A creative day deserves a few long hours of reduction and rejuvenation. You...
For exciting, adrenaline-pumping rides, relaxing and humorous shows, delicious carnival food, games, and lifelong memories, few things beat the...
Singapore is a first-world country located in Southeast Asia (against public perception, which perceives it as a poor territory). Like Hong Kong, not...
Tech & Science
“Should I move my business to the cloud?” is a question many business owners, executives and staff are asking themselves in today’s age. The truth is there are many advantages to doing so, but it may not be the right choice for every business. There isn’t a right or wrong answer, but I am here to provide you information needed to make an informed decision.
First, let’s talk about the benefits of moving your business to the cloud. With cloud services, you will have lower capital expenses than you would if you were investing in new on-premise infrastructure. You are not purchasing hardware, which often times can cost hundreds of thousands of dollars up-front. Typically, cloud services operate on a “pay-per-use” model, and are very scalable up or down, which is great for companies with fast growth, or even companies that decide to reduce their footprint. Your potential for downtime with cloud services is significantly reduced because equipment is typically hosted in a telco-grade co-location or data center with significant power backup and redundant network connections. With cloud services, you also have the benefit of your provider doing data backups for you.
In addition, businesses (especially SMBs), may also want to invest in cloud services if they have the lack of technical resources on-site to build or maintain the technical infrastructure. Moving businesses to the cloud puts the responsibility on the service provider to make sure systems are updated with proper security patches and software updates, allowing your internal staff to focus on one thing: your core business.
Moving your business to the cloud may seem very attractive, but the decision should go far beyond costs. If you are an organization that has strict compliance regulations, keep in mind that third-parties will now be in control of your confidential data. If you are an organization that handles credit card information, it is important to ensure that the cloud provider is compliant with all PCI standards. If you have complex systems, like a home-grown billing system for example, integration with a cloud based provider could prove to be costly and time consuming. If you are a business that relies on a 99.99% uptime, it’s important to calculate your downtime cost per hour when evaluating your decision.
Moving your business to the cloud may not be the right decision for your business, and an on-premise infrastructure may be more beneficial. For example, if you have large capacity file shares, or operations that use significant bandwidth, on-premise infrastructure may be a better solution. Businesses that do not have sufficient bandwidth to the Internet to support cloud services will either need to upgrade bandwidth or keep services on-site.
Finally, when considering moving your business to the cloud or keeping it on-premise, keep in mind the “5 year rule”. Organizations are typically replacing on-premise equipment every 5 years. This is a hidden cost that is not often considered in these decisions because it is not an immediate concern. Looking at Total Cost of Ownership is a better way to evaluate this decision, as it will include upgrade costs, recurring monthly costs, CAPEX costs, and puts it all into perspective.
To wrap it up, there isn’t a right or wrong decision. Whatever you decide, it’s most important to make an informed decision on what is right for you business today and moving forward into the future.
South Padre Island and spring breakers are inextricably linked. However, the Texas hot spot has plenty of must-see attractions that lure travelers year-round to its picture-perfect beaches, ecological sites and water-centric establishments.
Hit the Beach
Beaches in South Padre Island are among the best in the United States. Stretching 34 miles, they’re rimmed by the Gulf of Mexico on the east and Laguna Madre Bay on the west. Amidst the sand, sun-seekers work on tans as well as check out waterfront restaurants and shops. On the north end, the beachfront remains largely undeveloped, making it a great locale for anyone looking to escape the mayhem. Wherever you settle in, expect to be tempted by activities such as surfing, dolphin watching, scuba diving and windsurfing.
Gladys Porter Zoo
This area zoo is a relaxing oasis set amidst 26 tropical plant-laden acres where 225 species of flora flourish. Showcasing more than 1,600 animals (and 377 species), the zoo has seen success breeding endangered wildlife. Among the most popular attractions is its Tropical America exhibition where Galapagos tortoises, Caribbean flamingos, spider monkeys and Cuban crocodiles elicit amazement from visitors. The Africa exhibit, which is loaded with zebras, lions, chimps and white rhinos, is a crowd-pleaser as well.
Gladys Porter Zoo
500 Ringgold St.
Schlitterbahn Beach Waterpark
Although it’s unlikely you’ll get sick of the sand, this action-packed water park makes a good case for a detour. Interconnected waterways, rides and slides—not to mention a 5-story “sandcastle,” uphill water coaster and surf waves—give families loads to do. The park also has direct beach access to the Gulf of Mexico. Upping the ante further, there’s a swim-up bar, hot tub and wading pool. On-site dining means you can make a day of it.
33261 State Park Road 100
South Padre Island, TX
Tip Some Back
It’s practically a crime to come to South Padre Island without sipping a cocktail or two or three. Coconuts Bar & Grill is the quintessential place to hit the sauce, just be prepared for a raucous scene. Belly up and dive into fried grouper, jerk chicken and peel and eat shrimp. Wave runner and parasailing rentals are offered on-site.
2301 Laguna Dr.
South Padre Island, TX
Learn About Sea Turtles
Sea Turtle Rescue is an enjoyable (and educational) destination where visitors can learn about marine conservation, sea turtle rehabilitation and marine turtle life worldwide. A range of species is on display, from flatback to Pacific black and loggerhead species. Experts give talks and guests can view feedings. Those who get attached to the creatures can consider adopting a resident sea turtle.
6617 South Padre Island Blvd.
South Padre Island, TX
The beauty of Ireland and its rich folkloric history is well documented, but many people are unaware of the fun and adventure that is available for kids and entire families on vacation. Ireland has taken an impressive step to combine exciting outdoor sports and activities with educational content for kids of all ages, providing a fun time for all and plenty to think about afterward.
Castle Archdale Country Park
Castle Archdale Country Park is located ten miles north west of Enniskillen and stretches along Lower Lough Erne for about 230 acres. The park is part of the Castle Archdale Caravan Park and Camping Site, which hosts carnivals, festivals and activities for all ages. The Country Park contains monastery sites, a deer enclosure, ponds, a wildflower meadow, trails and butterfly gardens. Kids and adults enjoy bicycling, hiking, boating, and pony trekking. The park also contains a museum and visitor center with exhibits and information about the historic and ecological nature of the site. The park is open to the public everyday from 9 a.m. For more information call +44 28 68621588, or go to www.fundays.ie.
Kart City is a sports activity facility established in 1993 in Dublin that offers fueled kart racing, urban paintball, a large hobby shop called BoyZ Toys for model cars and vehicle enthusiasts and a diner. Kart racing is available on their junior track for kids ages six and up and on their two pro tracks for people ages 16 and up. The facility has six race types to choose from: Arrive and Drive, Mini Grand Prix, Mini Enduro, Kids Party Special, Full Grand Prix and Endurance Race Meet. Upon signing up, drivers are fitted with gloves, helmet and a racing suit. The park is open to the public Tuesday through Friday from 12 p.m. and weekends from 10 a.m. Go to www.kartcity.net for more information and pricing, or call 01 842 6322.
The Dublin Zoo is an all-around adventure center for kids and families. The zoo has animals ranging from Asian elephants to zebras, fantastic grounds for kids to explore, an African swamp and educational programs for tourists and entire classrooms. Zookeepers give daily scheduled presentations on animals such as orangutans, lemurs, penguins, giraffes and reptiles and offer additional lectures and talks on Sumatran tigers, elephants and chimpanzees. The zoo hosts birthday parties and promotes its own Adopt An Animal program. The zoo is open to the public year round from 9:30 a.m. More information is available at www.dublinzoo.ie, or call 353 (0) 1 474 8900.
Chicago is a great city with a history of sophistication, architecture and business. It’s known for entertainment as well, and Halloween is an entertainment-filled holiday for the Windy City. Whether you want to tour a haunted house, ride a ghostly roller coaster or hear classic haunted tales by Edgar Allen himself, Chicago has got a way for everyone to celebrate the occasion. If you are ready to have a spooky time in Chicago, here are some places to visit.
Red Lion Pub
Visit this renown haunted pub on Halloween to get your scare-on. Built in 1882, the Red Lion location has a history of being a brothel, as well as an old west style saloon. Sightings of a ghostly figure now referred to as “Sharon” has been blamed for the inexplicable second floor bathroom locks malfunctioning, locking in frightened patrons, as well as mysterious swinging lamps and moving artwork. Check it out at 2446 N Lincoln Ave.
Weird Chicago Tour
Available usually only on Halloween weekend, the Weird Chicago tour will take you through this cities mobster and ghostly past. Visit the spirits of the Congress Hotel (the most haunted hotel in Chicago), see where John Dillinger was shot and check out a haunted tattoo parlor. Full of spooky tales that will bring shivers up your spine tickets are $30.00 as of 2009. Tours are picked up at the Hard Rock Cafe on Clark and Ontario streets.
Edgar Allen Poe Readings
Presented by the actors of the Lifeline Theater, Poe’s spookiest writings such as “The Raven” will be dramatically brought to life on Saturday, October 31, 2009. Tickets for it’s 23rd annual production sell for $25.00 and take place at the Glessner House on 1800 S Prairie Ave.
Shadows on the Street Haunted Tours of Prairie Avenue
Presented by the Glessner House on Friday, October 30th and Saturday, October 31st, tours include stories from the Glessner House as well as a stroll to the homes of Marshall Field and George Pullman. Costumed docents will lead you into the mysterious 1800’s and fill your head with history and haunting. Head to 1800 S. Prairie Ave.
Windy City Sweets
Halloween is nothing if there is no candy involved, and Windy City Sweets has been treating the people of Chicago for over 20 years. Handmade fudge, candies and ice cream will tempt you to hold your hands out and yell “Trick or Treat.” Find it at 3308 N. Broadway Street.
Fright Fest at Six Flags Great America
Weekends in October bring out the ghouls and ghosts at one of the most fun theme parks in the area. Haunted houses, street entertainers and a special trick or treat day for the kids, Six Flags creates a spooky environment for kids of all ages to have a blast. General admission is $54.99 in 2009, but online specials can be found. Parking is extra so load up the car and get going.
Singapore is a first-world country located in Southeast Asia (against public perception, which perceives it as a poor territory). Like Hong Kong, not many know whether it’s a country or a city. Singapore is both, meaning a city-state and, at the same time, an island country. Tourism focuses on cultural attractions, the beaches, of which some are unaltered by the hand of man, urban civilization and wildlife. You’ll miss the charm of the mountains here: Singapore’s highest point is at 165 m. They have taller buildings than that.
Singaporeans come from a very active country with a dynamic financial sector. They’re always hurrying someplace else. Paradoxically, social rituals take a longer time than most countries. They avoid criticizing and accusing the others because it causes a loss of honor. Instead, they beat around the bush and rely heavily on non-verbal communication. Silence consumes even more time: when replying, etiquette requires one to pause for a moment as to acknowledge what has been said already and only after this break, that person should give a reply. Also, don’t chew gum. There’s a ban in Singapore on gum, saying you can buy gum only with a doctor’s prescription.
If you visit Singapore, try out its delicious food. Better yet, go out to eat at New Asia Bar, a restaurant 72 floors above the ground. For another great view of the city, the Singapore Flyer allows you to see the surroundings and the other islands from the top. The Merlion Park, with its statue, is the emblem of the country. The nature embellishes the city, with many national parks. Take a trip to the zoo, where the animals roam freely and not behind any bars. The Esplanade and the Helix Bridge attract most of the tourists. Another way to see the wonders of Singapore is on a cruise that allows you to admire the beauty of the country’s islands
So there I was, minding my own business… poring over my extensive collection of Yanni ablums when a good friend of mine sends me an email with a link to a story.
And not just any article, no this was a piece about a product, which seemingly had achieved enormous success – to the tune of $1 billion in sales, without lifting one social media finger.
The product is Febreeze, the delightfully smelling air-freshener from Proctor & Gamble and the article was penned by Jonathan Salem Baskin. In his piece, which Mr. Baskin whimsically titled The iPad of Air-Care, he compares Febreeze to Apple…
“Febreze introduced 37 new products or variations in the first nine months of 2010, choosing to let them “do the talking” for the brand much as Apple lets its less-frequent introductions do the same.”
Wow, sounds great, doesn’t it? Mr. Baskin further states his case by telling readers that “Febreze isn’t creating entertaining “content” for its consumers to enjoy on YouTube, or allowing them to share on its Facebook site their personal stories about overcoming odor problems (I can’t find an official-looking FB page for the brand).” And that he “couldn’t find a single customer complaint it fixed on Twitter.”
Wow again… Who needs social media?
Upon Further Review…
Wait… hang on.
“Febreze isn’t creating entertaining “content” for its consumers to enjoy on YouTube?”
You mean like this?
And Febreeze doesn’t allow them (consumers) to share on its Facebook site their personal stories about overcoming odor problems and you couldn’t even find an official Facebook page, right?
Hmmm… then I’m not quite sure what these are…
And you also stated that you “couldn’t find a single customer complaint it fixed on Twitter” right?
Well there you may have something because I too could not find any “customer complaint [Febreeze] fixed on Twitter.” Not that I spent a whole helluva lot time looking mind you but it surely didn’t take me to long to find:
The YouTube Channel
The Facebook Page
And it sure didn’t take me very long to find this…
What this is, in case you didn’t know Mr. Bskin, is a screen shot taken from search.twitter.com. And as you can plainly see, people are in fact discussing the virtues of Febreeze.
The Consumer Is In Control…
And that’s precisely what social media non-believers like Mr. Baskin and Bob Hoffman, AKA The Ad Contrarian, don’t get. Advertisers, companies & agencies don’t control what is being said via social media.
The consumer does!
Even if there were no Febreeze Facebook Page or You Tube channel, people would still be talking about it online…
Why? Because they can!
I don’t know Mr. Baskin from Baskin Robbins and I’m sure he’s a very nice man, and I very much enjoy reading The Ad Contrarian but… what these two gentlemen, and many like them unfortunately, do not seem to grasp nor understand is…
Social media is here to stay; deal with it.
Consumers control the conversation.
Social media was NEVER meant to be a replacement nor substitute for quote/unquote traditional advertising and marketing! It was meant to support it; work in unison with it; be one part of an overall strategy.
And if you still doubt the power of social media and its influence, consider the case of Stefani Joanne Angelina Germanotta. A billion views on her You Tube channel later, 30 million likes on her Facebook Page later, and now “The Queen of Twitter” … you know her better as Lady Gaga.
Here’s the bottom line…
Mr. Baskin nailed it when he wrote: “Selling products that people want to buy.”
That’s it right there… Without a viable product that people want to buy, it doesn’t matter which medium/platform you use.
The United States has hundreds of National Parks, founded to preserve some of the country’s most beautiful and pristine spots while allowing any visitor to enjoy their natural beauty.
Of the hundreds of National Parks, more than 100 allow camping. Camping in National Parks is a great way to see America, have a few adventures and save money in the process.
The first publicly protected park, transferred to California State ownership in 1864, was the Yosemite Valley. The first National Park was Yellowstone, established in 1872. The National Park Service was created in 1916 to manage and protect the growing number of National Parks throughout the nation.
Access and Amenities
Campsite amenities vary: some have hot showers, campfire rings and laundry facilities, while others may not even offer water. “Developed” campsites can generally be reached by car and offer more amenities, including RV hookups. “Primitive” campsites are usually private and scenic but often can be reached only on foot.
Cost and Reservations
Most National Park campsites are available on a first-come, first-serve basis (so arrive early on holiday weekends). A few campgrounds accept reservations. Campsites usually cost $10-$20 a night.
Wildlife and Fire Dangers
When you enter the park or the campground, you’re likely to see signs or meet a Ranger who will warn you about any park dangers. These vary from park to park: in Yosemite, you may be told to store your food in “bear boxes”; in Indiana, you might hear about a firewood quarantine for pest control. Fire danger varies by area as well. Follow all instructions to the letter; National Parks are the property of all U.S. citizens, and it’s every visitor’s responsibility to keep them beautiful and safe.
Enjoy your stay, but don’t linger: the maximum stay in a National Park is 14 days.
Hotel Regno in Rome is a 6-story romantic get-away located near the Fontana Di Trevi where many lovers have tossed in a coin or two in hopes of making their love last forever. The hotel offers cozy, comfortable accommodations in the heart of Piazza Di Spagna, an exclusive shopping district in the historic city. Hotel Regno was a government library in the 16th century and has been serving as a hotel since 1933. The hotel is close to public transportation. The official website for the hotel runs summer specials as well as Internet specials for those who make their reservations online.
Rome’s public transportation allows quick access to the city and all its temptations. Italian cuisine, gold jewelry and romantic, historical landmarks are just some of what awaits you. Visit the Spanish Steps and the famous shopping area Via Del Corso. The hotel offers a cozy terrace lounge decorated with original antique furniture and evokes an elegant upscale feel. Breakfast is served in the breakfast room or on the terrace daily from 7:30-10 a.m. Breakfast is a traditional Italian buffet of fresh baked breads, croissants, jams and honey, fresh fruit, local cheeses, coffee, cappuccino and juices.
Pros and Cons
Hotel Regno is close to many of Rome’s most visited attractions such as the Coliseum, Vatican City and the Forum. The rooms are small and offer cable and satellite TV, mini bar and safe. The hotel offers concierge service, room service, babysitting services and currency exchange. High speed Internet packages are available at an additional charge. The rooftop terrace overlooks the city where you can relax and eat breakfast or just enjoy the sun. Although the hotel does not serve lunch or dinner, you won’t have trouble locating a place nearby to dine. Visitors to the city have their choice of restaurants. If Italian is not your first choice, many other choices are available.
Hotel Regno is a moderately priced hotel yet offers sophisticated and charming accommodations. The rooms and lobby have an upscale elegance. Upon arrival, guests are greeted with a complimentary bottle of sparkling wine. The hotel’s unmatched service and friendly 24-hour staff is what separates it from the others. Hotel Regno is just minutes away from famous landmarks, which makes it an ideal location for travelers who want to explore Rome and Italy’s ancient ruins. Visit the hotel’s website for Internet deals. The site also has a calendar of events for the city to help travelers decide when to visit Rome.
Every brand manager and product manager in the world wants more loyal customers, right? Well if they can master the art of one-simple 6-letter word they would be well on their way to achieving their goals.
This seemingly innocuous or harmless word can be very harmful and quite damaging to a brand’s long term success if not done properly and consistently.
The word is “engage” or “engagement” if you prefer. No matter what you call it interacting and engaging with your customers and prospects is the key to establishing, fostering and maintaining brand loyalty. However as know from a recent post, Engagement Is The Most Important Digital Challenge For Marketers… “According to a recent McKinsey quarterly report, having the ability to engage their customers and leverage those relationships is the number one digitally-related challenge facing marketers today.”
In its findings from a recent report, the Top 12 Customer Loyalty Trends for 2012 – Loyalty 360, the loyalty marketer’s association made it perfectly clear that brand managers and product managers and all digital marketers better meet that challenge head on.
“Customer engagement is the journey, loyalty is the destination. Loyalty is a much bigger, broader, richer and growing ever more complex idea than it has been in the past. Loyalty is no longer about points, discounts, miles, rewards; it is about the way the processes, technologies, ideas, interactions engage an individual with the brand. The only way to achieve loyalty is through deeper engagement.”
That last line is very powerful indeed if for no other reason the use of the word “only.”
More from their report:
- Marketers are being distracted by daily deal sites and need to refocus and get their eyes on the ultimate prize. “While daily deals like Group-on, Living-social are generating lots of buzz, marketers are realizing that these price-based technologies have taken their focus away from the real prize: customer loyalty.”
- The issue of Big Data is all-too real and knowing how to use it effectively. “Study after study is showing that marketers are struggling with mining this data and analyzing it in order to derive valuable insights and actionable intelligence from it.”
- Marketers will seek out brand ambassadors. “Social personalization will increase. Marketers will harness the power of recommendations and referrals to persuade customers and prospects to follow their friends’ leads. They will become more proactive in encouraging reviews, implementing refer-a-friend programs, etc.”
These are just some of the loyalty trends Loyalty 360 identified and you can read the full report here.
It is clear, now more than ever, that engaging your customers and your prospects in a deep and meaningful way is paramount to any company’s success. Consumers want to engage their favorite brands, they want to know you are listening, they want dialogue, two-way conversations.
How do engage your customers now?
What other ways can you engage them?
As a consumer, which we all are at the end of the day, how do you want your favorite brands to engage with you?
Major brands – from Walmart to Kmart to Sears to Old Navy, to name but a few, will be open for business on Thanksgiving night. As if that’s not bad enough, one major department store is running a commercial which features someone stealing something out of another person’s shopping cart.
Look, I get it… I really do. I’m in advertising and marketing and have been for over 20 years, so I know all about the need to move merchandise/make money, and if people are willing to shop, far be it for a retailer to not oblige them. If a retailer wants to open its doors on Thanksgiving night, so be it.
But have we reached a point where nothing is sacred anymore? Is there any day that is off limits when it comes to consumers spending money in a bricks and mortar location? Obviously in today’s digital world, consumers can go online and shop anytime they damn well want to. However, they cannot of course get the instantaneous satisfaction of handing over their money and receiving a physical item in exchange. If you order online, you must then wait. And when it comes to the holidays and shopping, some of us don’t exactly have an over abundance of patience.
Sure we will do plenty of shopping online this holiday season but give us a chance to get in our cars and drive to a mall and spend the next X number of hours fighting through crowds as we listen to piped in holiday music… hell yeah, many of us will jump at the chance.
But does that make it right?
Like I said earlier, I understand it from the retailers’ perspective but Thanksgiving night? Really? What, opening at 3AM on Black Friday – or even earlier, wasn’t good enough?
Maybe I’m feeling this way because I used to work in retail (supermarket) many moons ago. So I know of the plight of the retail worker when it comes to the holidays and drawing the short straw and having to work while others are at home with their families.
Or maybe it’s because I’m an emotional guy who thinks everyone deserves at least one day they can spend with their family and friends; where no one needs to man a register or stock a shelf.
Are those days over for good?
It just seems like the whole Black Friday phenomenon is now rolling into one continuous shop-a-palooza with a brief respite being provided on Thanksgiving itself to allow for consumers and workers alike a few hours to stop and eat, watch a little football and then right back to battleground.
And someone has to help me with this one… Yesterday I saw a commercial for Sears promoting their “Day After Thanksgiving Sale” which they pointed out was happening on Friday, AKA the day after Thanksgiving. Now are we collectively that devoid of logic that we needed a reminder that the “Day After Thanksgiving Sale” was indeed happening… the day after Thanksgiving. Or, did Sears and their ad agency feel the need to inform us that this was NOT a Thanksgiving Day Sale but rather a “Day After Thanksgiving Sale?” You know, just so there was no confusion…
Black Friday Pilfering..
As for the aforementioned major department store and the ad they’re currently running which features out and out theft… watch it for yourself.
Did you see it? Go back and look what the woman does at the :14 mark…
So not only does this commercial feature one of the worst jingles in history, in my humble opinion, but out and out puts stealing front and center.
Oh sure, the spot is intended – at least I assume it is – to be evoke warm holiday feelings. But to show someone literally taking something from someone else, on Black Friday of all days when tensions run exceedingly high, just makes no sense to me.
What do you think the reaction will be if someone tries this on Black Friday?
Customer #1: Hey, you just took something right out of my cart!
Customer #2: It’s ok, that’s how they do it at Kohl’s! Happy Thanksgiving!
Customer #1: Oh no you didn’t…
Cue the store security, police, etc…
What were they thinking showing this in their commercial?
Someone please help me understand… Anyone. Bueller?