paths – reputation management and response review. The company must review the root cause of the crisis and how it was responded to by the public relations team. Efforts must be undertaken to repair the brand's image both internally and externally. 

 

For those of us who are not involved in the Casa Monica / Flag Pin debate, it's important that use this opportunity to learn the unparalleled importance of having an effective crisis management plan. The inability to deliver timely statements and respond to requests for comment can do immeasurable harm to your business.

We will all have crises to face. The key is to remember the old Boy Scout motto: "Be Prepared."

 

 

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Six Steps to a More Effective Sales Proposal – 2. Don't Feature Dump

In the first installment of my series "Six Steps to a More Effective Sales Proposal", I outlined the importance of focusing your proposal directly on your customer's goals and concerns, rather than on your company's accomplishments and background. 

The second step to writing a sales proposal that will increase your capture rate is to avoid "feature dump". In this installment, we'll detail exactly what that means and how to best present your strengths. 

 

Six Steps to a More Effective Sales Proposal

 

STEP TWO: DON'T FEATURE DUMP

It slices. It dices. It mowes your lawn. It washes your car. It even changes diapers!

In my experience, "feature dumping" is the achille's heel of so many salespeople. From day-one on the job, salespeople are taught the in's and out's of their products with such a fervor, it becomes easy to believe that specs are what customers want to hear.

The harsh reality is that SPECS DON'T SELL. While it may be fascinating that your {INSERT PRODUCT HERE} does {INSERT SPEC HERE}, the truth is no one buys because your {PRODUCT} does {THAT}. 

Take that long list of bullet points and trash it.

Instead, focus on BENEFITS. How does you're product fill the need that your customer has? How does buying your product enrich their business or enhance their experience?

If you watch an infomercial, you'll immediately understand the difference between features and benefits and how to emphasize the latter.

Perhaps you are familiar with the the Showtime Rotisserie Oven from Ronco. Pitched as a simple oven for experienced or novice cooks, Ron Popeil takes only a moment to explain that the oven has many programmaned time and temperature settings for different foods, but focuses his presentation on the benefits – you can cook many foods easily, you save time in cleaning and you can "set it and forget it!" – just walk away knowing that the oven will cook your food properly. You get a delicious meal and you also get free time. Set it and forget it!

By emphasizing the explicit benefit of your products for your customer, you demonstrate that you understand your clients needs. In focusing on how your solution benefits the client, you differentiate yourself from 99.9% of your competition who only knows how to feature dump.

By presenting your offering as a solution to their pressing business need, you create worth in your product. And worth, my friends, is a psychological and emotional need for buyers.

Remember it's never the number of "settings", it's "set it and forget it" that truly sells. 

 

 

While this one tip is going to make you stand out from the pack, be sure to check out the rest of the tips in this series on Six Steps to a More Effective Sales Proposal!

 

1. Six Steps to a More Effective Sales Proposal – FOCUS ON YOUR CUSTOMER

2. Six Steps to a More Effective Sales Proposal – DON'T FEATURE DUMP

 

 

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