Shopping for Cruises Online! How?

Are you planning a cruise vacation but do not know where to start? Have you shopped for a cruise vacation? How did you accomplish your shopping? Did you do your shopping for cruises online? Were you successful in getting the best cruise vacation for you?

I could continue with questions regarding cruise shopping and in particular on-line cruise shopping. But that would not accomplish much without some answers to some nagging questions:

1. Where do I start to find the right cruise vacation?

2. How can I find a cruise vacation itinerary that suits me, my family, my loved one?

3. What cruise line should I consider for my vacation cruise?

4. What stateroom category would best suit my vacation needs?

5. How do I compare cruise vacation deals?

More questions. Perhaps we can answer a few of these questions and help you plan the perfect cruise vacation and purchase the best cruise deal.

Planning a vacation can be an exciting part of the vacation experience as a whole. As you explore and research, the excitation buildings. You become more and more interested in finding information – without being overwhelmed – and can get great satisfaction that you will purchase the very best cruise vacation deal.

Where to Start Shopping for Cruises Online!

One can find information on cruise vacations in many locations – newspapers, friends, "brick and mortar" travel agencies and cruise travel agencies, and on-line. The best bet is to start researching for your self. Decide on where you would like your cruise vacation to travel – should it be a warm winter vacation, a fascinating and relaxing Alaskan cruise, an interesting European vacation cruise or an exciting adventure cruise. At a1-discount-cruises.com you can find merchant links, and more importantly at the start, articles about cruises, cruise itineraries, cruise lines, cruise ships, cruise wear and more to help you plan your special cruise vacation.

The Cruise Vacation Itinerary!

You have already decided on the destination of your vacation cruise. The internet allows you the quiet time needed with all resources necessary to research your cruise vacation destination. You will have no salesmen pushing a particular cruise on you because they get a special incentive to sell that cruise. You can investigate which cruise lines travel the chosen destination and find itineraries that intrigue you. A1-discount-cruises.com offers articles regarding many cruise destinations and itineraries.

What cruise line?

This question requires you to look at your lifestyle and what you would like and expect a cruise vacation to be. Different cruise lines offer different price points, different levels of luxury (although they all offer a certain amount of luxury), and different styles.

Generally speaking, the higher priced cruise lines offer a higher level of service, cuisine, and staff per cruise passenger. This does not mean that the "high end" cruise lines are right for everyone. We've all heard Carnival's advertising – "The Fun Ships". These ships and the "Free-Style Cruising" of Norwegian Cruise Lines tend to be more relaxed and less formal than say Radisson Seven Seas. It becomes a matter of preference at this point. Specific ships can also offer different levels of comfort, formality and service.

Which magnificent stateroom?

The question of what level of stateroom is a matter of taste, preference and of course cost. If you do not plan to spend much time in your room, sometimes an interior room would be suitable. These tend to be the best price point rooms as well. An "ocean view" room provides the passenger with a window from which to look at the day before getting ready for the day's events. Our personal preference is a stateroom with a private deck or veranda. We can sit early in the morning for a few minutes and enjoy each other's company taking in the fresh sea air. And later in the day, before getting ready for the fine dining aboard the cruise ships, we can again have our private time together sipping a glass of fine wine on our deck watching the islands drift by. Sometimes a suite is more suitable. On some cruise lines, the upper level of suites offers concierge or butler service. Whatever stateroom you choose, you will surely enjoy your cruise vacation in comfort.

How to compare Cruise Deals?

Now for the "biggie". How can I compare the cruise deals to get the absolute best value for me? If you have done your research well, it will likely be a simple task. "This cruise offers the itinerary on our preferred cruise line in the stateroom of choice at a price within our budget." However, you will want to compare deals with those exact specifications. At a1-discount cruises.com, we have a number of on-line cruise merchants who are waiting for you to send a request. Do not be afraid to offer your email address when requested. This will allow dialog without pressure so that you can ask questions or get clarifications in the privacy of your home or office. Check out two or three three – or more – of the merchants to see how their pricing is and what incentives if any they have to offer you. If you are still unsure about dealing with an on-line merchant, check out your specific cruise with a "brick and mortar" cruise travel merchant and compare the value.

After you have done this, you can book your cruise knowing that you are getting the best cruise vacation. You have planned for your needs, interests and lifestyle. You have compared pricing with a number of qualified cruise merchants. All that's left to do is book your cruise on-line and get excited!

Check out some of the other informative articles relating to cruise vacations at a1-discount cruises.com. You may just find the cruise vacation deal that's best suited to you!

Real Estate Management Fees

The property investor has decided to hire a management company to take care of their many properties. They interview several before making a decision on the company they will hire. There are many things they will be comparing, among them the real estate management fee the company charges. The investor needs to determine whether they want to pay a monthly percentage or a flat fee for the managers services.

Investors should look at more than the monthly fee they will be paying. Sometimes for a higher percentage you will receive more services. The cheaper rate of some managers does not include the extra fees charged. Find out if the advertising is included in the normal fee. Will they be charging each time they show the property to a potential client? Are their leasing fees on top of the management fees? The investor should read each companies contract to determine what is included in their real estate management fee.

A real estate management fee is charged based on a percentage of income collected with a minimum monthly base fee. Fees will often vary by the type and size of the property. Fees can be a flat rate for a single family home or 6 percent of the rental income for larger properties. Larger properties typically command a lower percentage rate (ie, 2 percent) than a single family home that may be quoted up to10 percent. Fees are negotiated on a per property basis and depend on many factors including condition, location and size of the property, etc. Leasing and other auxiliary service fees are separate and in addition to the management fee.

The investor should ask what services cost extra. They should determine if evictions are an extra fee. The contract should state how and when the fee is collected. Will the investor be billed or is it deducted from your account? On a monthly or quarterly basis? Is there a cost to prep the units for rent? And what is the typical cleaning fee on vacancies?

A management company fulfills many services for the investor. The company takes care of the daily activities of renting the property, collecting rents, accounting and monthly statements, hire contractors for services such as cleaning, groundskeepers and maintenance work as well as supervise any work. The real estate management fee the investor pays provides them with peace of mind.

The investor has interviewed several companies and found the fees are close in range with a few exceptions. They decide to further investigate each companys contract and references. By comparing all the services and getting good referrals, the investor can make an informed choice.

Interviewing the management company to determine the real estate management fee that charge is the first step to hiring a reliable company. The final cost the investor will pay the management company is determined by many things as well as the monthly fee. How well the company communicates with the investor and tenants, how they handle problems, their attention to detail in the leasing process and their ability to maintain the property in good condition all determine the investors final costs on each property.

Hiring a good management company helps the investor rent his property faster and provide preventive maintenance before problems become major repairs and expenses. The investor should look at more than the initial monthly fees when determining how much it will actually cost them if they go with the cheapest company.

Outdoor Advertising

Outdoor advertising is used to promote or advertise products and services using billboards, storefront signs, banners, wraps, decals, and other forms of signage. Vehicle wraps is a good example of how outdoor advertising works. It is a very effective and inexpensive tool for small companies who are looking to advertise their business in a specific area and within a limited budget. Without signs, it would be hard for customers to find a business or get information regarding products and services.

Outdoor signs are probably the first thing customers see and established an impression about the nature of a business. To leave a good impression on your visitors, you have to display your products, services, pricing etc. in a very attractive and creative way. Information should be displayed in a very simple and conspicuous way so that customers can quickly understand what your business is all about.

It is absolutely imperative for a business, whether small or large, to install signs as a source to build brand identity and authority. To make things simple, you can just visit your city and see what kind of sign boards grab your attention. It will give you a fair chance to develop an understanding of what type of signage would work for your business.

If you are running a business which involves a fleet of vehicles facilitating delivery of products and services, your company’s name, products, services, logo, contact information etc. should be clearly visible on your vehicles. A billboard might cost a handful of money. However, vehicles can be used as cheap mobile billboards.

Billboards are usually used to address a large audience. It is probably hard for small businesses to afford billboards as a source of outdoor advertising. However, a billboard, if designed properly, can be very useful in promoting campaigns, offers, or anything desired.

Banners is another tool to boost up outdoor advertising campaigns. It can be used as both indoor and outdoor signs. You can decide the size and content of banners depending on your requirements. A complete range of outdoor signs can be obtained from signage companies. It is not feasible to make a banner or billboard at home for it requires printing equipment and skills. Therefore, it is advisable to visit a reputable signage company to get perfectly designed outdoor advertising signs.

Despite the unprecedented advancement in technology, these simple outdoor advertising tools to promote products and services remain relevant and effective. So do not miss out the opportunity to promote your business with limited sources.

Your "Must Know" Ecommerce Metrics

Web Analytics can be an amazing technology, but also a highly under-utilized one. Complex deployments and integrations frequently leave business users befuddled. Without dedicated staff to analyze, analytics packages more often than not collect dust.

This brief is focused on outlining the 7 most important web metrics to monitor within your eCommerce business and what to look for as it relates to your website’s performance.

Bounce rate

First on our list is the most important metric you will encounter: bounce rate. Think of bounce rate as a first impression. The definition of bounce rate is the percentage of users that leave your website after only viewing the initial page that was presented.

Bounce rate is so vital because it provides details into how you initially message your value proposition to the customer or prospect. It provides a cue to also help you identify performance issues with your site that may be causing the inflation the metric.

Bounce rates vary by industry, but eCommerce businesses should focus on getting the metric below 30%. Especially important within paid search campaigns, bounce rate will provide valuable cues into which product assortments and promotions at the category and sub-category levels of your taxonomy are doing well. This knowledge can be leveraged across the business in other categories and implemented via multi-variate testing deployments.

Email Capture Ratio

The next metric you want to track is your email capture ratio. As an online business, you probably sell some type of tangible product or service in which you monitor orders or completed information forms. Most businesses monitor their standard conversion rate, but few businesses frequently monitor their email capture rate and take a proactive approach to increasing.

With eCommerce conversion rates yet to eclipse an average of 3%, 97% of users who come to your store are leaving without buying something. Just because they are leaving however does not mean they are not interested in communicating on some level with your business. By gaining an initial step of trust through the capture of an email address, you are not only increasing the size of your house list for future marketing but you are also building a relationship with your customer and can win their business by providing them solutions to their lives.

Strive for a 7-10% email capture rate and place the sign up tool prominent in the header. Too many businesses bury their sign up tool and do not leverage rich applications that can use browser technologies such as ajax to expand a capture field over standard text in an overlay fashion.

Number of non-branded organic keywords

Make sure you look at number of monthly non-branded organic search keywords. When monitoring SEO performance, you need to first strip out the branded terms that correlate with your business. Thats traffic that you would have received without effective SEO. Then look to the number of remaining keywords that were utilized to make up the balance of the remaining natural search visits.

Why is this important? Because SEO is driven from the long tail. Sure, core SEO terms are nice but you need to capture the 4 and 5 word queries that make up the majority of Google queries each day. Long tail placements are achieved through proper site architecture and quality targeted content. Simply put, the more terms that people are using to find you, the better your site is doing in content development. Aim for a 5% to 10% increase each month within non-branded search keywords as you structure your SEO campaigns.

Shopping Cart to Checkout “Step 1″ Progression Rate

Our next metric directly correlates to the transactional process. Make sure you monitor your direct progression percentage from the shopping cart to checkout step 1. See how many of your users are bailing for price shopping and/or they see a promo code box on your site and they are going hunting for one. This type of behavior dramatically impacts your conversion rate and overall profits and steps should be taken to measure and reduce.

Consider adding the promo box at the end of the transaction for non-affiliate sessions in order to reduce leakage. Use a cookie from an affiliate or potentially a URL to trigger two versions of the cart page. By incorporating checkout abandonment tools that re-market via email, and aggressive banners both internally and externally to try and re-capture the lost transaction, eCommerce businesses can pull prospects back in the sales funnel.

Browser and Resolution Percentages

Dont forget about looking at Browser/Resolution percentages (types and sizes) when scaling your eCommerce business. Lace face it, when you sell online you are in the “looks professional…is professional” world and goo design can make even the smallest retailer seem large. If your build your site and it breaks in Safari (Mac’s browser), or the navigation breaks on Firefox 3.5 on a PC, you essentially shoot yourself in the foot.

Look at the varied browsers and resolutions that are being used to view your website. Conduct full cross-browser testing, on varied platforms, to fully notice any potential usability problems that arrive.

Average number of cross/up sells added per visit

If you are an eCommerce business, you already know that intelligent merchandising is a crucial key to success. A primary metric to help you understand performance within online merchandising is that of average cross/up sells added per visit.

This datapoint associates to your cross sell tools that integrate at the product and the cart level and measures the average number of cross-sells added to the cart per visit. The number will provide details into the effectiveness of your product recommendations and if the recommended products are actively engaging and persuading customers.

It is tough to provide a benchmark statistic for this metric since products can vary so greatly in terms of pricepoint. But look at your historical performance and consider automating this component through algorithmic third party solutions.