Category Archives: Business and Leadership

Marketing for Businesses: Knowing What People Want

marketing for businessesEffective marketing is an important part of any business. Even if you’re company provides the best product or service, you still need some level of marketing to inform potential buyers. I was fortunate enough to hear Kelly McDonald, of McDonald Marketing, speak on  marketing in today’s changing environment. A published author and internationally recognized expert, I was excited to understand modern day marketing trends and learn tips for my own company.

Eight things to consider while marketing your business:

1. Identify what people want, and then give it to them

  • Listen, listen, listen
  • An example is the success of Target’s strategy compared to KMart’s strategy

2. Tap into values

  • Support locally owned business, source locally
  • Publish testimonials and reviews online
  • Go green
  • Be the good guys, doing good is the new cool

3. Foster a culture of empathy

  • Hire the right person, not the resume
  • Many jobs are teachable jobs
  • “Awesomeness” follows the person
  • Awesome people are not defensive when things go wrong

4. Recognize different needs for different markets

  • Burger King serves breakfast on bagels in New York City and on biscuits in Birmingham, Alabama

5. Use consumer insights

  • Sell your cause
  • Women typically value expansive choices
  • While men prefer the “magic number” of three choices

6. Pay attention to trends, not fads

  • Mass is out, customization is in
  • McDonalds has kiosks to customize your order
  • Coke started putting personal names on bottles
  • Social is everything

7. Show people as they really are

  • Show real people in ads, not photo stock models
  • People respond to those they can relate to

8. Helping Beats Selling

    • We don’t need anymore “information”. We need “advice.”
    • Provide solutions and help them

Overall, I was reminded that most people already know what they want. They are just looking for the right company to fill those needs. By being honest, transparent, and easily accessible, you can gain the trust of your audience.

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How to Live a Championship Life? Dr. Kevin Elko

It’s a new year and one of my resolutions is to attend more motivational seminars in 2017. Last month I attended a motivational conference at Frazer Memorial UMC in Montgomery Alabama.  Led by Dr. Kevin Elko, he is a world renowned performance consultant, speaker and author.  Elko has worked with professional sports teams Pittsburgh Steelers, Dallas Cowboys and New Orleans Saints. He also has consulted with BCS National Championship footbal teams including; the University of Alabama, LSU, FSU, and the University of Miami.

In the business world, Dr. Elko focuses on helping organizations in the areas of leadership, goal setting, and various other motivational topics. His corporate clients have included; ING, Tyson Foods, Abbott Labs, LPL Financial, The Hartford, Genworth, Jackson National Life, Pioneer Investments, Morgan Stanley, Bank of America, Merrill Lynch, and Sun Life, just to mention a few.
how to live a championship life
The theme of the night was ‘How to Live a Championship Life?’. What a great motivation for the new year! Several of the takeaways could be directly applied to 2017 and the many years to come.

How To Live A Championship Life

  • Learn to talk to yourself – Be your own motivation.
  • Decide – Decide to be positive, Decide not to complain, Decide to be a better friend, parent, co-worker, spouse.
  • Be a blessing to someone.
  • Write more handwritten “Thank you notes.”
  • Enjoy Life!

Dr. Elko is the author of four books, Nerves of Steel, The Pep Talk, True Greatness: Mastering the Inner game of Business Success and Touchdown: Achieving Your Greatness on the Playing Field of Business and Life.

 

Professional Tip: How To Make A Positive First Impression

Positive first impressionI recently had the pleasure of attending GBTA-North Carolina’s Education Day. This year’s theme ‘Let’s Get Personal’, kept the interest of the audience for the entire day. The first session on Body Language in Business was conducted by Tanis Roeder, owner of Elevate Your Communication. The 90-minute segment focused on how to improve your first impression with five main areas. Many of these tips can be done even before you say a word.

5 Ways To Make A Positive Impression

1- Friendly and Engaged Face
• Eye contact can lead to likability and can set you apart from others.
• A genuine smile with wrinkles around the eyes is powerful.
• Signs of listening include nodding, tilting head and leaning inward slightly.

2- Open Gestures
• Hands should always be open.
• Gestures to use occasionally include; interlaced fingers to show you are listening, steeple hands to show confidence, and hands on your face to show engagement.
• Some gestures to avoid are pointing, hands over your mouth, hands on hips and hands in pockets.

3- Confident Handshake
• Handshakes are important as they help you develop rapport with the person you are speaking with and also help you remember names.
• There is a correct way to shake someone’s hand. Your palm must meet the palm of the person’s hand you are shaking.

4- Thoughtful Stance
• Men tend to stand more to the side while women stand face-to-face.
• A space bubble of four feet is appropriate for business, while between 12 inches and four feet is more appropriate for social settings.

5- Engaged Seated Position
• Appropriate seated positions included legs straight or crossed toward your audience with arms at your side.
• It is best to avoid crossing your arms in front (too submissive) and crossing your arms overhead (too confident).

Studies show that 85% of our communication comes from non-verbal queues.  If you can send the right message before you even begin speaking, you know you are on the right track for the rest of the conversation.

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Professional Tip: Make a Difference That People Love

I recently attended a presentation by the author David Sturt, who spoke on the subject of creating great work as opposed to good work. David Sturt is an executive vice president of the O.C. Tanner Institute and author of The New York Times best-selling book, Great Work. This difference between good and great work is how people make a difference others love. He focused on how inspired employees rise above and contribute more than expected.

Professional-Tip-Make-A-Difference-That-People-LoveThough Sturt’s career began in market research, he enlisted two PhDs from Harvard and Cambridge to help him design a research study for the book. They first reviewed 10,000 samples of award-winning work. To gain further insight into what makes work great, rather than just good, they also conducted 200 one-on-one interviews. In the process, patterns that influenced the great work emerged and they organized them into five consistent skills. He summarized the common success factors into the following five skills:

Common Success Factors For Great Work

  • Ask The Right Questions
    • Great work begins when we ask the right people what they would love.
    • Think about the people your work serves; customers, team members and partners.
    • Ponder improvements with the recipients in mind.
    • Learn how to ask the right questions:
      • Pause before you begin
      • Consider who your work serves
      • Ask the questions to those who your work benefits
  • See For Yourself
    • Difference makers get out of their own bubble and look with their own eyes:
      • They observe everything and everyone affected by their work.
      • Difference makers watch what people do to see how people experience their work.
      • They look at the process to find out what’s working and what’s not.
  • Talk To Your Outer Circle
    • You won’t get any new ideas if you always talk to your inner circle. Your inner circle is always in a bubble. They are a lot like you.
    • Collect ideas and seek points of clarification from others.
    • All of the best thinking comes from the thinking of your outer circle.
  • Improve The Mix
    • Find out what you need to add and subtract to optimize the work or product.
    • Add what is missing and subtract what is not needed.
    • Look at things that people don’t like; imagine ways to reduce and simplify.
    • Bring old things together in new ways.
  • Deliver The Difference
    • Good workers stop when they feel like the work is good enough; great workers are obsessed with sticking with it until people love it.
    • The real value is created after the feedback from those who benefit from your work begins.
    • Insist on knowing what worked and why; stay with it relentlessly until people love it.
    • Create great work that inspires others; become a catalyst for great work.


The takeaway from his presentation and book is clear – everyone is capable of great work. They just need the environment and skills to ideate, innovate and deliver their product.  If you are looking to be inspired, or create passion in your workplace, I recommend this book.

Christopherson Business Travel is an award-winning corporate travel management company with more than 60 years of experience. We are proud to be independently-owned, with more that 300 employees nationawide. Learn more about our own company philosophy or our unique travel management services.

Increasing Compliance With Your Millennial Business Travelers

Millennial-business-travelersIn case you haven’t noticed, the Millennial generation have recently become the butt of  jokes at conferences, twitter chats, and professional gatherings. Millennials, or Generation Ys,  are the most recent generation to enter the workforce. Currently in their early 20s – early 30s, they are putting the traditional workforce into a spin with their differing work styles and priorities. Whether you are from the camp believing they have a productive work ethic or they are self-entitled children, we as a society need to learn how to adjust our work environments to productively work with them. As Carolyn A. Martin and Bruce Tulgan, authors of the book ‘Managing Generation Y’ said “Organizations that can’t – or won’t customize training, career paths, incentives, and work responsibilities need a wake up call.”

Millennial Generation Characteristics

  • Millennials expect everything to be customizable to their preferences. If they don’t like their profile picture on Facebook, they change it. They can have just about anything shipped directly to their house. It’s how our world works now; almost everything is customizable and instantaneous. The difference is they’ve grown up with the expectation that if you don’t like something, there is always another solution available.  
  • They are on average highly educated, but value a higher work-life balance. This often makes them appear lazy and lacking respect when they take long lunches or work from home.
  • Growing up with computers and quickly advancing technology, they are quick learners to new technology and can easy adjust to new protocols or changes in the company.
  • They value experiences, especially travel. Millennials can make the best roadwarriors. Every city they enter is new and full of promise.
  • Sharing these experiences are highly valued. Why go to a new city and not take pictures?
  • Communication is important, but not in the traditional sense. Good luck getting them on the phone. They are more apt to sending a email or text than leave a voicemail.

Millennials and Reporting Compliance

Regarding travel management, Millennials have the highest rate of non-compliance. According to Tim Hines, the presenter at a Rocky Mountain Business Travel Association luncheon, they average 46% compliance. Compared to Baby Boomers, who are on average 80% compliant, the difference is concerning. If Millennials are always connected, why are they so bad at reporting their travel expenses? Well, the devil may be in the details here. Often the reporting process is lengthy or slow. For a group that expects results instantaneously, this can be a giant hurdle.   If you need something done, it should have a quick and easy approach.

6 Tips For Improving Compliance Rates:

  • Allow customization of the reporting platform and the ability to make adjustments.
  • Make the process as automated as possible. Use text alerts or automatic updates.
  • Enhance traveler experience, possibly with incenetives.
  • Leverage social tools, like Concur, TripIt, or Airtinerary.
  • Explore alternative communication methods like Twitter, Google Chat or Slack. Providing additional channels may open up lines of communication you didn’t know was needed.
  • Put them in charge of creating a new system for regulating compliance. They are quick to learn new technology. If they are responsible for finding something that will work for them, compliance will certainly be higher.

Christopherson Is A Concur Preferred Partner

One of the key differentiating factors for Christopherson Business Travel is our Concur Preferred Partner status. Concur_Preferred_PartnerThough this is one of our most beneficial components, it is often overlooked by prospective travel managers or business travelers. Working closely with the leading spend management provider allows us to further provide our clients with easy and affordable online travel management solutions. Their cloud-based services allows for updates and upgrades automatically. Combine that with our top-of-the-line integrations to our own travel technology means our clients are always supported, no matter the situation.

What makes a Concur Preferred Partner:

  • Fully aligned with Concur’s mission and vision, and consistently collaborate with the Concur team
  • Market leaders in the industry, committed to driving innovation for their clients
  • Fully supportive of Concur’s business traveler suite of solutions
  • Connected with Concur sales and business development teams to ensure complete alignment
  • Proactively engaged in key industry events and initiatives

We were one of the first Concur Preferred Partners, an exclusive membership that includes only 25 partners worldwide. Concur Preferred Partners achieve the platform benefits of full, open technological integration. This enables us to offer our clients comprehensive service and the ability to evolve with the industry and our client’s growing travel needs. We currently manage more than 800 sites for more than 650 companies using Concur.

Christopherson is a longtime direct reseller of Concur, our clients are assured of high-quality service, responsive interaction, and an on-time implementation and transition. Most importantly, Christopherson has two specialized teams to build, customize, and maintain our client booking sites. These teams are ready to provide prompt and insightful assistance to travelers with navigational and system questions via phone or email.

“Christopherson Business Travel was one of our original TMC Partners to earn the Preferred Partner designation. This is due primarily to their leading edge in-house technical capabilities and their ability to successfully build out an API to Concur which allows for a robust data exchange process. Christopherson was also one of the first agencies to be TripLink certified and they are an active participant on our Preferred Partner Advisory Board. Their Executive team from the CEO down are some of the finest and well respected professionals in the industry and I truly enjoy working with them as a Concur TMC Preferred Partner.” —Will Elliott, Senior Alliance Manager, Concur

Professional Tip: Body Language Shapes More Than You Think

In attempt to motivate and instill confidence in a fellow business professional, I recommended the TedTalk presentation, ‘Your Body Language Shapes Who You Are’ by Amy Cuddy. Though I had seen it before I decided to watch it again and I’m so glad I did! Her presentation holds a very valuable professional tip, backed by science, credibility and passion. Amy Cuddy is a social psychologist and assistant professor at Harvard Business School, who has dedicated her life to uncovering the subconscious traits our bodies communicate to others.

In this inspiring Ted Talk, she explains that our body language defines who we are to others. With slopped shoulders we appear submissive. With crossed arms we convey not being open to new perspectives. Conversely, standing tall will make us appear more in control. But Cuddy says body language can effect more than just the perceptions of others. Her research uncovered how our body language effects our physiology. You read that correctly, our body chemistry changes based on the way we hold ourselves.  How can we use this to our benefit? Feeling nervous before a big meeting or proposal? Or maybe just a little unsure before a networking event? Stand in a ‘power pose’ to change your mindset. I wont spoil the entire video for you, but certain poses make you more confident, emotionally, socially and physiologically.

If you haven’t watched this video yet, you’re in for a treat. Even if you have seen it before, I highly recommend a second viewing. Whether you are a struggling with a difficult client, nervous about attending a networking event, or just need a self-confidence boost every once and awhile, you will find a valuable take away in this video. It’s 20-minutes long but worth the time out of your day.  Enjoy!

Read Next:

7 Tips For Staying Productive On Business Trips 

Tips For Staying In Shape While Traveling

Concerns for Corporations using Public Online Booking Sites

public online travel booking sites downsideSure, it’s quick and easy for business travelers to search for flights on public travel websites.  Watching the ticket price continually drop in front of your eyes; it’s hard to believe there’s a better deal anywhere else! But in the end that’s not always the truth. Both the traveler and their employer are missing out on additional benefits when they use public booking sites for business travel. There are many variables that play a part in efficient travel service and price, many are often overlooked in the process of using those simple public online booking sites.

  • Hidden transaction fees. Some sites include their transaction fees in a small hidden link called “additional taxes & fees”.  Users assume those are sales taxes, etc., but in some cases, an additional transaction fee is also slipped in.
  • Hotel cancellation fees and discounts. Yes, there are great hotel prices on public sites.  But those are usually non-refundable, non-changeable and you have to pre-pay the full stay.  Even if you end up cancelling once, those charges often outweigh any savings you attained throughout the whole year. If you end up cancelling only one hotel stay in a entire year, those charges can outweigh any savings you attained throughout the year.
  • No duty of care.  There is a moral and legal obligation for employers to know where their employees are when traveling for the company. Employees must email their employers their itinerary.  Who manages that? The traveler’s boss?  The travel manager?  The office manager?  In the event of an emergency,  who in the company will be digging through their emails to determine if their traveler is in harm’s way. Public online booking sites are not equipped for handling duty of care responsibilities.
  • Poor after-hours care.  Who wants to call an 800 number at 10pm when the snowstorm hits the Eastern seaboard and every other traveler is doing the exact same thing? Hold times are outrageous.  On top of your personality sanity, these public booking websites don’t know what your company’s policy is around re-booking flights.
  • No built-in travel policy.  What stops your traveler from booking the Four Seasons or Business Class on a public site?  What stops your traveler from booking the $400 flight on Delta when there is a similar flight on United for only $310?  We’d all like to think that our employee will “do the right thing”, but that’s not always the case.

Public online sites may seem like the easiest and cheapest route for corporations, but in the long run these corporations are falling short.  Travel management companies on the other hand give travelers the tools they need to make the correct choices for booking their business trips.  Pricing is transparent and policies are followed.  The company’s travel policy is built in to the online booking tool so the traveler can choose the best option within the company’s guidelines.  And if a flight is cancelled or delayed, the traveler will receive prompt and friendly assistance from an agent that knows the company and knows the traveler.  In the event of an emergency or disaster, the company can quickly locate and alert each and every traveler and assist those travelers when in need.

Christopherson Business Travel is a corporate travel management company with more than 60 years of experience in the field. We pride ourselves on our efficient travel technology and consultative customer service.

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The Downside of Using Online Booking Sites

What Is Duty Of Care

Leadership, Influence, and Willing Followers

what_makes_a_leaderAs we enter the New Year, it’s always good to reflect upon how we lead, if we really do lead, and what influences us to follow others.

We can all be leaders and influence others. A formal title does not guarantee that anyone will have willing followers. As I read what others have to say on this topic many interesting ideas have been proposed. I’ll share a few that were worthwhile to me.

Dr. Travis Bradbury wrote an article “What Makes a Leader?” referencing a quote from John Quincy Adams: “If your actions inspire others to dream more, learn more, do more, and become more, you are a leader.” This seems like a good test to determine leadership effectiveness. Bradbury later clarifies what leadership is not and points out that “You can be a leader in your workplace, your neighborhood, or your family, all without having a title.” He also outlines that leadership and management are not synonymous. Managers spend most of their time managing things; leaders lead people. He states: “Leadership is a process of social influence which maximizes the efforts of others toward the achievement of a greater good.”

Another good article that really simplifies things is “The Single Leadership Trait That Adds the Most Value to Companies,” written by Aaron Webber. While it may seem a bit simplistic, I thought his ideas had merit. He proposes that “The single most important leadership attribute is constancy, or consistency.” It makes a bit more sense when he explains, “Being consistent in terms of who you are and the theme of principal-based direction you provide is absolutely critical to leadership, or else people will disengage.” He continues, “People need to be able to count on who you are and the principles you are driven by.”

Finally, I’d like to share some thoughts from Lolly Daskal’s blog post “Become the Leader Worth Following.” Daskal proposes that, “Examples of leaders are everywhere. Many are powerful, many are popular, but few are worthy of being followed … They are the people we count on. They are the ones we want to follow without being told.” She concludes with this: “Leadership is a privilege, and making yourself worthy of being followed comes with great responsibility.”

I hope that in 2016 we will all be more introspective and ask ourselves if our actions are inspiring people to become more. Can they count on us? And are we worthy of being followed?

 

“The Handshake” and Communication Protocols for Better Business

handshake communication for business travelAll communication between computers requires that the devices agree on the format of the data. The parameters of a communications channel must be established before the digital “handshake” will allow the communication to begin.

All communication between humans also requires that both parties agree on the parameters of the communication before they meet–shall we use digital, telephone, or a physical handshake for this meeting?

In 1889 Jules Verne imagined that the “phonotelephote” would replace the need for physical handshakes. This is no longer science fiction. All of us are now inundated with email, text messages, and WebEx meetings. And yes, we still use the old-fashioned telephone too. But according to a recent article in The Economist, “Companies are spending more on sending their staff out to win deals.”

At Christopherson Business Travel, we’re seeing the same trend, with our airline bookings up 13% year-over-year. While some of this growth is from new clients, much of it is coming from existing clients who are sending their people out to meet face-to-face, shake hands, build relationships, and win deals.

Whenever we experience a poor-quality internal conference call, we remind ourselves it’s a good thing that people need to see each other face-to-face in order to obtain greater effectiveness. After all, that’s the business we’re in. For more than 60 years, we’ve been providing companies of all sizes across the globe with cost-effective, personalized, and hassle-free business travel management and resources. Plus, our exclusive AirPortal® travel technology applications are the only tools you’ll ever need to manage your business trips.

If you’re looking for better business travel management so that you and your team can extend more than a virtual handshake to your clients, our executives would be happy and share more information about our services and technology.