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Peru Exclusive: One of Our Ex-Staffers Reports From Darkest Peru.

Stuck in Peru

paddington bear

 

If Paddington Bear can make it out, then so can I. Well at least that is the mentality I have been attempting to channel in these weird past few days since I have been quarantined in darkest Peru.

For some perspective, I recently completed my master’s degree, and before giving in to the real world and getting a full time job, I decided to backpack, pushing off responsibility for 6 months.

I started my adventure in Chile, landing in Santiago and made my way down to the very south of South America to the city of Ushuaia, known as the end of the world. I have seen and done some insane and amazing things, from climbing up and sliding down volcanoes to seeing Pumas in Patagonia. From there, my route over the next month or so took me through Argentina, back into Chile through the Atacama desert and then onto the insane spectacle of the Bolivian Salt Flats, a real highlight of my time so far.

By the time I reached La Paz in Bolivia, in early March, the news outside my travels was becoming difficult to ignore. I was expecting a friend to join me for a couple of weeks in Cusco, Peru. I was planning on meeting him there on the 17th, so I was making my way across the continent to make it in time. Whilst in La Paz, I suffered a bout of food poisoning, something almost all travellers get at some point. I spent a day in a hotel room recovering and spending much time talking to friends and family on the world situation. At this point we thought that even with what was going on, that my friend would still be able to meet me in a few days, but my other friend coming later in April might face more difficulty getting out.

Well, things were about to change and about to change quickly.

In the morning I received a text from my friend saying there would be a slim chance of him making it, but I couldn’t discuss it with him as I was getting on a bus to Copacabana, on Lake Titicaca. Whilst on this bus the topic of Coronavirus was the main topic of discussion, with no one being really sure what to make of it. When we reached Copacabana the slightly strange discussion continued but the world around us continued as normal.

peru

When I eventually made it to my hostel, I spoke to my friend and during that phone call came the announcement that no flights from Europe would be entering Peru from the 16th, the day he was meant to be landing. This was hugely upsetting, but did not come as a great shock to either of us.

I then got a much more interesting phone call from my parents. They made it quite clear that they wanted me to leave South America as soon as possible. Comments being thrown at me about not wanting to be stuck in Bolivia or Columbia by myself. I was a bit taken aback by this, just as generally my Dad, unlike my Mum, is one of the most chill people on the planet, and if he was demanding that I leave, I really wasn’t going to put up a fight. From where I was on the planet it was difficult to understand the significance from outside my window.

I was planning on travelling to New Zealand later on in my travels but we decided that was a good place to be, as I had great family there, who were happy to house and support me for a bit. We booked flights to Auckland, leaving on the 17th from Cusco, giving me a few days to be able to get there. It was going to be at least a day long coach ride to get to an airport that would allow me to get a local flight to Cusco.  When I went back to my room in the rather empty hostel, I explained what I was doing to my roommate, who looked at me like I was completely and utterly crazy. I went to bed feeling slightly uneasy with my decision, as everything here was still continuing on as normal.

I woke up extremely early to a lot of pinging on my phone. New Zealand was introducing a 15 day quarantine to anyone entering the country, irrespective of where you were coming from. This was not welcome news. This meant my family wouldn’t be able to take me in, understandably, as they have vulnerable people in their house. 15 days isolated in a foreign country didn’t sound like fun, but my parents were still convinced it was the right decision and it’s better than being stuck in a country where I don’t speak the language and have no support system at all.

That afternoon I was crossing the border into Peru and met a few more British travellers who, like me, were also changing their travel plans drastically. This did comfort me, as I now didn’t think I was completely overreacting to this odd situation. On the bus I bumped into several people I had previously met throughout my travels and a few of them were also rushing into Peru as they felt it was a better place to be, oh how wrong we were.

I spent a single night in Puno, on Lake Titicaca and from Puno made my way on a packed bus to Cusco. I had finally made it and could rest easy, or so I thought. I made it to Puno on the 15th and had a full day there before getting a flight out. Due to the last minute travel changes I was in a simple, but nice hotel rather than a hostel for my time here. I had a nice evening to myself walking around the city and had a delicious, although quiet meal out. At dinner I spent all my time finding AirBnbs near Auckland that would take in someone who was self-quarantining. I had quite a bit of success and found this beautiful apartment in a nature reserve, around an hour out of the city near a beach which would’ve been the perfect place.

At 5:30am the next morning I got a call from my parents who had spoken to my family in Auckland to say , yes, book it, so I did. A mere 2 hours later I received word from a friend I had met a few days ago who was still in Puno that Peru was closing its borders by the end of the day.

no flights to lima

I genuinely didn’t know how to react to this information. Every-time I booked a flight or accommodation, a few hours later I was being told that my plan wouldn’t work. The world was spiralling quickly and I and almost every traveller was not able to keep up. The hotel didn’t really know what was going on and the information I had received was through friends, nothing official so it was extremely difficult to know what was really going on.

The article I had seen stated that the borders were closing at 2300hrs, therefore I should’ve had enough time to get out of Peru, to at least Santiago, which was where my flight was connecting to a further flight towards Auckland. The issue was that there were no flights leaving Cusco the whole day and to drive it takes 20hrs, so that was clearly not an option. I stressfully packed everything, even though it was futile and spoke to the family trying to work out what to do.

Late in the afternoon, after a mentally challenging day, and after accepting that I was probably staying in Cusco for a bit, I went for a walk outside. The streets were busy with lots of stressed looking tourists. I was outside during siesta hours, meaning most shops and restaurants are shut whilst everyone has a midafternoon nap. It only occurred to me a few hours after being outside, that this was no siesta closure, this was because of Corona. I went back to the hotel, still slightly in disbelief and woke up the next day to quite a different world.

The next morning I was supposed to checkout of the hotel and move into a nearby hostel which I had booked for 5 nights and then would make a decision on whether to stay or move elsewhere. When sitting at breakfast in the hotel I was speaking to others and I soon realised that we were not allowed out of the hotel. Oh dear. My friend in Arequipa told me he was locked in a day before, but after walking around the night before I didn’t think we would get the same fate as him.

I walked over to the reception and they told me that we could only leave to go to the supermarket. The Government in Peru had removed freedom of movement and wanted everyone to stay indoors. This is obviously a slight issue for me. I told them that I was checking out and they said I could walk to the hostel as it wasn’t far. I then had the dilemma of where to go for the next two weeks, because wherever it was, I would be staying there and not leaving. I was leaning towards the hostel as there would be young people backpacking, like me, and we could bond through this together. When looking at extending my time at the hostel online it was fully booked. This forced my decision to stay at the hotel. I was initially really upset about it but eventually was very happy being in this hotel, as the hostel I was planning on moving to was having problems with the police due to large gatherings of people and most of the occupants were even taken to the police station for a few hours.

At least at the hotel I have had my own private space, with a bathroom and large windows bringing in lots of light from a courtyard that I looked out over. I have really learnt to appreciate this space as it has allowed me to talk most hours of the day to friends and family back home without annoying everyone else staying here. I’m lucky as the hotel is still providing food and there are lots of friendly faces in the hotel too and we are all going through this crazy and uncertain time together. My room definitely feels bigger the more time I spend there, as I recall the first time I saw it thinking that it was rather small, but great for the two nights I was gonna be there.

I have been entertaining myself through the wonders of technology and haven’t spent too much time looking at a blank wall. My friends and family back home have been amazing in keeping me occupied, and I honestly don’t even have much time to myself. Some amazing apps have become great time wasters and FaceTime is becoming part of this routine. The people in the hotel have also been great, chatting about other things then just this madness. The hotel does lack board games and cards, so we had a look at ordering some. It would’ve taken roughly a week to arrive and cost £20 in delivery, so we passed, and who knows whether it would’ve actually arrived.

I have gone to the supermarket a few times to pass the time, and every-time was an odd experience. Firstly, it was queuing half an hour to get in on the day the border closure was announced. The next two time it was experiencing the empty streets of Cusco, excluding a lot of police around who on every corner asked you where you were going. I haven’t been for the last few days as I think you need a mask to get into the store, but apparently there are military soldiers on the streets from videos I’ve seen. I don’t have a window onto the street so I really am quite clueless on what is truly going outside these walls.

In terms of fitness, well that really has gone down the drain, I’m attempting to reach a decent step count by walking around the courtyard probably hundreds of times, but it’s difficult to mentally do it. It is quite funny watching people just walk around the courtyard endlessly, but I do find myself doing it now. I even attempted to do an exercise video in my room, but felt like everyone in the dining room below me eating lunch could hear me jumping up and down, so I might leave that until I get home.

There are quite a mix of nationalities here, with two other young Brits here which is great for me as we can relate to this weird time. We have Canadians, Americans, Mexicans, Brazilian, Polish, Germans, Israeli and I’m sure others who I haven’t spoken to.

I think it’s the fifth or sixth day of shutdown, but I’m not hugely sure. The days have very much blurred into one and when I think of my travels before it genuinely feels like a few years ago.

I’m one of the lucky ones, I’m in a relatively safe place with food and toilet roll, though don’t be too jealous. I know people stuck in less tourist-centric places who are much more concerned at getting out. Here, unlike home, the shops are fully stocked, in fact my friend brought my back several avocados which I will enjoy for lunch over the next few days.

peru

In terms with how we are getting out, it’s all been relatively confusing and frustrating. Since day one of lock-down there has been this huge group chat on Whatsapp with British tourists stuck in Cusco. This Whatsapp chat has been a huge source of information and hard work from a lot of people, definitely seeing the best and worst of humanity on it. Through this group have been interviews with news outlets around the world trying to tell our story.

I think the Brits stuck here have felt quite abandoned by our home country. We’ve seen other countries, such as Israel and France get out their citizens for free or a reasonable cost and rather quickly. Whereas we have been campaigning noisily, to only be met with completely idoitic responses. We have been offered $3500 flights, which is extortionate, especially when most Brits here are backpackers on limited budgets. We have then been offered $4500 flights to Paris, which is completely futile as how are we meant to get from Paris to London, not even mentioning the cost. We were also advised by the embassy to look at flights to Madrid, even though there is no guaranteed route from Madrid to London, and who wants to be stuck in Madrid at the moment. No one.

Only in the last few hours, after days and days have we heard some real positive news. We have received emails from the government saying there should be some flights over the next week. Still feels a bit early to start celebrating just yet as nothing is confirmed and I don’t know how they intend to get those in more difficult to reach areas as the roads are currently army-blocked. I am hopeful, although going home is really just the start of a continuation of a difficult journey for the whole planet, although I can then quarantine with the joy of all of my pets to keep me relatively sane.

 

Blogger Notes:

Jessica joined the Hold Everything virtual office team, based at 207 Regent Street, London in September 2014, after her A’Levels. Taking a year away from education, she worked with the team for 6 months then went travelling before starting her Degree in Biology.

During her 3 year degree she provided cover for other staff members during their annual breaks and worked remotely when she had time around her studies.

Completing her degree she undertook a masters in Tourism, environment & development, where during this year she worked 2 days a week for Hold Everything attending to many compliance matters.

Jessica went off travelling and naturally in time hopes to obtain regular work in her chosen field. However, the team became aware of Jessica’s situation, to keep her focused she has taken to her computer, enjoy the read.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Networking: Great Tips For Long Term Business Partnerships

1. Always be networking.

networking session

Social media makes it so simple to connect. Social media is amazing, but it’s not that easy to build long-lasting business relationships, especially with a person who has an extensive network of contacts. How make yourself stand out so you can develop a deeper connection with ideal contacts?

It seems to me that  a good starting point is to attend live events to network with the right people in person. Let them see the person behind the Linkedin and Twitter profile photo.  That way you can connect with the movers and shakers in your niche and actually get deals done.  If you atten

I always make it a point to attend the big speeches at conferences so you can get a feel for what issues the organisers belive will resonate.  You can always mail the keynote speakers after a conference and refer to their speeches and points you felt you connected on.

In order to develop a positive relationship with someone you meet at a conference it is good to focus on 3 or  4 key points where you think your interests intertwine.

2. Nurture Relationships Without an Agenda.

Don’t focus primarily on what you can get from a new contact, abruptly asking for what you want. If you are seeking financing for startup or expansion you should take a more rounded approach.  Seek help and information rather than instant investment.  Develop contacts as friends rather than as 2-legged banks.

Entrepreneurs should seek out the ways they can provide additional value to potential partners or investors by simply being naturally curious. A great question to ask might be something like: Who would be an ideal referral for your business, and how would you like me to introduce you?

The key is to provide as much value as you can without expectation. In the end, it’s usually worth it, as reciprocity is one of the critical components in creating influence, according to Robert Cialdini in his bestselling book, Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion. During his research, Cialdini found that if you do something for someone first, they are more likely to reciprocate. He also learned the favours don’t have to be equivalent in value, so sometimes a small favour can beget a bigger one in return. If you continue to provide value within your relationships without the expectation of a quid pro quo, it establishes trust and creates a natural bond.  In fact, this approach is remarkably similar to what relationship therapists would suggest in couples counselling.

Reciprocity is a very strong instict that lies at the basis of many business relationships.  This is why marketeers are keen to give prospects something ‘free’ that is of some value to establish a chain of reciprocity right from the start.

3. Ask, But in a Subtle Manner. 

If you’ve appropriately nurtured a relationship, you can naturally align interests that can provide synergy to the deal. So when you believe the time is right, you can make your request. However, the context of how you ask is just as critical as what you ask. Rather than directly asking about partnering on a project, it’s better to ask in a way that lets the other party initiate the move to a deal.

For example, schedule a time to talk with your potential business partner and position your ask as follows: “Can I get your advice on something? I’m looking to partner on a business project with someone and wanted to see if there’s anyone in your network you can recommend.”

This strategy gives your potential partner the option to express interest and learn more if they are curious. If not, you are giving them an easy way to defer. Either way, you can take a step in the right direction without harming your relationship, and you gain the opportunity to share your vision.

When you are talking with our team here at Hold Everything please feel free to ask us if we have other clients who might want to network or partner with you.  Our clients are very entrepreneurial and open to new projects.  We might just be able to do a bit of business ‘matchmaking’ for you.

 

3 Top Ways to Improve Your Small Business Marketing Using Psychology

 

Here at Hold Everything, our main concern has always been for the small business which is why we are enthusiastic to dispense helpful information about small business marketing. Which is why we are glad to share advice from Melinda Emerson’s site who is a recognised American guru on small business marketing ideas.

Small business marketing can be tough sometimes. As well as focusing on lead generation, you have to spend time nurturing and pushing customers through your sales funnels to create essential customer loyalty. Sometimes, you could benefit from extra strategies to give your small business marketing an edge. Using the power of psychology in your marketing will add power and potency to your marketing messages, generating more customers and ultimately, more sales for your small business. 

How to Use Psychology to Boost Your Small Business Marketing

In this article, we’ll take a look at 3 ways to use psychology to make sure your small business marketing is as powerful as possible.

The principle of reciprocity states that humans have a tendency, as well as a need, to want to give something back when they receive something. Or, put another way, people feel obligated to do something when something is done for them. This is GREAT news for your small business marketing! 

You can use the principle of reciprocity for new customer acquisition as well as nurturing existing customers by simply giving them something extra. A discount, a free coffee, a free product from your store or another free benefit. These strategies give customers extra value and the result is that they’ll be more likely to spend money or leave a review for other products or services (which boosts your brand awareness as well as sales). The principle of reciprocity is an important psychological tool for developing stronger and longer-lasting customer relationships too. It’s a win-win.

Top tip: Use your ‘gift’ to make customers feel unique and valued. Achieve this by using demographic insight or use existing customer data to send individualised rewards to each customer. 

2. Social Proof: Get Those Reviews

Think about it, when you see a long line at a store or restaurant, you immediately want to join it, don’t you? In your mind, something must be worth having at that business because so many other people are waiting to get in. That’s social proof- the psychological theory that says we all want to have or do what everyone else is just because they are. This is a really powerful marketing tool for any small business. 

You can capitalise on social proof in your small business marketing by building strong social media profiles on platforms such as Instagram or gathering great reviews on Yelp or TripAdvisor. For your customers, seeing how other people have visited, interacted with, or purchased from your business will make them want to do so as well; it’s kind of like FOMO (fear of missing out) for small business marketing. Taking the time to constantly boost your social proof by asking for user-generated content or customer reviews will really pay off, so don’t skimp on it.

Top tip: Make getting those essential reviews easier by automating your review request process via email or push SMS. Making it as easy as possible for every customer will increase your social proof, leading to more reviews and more customers.

3. Halo-Effect: Supercharge Brand Awareness

Every small business knows that for customer sales and new leads, brand awareness is essential. But the halo-effect takes brand awareness to the next level

The halo-effect is the tendency for positive associations of a person, brand or company in one area to influence positive associations for other areas too. For any small business, this amplification of brand values is a marketing goldmine. 

Use social media platforms to continually promote your brand reputation to customers and followers. Include case studies, testimonials and ask for user-generated content on Facebook, Instagram and Snapchat to consistently share what makes your brand or business great. 

Top tip: Your customer stories and experiences are essential for boosting your halo-effect. Make asking for reviews and user-generated testimonials a clear priority, highlighting every single time your small business does something great.

Psychology Can Amplify Small Business Marketing

Small business marketing is constantly developing. Small businesses need to create stand-out marketing campaigns that not only create new customer leads, but that also help generate lasting customer loyalty too. From the principle of reciprocity to the halo-effect, your small business marketing will benefit from utilising psychology and the tendencies of human nature to amplify your message and reach. Your marketing will be more powerful and cost-efficient, helping to make sure your small business is a lasting success.

Remember, the team at Hold Everything are waiting to help you expand your small business projects by giving you the support of a prestigious London office base and a helful secretarial team to answer your phone and forward your mail.

 

How to Make the Most of Your Morning Energy and Be More Productive.

Did you realise you could be letting the first few moments of your work day affect your productivity?  It’s true, research has shown that many of us tackle rhe wrong jobs in the morning and then run out of important energy later on in the day.  For example, many people avoid doing difficult and annoying tasks when they start their working day.  There is an old saying that you should ‘eat a frog to start your day’ in other words get the nasty stuff done when you have lots of morning energy.  Don’t waste your first 30 minutes reading all your email, just glance through and prioritise for later in the day.

Many of us think that it is time efficient to multi-task but recent research says this isn’t the case.  It is much better to start your working day on one important project rather than flit from one to another.  Importantly we should not let negativity spoil our super-productive mornings.  It is easily done, holding on to the previous night’s aggravations or a difficult start with the kids.  It doesn’t matter whether you work in an office or work remotely, you must still avoid becoming negative.

One of the worst energy draining things you can do is to schedule too many early morning meetings .  These are basically ‘low energy’ events that are best scheduled later in the day when you have used up your morning’s energy most efficiently.  And last but by no means least, try to get some natural daylight by sitting yourself near a window.  Oh, and finally, don’t overdo the coffee before 11am it’s not good for you.

Christmas Post

At Hold Everything, the virtual office company based on London’s prestigious Regent Street, we are very much aware that Christmas is coming, with increased volumes of mail already being received, from those early cards to the small corporate gifts that get sent out at this time to clients.

With December only 4 days away, the festive lights are already shining. To make sure you beat the festive rush and get all your letters and parcels in the post on time, here is our go to advice to ensure all your presents arrive in time for Christmas day.

Here at Hold Everything we rely heavily on the Royal Mail to deliver our clients correspondence to us at our Regent Street office so we can send the mail back out to them in good time. With the rush of Christmas and the Royal Mail being inundated with post and packages below are the cut off dates to which they advise you get all your bits and pieces posted by:

  • To send via 2nd class and signed for 2nd class latest date to post is Tuesday 18th

  • To send via 1st class, signed for 1st class and Royal Mail Tracked 48hrs the latest date to post is Thursday 20th December

  • To send via Royal Mail Tracked 24hrs the latest date to post is Friday 21st

  • To send via Royal Mail Special Delivery Guaranteed the latest date will be 22nd

Prices will vary on the above services dependent on how heavy and big your item is. We also suggest that whatever you may be sending is packaged well with padding if necessary as the post can go through quite a rough handling process and a well-protected parcel will help the contents survive the distance. 

We do have an alternative suggestion to the Royal Mail (not that there is anything wrong with it) but when Christmas is upon us and there are so many festives going on sometimes little things slip our minds and we forget to send a present, so instead of rushing to the post office to que with everyone else, Hold Everything offers a courier service with extremely competitive prices available for both next day UK and International shipments. Sending your items via courier has many advantages such as:

  • By using a courier there is no size limit to the parcel

  • Increased liability- Couriers are extremely reliable and will get your delivery from A to B quickly

  • Safe & secure transportation

  • Proof of signature as proof of delivery- no qualms

  • Quick UK next day delivery

  • Can be tracked easily

So whether it’s a card or that amazing gift you have to send to whether it be a loved one abroad or an old friend in the UK, make sure you get it off on time!