Student Engagement

Posted by: Nesha Milicevic

The words that describe student engagement to me are passion and excitement” (Barkley, 2009).

It is well known that the enthusiasm a teacher shows is one of the crucial elements in Student engagement, and is essential in being an effective teacher. The engagement that a Student shows is a good antidote to declining motivation and performance.  If my presentation of the subject matter is done with passion and excitement, most of the Students will get excited about it, which will further motivate them to learn. In order to better relate Students to learning, I really like using real life examples. With over 30 years of experience in the industry, there are many ways I can think of a “hook” – something that will capture the interest of the Students and get them involved. It is important that the examples are relevant to what we are learning. I also like to bring in Guest Speakers, people that have been in the industry for a while, and have the knowledge and expertise to deliver a clear message. I find that this really creates excitement in the classroom, and increases enthusiasm to learn. “When students are motivated to learn, they naturally acquire the skills they need to get the work done.” (Sir Ken Robinson, 2009). As an educator, if you are passionate about a specific topic, you should take the time to share this with your Students. Passion and excitement can be very contagious, and you will be able to pass this on to your classroom. Teachers should have a good feel of the classroom, following a schedule is important but, it is equally important to set aside time for what is valuable to Students, and for what the best way for them to learn is. Incorporate passion-based learning, and allow Students to be in control, find the time to allow them to design their own schedule, this will allow you to view their interests and moving forward you can incorporate some of that into the lessons that you will be teaching.

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Our ultimate goal as an educator is to increase the Students interest in learning, and do it in a way that is useful and stress free. The idea is to increase the passion and excitement for learning, so that Students can retain the information and apply it to a real life situation. Good communication and being approachable, as well as listening to them and their ideas, is the foundation for enabling Students to learn new things, and increases their enthusiasm. Building a classroom environment where Students are respected and feel comfortable expressing their ideas and perspectives provides a setting for optimal learning. It is also very important to keep the atmosphere in the classroom light and humorous. A fun environment adds passion and excitement, and helps increase the Student-teacher communication and bond, which is a very important factor in learning. “Laughter reduces stress and anxiety, increases self-esteem and self-motivation” (Berk, 1998).

The bottom line is that a good teacher is one that can inspire Students to feel passionate about learning. I encourage my Students to challenge me, this pushes the Students to think for themselves and solve problems. Instructors need to demonstrate the passion for the subject that they are teaching, and pass this passion on to their Students. When the Instructor demonstrates this passion, it is natural that the Students get excited and will show that they actually want to learn. It is not about lecturing, it is about learning. Just following the textbook will not do it; Instructors need to make their classrooms feel like a two-way street, encouraging discussions and conversations. This will push Students to find answers and will further enhance their curiosity. An Instructor also needs to be supportive of the Students; the best way of doing this is to connect with them in class and after class. If a Student feels that you truly care about their success it will definitely enhance the passion and excitement for further education and learning.

 

The Art of Sales Negotiations

Posted by: Nesha Milicevic

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Typically a negotiation is a discussion between two or more people that have a different starting point to reach a common solution. There are two places where the negotiation needs to happen: the so called external or real world which is usually your starting point and the buyers’ side of things which is something that will influence their decision. In order to successfully close a sale you need to overcome any obstacles on the way and that often involves changing the buyers’ position.

Before you even start any kind of negotiations you need to make sure that you are well prepared in advance. Getting the right information is crucial and this involves research on the buyer, their company and their needs. You need to make sure that you have the proper understanding on where the buyer is coming from, what are their price expectations and what is important to them.

Once you have all these parameters in place the focus needs to shift to the value and benefits of what you are selling. Often a buyer already has a price in mind and has compared it to other products, and this is what determines their positioning. The negotiation should start by agreeing on what both parties have in common bearing in mind that the objective is for both the buyer and seller to see the sale from the same viewpoint. The price should never be made a focal point of the negotiation; it should all be about the value of the product.

Determine where your BATNA (Best Alternative To a Negotiated Agreement) is and use the 80/20 rule: Eyes and ears should be used 80% of the time and mouth 20%. Before you start making any price adjustments make sure you are well aware what will be the turning point that will motivate the buyer to agree to the sale. Is it important to the buyer to complete the sale at a cheaper price or are they determined to get value for their money?  If you start negotiating prices or giving them additional benefits and value before you have a proper understanding of the buyers’ motivation you could be leaving money on the table and still not even be close to closing the sale. At the same time you have to be aware of your limitations and boundaries. There is no point in making a sale if you are not making any money on it; this is the reality of things. At this point it is probably better to ask the buyer directly what it would take for them to agree to the sale. It could be that they are looking for extras and add-ons which would help influence their decision.

During the entire process it is very important that you build trust with your buyer and that they never question your integrity and professionalism. We need to understand that the negotiation technique is a crucial part of the sales process and that it needs to be built into the initial stages of the meeting, so asking questions and being able to adapt to the situation is a crucial part of the process. Most people feel that Negotiation is a gifted skill. It is a false impression. Negotiation is a learned skill.

It requires three essential attributes to negotiate successfully:

  • A carefully conceived plan with all of the parameters established prior to the meeting;
  • The necessary patience to work through the difficult process without losing the sight of the final goal;
  • A genuine desire to make to a conclusion where both the buyer and sales person mutually benefit.

Using strategic sales techniques places the sales person in a position to better negotiate to a win-win conclusion. Negotiating requires using your communication skills throughout the process.

One of greatest skills is the use of L-E-A-P in handling objections.

L-E-A-P process helps to handle negotiation without compromising the relationship.

LISTEN – Practising Active listening skills during the negotiation give the sales person advantage in gathering information about customer’s needs. During the process of exploring for information or dealing with a problem, you must listen carefully to what is being said by the customer.

EMPATHIZE – In this second element the sales person must empathize with what has been said by the customer. This will give them the confidence that you really heard and understand what they said. Acknowledging customers’ needs and concerns creates a positive environment and letting them know that you are willing to work with them to make it a win-win outcome.

ASK QUESTIONS – In this element, as a sales person you ask for greater understanding of what the customer is saying. This is a critical element because it gives customer an opportunity to mention their issue at the same time an opportunity for the seller to uncover how much the customer is willing to compromise.

PRODUCE – In the fourth element, it’s time to take action and produce results on behalf of the buyer. Without reacting to the customers but focusing on your final goal and creating a win-win solution, the customer will perceive your desire to become partners.

When practicing L-E-A-P, one should avoid:

  • Judgemental Behavior (Insisting, Arguing, Directing)
  • Hostile Behavior (Criticising, Telling, Scolding)

If you have all these elements in place you are very likely to close the sale!

The Impact of Social Media

Posted by: Nesha Milicevic

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Social media is a term used to describe different types of online media sources that allow and encourage readers to participate in its use and creation. These media sources have quickly gained popularity over the last few years, to the point that they are starting to replace other means of communication like phone calls and e-mail.

Each form of social media has a slightly different application. Social network sites provide a way to market to specific groups of people.  For instance, a skydiving company in New Zealand could create a page on Facebook about skydiving with them and they could ask their current customers to add the new skydiving page to their Facebook.  Once the customers add the page, all of their friends will see it and be able to add it if it interests them.  Facebook users would also be able to search for skydiving pages, see this company’s page and add it as well.  All of the users around the world will then be able to access the New Zealand skydiving page and be able to share experiences or have discussions about skydiving.  They would also be alerted of any promotions the company wanted potential customers to know about.  Social Networks are a good way to communicate information to large groups of people who are interested in a product.

Photo and video sites can be used to show the experience a person had. Because the photos and videos used are taken and posted online by impartial people who had the experience, they are thought of being more real and accurate than photos and videos created by a marketing team. A couple may travel to Ireland and post photos and videos of their trip online of the sights they saw and the hotel they stayed in with captions about each one.  These photos and videos would then be able to be found through search on Google or other search engines.  Another way to make use of photos is for a hotel or other business to have a guest photo gallery, where the hotel takes the guest’s photos from sites like Flickr and put them on their own website to show what previous guest have experienced.

Bloggers can tell followers all about an event they went to in real time and expand on the information already known by adding in their first hand experience. An annual three day medical conference for doctors may look interesting, but there is limited information about it to be found.  A blog from a doctor who attended a previous year would be able to tell about the doctor’s own experience at the conference and answer any questions potential conference attendees may decide to post on the doctor’s blog.  This information will also seem more creditable to the readers of the blog than information found on the website promoting the conference because it is from a third party source.

Travel review sites can be very important for travel destinations.  These sites offer a single place where people can go to get good and bad opinions on hotels, restaurant and rentals at specific destinations. These sites often rank the most popular and well reviewed spots in an area, which can create much more business. Multiple negative reviews on a travel review site like TripAdvisor has the potential to hurt business because customers are more likely to trust and believe in the past experiences of others who have been there before them.

There are both pros and cons to using social media.  Social media makes it easier to target specific groups and it can create a large amount of exposure quite quickly. It can also boost sales and provide special deals for those following online, rewarding their loyalty.  However, since most of this information is user generated content, there is very little way to control it.  There is no way to stop someone from writing or posting something negative about a product.  It can be very hard to measure the effectiveness of social media too.  The results can be unpredictable, which means that is a business is not careful in how they use social media it could be more harmful than helpful.

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Social Media Makes us Unsocial

Posted by: Nesha Milicevicsocial-networks-1863613__340

There are many sides of Social Media. Some people refuse to “jump on-board” and stay away from this type of socializing. I found a great video on YouTube, filmed at a local TEDx event. This talk shares the funny and revealing insights of a life lived online and how social media is used to connect and disconnect us. Social Media historian Allison Graham offers a witty and ironic view of a society that feels alone together despite the hundreds of virtual connections we have online. Hope you enjoy watching it as much as I did.

 

 

Social Media

Posted by: Nesha Milicevic

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A trend that has a very strong impact on the hospitality industry is social media. The most common question that we get asked in the hospitality industry is why I should be concerned about social media and how will I benefit from the social media elements. Social media is a term used to describe different types of online sources that allows and encourages readers to participate in its use and creation (Ward, 2010).  These media sources have seriously gained popularity over the last few years. According to a global study survey by StudyLogic LLC (Starwood Hotels & Resorts, 2010), 80% of the people surveyed say they access a social media site at some point throughout a day. Out of those 80%, 39% said that they cannot live without their social media networks, and one third of those people check their sites more than once an hour (Starwood Hotels & Resorts, 2010).

There are many various forms of social media that the hospitality industry can make use of, such as social networks, photo and video sharing sites, blogs, and travel review sites (Aggarwal, 2008; Saugestad, 2009).  Social Networks are sites like Facebook, MySpace and Twitter.  Facebook is the largest social network which boasts over 1.1 billion users according to its Q4 2012 earnings. It takes up the top position by grabbing 86% of users aged between 18 and 29 followed by Instagram (28%), Twitter (27%), Pinterest (19%) and Tumblr (13%). These sites allow people and businesses to create pages and applications for users to follow, share and get updates (Saugestad, 2009).  An example of photo and video sharing sites are Flickr and YouTube, where anyone can upload photos or videos for everyone on the internet to view (Aggarwal, 2008). Blogs are like online journals where one person or business writes about their experiences and opinions and readers can reply and leave comments to communicate with the blogger (Aggarwal, 2008).   Travel review sites are sites such as TripAdvisor and WikiTravel. These sites are created so that uses can leave comments about their experiences when visiting various places and using their services (Saugestad, 2009).  A typical example of this is leaving a good comment about a restaurant, but a negative comment about the hotel the user stayed in.

The best way to define social media is to break it down. Media is a tool used to store and deliver information or data (Wikipedia, 2011), like a newspaper or a radio, so social media is media disseminated through social interaction (Wikipedia, 2011).  In Web 2.0 terms, this would be a website that doesn’t just give you information, but interacts with you while giving you that information. This interaction can be as simple as asking for your comments or letting you vote on an article, or it can be as complex as Flixster recommending movies to you based on the ratings of other people with similar interests.

Think of regular media as a one-way street where you can read a newspaper or listen to a report on television, but you have very limited ability to give your thoughts on the matter.  Social media, on the other hand, is a two-way street that gives you the ability to communicate too.

The Amadeus Hotel IT website did a survey asking the question “Will proliferation of social media impact hotels technology infrastructure?” (Marchand, 2010)

67% of respondents agree that social media will impact hotel systems, 16% consider that it will not impact hotel systems while 17% are still undecided.

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Social Media can be used in the hospitality industry as an interactive communication tool with the guest. Social media can be used to help promote the hotel or restaurant by encouraging guests to share their comments and pictures (developing interest in the hotel or restaurant).  Central Reservation System could send a link to the guest Facebook page with a confirmation, link to a hotel blog, and activities to do around the hotel (creating excitement and anticipation). Once the guest checks in at the hotel, the property management system or concierge can send messages to guests welcoming them to the hotel providing an additional level of service and an additional way for the guest to communicate with the hotel.  Once the guest has checked out of the hotel, you can send a message to the guest thanking them for the stay and invite the guest to leave feedback or simply to invite them back to the hotel on their next stay.  The possibilities for social media are limited only by the imagination.

There are many different avenues for social media, like foursquare, gowalla, yelp which can be used by the guest to find a restaurant in the area, leave tips about the business, and “check in” to let their friends know where they are currently located.  A business can use this information to offer special incentives to the guest, like a free appetizer to the mayor in foursquare.

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There are always pros and cons for any new technology.  The pros include an increased online profile, with more searchable data for sites like Google to pick up and display your site.  Higher guest interaction with the property with more visibility keeping your property top of mind to more potential guests.  The cons include possible privacy law violations, potential negative feedback by disgruntled guests, and relying too much on the social media sites and forgetting the guest in front of you.

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Learning Theory – Cognitivism

Posted by: Nesha Milicevic

Learning-Theories

“Cognitivism – Learning is a Mental Process

The cognitivist theory essentially teaches us that that the “black box” of the mind should be opened and understood. The learner is viewed as an information processor (like a computer) with its input, throughput and output, and this is where the term “information processing” originated. The cognitivist theory replaced behaviorism in 1960s. It focuses on the inner mental activities, and argues that the mind uses prior knowledge to process new information. People are rational beings that require active participation in order to learn, and whose actions are a consequence of thinking. Changes in behavior are observed, but only as an indication of what is occurring in the learner’s head. Mental processes such as thinking, memory, knowing, and problem-solving, need to be explored and used as valuable tools to better understand how people learn. Cognitivism uses the metaphor of the mind as information comes in, is being processed, and leads to outcomes. The three areas of research that are considered to have relevance to adult learning are: cognitive development, memory, and instructional design.

Piaget (1936) was the first psychologist to make a systematic study of cognitive development with his four-stage model of development. His studies start with a theory of child cognitive development, observational studies of cognition in children, and a series of simple but ingenious tests to reveal different cognitive abilities. The model starts with the infancy stage (sensory-motor response to stimuli), through the early childhood stage (representing concrete objects into symbols and words), and the being able to understand concepts and relationships in middle childhood, to being able to reason hypothetically and think abstractly (formal operation). The theory is trying to explain the mechanisms and processes by which the infant, and then the child, develops into an individual who can reason and think using hypotheses. According to Piaget, cognitive development was a progressive reorganization of mental processes as a result of biological maturation and environmental experience.

William Perry developed a theory that is based on his studies of the cognitive and ethical development in undergraduate students.  According to Perry, college students go through four stages of mental and moral development: dualism (belief that every problem is solvable), multiplicity (two types of problems: solvable and answer not known yet), relativism (all solutions to problems must have reason), and commitment (acceptance of uncertainty as part of life). The four stages are then further divided into nine positions.
King and Kitchener developed a seven-stage “reflective judgment” theory to describe the cognition that includes the recognition that real uncertainty exists about some issues. The Reflective Judgment Model describes development in reasoning about such issues in late adolescence through adulthood.

Lawrence Kohlberg (1958) further developed Piaget’s theory by introducing the six stages of moral development that are grouped into three levels: pre-conventional morality, conventional morality, and post-conventional morality.

The concepts of cognitivism truly represent how we think and how we gain knowledge. It involves everything, starting with examining learning, memory, problem solving skills, and intelligence. The theorists try to understand how problem solving changes throughout different life cycles, and how cultural differences affect the way we view our own academic achievements, language development, and more.

Learners should be presented with tasks that are tailored to their developmental phase. Tasks should be motivating, and they should have ample opportunities to explore things on their own, and learn through discovery. They should also be encouraged to learn from each other.

The role of the Instructor is to assess the current stage of the Students cognitive development and only assign tasks for which they are prepared for. It is important that the Instructor is more concerned with the process of learning rather than the end product.  They should act as guides to the Students learning processes, and the curriculum should be adapted accordingly.

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