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COVID-19: Business Continuity and Recovery.

The Post-Pandemic Recoverybcp

By Mauricio Ruiz Arnaut.

Most business owners are always thinking about how to improve their business strategies for future eventualities and growth. However, in an uncertain situation like the one we are living in these days, it is almost impossible for everyone to be fully prepared. That does not mean that you cannot take suitable steps to develop systems to improve the existing progression of your business. Although the pandemic is front and centre in most aspects of life and business right now, it is important not to focus all your efforts solely on a COVID-19 related strategy. Take this opportunity to make a plan that will benefit your organization in the long term and provide your customers and clients with enough information to see you as a long-time partner and keep their loyalty. What worked yesterday may not work today, so give them a reason to keep believing in what you have to offer.

 Continuity

Not every business will make it through this crisis. Businesses that will clearly not survive are best to cut their losses as soon as possible to avoid incurring continued and new debt. We have seen this already in several cases across Canada. Organizations that can keep moving forward will need to adapt to renew. Circumstances are not necessarily 100% negative and changes are not necessarily bad if done with the right approach and proper strategy.

It is important to move forward with proven strategies that still apply in post-pandemic operations and revamp them to create that shift that will make your business/industry meet your customer’s new necessities. Focus on strengths that project the adaptability of your business, and pay special attention where you see weaknesses in your operations. At the same time, as noted in a recent Forbes article, do not lose track of small changes that, when strung together, represent an important part of the whole picture.

Implementation

Tourism is an example of a hard-hit industry that continues to respond and adapt amid closed borders and great uncertainty. Rather than focusing energy on trying to prevent existing reservations from being canceled, many destinations and companies have done their best to make sure that reservations were rescheduled for later dates. The message to travelers is that not everything is lost and they will able to take those well-deserved holidays at a later date. The goal is to minimize the loss of revenue and expenses that they have already incurred. At the same time, they are reaching out to their local communities and encouraging people to spend their next holidays, traveling within, to help local economies bounce back.

The events industry has been forced to pivot/experiment with virtual events, to keep educating customers/students/stakeholders with important topics in their field. This does not mean that events, as we know them, will not happen again, but in the meantime, demand for events remains and it needs to be fulfilled.

Communicating

Clients will be searching for businesses they trust and are clear on their practices/values. Communicate empathy to clients and potential clients to show that your company is there to support them and the community. The tone should be relatable and communicate that we are all in this together. Inform clients about any changes that the company has made and any measures taken to support them during a difficult time.

Communication is key in these times and a wide variety of methods should be used. Remember that customers and potential clients/people, in general, are spending more time online, due to social distancing. Be there to connect and support with any information that could be essential to make their buying decisions seem effortless.

 


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Make Your Corporate Event a Success: Important Things to Consider When Planning an Event.

chairsCorporate events are one of the best tactics for putting a face to the name of a company. They allow organizations to connect with stakeholders in a personal way. Organizing a corporate event is not an easy task, but it does not have to be a pain either. An approach that focuses on the goals and planning needs of an event is key to success, whether you are a for-profit or a not for profit organization.

Here are some important considerations:

1.- Organizing and Planning.
Start with a project plan.  This is a to-do list of sorts that includes all the details about your event (before, during and after), which helps you to keep track of what needs to be done and who is responsible. Having a project plan does not mean that some things cannot change last minute, but it helps minimize the likelihood of challenges along the way.

2.- Goals.
Why is this event important? what are you trying to accomplish?
The event goals need to be very clear as communicating internal changes, launching new products or services or hosting a client appreciation event require different approaches.  It is very important to match what the event is attempting to communicate to the audience.

3.- Guests.
Make sure you have a clear target audience and a complete invitation list. Knowing your guest profile will help select the event format and venue. Be certain to send invitations at least 4 weeks in advance. Some people will confirm within a couple of days, some will take longer. However, the more advance time they have to schedule the event the better. But no matter what the situation is, be ready to do some follow up to keep your guest list up to date, and people interested. Also, keep in mind that some people will cancel, others will not show up and some may confirm last minute. 85% attendance is considered a good turnout, so factor that in to your logistical plans.

4.- Agenda and Format.
The agenda and event format need to include topics and opportunities for engagement that are relevant for your target audience, sponsors and V.I.P.s, in order to increase the likelihood of a good turnout.  Guests need to see the value the event offers or they will not attend. Also, be sure to avoid cramming too much into the agenda or important messaging will be lost.

5. Budget.
The budget will ultimately determine the size, format and location of the event. Obtaining several quotes and alternatives is helpful for building a budget with the best value and one that allows you to adapt to change if required. We recommend leaving some room for budget flexibility in case the opportunity arises to grow the event or an unforeseen situation arises (a required change in venue, for example).

6.- Venue.
Consider how many people you’d like to host and whether you will need to offer options for guest accommodation. Decide in advance whether you will require in-house catering, AV, decoration, liquor (and licensing), etc.  There are both inclusive and bare bones venue options, which have different pros and cons.

7.- Event Promotion.
Creating a positive buzz is important. Doing the right marketing for your event does not need to be super expensive as having the right strategy could go further than you think. Getting everybody involved by using social media, an email campaign and other advertising channels would help to generate the right buzz.

Marketing and communications strategies should start early and continue for a few weeks after the event in order to harness maximum impact.

8.- Team Collaboration.
Start by clarifying roles and deadlines. Schedule periodic meetings with your team to track the project plan progress. This will ensure everything is on time, budget and allow for adjustments as necessary.

If you are planning your first corporate event, remember to plan for every phase of the event in advance. This will ensure you stay organized and on top of every step of the way. An event is a project that requires detailed planning, teamwork and time dedication. If you do not have the capacity to follow each phase of the process, be sure to engage a professional to assist you so that your event investment is a success that provides generous results.

Contact Sinclair and Ruiz to learn more about how we can assist and help you to organize your next corporate event: info@sinclairandruiz.com

Mauricio Ruiz
Business Development


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Canadian Travel to Mexico Positioned to Break Record.

We recently had the opportunity to interview Cesar Mendoza, Regional Director for Canada for the Mexican Tourism Board, about growth in the number of Canadians traveling to Mexico. Mendoza said that numbers have been steadily increasing this year, and by the end of the year they expect a record-breaking volume of travelers. That underscores the confidence Canadian travelers have in Mexico as a tourist destination. Cesar also noted the challenges that Mexico faces and the way to overcome them; as well as expected tendencies such as focusing on the segments of culture and traditions of Mexico, to give  Canadian travelers unique experiences that will inspire them. To conclude the interview, he told us what the Mexican Tourism Board expects for 2019.
Santo-Domingo

As background information, it is worth noting that Canada is an important source of visitors to Mexico (datatur), second only to the United States since 2006. Canadians not only travel to beach destinations but flock to cultural festivals, because of the ancestral abundance and their values. Therefore, according to Cesar “Mexico will keep creating/developing experiences to traditional and non-traditional destinations, tailor-made for new generations of travelers such as millennials”.

What are the results for 2018 in terms of numbers, and what do you expect for the end of the season?

According to the latest report from the Mexican Tourism Board, between January-August 2018, Mexico received  12.6 million international visitors by air. That represents a 5% increase over the same period in  2017. During that same period, 1.5 million Canadian visitors traveled to Mexico by air, which is a 15% increase over to 2017. By the end of 2018, for the first time ever, Mexico expects to welcome the arrival of over  2 million Canadian visitors, expecting a final number of 2.2 million, that would represent an increase of almost 12% compared to 2017.

Challenges that Mexico faces for 2019?

There are different factors (negative and positive) that affect the flow of tourists to our country. Among the positive factors that benefit an increase in the flow of Canadians to México is the exchange rate (CAD vs USD), making it more attractive to travel to Mexico than any other destination in the United States. The economic factor of a possible recession causes Canadians to react in advance and postpone or change travel plans.

On the other hand, the immigration rhetoric in the USA has fostered a change in Canadian travel plans for many who now decide to visit Mexico instead. Another factor that affects the tourism industry, are natural disasters like the hurricanes that unfortunately affected some Caribbean islands. That creates a positive flow of travelers to Mexico from Canada and other countries.

The biggest challenge that our country must face for the 2018-2019 season, is the perception of insecurity. Mexico makes very important and significant efforts, to fight groups that negatively affect the country’s image; and at the same time, we work to communicate events and news in the right context. For example, sensationalist notes that do not specify the exact location of negative events, immediately impact reservations to tourist destinations in Mexico.  Canadian travelers are very objective in comparison to US travelers at the moment of making travel decisions. However, negative news affects the image and in most cases, the final destination choice.

What are the predictions and tendencies for travel to Mexico in 2019?

Mexico’s commercial allies, especially airlines and tour operators, continue growing business ties with Mexico.  Our forecast for 2019 shows an increase in the number of seats per plane to Mexico by 10% versus 2018. Recently the Mexican airline Interjet started operations in the Canadian market with flights to Cancun and Mexico City from the main airports in Canada. This has resulted in an increase of an additional 184,000 seats for 2018. The low-cost airline Swoop just announced flights from YHM airport in Hamilton, Ontario to Cancun and Puerto Vallarta starting in January 2019; and on January the 12th they will start operating a flight from YXX in Abbotsford to Puerto Vallarta and on January the 20th to Mazatlán.

In 2019, the Mexican Tourism Board will continue with their strategy of distinguishing beach and sun destinations from others, and highlighting their competitive advantages and emphasizing the value that they offer through the segments such as culture, gastronomy among other. Equally, Mexico will continue developing new experiences in our traditional and non-traditional destinations, to tailor to the needs of new generations, specifically “millennials.” We are not only looking to increase the number of travelers, as we would love to see every traveler venture out of their hotels and enjoy the wonderful attractions and delightful  Mexican food.

What is Cesar Mendoza’s opinion?

Canada is our second largest source of international travelers to Mexico after the U.S. In 2017, 1.9 million plus Canadians arrived in Mexico, that translates in an increase of 9% more than the previous year, as I mentioned we expect to close 2018 with a 12% increase. Air Canada, Aeromexico, Air Transat, Interjet, Sunwing and Westjet are some of our main commercial allies that operate between Canada and Mexico on a regular basis from 23 airports in Canada and 13 Mexican destinations.

Due to the geographic characteristics of Canada (the second largest country in the world), the cultural characteristics of each region and the French language in the Province of Quebec, Mexico’s Tourism Board features three offices in Canada which are based in Montreal, Toronto, and Vancouver. We work very closely with the local tourism industry and analyze aspects and tendencies that affect the flow of tourism.

Having a presence in the three main regions of Canada allows us to take the correct actions in conjunction with our head office in Mexico.

Wrapping up…

We would like to thank Cesar for taking the time to answer our questions and sharing this valuable and interesting information.

The responses outlined above support the premise that market intelligence is crucial for decision-making around defining and developing the best marketing strategy. By doing this we can determine with precision how to best fit into the market to meet the needs of consumers, identify areas of opportunity for market penetration and for market development, among others. All of that will help to increase and retain customers, generate revenue, and generate leads. Furthermore interpreting market intelligence is key for long-term results.

Mauricio Ruiz Arnaut
Business Development.

 

 


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Opinion: The Future of Affordable Housing in Vancouver

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The real estate industry has many parts, and one of the most interesting sides of the industry is the one run by non-profits and charities. In Vancouver, where the high cost of living and a  housing supply that does not meet demand have made it the least affordable real estate market in North America, housing run by non-profits is all the more important. It is also a type of real estate I never gave a second thought to when I worked in the private sector. Today though, I see how non-profits have become indispensable in delivering homes to thousands of people the private market has left behind. The crazy thing is that people in need of affordable housing range from those with very limited income to professionals that would be considered to be earning a good living by standards elsewhere in the world – or even elsewhere in Canada.
The challenge for non-profits/charities is knowing whether to/how to expand, partner, further penetrate the market or transfer assets to organizations better positioned to meet the challenges of the current market. Building is a long and costly process. On top of that you can add a tax regime that does not clearly recognize the need for affordable housing providers to build-up the cash reserves needed to maintain and replace real estate assets (think redevelopment or roofs and elevator replacements). It’s not like after responsibly breaking even over a number of years you can quickly raise $800,000 + to fix leaking pipes causing unsafe moldy environments for tenants. After all, being “not for profit” does not mean you can be “for loss” when people depend on you for shelter.
Many organizations are looking to rise to the challenge of building more affordable housing – including some community-based organizations that have never operated housing. In order to do this, most are looking to form strategic partnerships. Partnerships in this realm must take into account needs that go beyond building homes. It requires building capacity for effective long-term management of assets and clients under circumstances that are more complex than those faced by the private market. Furthermore, not every partnership is appropriate. Even with powerful partners, many longstanding operators are struggling to maintain the housing stock they have.

Entering into the (no-for-profit) business of building and operating affordable housing in today’s market requires the willingness to look for non-traditional partners. Even though there are promising initiatives from the provincial and federal governments, long-term success will still require taking the time to vet and let go of potential partnerships and funding offers until the right ones are found. Entering the realm of affordable housing requires a commitment to creativity and perseverance. It also requires stepping back and moving away from knee-jerk reactions in order to plan for long-term solutions.

In Vancouver, several organizations are now in the process of delivering affordable units. There is still a huge and growing need.  Yet, the situation and top-of-mind interest from the community is setting the stage for non-market housing providers to become a driving force in the delivery of housing solutions.

Carolina Ibarra, BA, MSSc


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What are the biggest challenges to entering new markets and how do you overcome them?

There is no single way to overcome the challenges to new market entry. Conversely, those challenges/obstacles should be determined before products or strategies are developed, to prevent substantial expenditures in the midst of entry. Once you understand which obstacles/challenges must be tackled, you determine how to overcome them. In a rush to move things along, many organizations fail to recognize the importance of carefully evaluating challenges before jumping all in.

overcoming obstacles

 

Carlos Escobosa commercial and administrative director of The Residences at Solaz says that in Mexico, where an important percentage of sales are directed to foreign buyers north of the border “the biggest external challenge is the negative perception that North Americans have of Mexico.  The best way to overcome negative perceptions is through  PR campaigns focused on the value, security of investments, and levels of capital being invested. In addition, there is often an internal lack of knowledge of what a consumer wants or needs in our industry (Travel & Leisure and recreational Real Estate)”. Cindy Collins founder of Mining Technology Partners told us that  “the approach for us would be the same as it was in coming into a new territory in our market of mining & metals. Except now  we have greater access to online resources such as advertising, SEO marketing and so on.  We are working to take advantage of this … with a new website, podcast and other content.  This is in addition to face to face meetings…it is more than about effective marketing, it comes to relationships”.

Rahul Samant CEO of Rehabtronics stated that “…the biggest challenges include regulatory, sales, distribution, and marketing. Typically to overcome these we enter markets where we have first established a strong sales and distribution partner that understands the local issues in this context”. Alejandro Godoy founder of Seafood Business Solutions adds that “entering new markets is all about understanding the demand. But on the other hand, explaining and demonstrating your product and its benefits in comparison to others” is key.

The research and development phases of a project often seem protracted, but it is essential to prepare and take your time to do it right. As noted above, the key issues to keep in mind for overcoming barriers are marketing, a clear understanding of demand, and relationship building.

Each organization has its own way of navigating areas of opportunity. Some companies are well versed in entering new markets, have strong processes and count on the necessary resources to do so effectively. For many others, hiring a consultant the most effective way to define specific challenges and design a strategy for tackling them. The avenue offers a way to overcome a lack of initial internal capacity within an organization, and support capacity building in an effective way; while continuing to move forward with the due diligence required for new market entry.  In addition, consultants can assist in overcoming sensitive subjects, as they can bring an impartial opinion and an unbiased eye, as is mentioned in an article by Alex Nuth  titled “Why Companies Really Hire Consultants” .

In a nutshell, taking the necessary time and doing your homework will minimize risks and maximize results.

This article is part 3 of 3.

In case you missed Part 1: Top 4 Challenges to Business Development. 

In case you missed Part 2: How important is it to develop strategic relationships and contacts inside target markets?


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How important is it to develop strategic relationships and contacts inside target markets?

The importance of making strategic contacts is fundamental to success – particularly when expanding into new territory. Relationships facilitate market penetration, assist in identifying new audiences, and measuring product performance. Partnerships can be formal or informal and require different levels of commitment in order to keep the relationship beneficial.

strategic relationships

 

Rahul Samant CEO of Rehabtronics told us that… “it’s very critical to establish strong sales and distribution channels as well as relationships with key opinion leaders”. Cindy Collins founder of Mining Technology Partners noted relationships are …”  huge and the focus of [her] company. [They] put providers together with contacts in Mexico and help them with distribution or [creating a] sales network.  Not only this, but to find references and the who’s who of using your products… this industry [mining] is very dependent on the usual early adopters.  We are often asked for who is using our customers’ products, especially for the more innovative or game changing products” . Alejandro Godoy founder of  Seafood Business Solutions highlighted “…it is very important to develop relationships with key decision makers, specialty seafood buyers in new markets.” Carlos Escobosa Commercial and Administrative Director of  The Residences at Solaz observed that “contacts in target markets offer a direct line to what consumers in those markets want, and most importantly, how to reach them in a cost-efficient way”.

This article is part 2 of 3.
In case you missed Part 1: Top 4 Challenges to Business Development.


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Top 4 Challenges to Business Development.

challenge

There will always be a variety of challenges to face in order to achieve successful business development. In pursuit of fresh perspectives, we interviewed business people from different industries including Fisheries, Med-Tech, Mining and Travel & Leisure.  In the first of a series of posts on the subject, we explore the answers to our initial question: What is the biggest challenge faced by your industry today?

The top 4 responses – in no particular order- were the following:

  •     Innovation
  •      Sustainability
  •      Regulatory Barriers
  •      Security/Image

What is interesting is that the challenges identified by each respondent are not mutually exclusive to the sectors. In fact, each of the industries represented faces more than one at any given time. Cindy Collins founder of Mining Technology Partners, identified innovation as the primary challenge to the mining industry. She noted that “…the need for innovation is great due to minerals being more difficult to find and financing being in other industries such as tech…  This is great for innovative providers of technology and services and the combination of the two”. Alejandro Godoy founder of Seafood Business Solutions, identified sustainability as “…the current low captures of wild seafood has increased all seafood prices… and aquaculture needs fish-meal to farm species. Seafood needs better sustainable standards to help future industry growth”. Rahul Samant, CEO of Rehabtronics said that “…in the medical device industry there are many challenges: Regulatory, Export barriers, R&D costs, health care procurement and adoption… Its very difficult to say one challenge that is the biggest, but if I had to I would say the pace of Health Care adoption which is slow in-part due to regulatory barriers”.  Carlos Escobosa Commercial and Administrative Director of The Residences at Solaz identified overall security and image issues that affect Mexico as a whole”.

The first step to overcoming such issues is identifying them. That also allows companies to seize on any areas of opportunity that present themselves by dealing with them in an effective way. Some barriers are more complex and systemic such as threats to environmental sustainability. Failing to address challenges early on risks creating unnecessary obstacles or complications in the future.

This article is part 1 of 3. Continue reading


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Lesson: How Social Media Organizations Market Themselves

Image

Having a social media strategy is essential. However, it is important to understand the role social media plays in an organizations marketing campaign in order to use it effectively. Social media is a valuable tool, not an inexpensive alternative to integrated marketing. Social Media companies themselves offer the best example.

A few months ago, we attended the LinkedIn Marketing Solutions seminar hosted by LinkedIn, at the Vancouver Convention Centre. This was a great event that shared insight into social media user behavior, how consumers use LinkedIn, as well as the products offered by the company to assist organizations in reaching these consumers.  The sales portion of the presentation was informative, direct and very effective in changing the perception that the platform should mostly be used for personal professional networking purposes and employment searches.  Linked In certainly offers many other valuable tools for organizations wanting to reach their valuable membership. The curious thing about LinkedIn’s brand awareness and sales strategy is that it transcends social media. That is, the tools were promoted via an event that allowed face to face communication, the event was marketed via BC Business (a business magazine and e-newsletter), and the collateral material distributed at the event was a hard copy report. This is a great example of an integrated marketing campaign.

Facebook also promotes product awareness via events. Brooke Oberwetter, associate manager for policy communications at Facebook, spoke at a Vancouver Board of Trade Event in June of this year. Furthermore,  Twitter is using traditional network building strategies in Canada by “developing partnerships with creators of TV and Web programming”, according to the Globe and Mail in an article that suggests they work with traditional media outlets to promote their public relations message.

This is an important lesson, as it showcases the fact that in order to build their valuable membership and customers, they draw on multiple marketing tools. Thus organizations must take advantage of what social media offers, as a tool to be used in a wider strategy.

Contact Sinclair and Ruiz today at info@sinclairandruiz.com to find out how we can integrate social media in to your organization’s marketing strategy. www.sinclairandruiz.com


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Case Study: Promoting Trade in a Foreign Market

Promoting Trade in a Foreign Market

A business organization hired the Sinclair and Ruiz team to develop a communication strategy directed to potential trade partners for their members. S&R prepared the speech and presentation for the client’s event in New York.

The goal was to present  business opportunities and competitive advantages in an effective manner.

Shortly after the communication strategy launch, the client received inquiries from buyers looking to be connected to

the members of the organization who could fulfill their demand for products. Thus, the persuasive communication strategy generated concrete results.

Contact us info@sinclairandruiz.com to discuss how we can assist with the design and execution of effective strategies to open new markets and strengthen relationships with existing clients.


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Case Study: Fly and Buy Discovery Week Campaign

Fly and Buy

Sinclair and Ruiz promoted and coordinated a Discovery Week trip for a developer client who was seeking to promote awareness of their new rental and property management service; along with the remaining units available for sale in their latest condominium project.  The campaign was designed to convert leads obtained through different marketing efforts into clients.

Our team assisted with the design and implementation of the Discovery Week invitation and travel logistics. In order to engage with the leads, we designed a communications strategy to speak to the needs and emotional wishes of the prospective clients. We delivered this communication strategy via inbound marketing efforts, and providing easy contact with our branded representatives for interested parties. Upon reaching the desired level of engagement we maintained frequent communication with the prospective clients to answer questions, assist with travel arrangements, collect any required fees, and increase excitement about the Discovery Week.

To support our developer client, assisted in the design of the Discovery Week Schedule, in order to optimize the possibility of obtaining successful fly and buy sales results.

At the campaign conclusion, our client obtained a 52% conversion rate of prospective clients that paid their own flight and a discounted condominium rental rate to spend a week at the units available for rent. In addition to earning new rental clients, our client sold condominium units by the end of the Discovery Week, thus generating a short term return on their investment.

 

Contact Sinclair and Ruiz today at info@sinclairandruiz.com to learn how we can design and manage your successful Fly and Buy campaign. www.sinclairandruiz.com