Beyond Check-In and Check-Out: The Hotel Experience Starts Online

The Hotel Experience Starts OnlineA good hotel is all about customers. Every last detail, from the color of the carpet to the smell of the bed sheets, matters. A hotel must be carefully maintained and ordered to maximize the experience for guests. The staff must be well-trained; the rooms must be comfortably adorned; the amenities must stand out.

Most hotels understand this and focus their attention accordingly. However, the best hotels understand that the guest experience no longer starts at check-in. In truth, the guest experience starts well before that on the Internet.

Almost every modern business recognizes the power of the Internet in theory. However, in practical application, most hotels have no idea what to do with their online presence. After all, hotels are about physical amenities and interpersonal interactions. Sadly, this means many hotels do not leverage the Internet very effectively, leaving customers wanting more.

To avoid becoming such a hotel, it is time to harness the power of the Internet in a meaningful way.

1. Appearances matter. The reason hotels put so much focus on the lobby is because it is the first thing guests see when they walk in the door. Hotels, of any business, understand the importance of a first impression. Guests often make up their minds about the hotel the moment they step inside, and that first impression can be hard to undo.

This is the same way a website works. The first time a guest clicks on a link to a hotel website, they instantly have a sense of what the hotel is like. If the website is bland, sparse and confusing, it will reflect poorly on the hotel. If the website is professional and inviting, the guest is more likely to be interested in staying there. A website should encourage guests to look around, to click on links and to make a reservation. Therefore, it should be easy to navigate and attractive to browse. There should be appropriate pictures, readable text and clear links.

Word Hotel written in search barA hotel only gets one first impression. Do the website right and make it a good one.

2. Functionality counts. While first impressions are important, they certainly will not last long if the content is not in order. Think about the hotel lobby again. Even if it is immaculate, guests will still be turned away if their rooms are dirty and dingy. First impressions matter but only if they are followed up by a positive experience.

With a website, this means that the site must not only look attractive but it must be functional as well. The links must work, and the content must be informative. Guests should easily be able to see what amenities are available in different room packages, and they should know all the available perks of the facility. It should be clear if smoking is allowed and if pets are welcome.

Better still, the website should have easy to find contact information on every page. Many hotels now offer online booking to give guests even more convenience. The more the website does for customers, the more likely they are to feel comfortable booking a room.

3. Diversity that works. Most hotels have embraced the idea of the Internet, but not as many have realized the scope of what that means. Ten years ago, most people still got online access from desktop computers and laptops. Today, however, many people use cell phones, tablets or other portable devices. While all of these devices can load Internet pages, not all can do so with the same ease. This is why businesses hoping to cater to the current population develop websites and applications that can easily be used on mobile devices.

The fact is that if a guest is trying to book a hotel on their phone, they are not going to stick around to navigate a clunky page. They will, however, turn to hotels that have mobile friendly websites. By having a diversity of online options for guests, hotels can dramatically increase their appeal. Too many hotels are trying to make a good first impression without realizing where or how guests may come to the website.

4. Working the grapevine. While keeping the hotel’s website up to date and attractive is important, many guests do not simply look there. With the widespread use of the Internet, many guests use travel websites to compare hotels in terms of their quality, amenities, location and prices. These websites are all privately owned and operated, so it is impossible to control the content. However, it is possible to stay informed about what guests are saying and make adjustments accordingly.

After all, these websites offer a unique insight into what works and what does not. If multiple guests complain about the slow check-in procedures or the cleanliness of the pool, it is easy to start looking for ways to rectify those problems. Also, if guests gush about the location or the continental breakfast, then it is easy to see what appeals to guests and to focus on these elements more clearly.

Also, be sure to encourage guests to leave feedback. Many guests only feel compelled to comment after a bad experience, which is why hotels should encourage all guests to interact on these websites frequently to even out the responses.

5. The start of a beautiful friendship. The guest experience does not start at check-in. It also does not end at check-out. Hotels can use the Internet to keep in touch with guests. If a guest booked the room online, offer a free email newsletter. Email a follow-up survey and a warm thanks. Offer online specials, and stay active in social media. The more a hotel can do to stay engaged with guests after they walk out the door, the more likely the guest is to come back.

In conclusion, hotels should stop losing customers before they even step in the front door. Instead, hotels that follow these helpful tips can heighten the experience for customers while heightening their own profits at the same time.

Got a question or need help?  We at Bionic Sisters Productions take great pride in our services.  If you ever have any questions about website, blog or social media please do not hesitate to let us know.

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Real Estate in 2014: The Power of Twitter

Real Estate in 2014 The Power of TwitterOver the last ten years, the Internet has fundamentally changed the way people do business. Businesses of all sizes and types have turned to the Internet, leveraging it to find new customers, increase sales and build loyalty. While building a website or starting a blog is a good part of any business plan, one of the most popular ways to connect with consumers is through Twitter.

Twitter is one of the most commonly used social media networking sites. Although most people think about Facebook when it comes to social media, Twitter is actually growing in popularity and has many distinctive advantages when it comes to privacy, brevity and interaction. Because of this, Twitter can work especially well for businesses, and real estate agents in particular can benefit from using the network in 2014.

For those who feel overwhelmed at the prospect of navigating social media for the first time or for those who do not know how to turn a casual pastime into a veritable business opportunity, consider this guide as reference.

1. Be an expert. Anyone can get an account and start posting information. However, when it comes to business, people are only going to follow an account if the person posting is worth following. As a real estate agent, you have to be an expert in the field or no one will see the point in adding you to their following list. Therefore, you have to know the market, and you have to know your clients. You have to do your job well in order to gain enough credibility to be successful on social media.

2. Be relevant. To start using your account, put together posts about real estate news in your community. Posts need to be important or interesting to your clients. This means tweets should have a local flair or maybe an international tie-in. To do this, you should be on top of the news, sorting through the information about real estate to pick the tidbits that will be most popular for your followers. You can post this type of information two to five times a day.

3. Stay connected. Twitter has an excellent retweeting tool, which allows users to repost information shared by other users. Retweeting is a great way to share more information with clients. However, be sure to use this option sparingly. Do not retweet more than twice a day. Posting in this manner too much will not only be a turnoff to clients but it may raise flags from Twitter that the account is nothing more than spam.

4. Get engaged. Like all social media, Twitter is about community. Therefore, do not just post your own information; be sure to follow and check other accounts in the industry as well. You should know what other real estate agents are posting. Better still, you should respond to other real estate agents and relevant parties once or twice a day.

5. Make it personal. Twitter is not merely a business tool; it is a social platform. While you may leverage it for business purposes, do not be afraid to be a little personal from time to time. Clients like to engage with their real estate agent as a person. Sharing a little information about yourself can help build a relationship. However, keep such posts limited to once a day.

6. Leverage the platform. As a real estate agent, it is entirely appropriate to share some of your listings. Go big and tweet pictures of your most expensive listing. Go small and pick a nice, budget-friendly home to share as well. Post pictures of rentals, relocation services and more. Use the platform to share your business.

finding eletronic real estate7. Be active. You should know what other people are saying and doing on Twitter, especially if your name comes up. Always respond when you are mentioned in other posts, and do your best to engage such references in a meaningful and friendly manner. For more information on this, look at this convenient link.

8. Be creative. Think outside the box with your posts. Remember who your clients are and what they are interested in. Post about mortgages, financing, gardening, kitchen renovations and more. Always end your tweets by asking for feedback.

9. Offer your services. Social media is a marketing tool, so do not be afraid to use it that way. Offer your real estate services explicitly, inviting people who are buying or selling to contact you for more help and support with real estate needs.

10. Focus on engagement. The real advantage of Twitter is that it goes beyond traditional marketing. You not only get your name out there, but you have the chance to actually interact with clients. This can lead to more clients and more profits. To learn more about how to engage on Twitter, check out this helpful reference.

11. Define your brand. Although Twitter can be used as a marketing tool, it is not actually about selling yourself. It is about creating your brand. With an active account, you can create a professional persona. This persona should be memorable, and over time, it will define how people perceive you. This can lead to more sales, but it is ultimately about your image. To read more about how to brand yourself, check out this informative link.

12. Be part of the community. One of the dangers with Twitter is that you make it all about you. Yes, you can use the platform to help people get to know you and your business, but you should spend just as much time trying to learn more about them. Tweet with other real estate agents; do not be afraid to agree with them. Offer personalized advice to clients. Become part of the community, and clients will think of you as one of them.

Twitter is really that easy. Before you get started, just remember the following insider tips:

  • Tweeting can build notoriety. Having a social media presence can build a local following and turn it into a much wider one, even reaching the world.
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  • You do not have to do it alone. Many people delegate the task of tweeting to assistants or interns. There are even third party companies that can help get a social media account up and running.
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  • You can have more than one account. You can have an account for your blog, your website, your personal life and more. Managing multiple accounts is actually pretty easy and can dramatically improve your ability to garner a following and establish your brand. Learn more here.
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  • It is about quality, not quantity. Twitter is addictive. However, do not tweet everything. No one likes spam. Just tweet what matters to you, and play well with others.
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Leverage the hashtag. The hashtag is quintessential to Twitter. The hashtag works as a searching tool, linking all posts labeled with the same tag. You can use the hashtag to interact with a larger community, linking your post to other relevant trends on Twitter. Or you can use the hashtag to track users, asking them to respond to your post using your chosen hashtag. You should always use hashtags, but be sure to use the right ones. When creating your own, try to reuse the same ones to build your following.

  • Tweet within reason. If you have good, relevant posts, it is hard to tweet too much. However, people usually do not tolerate tweets from businesses as much as they do from individuals. Therefore, try to keep your posts to less than 10 a day.
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  • Pre-schedule your tweets. With certain applications, it is possible to plan out your tweets up to two months in advance. In this way, you could plan several tweets a day for that time while supplementing daily with relevant retweets.
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It may sound overwhelming, but the benefits of using this social media platform can be dramatic. If you have never used Twitter before, you likely do not understand the potential. The only way to fully realize what is possible with Twitter is to start using it. For those who have trouble starting with new platforms, there is plenty of help available. Try consultants like the Bionic Sisters Productions. These experts can help you get established and start tweeting. With their help, anyone can start using their Twitter account to make connections, expand business and earn more money.

Overall, this article should serve as your introduction to Twitter. Our hope is that the information is relatable and easy to implement no matter what your goals as a real estate agent may be. Not only is Twitter a viable marketing option but it is also a great way to establish your unique brand in the real estate industry. Best of all, Twitter gets easier to leverage the more you use it. Many users, even novices, often find that Twitter is not only useful but fun. Once you start, it is usually pretty hard to stop. Therefore, do not be afraid. Create your account and start tweeting your way to success today.

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San Diego California Agency

How To Get More Business For Your Hotel In 2014

How To Get More Business For Your HotelYou have to work hard, really hard, to get more business for your hotel. You can not simply put out the vacancy sign and expect a steady stream of guests to come walking through the front door. It can take years to build up a hotel’s reputation, but only a few bad reviews to knock it back down.

A hotel manager needs to take a look at the big picture. First, he or she must focus on making everything right with the hotel itself. Next, it is important to know your competition. Finally, and most importantly, you must focus on attracting new guests and making sure that when they stay, they will want to come back and stay again.

Who is your target market?

No hotel can be all things to all people. Your hotel’s mission statement and business plan can be broad and inclusive, but also needs to be narrow enough to create an identity for its core target audience. A four-star hotel in the financial district should focus on the business traveler, while a moderately priced hotel near Disneyland should focus on providing accommodations for families. You can bring in more business by knowing who your customers are and giving them the things they need and want most.

Las Vegas is a good example of where some hotels tried unsuccessfully to appeal to all demographic groups. A few years back, the city decided to promote itself as a place to bring the kids. Hotels started changing to cater to family based vacationers. While the message being sent out brought more families to Las Vegas, it also distracted Vegas hoteliers from its core identity as an adult playground for gamblers. Targeting your market works better than trying to appeal to everyone.

What makes your hotel different?

You always want to give a guest a reason why they should choose your hotel over another hotel in the area. Price can be a big reason, but certainly not the only reason to drive business to your hotel.

If your hotel happens to have lake and ocean views that is a selling point. Maybe you are the only hotel in the area that allows pets? You can differentiate your hotel by the level of service you provide, offering your guests freshly baked chocolate chip cookies or anything else that adds value to a guest’s stay.

Develop a relationship with your guests before they arrive

When people have the chance to get to know you, they will be more apt to book a room with you rather than going to an unfamiliar place. Just as you are more likely to visit a friend than a perfect stranger, the same holds true for staying at a hotel.

Using all available means to build friendships and relationships can lead to more bookings. Start with a content-rich website that is constantly updated. Create a hotel newsletter. Have a Facebook and a Twitter presence. Allow people to ask questions and respond to all inquiries in a timely manner. Anything you can do to connect to people interested in your hotel will help attract more paying guests.

Are you getting the most out of your website?

You should look at your website as the central core of your online marketing strategy. All advertising material from brochures and print ads to television and blogs on the internet should have a link back to your website. Social media sites can encourage people to visit your website, but you need to make your website valuable to visitors when they arrive.

Professional design is almost mandatory. You want your website to function properly and be easy to navigate. A good website should not feel cluttered, but should provide all of the information a person might want or need to make a booking decision. Put any discounts or special offers in a prominent spot on your home page. Your website should allow a person to book a reservation or get in touch with someone to answer any questions he or she may have.

Keep your website fresh and full of interesting and valuable content. You can have an area that tells readers about upcoming local festivals and events. A guide to local restaurants, shopping and attractions, with links to those places, will be very useful for visitors to your city.

Build an email mailing list

Creating a big list of solid leads is a valuable asset in any kind of marketing campaign for your hotel. In the old days, businesses paid money to buy names and addresses from mailing list providers. It has been shown time-and-time-again that growing an email mailing list is the better approach.

Offering an incentive for people to give you their email address is the fastest and best way to build an email list. Among the ways to encourage people to furnish their email address is to offer them a free subscription to a monthly newsletter or give them access to special discounts that are sent to them through their email accounts.

When you develop a large list of people who have an interest in traveling and staying at hotels, you can target them in different ways. While you do not want to bombard people with too many messages, an occasional email will remind them of your hotel and may just get them to make a reservation.

Give your guests more value

When people return home from a vacation they like to share their experience with their friends. While they are more likely to talk about the fun they had at Disneyland rather than the hotel in which they stayed, if you do something special that impresses them, they will very likely rave about it to their friends.

It might cost you a little extra to provide a deluxe free breakfast instead of a continental breakfast, but the goodwill you build with guests will more than offset the additional cost. Instead of just offering cold cereal and toast, offer scrambled eggs and bacon.

First impressions matter

When guests pull up to your hotel, they immediately form an impression of the property. While you may not have fancy gardens and fountains to wow them, you should keep your grounds well maintained. You do not want cigarette butts outside your entrance or garbage blowing around in the parking lot. Your hotel should look clean inside and out.

When guests come to the front desk to check-in, they are probably tired from a long day of travel. Always make sure you greet them with a friendly smile and get them their room keys as quickly as possible. Offer them a cool drink or a cup of coffee. Don’t keep them waiting and don’t bog them down with too much information that they can read about in their room. When a guest is treated with courtesy from the start, he or she is likely to form a positive opinion of the hotel.

Consistency

You always want to give your guests the same great experience on every day of their stay. If a guest loved your hotel so much when he stayed with you in May, don’t disappoint him when he comes back in October to stay with you again. In order to maintain a consistently high standard with everything from clean rooms and fresh towels to the breakfast buffet and the front desk service, you need to have a quality control plan.

Everything that needs to be done in a given day should be clearly written down. You should set up a schedule with times when the hallways need to be vacuumed, the pool cleaned and the air conditioning filters changed. Organization is important as is communication and regular meetings with your staff. Guests, particularly those who stay with you frequently, have the right to expect the same level of service every time they visit.

Be flexible and accommodating

Following policy is fine in most situations, but you should also be willing to bend the rules a little to make the customer happy. Most hotels do not let you check-in until 3:00 pm and make you check-out by 11:00 am. They do this to have time to clean the rooms and get them ready for arriving guests.

If you have empty rooms and a guest wants to check-out at 1:00 pm because his flight does not leave until 5:00 pm, let the guest stay the extra few hours.

Learn from guest comments

The best way to see what you are doing right, or what you might be doing wrong, is to ask the people who stay at your hotel. Encourage guests to write online reviews or ask them to fill out a short comment card in their room. Your front desk people should always ask departing guests how they enjoyed their stay. Use complaints as an opportunity to fix problems and make your hotel an even better place to stay.

If you want to bring more business to your hotel, follow three simple steps. Treat every guest like you would treat a member of your own family. Constantly strive to improve the service and facilities of your hotel and always keep an eye on the competition.

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Learning How To Manage Teams Effectively

How To Manage Teams Effectively 2014
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Effective team management is an essential skill in almost every field of work. A team can be as small as two people and as large as entire departments or companies. Being able to manage a team effectively can be the defining factor between a project’s failure and its success. Effective team managers possess several qualities.

1. Ability to Gain Trust - Learning:

One of the most important skills that a team manager needs is the ability to quickly gain the trust of his or her team. Without the trust of teammates, it is difficult to build unity and create an atmosphere of collaboration, communication, transparency, loyalty and dedication. Team members may also find it difficult to work for a manager whom they do not trust.

To build trust, a team manager must first develop rapport with the team members. This step is especially important in situations where the manager and team members have not previously worked together. Effective team managers are proficient in listening to team members because they have to work with a variety of personality and learning styles. Building rapport also means empowering team members to become successful and to overcome obstacles.

Building trust requires exercising sound judgment in difficult situations. Being diplomatic and ethical in all situations helps team members to see that the manager will do the right thing instead of acting selfishly. Making ethical and sound decisions helps the manager to establish credibility and gives team members a reason to listen to and follow the manager. Building trust means protecting the team and standing behind its members in adverse situations.

2. Flexibility - Learning

Managing a team almost always involves dealing with complicated or unexpected situations. Flexibility is an important characteristic of effective team managers. Many times, managers face complications that must be handled quickly and efficiently, even if it requires changing the planned course of action.

Flexibility requires the ability to handle stress appropriately. Managers who cannot effectively deal with stressful situations may not be able to exercise the flexibility needed to handle the situation and build rapport with team members. The stress of the situation may also cause an ineffective team manager to shut down and lose the ability to keep his or her team unified and focused.

Flexibility is also necessary in dealing with interpersonal relationships among team members. An effective team manager must be able to communicate and work with a variety of personality types, learning styles and methods of communication. The manager must be able to clearly communicate expectations and instructions in ways that are easily understood by every member of the team. A flexible manager is able to create presentations and meetings that use a variety of approaches so that they can engage colleagues who learn in different ways.

3. Strong Organizational Skills - How To

Effective team managers must have well-developed organizational skills. Often, managers are responsible for a variety of deadlines, meetings and events. Being late for these events, or missing them entirely, can lead to broken trust and poor rapport development with team members. Poor organization can also lead to losing an important contract or breaking the trust of an important client.

Time management is an important organizational skill. An effective manager must be able to balance long-term goals with short-term priorities. The manager must be able to determine which aspects of the project should be assigned a higher priority quickly and which aspects of the project are not essential.

Organizational skills are also important for helping the team members learn their roles. A well-organized meeting is instructional and educational. Team members feel like their needs are heard and that their time is valued. This helps to increase rapport and build trust. Productivity is also improved when leaders at well-organized meetings clearly communicate expectations and instructions.

4. Knowing How to Delegate

Effective team management requires that the manager is aware of his or her own time and skill limitations and the strengths that team members bring to the project. In order to effectively manage the team, the manager cannot be the one to attempt to complete every task.

Every member of the team brings experience and skills that benefit the team. Being able to quickly delegate tasks to members who have strong skills in those areas can free the manager to focus on other important tasks. Delegation also allows the team members to take on important roles.

Not every task can be delegated, and it is important for the team manager to have an understanding of when to delegate. If the task provides an opportunity for a team member to grow and develop existing skills, delegation is usually appropriate. Tasks that require extensive specialized training, or ones that are critical to the long-term success of the team, usually require completion by the team manager.

5. Ability to Make Realistic Goals

Finally, effective team managers must be proficient in-goal setting. Multiple goals must be considered. First, the manager must have a firm understanding of the project’s long-term goals. Knowing what is required, and what the desired outcome of the project is, determines all other goals as well as the personnel composition of the team. A successful team depends on the manager’s ability to fully understand the long-term goals of the project.

The manager must also be able to set manageable short-term goals. These short-term goals give team members clear deadlines that pace progress instead of working towards one final deadline. Short-term goals provide more frequent opportunities for success and rewards to keep the team motivated and focused.

An effective manager must be able to create team goals and goals for each individual member of the team. The long-term goal is typically a goal for both the team and individual members; however, individual members may also have goals of improving skill sets, reaching a promotion or obtaining a pay raise. An effective team manager not only encourages individuals to work towards the ultimate team goal, but he or she also helps each member of the team set and reach personal goals. A team is most successful when each member feels that he is contributing to the project’s success while feeling like he is advancing in his own personal career path.

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Shawn Colvin: Her “Folk n ‘Roll” Universe

Shawn Colvin

Born in Vermillion, South Dakota, Shawn Colvin is an A-list artist. Discovering the guitar at the age of 10, she performed for the first time on stage five years later on the campus of the University of Illinois. Her influences are deeply rooted in country music. The musical identity of the young performer gradually formed when she was touring in Texas where she played in a Western swing band. Eventually, she moved to New York where she met someone who would prove to be very important for her future career, producer John Leventhal.

Signed to Columbia Records for Steady On, her first album was released in 1989 and was a great success, winning a Grammy Award for Best Contemporary Folk Album in 1991. Later, Fat City was released in 1992, then an album of covers in 1994 called Cover Girl, and later a live album in 1995, called Live ’88.

But it was in 1996 when her true musical identity was displayed in the release of A Few Small Repairs. Most notably, her hit single “Sunny Came Home” stayed on the charts in the top 10 for several weeks. In 1998, the guitarist and singer won two Grammy Awards: one for Song of the Year and one for Album of the Year. From the very first notes of this title, it is impossible to overlook the catchy guitar riffs and lively melody, which contrast with a relatively somber music video. In concert, she affectionately calls the song her “murder ballad” and audiences rave to hear this song about sweet vengeance when Sunny comes home to right some of the wrongs in her childhood town.

A change of label (Nonesuch Records) did not mean a change of style in 2006 for Colvin. On the albumThese Four Walls, she collaborates with recording artists Patti Griffin and Teddy Thompson. The titles “Cinnamon Road” and “Let It Slide”, to name a few, are in perfect harmony with a refined, but very effective, folk style. You can feel the artist’s deep passion for music in the way her every song conveys chills and emotion, while demonstrating a perfect mastery of the instruments.

On her most recent release (All Fall Down, June 2012), Shawn Colvin invites us to enter her universe colored with melancholy and hope, which is reflected in the touching song “Up On That Hill.” This song reveals intimate songwriting, allowing Colvin to unveil even more personal experiences to her audience. All 11 tracks on the album have this special touch, driven by her calm and mesmerizing voice. Like an open book, she describes her profound feelings and we have the privilege of listening.

Balmy days are coming and if you do not already know Shawn Colvin, it is time to discover this amazing artist who will certainly become the soundtrack of your summer. To hear more: http://www.shawncolvin.com/

Matthieu Saint-Wril
Sciences Po Aix en Provence, Intern BSP
 

A Musical Evening Full of Emotion

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The North Coast Repertory Theatre was undeniably the place to be last night, for the « Four Songs, Four Musicians Evening », produced by Bionic Sisters Productions in collaboration with NCRT. The evening was held in support of the Arts for Healing Program at Sharp McDonald Center, which treats addiction and alcoholism, a family disease. This special program was described by Liz MacKenzie who welcomed questions at a display about the Center and program after the show. Each performance was introduced by co-emcees BSP President Bridget Brigitte and Theatre Producer Tracy McDowell.

Far from contenting themselves with playing for a very enthusiastic public, the four performing artists played their pieces energetically and swamped the cozy space of the Solana Beach theater with sensitivity and emotion.

Beginning with a precise soundcheck, the tone was set: Studio West’s team from the TRAC Recording Arts Center was on site under the direction of Mark Kirchner for the occasion and offered sound mixing worthy of the biggest concerts. The special intimate acoustics of the room brought out the best sounds of the instruments including a baby grand piano, various guitars, and an ancient Chinese Gu Zheng; the atmosphere captivated the audience. Professionalism prevailed, and the rehearsals for each musician occurred without a hitch.

It was 7:30 pm when the theater opened its doors, and the public was on time. The evening began with Mira Parfitt, an acoustic songstress who mixes folk and pop. She brought us into her acoustic universe with a lively beat and very personal lyrics. The natural shyness of the young artist strengthened the charm of her songs, and last night she easily won over the public’s heart.

Then Jing Jing Evans took over to bring us on a musical trip abroad as part of the sensory experience of listening to music. This Gu Zheng player, also a world champion martial arts instructor and Women’s International Center Living Legacy, introduced an original musical style on a traditional instrument. It was easy to imagine traveling around Asia to remote lands as we were lulled by the notes of each romantic song. Without a doubt, this performance will make people want to discover more of this special style of music.
The following duo brought a rare feeling to the evening. Marshall Hattersley on guitar, accompanied by his father Mark at the piano, delivered a performance that was so touching that members of the audience were in tears, owing to his special mild voice and sensitive songs. Marshall’s mother Barby joined them for the duo’s closing song, which proves that music made in and by a family brings a very rare and moving quality to songwriting.
For the final performance of the evening, the acoustic songstress Christine Parker revealed her rare talents. After the first song, it was impossible to resist her catchy lyrics and very “Californian” guitar sound. The song  « Take Me Home, Country Roads » by John Denver was sung in unison by the audience and left no doubt about her singular talent. She played an encore song that thrilled the audience.
The evening ended with a reception where people could indulge in delicious brownies and 7 layer bars made by health and sustainability conscious Jimbo’s. Since the show happened just two days before Thanksgiving, audience members generously brought donations for a food drive in support of the San Diego Food Bank.
This concert at North Coast Repertory Theatre won everyone’s heart, with the quality of its programming and a warm welcome from the whole BSP and NCRT teams. Most likely one of the best acoustic musical events of the year, hopefully there will be many more to come!
- Matthieu Saint-Wril, Sciences Po Aix-en-Provence
Photos: William Metivet  www.williammetivet.com

The Impact of Digital Recording on the Music Industry 

 

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When a writer tackles this kind of article, the first thing we have to do is try to be fair. Even if some developments in digital music are concrete and undeniable, there is a happy medium to be struck between nostalgia of “good old times” and the exciting prospects of the future. 

I will not focus only on economic impacts, but I will try to give several points of view about how we can compare digital music, a result of the digital revolution in the music industry, to analog music, and all the possibilities that follow, that influence all aspects of music.

Basically, digital recording consists of creating or recording music in binary numbers that can be interpreted as sound. Beyond this scientific language, it first means that you can diffuse a digitally recorded song more easily and stored many songs using only minimal storage (especially since the invention of MP3). 

What about quality? It is sometimes better than the past music compression file types. But better quality and storage does not necessarily mean better music. To clarify, some people think that we cannot really rediscover the soul of an instrument, and the chemistry that exists between a musician and his instrument. Indeed, the stored signal does not have anything to do with the original signal, and a 100% virtual sound can loose its authenticity (Stairway To Heaven by Led Zeppelin for instance would sound better left unanalyzed).

With keyboards, however, it is possible to reproduce the sound of traditional instruments, like a pan flute or others, but it would definitely not sound the same. This is how a single person, like a DJ, can duplicate the sounds of an entire orchestra. Whether digital music represents an improvement to reproducing sound not, everyone has a different opinion, but the faithful reproduction of a live concert is suffering. 

Another consideration is that digital recording is mainly based on dematerialized, or virtual, songs. Will can take note of what is happening with the book industry. Should vinyl’s aficionados, for example, settle for a simple song on a computer or on a USB stick? Collectors will always exist, but vinyls today are already relics that are hard to get. 

A lot of people prefer to feel physically “feel” music and artwork on paper or a canvas will always be different than some pictures posted on a Facebook or Pinterest page. To know the lyrics from a song now, all that a person needs to do now is search on the internet and we find almost everything we want about a song. It is very interesting to learn about the writing conditions and evolution of a song, but there is room to believe that some compositions should keep their origins secret in order to remain mysterious, and thus be more noticeable. 

YouTube is probably one of the best examples we can find: you can see music videos for free (in spite of the regular advertisements), see how the artists look without having to pay etc. It creates a new generation of web artists, most of the time fleeting. 

But the most important issue is that the Internet revolution has permitted a huge dissemination of songs, and has created some conflicts regarding the privacy rules. The multiplication of laws in Europe and United States like SOPA and PIPA had aroused a lot of reactions and brings the debate to center stage. Because beyond the freedom to share simple files, there is a real right defended by the active members of the Internet’s cause. 

It is understandable that some artists want to protect their songs and live with their music to continue to record CD’s and perform in shows. But what an extraordinary advantage to be able introduce your own music to the largest number of people possible, for free, and to share your songs all around the world without promoting them. Some artists share their own songs via file-sharing, also known as peer-to-peer networking. 

This way, they reason, once an artist is discovered, people will maybe buy a CD or at least come to see a live show. 

Art and commerce always have and always will have an ambiguous relationship. But the record labels want to save a business in decline and are not ready to give in to the hands of  internets activists who advocate total freedom and free everything. So the goal is to combine the interests of everyone, perhaps reducing the influence of the Big Four record labels and reinforcing independent labels, originally stifled by the first ones. 

The Internet revolution is just beginning, but it is destined to bring other evolutions within the music industry, and only the future will tell us which ones. 

- by Matthieu Saint-Wril, Consultant and Intern with Bionic Sisters Productions. Sciences Po Aix, France.

California Women’s Conference 2012 : An inspiring event.

ImageThis year, the California Women’s Conference, organized at the Long Beach Convention Center, brings together several artists, speakers, professionals and attendees over two festive days. Everyone could walk around the huge building to discover the different attending exhibitors, sit down to see activities on the main stage (singers, speakers, etc.) or listen carefully to lectures given by entrepreneur women.
In order to “offer its attendees inspiration, resources, and connections to help take the next step in business, personal development, health and wellness, or philanthropic endeavors”, the California Women’s Conference had been able to give a wide vision of what can be done for women in various sectors. 
From Marcia Cross to Fran Drescher to Melissa Manchester, many celebrities succeeded on the main stage to support women’s causes in front of an attentive audience. The California Women’s Conference has been organized for nearly thirty years now, and the enthusiasm for this inspiring event seems to increase year after year. Bionic Sisters Productions was proud to attend for two days and explore the many booths and personalities that made this event unforgettable!
For more information, visit the California Women’s Conference: http://californiawomensconference.com 
By Matthieu Saint-Wril, Sciences Po Aix-en-Provence, Intern for Bionic Sisters Productions

 

Why Creating a Personal Artistic Site on Facebook is a Contradiction

Having or owning a personal website is like having a home base and gives someone the ability to promote their work and art.  An artist is able to promote their artistic talents by using the internet to reach many people.  Facebook is a social networking site that connects many people and since the boom of social networking sites, artists have been showcasing their art on these types of third party sites for just that purpose. Doing only this, however, can drastically limit a person’s full potential to promote themselves, since Facebook is in control of the layout of the webpage and is constantly changing its appearance.  The ability of an artist, musician, or creator to incorporate a personalized feel into their product, which creates a sense of artistic uniqueness, is limited when using sites like Facebook. Even though Facebook is good for networking and getting your art seen by a large number of people, it should only be used for what it is intended, because using it to showcase an artist’s work will ultimately control the artist, because the webpage will be limited to the Facebook interface.

Design control can be a huge issue to an artist.  When someone uses Facebook for any kind of promotion, the control over their site is extremely limited.  When Facebook undergoes a major profile overhaul, for example, the user is left with changes that they cannot do anything about.  When an artist has their own personal website, they can showcase their work and choose exactly what they want their viewers to focus on, without having to worry about changes out of their control.  Artists that create their own personal websites can create a personalized, sleek design which can fit their own unique artwork and showcase their full potential.  Having one’s own website can also allow for the ability to have a personal connection with one’s enthusiasts.  When enthusiasts connect with the artist from their personal website, either through buying music or subscribing to a blog or newsletter, a valuable fan base is created.  This will remain even when everyone abandons Facebook for the next latest online fad.  Social websites are also filled with advertisements and distractions. Users tend to want to click ads for games or smart phones that are often on Facebook profile sites. People often will absorb only 15% of the information posted on an individual’s Facebook profile before clicking away. When people have their own dedicated site, they do not have to worry about distractions. Lastly, owning your own Dot Com gives the impression of legitimacy to the public. People feel comfortable when they are able to visit a website that has the artist name on it.  It can also be used as a site that “Facebook Friends/Fans” are re-directed to if they really want to see what you can do.  This gives an artist or musician the freedom to interact with visitors on his or her own terms.  This could potentially create a more intimate relationship with clients, viewers or potential employers because they feel that they have discovered the artist through his or her legitimate website and not amongst the millions of Facebook users.
Everyone seems to visit Facebook.  Recent statistics state that in 2012 Facebook has racked up an astounding 900 million users!  This isn’t just an impressive number; it also shows how many people have created connections with each other around the world.  However, a lot of artists who have been trying to reach out to the online world have started using their Facebook site instead of a real hosted website to promote their work.  Facebook is certainly great to network and create social connections or a “Like” fan base, which could potentially lead to jobs, but there are certain essential artistic benefits that an artist would be losing if they went solely this direction, rather than having their own dedicated site.
-Blake Hixson, Web Designer, BionicSisters.com  http://www.hixsonhawaii3d.com
By Bionic Sisters Productions Posted in Articles