A Brand New Recipe For Branding

In a recent article, I told the story of when I was a young whippersnapper, attaining classes at what was then and still is called "one of the more famous hotel schools in North America", the marketing professor gave us an interesting, but quite challenging assignment.

We were to find a hospitality business that marketed itself by using the participation of the owner as part of the "distinctiveness" of the business. At the time, this seemed like a most difficult assignment, because in those days, it seemed that not too many people really stood out in this field. At least that what it seemed like to me in my youth. Or maybe it was just that they did not want to either make a fool of themselves. There seemed little need to drive the world to their door. I chose a very different restaurant enclosed within an old 19th century Mansion in this very cosmopolitan city. It was called Julie's Mansion and was owned and operated by a very eccentric, but wonderful showman who knew that he had to differentiate his restaurant from all the rest. He knew that the best way to do that – after the assumption of great food, entertainment and service – was to turn himself into the "brand."

My job, as a young hospitality student, was to watch him carefully and learn as much as I could. One Saturday night I showed up and Julie was trying to 'insert' himself into the home team's pro hockey uniform. It was immediately obvious that Julie had never played hockey. To see a middle-aged man struggling to get into and then have to have me extricate him from the jersey, equipment, elbow pads et al, was hilarious for a young guy like me, who had been on skates and playing the game since age four. He certainly was not afraid to make a fool of himself. When I showed up that night, he had less than no idea what piece of equipment went where, and was struggling with the shin guards. He had got himself all tangled up with what he thought were hip guards, when in fact they were shoulder pads, worn over the shoulders. It was indeed the first time I had ever seen a 'player' wearing shoulder pads, stretched around his butt.

I helped him get 'dressed'. Next came the taping of the hockey stick. This was really hilarious, watching this fellow trying to figure out the right way to tape a hockey stick without making a mess of it and looking foolish to his customers. He had a special plan for that stick.

I taped his stick and now he was ready. He had on his uniform, equipment and helmet, borrowed from one of the local NHL players who were a frequent guest at the mansion. Now, he actually looked like a real NHL hockey player … in black and white running shoes, sans skates!

Then Julie 'flew through' the different alcoves and floors of the restaurant with a big ball of foodservice aluminum foil as his 'puck'. He stick-handled in and out and between tables, took shots with the aluminum ball off the walls, cross-checked his own waiters trying to serve tables, all the while yelling cheers and the phrase made famous' round the world, by Foster Hewitt : "he shoots …. he scores!" All this, at the top of his lungs. Then he had planned for a horn to sound loudly indicating that the 'period of play' in his imaginary 'game' was over. It was now time to go to the dressing room. In a flash, just like an on-stage magician, he quickly disappeared into thin air, hidden in his office.

My face was covered in tears. I could not stop laughing! The restaurant was in an uproar. Guests were laughing so hard … one guy literally fell off his chair. The waiters were laughing, the guests were laughing, I was laughing and all the while Julie was having a ball too. Here was a restaurateur who made his work fun.

I had not met one of these types before. I really liked and respected this fellow. But I figured then, and still today, that anyone who had that much fun … and made that much money … must know something the others did not. And he did. He became his own brand. 'Distinctive. 'Differentiated. 'There is attractive to people who are sick of seeing the same old, same old every day. People are attracted to differences not similarities. Take a look at what you can do with yours. It's right under your own nose.

© Copyright, Roy W. MacNaughton, 2006

Vacations Are Possible When You Plan For It

With the spring and summer months right around the corner and summer break right on its heels, most people's thoughts turn towards vacation! My family is no different. In fact, we've been planning all of our vacation time for the past twelve months.

Our goal is to take three trips a year. Two short ones; maybe a weekend trip to another city in our state or a bordering state. And one nice, relaxing, long trip that we have to pack our bags and head for the airport for that lasts seven to ten indulgent days!

For example, about the time our son's April birthday rolls around, we plan a weekend trip somewhere in our state. His favorite is always San Antonio because he likes to visit the theme parks and gorgeous Riverwalk that they have there. Since we live in Dallas, it's less than a four hour drive; and it's usually the precursor to kicking off our year of getting away.

This year, the longer trip will be in the summertime, a week after school is out. We are planning a vacation to Florida to visit Walt Disney World. We will be gone for ten glorious days for fun in the sun.

And then, in October, my husband and I are planning a three to four day getaway to celebrate our anniversary in beautiful Mexico. And that will give us our three getaways for the year! It's as simple as that.

Now, we have not always been able to do this. Why? Because of poor planning on our part. But, that is no longer the case. We've wised up, and if you have not been getting away for a little rest and relaxation because of the same problem, here's how you can guarantee that that will not be the case next year … or the year after that – forever !

My husband, Muri, and I have created what we call a "Battery Recharge" account, or in regular terms, a travel account. All monies that go into it ensure that we'll be able to get away with our ten-year old son, Jordan, or for a romantic weekend on our own!

Have a family discussion and decide where each of you would like to go. Narrow it down, and vote on three locations. One that's far away and two that are within a reasonable driving distance.

Once you've done that, do your research. There are a number of online resources. Thanks to technology, finding attractions in the city of your destination is no more than a click away! You can build an itinerary of what your family will do, as well as get the costs of each show or attraction you'd like to attend.

Then, one-by-one, you begin to fund your "Batter Recharge" account until you have the money to do each trip! What's so great about the two short trips, most can be done for less than five hundred dollars. The key is not extravagance. It's just getting away with your family to bond and re-energize yourself.

You work hard, everyday. Take some time to enjoy the fruits of your labor with the ones you love and cherish. Your mental, physical and relational well-being will be all the better for it!

Happy vacationing!

Cabo San Lucas Real Estate – Your Questions Answered – Part 3

East Cape Mexico Real Estate: Living In The Corridor

It's a compromise. A big one. It's miles of gated communities, golf courses, luxury resorts and wonderful beaches. People who buy homes or condos in the corridor participate the peace and relative security of living in gated enclaves. Same as some places back home in the States. Homeowners association rules keep out the local door-to-door peddlers, sound trucks advertising the circus, neighbors raising fighting cocks and other ambience destroyers.

I've lived in and out of these places. Personally, I kinda liked the hombre that would rattle our gate at our home in the barrio every so often to offer us fresh camarones or fish. Or on one day – a sack of live lobsters for four bucks a pound. "You come back every week," I told him, "the gate is always open for you amigo." If you like to VISIT Cabo a lot, but do not want to live in Cabo, then the corridor is a good compromise. Just remember, major grocery stores, and other necessities will be three to ten miles away in Cabo or San Jose. It's like living in the burbs without the halls – without much of anything. Just you and your neighbors, behind those big guarded gates, next to the ocean. Oh, yes – Costco and Home Depot are across the highway on the Cabo end.

Corridor Developments

Over the past several years and ongoing, developers have been putting in scores of townhouses on the land side of the corridor at prices starting in the low 200's and going up from there. They usually have a community pool and other amenities, and a view of Cabo Bay if you're lucky. Appreciation has been good – some doubling in value in two years. Some are safe investments, some are dicey – depending on the strength of the builder in general. One has to be circumspect when buying anything here. More so than say in California where more real estate disclosure is required. Title insurance is critical, so is working with knowledgeable professionals who will look out for your interests first – not the developers interests.

Established developments on the ocean side of the highway like Cabo Bello, Cabo del Sol and so on until you get all the way to San Jose are like gold. Some have private (by default behind gates) and semi-private beaches, beach clubs, and full resort amenities such as those found in Cabo de Sol or Palmilla.

Homes in these areas will range from around $ 500,000 USD up to ten or more million dollars. Prices are catching up to Southern California fast. How fast? Well, the new Puerto Los Cabos development on the East side of the San Jose estuary was selling ocean front building lots two years ago for 1.5 million dollars. They are now going for almost four million.

The limited number of ocean front lots in the El Dorado Country club (which went private last year) are going for twelve million dollars. But across the highway, and still with an ocean view (a half mile away) you can buy a town home with a community pool for under $ 200,000. This year …?

NEXT: Living in San Jose del Cabo

Making Your Commercial Website Work With Effective Web Design

The first thing about web design is to know the purpose of the website. This will then define the target audience of the website. Furthermore, this will dictate the appropriate look and overall web design.

Web Design: Connecting with Potential Customers

Commercial websites need to connect with potential customers. Websites are there to tell them about the products. So that’s what they should see in the website. They would be interested about what these products can do for them. Customers would want to know how they can buy the products. If they have questions they’d want to know how to contact you. And eventually they would be interested about the cost too.

In short, what a commercial website needs is a whole system. It’s like having a good store. You don’t only need a good display. You also need helpful salesladies and cashiers to complete the transaction.

To facilitate a good shopping experience, easy navigation is imperative. Relevant information about the company and its products should be easy to locate. A visitor should also be able to tell where he has yet to go to. For example, you have a repeat customer. He should be able to tell which products are new.

Links should be visible and clear. Titles for each link should tell what is contained there. The uncluttered look also always works for businesses. This gives the customers an easier way to take everything in. And it’s easier for them to choose where to go next.

The Other Side of Web Design

Web design also involves designing the under workings of the site. For instance, making sure that each page loads faster is essential. Customers value fast service. So, the site should open instantaneously if possible.

This does not mean that graphics and images are prohibited. It’s just a matter of providing the right file size.

Another part of web design deals with search engine optimization. Your potential customers should be directed to your site. It must therefore have high page rankings. One essential thing for that is proper HTML coding.

Content management may be related to web design as well. After all, visitors go to the website for the content. Relevant content should be provided to help the site get indexed. Updates should be done regularly to improve rankings. This also helps make customers come back to the site.

So essentially, the interface and the backend job of the web designer should correlate. Good web designers should also be conscious of the business aspect of it. Businesses want to build a business. So at the end of the day, it should be what the website should deliver.

SEO understands that getting sales is the main objective of every business. While SEO works to provide the best website design and development services, it works to provide the best Internet marketing as well. We focus on the needs of each of our clients. And in the end, we always bring in the desired outcome.