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Japan Crisis Underscores Value of Social MediaMarch 14, 2011 By: George Dooley Travel Agent
Cruise Holidays has completed the first phase of an ambitious multi-course social media training program that attracted widespread participation from its franchise owners, frontline agents and independent contractors, Cruise Holidays reports. The program also underscores the value of social media to travel professionals and their clients during emergencies such as the current crisis in Japan following an earthquake and tsunami, Cruise Holidays believes.
The first phase in this series of Webinars, announced at the franchise network’s Annual Convention last November, consisted of six live online training sessions. The sessions were complemented by a new, private Cruise Holidays Facebook Group dedicated to supporting questions from participants about social networking.
Cruise Holidays franchise owners also began contributing to www.cruisesource.us, the cruise travel blog launched three years ago by Cruise Holidays’ parent company, Travel Leaders Leisure Group, which is moderated by Social Media Manager Rich Tucker.
With topics such as “Turning Shared Interests into Group Cruises” and “Using Blogs to Build Business,” the topics are specific to the cruise industry. “I had attended seminars on social media before, but they were always very general,” said Colleen Turner, a Cruise Holidays franchise owner in Bellevue, WA. “Given Rich’s knowledge of the travel business, he was able to share his vast experience and give us practical suggestions on how to use social media to grow our cruise business,” said Turner. Turner credits the training thus far with already helping her secure about a dozen staterooms because of the increased, targeted blogging she has been doing.
Franchise owners who may have originally dismissed social networking as ineffective or a waste of time have also benefitted from the training, Cruise Holidays notes. Mike Berryhill, a Cruise Holidays franchise owner in Surprise, AZ, said, “As a baby boomer, I was ‘wrong for so long’ about the benefits of social media. I came from an age group that didn't put their stuff out there for the whole world to see.” Berryhill, who has only been involved in Twitter, Facebook and blogosphere for about three months, recently booked his first couple of staterooms that he credits directly to social networking. “I would not have even known about some of the creative ways you can find sources and outlets for new business had it not been for this training series,” said Berryhill.
Cruise Holidays plans to repeat the series of introductory sessions in 2011 with new and updated material since the landscape of social networking is constantly changing. The network will also offer ongoing training for those who to advance their business even further through social networking. “The hunger to learn is out there, and with our in-house resources, we are providing relevant training to our franchise owners that they really can’t find anywhere else,” said Mark Schiffner, vice president and COO of Cruise Holidays. Founded in 1984, Cruise Holidays is part of the Travel Leaders Group.