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Through the eyes of Paula...

With the summer season closely approaching, many people will want to start planning their summer vacation (or just daydream about visiting exotic locations while doing important real-life work). Either way, travel is moving to the forefront of people’s minds, and many would like to know about what places are popular and trendy. There are gems all over the world – some hidden, some well-known, and some emerging into popularity. Here are five countries that are buzz-worthy for this year:

  1. Japan: Japan is a well-loved favourite by millions of people, and has been so for a very long time. You can experience almost any kind of scenario here: the hustle and bustle of city life, or the serene natural landscapes. Japan’s rich culture, both modern and ancient, permeates throughout the country, and there is never a shortage of things to experience. One excellent location in Japan is Kyoto. It used to be Japan’s capital city, and it has an abundance of historical significance and lovely temples.

  2. Nicaragua: Not many people think of this Central American city as an obvious tourist destination. But it is slowly gaining popularity as an alternative to the more well-known Costa Rica. Nicaragua is more affordable, and has not yet been overrun with large hotel and restaurant chains. One of the best spots to go here is Granada, a picturesque city that brims with nightlife, festivals, and drinks such as Macua, the country’s popular rum-based drink.

  3. Jordan: This Middle Eastern country has not enjoyed a lot of fame and recognition over the years, but now is its chance to shine. It is best known for being home to Petra, an ancient city carved into the desert mountains. But other features of Jordan’s landscape include the Dead Sea, beaches and coral reefs on the Red Sea, and Wadi Rum – a Martian-looking landscape. While some surrounding countries have experienced dangers, Jordan has remained a safe place, meaning that its travelers will likely get to view breathtaking sights uncluttered by too many people.

  4. Nepal: This Asian country’s tourism is on the rise after the series of earthquakes of the past. Its historic landmarks are slowly being restored, and tourist destinations such as trekking routes are reopening for the adventurous travelers. Home to the incredible Himalayas, as well as jungles and other varied landscapes, Nepal is a must-visit destination for any traveler with a desire for adventure.

  5. Romania: Another country that is frequently overlooked in favour of more popular countries, Romania actually has a lot going for it, if people take the time to educate themselves about what it has to offer. It is home to multicoloured medieval cities, the Carpathian mountains, and multiple historic towns and mystical castles. For those who love road trips, Romania’s geography lends itself to just such an activity, with its winding tracks leading into beautiful wilderness landscapes. Another fascinating aspect is being able to view Romanesque, Baroque, and Gothic architecture.



While the world is a beautiful and large place, many of us never see it. Or when we do it's in very limited ways, like visiting family in another country. Well, this article's purpose to show why travel for the sake of travel is not only relaxing, but actually good for you.

It creates perspective

Shifting outside of the normal work/home routine can allow a person to see more than just themselves. Often, we get caught up in the hectic pace of modern life. With the trials of work and family life, it can be hard to see anything outside of the day-to-day routine. Travel allows people to see other lives than their own. By visiting different cultures, you gain a larger perspective of the world.

You see the best in people

When one travels they see the best that people have to offer. Even when walking among the slums of a poor country, you will see the generosity and goodness in the residents. This can help to restore ones' faith in humanity and maybe make one better see how we are all connected in this big world.

It allows you to better adapt.

Dealing with travel hassles, like lost luggage or juggling schedules, might seem like a head ache, but they are really challenges, and challenges demand solutions. Solving these problems leads to better adaptability skills. And these kinds of skills can make one even more empowered in their daily life.

Being away makes you appreciate home

Be it ever so humble there's no place like home, truer words have never been spoken. Travel makes a person realize the things that they have back home are special. Living for a time being with access to the Internet, or electricity makes you realize how precious these commodities really are.

Travel allows you to experience new things

From learning new languages to figuring out how to read a map, travel demands that you learn new things that you would not ordinarily need to learn. Expanding your horizons is beneficial for making you an even more well-rounded human being.

It relieves stress

Perhaps the most immediately important item in this list, stress is a killer for many working class people. And travel is one of the best ways to alleviate it. Whether you are relaxing on a beach, hiking through a mountain trail, or having a European adventure, travel offers that stress release that so many people need. According to an article by psychology today ( traveling, and taking vacations is vital to relieving stress.



Through the eyes of Amy...

The malls are crowed, people are in a hurry, and the lineups go throughout the store! While Black Friday is a day filled with fantastic deals, people who work in customer service must take on a big challenge. How often do we hear a customer sigh heavily in line while carrying heavy bags and new items to purchase? How often are customer service workers abrupt in dealing with the customers due to the sheer volume of people that they have to help? Customer service on Black Friday goes both ways. – From the customer to the Customer Service Representative, and the Customer Service Representative to the customer.

Here are 5 ways customers and Customer Service Representatives could make the Black Friday shopping experience be as smooth as possible:

1. Customer Service Over the Phone
Calling for the help of Customer Service Representatives could be frustrating because of the long holds. However, if customers prepare their questions beforehand, and remember to make them short, sweet, and to the point, then Customer Service Representatives could quickly and easily help them!

For the Customer Service Representatives, bringing in extra workers to aid in customer service could reduce the long holds. Customer Service Representatives should also be well-trained and knowledgeable in order to answer questions clearly and consistently.

2. Customer Service Using Social Media
In the age of technology, customers are being more vocal about their favourite brands on social media websites like Facebook and Twitter. If customers have a concern about a certain product, then be polite to the person behind the social media page. Don't forget that the gold rule is, “treat others how you would like to be treated.”

The person working on customer service via social media can in turn thank customers for reaching out to them. Providing links to aid customers in finding more information about things is effective as well. Responding quickly on social media is another way to help more customers in less time.

3. Understanding the Frustration
Customer service can be frustrating to both the customers and the Customer Service Representatives! Once both parties understand that crowds, people in a hurry, and long lineups cannot be helped by a heavy sigh coupled with anger, then the customer service experience would be more pleasant. Customers could check their phones, read a book, or strike up a brief conversation with others while waiting for service.

Customer Service Representatives could ask a brief question to the customers about their day so that the customers could release some of their frustration through expressing it. Friendly greeting and parting words may seem lost to the customers' ears at times, however the positive demeanor is memorable! Customers would remember how well they were treated, and come back to stop at the store on another day.

4. Prepare for Trouble, and Make it Double
Customers could help reduce long lineups by having their method of payment at hand before reaching the cash register! Not only does this help the other customers, but the Customer Service Representativeas well. By preparing beforehand the correct amount of cash or the correct type of card, there won't be struggle and frustration when searching for either of those items at the cash register.

Customer Service Representativecould double that preparation for trouble by observing if the customers have either cash or a card ready at hand. Once Customer Service Representativeknow the method of payment, then they could prepare it even before the customers reaches the cash register.

5. Communication is Key
It is important for customers to fully understand the discount of interest before creating accusations about either the Customer Service Representativeor a brand. To avoid miscommunication, customers should either carefully read the details of the discount, or ask Customer Service Representatives for clarification.

Customer Service Representatives should be knowledgeable about the details of their store's discounts as well. They should be clear and concise in answering answer the customers' questions. If the initial explanation does not make sense to customers, then rewording it using different terms could be very effective. 



Five Inspiring Travel Destinations

People travel for many reasons, whether it is for leisure or to challenge themselves with new goals. One such reason for travel is to inspire oneself. Creativity is the fuel for success and here are 5 places, that in this author's humble opinion, are perfect places to ignite your creativity.


#1: Venice, Italy

It goes without saying that this wonderful city would wind up on the list, Venice is truly a sight to behold. With its intricate network of canals, beautiful bridges, and classical architecture, it's no wonder that many have looked to this city for inspiration. St Mark's Campanile, an imposing and beautiful bell tower, located in St. Marks square, and is one of the city's most striking landmarks. This is just one of many impressive landmarks that attracts nearly 60,000 people a day to the city.


#2: Vancouver, British Columbia

This Canadian city is as beautiful as it is modern. One of Canada's densest and most culturally diverse cities, Vancouver is a mosaic of many beautiful art forms. With a breathtaking skyline, coastal views and a rich maritime history. The beautiful Stanley park is among the many highlights of Vancouver. A 1,001 acre national park, it sports more than 27 kilometers of hiking trails, an 8.8 Km seawall, and luxurious beaches. Vancouver is the perfect combination of classical and modern sensibilities.


#3: Scotland

There is nothing more inspiring than the rugged beauty of nature. Many artists have drawn their inspirations from nature. This is something that Scotland has in spades. From the beautiful moors, to the sea-carved shores, Scotland is a bounty of natural wonders. There is also wonders of a man-made variety, from Edinburgh castle to Glasgow's art nouveau architecture, the attractions of Scotland are just as awe-inspiring at the land upon which they are built upon.  


#4: Buenos Aires, Argentina

Argentina's bustling cosmopolitan capital, Buenos Aires is a sight to behold. With many classical landmarks, like the 16thcentury Plaza De Mayo, Buenos Aires is a wonderful destination. There are many landmarks of natural and man-made beauty. From the presidential palace, Casa Rosada, to the ultra-modern Latin American art museum, Buenos Aires is a city that is as passionate as its soccer team.


#5: Moscow, Russia


Located along the Moskva river, Moscow is the vibrant capital of Russia. Sporting some of the most vivid and beautiful buildings in the world, along with attractions of amazing quality. The Kremlin, located in the center of the city, is a fortified complex that is home to the president, along with the nations treasures. Saint Basil's cathedral is a building so iconic, that many creators have drawn inspiration from its unique design. All these things and more make Moscow an amazing and inspirational destination for the avid traveler.

Have you been thinking about becoming a mystery shopper? We know that many people are very reluctant to start mystery shopping and we can understand why. While we are very well aware that there are tons of nay-sayers and scammers out there, we want you to read a blog written by our friend, Matt Gibson, and his team over at Flight Network.

Evaluate It by SQM has recently added a fresh, new list of international flights that are available for mystery shops! It is perfect for the avid traveler or even the busy professional. Matt has had us on his radar, and you should too! The list is growing every day, and we hope to reach all corners of the world in the near future.

Matt's article highlights a few facts about Evaluate It by SQM, the basics of mystery shopping, how to become a mystery shopper with SQM, a typical evaluation and its requirements, and payment and processing procedures.

So, if you were ever hesitant about joining us for your journey, we have real people giving you real testimonies. Read Matt's blog here and get started with Evaluate It by SQM today!

P.S. If you love Matt's blog as much as we do, you can find out more about his travel adventures on his blog, Enjoy and we hope to have you on board soon!

Blog: How to Get 50% Off Flights and Hotels as a Mystery Shopper-