Organic foods are pure and natural foods. These are prepared by natural means and no harmful chemicals are used in their farming or agricultural process. Most of these organic foods are good for health as they are rich in vitamins and minerals. The best thing about organic foods is that no fertilizers, medicines or chemicals are used in their production and thus they are free from any harmful products.

Organic foods are not just good for health but they are also good for nature. It is often seen that in the agricultural process of most of the foods and vegetables, we use fertilizers so as to get better results. These chemicals and fertilizers used today are harming the soil and nature. Organic foods are just perfect for nature and human health. In the production of these foods, there is no harm to the soil, water or farms.

Production of organic foods is much easier and affordable. They require less energy and also the consumption of fuel is much low as compared to the production of other foods and vegetables. Today you get to see more and more industrialization of organic products. This is so because they are getting more popular these days. People working in this field are looking forward for new methods and technologies that should be used so as to get better results. They want that there should be more researches done. More methods should be found so as make these healthy organic foods popular among people.

Although, these foods are good for health as well as nature, you will be surprised to know that they only fulfill 1 to 2% of our food requirements. It is so because they are not yet popular among common man. A research in the recent past had made it clear that organic foods can take the place of other foods and fulfill the food requirements of a common man. Not only this, there is no need of any extra agricultural land or resources.

There are many of the ideal methods that can help you in getting ideal physique and to get size zero figures like a celebrity. You should try out these methods that can really help you in getting best celebrity smile which you always dreams of.

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Why is having health or medical insurance so important? There is certainly a misconception that medical insurance is only for the elderly and older folks. Many young adults and even some middle aged adults have this misconception that since they are still healthy and without any illness, they do not need this security blanket that a health insurance policy provides. Their argument is that the premiums are high and that they are not getting anything in return if they do not make use of the policy.

Perhaps, these people are ignorant or have not heard or read of young and healthy people who without any warning, suffer a health attack or succumb to cancer. This is not surprising considering the hectic lifestyle and the regular intake of unhealthy food in this fast moving world that we live in. In addition, unforeseen accidents, minor or major can happen anytime. Breaking an arm or a leg can happen anytime while playing basketball or football. In the tropics, many people young and old falls victims to dengue due to mosquito bites. Considering the rising cost of medical care, hospitalization, surgery and medicines, a visit to the hospitals for treatment can indeed set back your hard earned savings if you are not covered under a health insurance plan.

A well meaning financial planner will advise that a financial plan which would include managing your investment risks will not be complete without a comprehensive health and medical insurance policy with critical illness coverage and hospitalization and surgical (H&S) coverage. Indeed, a financial investment plan can be derail if one should suffer the tragedy of succumbing to any life threatening illness such as cancer, diabetes, etc causing the person to lose his job and income before the financial goal of his investment plan materialize. The cost of treatment which may be exorbitant from the hospital expenses and surgery needed would cause you to use up the emergency funds and in the worst scenario may require you to withdraw from investment program before it mature if a medical policy was not purchased earlier. One should realize that hospital treatment cost these days include not only surgery and medication but often diagnostic tests involving sophisticated equipments, physiotherapy, etc. hence, the rising exorbitant cost of medical treatment.

One reason why many people do not purchase a health and medical insurance is due to the opinion that their employers have already provided the medical coverage. They may not be aware that once they leave their company, the coverage will cease. Hence, they may be caught in a bind if they are terminated during an economic downturn. Premiums for this kind of policy are lower if you purchase coverage at a younger age and when you are still medically fit. Those who insure themselves when they are older and not medically fit may have to pay higher premiums or are subjected to certain exclusions. Older folks and those who have some form of illness will therefore find themselves in a very precarious position if they are terminated from their job and are without medical insurance.

In summary, having a health and medical insurance is important as a security blanket that you need to buy but hope never to have to use. A health plan will give you the necessary assurance that you have the finances when the need arises.

Software applications have been explored in a wide range of activity domains significantly simplifying the workflow, however this advancement has taken a particular sphere of interest to the uttermost, more precisely, financial service companies. This division has experienced a tremendous expansion simply because online solutions perfectly match the basic functional principles governing all financial transactions. All three main segments: capital management, banking, and insurance, have taking advantage of large-scale implementation. In essence, the major change relies on the fact that traditional transaction methods have been successfully replaced by truly advanced computer-based and web-based applications.

The classic approach has undergone major transformations due to the fact that initial means have been optimized to enable transactions in real time. Besides this facet, IT solutions in the financial services field, have opened the path for new services. For instance, financial services technology has set higher standards in the financial world, as experts confirm the fact that instant access and secure financial procedures can be adjusted to the global evolution of the financial market. Without going into detail, financial service technology has literally set in motion the overall activity of the financial market, and every single branch has taken advantage of easy-to-use financial software applications. Firstly, these advanced tools have set the basis for full control over financial instruments enabling faster transactions. We all know that online approach has refashioned the entire financial service industry because this service has broken physical and temporal barriers. Therefore, we can access services from anywhere in the world as long as we have an Internet connection.

For many years now, financial operations and, implicitly financial services, have been considered a sophisticated process, as, these days, a click may synthesize all complicated procedures on the condition that we make decisions. All financial services departments have experienced this ascending trend based on ultimate technology. At first, we may assume that such platforms help professionals streamline their entire activity, however, by taking over demanding operations, experts have the opportunity to focus on the strategies they should develop to reach higher performance standards.

To sum up, financial solutions rely today on advanced software applications and the emphasis still falls on the integrated services, as the financial sector is extremely volatile and permissive regarding financial operations. Moreover, customers prefer a provider who can take care of all their needs when IT comes to financing. Thus, we are very likely to witness for the years to come innovative solutions that might take the financial market to a higher level.

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!

Hillbilly music, country, western music or country and western all refer to country music. This genre of music is diverse. Most modern country music artistes have developed their styles from earlier singers. Whether it is a classic or contemporary tune, for most who are new to country music it would be difficult to understand the different styles. A guide to country music offers comparisons that allow people to identify with inimitable performers. People may read guides to identify with the different instruments that are used to create the styles and rhythms. Since country music is a genre filled with many talented musicians, a number of guides offer details about upcoming artists. They are authentic and allow fans to understand and read about their idols.

People who aren’t terribly familiar with country music may need some help differentiating between the types of music. Guides offer information and help comprehend the varieties included. This includes pop country that is perfected by artistes like Shania Twain. Rebel or rock country music includes songs that are performed by free spirited singers. They are usually independent and use bold rhythms. Texas country has produced singers such as Robert Earl Keen and Pat Green. Old country music is considered to be slow whereas real old country included yodelling. This was the original folk derivation and continues to be popular.

Guides offer an insight into new developments, artists, functions and country music performances. Guides help provide information regarding country music legends and compare modern artistes. These guides discuss a singer’s drawbacks and unique talent. These guides may be written by enthusiasts or critics and may at times reflect only the writers point of view. It is easy to find a country music guide online or in magazines, journals and reviews.

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.

If you really want to become more profitable and improve operations in your company, you have to shift your focus from the following limiting thoughts about technology.

 

  1. If I buy the latest production software we will be in good shape
  2. We don’t do that here
  3. We are unique, we don’t have competition that use technology to help them generate profits
  4. The plan is in my head, people will steal it off the computer
  5. All I need is more sales to make more profits

 

You’ve got to get the right mindset by eliminating restricting thoughts, and then you’ll be ready to improve people, processes and profitability.

Do you ever wonder how a company can start out with just one idea, a passion and a vision, then 10 to 20 years later have thousands of employees and millions in sales?

 

  1. What did these companies do to become so successful
  2. Are the owners smarter than you?
  3. Do they work harder than you?
  4. Did they have better equipment or people than you?

 

No. But they do use better technology tools to drive operation (the people and the process). Operations represent about 60% or 80% of all your overhead costs but they’re the least understood by US businesses.

For decades, the Japanese have focused on operations that have driven innovation and a culture of continuous improvement. In the right small business owner hands, operations and technology can be a competitive weapon.

Now, ask yourself how can your small company— with just a handful of employees and limited resources — turn operations and technology applications into a powerful weapon to beat competition and learn to grow and thrive!

Why invest in technology / What are the benefits

The bottom line is, if you’re suffering from tight cash flow, exhausted lines of credit and top-line growth, then you have weak operations and have underutilized the technology applications onsite or off-the-shelf that can help you.

First step to rapid profit improvement is to start by questioning your employees. They usually know where costly blocks and bottlenecks are hidden.

Technology can store employee survey results that help you to plan profitability.

Employee Questionnaire(sample)

 

  1. Are your interests and ambitions being challenged
  2. Does each department in this company have measurable standard designed to increase profitability? Does each area have documentation of process flows and procedures of how it should work?
  3. Does everyone in this company share the goal of improving the company profits? Does the CEO hold town hall meetings about ‘planned profits’?
  4. Are you regularly told when you do good work?
  5. Do you get the help you need to do a good job?
  6. As an employee, do you feel you can trust your direct supervisor/manager?
  7. Are owner/managers open and honest with employees?
  8. Does the company provide you with continual training in areas that will make you a better employee? Has it trained you on how to cut operating expenses or increase revenue to improve profits in your area?
  9. Are your responsibilities generally explained, well planned and organized?
  10. Is poor performance tolerated by management? i.e., worker performance, operations bottlenecks and customer relations.

The following are other ways business productivity software drives business processes more efficiently to gain optimal results:

Create an open and communicative environment.

By storing appraisal information within a formal database, managers can more easily communicate business strategy and create measurable goals for their employees that will support overall company objectives. In allowing employees to see the whole picture and understand better how individual goals fit into the company’s business objectives. This can create a energized and engaged employees, thereby raising the business productivity of the company.

Motivate your employees using technology.

Based upon the information gathered in an online performance evaluation, managers can compare current skills with those required for advancement or other recognition or reward opportunities that present themselves as the manager tracks progress on employee goals throughout the year. You may also find you need to redirect employees to different departments if you feel their business productivity could increase elsewhere. If there are impediments to better performance, the company should review why it is happening and try to eliminate these through better allocation of resources or additional training.

Monitor business productivity and employee progress on goals.

Business productivity software solutions enable managers to more easily track progress during every phase of goal completion and offer immediate reinforcement or coaching to keep performance and deadlines on track in daily operations, and utilize performance measurements for strategic planning.

Electronic Commerce

There are many business applications related to e-commerce, from setting up your online storefront to managing your supply chain to marketing your products and services. These technologies fall into three main categories:

Business to Business(B2B)

 

  • Purchasing indirect supplies
  • Look for catalogue-based websites offered by suppliers for corporate purchases, similar to business-to-customer websites, for purchasing indirect supplies such as office furniture, pens, paper, and general office equipment.
  • Leveraging your existing Web presence
  • Improve your existing business-to-customer e-commerce website. Greater sophistication can be added into your online store to target your business clientele.

 

Business to Customer(B2C)

The global reach of the Internet has allowed many businesses to sell their products and services online, both at home and abroad. An electronic storefront is a website with many pre-built e-commerce components like electronic shopping carts and secure payment gateways that you can use to set up an online store.

Internet Marketing

Everything you do to promote your business online is Internet marketing. For example, Internet marketing strategies include (but are not limited to) website design and content, search engine optimization, directory submissions, reciprocal linking strategies, online advertising, and email marketing.

How to Implement Technology to increase profits

IT implementation can be a valuable tool for increasing workplace productivity, but without a careful selection of the right technologies for your specific industry and comprehensive employee training, it can also serve to reduce productivity, profitability and employee satisfaction. The return on investment will depend on whether the technologies implemented are right for a given business’ needs and how prepared employees are to use them.

Step 1

Brainstorm a list of business process improvements you may be able to realize from a technological implementation. Your list should include three categories: improvements that you know to be possible, and which are core requirements for your expense; a wish list of things you would like to have, but which may be future development efforts; and a list of things which would transform the way you do business, but which may not be possible. These three targets provide you with a present-day implementation goal, as well as a future development target–and it may be that your transformational goals could be far easier to reach than you expect.

Step 2

Determine whether you intend to develop these technologies using in-house resources, or through outside consultancies. Nearly every major workflow technology requires extensive customization, implementation procedures and training. Small businesses can sometimes get by cheaply using staff members technologically proficient–but mistakes made at the beginning of the process can ramp up costs later on when you turn to professional outside support.

Step 3

Avoid specifying particular technologies if you do not have the technical expertise to evaluate them properly. The purpose of the managerial process at this stage is to define goals and budgetary constraints; non-technical managers who wed themselves to specific technologies too early can miss out on substantial cost savings, and choose a technology not the best suited for the work.

Step 4

Circulate your request for proposals among outside consultants and implementors, or establish an internal process for doing the same among your staff if you are keeping the work in-house. Major technological implementations will not succeed if they are added to the existing workload of an employee. Proper technological implementations can be more than a full-time job in and of themselves. Staff members shifted to technology implementation should have their existing duties moved to other staff resources.

Step 5

Negotiate a time frame, budget and implementation benchmarks with your external or internal staff resources. If you are working with an outside consultant, your contract should include protections against running over budget and over schedule. Likewise, the consultant will protect his own firm by setting specific terms of the work to be completed, and charging you extra if you change them over the course of the contract.

Step 6

Develop an implementation timetable, including the following steps: test deployment to review the work; training, if necessary; a transition phase from the current workflow to the new technology; and production deployment of the completed technology. This last phase is typically followed by an iterative process, in which improvements to the technology are collected from the staff who have direct experience working with it. When budget and time allow for it, apply a new cycle of upgrades to your technology to ensure that you are getting the most out of it.

Money management is not as easy as it sounds. However, in order to lead a happy and successful life, it is a must for each and every individual to manage his or her finances effectively. Managing money effectively doesn’t require any special skills or training, it just requires a little understanding and planning. To help you get started, following are some of the financial tips that will ensure that you live a comfortable and prosperous life.

Plan your budget
Every individual must plan his or her financial budget. You will face times when you will be tempted to make a purchase, which you actually don’t require. However, it’s better to avoid such situations as far as possible. This is more apt in case of youngsters, who tend to spend lavishly on high-end phones, branded clothes and expensive automobiles. However, you should be wise enough and exercise self -control while buying these items. If you do not learn to manage your money at a young age then there is a strong chance that you may face financial difficulties in future.

Create an emergency fund
Irrespective of how much your salary is or how much you are spending, each month you should keep some money separate as an emergency fund. Having such kind of fund will help to ensure that you do not encounter any emergency problem. This fund will act as a cushion in the troubled periods of your life.

Start saving at an early stage
At a young age you can take more risk as the family responsibility is far more limited and thus you must invest in various financial tools that offer high returns. Also, never invest your money in a single financial tool and spread it across various tools to ensure that there is a proper mix of equity, bonds, fixed deposits etc. Also, by investing at an early age, you will be able to save a lot of money for your retirement.

Understand taxes
You must know how the income tax in your country works, so as to save money on it. You should try to invest in various tax saving tools so that you don’t have to pay more income tax. If you have a complicated balance sheet, you must avail the services of a charted accountant. He will suggest you about the various ways through which you can divert your funds, thereby saving money on taxes.

In order to make the most of your corporate travel budget, it is critical to plan for leveraging your program for all it is worth. Telling travelers to select the lowest logical airfare is just not enough. Here are the elements that should be considered when planning or evaluating your travel program.

1. Travel policy

A well written and disseminated travel policy is the foundation of any good travel program, and I am consistently amazed that so many corporations have such an outdated and poorly conceived travel policy, if they have one at all. It is not difficult to find a well written policy. One can be found online quite easily. All that remains is that it is edited to reflect corporate culture, and disseminated within the company so that everyone understands and agrees to follow it. For this reason, it is a good idea to have everyone sign a copy of the travel policy to ensure that it is read, understood and owned by all company staff. I suggest that everyone in the company signs a copy of the travel policy, whether they travel or not. They may change positions in the company later and be required to travel. A travel policy need not be long or complex. Some of the best travel policies I have ever seen were only a few pages long.

2. Centralized travel internally and externally

Many companies do not centralize their travel program, and they pay a price in terms of a loss of expense reduction opportunities and internal efficiencies. Many companies that do not centralize travel have a fear of requiring travelers to do something they may not want to do, along with the idea that centralizing travel will require hiring a Travel Manager. Both of these may be legitimate concerns but they do not have to be in most cases. By requiring travelers to book centrally, you are not necessarily causing them to lose flexibility. You can centralize travel while still allowing travelers to book on their own, either with a travel agency of your choice, or online through a provider that you have partnered with and have confidence in. By assigning someone with the responsibility of overseeing travel, you are getting a single point of contact both internally and externally for travel issues. If your company spends less than $1 million in air travel, you probably do not need a full time travel manager. In these cases, travel oversight can be given to the finance department, human resources, or even an executive level assistant. Here is a look at the advantages to be gained by centralizing travel.

When you centralize travel with a single agency, you gain in a number of important ways. You will have a single point of contact for problems while travelers are on the road, and you will have one entity to go to for all your travel needs. This eliminates the problem of consolidating a travel report from among several sources. By bringing travel together, you will gain significantly from economies of scale. If you can measure total travel among various divisions or locations, you can get more for your money from travel suppliers. This will allow you to gain more from airline soft dollar programs, which means more free tickets and upgrades, get a higher percentage discount from our preferred airline, and get better negotiated rates from your hotel and car contracts. Your fulfillment costs will decrease as well, as your travel agency will often discount their fees for a higher overall volume of travel.

3. Mix of online booking and personal service

This is an addendum to the previous element, which calls for centralizing travel with one travel agency. This is important, but in doing so, you need not require travelers to use an online booking system, and you need not require travelers to call the agency directly. By offering travelers the option of doing either, you are accomplishing several goals. You will reduce your fulfillment costs, as online booking is cheaper in terms of a service fee. By giving travelers the option, you are giving them a sense of control, thereby increasing morale and standing a better chance of a high adoption rate. Thirdly, you leave open a best practice of using your online booking engine for less complex itineraries, and allowing senior executives, frequent travelers, and complex itineraries to be booked directly with a travel agent that can offer a higher level of service and a better overall travel experience where it is most warranted.

4. Look under every stone

While the bulk of most travel programs revolve around the air budget, there are several other areas one can investigate to find savings opportunities. There are a couple of more obvious areas to look, such as negotiated hotel rates at your favorite hotels, or car rental discounts with a favored supplier. Often your travel agency will already have discounted rates through consortia affiliations and agency car contracts. There are also some less common areas that should be investigated. For example, if ground transportation is a concern, most suppliers will offer discounted rates and a direct billing option. Direct billing arrangements with hotels and car rental agencies are also a great way to increase efficiencies and make the job of the accounting department easier.

5. Leverage hard dollar and soft dollar contracts

Most major airlines today offer hard dollar discounts as well as soft dollar incentives in exchange for company loyalty to their product. If your travel program is over $1 million in air spend, you can secure a discount off of the lowest fares of your carrier of choice in return for a market share commitment. For your secondary carriers, or if your volume is less than the minimum required by the airline, you can enter in to soft dollar programs for free tickets and free upgrades, as well as traveler status enhancements or airport club passes. These programs require little in the way of volume, but they are not well publicized so you may need to hunt for them or ask Baker Travel or your current agency to point you in the right direction.

6. Do not neglect hotel volume

Hotel volume is sometimes overlooked but it should not be. Negotiated rates can be had through your travel agency or directly with the hotel properties of your choice. Individual hotels near corporate locations will negotiate discounted rates for you in exchange for a minimum room/night commitment. By utilizing a travel agency, you are likely to receive discounts of 5% to 50% on thousands of hotels worldwide.

7. Have at least one car rental contract

Rental car contracts are easy to enter into and require little in the way of commitment from the corporation. Choose a partner that has airport locations and a reputation for excellent customer service. You can save 5-10% very easily and can also negotiate frequent renter membership for all your employees. This will make them more efficient and enhance morale. You can also enter in to direct billing agreements at the same time that can make the jobs of your travelers and accounting staff much less stressful.

8. Understand group and meeting contracts

Airlines and hotels will discount your fares and rates when you have groups traveling together or meeting at a single destination from multiple points of origin. These meeting contracts can bring you airfare discounts of 2-10%, and if you have enough travelers on a single airline, you may be able to negotiate for free tickets to be awarded at contract completion. The minimum requirement is usually 10 travelers going to the same place at the same time. Some airlines have higher minimums so be sure to ask before a contract is generated. Hotels will discount their rates in a similar way with a minimum of 10 room nights. These discounts can range from 10% to a much higher discount depending upon occupancy rate and seasonal variances.

9. Use reporting to consistently improve metrics

Well managed travel programs require constant monitoring and financial controls to be properly leveraged. Insist on timely and customized reports that can be designed to bring you the information you need most. By receiving regular reporting on traveler behavior and provider contract performance, you will be in a better position to fulfill contract obligations, achieve cost reduction objectives and see where opportunities for future savings may lie.

10. Use all avenues to enhance traveler comfort and efficiency

Lastly, any well managed travel program will take in to account the comfort and productivity of their travelers. When travelers are comfortable, they can focus on their main priorities that help propel your business forward. If travelers are happy, they perform at a higher level. Ask if your travel agency can upgrade traveler status on a preferred airline. Look in to purchasing blocks of airport club passes so they can be used strategically during long and complex itineraries. There are many ways to reward travelers for the difficult and often grueling chore of travel. These kinds of rewards generate feelings of loyalty and increased productivity and efficiency.

If you would like to learn more about how your company can better leverage their travel program to benefit your bottom line and the satisfaction of your executive level, feel free to contact me. I am delighted to point you in the right direction.

Though vineyards exist in almost every U.S. state, California outranks all of the others by a great deal and its production can even be ranked on a global scale. In fact, California ranks # 4 in the world in volume production among wine producers with a total of 2 billion liters per year, following only Italy, France, and Spain. It also ranks as one of the most diverse wine regions in the world due to its ability to produce almost 100 separate high-quality grape varietals. Some of the most popular wines include:

* Merlot

* Pinot Noir

* Cabernet Sauvignon

* Shiraz

* Zinfandel

* Chardonnay

* Sauvignon Blanc

Within the state, there are approximate 4,500 wine grape growers; a testament to the size and importance of the wine industry in California. In 2006, the California wine industry had a $51.8 billion dollar economic impact on its own state and a $125.3 billion dollar impact on the entire United States. The wine industry in California is easily the most profitable of any other area in the Unites States and its wine’s are among the top in quality around the world.

Due to different growing conditions within the state, the California wine producing areas are separated into five major regions: North Coast, Sierra Foothills, Central Coast, Central Valley, and Southern California. Each of these regions can be divided even further into sub-regions called appellations (which are often counties) that many people who are not even familiar with wine will easily recognize by name such as Napa, Sonoma, and San Joaquin Valley. When a wine label contains a specific appellation, it means that at least 75 percent of the grapes used within the wine were grown within that specific region. Wine labels can also contain two or three appellations to classify the different grapes used within the wine if the percentages are specifically noted as well.

The climate range in California varies from region to region which allows for superb production of many different types of perfectly grown grapes which results in many different varietals. Elements of the weather, such as the cool offshore breezes that cool the Sonoma County vineyards, are extremely important in the distinct growing condition needs for specific wine grapes.

The most important varietals produced in the California wine region are chardonnay and cabernet, though many other varietals from the region are massively popular such a pinot noir. The California wine region has a reputation for producing a high-quality wine to be enjoyed in a relaxed setting among friends, just the way its biggest fans would want it.

Merlot

Merlot is a popular thin-skinned red wine grape that is believed to be descended from the Cabernet Franc grape and was first recorded in Italy in 1832. It is used for both the purposes of blending inspired by the Bordeaux wine region of France and also for the production of straight varietal wine. In the 1990’s particularly, Merlot experienced a huge surge in popularity and became the new trendy wine but its popularity has proved to possess staying power. In 2003 there were over 50,000 acres in California devoted to the Merlot grape alone.

Some of the highest quality Merlots comes from Bordeaux, France, Napa Valley, Sonoma, Chile, and Washington State. These areas have elevated the historical planting of Merlot into better quality soils which have resulted in a Merlot that is less-suited for blending and perfect for its own varietal. The taste of a Merlot is dependent on the type of soil in which it was grown. For instance, Merlot from flatter and more clay-like soil results in a smoother, more velvety wine. Merlot grown in more mountainous regions tends to taste more similar to Cabernet Sauvignon.

Many Merlots tend to have a taste reminiscent of Cabernet Sauvignon, but they has less acidity due to a thinner skin in the grapes and earlier ripening time. It also frequently possesses a wide variety of flavors such as: currant, plum, black cherry, caramel, clove, bay leaf, bell pepper, olive, and violet. It is low in tannins and many wine drinkers believe that it is smooth and an easy-to-drink red varietal.

When blended, Merlot is often combined with Cabernet Sauvignon to balance the taste strengths and flavors of each separate varietal resulting in a blend with the best of both worlds. Another benefit to Merlot and the Merlot/Cabernet Sauvignon blends is that the cost is often substantially less than the fuller-bodied Cabert Sauvignon varietal itself.

Although many wine drinkers think that red wines should only be served right at room temperature, Merlot should actually be served a few degrees below room temperature as it can sometimes develop less pleasant tastes at approximately 74 degrees Fahrenheit. Chilling it for simply a couple minutes will ensure that the wine is slightly cooler and result in the best possible flavors.

Because Merlot is not quite as rich as some other red wine varietals, it is still fairly flexible in its easy pairings with many popular dinner choices. Because it is a medium-bodied wine, it will pair well with veal, meatloaf, sausages, and hearty pasta dishes.

Pinot Noir

Thanks to the recent movie Sideways, Pinot Noir has become much more widely acclaimed by the general wine-drinking population in recent years and multiplied quite drastically in popularity. It originated in the Burgundy wine region of France but today, has spread around the world to vastly differing wine regions which encompass almost all wine growing areas. Despite its worldwide popularity, Pinot Noir remains among the most difficult varietal grapes to cultivate efficiently as it is delicate and difficult to control in terms of preventing mutations of the grapes or any other unwanted variations which result in undesirable changes in the flavors or other characteristics present in the grapes.

Pinot Noir reaches its peak in flavor development when grown in cooler wine regions and has never reproduced the level of accuracy and perfection in development that it has achieved in its home in the Burgundy wine region. However, all Pinot Noir wines are typically a light hue of red which range from cherry to plum. They also possess a fragrant aroma encompassing notes of cherries, violets, berries, and spices. Like most other wines, Pinot Noir wines develop a greater complexity of flavors when aged. The aging process can contribute flavors reminiscent of leather and mushroom to the flavor dimensions of the wine.

Pinot Noir wines are usually considered light or medium-bodied as they are quite a delicate varietal which often also encompass fine silky tannins.

The Pinot Noir grapes, while notoriously difficult to grow efficiently, also become difficult to maintain consistency in the winemaking process. Winemakers struggle to modify the winemaking process for Pinot Noirs in order to find the optimal process to highlight the delicate flavor and structural aspects of this varietal. For example, winemakers must take great care in the aging of Pinot Noirs with oak barrels because the woody flavors can easily overtake the natural fragility of the flavors balanced within the Pinot Noir. Batches of Pinot Noir wine grapes can also be blended together in a way that masks the imperfections due to changes in the winemaking process or weakness inherent in the grapes themselves.

When pairing Pinot Noir wines with foods, remember to go easy on the spices, otherwise the delicate flavors of the Pinot Noir will be masked. Salmon is one of the best pairings for Pinot Noir wines, as the flavors are both fairly light but with a complexity that compliments the opposite quite nicely.

Cabernet Sauvignon

Cabernet is a term which encompasses a few different varietals: most notably Cabernet Sauvignon and Cabernet Franc. Cabernet Sauvignon is a particularly popular varietal which arose from a grape developed by crossing the Cabernet Franc grape with the Sauvignon Blanc grape. In fact, Cabernet Sauvignon is the most widely grown red grape in most wine regions of the world and particularly the Boudreaux wine region in France. In other parts of the world Cabernet Sauvignon is also referred to as Petit Cabernet, Sauvignon Rouge, and Vidure so it is important to keep those phrases in mind while abroad.

Additionally, since the 1960’s, Cabernet Sauvignon has been the most common varietal term for red wines due to it’s wide appeal and critical acclaim. Because it is so widely in demand in many wine circles, Cabernet Sauvignon becomes easily subjected to inflation-related cost increases as demand from wealthy wine-lovers drives prices upward. On the other hand, Cabernet Sauvignon’s parent grape Cabernet Franc is less popular because it is a less desirable grape than its grape offspring. However, it is quite often used as a blending element in mixed varietal wines, particularly with Merlot. A general tip for most novice wine consumers is that most bottled wines labeled Cabernet belong to the Cabernet Sauvignon family of grapes, rather than the Cabernet Franc.

Cabernet Sauvignon grapes thrive best in regions with long growing seasons due to a warm climate and reaches maturity quite late in the season. It also grows well in slightly arid areas with well-drained soil. These elements will allow the Cabernet Sauvignon grapes to mature with a fruity taste, rather than the more herbal flavor that arises from the grape’s exposure to increased moisture and excessive soil-based nutrients during the growing process. The grapes themselves are comparatively small with a tough outer skin that protects the grapes from many elements. They are considerably resistant to disease and can be viewed as a fairly hardy grape varietal.

Cabernet Sauvignon is also one of the best aged wines. It is traditionally aged in small oak barrels for up to eighteen months before bottling. This aging period allows the wine to develop a greater complexity and depth of the flavors it encompasses. Some of the flavors which are most often attributed to Cabernet Sauvignon are: dark cherry, black currant, olive, pepper, cedar, and tobacco. Cabernet Sauvignon’s can also sometimes have spicy or earthy taste profiles as well.

Sirah – Shiraz

Shiraz currently accounts for one-fifth of all wine grape production in Australia and is one of the most widely harvested grapes in the country. Though the intense popularity of the rival red Cabernet Sauvignon has accounted for the secondary status of Shiraz in the minds of wine consumers in recent years, many vintners are beginning to revitalizing their Shiraz with new styles and methods of aging.

The Shiraz wine grape has an interesting history and place in the contemporary wine world as well. Generally described as “New World” wines, these wines are generally thought to be more fruity in their predominate flavors in opposition to the “Old World” wines which are often labeled Syrah. Because both variations of wine are derived from the same grape genetically, the differences between them are minimal to say the least. Some wine purveyors even maintain that the distinction between Shiraz and Syrah is in relation to style preferences only.

However, South Africa, Canada, and Australia are three of primary growing regions which refer to this varietal of wine as Shiraz rather than Syrah. These regions keep with the trend of identifying their exports with the New World wine classification of Shiraz which identifies it as a lighter and more aggressively fruity style of wine.

The Shiraz grape is commonly used in the production of red table wines which characteristically age well. Shiraz often reaches its prime complexity of flavor after approximately ten to fifteen years of aging; however it can easily be consumed much earlier in its aging process without sacrificing its excellent taste. It is also commonly used as a blending wine, although this occurs primarily in Spanish regions.

Shiraz wines are characteristically quite full-bodied and flavors vary easily depending on the physical characteristics of the wine region of its production. Some of the flavors most commonly attributed to Shiraz wines are: blackberry, chocolate, black pepper, plums, and spices. Shiraz also has soft tannins and varying degrees of oak flavors. They flourish especially in the wine regions of Australia with cooler, dry climates which allow for the berry finishes. Other Shiraz wine grapes grown in warmer climates tend to encompass the more mellow plum flavors.

Despite its frequent New World wine associations, Shiraz is one of the oldest known wine grape varietals. In fact, it is named for the city of the same name in Iran where wine-making may have originated many thousands of years ago.

Zinfandel

Zinfandel often gets a less-than-stellar reputation among the most pretentious of wine drinkers as it has recently held the reputation of being a “starter wine,” especially for women, due to its popular sweet taste in the 1980’s and 90’s. However, in the past several years, winemakers have responded to this prejudice against Zinfandels by improving the complexity and balance of flavors within their wines to make them a more palatable choice to the savvy wine consumer’s sophisticated sense of flavors.

What makes a wine more appealing to wine lovers? Complexity and fullness of the flavors are a few of the key aspects of a well-crafted wine. In Zinfanfels, a few of the most popularly described characteristics of the flavors are blackberry, raspberry, cherry, cloves, black pepper, and anise. However, depending on the complexity of the Zinfandel, many other levels of flavors may emerge, especially through a tasting in which you carefully give your attention to the subtleties released within the entire experience of the wine. Another interesting characteristic of Zinfandels is that they are also often mixed with others such as Cabernet Sauvignon or Petite Syrah.

Because Zinfandels range from lighter-bodied whites to quite robust reds, they are no steadfast rules for which foods to pair with them. Some zinfandels do possess enough body and presence of flavors to drink even with a hearty steak or rich chocolate dessert. The lighter zinfandels can be a great pairing for Latin American and tropically-inspired foods.

Zinfandel originates from a distinctly American red-skinned Zinfandel wine grape that is used to make both red and white Zinfandels. Formally named in 1832, Zinfandels are traditionally defined as an American varietal and can occasionally be quite difficult to locate in overseas markets. It was recently discovered that Zinfandel grape is genetically identical to the Primotivo grape native to Italy. This discovery begins explains the previously unknown heritage of the Zinfandel grape’s development.

Californian vineries have come to embraced Zinfandels as their own characteristic varietal, leading the reputation of Zinfandel to become a representation and branding image for California wine. Some of the most popular regions for the production of Zinfandels are: Napa Valley, Sonoma, Mendocino-Lake, Central Valley, Bay area, Sierra Foothills, and Southern California. However, Zinfandel’s aren’t exclusive to California and can be produced in American regions as distant as North Carolina and Tennessee, as well as overseas locations to which the Zinfandel grape has been exported.

Chardonnay

Chardonnay has become the most popular white wine in America in the past few decades. The reasons for this development are varied. The first is that Chardonnays possess a widely appealing taste often consisting of fruity and full-bodied buttery notes. Due to the wine’s versatility, it can possess many distinguishable variations of flavors and vintners can even mix Chardonnay with other varietals as a way to experience new flavors with blended wines. One of the other most important reasons for its popularity is that it’s widely available and can be quite inexpensive due to the small, hardy Chardonnay grapes resistance to many diseases and thus easier to grow in many conditions. Thus, the demand for Chardonnay becomes easily to fill, despite the fact that Chardonnay grapes are more delicate in the wine-making phase of development.

Some of the key distinguishing characteristics of this well-loved wine white are that it is dry and often quite full-bodied with the most popularly distinguished flavors and aromas mentioned in descriptions of Chardonnay are apple, melon, pears, lemon, and pineapple, as well as buttery, nutty, creamy, vanilla, oak, and citrus. Particularly when Chardonnay is aged in an oak barrel, it develops a toasty or buttery quality along with a vanilla or coconut flavor which adds to the depth of the richness in the tasting experience. Many cheaper types of Chardonnay that try to achieve the oak-aged taste, use steel barrels with oak chips to lessen production costs while still obtaining similar flavors and textures within their wines.

Chardonnays are one of the most popular varietals grown in the California wine region but also flourish in Australia, New Zealand, Argentina, Chile and South Africa. In 2000, Chardonnay grapes accounted for 40 percent of the total white wine grapes planted in California wine regions and can thrive in many regions with quite distinguishably different weather patterns. French Chardonnays are also reputed to be of extremely high-quality and in fact, in the Chablis wine region of France, Chardonnay grapes are the only grape varietals allowed.

Today’s Chardonnays are less-heavily subjected to oak fermentation as public preference has shifted to lighter and crisper versions of this varietal. The reason for this preference can be viewed as a return from the past several decades in which all chardonnays were so heavily processed with malo-lactic fermentation and other aging techniques that even the most distinctive Chardonnays began to lose their distinctive flavors.

Sauvignon Blanc

Sauvignon Blanc is a currently very popular white wine varietal. Californian Sauvignon Blanc is also occasionally referred to as Fume Blanc. The growth of Sauvignon Blanc grapes encompasses nearly 14,000 acres in California alone. Sauvignon Blanc is also grown in regions such as South Africa, New Zealand, Chile, Italy, France, Australia and can even be grown in surprising regions such as Canada and Long Island, New York.

Sauvignon Blanc is often viewed as the best white wine for many food combinations as its tangy, aggressive flavor pairs well with foods. It is especially well-matched with foods containing components such as peppers, garlic, cilantro smoked cheeses, and tomatoes which are foods that would ordinarily completely overpower even the strongest-flavored Chardonnays in addition to most other dry white wines.

Sauvignon Blanc possesses a unique aroma which makes it easily identifiable compared to other white wines. Its flavors tend to be classified as herbaceous such as those of lemongrass, gooseberry, and freshly mown grass. However, it also possesses some other more traditional flavors such as green melon, grapefruit, passion fruit, and bell pepper. Overall, Sauvignon Blanc is a strong, tangy, and flavorful varietal that outweighs many other white wines in intensity and sharpness of flavors.

Unlike many other wine varietals, Sauvignon Blanc is not frequently aged in oak barrels because it often departs an unfavorable taste combination. However, Sauvignon Blancs are frequently blended which is a technique that calms their occasionally abrasive tastes. Blending Sauvignon Blanc with Semillon (another wine varietal grown primarily in France) is a popular practice, especially in France’s legendary Boudreaux wine region, as the Semillon adds a fig flavor and softens the overall taste profile of the Sauvignon Blanc. The ratio of Semillon blended with the Sauvignon Blanc ranges on the region and occurs primarily in France. However, some versions are comprised of 70 percent Semillon and 30 percent Sauvignon Blanc and other varieties are comprised of the nearly inverse ratio of 75 percent Sauvignon Blanc and 15 percent Semillon. These blends are a perfect option for the wine consumers who enjoy some of the flavors of Sauvignon Blanc but find it a little too aggressive for their palates.

Because Sauvignon Blanc is still not as popular with many wine drinking consumers as its more popular cousin varietal Chardonnay, many quality Sauvignon Blanc are very economically priced. Combined with its perfection in matching many difficult to pair food combinations, Sauvignon Blanc is a great choice for a dinner party varietal.