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Every woman starts to become interested in skincare as she ages and sees those fine lines forming around her eyes and mouth. Those wrinkles and sagging skin that just doesn’t glow like it used to. And many women start to realise that natural skincare products are by far the best skincare products. But how do you find the best natural skincare products?

However the first question to ask is why would you want to use natural skincare products? What does “natural” mean and what is the difference between “natural” skincare products and other skincare products?

There is no formal definition of “natural” when it comes to skincare and anti aging products. However to me “natural” means “safe” skincare products.

Safe? Aren’t all skincare products safe? Why would they be unsafe?

Sadly the answer is that not all skincare products and anti aging products (or cosmetics or beauty products for that matter) are safe. It is gradually becoming known that many skincare and anti aging products and cosmetics, perfumes, body care and beauty products contain ingredients that may in fact be damaging to your skin or even your health. I first became aware of this when my young daughter had a terrible skin reaction to her first use of cosmetics when she had her first ballet concert, and have been interested in this ever since.

Many ingredients that go into our skincare products and cosmetics in the US are banned in other countries, like European countries. But here it’s perfectly legal to use suspect ingredients in our skincare and anti aging products and the FDA doesn’t regulate against this. The problem is so bad that there are whole organizations set up to try and foster the manufacture of safe skincare products and cosmetics.

I’ll give you an example. A recent study found lead in over 50% of big brand lipsticks tested. Scary isn’t it?

So many people are turning to natural skincare products and cosmetics to find safe products. And of course they want to find the best natural skincare products because the companies that make skincare products from all natural, and safe, ingredients, aren’t the big brand name companies.

Most companies that make natural skincare products have signed the “Compact for Safe Cosmetics” to evidence their commitment to producing safe products. And these natural skincare products are usually much more effective than their less safe but more well known cousins which you see advertised on TV and on the shelves of the stores.

That’s because the companies that make the best natural skincare products are small niche companies. They can’t compete on marketing budget, so they compete on product quality. To survive they need to produce top shelf products so that customers come back over and over again. So they don’t need to spend up big on TV advertising.

There are excellent natural skincare products made up into a complete scientific skincare system that are available to buy and are safe to use, and extremely effective. They aren’t made by the big name skincare companies or cosmetics companies, but if you manage to find them they are cost comparable or even cheaper than the big brands, and safe to use.

Market Driven Innovation (MDI) is designing, managing and implementing your innovation process based on the needs and wants from your key markets. MDI is not new, but still today, many companies have found it difficult to transform their innovation work from their entrenched technology and product forward approach they have been using to a market back approach. Often, their entire business processes have been built around their assets and products they produce and their go-to-market strategy based on their historical sales experiences. The result of this behavior is premature commoditization of their value propositions, their most important assets. Market Driven Innovation is based on a strict set of principles:

o Engineering/technical resourcing decisions are made based on a validated market need and an attractive business case.

o Organizational Focus is achieved from understanding market segments and targeting the most attractive segments for growth

o A cross-functional team approach, marketing, technical, and sales all contribute to the growth initiative together, and thus are aligned on the strategy:

o Accelerated ramp up after launch from a higher operational knowledge of the market

o Accelerated technology development because better design specifications from a segmented market

o Driven by business leaders who make resource allocation decisions consistent with the strategic direction of the business, and link development to marketing process.

Market Driven innovation begins with a business orientation towards specific and targeted markets. These markets define strategy which defines resource allocations especially those resources dedicated to the innovation process. In this context we define innovation as the creation of value, and Market Driven Innovation as placing emphasis on customer values, beginning with choices as how a business goes to market; to how they position their brand and products in those markets they proactively choose to serve; to the nature of their product improvements; and to their search for new products and services that may more effectively meeting the emerging future needs of their targeted markets.

Identifying these target markets is core to Market Driven Innovation. Understanding what drives market growth and major unmet needs of the key market players as well as how they define value and establish the basis for generating growth ideas and concepts – straight from the market. These ideas and concepts are the genesis of the innovation process. The more market back concepts, the more opportunities for successful growth. Knowing target markets enables a business to:

o Design, communicate, and deliver more robust value propositions aimed at specific market segments

o Capture more of the value we provide because they can measure the value and make strategic pricing decisions that are consistent with their marketing strategy.

o Apply resources more effectively where they bring value by focusing them only on where value is identified.

o Develop and bring new offerings to the market faster because they know what the market values and how to deliver their offering based on value.

o Evaluate new markets where they can bring more powerful value propositions and new offerings

These elements of business design when generated from a market back learning model, form the basis for a market driven organization, and more specifically, Market Driven Innovation as a core driver of your growth process:

o Provides business management with facts from direct contact with the marketplace to decide which concepts merit moving forward with resourcing.

o Balances depth and speed in this disciplined approach using an organized set of activities.

o Enables cross function teams to develop a common understanding, direction, and shared values throughout the innovation cycle

o Enhances chances of success

Voice of the Customer (VOC) captured early and operationally is an essential component of creating and delivering value with the growth process. Capturing VOC is not a trivial or casual activity, and well thought our and designed VOC is critical to Market Driven Innovation. Effective VOC requires:

o Learning Customers desired outcomes – what they want to happen to help them become more successful.

o Getting to Fact based and data driven information that can be translated into offering features that address the customer outcomes.

o Clearly identifies the benefits the customer will receive and thus the discrete value they will place on an effective solution to them.

o Must be well understood by both marketing and technical in the same way with an aligned sense of the relationship to strategy and core competencies.

VOC is the work you do and do well before you even think of applying technical resources to do product development work. In this regard, you don’t misuse valuable and limited technical capacity. Technical people need to focus on projects that have been market validated both to focus their limited resources and provide them with advanced market specifications that help accelerate the development cycle.

To this end, as we will discuss more later, you engage your technical resources along side of your Marketing people to co-learn VOC, and thus both are better prepared to do their work that is defined by your targeted markets. In this way our resources are aligned from day one of an innovation effort through to launch of a new offering. A key outcome of an aligned and shared approach is achieving success faster and at less overall cost. No wasted costs as a result of false starts and lingering stops.

The three key components or a successful change to market oriented MDI are:

o Creating The Right Mindset – Leaders set the agenda

o Building the necessary skill set – A common framework for implementing

o Providing the best toolset – Fact based information guides decisions

Incorporating all three into the business process is a requirement for successful transformation to a market driven organization. It’s as straight forward as knowing where you are going, how to get there, and a map to take you there. We will discuss each of these three success drivers in more detail below

Creating the right mindset

Leaders must take charge of the agenda beginning with examining and changing how they lead, what marketing and technical practitioners do differently, and most importantly, how they work together using a rigorous framework from concept selection through to offering commercialization. Leadership owns the MDI process highlighted below. The first two levels in the process, Concept Development/selection and Market Validation are the critical elements. In this model, Leadership does not resource technology development until sufficient market evidence and validation provides the basis for resourcing. Technology resources only work on market validated concepts. Leadership’s ownership of the process means they:

o Demonstrate the value and set expectation

o Focus and align the organization around strategic direction and core capabilities.

o Identify, and guide the performance requirements necessary to generate the profit results.

o Organize people to assure the right combination of organizational strengths are applied to both know and act effectively on markets.

Three crucial questions are answered in market validation and business case development:
1. Is there an external basis for believing the concept has sufficient value to the market to proceed?
2. What is the best validated value proposition that sets the design basis for development?
3. Can we make money from developing and commercializing this value proposition?

Building the Necessary Skillset

The Innovation provides the basis for skill development and tool utilization. Each element of the framework requires specific work designed to deliver decisions to move from one element to the other. A short description of the work elements are describe below.

Concept Development and selection: Developing and characterizing concepts (sometimes called the “Fuzzy Front End”). Idea generation methods are generally well-known and most work well enough to assure a good set of concepts to evaluate. What we uniquely require is a concept characterization approach that helps the evaluators better understand and choose among several concepts.

Market Validation: Once a project has been chartered, a decision (stage gate) is made to resource to development and includes four key components, validated market landscape; Value Proposition Development; Competitive Alternative Assessment; and Business Model Evaluation. A validated market landscape identifies and characterizes the market spaces in which the concept may bring value. In this context, it provides the basis for demand, and thus the first real attempt at generating revenue potential. It identifies the key specifiers and influencers, and begins to describe their unmet needs that the concept may address as well as key hurdles that must be overcome to have a successful and sustainable initiative.

The Value Proposition is a description of the value your concept will bring to the targeted market, the benefits the market will receive, and how you will get paid for bringing the value. Value proposition development is the holy grail of marketing. If you learn your value proposition, and it truly brings the market real value, you can build the remainder of your growth initiative around it. Value propositions must be measurable and actionable.

Business Case Development: Before you engage in developing the required technology, answer the questrion – “Can we make money on this value proposition?”. Market Driven Innovation often requires a new way to go to market to accelerate and maximize acceptance and value capture. Value adding chain analysis through to the end user is an important skillset to utilize for business model evaluation. Business models are defined by what customers are selected; how we capture value; our level of strategic control; and the scope of our value proposition. The Business Case should be determined as early in the innovation process as possible. Opportunity modeling can provide the necessary basis for understanding the top line potential and the marketing cost for the innovation.

Technical Development:Effective market validation provides the product developers/designers a clear and crisp basis for building in the necessary design elements into an innovation. We now know the needs (what the market is willing to pay for) and the wants (potential areas of uniqueness). No more starts and stops caused by changing specifications from learning on the fly. Product developers can utilize their best practices with the certainty that they are on the right track. Because we begin the development process with clear market understanding, we now can bring the key customers into the development cycle early and often. We know their testing protocols, and their current standards by the competitive alternative they are using today. We design, we test, we engage the customer to test, we upgrade. Active parallel processing accelerates the development process and we get to launch faster.

Commercial Launch: Preparing for the launch includes the short term developing the marketing entry plan and the marketing mix, and the longer term multigenerational planning. These should be done together since the longer term positioning could have an effect on the launch protocol. The launch plan includes the target market; the offering positioning based on the value proposition; the communications strategy and plan; the channel strategy and plan; the pricing strategy and implementation plan driven by long term optimal pricing decisions. Multigenerational planning (beyond the launch); includes second and third generation offerings; strategy mapping; and a revenue acceleration plan. The managing process and control plan are incorporated into the commercial launch to assure optimum demand creation and delivery

Providing a Useful toolset

The toolset necessary to enable Market Driven Innovation consists of an integrated qualitative and quantitative set that enables the Market Driven Innovation team to successfully address the critical market questions identified in their chartered project. Two interdependent approaches make up the composite of Voice of the Customer (Market Driven). Together, they are designed to answer all the questions necessary to progress through the innovation process defined earlier.

A qualitative market learning tool should be installed to translate concepts into possible value propositions, begin the segmentation process, define the industry structure and dynamics, and expose the relative value vs. competitive alternatives. It also provides the basis for design of the quantitative VOC that follows once a decision is made to proceed to the business case and technical development stages.

A quantitative instrument that captures: concept tests including value elements and price; attribute importance rankings and current performance ratings; outcomes rankings; feature benefits; and competitive ratings. Other pertinent information to assist in segmentation should also be incorporated.

Getting Started With Market Driven Innovation: Market Driven Innovation can either be installed inside a business unit which is structured with both a technical and marketing unit, or can be institutionalized within a corporation as “the way we innovate”. The initiation for each is different given both the breadth and depth the sponsors must address in the change process. It is simpler and much faster to initiate change in an organization that is both ready and organizationally integrated. The leadership can evolve the change live while doing their innovation work by starting with a few projects that are definitive and have a short horizon. As the teams demonstrate success the change process takes on a life of its own and becomes a natural new way of doing work. The basic framework for such an approach is:

o Leadership diagnostic to define both scope and level of change required. Many groups already have an external perspective to their work and thus, change becomes a reinforcement of their beliefs.

o Develop and agree on a project plan to install MDI.

o Training the leadership and team on MDI elements. Utilize one or two projects to exemplify throughout the training. Note: the idea here is just in time training. Teams are trained on each element then they experience the element and move forward to training and experience thought each stage of the process. Prevents training fatigue and accelerates progress towards commercialization

o Select and charter projects.

o Customize framework to fit organizational culture and existing operational approaches and language.

Auto racing is one of the highly televised sports in the world. The exposure of people to auto racing has acted as a catalyst for its growth in popularity. More and more people, especially kids and teenagers, have been drawn towards racing. Carting, most basic and arguably the safest introduction to motor sports, is very popular not only in Europe and North America, the traditional bastions of auto racing, but also in Asia and some parts of Africa. But, its popularity and fanfare should not undermine the fears about its safety. We know from our daily experience that even driving through roads at a speed that is infinitely slower than that in the auto racing arenas can be dangerous.

Despite the technologically advanced safety measures, the inherent danger of high-speed auto racing refuses to be conquered. There are a large number of accessories for auto racing safety. But, there is no better method to avoid accidents than driving with concentration and focus.

Formula One racing is undoubtedly the most famous auto racing event in the planet. Ayrton Senna is the immortal star in the Formula One history. He died on the track in 1994 following an accident while racing. That incident prompted the governing bodies of the sport to bring in new technologies to avoid accidents and to reduce the risks when accidents inevitably happen. The vehicles, be it racing cars or motor cycles, are designed in such a way as to keep the driver away from impact even if a crash happens. The vehicles absorb maximum impact on its body. But there is a limit to such measures. If the crash is too powerful, the body cannot resist the force. As a result, other accessories for auto racing safety have been introduced.

Auto racers wear special kind of dress that will provide both comfort and safety during the high-pressure environment of motor racing. Usually it will be tightly fit dresses, with some kind of padding at the leg and chest parts. The biggest problem for the auto racers is the extreme heat generated due to high speeds of vehicles. Exposure to the heat can cause dehydration. So the dressing accessories for auto racing safety should be able to prevent heat from entering the body of the driver.

The most useful accessory for auto racing safety is helmets. There are a number of brands of special lightweight, yet strong, helmets particularly manufactured for auto racing. The helmet provides a kind of insurance cover against head injuries.

In spite of all these accessories for auto racing safety, the actual safety is in driving within the limits of both the racing rule and ones own ability. Auto racing is perhaps one sporting event where winning at any cost is not recommended. It is a sport where the clich a matter of life and death is a stark reality.

In the last few months we’ve seen a lot of Health Care Reform rules and regulations being introduced by the Health and Human Services Department. Every time that happens, the media gets hold of it and all kinds of articles are written in the Wall Street Journal, the New York Times, and the TV network news programs talk about it. All the analysts start talking about the pros and cons, and what it means to businesses and individuals.

The problem with this is, many times one writer looked at the regulation, and wrote a piece about it. Then other writers start using pieces from that first article and rewriting parts to fit their article. By the time the information gets widely distributed, the actual regulations and rules get twisted and distorted, and what actually shows up in the media sometimes just doesn’t truly represent the reality of what the regulations say.

There’s a lot of misunderstanding about what is going on with ObamaCare, and one of the things that I’ve noticed in discussions with clients, is that there’s an underlying set of myths that people have picked up about health care reform that just aren’t true. But because of all they’ve heard in the media, people believe these myths are actually true.

Today we’re going to talk about three myths I hear most commonly. Not everybody believes these myths, but enough do, and others are unsure what to believe, so it warrants dispelling these myths now.

The first one is that health care reform only affects uninsured people. The second one is that Medicare benefits and the Medicare program isn’t going to be affected by health care reform. And then the last one is that health care reform is going to reduce the costs of healthcare.

Health Care Reform Only Affects Uninsured

Let’s look at the first myth about health care reform only affecting uninsured people. In a lot of the discussions I have with clients, there are several expressions they use: “I already have coverage, so I won’t be affected by ObamaCare,” or “I’ll just keep my grandfathered health insurance plan,” and the last one – and this one I can give them a little bit of leeway, because part of what they’re saying is true — is “I have group health insurance, so I won’t be affected by health care reform.”

Well, the reality is that health care reform is actually going to affect everybody. Starting in 2014, we’re going to have a whole new set of health plans, and those plans have very rich benefits with lots of extra features that the existing plans today don’t offer. So these new plans are going to be higher cost.

Health Care Reform’s Effect On People With Health Insurance

People that currently have health insurance are going to be transitioned into these new plans sometime in 2014. So the insured will be directly affected by this because the health plans they have today are going away, and they will be mapped into a new ObamaCare plan in 2014.

Health Care Reform Effect On The Uninsured

The uninsured have an additional issue in that if they don’t get health insurance in 2014, they face a mandate penalty. Some of the healthy uninsured are going to look at that penalty and say, “Well, the penalty is 1% of my adjusted gross income; I make $50,000, so I’ll pay a $500 penalty or $1,000 for health insurance. In that case I’ll just take the penalty.” But either way, they will be directly affected by health care reform. Through the mandate it affects the insured as well as the uninsured.

Health Care Reform Effect On People With Grandfathered Health Plans

People that have grandfathered health insurance plans are not going to be directly affected by health care reform. But because of the life cycle of their grandfathered health plan, it’s going to make those plans more costly as they discover that there are plans available now that they can easily transfer to that have a richer set of benefits that would be more beneficial for any chronic health issues they may have.

For people who stay in those grandfathered plans, the pool of subscribers in the plan are going to start to shrink, and as that happens, the cost of those grandfathered health insurance plans will increase even faster than they are now. Therefore, people in grandfathered health plans will also be impacted by ObamaCare.

Health Care Reform Effect On People With Group Health Insurance

The last one, the small group marketplace, is going to be the most notably affected by health care reform. Even though the health care reform regulations predominantly affect large and medium-sized companies, and companies that have 50 or more employees, smaller companies will also be affected, even though they’re exempt from ObamaCare itself.

What many surveys and polls are starting to show is that some of the businesses that have 10 or fewer employees are going to look seriously at their option to drop health insurance coverage altogether, and no longer have it as an expense of the company. Instead, they will have their employees get health insurance through the health insurance exchanges.

In fact, some of the carriers are now saying they anticipate that up to 50% of small groups with 10 or fewer employees are going to drop their health insurance plan sometime between 2014 and 2016. That will have a very large effect on all people who have group health insurance, especially if they’re in one of those small companies that drop health insurance coverage.

It’s not just uninsured that are going to be affected by health care reform, everybody is going to be impacted.

Health Care Reform Will Not Affect Medicare

The next myth was that health care reform would not affect Medicare. This one is kind of funny because right from the very get-go, the most notable cuts were specifically targeting the Medicare program. When you look at Medicare’s portion of the overall federal, you can see that in 1970, Medicare was 4% of the U.S. federal budget, and by 2011, it had grown to 16% of the federal budget.

If we look at it over the last 10 years, from 2002 to 2012, Medicare is the fastest growing part of the major entitlement programs in the federal government, and it’s grown by almost 70% during that period of time.

Because of how large Medicare is and how fast it’s growing, it’s one of the key programs that ObamaCare is trying to get a handle on, so it doesn’t bankrupts the U.S. Medicare is going to be impacted, and in fact the initial cuts to Medicare have already been set at about $716 billion.

Medicare Advantage Cuts And The Effects

Of that $716 billion cut, the Medicare Advantage program gets cut the most, and will see the bulk of the effects. What that’s going to do is increase the premiums people pay for their Medicare Advantage plans, and reduce the benefits of those plans.

Increased Medicare Advantage Costs

Right now, many people choose Medicare Advantage plans because they have zero premium. When given a choice on Medicare plans, they view it as an easy choice because it’s a free program for them, “Sure, I get Medicare benefits, I don’t pay anything for it; why not.” Now they’re going to see Medicare premiums start to climb, and go from zero to $70, $80, $90, $100. We’ve already seen that with some of the Blue Cross Medicare Advantage plans this year. It’s going to get worse as we go forward in the future.

Reduced Medicare Advantage Benefits

In order to minimize the premium increases, what many Medicare Advantage plans will do is increase the copayments, increase the deductibles, and change the co-insurance rates. In order to keep the premiums down, they’ll just push more of the costs onto the Medicare Advantage recipients. Increased premiums and reduced benefits are what we’re going to see coming in Medicare Advantage plan.

Fewer Medicare Physicians

And then if that wasn’t bad enough, as Medicare doctors begin receiving lower and lower reimbursements for Medicare Advantage people, they’re going to stop taking new Medicare Advantage recipients. We’re going to see the pool of doctors to support people in Medicare starting to shrink as well, unless changes are made over the course of the next five years. So Medicare is going to be affected, and it’s going to be affected dramatically by health care reform. Everybody’s kind of on pins and needles, waiting to see what’s going to happen there.

Health Care Reform Will Reduce Healthcare Costs

The last one, and probably the biggest myth about health care reform, is everybody thinking that ObamaCare will reduce healthcare costs. That’s completely hogwash. Early on in the process, when they were trying to come up with the rules and regulations, the emphasis and one of the goals for reform was to reduce healthcare costs.

But somewhere along the line, the goal actually shifted from cost reduction to regulation of the health insurance industry. Once they made that transition, they pushed cost reductions to the back burner. There are some small cost reduction components in ObamaCare, but the real emphasis is on regulating health insurance. The new plans, for example, have much richer benefits than many plans today: richer benefits means richer prices.

Health Care Reform Subsidies: Will They Make Plans Affordable?

A lot of people hope, “The subsidies are going to make health insurance plans more affordable, won’t they?” Yes, in some cases the subsidies will help to make the plans affordable for people. But if you make $1 too much, the affordable plans are suddenly going to become very expensive and can cost thousands of dollars more over the course of a year. Will a subsidy make it affordable or not affordable is really subject to debate at this point in time. We’re going to have to actually see what the rates look like for these plans.

New Health Care Reform Taxes Passed On To Consumers

Then there’s a whole ton of new health care reform taxes that have been added into the system to help pay for ObamaCare. That means everybody who has a health insurance plan, whether it’s in a large group, a small group, or just as an individual, is going to be taxed in order to pay for the cost of reform. Health care reform adds various taxes on health care that insurance companies will have to collect and pay, but they’re just going to pass it right through to us, the consumer.

Mandate Won’t Reduce Uninsured Very Much

During the initial years of health care reform, the mandate is actually pretty weak. The mandate says that everyone must get health insurance or pay a penalty (a tax). What that’s going to do is make healthy people just sit on the sidelines and wait for the mandate to get to the point where it finally forces them to buy health insurance. People with chronic health conditions that couldn’t get health insurance previously, are all going to jump into healthcare at the beginning of 2014.

At the end of that year, the cost for the plans is going to go up in 2015. I can guarantee that that’s going to happen, because the young healthy people are not going to be motivated to get into the plans. They won’t see the benefit of joining an expensive plan, whereas the chronically ill people are going to get into the plans and drive the costs up.

Health Care Reform’s Purpose Is Just A Matter Of Semantics

The last portion of this is, one of the key things – and it’s funny, I saw it for the first two years, 2010, and ’11 – one of the key things that was listed in the documentation from the Obama administration was: Health Care Reform would help reduce the cost that we would see in the future if we do nothing today. That was emphasized over and over again. That was how they presented health care cost reduction, that it would reduce the future costs. Not today, but it would reduce what we would pay in the future if we did nothing about it now.

Well, that’s great, 10 years from now we’re going to pay less than we might have paid. And we all know how accurate future projections usually are. In the meantime, we’re all paying more today, and we’re going to pay even more in 2014 and more in 2015 and 2016. People are going to be pretty upset about that.

Conclusion

Those three myths, that health care reform is only going to affect the uninsured, that it won’t affect Medicare beneficiaries, and that ObamaCare is going to reduce healthcare costs, are just that. They are myths. There’s nothing to them.

It’s really important that you pay attention to what’s happening with health care reform, because there are more changes that are coming as we go through this year, 2013. Knowing how to position yourself so that you’re in the right spot to be able to make the best decision at the beginning of 2014 is going to be really important for everybody.

Online, world travel guides are coming into their own. While they may never beat a solid guidebook that you can dog ear and mark up as you travel the world, they are becoming more valuable for research pre-departure. Thanks to the minimal resources required to create a travel guide online (no publishers, distributors, materials, etc.) we will continue to see more pop up as the world gets smaller. However, as the quantity of world travel guides increases, the need for quality, dependable information becomes more scarce. Here are the most authoritative spots online to help you prepare your next big

Travelfish.org. If you are looking for intelligence on Southeast Asia, look no further than Travelfish (even Lonely Planet, creator of the classic “Southeast Asia on a Shoestring” acknowledges their hard hitting advice). They provide detailed information about all of Southeast Asia, with a focus on Laos, Cambodia, Thailand and Vietnam, with additional sections on Singapore and the Philippines. Their FAQ for each country is an exercise in mind reading: they answer questions you didn’t realize you had such as “What kind of lock works best in a bungalow?” They also break down electrical requirements and other technical advice pertaining to cameras, laptops and mobile devices.

Gridskipper. Let me put it this way: Gridskipper is the premier website for big city types. They offer the best information on major cities in the world (San Francisco, London, Paris, Berlin and Tokyo seem to get the most coverage) including restaurant reviews and advice on the best clubs. If you want to explore the rice fields of Vietnam, you are in the wrong place! A word to the wise: this isn’t a site for the faint hearted, and you probably don’t want to check this out at work.

Virtualtourist. The biggest world travel guide online, loaded with information about travel hotspots around the world.

Lonely Planet’s Thorn Tree forum. Here you can seek advice from people close to the ground. Visa requirements change, roads get blocked, storms may hit… save yourself the trouble and run it up the thorn tree.

The continent of Asia is home to unequaled exotic cultural influences and temples built in times past, white blazing beaches, and tastefully unique cuisines. This should be a tour that any cruise fan must indulge. Cruise lines are an ideal way to tour this lovely continent.

During the extent of your cruise, there will be plentiful stops at some of the best tourist destinations that Asian culture has to offer. Gorgeous landscapes and unmistakably delightful food draws more tourists than the typical tour of the Bahamas. For those of you who seek new and different climates to satisfy that touring urge, this is the place to go. The entertainment is available at every stop.

Tourist cruising routes began to frequent South East Asia because the regions there respond to visitors with such an appeal that it is irresistible. Thailand, Hong Kong, the Philippines, and Singapore are certain stops along the South East Asia shores. The sights are amazing and these countries offer such friendly hospitality to those who come from distant lands.

Enter the region of Wat Pho in Bangkok, Thailand and experience the splendor of the Reclining Buddha, a famous tourist attraction. Hong KongĀ“s bustling retail environment is overwhelming at first, but once you get used to it, you feel welcomed as an equal and there are many souvenirs and gifts to bring home.

Many countries of Asia have moved into the tourist scene in order to boost industry interest and commerce. The Maldives and India as well as Sri Lanka and Taiwan represent the growth of Asian industry, and the advances in technology appeal to private-public sector partnerships that foster global growth of business. These countries especially call to tourists for this reason.

Ten days would be the minimum amount of time to allow for your cruise to tour Asia. You should expect an early arrival in order to adjust to the difference in time. You are going a significant distance from home for this experience.

Many cruise lines will arrange for you to stay in a hotel for the duration of your adjustment to the changes in time. From that point, after you have had time to settle, your journey will begin. Be sure that you have studied the Asian customs and rituals to some extent before your arrival in these countries so that you show reverence for local customs.

On a cruise, you can tour Asia at your leisure. This is such a huge continent that there will be much for you to take in, but you can set your own pace. Enjoy the sights and entertainment completely and you need not become overwhelmed by the breadth of it all.

Online reviews on automotive dealer’s website are valued features and play a key role in influencing the customer’s automotive buying decision. Online reviews are sought after by customers using Internet at every stage of car buying process, as they offer existing customer experiences on vehicle models, services, policies etc of particular automotive dealers. It is important to include online reviews and testimonials in dealer websites as they help in retaining the existing customers and builds initial trust among potential customers. It helps to increase sales as prospective customers prefer to deal with dealers they can trust.

Positive Impacts:
Online reviews positively impact the dealership sales by increasing the confidence among both existing and potential customers.

Credibility
Potential customers perceive online reviews as authentic, genuine opinions from other customers and feel that they are receiving accurate information. They provide an effective way for dealers to communicate with customers. A good number of positive reviews on dealer website mentioning satisfactory experiences of customers are likely to instill confidence among potential customers. The potential customer can feel more comfortable and satisfied when reading a comprehensive evaluation of the dealer from a large number of customers. Even, the way dealers handle negative reviews by customers by quickly and efficiently resolving problems increases the trustworthiness of the dealers. It is likely that such unhappy customers will revert back to the same dealer.

Included In Consideration Set
The customers usually have a pre-defined set of vehicles that they prefer to buy. The automotive dealers in order to increase their sales needs to persuade the customers to alter their consideration set. The customer generated content like vehicle ratings and reviews, consumer ratings and reviews, dealer ratings and reviews can be effectively used by automotive dealers to alter the consideration set of these automotive internet users. The information given through dealer ratings and reviews can effectively target the new-vehicle buying customer segment. The reviews enhance dealer consideration among customers as both positive and negative reviews increases awareness level of the particular dealer. Also, positive reviews improve the attitude of customers towards dealers. Thus, expanding the consideration set helps to increase automotive dealership sales.

Reassurance
The online reviews and testimonials at automotive dealer website provide reassurance to the new customers that the dealer stands for professionalism, quality, credibility, and security. Reviews by previous customers reassure the potential customers that it is safe to deal with this dealer and there is commitment to customer’s privacy. Providing reviews on dealership website also increases conversion rates as it increases trust and confidence among first time visitors. Thus, existing and new customers will confide upon the dealership that helps to increase sales.

Negative Impacts If Not Monitored:
The negative online reviews can have impact on the attitude of customers towards automotive dealers.

Left Out From Consideration Set
Online reviews influence the purchasing decisions of automotive internet users. Also, they are checked while researching for a particular car on the Internet. Thus, ignoring or not monitoring the online reviews means failing to effectively target the large segment of automotive internet users and getting left out from user’s consideration. Poor online reviews and testimonials can fail to persuade, build confidence and trust among first time visitors and lose out on important prospective customers.

Needs More Time To Convince The Buyer
Online reviews and testimonials indicate the satisfaction of other customers due to better services and quality offered by dealer. Potential customers reading improperly monitored reviews are likely to view the dealer as less reliable and not trustable. Thus, the dealers may have to put in more efforts and time to convince the customers.

As online reviews are like online conversations between customers, automotive dealers need to actively get involved in them that can result in sales growth. The automotive dealers can leverage online reviews and testimonials by existing customers to generate new customers by efficiently targeting them at each step of car buying process.

Have you heard of the waterless cooking method? It is a relatively new method of cooking that has many advantages. In the past, a lot of household cooking has involved cooking food with water. When cooked in water, however, a lot of the food’s nutritional value, not to mention the flavor, is taken away. Waterless cooking allows you to cook food in it own juices, retaining all the vitamins and minerals as well as most of the original flavor. There is no need to add water to foods (especially vegetables) because the natural moisture in the food is released and the steam created helps the cooking process. The steam is circulated throughout the pot and falls back into the food allowing it to stay moist and juicy.

So what are the advantages to waterless cooking? First of all, it is an easy way to cook. Many times you can use a one-pan cooking method so that all the food (meat, veggies and potatoes) is cooked together. This also allows for easier clean up with only one pan to wash up. And the new waterless cookware, with its superior heat distribution, tends to have less chance of food burning or sticking.

Waterless cooking also tends to cook food a lot faster. With the new waterless cookware available now the heat is evenly distributed along the bottom of the pot or pan. Because of this, there are no ‘hot-spots’ that may tend to burn your food. The lid of the pot forms a seal, which locks in the heat (as well as the moisture) so the cooking time is decreased.

As mentioned, waterless cooking is a healthy way to cook. None of the nutrients are lost during cooking, and you don’t need to add oil to stop the food from sticking to the pan, which also makes it healthier. The natural color and texture of the food is also retained which makes the food more appealing. Foods that are supposed to be crisp tend to keep their crunchy texture as well.

The features of waterless cookware that allow this cooking method to work include a flat bottom on the pots and pans which allow the most efficient means of heat transfer. The flat bottom connects with your stove element better, whether it be the coils of an electric stove or a gas unit, so that the heat transfer is more efficient. The cookware also has an iron core and an aluminum or copper base plate built into it that helps to retain a continuous, constant cooking temperature even after the heating element has been turned off.

Waterless cookware is typically made of high-grade stainless steel, which is better than other traditional pans in a couple of different ways. The stainless steel does not allow the taste of the metal to transfer to your food, as may be the case with aluminum or Teflon-coated cookware. Some companies use surgical stainless steel, which is the highest grade you can get for a real quality product. The stainless steel is easy to clean, durable (enabling it to last an extremely long time) and it allows you to keep your cookware sterilized.

One of the main features of waterless cookware is the special lid that keeps the natural moisture in the food from escaping. The lid forms a seal with the pot and lets the natural juices form into steam so the food cooks in its own natural juices, retaining all the nutrients and original flavors. There is a steam valve that whistles and tells you when you should turn off the heat (once the juices have created sufficient steam). In this way you save energy when cooking and the food is always cooked at a constant temperature.

Although it is referred to as waterless cooking, one thing you should do before cooking with this method is to rinse your food in water and then drain it before cooking. This ensures there will be enough water clinging to the food to create enough steam, mixed with foods natural juices, to cook it properly.

Cooking times with the waterless cooking method is generally a little less than traditional cooking times, depending on personal tastes for doneness. You should always cook your food at medium to low temperatures because the special waterless cookware construction allows the unit to conduct heat in the most efficient manner. You must also resist the urge to lift the lid during the cooking process as this will lengthen the cooking time and may even allow the food to dry out when the steam escapes.

The steam valve will tell you when you should turn off your stove element-when the correct temperature has been reached to allow the food to cook itself. When the steam valve whistles, turn off your stove, but do not lift the lid until the specified cooking time has elapsed-then you can open the lid and serve out your hot food. As a tip, put warm water into the unit after the food has been removed and let it sit while you eat so clean-up will be a snap afterwards.

Most recipes can be adapted (with a few alterations) to using the waterless cooking method as well. You will discover that old favorites will taste better and new recipes will be simple to master. The waterless cooking method is a new and healthier way to cook. It is more energy efficient, allows the food to retain its own juices, texture and color, and is an easy way to cook.

About forty to fifty years ago, a lot the family homes looked the same. The father went to work from 9 to 5, the mother stayed home all day, cooking dinner, while the kids went off to school, came home and completed their homework before supper time. As you know, today is a whole new world. Today, women, moms and wives work… and the standard working hours are not 9 to 5 anymore. Today, there is more stress, more work and more costs associated with living our everyday. These are only a few of the reasons as to why the home business industry revolution is sky-rocketing. There are several words of advice in navigating through the treacherous home business blueprint.

Women have taken the proverbial “bull by the horns” within the home based business revolution. Company’s like Rodan & Fields and Nerium have created an enormous business opportunity for women to not only create additional cash, but to catapult their family into financial freedom. Men have taken notice and joined the home based business club, moonlighting at night, so they can create additional funds for their families. Whether you are a mom, dad, or single, you need to adhere to the home business blueprint.

1. Do You Like It?

When looking for a home business, the biggest question people ask is “what’s my income”? This is most definitely an important aspect of a home based business-I mean, that’s why we’re working, right? You also need to consider if this business is meant for you. Is this fun? Do I like the product or service? Personally, being a 34 year old male, I am not interested in beauty products… I’m more of a sports or travel guy. Pick something that is right for you and pick something that you will really love within your home business blueprint.

2. Is This A Scam?

Always, always, ALWAYS do your research. The internet is huge… and I mean really huge. Enormous. There are plenty of great things you can find on the internet. You can also get yourself into a lot of TERRIBLE things. Scams and people trying to take advantage of you are everywhere you look. If you come across a potential opportunity, check out the company and the person that is recruiting you. Ask the right questions and make sure to confirm everything in writing before you make any decisions-this will be a big first step when embarking on your home business blueprint.

3. The Dubya, Dubya, Dubya

The Internet is THE SINGLE MOST IMPORTANT TOOL for home based businesses. There wouldn’t be a home based business industry without the internet. With Internet, you can do everything and anything, from anywhere. You can work virtually from anywhere. With two main elements of Internet – email and websites, you can interact locally and internationally and correspond with others, instantly. The internet will be required for anything and everything as you progress through your home business blueprint.

4. Uh Yea, We’re Gonna Need Some Backup, Over

Whether you’re trying to start your home based business full time or part time, you are going to need someone to help. If you are a mom or dad wanting to do this part time, you are going to need someone to watch the kids while you focus your efforts at night. If you are a recent college graduate, you are going to need the funds to at least house you, a computer and a phone right off the bat. Depending on how fast you pick things up and how hard you work, people start generating those residual incomes within the first months of your home business blueprint.

5. It’s Your Baby, So Take Care of It!

This is a business and your business needs your attention. Treat this like any other entrepreneur starting a brand new business. How fast and how far you go is ultimately up to YOU. It takes hard work, persistence and a little creativity. The harder you put all of those things together, the faster you will ascend to financial freedom. Make sure to keep up with the recent trends in the industry and ADAPT when needed. Look, the concept of this industry is extremely easy. Anyone can do this. It just takes hard work and the will to succeed with your home business blueprint.

There are a lot of things you need to consider when deciding to take the plunge into the home based business industry. The most important things are that you work hard and continue to persevere. Like any business, you are going to have your ups and downs, but just stay positive and stay motivated. If you can weather the storms of life, you will ultimately reach the financial freedom you have been looking for on your journey through the home business blueprint.

So now, you’ve said YES to the all important question your man has been wanting to ask. Now what? Now comes the hard albeit fun part of planning for your wedding. So where do you run to? Why the internet of course!

Cyberspace is a global village full of wonderful wedding planning websites that can help you set up for your most important day. In these websites you can download various checklists you will need for your wedding day. Wedding checklists have been indispensable to the modern day bride. They are the equivalent of live wedding planers but unlike planners that go home at the end of the day, you can carry these with you and refer to your plans, needs, to-do-list anytime, anywhere.

Wedding planning websites are also a good source of inspiration and ideas. Some websites will have free newsletters which can be very helpful not only to the bride-to-be but to the groom as well. You can check out wedding themes, invitation inspiration, color schemes, proper wedding etiquette, potential honeymoon destinations, the tune of your first dance and many more wedding related paraphernalia.

These websites are also good for research. Every bride knows how important budget is when it comes to weddings. It is easy to go overboard during weddings. And while we don’t want to scrimp during this important day, going into debt is also a very bad way of starting off your married life. In wedding planning websites, you can get an idea of how expensive or affordable your wedding will be. Most sites will feature products and services and some of them might even be willing to give you a free quote. This will give you an idea of where you will be financially for your wedding plans.

However, the most important reason why future brides should scour the web for wedding planning websites is for organization. Weddings are intimate affairs that involve planning skills. The wedding goes beyond the bride and the groom. There will be parents and siblings to think about, venues to book, wedding gown designs that need to be considered and many more. Think about it, some relatives that might want to attend may live off state or even abroad. Wedding websites gives you the idea of the logistics, planning and needs that will have to be addressed in order for your perfect day to be wonderful. These websites will also save you time and gas money from going store to store in search of that perfect purse or wedding veil. Try shopping when everything is at the tip of your fingers!

Speaking of organization, wedding planning websites can take off the stress of organizing a wedding no matter how short a notice it is. All you need is some research and you will have everything you need in your computer or via a print out. No relative or friend will be forgotten. Wedding gown fittings, honeymoon bookings, the perfect wedding band and even your favorite song can be found in the internet.

A stress free wedding is every bride’s dream. Planning ahead can give you the edge you need in order to walk down the aisle without any worries. So fire up your computer and search for wedding planning websites and have fun dreaming up your special day!