Online Travel Agent – What Does That Mean?

Once upon a time, in a place not far away, but in an era long since forgotten, there was a magical thing called a full service gas station. Do you remember? People would actually come out and pump your gas for you! It may sound like just a fairy tale, but it’s true, it really did happen!Now days, our travel agents are going the way of the full service gas station. People just don’t have time anymore, time to go in and meet with a travel agent, time to go over options, basically – they don’t have time for full service. Online travel agents are all around us now, on the internet. They are convenient, but not quite the full service “station” we are used to when making our travel plans.What is an online travel agent? An online travel agent is more like an online booking resource. It is any website that you can go to make travel arrangements. I am sure most of you have visited a site like this. You can log in, do multiple searches for flights, hotel rooms, car rentals etc. and place your order online – very convenient!Online travel agent bookings sites are helpful in many ways; people can explore all of their different options for travel right in one spot. If you are looking for a flight to Europe, for example, and your route is flexible, users can map out different itineraries online. Then, the user can pick which works best for them and make a decision about what they want to do. Also, the user gets exposed to options that they may not have thought of before; therefore broadening their horizons of what type of travel arrangements are available to them.Another pro for using an online travel agent website is the wide variety of products that they offer. Not only can a customer browse airfare, car rental, and hotel options. Travel insurance, airport shuttles, and tour tickets are also available for purchase. This is very helpful to an online travel planner, as they can cover most of their travel planning needs in one visit to a website.After booking a confirmation on a travel website, the customer will receive an email with confirmations and contact information. The information that is provided to the customer usually includes information about any E-tickets, car rental policies (or where to go to look for the policies), and provides information on what to do if the travel plans change. All of this information right at the fingertips of the travel planning consumer.Many people wonder if booking these types of travel arrangements online is safe. Yes – it is. Websites spend a lot of time and productivity making sure that their payment systems, whether outsourced or not, are safe. It is important for their reputation to provide reliable payment systems and to maintain secure sights. Bad news travels fast, and if a website wasn’t taking care of their customers, it wouldn’t take long for the world to notice.Taking from personal experience I have never had a problem with booking with an online travel agent. I have been booking travel online for over ten years and I can’t say that I have had one problem! I have even found that after booking my super cheap airfare on a we site, after I received my reservation information via email, it was s easy to tweak my reservation details with the actual airline after the fact. I have never had a situation where I have paid for my booking online, and had it not be legitimate when I showed up for the reservation, either. Basically, booking online with an online travel agent website is an easy, affordable, and safe way to book your travel.Online travel agents may seem scary to some. With news about security breaches and privacy issues, I can’t blame people for being shy about booking travel plans online. I have to say though, give it a try! You are bound to have a great and educational travel planning experience. And who knows, it might even be fun!

How to Make Money from Your Website Using Advertising

You have managed to get your website to that magical point where you have established popularity, traffic, loyalty and a community of fans. Your site contains a wealth of information, resources and services that you provide free because that’s just the kind of person you are. You may not have intended to make money from your site but now that you have an audience you realise that it’s possible, or perhaps you have to start thinking about generating income because your costs to manage the site have increased and it’s starting to hurt.You have been diligent over the years to build up your community and wonder how to go about making some revenue by leveraging this audience (as the marketers would say, you want to monetise your site). Maybe you have some big dreams and plan to one day generate advertising income from your new web project. This is a very common plan for online business given people tend to expect information and services to be free. Advertising may be one of the only revenue generation strategies available to you.How much traffic do I have to have to make money?In my experience once you have about 500-1000 unique visitors per day to your site *at least* before you can start to make real money. You can make chimps change from day one from your 50 hits, but this article is targeted at those that have a larger audience, or perhaps are constructing a business plan (either real or in your head) and would like to know how to go about monetising your website. If you get more then 1000 unique visitors a day chances are you already make money from your site (if not you should be!) but my points are still relevant.As per usual I will illustrate my article using real world examples from what I did to make money. Over about five years I managed a hobby site that started off as a very local site focusing on people in my area that played the game Magic: The Gathering. I wrote reports and did news coverage for the game. Later I expanded the site to Australia and eventually opened it to the world although it remained mostly Australian with a good chunk of Asians and New Zealanders.Banner programsAt around the time I was getting 500 unique visitors a day I decided to start playing with advertising methods. This was before the advent of Google AdSense (more on this later) but there were many banner programs available that paid either on cost per click (CPC) or per impression basis. An impression is a banner being displayed to a user once, a click is someone clicking the banner and visiting the site being advertised.These networks act as a middle man between business that want to advertise and people like me that have an audience and want to make some money by displaying banners. Unfortunately these programs display banners that often don’t match your audience. I tried a few but it was a short lived experiment that made me a few dollars if that.I recommend you avoid any banner programs. If you are confused about what I am talking about regarding banner programs do a search for Burst Media to get a grasp of how they work. For small sites they just don’t make much money. For large sites there are much better ways to make money. There are people out there that make good money from these programs (I’m sure the program owners do!) but in my experience a little effort to find the right type of advertising can yield much better results.I decided the best way to make money was to really leverage the demographics of my audience. I had a fairly focused niche, card game playing young males. I started by emailing all the local and international card game shops and asked if they were interested in exposure to my market. Instantly I had responses but I had to come up with a pricing structure first.How much should you charge?By this time my site was getting close to 1000 unique visitors per day, with about 300,000 impressions per month. I had done my research and I knew that advertising on websites was usually via the standard 468×60 banner so I would start with that. I also knew that many companies charged by what is called CPM or cost per 1000 impressions. Back then this was by far the most commonly used scale for pricing of web advertising and you could expect to earn anywhere from $0.10 to $10.00 CPM. I never liked this method of advertising because it didn’t guarantee any visitors. Charging by click-throughs is a far better method, but didn’t become mainstream until later. I decided that in order to keep my advertisers I had to offer value so I went for a blanket approach. I started charging a flat rate of $30 per month to have a banner on my site which offered as many impressions that my traffic could provide. I signed up my first few advertisers at this rate.Banner management softwareIn order to “rotate” different banners across my site I needed some special software that would dynamically place banners. This allowed me to have more than one advertiser banner in a single location so I could optimise my adspace and make sure my audience didn’t get too bored from seeing the same banner over and over again.Let me save you some time, phpAdsNew [http://phpadsnew.com/two] is the best banner management software out there. It’s under an open source license and has all the features you could ever wish for at a price you can’t beat, it’s free. If you don’t believe me and absolutely have to try searching elsewhere try searching the PHP Resource Index.There is a learning curve with phpAdsNew and you do have to install it on your own server. If you are like me and you do things like this yourself most of the time you shouldn’t have too much trouble. Otherwise you might try contacting your favourite ITGeek and get them to give you a hand.Statistics are importantThe best feature with phpAdsNew is that it allows you to provide a unique user login for your advertisers to check their banner statistics in real time. This means at any point in time they can learn how many impressions and clicks there banners are receiving from your site.Before you start searching for advertisers you should be very familiar with the statistics of your site. Do you know how many unique visitors you get? How many hits you get? How many impressions? Do you even know what the differences are between these? Try this stats terminology primer on for size if you don’t.Most web servers come with a statistics package. Ask your web host if you don’t know. The most common are Awstats and Webalizer which often are preinstalled on many hosting packages. Become familiar with these packages so you can accurately assess your site traffic.Increasing ad revenueI now had the foundations laid and was serving the ads of my first few advertisers. From the point onwards I went to work attracting more advertisers by directly emailing North American online card stores and other related sites. I kept an Excel file to track which websites I had emailed and their responses so I could follow up in a timely manner.I created new banner positions and started initiatives like a newsletter to generate more revenue. I created monthly packages that combined newsletter advertising and different banner positions and offered them at $500 per quarter. I increased the top prime banner position fee to $50 and started offering a tower banner position for $50 as well. Eventually I had to limit the number of banners I could take in the prime positions to avoid dilution. I had a guarantee in place that offered at least 30,000 impressions per month (averaging 40,000-60,000) to advertisers so that they always received a good equivalent CPM rate. I even had some advertisers purchase the rights to “own” a position for a certain period to make sure no other advertisers banners would be displayed.Eventually I reached a point where I was averaging $500 per month and peaked at $1000 in one month. Some advertisers came and went quickly but many stayed loyal and in fact still advertise today though I sold the site a long time ago. The niche for the site was so focused that it became the pre-eminent site for Australia in it’s marketplace and consequently some Australian advertisers simply stuck their banners up as a branding exercise. They knew that the exposure from the site would help to align their business as one of the pre-eminent retailers or event organisers for the game. Some advertisers stopped caring about click through stats and kept advertising purely for the branding exposure.Google adsenseAt some point Google AdSense popped up and I was in with other early adopters to try it out. My results were okay. The money wasn’t nearly as good as the established relationships with advertisers I had, however the ads being displayed were a lot more targeted than banner networks. I eventually stopped using AdSense because I could better monetise the adspace with my traditional advertisers. However that was before Google went to work providing such a variety of banner sizes and display options. Nowadays Google AdSense is a viable income source for many websites so I definitely suggest you look into it as a possible option for generating revenue but remember it’s not the only means and you can earn more if you get busy chasing targeted advertisers.Ongoing maintenanceI wouldn’t call web advertising income passive, but it sure is close. The systems I had in place handled everything automatically. While I did have to manually create advertiser accounts, pursue advertisers and control billing, once the systems were in place, in particular phpAdsNew, I didn’t have to do much. Of course depending on your website often the maintenance of your community is were the labour is involved, but chances are if you started the site you either enjoy it or have plans in place to eventually remove yourself from the maintenance role. In the end I sold off my site but if it wasn’t for the advertiser revenue my asset would not have been valued nearly as highly as the final sale price. Investing in advertising is like investing in any asset, the time and labour you put in today will lead to benefits in the future.

Business Capital Solutions In Canada: Accessing Proper Cash Flow & Commercial Financing

Business capital requirements in Canada often boil down to some basic truths the business owner/financial mgr/entrepreneur needs to address when it comes to financing for businesses.

One of those truths? Knowing the true state of their financial condition and what financing they do and don’t qualify for when it comes to meeting commercial lending requirements in Canadian business.

Business Loans In Canada

Whether you are smaller or start-up firm looking for information on how to get a business loan or a larger established firm looking for growth financing or acquisition opportunities we’re highlighting 3 mistakes that commercial loan seekers like your company need to avoid making when addressing, sourcing and negotiating your cash flow / working capital and commercial financing needs.

1. Understand the true condition of your company finances – These are almost always successful addressed when you spend time on your financials and understand how your financial statements reflect your access to commercial loans & business credit in general

2. Ensure you have a plan in place for sales growth and financial needs as it relates to commercial financing

3. Understand that actual hard facts about cash flow which is, of course, the lifeblood of your company

Can you honestly answer or feel positive about all those 3 points. If so, pass Go and collect $ 100.00!

A good way to address your company’s finance plans is to ensure you understand growth finance solutions, as well as how to manage in a downturn – i.e. not growing, losing money, etc; It’s never fun to fund yourself in an economic or industry downturn such as the COVID pandemic of 2020!

When we talk to clients of new or established businesses it seems they are almost always talking about sales, so the ability to understand and focus on the differences in their profits and cash fluctuations is key.

How do cash flow and sales plans and projections affect the type of financing you require? For one thing sales growth usually starts out by consuming your cash, not generating it. A poor finance plan will drag your business down and addressing financing simply gets tougher and tougher.

Three basics always emerge when it comes to your search for the right business capital and financing.

1. The amount of financing you need

2. The type of financing (debt/cash flow/asset monetization) The business loan interest rate will be dramatically affected by whether you choose traditional or alternative financing solutions. Private business loans in Canada come from non regulated commercial finance companies most often known as ‘ alternative lenders ‘. These lenders are typically highly specialized in one ‘ niche ‘ of business financing and may be Canadian firms or branches of U.S. banks and non-bank lenders

3. How the financing is structured to be manageable with your day to day operations

What Finance Company In Canada Can Meet Your Borrowing Needs & Why Is Capital Important In Business

Let’s identify and break down key financings your firm should know about and understand if they are applicable and achievable to your business. They include:

A/R Financing / Factoring / Confidential Receivable Finance

Inventory finance / floor planning / retail inventory

Working Capital term loans

Unsecured cash flow loans

Merchant working capital loans/advances – these loans are geared toward short term cash needs and are typically one year in duration. Loan amounts are typically 15-20% of your annual sales revenues.

Royalty finance

Asset based non bank business lines of credit

Tax credit financing (SR&ED bridge loans)

Equipment Leasing / Sale leasebacks – Equipment financing in Canada is used by almost 80% of all companies looking to acquire new, and used, assets.

Govt Guaranteed Small Business Loan program – Government Loans in Canada are sometimes referred to as ‘ SBL’, aka Note: BDC Finance solutions are available from this Canadian non-bricks and morter crown corporation. A small business loan via the government-guaranteed loan program comes with true flexibility around term loan duration, market rates, no pre payment penalties, and of course the low personal guarantee that is required by borrowers. These two ‘ government ‘ loan solutions are often perfect for financing a new business.

If you’re focused on not making mistakes in your business finance needs and want to capitalize on the solutions your competitors are probably already using seek out and speak to a trusted, credible and experienced Canadian business financing advisor who can assist you with your cash flow and commercial financing needs.

Stan has had a successful career with some of the world’s largest and most successful corporations.

His employers over the last 25 years were, ASHLAND OIL, ( 1977-1980) DIGITAL EQUIPMENT CORPORATION, ( 1980-1990) ) CABLE & WIRELESS PLC,( 1991 -1993) ) AND HEWLETT PACKARD ( 1994-2004 ) In 2004 Stan founded 7 PARK AVENUE FINANCIAL – He is an expert in Canadian Business Financing.