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Author Archives: Trevor


A weekend trip to Lago de Atitlán for the the first time.

Trevor No Comments

My name is Patrick Gartrelle, 22 and I am currently Interning at IBA. A little bit about myself is I am a recent graduate with a degree in International Business. I am originally from New York City and have done a fair amount of travelling in my short 22 years. I have traveled to Latin America before but never to the Central America region. My time here at IBA allows me to travel on the weekends and recently I traveled to the famous Lago de Atitlán.

San Pedro la Laguna was most likely the most exciting trip I have taken so far, but the events that took place during the weekend trip and leading up to my arrival truly made the trip worth it.

A friend of mine from the United States Cindy, joined me on our weekend travel to Lake Atitlan and I am glad she came along. About 4 hours before we were supposed to depart Guatemala City our shuttle company informed us that they did not have room for us, which honestly almost killed the entire trip. I live fairly close to the airport so we walked over and Cindy was able to negotiate with her fluent skills to get us to San Pedro with an alternative shuttle company. We left about an hour later than we planned but this is where the most memorable bus ride I have taken throughout Guatemala began.

Our first leg of the trip was from Guate City to Antigua which was simple and quick and then we connect shuttles to the lake. The real fun began after we changed shuttles and embarked on what should have been a three hour journey. After Cindy and I boarded the shuttle we were greeted by some fellow Americans and a few Europeans. In the front of the van was a family of Guatemalans sharing the passenger front side seat which is more common here. Sometimes you see motorcycles with families speeding down the street, so at this point I was not surprised by anything having to do with transportation. About 30 mins into the journey we ran into dead stop traffic in practically the middle of nowhere. To make matters worse our shuttle sat behind the exhaust of a chicken bus for roughly an hour.

A chicken bus for those of you who are unfamiliar with the term, is an old American yellow school bus painted in crazy colors, blinged out with chrome rims and LED lights. You can hear chicken buses from miles away because they blast some of the best Spanish music and the exhaust is extreme loud. These are used to transport goods, people and of course chickens all throughout Guatemala. The chicken bus is essential to the local economy and the underground economy because of they’re in expense of operating. It cost about 1-3 USD to get anywhere in Guatemala via chicken bus. I have yet to take one but many travelers say it’s an “experience” and I’m just being a Pollo (a chicken). These buses blast huge piles of black smoke from its exhaust sometimes and being behind one in stop and go traffic is less than ideal. I am positive we all got a mouth full of fossil fuels at some point, but I didn’t die from it so no complaints.

We sat in traffic for about an hour and after finally seeing the source of the holdup which happened to be a car accident we were off again. The Shuttle at this point was very heavy and every seat was taken plus some improvised seats. Our shuttle was rattling and every a couple of miles it would die or the engine would just cut out. Without exaggeration our shuttles engine cut out over 50 times during our “3 hour journey”. As our shuttle struggled to make its way to the Lake we stopped along the route to pick up a random Guatemalan lady and she also just added to the weight and improvised seats in our bus made for 12, carrying now roughly 17 people. Somewhere along the drive the American crew received cabin fever and many songs were being sung in the rows behind us. I will not lie I chimed in for a few rounds of song. About 4 hours into our journey the shuttle pulled into a mechanic and they evaluated the car for about 20 mins. Eventually the shuttle was back on the road again but on the most death defying road I have ever been on. The street would give Lombard Street in San Francisco a run for its money. Our shuttle engine roared down these steep inclines making sharp hairpin turns about every 200 meters and I think it was the scariest road I’ve been on in my life, not to mention it was unpaved, had zero guard rails, plagued with potholes and the decent was extremely steep. The driver informed us that the engines noise was due to the lack of brakes he could apply on the hill because the breaks were too hot. Exactly what I wanted to hear…… in Spanish, that he wouldn’t use his brakes on the hill at around 15-20 mph, but yet again I didn’t die and we made it down the hill safely, so no complaints.

Eventually we made it to San Pedro about five and half hours later in the pitch dark. We checked into our hostel and were going to just call it a night but some friends I had met on a previous trip were standing right in front of us.

My friends I refer to as “The Germans” were a group of guys respectively from Germany that I met the prior weekend in Livington. We planned on meeting up in San Pedro but it was kind of a shock that we booked rooms in the same hostel directly next to each other. So it made the trip a little more satisfying to have some new friends to explore the little town with and their names were Freddie, Simon and Christian. That night the five of us all hung out and went to a local bar which had a disco, its actually satisfying to see a Guatemalan disco. We called it quits for that night and agreed after breakfast the next morning to meet up and do some exploring.

The next morning I opened the door of our room into the open air hallway similar to motel where the hotel is inside and outside and saw the most beautiful view ever. It was really nourishing to see these ridged mountains but Lake Aitilan is known for its green waters and 3 volcanoes, which we had yet to spot, I truly came to this region for the volcanoes. After breakfast the very punctual Germans met up with us and we walked around the very small town which you could cover in less than 4 hours and snapped some cool photos. I think this place lands in the top 10 places in natural beauty for sure and the fact that the region around the lake isn’t plagued with luxury hotels made it that much better.  We eventually made it to the end of the town and climbed up a series of rocks probably not our best idea but the view was one that I will always remember. That afternoon we rented kayaks for an hour and set out on the lake to get a new vantage point and one of my biggest regrets was not buying disposable cameras or risking my iPhone for these photos. I really wish I did because it was the clearest day and the sun was setting behind us and we were looking east so the volcanoes had a green and orange tint which was extraordinary. It was a once in a life time memory engraved in my mind which is okay, but I will try again to get that shot.

As we were in our kayaks we came across three young Guatemalan men. They were extra friendly and offered to show us around San Pedro but were originally from Guatemala City. They were speaking English very well, it was surprising for San Pedro because most locals didn’t speak more than one language. So a few weeks back Trevor (my boss) mentioned to me that call centers are making there way back to Guatemala. The government and Multi National Companies are reinvesting in call centers here and moving them back from the East. The only reason I mention this is, because one of the guys mentioned “the only reason I speak English is because of the call center jobs”. I was in shock, sort of, everything Trevor had told me had even made it back to the local people. It also just came to show how quick businesses change their models in order to stay competitive and save valuable dollars.

My friend Cindy, I forgot to mention is here in Guatemala on business so her job entails signing up hotels and guesthouses in South and Latin America. So the next morning (Sunday) we boarded a lancha which is similar to a boat and took a 30 min boat ride to Panajachel which is the largest city on the lake and by large no more than 15,000 people live in the town. Saying goodbye to Germans was a little hard because we had spent a series of two weekends together but all good things come to an end. The new view from the boat was even better than the last few views I had on Saturday because I could actually see all three volcanoes. This boat ride was not as terrifying as the boat ride I took the week prior to and from Livingston. As I mentioned Cindy was in Panajachel for business so we decided to split up and meet back at 3:30 for our shuttle back to Guate.

So I had time to myself where I could explore the markets. Here everything is colorful, with practically every color being used on an items such as shirts, quilts and worry dolls but I decided I rather explore than to spend money. So after Cindy and I separated I bought this shaved ice treat which turned out to be possibly the worst thing I had ever eaten. The man put hot sauce and black pepper on a shaved iced treat and I tried to have respect for the culture and eat it but it just tasted horrible so I attempted to give it to a little kid. The little guy unfortunately wasn’t to fond of my offer and didn’t except it, I don’t blame him. So I began to walk through the outskirts of the town. It was really nice in fact and I could say it was the most enjoyable walk I had taken in a long time. I just followed the shore line trying to find a great place to swim. I wanted a nice secluded spot where I could read and swim and take time to play with my Nikon and get some photos. About 30 mins along the lake and eventually found this awesome “spot” with no one around with a view of all 3 volcanoes. It kind of reminded me of all the generic photos I saw wen I googled Guatemala prior to my visit. Anyways I found this “spot” and I have never been so silent in my life, I swam alone, took some pictures and conquered about 100 pages in the 800 page book I am reading. The time spent by myself I reflected on a lot about life and solidified my decision to come to Guatemala, knowing it was the correct choice. I was making friends here even if they were travelers themselves and I knew everything was going to pan out okay for me in Guatemala. Every so often a local would pass right through were I was sitting but for the most part I was the only one there.




6 ways to keep your interview from going off-track

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We’ve all been there at one time or another. We start off the interview excited and confident, but somewhere down the line it starts digressing into a failure. Don’t dismay and don’t give up. Regain your confidence and turn things around.

ONE: Blanking-out

For the job you’re applying for, you may be expected to have specific knowledge. If you blank-out at the question, instead of pretending to know the answer, you can call on their sympathy by admitting that you’re nervous and can’t remember at the moment. And instead, try to recount a similar situation in your experience to try to recall the answer to show that you can work under pressure.


TWO: You don’t know the answer

Like before, instead of pretending to know the answer by circumnavigating the question, tell them that you don’t know but immediately follow it with ‘how’ you would go about finding out the answer. This shows confidence, and problem solving skills.


THREE: Being incoherent

Sometimes our nerves get the better of us, and we end up saying absolutely nothing. Instead of letting it slide, show them that you are self-aware and address the issue. Possibly use humor to show them that you acknowledge that you were being incoherent and ask if you can try again.




FOUR: Distracted interviewer

An interviewer might seem distracted because of a myriad of reasons: last minute meeting before the interview, a sudden problem in the office, or they haven’t had a chance to go over your resume. Be prepared for the possibility that they don’t have a copy of your resume by bringing a printed one and offering it. If that doesn’t seem to get the interviewer’s attention, genuinely ask if they would prefer to reschedule for a later time. More than likely they will welcome your flexibility and sympathy.


FIVE: Hostile interviewer

In the case of a hostile interviewer, don’t get flustered because this may be a test. Remain calm and polite and offer information on why you are the best candidate for the job if they aren’t interested in asking questions that elicit your best skills sets.


SIX: Awkward silence

Obviously you would have looked into the company’s website or other literature before you showed up for the interview. So prepare some questions that may not have been addressed in the website, annual reports or brochures. Ideally ask questions about the position you are applying for, the training program, advancement or promotion paths available. Remember to stay away from questions that have already been addressed in the website or job application.


Sources: Entrepreneur, everydaylife, pvamu


Angry customer

8 Steps to Diffuse Angry Customers

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Dealing with angry customers is never pleasant, but how you deal with these situations will impact your business. You will either create a brand ambassador that will push your products and services to their friends because of the fantastic customer service they received, or create an incredibly displeased customer that will just speak awful things about the company every chance they get. Next time you get an angry customer, remember to follow these steps.

One: Remain Calm. Resist yelling back or being rude since there is nothing to be gained. It will only escalate and make the situation even worse.

Two: Don’t Take it Personally. The customer is dissatisfied with the product or service, and not with you. So remember: don’t take it personally.

Three: Listen. Brush up on your listening skills. Usually, angry customers are the result of faulty communications and misunderstandings. Do you best to listen and understand their complaint by allowing them to express themselves. Show that you were listening by summarizing what they have just said. Body language is also crucial during this time. Show that you are listening by keeping eye contact, and keeping your arms uncrossed (avoid coming off as defensive). 

Four: Sympathize. We’ve all been in a situation where we are not completely satisfied with the quality we’ve received, so show that you understand where they are coming from.

Five: Apologize. Regardless if the complaint is legitimate or not, retain the customer by providing an apology followed by a potential solution. Keep it professional by providing a straightforward response: “I’m sorry you are not satisfied with our product, let’s see what we can do to make things right”.

Six: Find a Solution. The customer is here because they expect some sort of solution to their complaints. So start by asking how the situation can be remedied, or offer some realistic solutions.

Seven: Unwind. After the situation has been diffused and resolved, take some time to yourself to unwind from the stressful situation. This will allow you to address the next unpleasant situation with the same positive attitude.

Eight: Follow Up. After the problem has been resolved take the time to follow up with the customer. A quick phone call or email can go a long way to show that you care, and it brings in loyal customers in the end.

customers yelling

Types of Customers

Not only is it important to know how to diffuse angry customers, it is also important to identify the type of customer, which in turn, will allow you to better address them. This study identifies the following types of customers:

The Meek Customer. The type of customer that generally does not complain even though there are dissatisfied with the service or quality of the product received. To get to the bottom of the problem, you must work hard at soliciting comments.

The Aggressive Customer. The complete opposite of the ‘Meek Customer’, this type of customer complains without restraint in a loud and lengthy manner. This type of customer doesn’t respond well to excuses or reasons why the produce or service was unsatisfactory, so focus on listening on the problem. When the person is done complaining, agree that the problem exists and offer a solution.

The High-Roller Customer. This is a VIP customer that expects the best and is willing to pay for it. Like the Aggressive Customer, the High-Roller has no interest in excuses, they just want to know how the problem will be remedied.

The Rip-Off Customer. This type of customer isn’t interested in resolving the issue but rather, getting something that they are not entitled to receive. If your efforts to satisfy this customer is met with constant and repetitive “not good enough”, then you know that you have a rip-off customer in your hands. When you deal with this customer it’s important to remain objective, and consider asking “What can I do to make things right?” after the first “not good enough” is expressed.

The Chronic Complainer Customer. Some people just like to complain and they are never satisfied (because there is always something wrong). However, this type of customer is still a customer, and they can’t be ignored or dismissed. When you deal with the Chronic Complainer you will require extraordinary patience. Listen carefully and don’t get angry (remember that it’s not personal), and offer a sincere apology. Unlike the Rip-Off Customer, this type of customer will generally accept and appreciate your efforts to make things right. This customer, really just wants an apology and appreciates sympathy. The plus side of this customer is that despite their complaining, they tend to be good customers and will often tell others about the positive response they received to their complaints.

Sources: Forbes, Business KnowHow, UFL

Becas de ingles de negocios IBA y Embajada Britanica

Becas IBA 2015

Trevor one comments

International Business Academy (IBA) orgullosamente felicita a los ganadores de la Beca de Inglés de Negocios de la Embajada Británica (British Embassy Business English Training Scholarship)! Esto marca el 5to año de esta competencia, y cerca de 300 personas participaron con excelentes ensayos sobre:

¿Si usted fuera Presidente de Guatemala cómo ayudaría a su pueblo a ser más próspero y cómo ayudaría en esto la enseñanza del idioma inglés?”

Todos los años IBA incrementa la cantidad de becas otorgadas, y nosotros prometemos incrementar la cantidad para el 2016!


Aunque solo 10 ensayos fueron seleccionados, quisieramos agradecer a todos los participantes con una oferta especial!

Contáctanos y obtén 50% de descuento!

Para aquellas personas que quisieran aprender o mejorar su inglés con un enfoque hacia los negocios, Contáctanos y obtén 50% de descuento! (cupo limitado)

Envíanos un correo con tu nombre y adjunta el ensayo que sometiste para la competencia de la Beca.

hazte fan, y obtén 25% de descuento!

Si no aplicas para la promoción de arriba, IBA también te tiene una oferta especial: Hazte fan, envíanos un inbox y te enviaremos un cupón con 25% de descuento! (cupo limitado)

Envíanos un mailHazte Fan


Dando Becas Ingles IBA con Embajada Britanica


Los Ganadores de las Becas IBA 2015: 

1 Alejandra Anamaria Flores Back
2 José Rodolfo Sapón Marroquín
3 Celia Noemí Beltetón Pérez de Makepeace
4 Deny Elías Barrientos
5 Marbella Del Pilar Ríos Chinchilla
6 Jaime Israel Paz López
7 Oscar René Taracena Zepeda
8 Luis Fidel Gómez Peña
9 Madelin Victoria Contreras Ortiz
10 Rodrigo Gómez Mármol

Dando Becas Ingles IBA con Embajada Britanica

 Becas Otorgadas


PRIMER LUGAR: Clases de inglés en línea de lunes a viernes y clase presencial el sábado. Un año de duración. Incluye materiales de estudio.

SEGUNDO LUGAR: Clases de inglés en línea de lunes a viernes. Un año de duración

TERCER LUGAR: Clases de inglés presenciales los sábados. Un año de duración.

CUARTO LUGAR: Clases de inglés en línea de lunes a viernes. Seis meses de duración

QUINTO LUGAR: Clases de inglés presenciales los sábados. Seis meses de duración.

SEXTO LUGAR: Clases de inglés presenciales los sábados. Cuatro meses de duración.

SEPTIMO LUGAR: Clases de inglés en línea de lunes a viernes 3 veces por semana por 4 meses

OCTAVO LUGAR: Clases de inglés en línea de lunes a viernes 3 veces por semana por 4 meses

NOVENO LUGAR: Clases de inglés en línea de lunes a viernes 2 veces por semana por 4 meses

DÉCIMO LUGAR: Clases de inglés en línea de lunes a viernes 2 veces por semana por 4 meses


10 Becas Ingles IBA con Embajada Britanica


No te pierdas las Becas del 2016, ni nuestras promociones futuras! Síguenos en nuestras redes sociales: 


Guatemala, a place to live, travel, and work

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Guatemala, also known as the “land of many trees” named for its foresty landscape is the cultural hub and and the most visited country in Central America.  The official language is Spanish but being a country of Mayan descendants, there are also 21 dialects spoken throughout the country. The capital city is Guatemala City, a place tourists often choose not to visit, heading straight from the airport to the colonial city of Antigua.  At IBA, our internship program provides a great opportunity to live, work, and explore the capital city and also travel to top travel destinations such as Antigua, Tikal, Semuc Champey,  and Lake Atitlan.

IBA interns, Sarah Leib and Rob Dolot, have spent the last three months working at the IBA office in Guatemala City’s zone 4, in an area also known as 4° Norte (4° North), an upcoming trendy spot within the city, and also exploring the country.


Antigua was once the capital city of Guatemala. After being destroyed by an earthquake in 1773, it was preserved as ruins and Spanish colonial buildings, churches, and houses. It is one of the top tourist destinations of the country and a great place for dining, purchasing typical clothing and souvenirs, and exploring.

Antigua 2

shopping for local artesan goods at the market


Antigua 4

Just one of the many parks…

 Rooftop Views in Antigua

Antigua 5

Café Sky


Antigua 7

Jungle Party Hostal rooftop bar

Around the office, 4° Norte

Ciudad 5

4° Norte has become an urban renewal project started by a group of entrepreneurs to make the area what it used to be, filled with nightlife; bars; restaurants; and music. The IBA office is located in the heart of the area in a building called the Campus Tecnológico. The area bustles during lunchtime with business people and food trucks on Thursdays, brought in by the municipality. On the weekends, the municipality also organizes a “flea market” where local artesans come together to sell their products.

Ciudad 7

 In the office…

Ciudad 1

Sarah and Rob became much more than interns to the company, they have become part of the team.  In addition to teaching local Guatemalans and online clients in Germany business English, they also became managers of their own projects within the company.


Ciudad 2

Campus Tecnológico, IBA Office Building

Ciudad 4

Coffee break at the local café Rojocerezo Coffee


Ciudad 9

International Business Academy of Guatemala is an organization that is dedicated to the constant improvement of its shareholders, customers, and its workers. Each person here has a genuine passion for learning and the office environment is one that promotes self-learning and rewards creativity.  Personally, the Professional Development Training I have received though International Business Academy has been a tremendous experience and has given me some great ideas that I will apply to any career path I pursue. Overall, I would highly recommend this internship program to anyone who wants to gain valuable international business experience in a friendly atmosphere that fosters growth.

Oh, and the food here is incredible!

– Rob Dolot

My time working with the International Business Academy has been remarkable. The IBA team immediately welcomed me in as their own and helped me comfortably immerse myself into the culture and country of Guatemala. My work days fly by because I always have work to do,the work environment is comfortable, and my co-workers are fantastic. Additionally, the housing arrangements they set up for the interns is great. The family has been very welcoming and accommodating.

Overall, I’d highly suggest this program to those who are interested in an innovative international internship experience! This has definitely been a great resume builder, I am proud to say I work there and overall have enjoyed my time with the IBA!

– Sarah Leib

Want to learn more about the IBA internship program? Check our the Careers section of our website!

Sources: mwengo   lonely planet  THE TICO TIMES

Photography by: Rita Flores



11 consumer trends for 2015

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As a result, JWT Intelligence predicts that “Connected Kids” will be a major trend next year. Already 75% of American children under the age of 8 have access to a smartphone or tablet. “Kids,” the report says, “are more connected digitally than ever, and new toys and services are rising to satisfy their hunger for technology.”

Surprisingly (or maybe not if you have or know younger kids), “children under 10 are more technically advanced even than their teenage siblings. Their familiarity with technology, and their expectations of it, go far beyond that of previous generations.” foxbusiness


ONE: Hello Community!

Say goodbye to suburbs as millennials reach adulthood and are in no rush to get married or have kids.  As malls become boring and cities are growing at an enormous speed and size, people will start looking for a distinctive urban environment with a strong sense of place.

“Melbourne and Vancouver are just a few of the cities that have bolstered their identities in recent years, drawing millions of tourists and fostering a sense of community.“




TWO: Simplify Product Names

With so many products in the digital marketplace, the time for ethereal name concepts are being lost in all the white noise. Google has simplified their products by naming them simply: Google Play, Google Wallet, Google Glass,  and Google Drive. Apple has also gone in the same direction by dropping their iconic ‘I’, and rendering simpler product descriptors such as Apple Watch, Apple TV and Apple Pay.


THREE: Millennials

With all the talk about how Millennials are a completely different group compared to the former generations , it is no surprise that they are also driving the marketplace. Millennials care about individuality, so it is not surprise that they seek out products that are local, quality, artisanal goods.

Packaging of the future will look towards design that hails from the pre-digital era.


infographic oliver russel


FOUR: Rise of the B2B

The B2C market has increased due to social media and it is until now that Business are using the same approach with other businesses. As LinkedI’s user subscription grows and other professional networking apps come into play, it will be a year to monitor how social media will further transform the workplace. Facebook is launching in early 2015 their business platform, Facebook at work; and other networks such as ButN, focus solely on connecting professionals. Salesforce’s Chatter is another tools that has been used.


See Also: Facebook at work



FIVE: Streamlining CSR’s

As CSR’s mature, it has now become the norm. Aside from CSR initiaves, companies are expected to be have a human side and show compassion. This gives rise to sympathetic pricing, “Flexible and imaginative discounts that help ease lifestyle pain points, lend a helping hand in difficult times, or support a shared value.”


See Also: Sympathetic Pricing



SIX: Personalized marketing

Amazon paved the road to personalized marketing when they implemented smart cross selling when they suggested products that I would like based on the products that were browsed. As this feature is now a default, mass distribution is no longer an option since consumers demand personalized experiences and products.

Coca-Cola’s ‘Share a coke’ campaign addressed personalization by printing bottles with popular names (250 names in English and 122 names in Spanish)


share a coke campaign global

Authentic Beauty

As consumers search for ‘real beauty’ they no longer find it in Photoshoped images. Dove’s 2004 Beauty Evolution campaign started the revolution for body acceptance, and 10 years later it has snowballed into the search for authenticity and acceptance.

Joining the band of companies who have ditched photoshop and size-zero models, lingerie brand Aerie launched “The Real You Is Sexy” campaign. Hence, in the coming year, more products, campaigns and social media discussions will surface on acceptance, health and dissent against a manufactured ideal.

Need a reminder of Dove Evolution Campaign? Watch the following video: 


Experiential marketing

Brand loyalty is no longer about product benefits; any product that has no benefit will not succeed. Consumers place value in the unique and meaningful experience with the brand, at every point in the process. Integrating mobile, online and in-store experience will become the norm for brands seeking loyalty.


Mobile Finances

Google Wallet and Apple Pay have replaced paper money and credit/debit cards. As part of the simplification process, physical wallets will no longer be needed as the mobile phone replaces all the components inside. It will be expected that new and innovative mobile payment apps take the reins this year.

Etsy allows you to take your online shop anywhere with their ‘Sell on Etsy App and Reader’ that allows you to process credit cards on mobile devices.

etsy pos


Humanizing Brands

Brand corporate communications strategies are expected to become more human. Brands will start talking more like people in a plain, straightforward, honest tone. So this year we should expect to hear brands with a more approachable, hey-I’m-your-bud, voice.


Sources: marketing interactive, rocketnews24, etsy 

sympathetic pricing

Sympathetic Pricing

Trevor 2 comments

Life has its challenges, and people yearn for a brand that understands that. As companies try to convince consumers that they DO care through their CSR initiatives, they are now expected to show their human side in their pricing as well. With so many initiatives out there, it’s hard to identify brand messages as it has reached saturation. Not only are consumers numb, but a quick search would prompt not only a company’s CSR initiative but also their immediate eco-socio-economic impact.

As online stores phase out Big Box Stores, consumers expect flexible, personalized and transparent pricing; and not only are these stores dying, so are malls. White Flint Mall in Montgomery Country, Maryland is on its last leg despite being in an ideal location.

Amy Ginsburg, the executive director of Friends of White Flint, a nonprofit looking to transform the mall and its surroundings, suggested that the gradual decline of malls speaks to a desire to reclaim an older way of life. The era before malls “was this lovely, Norman Rockwell-like situation,” she said, “and I think people miss that.”


SYMPATHETIC PRICING | Flexible and imaginative discounts that help ease lifestyle pain points, lend a helping hand in difficult times, or support a shared value. (Definition from trendwatching)

infographic trendwatching

Innovative Companies

From Trendwatching 


Brahma #Movimento11

Discounts help Brazilian football fans watch the start of the World Cup

In May 2014, Brazil-based beer brand Brahma (known as ‘Brahva’ in Guatemala) launched a campaign intended to address the inconvenient clash of two events due on the 12th June 2014: Valentine’s Day (known locally as Dia dos Namorados) and the first day of the FIFA World Cup. The beer brand encouraged Brazilians to celebrate Valentine’s Day one day earlier to avoid the ‘clash’ between these two important dates by using #Movimiento11 campaign. As part of their campaign, participating local businesses offered a discount to those people that celebrated Valentines Day on June 11th instead of June 12th.


The Wolf & I

Free drinks for patrons with parking tickets in Melbourne

Every Thursday, on Local’s Night, Melbourne-based restaurant The Wolf & I will give a free drink to anyone who received a local parking fine on the day.



Discounts on air conditioning for hot apartments in Argentina

In December 2013, home electronics brand BGH launched the ‘My Home is an Oven’ summer campaign in Argentina, offering discounts on air conditioning systems to people with hot apartments. Consumers could use a website to track their apartment’s exposure to the sun, with the sunniest apartments scoring the biggest discounts. The campaign ran until March 2014, and agency Saatchi & Saatchi say it led to USD 14 million in sales.



Japanese pub offers discounts to balding customers

Opened in Japan during April 2014, Otasuke (“Helping Hands”)  is a pub offering discounts to balding customers. A sign posted outside the establishment explains its support for “hard-working fathers losing their hair” due to job stress. Each bald customer gets JPY 500 (around USD 5) off their bill, with a secret perk saved for balding groups of six.


Community Shop

Discounted products for less affluent British consumers

Opened in December 2013, Community Shop is a British supermarket that sells discounted branded products to families receiving government welfare. The project is supported by high street chains and brands such as Marks & Spencer, Tesco, Asda and Tetley, who provide stock for the store from surplus products that don’t meet their standards. Typically this stock would end up in landfill or be turned into animal food.



Service goes free for laid off New Jersey journalists

In April 2014, online platform Pressfolios announced it would make its service available for free to journalists affected by a staff lay-off by New Jersey’s largest newspaper, the Star-Ledger. Pressfolios allows users to create an online portfolio. The out-of-work journalists received a Pressfolios Pro account with unlimited storage for three months, at no cost.


Lowe’s Canada

Free trees for consumers hit by destructive storm

In response to a winter storm that destroyed much of Toronto’s tree canopy, home improvement chain Lowe’s Canada gave away 1,000 red maple trees in the city one Saturday in April 2014. The trees, valued at CAD 30 each, were available for free from the parking lots of two of the store’s Toronto locations, and were given away on a first come, first served basis while stocks lasted.


Tienda Amiga

Shops in Madrid give discounts to the unemployed

Launched in Spain in September 2013, Tienda Amiga (Friendly Shop) is an initiative in which small businesses offer discounts to unemployed customers in their neighborhood. Created by theAsamblea Popular de Hortaleza, a community group in Madrid, the project aims to create a more ethical local economy. By January 2014 more than 150 local shops had signed up, offering discounts of between 5% and 20% to those without work.



Discounted onions in response to high onion prices in India

In India during September 2013, Groupon unveiled a promotion in response to rising onion prices in the country. Via the daily deals website, shoppers could purchase 1 kilogram of onions for INR 9 (USD 0.15) – approximately one-eighth of the prevailing cost, including home delivery.



Dutch airline offers cheaper flights to Russia for gay rights activists

In January 2014, Dutch airline Corendon unveiled a promotion coinciding with the Winter Olympics in Sochi. Any passengers traveling to Sochi to demonstrate for gay rights during the Games could obtain a 50% discount on airfares. The fares were available over a one month period, priced from EUR 399 -799.



Free public transport in Paris to combat poor air quality

As an incentive for motorists to leave their cars at home, allParisian public transport was free for one weekend in March 2014. The decision was made by transport chiefs in response to the dangerously high levels of pollution which had engulfed the French capital for days.



App to route around internet blocks goes free in Venezuela

February 2014 saw AnchorFree make Hotspot Shield – its online privacy app – free to download in Venezuela. The US-based software brand’s app allows users to bypass government internet blocks. The move came in response to increasing government censorship of the internet in the South American country, spurred by rising civil unrest.



Sources: Trendwatching, Huffington Post


google wallet cnn

Top 10 Trends to Watch for in 2015

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More Payment Flexibility

As new methods of payment arise, the same kind of flexibility is expected of their traditional counterparts. Going out with your friends but want to pay with your mobile? It’s a simple task with cash, but it seems mobile payment is still lagging a bit.

“A recent study found that 45% of Millennials in the US & UK would like to use their mobiles to split bills with friends (JWT, October 2014).”



Smart Objects

Also known as ‘the internet of things’, it refers to the integration of objects with the internet.  Postscapes offers some examples:


Aimed at helping to prevent SIDS, the Mimo monitor is a new kind of infant monitor that provides parents with real-time information about their baby’s breathing, skin temperature, body position, and activity level on their smartphones.


Smart outlets like the WeMo allow you to instantly turn on and off any plugged in device from across the world or just your living room. Save money and conserve energy over time by eliminating standby power, measure and record the power usage of any device, and increase its operating lifespan through more efficient use and scheduling.


This smart lighting system from Echelon allows a city to intelligently provide the right level of lighting needed by time of day, season, and weather conditions. Cities have shown a reduction in street lighting energy use by up to 30% using solutions like this.


Retailers can run real-world A/B tests using networked cameras and sensors like those in the Shopperception system to detect how customers are engaging with specific products and the store’s layout.


A project by Ground Labs and Lion Guardians is creating an open source wildlife tracking collar system to safeguard the Maasai herders cattle and protect the last 2000 lions living Southern Kenya. The system consists of a tracking collar that utilizes a GPS/GSM module to locate and track the lions and communicate their coordinates to researchers and Maasai herders via SMS.”


Invisible Tracck is a wireless device being used in pilot programs to help combat illegal deforestation taking place in the Amazon. The battery operated devices are installed on select trees and as soon as the logged trees are in transit and able to connect to a mobile network (Up to a 20 mile range), an alert notification with location coordinates is sent to the Brazilian Institute of Environment so they can take action.






Brands beyond CSR initiatives

Although CSR initiatives will remain important this year, consumers will start expecting a different approach to CSRs.

Salesforce, a cloud computing company, brings in 135,000 guests each year to their San Francisco summit Dreamforce. This instant flood of people causes quite a bit of jamming.

“…Marc Benioff, is doing more than any other American chief executive to rethink the obligations companies have toward the cities where they operate. In the past few years, Benioff and his wife Lynne have helped build a state-of-the-art children’s hospital in San Francisco, funded a variety of initiatives to help the hungry and homeless, and, via his company’s Salesforce Foundation, parceled out $73 million in grants to nonprofits. At the same time he’s done something even more audacious: publicly urged other tech leaders to do their part. “Now is the time to give a strong message to entrepreneurs that this is a city and an industry that expects you to give back,” he says.Our industry by nature is disruptive—that’s what technology is—but we are being disruptive to the city also”

Benioff began weaving this philosophy into Salesforce’s culture when he founded the company in 1999. He called it the 1-1-1 model of corporate philanthropy, in which the company would send 1 percent of its stock, products, and employees’ working time to the company foundation. Full story  Businessweek.

More examples from trendwatching:

In response to the Ebola virus spread across West Africa in August 2014, mobile app Easy Taxi partnered with Dettol to offer Nigerian cab drivers lessons on how to diagnose and prevent the disease, with drivers encouraged to pass their knowledge onto passengers.

In May 2014, Volvo partnered with the Swedish Transport Authority on the EletriCity project to create roads that can charge electric vehicles. Features will include inductive charging that can wirelessly transmit power to the city of Gothenburg’s electric bus fleet.

October 2014 saw traffic data platform Waze announce Connected Citizens: a partnership program exchanging data with governments across the world with the aim of improving urban traffic conditions. The program launch partners included cities such as Los Angeles, Rio de Janeiro, Barcelona and Tel Aviv.




Demographics at a different scale

Consumption patterns are no longer defined by ‘traditional’ demographic segments such as age, gender, location, income, family status. We now need to look at their consumption habits. For example, How Target Figured Out A Teen Girl Was Pregnant Before Her Father Did is a fantastic example of how companies identify their consumers through purchasing habits.

…a hypothetical example. Take a fictional Target shopper named Jenny Ward, who is 23, lives in Atlanta and in March bought cocoa-butter lotion, a purse large enough to double as a diaper bag, zinc and magnesium supplements and a bright blue rug. There’s, say, an 87 percent chance that she’s pregnant and that her delivery date is sometime in late August. Read the full article in Forbes


Sympathetic pricing

Prices based on sympathy which is targeted to the ‘individual’ as opposed to the ‘general public’.

In September 2014, Hong Kong newspaper the South China Morning Post removed its paywall to give readers free access to the paper’s Occupy Central articles.

Launched in May 2014, PareUp allows New York-based restaurants, coffee shops and grocery stores to offer soon-to-be-wasted food at a discounted price. Participating merchants can send alerts to users detailing what is available, and the discounted price.

During the FIFA World Cup in July 2014, Brazilian publisher Lote 42 offered customers a 10% discount for every goal scored against the national team during the soccer championship. After Brazil lost 7-1 to Germany, customers were offered a 70% discount for 24 hours, catapulting the brand to national attention.



See Also: Sympathetic Pricing 




From drones to service, automated robotics is a thing of the now.

Google has been testing an automated taxi service that works with an app. As it approaches a turn, it slows down in order to turn carefully. This may just put taxi drivers out of business.

In July 2014, Düsseldorf Airport unveiled the world’s first robotic parking valet. Customers leave their car, and a robot picks it up and positions the vehicle in one of 249 dedicated spaces. The system connects to the airport’s flight database, meaning that customers find their vehicle ready and waiting for them upon their return.

November 2014 saw US hardware retailer Lowe’s trialling OSHbot robot sales assistants in a California store. The robots have a 3D scanner to identify items bought in by customers and check if replacement parts are in stock. They are also programmed to speak English and Spanish, with further language options planned.

In Japan, Nestlé are trialling a robotic customer service assistant named Pepper to help guide people through the Dolce Gusto and Gold Blend coffee brand product ranges. Trials start in December 2014, with plans to roll the robots out to 1,000 stores by the end of 2015.


Brands should take a Stand

73% of Millennials believe that businesses should share a point of view about issues;

73% also think businesses should influence others to get involved in an issue.

(MSLGroup, February 2014)

As people emphasize the individual, it is no surprise that they expect companies and CEO’s to do the same.


No experience required

Instagram’s success is due to its ease in producing high-quality images effortlessly. After snapping a delightful photo, a filter is chosen that best fits the user’s tastes; a professional output, accessible through most smartphones, without the need for experience in professional photography or Photoshop.


instagram poster


Age of the individual

As millennials are growing up, they are no longer embracing products for the masses, but rather, individualistic approaches. It is no surprise that ‘cookie-cutter’ uniforms fashion like Abercrombie & Fitch suffered a 1/3 drop in sales this year, while individual-oriented ‘Forever 21’ are thriving.



See Also: Why it’s time to rethink your marketing strategy (case of A&F)




Not the semi-professional tech products (a hybrid between professional and consumer products), but the highly knowledgeable consumer. Thanks to immediate access to tech specs, reviews and how-to videos, less-than-accurate-advertising will get you nowhere (and blacklisted in every review site possible).


Sources: trendwatching, forbes, Pew social trends.



internet of things photonstartlighting

The internet of things explained

Trevor one comments

The concept is hard to define precisely as it is still a relatively new idea. In short, it is the attributing the ability for objects to be connected to the internet and identifying themselves to other objects. For example, if you had a smart refrigerator it would notify you that you were running out of milk before you actually ran out of milk; or how the cream is about to expire and needs to be consumed soon.

Having our lives connected to the internet (smart homes, offices, streets and cities) seems like a vision, but it is being built today in very small steps. As we become more connected through these objects, there are information challenges, such as:

1. Privacy

“The concern is that products are hackable as soon as they connect to the Internet and are accessible by the world,” Shapiro said. (Gary Shapiro, president of the Consumer Electronics Association)


2. Data ownership

As data reveals consumer habits, there will undoubtedly be a battle over who can gain access to this information.

General Motors is collecting massive amounts of data through its OnStar subsidiary, a subscription-based communication service that provides drivers with in-car security, calling, navigation and remote diagnostics capabilities.

“They can show you every GM OnStar customer who has had an accident on a day on a map, and show you ‘here’s where the airbag deployed,’” Shapiro explained.


To address these challenges (and others)  an Internet of Things Council has already been formed and part of its mission is to:

 “Whoever ensures traceability, sustainability and security linking up the gateways is de facto and de jure the new power.

We want that power to be as inclusive, open and transparent as possible.

We believe the “winning solution” to making the most open, inclusive and innovative Internet of Things is to transcend the short-term opposition between social innovation and security by finding a way to combine these two necessities in a broader common perspective.  “


infographic photonstarlighting


 IoT examples:


GlowCaps fit prescription bottles and via a wireless chip provide services that help people stick with their prescription regimen; from reminder messages, all the way to refill and doctor coordination



The Proteus ingestible pill sensor is powered by contact with your stomach fluid and communicates a signal that determines the timing of when you took your meds and the identity of the pill. This information is transferred to a patch worn on the skin to be logged for you and your doctor’s reference. Heart rate, body position and activity can also be detected.



Smart thermostats like the Nest use sensors, real-time weather forecasts, and the actual activity in your home during the day to reduce your monthly energy usage by up to 30%, keeping you more comfortable, and offering to save you money on your utility bills.



Using a device like the Ninja Block and its range of add-on sensors you can track if a water pipe has burst in your basement, if there is motion inside your home while you are away, and have it automatically send you a notification by email or text message when it happens.



Products like the cellular communication enabled Smart Belly trash use real-time data collection and alerts to let municipal services know when a bin needs to be emptied. This information can drastically reduce the number of pick-ups required, and translates into fuel and financial savings for communities service departments.



The DontFlushMe project by Leif Percifield is an example that combines sensors installed in Combined Sewer Overflows (CSOs) with alerts to local residents so they can avoid polluting local waterways with raw sewage by not flushing their toilets during overflow events.



Sensors installed inside equipment will monitor if any parts have exceeded their designed thresholds, and will automatically send reports to owners and manufacturers if they have. Early predictions on equipment malfunctions can be made with parts and service maintenance can be automatically scheduled ahead of a an actual part failure.



Using networked sensors, cameras, and lasers to analyze manufacturing processes like those from SightMachine you can determine if a part is good or bad based on its physical characteristics; identify if it is the right component for the job and monitor trends, variations, and relationships in the system over time.



The OnFarm solution combines real-time sensor data from soil moisture levels, weather forecasts, and pesticide usage from farming sites into a consolidated web dashboard. Farmers can use this data with advanced imaging and mapping information to spot crop issues and remotely monitor all of the farms assets and resource usage levels.



The University of Berkeley’s Floating Sensor Network project uses motorized drifters (Outfitted with cell communication, GPS, temperature, and salinity sensors) that can be quickly deployed in response to unanticipated events such as floods to track the movement of water, contaminants, and other conditions in waterways.



The University of Loughborough’s Acoustic Landslide Detector system called ALARMS (Assessment of Landslides using Acoustic Real-time Monitoring Systems), detects high-frequency stress waves produced by soil movement. They can be used to calculate soil movement in real time and send out alerts to communities before an event occurs.


“In the next century, planet earth will don an electronic skin.

It will use the Internet as a scaffold to support and transmit its sensations.” – Neil Gross 1999


Sources: Postscapes, Forbes, Techopedia, photon star lighting 


shark go pro

Goodbye, 2014!

Trevor No Comments

Most searched events of 2014, provided by Google Trends.


World cup, games with the highest search spike.

– Brazil vs. Germany

– Netherlands vs. Argentina

– Brazil vs Croatia

james rodriguez

Top trending players

– James Rodriguez

– Luis Suárez

– Ángel Di María

– Tim Howard

– Toni Kroos


During the Chile-Brazil game, Chileans used the phrase ‘más nervioso que…’ (more nervous than…) 4x before Chile’s defeat.



Most popular games during the Sochi Games

– Ice hockey

– Curling

– Figure skating


During the games, ‘ice hockey’ was more searched than ‘vanilla ice’, ‘ice cube’, ‘iced tea’ and ‘Iceland’ combined.


Champions trend | ‘Real madrid’ was searched 5x more than the Superbowl winners, the Seahawks.


Most searched Games

– ‘IPL’ (Indian premiere league)

– ‘Superbowl’

-‘Champions league’


Breaking News

– Ebola:  Searches for ebola were 75x higher in October compared to March

– The disappearance of Malaysia Airline MH370 also caused a stir in searches.


The five most asked questions about Ebola

– What is Ebola?

– How does Ebola spread?

– How do you get Ebola?

– Where did Ebola come from?

– What are the symptoms of Ebola?


 What, How, Where’s

– How to kiss was searched more than how to survive.

– ‘Where am I’ is the world’s most asked questions.


Selfies, the rise of the ‘boys selfie tips’

– ‘boys selfie tips’ and ‘mens selfie tips’ was a popular search compared to hardly no searches for ‘girls selfie tips’.




Retro games

– games from the 90’s make a comeback with a 20x spike in ’90s computer games’


‘game for girls’ was searched for more than ‘games for kids’ or ‘games for boys’.


Mobile life

– ‘ add reminder’ in January 2014 trended as a new phone functionality

– ‘wearable technology’ saw 3x rise

– drones was another popular search topic

– Along with wearable tech, Go Pro videos are also a popular search topic (‘Shark’ take the lead)

shark go pro



– For 2014, there was 21x  more interest in crowdfunding compared to 2013


Top crowdfunding projects

– Oculus rift  (virtual reality headset)

– Star citizen (space trading and combat simulator)

– Hoverboard (Inspired by Back to the Future- a real one was created using magnets)


oculus rift

Top crowdfunding sites

– Kickstarter

– Indiegogo

– Crowdfunder


Top searched ideas (for all of you looking for an invention)

– Time machine

– Jetpack

– Replicator

– Flying car

– Teleporter


potato salad

Potato salad on kickstarter’ gets $55,000

Zack Brown’s request for $10 to help make a potato salad became the year’s largest search trend around crowdfunding. What’s more, it was the only trending search to feature the phrase ‘potato salad.’

“While our little internet joke will one day be forgotten, the impact will be felt forever.”

After unintentionally setting off a storm, Brown used the $55,000 raised to help reduce homelessness in his local area. He also founded PotatoStock, a free concert held in Columbus, Ohio.


robin williams


– Robin Williams had the greatest increase in search than any person in 2014

– Maya Angelou and  Joan Rivers also spiked.


goji berries


– 2013 was about kale and quinoa, while 2014 was about chia seeds and goji berries.



– Through the Middle East and Easter Europe turmoil this year, the ‘history of gaza’ and ‘history of crimea’ saw a 14x spike in searches.



The complete search Trends in Google.


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