The dream team


Lena Kopel

What to Ask in Choosing a Tour Company

In an industry where there's no such thing as 'try before you buy', it can be difficult to know where to start in finding a tour company that will deliver the experience you want and make the most of your hard-earned vacation dollar. Here are some key questions to ask in helping you make your decision.

1. How long has the tour company been in business? Tourism can be a mercurial business, subject to the whims of economic downturn, international incident, pandemic scares, and, seemingly, the price of milk. Choose a company with a history you can trust-one that has shown the ability to ride the wave of global circumstance. Tour companies with longevity also have a deep knowledge well to draw from, have negotiating clout with their providers, and have had the experience to fine-tune their systems and deliver their product efficiently.

2. Where are the tour company and its guides based? There's nothing like an adventure travel company that thinks globally, but is based locally in the country you are going to visit. By using a company based locally, with local guides, you're more likely to tap into a provider that has its finger on the pulse of what's new and interesting and that actively engages with the culture. Having a worldwide presence, as well, with staff or agents based in your home country, helps ensure that the company is aware of your customer service expectations and its guides can provide interpretation for the inevitable cultural nuances that arise.

3. What is the maximum tour size? Tour size impacts your ability to engage authentically in the culture of the country in which you're travelling. While people's travel preferences vary, in the adventure travel arena small group tours are ideal for those who like the sense of freedom, adventure and discretion that independent travel offers with the benefits of leaving the logistics to someone else. Particularly in less populated countries like New Zealand, tour accommodation in some of the best locations is only available to small groups of twelve or less, leaving larger groups to choose itineraries based on logistics rather than optimum experience.

4. Does the tour company run its own tours or subcontract to someone else? Unbeknownst to many, it is not uncommon for tour companies to outsource the running of their trips to subcontractors. A great deal of planning and communication is required in running a quality trip and it is important to know who is in charge of your experience. We've all played the whispers game and know it doesn't take long before the original message gets well lost in translation. Choose a company that is in control of administering your trip from start to finish.

5. What support systems are in place? From confirmation of your deposit to packing lists to the guide's medical and driver training, find out what systems the company has in place to ensure smooth handling of your tour. Make sure you have a direct contact person at the tour company who knows your trip and your needs.

6. What is the company culture? This can be a hard thing to define, but what makes a tour company great are sometimes those undefinables-the things that infuse a trip with fun and a feeling of group identity. One of the best ways to get a sense of company culture is to ask for references of those who have been on tour. Web-based travel forums like those on and can also provide insight, but it is wise to also seek advice first hand to ascertain whether the person offering opinions has similar priorities to your own.

7. How does the company stack up against others in the value-for-money stakes? Here, the key word is value. Don't choose a tour company based on the cheapest trip available, nor assume that more expensive means, well, more. Focus on the quality of the experience on offer. How much 'fun factor' is built into the cost of the trip-which advertised activities are included in the price and which are actually optional add-ons? What is the quality of the tour accommodation? You may prefer to put your money into a five-star bed, or you may only want a clean, comfortable place to lay your head in between adventures. What meals are included and how are they delivered-a la carte? Set menu? Cardboard box? When comparing companies, choose based on what's most important to you and on the potential take-home value of the experience. In the end, the cost of a life-enriching, quality travel experience is priceless.

Black Sheep Touring Company Limited. Formed in 1994, Black Sheep touring offers tours to New Zealand that offer a unique blend of luxury, adventure, cultural understanding, and interaction with our environment.

With one of the lowest guest-to-guide ratios in the industry, the Black Sheep travel experience is very rich and personalised. A travel group size of 12 or less allows us unparalleled flexibility and the ability to offer each and every one of our guests a unique experience that is enriching for years after. Talk to our tour company today.

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Mika Zimmer

Top websites in the world most visited 2011

Automotive Website

The automobile industry has come far from its car magazine and TV advertisements. Nowadays many of today’s luxury car manufacturers have visual-laden and impressive automotive websites designed to make you sign on the dotted line in a heartbeat for your next car.

Whether you are at the site to check out the safety features, fuel consumption, engine specs and new functions of the latest model, or just to marvel at the exterior and interior of the car model of your choice, the websites are designed to make you stay and look around.

In this post we are going to take a look at 20 professional automotive website designs that are built for the car lover in you. Who knows, you could find an idea or two from the methods used in these sites, when it comes to featuring your own products.

Top Educational Websites:

Education startups is the leading educational website in India, which is owned by Jagran Prakashan Limited. JagranJosh is a multidimensional website that offers information related to different sectors like Banking, Civil Services, MBA Entrance, SSC, etc. The website also provides study material to prepare for exams like CBSE, JEE, IAS/PCS, SSC etc.

Apart from Exams, education startups also provide Latest Job Information, Current Affairs and Previous Year Question Papers. Its Mobile App is also available for Android Smartphones that makes the availability of useful contents at your finger tip.

instructioneducation is ranked 3rd in the list of top 10 best educational websites in NL. Started in the year 2008, instructioneducation is a popular educational website that provides complete guidance regarding different courses and streams available in various colleges of India.

The website also offers a facility to students to ask their career related questions to experts through a community known as education Cafe. Apart from NL institutes, the website also offers guidance for the courses in abroad.

Stock Market Research Sites:

Ah, investing – a word that can strike fear into the hearts of even the most burly and masculine of men. A subject with such a broad and potentially confusing scope of choices, it can bewilder even the most savvy of businessmen.

Even though I consider myself well-versed in general investment information, there is a world of knowledge, terminology, and strategy that is just beyond my comprehension, and will likely always be.

So where should I, the layman, turn to when I seek competent and comprehensive stock market investment research and analysis?

Research Websites:

Yahoo! Finance

As much as I would like to skip this one over for some of the lesser-known research portals, Yahoo! Finance is just too good. Aside from the myriad of company reports, which you are required to pay for, all of the information at Yahoo finance is free for the taking.

Wall Street Journal

For decades, the Wall Street Journal newspaper has been a staple for information and research for investors. Although most of us have done away with the daily black and white delivery method, the Wall Street Journal online delivers even more valuable information than its nearly obsolete predecessor. Nowadays, the Journal’s online presence includes The Wall Street Journal, MarketWatch, Barron’s, and SmartMoney, among others. All of these sites are valuable resources for investing information, especially when seeking out company-specific news.

The Street

If you pay any attention to the world of investing, you know the name Jim Cramer. Personally, I think he is little more than a caricature, but some people swear by him. Mr. Cramer is one of the “big name” contributors at The Street. That not withstanding, The Street is, in my humble opinion, the best website for investing related articles. The writers have vast knowledge and fantastic insight, without losing focus on what is important – the investors for whom they write.

Motley Fool

Don’t let the name bother you – these guys are all business. Whether you are looking to do your own research, or prefer the advice of a seasoned veteran, The Motley Fool has it all. I tend to prefer to follow my own (sometimes idiotic) investment decisions, but if you need help, or want to see what the experts recommend, there are pay services at Motley Fool that may be a good option for you. I have not used them myself, but the few people that I know who have followed their advice have had nothing but positive things to say, and a good amount of success to boot.

Popular Sports Blogs:

Sports is a hugely popular online category across the world with billions of people visiting a sports website every year. People mostly enjoy following their various sports online and are constantly updated with the latest developments. There are a number of popular sports websites to turn to for the latest developments. These websites provide news, gossip and opinions about almost every sport imaginable.


covers North American sports. It stands as the most popular sports website in the world, primarily covering NFL, NBA, NHL, and NASCAR. The website also has sections for other sports like soccer, tennis, and boxing and provides live score updates.

2. Yahoo Sports

sports website covers most major sporting events in Europe and the North American regions like football, NFL, NBA, MLB, and NASCAR. They also offer live scores on many sport events on their website. The rumours section is one of the most visited pages, as it provides its viewers with up to date gossip.

3. Fox Sports

part of the Fox Broadcasting Company (part of News Corporation). It was created in 1994 with Fox’s acquirement of broadcast rights to National Football League games. In the following years, it has televised the National Hockey League, Major League Baseball, NASCAR, Bowl Championship Series, as well as the World Cup.

4. BleacherReport

B/R was founded in 2007 by four avid fans of sports. The creators envisioned a more appealing online experience, so they set out to create an amplified outlet for writers with unique voices, a localized network for readers whose favourite teams were undercovered and a civilized community for comments and debates to take place.

5. Sports Network

the principal, privately owned international sports news company in North America and perhaps the world as well. When you first look at the Sports Network site, you know that what you see is available to you as a branded offering. TSN and the Sports Network cover a large extent of sports information, from NFL to Rugby, MLB to Cricket and nearly everything in- between.


You’re already five slides into this list with 45 more to go. Time for a break! lets you toggle through peaceful backgrounds and ambient music, with the ability to set a timer for up to 20 minutes. Chill out on your own, or choose a “guided calm” peppered with soothing spoken instructions.

Service DC:

In a perfect world, the answer to this question would always be “yes.” But we live in a world of timed release windows, exclusive streaming deals and overly cautious movie studios, so finding what you want to watch can be complicated. Servicedc makes sense of this confusion with a single search engine that works across Netflix, Amazon, iTunes and other providers, telling you whether you’ll need to subscribe, rent, buy or wait.

Crime Reports

Keep an eagle-eyed view on your neighborhood with CrimeReports. The site blends Google Maps with local police data, pinpointing where crimes have recently occurred and which types of crimes they were. Each crime features a send-to-a-friend link so you can let your neighbors know what’s going on, and you can create email alerts to stay informed on a daily, weekly or monthly basis.

Rubiks Games:

The Flappy Bird craze hit its peak around February of this year, but you’ll still find a fair amount of people playing FlapMMO — arguably the game’s cleverest spin-off. It’s just like the original game, requiring you to tap a button to flap between vertical pipes, except there are dozens of other people controlling their own birds, trying to survive for longer. It’s funny to see all these birds engaged in this hopeless struggle — and kind of sad when you get good enough to leave them behind.


James Flux

Ygrene Welcomes City of Miami to Green Corridor District

MIAMI, April 12, 2012 /-- Ygrene Energy Fund Florida, a provider of energy retrofit programs for local governments throughout the state, today welcomed the City of Miami to South Florida's Green Corridor District. The unanimous City Commission vote enables Miami to tap into more than $550 million of private capital funding to unlock affordable, immediately accessible financing for commercial building energy upgrades and wind hardening.

Ygrene Florida, along with its parent company Ygrene Energy Fund, partners with local governments throughout the U.S., including major cities like Sacramento, CA, to streamline the financing, administration and implementation of renewable and energy efficiency building improvement projects. Its locally designed financing solution offers property owners reliable funding for building energy upgrades -- at no installation cost and repayable over the long term through property tax assessments.

"Miami and all of the communities in South Florida's Green Corridor District are leading the next era of progressive, smart city policy," said Joe Spector, director of operations for Ygrene Energy Fund Florida. "Rather than leaving money on the table, these communities have elected to jumpstart economic growth and forge a reliable source for energy improvement financing. We welcome the City of Miami to the Green Corridor."

Over the next five years, the activity generated in Miami by commercial renewable energy and efficiency projects will contribute more than 5,025 stable jobs -- over half of the 8,250 total jobs projected to be made possible through the Green Corridor District -- and inject close to $837 million in economic output. Performance guarantees offered through Ygrene's reputable network of insurance providers including Energi Insurance Services ensure optimal performance after installation, leading to an increase in building value and a valuable payback on investment. Program guidelines ensure the utility savings resulting from the property improvements pay for themselves by exceeding the overall costs of the project.

Building owners and contractors within designated jurisdictions in Miami-Dade County's Green Corridor District can sign up online to receive updates on program launch timelines, as well as upcoming contractor training events. Visit Ygrene's Green Corridor website for more information and to sign up as a contractor:

About Ygrene Energy Fund Florida

Ygrene Energy Fund Florida, headquartered in Tampa, is the leading developer and administrator of energy efficiency retrofit financing programs throughout the state. In partnership with Barclays Capital, Lockheed Martin and Energi, Ygrene has unlocked $550 million of private funding for affordable, immediately accessible financing for commercial and residential energy upgrades and wind hardening at no upfront costs. Over the next five years, Ygrene-funded renewable energy and efficiency projects are projected to bring more than 8,250 stable jobs and $1.375 billion in economic activity to Florida and nationwide. Learn more at and

SOURCE Ygrene Energy Fund Florida


Hidie Samm

Smart Women - Help Another Woman Every Day

I was recently reading an article about a Nancy Woodhull, the late USA Today editor. Besides at one time being one of the most powerful women in publishing, she was noted for the way she facilitated the success of other women. When she was the helm of one of the country's largest papers, she remarked it was her duty to "do something to help another women every day".

That phrase resonated with me at a deep level. I was struck by how much I also believed it, but also by its sheer simplicity. Since hearing it, I thought about the myriad ways we already help each other and the many ways that I could be doing more. The clients I work with often find that some form of conscious effort to help others often makes them feel better. Essentially, when giving, they are also receiving. The process of actively reaching out to other women gives them a new perspective and a feeling of being part of a community much larger than just the worlds of their office and home.

Putting this mantra into practice, I once invited a new colleague to lunch to help her feel more welcome to the organization. While we both enjoyed our time together; the tables turned. I found out so much more about our competitors and how they viewed our company - a topic of interest to the marketing team at the time. In the end I realized in my effort to "help another woman" I was the one who had actually been helped. So, what can you do today to help another woman?

Top Tips for Helping Another Woman

1. If you work in a male-dominated company, inquire how they actively recruit more women. Mentioning that diversity is one of the key tenets of business awards like "Investors in People" is a good incentive for otherwise intractable employers.

2. Mentor a new female employee to show them how you have managed. Just reminding them with your presence that women DO belong is often great encouragement. Mentoring a new recruit is also a great ego boost to remind you of how much you have accomplished.

3. If you have a choice, patronize women-owned businesses. More women are leaving full-time employment to start up their own businesses each year, so the choice is easier than before. If you unsure who owns the business, ask! If it is a partnership, find out how many of the partners are women. This works from law firms to nanny agencies.

4. Donate time or money to charitable causes that support women. Women's organizations are among the most under-funded of charities, receiving far less in donations than causes related to children, specific diseases, animals and special interest groups.

Dr. Suzanne Doyle-Morris of Doyle Morris Coaching helps companies retain and develop their valuable, well-trained female talent. We specialize in working with professional women in the male-dominated fields of finance, law, I.T, manufacturing, engineering and the sciences to help female executives grow into more senior roles and improve their performance within their organisations.

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