Lonely Planet releases its picks for the top destinations in 2015

Destinations that made the cut for Lonely Planet’s latest, “Best in Travel 2015″ — their biggest guidebook of the year — are chosen for their “topicality, unique experiences and ‘wow’ factor.”

Here are the top-ranked destinations.


Top 10 Countries

1.  Singapore
2.  Namibia
3.  Lithuania
4.  Nicaragua
5.  Ireland
6.  Republic of Congo
7.  Serbia
8.  The Philippines
9.   St Lucia
10. Morocco


Top 10 Regions

1.  Gallipoli Peninsula, Turkey
2.  Rocky Mountain National Park, USA
3.  The Toledo District, Belize
4.  Tasmania, Australia
5.  Northern Norway
6.  Khumbu, Nepal
7.  Copper Canyon, Mexico
8.  Flores, Indonesia
9.  Atacama Desert, Chile
10. Macau, China


Top 10 Cities

1.  Washington, DC, USA
2.  El Chaltén, Argentina
3.  Milan, Italy
4.  Zermatt, Switzerland
5.  Valletta, Malta
6.  Plovdiv, Bulgaria
7.  Salisbury, UK
8.  Vienna, Austria
9.  Chennai, India
10. Toronto, Canada

Other categories include:

Best Value Destinations for 2015

Unforgettable Family Travel Experiences

The Best Free Things to do in 2015

Most Illuminating Experiences

Wonderful Workouts

Best Literary Walking Tours

Best Places for Extreme Eating

The Most Gay-friendly Places on the Planet

Source: TimesLive

Click here for travel safety tips.

Job cuts looming at Cell C

Cell C, South Africa’s third mobile network operator, has informed some of its employees that they could be retrenched. This comes as it embarks on a restructuring process.

Trade union Solidarity said on Friday that this could affect as many as 190 of Cell C’s 1 458 employees.

According to the union, letters sent to Cell C employees state that the company plans to finalise the process by 31 January 2015.

Its says that the company mentions the possibility of severance pay amounting to one week’s remuneration for every year of service.

Solidarity organiser Linda Senekal says the union will do everything in their power to limit the impact of the retrenchment process on members.

“We are especially concerned about the emotional impact of the retrenchments on our members. We are still mourning the tragic loss of one of our members at Cell C, André Ankiewicz, who committed suicide in May 2012 after he received a retrenchment notice from Cell C.”

Cell C, meanwhile, has confirmed that it is in the “process of consultation in respect of possible retrenchments consequent to restructuring in certain areas of the company”.

Cell C confirms that this could affect up to 190 employees, but says some staff could be redeployed.

“We wish to confirm that the process followed is in line with the Labour Relations Act. Furthermore, the company is acting responsibly and will do everything in its power to support those affected by this process.”

 

Source: TechCentral

In sales today, knowledge really is power

Sales used to be simple: Make a cold call. Get an appointment. Meet and build rapport. Uncover needs with probing questions. Deliver your pitch or presentation. Overcome any objections. Close the deal. Sign on the line.
 

Sales is no longer simple. There is too much competition, too little time, too much distraction, too little money. Customers (existing and potential) don’t have much time to speak to sales people, they believe they have more important things to do.

In the past, to succeed in sales, among a few other things, you had to have in depth product knowledge so that you could answer all of your customers’ questions. In today’s world, product knowledge is still of utmost importance, but it is not the only necessity when you consider the bigger picture of ongoing sales success. To remain relevant in the sales game, you will need a much wider range of knowledge, an up-to-date set of sales tools to enable you to survive and thrive regardless of the ever-increasing changes and challenges.

An effective sales toolkit includes the following:

  • A solid grasp of the psychology of selling
  • A clearly defined, service-based sales approach
  • A well-designed, repeatable sales process
  • A street smart sales strategy, with an irresistible value proposition
  • A simple and functional admin or CRM system which works
  • Effective time management, planning and productivity skills
  • Increased business awareness and relevant industry expertise
  • Enhanced interpersonal communication skills
  • Acute questioning and listening skills
  • Advanced negotiation and closing skills
  • Emotional intelligence skills for self-motivation
  • A hunger to keep learning every day

It has always been said that sales is a numbers game. So here are the knowledge numbers that really count. If you want to still be relevant in the sales game five to ten years from now, I recommend that you commit to investing at least one hour per week, for 48 weeks per year, to growing your personal knowledge about this profession of selling. Read sales books, blogs, newsletters and magazines. Attend sales talks, courses, webinars and events. Subscribe to Facebook sales pages, Twitter feeds, YouTube channels and industry forums. Find a coach or mentor. Reach out and grab hold of every piece of sales knowledge you can lay your hands on – starting right now! Because in sales today, knowledge really is power.

Yours in sales success.

Source: Bizcommunity

Five ways to market your business on a shoestring budget

Marketing is absolutely essential for any business to achieve real success and stay relevant, but a traditional marketing campaign can be costly for a small company. How can you reach new customers and retain your existing ones if you have a lot of time, but very little money?

 
1. Use social media

Social media is free to use and is an extremely effective way to communicate with current customers and encourage new ones. You can use it in multiple ways, so set aside at least a few hours every week to work on the following:

  • Start a blog related to your industry and updated it regularly – at least once a week, preferably more. Talk about projects you’re working on or give tips related to your business.
  • Be active on your Facebook and Twitter pages. If you aren’t tweeting and updating regularly, your customers won’t be thinking about you.
  • Create a Pinterest account. It is now more popular than Twitter and is a great way to reach clients in certain industries.
  • Make a low-cost video and share it. People love entertaining or informative videos and are likely to share them with friends. Videos can also make you more visible on Google.
  • Regular activity on social media can improve your SEO results and reminds your clients that you exist.

2. Encourage referrals

Customer referrals are, traditionally, a good way to build up your customer base. Offer existing customers discounts or small rewards in “refer-a-friend” promotions. For example, a customer could earn a 10% discount for referring a friend, and the friend could earn a 5% discount on their first purchase.

3. Get reviews

On a similar note, encourage customers to review your services online. A survey in 2013 found that 79% of customers trust online reviews as much as recommendations from their friends, and 73% said good reviews make them trust a business more. Some commonly used online review sites include Yowzit and HelloPeter. Remember, reviews can be negative too, so make sure that you follow up with customers who have complaints and resolve them!

4. Collaborate

Find a local business with a target market that crosses over with yours and work with them to promote both your businesses.

Some ideas:

  • Give them a special offer to hand out only to their customers.
  • Trade products or services with a nearby business in exchange for advertising space.
  • Combine your efforts to create something newsworthy that will promote both of you
  • As long as that business is not a direct competitor, you can both benefit!

5. Support fundraisers

Supporting fundraisers is a great way to raise awareness of your business name. It has the added benefits of giving your business a reputation for caring and of raising customer goodwill towards you, and the cost is limited to services or products given away. You can also use creative strategies like donating R1 for each product sold on a certain day.

Just because your business doesn’t have a huge budget for marketing doesn’t mean that you have to give up the possibility of marketing altogether. These are only a few of the strategies your business could use. Most cost little more than time, and, done right, they can be extremely effective at drumming up business.

Source: Bizcommunity

Ebola price tag will be $32 billion-plus: World Bank

If efforts to halt its spread out of a three-country core – Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea – are not successful by December, the entire region faces a real threat of economic catastrophe, the World Bank said in a new report.

“In broader regional terms, the economic impacts could be limited if immediate national and international responses succeed in containing the epidemic and mitigating aversion behaviour,” it said.

“If, on the other hand, the epidemic spreads into neighbouring countries, some of which have much larger economies, the cumulative two-year impact could reach US$32.6 billion by the end of 2015.”

The bank noted that small outbreaks in Nigeria and Senegal have been quickly stifled, showing the potential for fast and resolute reactions.

The disease, which has so far killed nearly 3 500 people, has already taken a toll on the economy of the three countries, stifling production and consumption.

In the best case, Ebola being brought under control by the end of 2014, the Bank says, the economic cost will be about $359 million (R4 billion) in the three countries this year and another $129 million (R1,4 billion) next year.

For all of West Africa, the cost will run from $3,8 to $9 billion (R42,5 billion to R100,8 billion).

But in the case that containment comes more slowly in the three core affected countries, and outbreaks surface in neighboring countries, the costs will soar for all, it said.

“The economic impacts of Ebola are already very serious in the core three countries – particularly Liberia and Sierra Leone – and could become catastrophic under a slow-containment, high-Ebola scenario.”

The study called for concerted international support not only during the outbreak, but after it is contained, to revive the economies most affected.

Source: Destiny Connect

Automotive Services - How do I choose a reputable Service Provider?

For most South Africans a motor vehicle is so much more than a status symbol or a convenient way to get from point A to point B. A lack of reliable public transport in most parts of the country has forced nearly all South Africans to acquire motor vehicles, and with motor vehicles comes the need for reliable automotive services.

An automotive service provider inspects, maintains and repairs cars and light trucks. In the United States of America, the National Institute for Automotive Service Excellence certifies professionals and shops in the automotive repair and service industry. However, lacking a similar certification body in South Africa, most South Africans rely on recommendations from friends or car dealerships when it comes to choosing automotive services.

The Automobile Association (AA) could provide valuable insight in this regard. The AA has been operating in South Africa since 1930. It is a non-profit organisation and its services include roadside assistance, technical and motor-related legal advice.

Its Quality Assured accreditation programme (AAQA) identifies prospective partners across a wide spectrum of automotive services, including auto body repairs, vehicle maintenance and repair centres, auto electricians, locksmiths, accessory fitment centres and specialist repair centres. They not only check to ensure that the facilities and services of these service providers comply with the AA’s stringent quality assurance requirements, but also that they will deliver on the expected service to ensure customer satisfaction. It would be wise therefore to check whether your chosen automotive services partner is accredited with the AA.

Consumers should also be aware of scare tactics. The number one tip on the Reader’s Digest’s list of 29 tips from mechanics and car experts is to always get a second opinion when a mechanic claims that substantial work needs to be done. It’s also wise to ask for old parts back, to ensure that they have in fact been changed and that they were worn out.

Finally, there is something to be said for a good old gut feeling. If your gut is telling you to go somewhere else, listen to it. Automotive services hardly ever comes cheap; make sure that you get the best you can possibly afford.

At your service - build your business with good customer service

The words “at your service” has been used so often by many customer service personnel that it may ring hollow or even seem insincere. However, customer service can make, or break, a business and that is why it should be an integral part of any management strategy.

Great customer service is not only about keeping customers happy. It is also vital to bring them back to your business. How do you make it happen? New customers become return customers if a few simple but golden rules are followed.

  • Deliver on promises – do not promise what you cannot deliver, whether it be products, services or appointments. Reliability and trust are the cornerstones of any relationship and customer service is nothing if not a relationship between a customer and your business.
  • Listen to your customers – Not only will it make them feel valued, but it will also help you to deal with complaints and give insight into their needs. It is also an excellent way of getting feedback on your product or service offering as well as the competency and ability of your staff to create great customer experiences.
  • Train your staff properly – Customer service personnel should not only be knowledgeable about your products or services, but should also have a solid understanding of what good customer service really means.
  • Try to solve problems – Sending a customer from pillar to post without offering real solutions is a sure-fire way to lose customers. Go the extra mile to sort out issues, offer alternatives and resolve complaints.
  • Finally, never underestimate the power of making someone feel important. Your customers are the lifeblood of your business and should be treated with the sincerity, respect and grace that they deserve.

Following these simple steps and having a sound understanding of what the words “at your service” truly means, could make all the difference in how customers perceive the level of service at a business.

A new marketing era?

Discovery Insure has a really nifty little gadget that it attaches to your car when you take out insurance: a tracking device that can also measure impact on your car, how fast you are going, where you are travelling, whether you brake sharply, and whether you cut corners. Altogether, it is a rather cool little tool that, in my opinion, it is not currently using to its full potential. However, that is neither here nor there.

Every day, most of us carry an almost identical tool around with us. For a company that is dialled in, it can tell in minute detail where we are and, using extrapolation, what we are most likely doing. For one second, just imagine the wealth of data and marketing possibilities of that reality.

Not so long ago, telephones were there to make calls. If someone couldn’t reach you, he tried again. Then they became mobile and everyone could always reach you. Then they became smart and the truth is, at any given time, now the whole world can reach you. No longer limited to voice only, a myriad potential contacts and connections now exist.

Rarely buy underwear

Let’s say I have an account with an upmarket clothing store – let’s call it ‘Banana Island’. Using information collated over time, Banana Island knows that I am female, between the ages of 30 and 40, I routinely buy handbags and soft leather boots, rarely buy underwear and hosiery and, in general, I spend up to R350 on each visit.

Now for a moment imagine that I, on a lazy Sunday afternoon, pop into Banana Island just to have a look around. Having given Banana Island permission to view my location via my smartphone, it is immediately registered that I am in a store. The Banana Island app pings me to offer me a R100 off of any purchase of handbags or leather boots when I spend R450 or more.

A different scenario: the Discovery app I have on my phone also has permission to view my location via my smartphone. I use the app to check in at Bloukrans Bridge on the border of the Eastern and Western Cape on a clear-and-quiet morning. The app immediately pings me and offers me life and disability insurance to cover me for the bungee jump I am most likely about to do. R10, take it or leave it, cover is immediate and only for the duration of the jump.

Using the phone’s telematics system to measuring speed, impact, distance – the chances of a false claim is reduced. That is if the phone goes off the bridge with me. And, let’s face it, most of us are as close as dammit surgically attached to our phones. That baby is more than likely going to bungee with me. Perhaps even snap a selfie or two.

Companies know where you are

A few, very forward-thinking companies are already realising this kind of power and potential. However, we are rapidly advancing into a world in which, at any given point in time, multiple companies know exactly where you are and can probably make a very educated swipe at what you are doing. With each marketing machine working overtime to dial you into its service, its product and its brand, your smartphone is no longer just a device to call. It affords companies and individuals endless and limitless possibilities, and it’s guaranteed to generate some very new and very interesting business models.

Source: Bizcommunity

2014 Sunday Times Top 100 Companies results out

For the second consecutive year, Coronation Fund Managers has been named Top Company in the annual Sunday Times Top 100 Companies Awards. The ceremony took place in Sandton on Tuesday night, 28 October.
 
Dr Johan van Zyl, Group CEO of Sanlam, was named Sunday Times Business Leader of the Year, while chairman of First Rand Group, Laurie Dippenaar, received the Lifetime Achievement Award.

Trevor Manuel honoured

An unprecedented award was given at the start of the evening’s proceedings with Trevor Manuel receiving a special commendation from the Sunday Times for his exceptional contribution to the development of South Africa, and improving the lives of all its citizens during its first twenty years of democracy.

Phylicia Oppelt, Sunday Times editor said, “It is fitting that, in the 20th anniversary of our democracy, that we honour Trevor Manuel for his significant contribution to this country. In addition, the Top 100 has a special place at the Sunday Times as it allows us to recognise the private sector’s contribution to South Africa, especially during these difficult economic times.”

The Sunday Times Top 100 Companies event recognises the best-performing JSE-listed companies, based on their shareholder returns and performance over a five-year period.

Anton Pillay, CEO of Coronation Fund Managers, accepted the Sunday Times Top Company Award, commenting: “It is a privilege to receive the Sunday Times Top 100 Companies award for the second year in a row. As a long-term investment manager, we remain resolute in applying our philosophy of investing with a long time horizon and creating wealth for our clients.”

Voted by peers

The Sunday Times Business Leader of the Year Award, as decided by the CEOs of last year’s Top 100 Companies, is a highly regarded accolade that acknowledges the combined respect from one’s industry peers. In acceptance of the award, Dr Johan van Zyl, Group CEO of Sanlam expressed his gratitude saying, “It is a great honour to receive this award, particularly as it is the result of a voting process by peers. In business it is about people and the team, probably more so in insurance where you do not sell a physical product, but a promise. This promise is only as good as the people making it. This award is therefore to Sanlam, to the team. Thank you to those colleagues who give their best, and to family and friends for their support.”

 

Laurie Dippenaar, chairman of First Rand Group, received the Sunday Times Lifetime Achievement Award and said, “It is an absolute honour to receive this award, and to be recognised by my peers in the South African business community. I accept it on behalf of everyone at FirstRand and in particular my fellow founders GT Ferreira and Paul Harris. The creation and on-going success of the group has been, and continues to be, a team effort.”

Telkom awarded for CSI programme

The 2014 Sunday Times Corporate Social Investment Award went to Telkom for its information and communications technology (ICT) incubation programme otherwise known as the Bandwidth Barn. The recipient is decided by the Who Owns Whom detailed BEE scorecard applied to all JSE-listed companies, and measures the impact and sustainability of a company’s CSI initiatives.

 

Telkom’s ICT incubation programme employs 90 people, and has developed 20 black female-owned ICT companies with a turnover exceeding R30m. Telkom also sponsored 24 months of internet service to six national ABSA Enterprise Development Centres, to create more opportunities for supplier development initiatives.

Resilience and innovation

Rob Rose, editor of the Sunday Times Business Times said: “This award reflects the fact that more companies are putting their money where their mouth is when it comes to CSI, improving their reputation not only among investors, but also among a wider group of stakeholders.”

 

Each year, South African companies are recognised for the resilience and innovation that has seen them retain a top twenty position within the Sunday Times Top 100 Companies rankings for three consecutive years. They become members of an exclusive group known as the Sunday Times Royal Companies. This year, Anglovaal Industries, Aspen Pharmacare Holdings, Coronation Fund Managers, EOH Holdings, Famous Brands, Howden Africa Holdings, Mr Price Group and Woolworths Holdings received the Royal Company recognition.

The 2014 Sunday Times Top 100 Companies results:

2014 RANK COMPANY AVERAGE ANNUAL COMPOUND RETURN (%) 2013 RANK
1 CORONATION FUND MANAGERS (2014 Royal Company) 78.11 1
2 EOH HOLDINGS (2014 Royal Company) 63.55 2
3 METAIR INVESTMENTS 49.94 11
4 MR PRICE GROUP (2014 Royal Company) 48.42 6
5 AFRIMAT 45.34 43
6 FAMOUS BRANDS (2014 Royal Company) 43.79 5
7 INVICTA HOLDINGS 41.71 23
8 ASPEN PHARMACARE HOLDINGS (2014 Royal Company) 41.33 10
9 HOWDEN AFRICA HOLDINGS (2014 Royal Company) 41.30 15
10 MONDI plc 41.03 19
11 CONSOLIDATED INFRASTRUCTURE GROUP 40.37  
12 MIX TELEMATICS 38.52 4
13 WOOLWORTHS HOLDINGS (2014 Royal Company) 38.42 3
14 NEW EUROPE PROPERTY INVESTMENTS plc 38.21  
15 NASPERS 37.99  
16 BRIMSTONE INVESTMENT CORPORATION 37.56 8
17 AVI (2014 Royal Company) 36.46  
18 GRAND PARADE INVESTMENTS 36.27  
19 ELB GROUP 35.72  
20 MEDICLINIC INTERNATIONAL 35.66  
21 COMPAGNIE FIN RICHEMONT 35.20  
22 CAPITEC BANK HOLDINGS 35.04 9
23 PSG GROUP 34.97  
24 METROFILE HOLDINGS 34.56  
25 BRAIT SE 33.60  
26 CONDUIT CAPITAL 32.70  
27 OMNIA HOLDINGS 32.67  
28 PINNACLE HOLDINGS 32.55 7
29 MUSTEK 32.16  
30 RESILIENT PROPERTY INCOME FUND 31.83  
31 PIONEER FOODS GROUP 31.54  
32 STEINHOFF INTERNATIONAL HOLDINGS 31.17  
33 RMB HOLDINGS 31.04  
34 SANLAM 30.79  
35 SABMILLER plc 30.72  
36 ITALTILE 30.71  
37 SPUR CORPORATION 30.69  
38 TRENCOR 30.66  
39 FIRSTRAND 30.58  
40 DISCOVERY 29.66  
41 OCEANA GROUP 29.05  
42 LITHA HEALTHCARE GROUP 28.99  
43 ARB HOLDINGS 28.88  
44 ZEDER INVESTMENTS 28.87  
45 SUPER GROUP 28.59  
46 NETCARE 28.47  
47 CLIENTELE LIFE ASSURANCE 27.92  
48 CLICKS GROUP 27.32  
49 BRITISH AMERICAN TOBACCO plc 26.45  
50 VODACOM GROUP 25.92  
51 PEREGRINE HOLDINGS 25.72  
52 OLD MUTUAL plc 25.34  
53 SANTAM 25.24  
54 NAMPAK 24.73  
55 REMGRO 24.56  
56 MMI HOLDINGS 23.65  
57 PAN AFRICAN RESOURCES plc 23.62  
58 CAPEVIN HOLDINGS 22.90  
59 THE BIDVEST GROUP 22.85  
60 HYPROP INVESTMENTS 22.71  
61 SA CORPORATE REAL ESTATE FUND 22.41  
62 IMPERIAL HOLDINGS 22.00  
63 HOSKEN CONSOLIDATED INVESTMENTS 21.29  
64 SASOL 20.81  
65 GROWTHPOINT PROPERTIES 20.75  
66 CAPITAL PROPERTY FUND 20.61  
67 TIGER BRANDS 20.14  
68 DATATEC 20.06  
69 SHOPRITE HOLDINGS 19.83  
70 REINET INVESTMENTS S.C.A 19.07  
71 LIBERTY HOLDINGS 18.74  
72 THE SPAR GROUP 18.58  
73 VUKILE PROPERTY FUND 18.42  
74 THE FOSCHINI GROUP 18.27  
75 MTN GROUP 17.95  
76 AECI 17.88  
77 COMAIR 17.87  
78 CASHBUILD 17.84  
79 OCTODEC INVESTMENTS 17.45  
80 ACUCAP PROPERTIES 17.35  
81 NEDBANK GROUP 17.14  
82 SACOIL HOLDINGS 17.08  
83 KAP INDUSTRIAL HOLDINGS 17.07  
84 BARLOWORLD 16.51  
85 EMIRA PROPERTY FUND 16.34  
86 HUDACO INDUSTRIES 16.28  
87 INVESTEC plc 15.65  
88 PHUMELELA GAMING AND LEISURE 15.48  
89 REDEFINE PROPERTIES 14.94  
90 HOSPITALITY PROPERTY FUND 14.92  
91 ADVTECH 14.87  
92 ASTRAL FOODS 14.82  
93 SYCOM PROPERTY FUND 14.43  
94 WESCOAL HOLDINGS 14.08  
95 J S E 13.94  
96 TRUWORTHS INTERNATIONAL 13.81  
97 ASSORE 13.58  
98 TONGAAT HULETT 13.00  
99 NU-WORLD HOLDINGS 12.68  
100 CITY LODGE HOTELS 12.61

 

 Source: Bizcommunity