Cruising Asia is a True Delight

A cruise is a voyage of discovery, an experience of cultural extravaganza of various civilizations. Cruising can reveal the biggest continents with the lengthiest coastlines and the highest mountains of the world.

To explore the true majesty of our world and its magnificent past, to experience the agnanimity of its religions and its peoples, embark on a cruise [http://www.acruisetrip.com]. You will never ever forget the experience.

Of all the cruises that I have been on, I liked the Asia cruise because it takes you to Singapore and Hong Kong. It was definitely worth a look. The temples in Thailand , the temples of India, or the peaceful eyes of Buddha, redefine spiritual faith of the believers and non-believers. Native women display graceful dance forms of India , the Japanese tea ceremony and the Chinese theatre. All of these wonders have enormous cultural significance that are and integral part of the region’s tradition. It is a pleasure to be a spectator of such enormous cultural and traditional environment intermingles with every walk of life, so alike to each other yet so very regional in its own right.

The Asia cruise takes the traveler along the Malaysian, Vietnamese and the Thai seas. Splurge on pretty gifts from the fabulous shopping arcades of Singapore and Hong Kong . Take time to spoil yourself in Dubai. Be a part of a once in a lifetime shopping experience with discounts and promotional offers like you have never seen. Come to Bollywood, know what family entertainmentcan be found and enjoyed by watching a Hindi film.

Your Asia cruise can be a channel and opportunity to explore the cultures and land masses with their own unique spirit and expression. You can go on an Asia cruise to suit your own needs
whether it is Far East or the southern pacific. Every cruise has its mystique and its own story to unfold.

After you have chosen your cruise, you should expect elegance and no gimmicks. You can enjoy your vacation at your own pace as if you were still at home but better. If you like solitary
experiences then you can jog unmolested, swim a lap in warm pools or read a great book. You should, however, take part in some of the free activities. Join the exercise classes, get a soothing massage, and enjoy a relaxing sauna.

Some cruises offer aerial sightseeing, white water rafting, and hikes amongst other things. You can find spas, health clubs and even wedding chapels on your cruise ship.Children have special play areas or centers with lots of fun and entertainment. The cruise agency often invite at least one guest speaker to share their experiences about the region you are traveling through giving you funny and sometimes curious insights. Most of the cruise staff provides excellent service and all guests get first class attention.

The dedicated staff looks after you very well and is there at your beckoned call. You can find the vital information you need from the staff and other places on board about where to find souvenirs, to shop for local handicrafts, or nice restaurants that are sure to delight and amaze you.

Asian cruises have exotic entertainment billings that showcase authentic entertainment and special theme events, hilarious comedies, and regional musicals. The exquisite dance perrformances will most assuredly leave you spell bound.

Spellbound and mesmerized will be the mood for you when your cruise journey ends. Surely, you and the ones you love will benefit in more ways than one from a trip of this magnitude.

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Expanding Internationally – What Makes a Good International Channel Partner?

It’s easy to look for channel partners overseas and there are many countries where they will all be clamoring over you but how do you know which ones are any good? They will all tell you who they know and how they are connected to very senior dignitaries of high ranking, high profile people – I have even had guys show me photographs of them standing side by side some high flyer and claiming to be his old school pal. Don’t get fooled so easily, these are the front men many of the less than professional companies send out to get us foreigners on the hook. Another ploy I encountered one time was getting a phone call in my hotel room about 3 hours before my departure flight from a guy who told me he had an imminent order to place for  similar goods and needed to see me immediately. It turned out he was the cousin of a guy I had been talking to a few days earlier from another company and he was trying to steer me to his company away from his cousin – it didn’t take me long to realize I was been toyed with and I dropped both of their companies from my list but things like this do happen.

So how do you avoid being fooled by the sharks? Well to start with make sure you conduct lots of good market research or have professionals do this for you. Contact your local trade mission in the country you are interested in and get their advise and recommendations, use valuable networking contacts from people that have years of experience in these markets, attend trade shows specific to your industry in their country to see which companies are prominent and professional.

To get really good partners you have to think like they do, put yourself in their shoes. If you are thousands of miles away and 6 to 18 hours time difference what would you be looking for from your principle. What motivation would you need to choose your supplier over that of the competitors? Having worked for a very successful overseas high tech distribution company I can tell you – in short they are looking at products or services that they can introduce to their market as if they were launching their own market leading brand. The detail behind this and what I have encountered personally will hopefully provide you with a better understanding of what makes a good International channel partner can be categorized as follows:

Channel Partner Expectations

o    A good channel partner will want his supplier to be a leader in their respected home and/or international market place. The company I worked with would not even touch any supplier that was ranked below number 3 in terms of their home market share.

o    The product or service has to be competitive when put out to the local market. This also filters back down to the transfer price or distributor discount they will expect. The margin a channel partner will expect to make depends on the volume and value of sales, i.e. if they are selling many thousands of pc’s then a very low margin, often less than 10% but if it is lower volume higher priced goods then it will be much higher. At my company we were selling the latter and we always looked to make a gross margin of between 33% and 40% after landed and cleared costs.

o    Quality has to be in line with market expectations – if you are supplying to a Japanese company who is going to OEM your product they will probably want to send their QA people over to your manufacturing plant to conduct their own audit and recommend changes.

o    Local warranty obligations must be met – some countries demand 2 years and so if you only give 30 days in the USA you will need to factor this. Some suppliers agree to ship an excess of products to cover this e.g. ship 102 for every 100 ordered.

o    They will expect to receive excellent back-up and support services and be treated as if they are an extension of your ‘family’, which in a sense they are as they are representing your interest in their country. This applies across the board to all aspects of contact with them from sales management, tech support through to warranty back-up and service support and sometimes even access to your in-house maintenance and fault logging and tracking systems.

o    They will expect first class references of other users of your products/services and to be able to put these forward to their client base. Occasionally this might even mean one of their clients requesting a visit to one of your customers somewhere in the world.

o    They will expect to ride on your marketing campaigns and have access to your marketing materials and literature copy. They should be taking full advantage of this in their local advertising, promos and trade shows.

o    Today many channel partners expect their international suppliers to have a well documented ‘Partner Plan or Program’ which clearly sets out the expectations and obligations of both parties.

o    They expect to be successful and will not be interested if it is uphill work to get there.

o    They don’t want obvious channel conflict. If you are appointing multiple channel partners in one country then try and differentiate between them e.g. one selling to government only another to automotive industry only or by geographical coverage.

o    They want access to your senior management, this may be for escalation purposes but very often in Asia it is a cultural issue and they will not get sign off until peer level executives have met, looked in to each other’s eyes and feel comfortable.

o    Day to day channel management will be anticipated to be done by one of your mature professionals and not passed on to an office junior the moment the contracts are signed.

o    They expect to succeed! They are not doing this for you, they are doing it for themselves and to make money out of your resources.

o    They do NOT expect to be usurped. No channel partner will commit to a venture if they were to even think that if they made it a success that you would then enter the local market directly and cut them out.

Channel Partner Profile

o    They should have a good track record of successfully introducing other ‘like’ products or services into their local market. Hopefully you will not be their first overseas supplier and they will have done this before and know how to trade with other international companies.

o    They will be major players in your industry sector in their country.

o    They should NOT be representing any of your competitors, feel free to ask them this direct. The last thing you need is to sign a lengthy contract only to find out they are gate-keeping your product out of the market.

o    They should be an established and solid company – get your financial guys to check them out and run appropriate financial checks. Of course this should be a prime function of appointing any third party channel partner.

o    They should be respected by the end user client base – do some research by getting in touch with customers direct and asking their opinion of the ‘XYZ company’, would they be happy to buy from them if you appoint them?

o    They should have a good public profile and be recognized as an ethical company.

o    They must have great networking and contacts with the right level of people.

Channel Partner Commitment

o    They must be prepared to commit resources – where I worked the management put in a new team of 6 recruits to focus on the new product we signed up for.

o    They must be financially committed – this doesn’t mean giving you a good initial stocking order (although this is nice) but committing through their management hierarchy to support this whole venture. It means funding training, which could be overseas, possible product localization and translation of manuals and literature, marketing, product launches, road shows, trade shows, advertising, sales initiatives and campaigns etc.

o    They must commit to an after sales support function for servicing clients and providing warranty obligations. Ideally they should integrate your products into their existing service management structure.

o    They should be results driven and want a quick return on their investment, the keener they are the sooner you will see results.

I have worked on both sides of the fence and been responsible for global expansion by appointing channel partners throughout Southern Africa, Western Europe, the Middle East and the Far East. I have always taken on the task with a project based approach and because I understood their motives and drivers and what makes them tick was a tremendous asset to me. The most successful channels have all been dedicated and committed to long term success and not just in it for a quick buck. I’m not saying you will find exactly the right match as we all need to compromise at times but if you set out your stall up front then you will be much closer to selecting the best available partner(s). Good Luck!

If after reading this you find it might be too much of a daunting task don’t panic – there’s lots of companies looking to expand internationally and there’s lots of help out there for them, this is exactly why I created Expand Internationally. Feel free to drop me a line!

Channel Management Solutions to Challenges

In the IT industry, software publishing enterprises are the ideal market in need of channel services to boost sales revenues. Channel management solutions are necessary to facilitate the relationship between the software vendor and the channel partners. Channel managers are tasked with developing the partnership and streamlining the sales process by channels.

In channel management these tasks are essential:

• Handling relationships – There are generally three parties involved in channel sales: the vendor, reseller or partner and the customer. The margins, credit limits, product price list, terms, etc, must be set. Proper pricing is crucial. It must not be set too high or too low and neither should the margins that affect the final price consumers pay for. Aside from pricing issue, the products have to match the resellers. High value products for example need to be assigned to VARs or Value Added Resellers who have previous experience in selling these kinds of products.

Conflict management comes into play especially between partners. One of the most prevalent challengers in channel sales is too much competition. Sometimes even the vendor would pull the rug out from under a partner when it sees an opportunity to reap the profits for themselves. Stealing leads are frowned upon but not unheard of in the industry.

• Product management and order approval – When leads push through, then the vendor must have the capacity to deliver the product to the end users. Included in this task is the delivery of license key since the product is software applications. In international markets, like Asia or Europe, the prices on the software may differ to reflect the market. It is imperative that resellers be recruited from countries where the product is being sold because they would be more efficient in selling the product since they know the language and has presumably built their reputation locally.

• Payments processing – There must be standard operating procedure for generating invoices and handling payments. One of the biggest hurdles in channel sales is on time payments from customers. It is important to reconcile the accounts or else it is a loss for both the vendor and the partner.

• Report Generation – These are unavoidable tedious paper work for channel managers that consume valuable time. They are required however, so companies can gain valuable insight to how they are progressing as far as channel sales goes.

A Partner Relationship Management or PRM tool can provide solutions and help in with these tasks of channel management. PRM offer features that would make the job of channel management a lot easier:

• Set partner levels or tiers – Vendors with hundreds of different channel partners would be at a loss on how they can differentiate the low-performing resellers from the high-performing resellers. With a fully automated system, resellers’ performance are transparent and based on the information, resellers can be awarded silver, gold or platinum status.

• Training, support and marketing materials – With a comprehensive PRM channel management solution, partners will have a valuable resource for product information, and marketing materials to use in generating sales.

• Automated reports – Manual tallying of sales is eliminated because the report is automatically generated. Channel managers and resellers will be allowed to focus on a more important task which is selling.

• Channel management conflicts are averted because with features like lead registration, partners will avoid competition with each other for the same business.