July 30, 2008

Top 3 Challenges of Hotel Sales Professionals

1. Priority Management: This can also be linked to time management - Been around for years and is a challenge that doesn't seem to go away with the advent of technology; intranet, email, voice mail and the blackberry. The challenge has grown exponentially, not reduced.

2. Client Connectivity: Depending on a sales professionals' geographic territory, market segment responsibilities, brand affiliation (if any) and experience, really connecting with a client can be a daunting task. Finding quick and easy "live" connection to clients (unless they have a need and make the contact first) in order to build the relationship that will result in return on the investment is no small feat. Clients also have to deal with voice mail and email, short turn around times, travel schedules and meetings. Multiply that by two, and it's a wonder sales targets are achieved!

3. Strong Leadership and Management: The new generation of sales professionals need managing and managing well in order to handle their responsibilities. With added demands on Directors of Sales/Marketing and General Managers, topped up with the diversified needs of generation X,Y and Z that make up today's Hotel sales teams, they are in dire need of direction and closer supervision to deal with:

a. Shifts in the market that require quick shifts in sales strategies
b. Clear goals - whether it is budget or sales activity related
c. Maintaining industry levels of professionalism - Turnover is a big culprit. But who ensures the level of professionalism is maintained including correspondence, personal contact and trade shows? It doesn't take long for bad habits to become the norm.

Sales Training:

In today's competitive climate, Hotel Management faces two pressing issues - an ongoing turnover of staff and a shortage of qualified and experienced sales professionals. The shortage of seasoned hospitality sales professionals is often the reality when it comes to promoting your product or service. Inexperience results in ineffective sales efforts, which in turn result in missed sales opportunities. JSY INNovations professionals will assistance with short-term sales activity and tailored training programs.

January 6, 2008

Pre-Nuptials for Hotels and Event Professionals – Contract Basics

If you think of a hotel or venue contract in the same vein as you would a pre-nuptial agreement your perspective may change. As with any contract, hotel or venue contacts have conditions and parameters designed with both parties in mind.

Seasoned event professionals who have excellent relationships with their facility representatives understand the value of discussing specifics to negotiate a win-win for all. Whether negotiating a meeting for 25 people or convention for 500, contracts are a stepping stone to a successful event and ultimately, an event planners success. Open communication is the key, as with any marriage. Here are a few reminders to ensure a happy, healthy and prosperous “marriage” with your hotel or venue.

1. Legal name: The company or organization responsible for and answerable to the conditions of the contract (not necessarily payment) should be accurate. Ensure the legal entity on the contract is spelled correctly.

2. Patience: Everyone is under the gun and has deadlines. Reality check - you are not the only game in town. If you have short turn around times other bookings and clients may need to be contacted, re-negotiated or relocated. Realistic expectations of time lines for you, your client and the hotel will make the booking process and experience much more enjoyable.

3. Use the phone – call! You may get the answers you need and more quickly. Sales representatives are inundated with detail which may not translate clearly in lengthy emails. Your representative is human and human contact will help nurture your relationship with the facility.

4. Signing on the dotted line: A hotel contract should only be signed by the person(s) authorized to review and sign the hotel contract. If you have more than one signing officer, authorized staff member or require more than one signature, ask your facility representative to revise the contract indicating the names and titles accordingly.

5. Contract negotiations: Depending on the type of booking and components of your facility contract, identify the must have’s, required and desired points of negotiation for you and/or your client. Areas of possible negotiation can be based on a myriad of factors that you may not be privy to, including the revenues your event will generate, time of year, day, and week, current or anticipated availability during your event, facility policies and your space requirements.

6. Function name: The name of the conference or meeting you would like displayed on reader boards, registration desk, reservation channel etc. may not be the same as the organization you are representing. Differentiate and articulate to avoid contract, delegate reservation and on site challenges.

7. Be realistic as to your needs: Be ready to provide historical data. Make it a habit to get the as much detail regarding guestrooms types, reservation pick up, patterns, function attendee numbers and revenues for the last event you are re-booking. This is good housekeeping and should be done as soon as possible following an event or convention. Today’s refined computer systems allow relatively easy access to this information.

8. Additional charges: Be sure you know whether additional charges will be added to the hotel contract after the contract is signed. Ask specific questions regarding additional costs for electrical hook-up, phone lines, equipment, audiovisual, skirting on tables, porterage, etc. If there is a charge for these services, it should be specified in the hotel contract. Taxes rates are not controlled by the hotel. Ask if there are any anticipated increases or decreases. Don’t be surprised to see “rate are subject to change and availability without notice” in certain sections of your contract.

9. Clarify Terminology and contract language: If you don’t understand specific terms of the contract ask for clarification and ask your representative to re-word it in terms you/your client understands. There’s no point in adding to the confusion and increasing the chances of error when you are on site and running in 20 directions.

Unfortunately previous experiences have made it necessary for hotels to implement safety nets in their contracts. Over the last 25 years hotel and venue contracts have become cumbersome, standardized and loaded with jargon that often only corporate lawyers understand. The most important thing to remember is that contracts are templates and have components that can be “massaged”. Exactly like a Pre-nuptial or come to think of it, separation or divorce agreement!

JSY INNovations provides practical and tactical marketing solutions that create identity, build awareness and increase positioning. With over 25 years of hotel, event and hospitality experience, JSY INNovations provides sales, marketing and media services for hospitality, event and meeting professionals. Phone: 905-633-8508 or visit jsyinnovations.com.

November 25, 2007

How do you get ranked higher in a search engine result?

Webprezents is a new concept in web identity. So what is the answer? Participation.

Webprezents creates a web identity for you on the web that touches on the busiest and most socially relevant sites in the world. If you want the world to see you, you need the search engines to see you. Go where the traffic is and you will surely increase your relevancy.

Keywords and keyword strategies are irrelevant in today’s internet world unless they are tied to a strategy that makes you important to search engines. Just because your website contains the keywords that have been tailored to your target market, does not mean you have increased your importance to sophisticated search engines and their sophisticated methods. Search engines do not simply index keywords and rank you on the number of times you use them. They rank you based on your visibility, your dynamic site content and your overall web presence.

Webprezents builds a blog for your company and ties it to key search engines dedicated to Blogging content. Your site is setup with RSS feeds and you have ties to the most popular social networking sites on the web; the Web 2.0.

The biggest misconception about social networking sites is that they are used by a demographic that does not use your service and therefore has no use to you. This truly is a misconception. To build a strong web presence, you need to be associated with high traffic sites so that search engines find you relevant. Forget who uses social networking; just remember that search engines index the most popular sites regularly.

Webprezents then builds out your blog by adding dynamic content from other popular social sites. Video, photographs and audio clips all play a part in today’s media rich web world. RSS feeds can send up to the minute live feeds to your existing static website and create a virtual, living identity. Subscription services to other indexing, book marking and news feed sites create a dynamic circle of data that continues to flow, even when you sleep.

Blogging alone does not create a web identity, but by utilizing many of the tools available on the web, Webprezents can increase your relevancy on a topic, service or product you want to feature. The change can be so dramatic, that within days, you can be the popular answer to a search engine query. Just think of when you are looking for something on the internet, how do you search for it?

All of the major news sites use this methodology, and have created a relevancy or credibility with search engines that allow them to provide almost instant results. You will not have to compete on that level and become the source for today’s breaking news. Your job is actually easier. Webprezents will quantify your product identity, tie it to you geographically and increase your standing as the defacto source for answers in your market or subject sector.

The Web 2.0 is here to stay so use this to your or your business’s advantage. Don’t rely on keywords when everyone else is using the exact same system. Use a system that actually makes search engines work. Be relevant. Use Webprezents!

August 19, 2007

Independent Meeting Planners - a Professional Group

Independent Meeting Planners Association of Canada Celebrates & Launches New Name

TORONTO, Ontario August 20, 2007 - On Sunday August 19, the Independent Meeting
Planners Association of Canada officially announced and launched their new
identity as the Canadian Society of Professional Event Planners.
"The diversity and combined expertise of our membership sets a unique
platform for business opportunities, learning and personal growth ... the new
name and identity compliments the level of professionalism and recognition our
organization has built in the marketplace, with our clients and suppliers over
the years." explains Heidi Wilker, CSPEP President and champion of the brand
change initiatives. "With the diligence of a rebranding committee and the
support of our membership the Canadian Society of Professional Event Planners
will also take on a new logo, image, advertising presence and web site."
explains Heidi. The new web site will be www.cspep.ca, email info@cspep.ca
As the landscape of the meeting industry and event culture has changed
and grown exponentially over the last five years the Canadian Society of
Professional Event Planners is now one of Canada's most influential
professional meeting planning organizations, handling hundreds of meetings and
events each year. Since the organization was founded in 1995 by Joy Fox it has
grown to include over 130 meeting planner members who traditionally work in
non-corporate, autonomous environments consulting, advising and specializing
in event planning. Carol Ford, CSPEP Executive Director agrees "... the timing
is appropriate to ensure the new image reflects the variety of quality event
planner entrepreneurs, services and level of commitment the members pass on to
their clients."
CSPEP is committed to providing credible, professional and experienced
event planning support to the corporate, association, government and
not-for-profit sectors. CSPEP members can seamlessly execute international
meetings, public events, weddings, religious assemblies, social events, trade
shows and symposiums, regardless of size and/or complexity. A myriad of
services provided by CSPEP members include coordination of event logistics,
registration, staffing, contracting guest speakers, venues, transportation
services and exhibit space, program design and event promotion and marketing.
Joy's vision of the network growing into a Canada-wide organization is
now reality with an active Ottawa chapter, annual Conference being held in
Whistler, B.C. this November, supplier showcase in Toronto, monthly meetings
and educational sessions.
To obtain more information or source the services of CSPEP members
contact Carol Ford, Executive Director at 905-868-8008, 1-866-467-2299 or
email info@cspep.ca or impac@impaccanada.com.

July 29, 2007

Top 10 Myths About Search Engine Optimization

1. I don’t need to know about SEO – My web site and web master ensure I have a strong presence on the Internet that will bring more business

2. SEO works like magic

Not so. Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is just like any other job in life. If you do a good job and put in the hard work, you will get results. When you search for something on the Internet, you expect the search engine to read your mind and provide what you are looking for on the very first line. Put yourself in the customer’s shoes. If you want people to find you that way, make sure your website is the best it can be. Make your web site and your web presence the most informative place to learn about what you do or provide. Make sure you can answer the questions a potential customer would ask? Who are you? What do you do? When and where do you do it. How can I get it? People ask questions on search engines. Provide answers.

3. If I pay to be submitted to the search engines, I’ll see more traffic to my web site

Not so. URL submission pages came about in the 90’s. They should stay there. There are still companies that charge a fee for submissions to the top search engines on a regular basis. URL’s can be indexed within hours by participating in a blog or other Web 2.0 social site.

4. Paid services for key word optimization will increase Search Engine Optimization

These days the phrase, “Search Engine Optimization” or SEO is all the buzz. Most paid services focus on the keywords in a website and offer monthly keyword optimization strategies. Regrettably this is only a strategy and not reality. Search engines don’t work using keywords alone. Any business that relies solely on key word strategy for the internet will fail. Using incorrect, inappropriate, repetitive or too many or keywords can negatively impact your presence on the www resulting in being banned or lowering your business’s search engine ranking.

5. Regular submissions of my URL will increase my web presence

Wrong again. Any service that claims to submit your site to search engines on a regular basis may get you banned as the search engines may interpret the submission as spam.

6. Linking is all there is.

Links are important, as search engines will consider a site that is highly linked to be more important than one that is not. However, just creating links to satisfy this objective does not solve the problem. Simple back linking on each page does not really count as a legitimate link. You don’t need thousands of links to be relevant. If your content changes and you know how to get a search engine to spider you, then you can be relevant with only one link.

7. As a Canadian based business, if someone searches my company/organization name, I’ll come up on the first page when being searched or Googled.

Not necessarily so. Search engines can’t find you if they don’t know where you are based. Especially if you don’t have a URL ending in “.ca”. Google is very good at figuring out where you are, but can’t read minds – yet! Unfortunately, most websites forget to make it clear where they are located. Pretend you are in grade school again. Put your name and address on everything and consider a URL ending in “ca”.

8. Optimizing means I have to create a whole new website

Not so. Presentation is everything to a potential customer – whether they already know your product or service or not. What tags say makes your site attractive to the search engines. Expanding your presence on the Internet is about making your business more appealing to search engines. Even bad websites can be popular.

9. Multiple websites will make my business more popular

Don’t mirror your site or have multiple domain names that point to identical sites. Choose one site and point all domains to one place. Search engines will de-list multiple sites and see them as spam.

10. Blogs and other social sites are for kids.

Sorry, wrong again. The major news networks now use blogs. YouTube was featured in the last U.S. Democratic debates. Whether your customer base is young or old, you need to be actively participating in the new Web 2.0 – today’s interactive internet. Even if you don’t want to promote yourself to a specific demographic, you want to be seen by the search engines. Search engines comb the top 10 social sites every few minutes. You need to be there.

March 23, 2007

Internet Exposure – Low Cost, High Returns

Optimizing Exposure – How it Works

Web designers and programmers embedded Meta Tags and Meta Tag descriptions into their websites in an effort to increase their chances of being picked up by the various search engines. In the earlier days of search engines such as Yahoo and Lycos, smart programmers would bury keywords in web pages by using the same colour font as the background to achieve the same effect. As search engines became and continue to become more intelligent, these and other similar tactics no longer work and in fact hinder the ability to be recognized by these search engines. The unfortunate fact is that Google has become the gorilla of the search engine industry and it’s heuristic algorithms for indexing websites has been more closely guarded than KFC’s seven herbs and spices and McDonald’s secret sauce combined.

Given the above, no one has a crystal ball that can make a website appear as the first non-sponsored website in a keyword search on Google or any other search engine but there are a few things that companies can do to improve their position by understanding some simple concepts about how Google and others are evolving.

Simply put, search engines have been evolving into an almost artificial intelligence entity. They no longer look for Meta Tags or simple words buried in the content of the site to determine the website’s ranking. Search engines now use relevance and popularity to determine ranking. Therefore companies need to determine how to increase both relevance and popularity to improve their websites ranking in desired keyword searches. Although relevance and popularity are considered mutually distinct topics they should be considered symbiotically to build importance.

“Relevance” is now the Buzz Word

Content of a website is what search engines use to determine relevance. Although the search engines are becoming smarter, they still have some trouble with Flash content. Although Flash is a great way to increase curb appeal, it does little to increase relevance. Website content needs to be carefully written and incorporated to replicate the corporate message and what it feels is relevant to its audience. There is a fine line between repeating relevant content enough times to affect search engine optimization (SEO) and making the site less readable and enjoyable by those entering the site. The words used in web site content are intricate components to increasing relevance.

Supporting documentation is also important in building relevance. Word, PDF and other types of documents are all searched by search engine spiders and robots that are used to help determine a site’s relevance. What types of documents do you need to add to your site to increase your ranking? Case studies, press releases, articles, white papers are only some examples.


Often companies that started high in the search engine rankings stay high in the rankings. This is no coincidence. By having a high ranking site, i.e., being ranked 1 -10 on the first page of the search result, sites are visited more often than others and therefore their popularity continues to rise. The task at hand for most companies is breaking that first page barrier. It was thought that by buying click-through ads, eventually the site would become more popular and thus organically rise through the search engine rankings and find itself on the first page in a short time. This is rarely the case in a highly competitive keyword category.

If companies cannot build popularity through search engines, they need to start doing it through less traditional means. Links, filtering mechanisms, partnership links, video testimonials, product reviews, training videos, and/or corporate presentation videos just to name a few options.

Blogs –New Age Internet Marketing Tool

Blogs are an excellent example of sites that can be strategically used to increase the popularity of a corporate site. Using a product like Blogger, recently acquired by Google, individuals can create Blog content that is relevant to a specific subject, while building links back to the corporate site. Google indexes changes to Blogger Blogs within hours and because a corporate website is linked to the Blog site and the article published (hopefully), it too is re-indexed; increasing its popularity and over time search engine ranking. There are even search engines for ranking blogs and social networking sites. Because of the dynamic nature of Technorati, Google has dedicated spiders that index it and therefore creating a mechanism to increase indexing at a much faster pace than traditional websites.

Companies and organizations need to encourage links back to their corporate website and each other’s Blogs. Setting up RSS feeds to all of the above would make it easier for visitors to be notified of changes, special offers, promotions and encourage more frequent website visits, thus increasing the Blogs popularity, which in turn, increases its relevance, thus increasing the relevance of the corporate site.

In a similar fashion, by adding to relevant content to social networking sites (SNS); both traditional and not-so-traditional, there is opportunity to increase both popularity and relevance. This can be achieved by posting non active, active and interactive mechanisms to these SNS's. Because each of these sites has their own search engine tagging solution, which are fed by the person posting the article, video clip or photos, it gives companies a chance to create their own meta tags which will eventually be indexed by the larger search engines like Google and Yahoo. Even if no one actually views the blog, watches a video or participates in an interactive site option from the sites mentioned above, the fact that they have been indexed and linked back directly or indirectly to the corporate site, increases the corporate site’s relevance and popularity.

A company or organizations’ partners and employees should be set up on specific sites – sites that people can use to set up internet bookmarks. This is important because Google indexes certain sites that are bookmarked regularly. By creating a network of users, all book-marking intertwines with other websites and Blogs that all link back to the corporate site that will ultimately increase the organic ranking of the corporate site.

The ultimate goal is to increase the organic ranking in order to decrease the dependency on pay-per-click advertising. Eventually, an organization can reduce its SEM (Search Engine Marketing) budget and use that money for other more efficient marketing programs. It is believed that organic links from search engines produce higher click-through rates than pay-per-click ads, ultimately increasing traffic to a corporate site and increasing downloads that can be turned into generating revenue.

What does this mean to my business?

It means business. In a nutshell, if you have a $100,000 website that has 20,000 interlinked pages on automotive parts, the more likely a search engine is to consider your site a source of expertise which makes you highly relevant and more likely to be on the first page of someone’s internet search.

It is important to understand that what worked well several years ago to drive traffic to a website doesn’t necessarily work today. And the things that are implemented today may not work well in the future. The internet moves at a different time-space continuum than the rest of the world and SEO and SEM are no exception. Truthfully, there are many things a company can do to increase website traffic without spending excessive amounts of money. Ask your web site or internet expert a lot of questions and let drive them drive your business on the internet highway.

December 10, 2006

How to increase your business's internet presence - It's time for cutting edge change

How do you get listed on Google? How about Yahoo or MSN? Have you ever noticed that when you look for something in your own backyard, the first twenty results are usually across the country? Website owners have no idea how to make themselves visible on a regional level. A few years ago, it made sense to use key words, titles, etc. I'm sure you have heard of meta tags.

Meta tags are fine if a search engine ever decides to index your business, organization etc. by using them. If it does, it may take up to six months. When it is indexed, it becomes less and less significant as daily content overwhelms the web.

Search engines, in order to become accurate, have had to fight a battle with gambling and sex on the internet. The abuse of meta tags has made them useless. Content has become more important, but now we see sites abusing this too. In order to become "findable", you need a combination of content, active links and relevance. Relevance is key.

Did you spend more than $5,000 to have a web site created? More??? No matter what you spend on a web site, it's worth nothing if no one can find it. Many small businesses are impossible to find unless you use the name of the company to find them. What good is that? If you want to participate in the internet you need to be where the traffic is. You have to participate in social networking sites and you have to be active.

We offer a service that helps make small businesses visible. If you are easier to find, then you can do more. This service will also help make your website become visible. Regional results have more meaning. Searching in Canada for Canadian content is difficult. Sites that offer Canadian results, rarely produce good ones. Our system is simple, and it will make you an active participant in the dynamic web.

November 30, 2006

It’s a tough climb to the top – How do you know when you are there?

Measuring the Success of your business

How do you know when your business is successful? You can easily make it a numbers game; a matter of profit, volume of sales or quantity of clients. All too often we get caught up in day to day operations. We forget to take a step back to see how we are ‘measuring up’.

Primary market research provides first hand information from current clients contacts. Don’t be afraid to say, “I am looking at expanding my business and am talking to my customers to find out….” or “We have recently decided to … and would like your feedback”.

Secondary research assists in providing the big picture – industry trends and market indicators. Use trade journals, the internet, professional associations and colleagues. The research library or local business development centre can provide great resources.

How well do you know your competitors? Who are they? What is their message and how is it delivered? How do they brand themselves? What they are doing on the internet? Call them for information and see what you receive, how they respond to your enquiry and their pricing strategy. Benchmark yourself against at least two competitors that are considered leaders in your field– companies mentioned in passing conversation who have innovative products or services.

Have you conducted a self assessment? What feedback do you receive from your clients? We learn from our mistakes more than we do our successes so don’t be afraid of the truth. Do you see any trends that may lead to new or improved services? Are your clients coming from the internet, referrals or you own promotional activity?

Periodically conduct surveys or send questionnaires. There are great tools available that can give accurate results at reasonable prices. Consider coordinating a focus group. Always ask new or potential clients “How did you hear about us?” If you advertise or run a promotion ask, “Where did you hear about us?” If you have a web site do you have the technology in place to know the number of visits or page per views?

Measurement of a successful business can be subjective or not about business in the least. At one end of the ‘scale’ some may measure themselves by asking “Am I earning enough to pay the bills”? Others find success in knowing they have their health, are surrounded by loving individuals with a business that is only a means to an end. Whichever way you perceive it, it is important to measure the investment of your time and money. If you haven’t already measured the success of your business, now may be the right time. If you’ve been thinking now is the time, it probably is!>

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November 29, 2006

Marketing 101 - Making a great first impression

PR Basics – “You had me at Hello”
Making a good first impression

At the end of the movie “Jerry Maguire” the then estranged Tom Cruise returns to his wife, Renee Zellwinger. After a long dissertation which could be interpreted as groveling, Renee surprisingly responds to Jerry Maguire with “You had me at hello”.

Public relations is about communications. Everything you do is communication. You are a walking communicator, even if you don’t say a word. It’s the image you project, and the thousands of voluntary, involuntary expressions and body movements you make. Flora Davis, author and social scientist claims gestures are a shortcut to language, calling body language the silent language.

Are you a good visual representative of what or who you represent? What you are trying to communicate to your audience and how are you communicating? PR is about managing your reputation. In essence you are the architect of your own reputation.

It is said that you never get a second chance to make a good first impression. When you consider that 55% of first impressions are made through body language, 35% through voice and only 7% by your words, this statement cannot be disputed easily

It may be no surprise that 7% of first impact is in what we say, a whopping 93% is in our Body language. Out of the 93%, 55% is interpreted by our appearance and 38% is by the sound of our voice.

Here are the facts: Communications expert Mario Pei estimated that humans can produce up to 7,000 different physical signs. Pioneer researcher in kinesics Birdwhistell estimates that the face alone is capable of producing 250,000 expressions. Researcher M.H. Krout identified 5,000 distinct hand gestures Researcher G.W. Hewes has cataloged 1,000 different postures and their accompanying gestures

Professor Albert Hehrabian’s has broken down the impact of first impressions further. His studies show that Body Language represents 55%, words 7%, voice 38%

Not sure where to make your first good impression? Are you establishing or re-establishing your product, service or event? Here are over 25 ways to make can a good first impression!

Become an expert
Conduct free seminars
Conduct Surveys
Deliver Speeches
Distribute collateral – don’t let them get outdated
Enhance your business card – use the back
Environmental tie-ins
Establish a referral program
Give presentations
Hold Contests
Join online forums
Make appearances on talk shows – radio or TV
Make Public Service Announcements (Radio, newspaper or television)
Make sure your web site is “Media friendly”
Media tour
Mention satisfied customers - get testimonials
Network, network, network!
Personal Endorsements
Piggy back on current partner programs & promotions
Prepare Trend Stories
Press Release
Press conference
Produce E-Books
Service Clubs: Rotary, Kinnettes – Join or attend as a guest – check them out!
Solicit Testimonials, comments
Source out a predominant member of the community to endorse your message
Summarize survey results
Telemarketing – Make use of local college or university students
Use free classified ads on the internet

Write – a book, column, feature articles, letters to the editor of a professional, trade or consumer publication

On a final note – don’t stop or even consider that you are not making a first or lasting impression.