Marriott Rewards Summer Travelers

DFWDT ExteriorSummer is quickly slipping away, but you still have time to be rewarded for a last-minute trip deep in the heart of Texas. Marriott Rewards® members can pack their bags and take a road trip driving to several destinations while racking up points to use at future destinations. Read more why a Marriott Rewards credit card is worth! From San Antonio’s Alamo Mission to Fort Worth’s Stockyards and renowned art museums, you can enjoy more points with more stays.

Enjoy finger-licking BBQ at Woodshed, seafood at Waters – Bonnell’s Coastal Cuisine, homegrown fresh fruit pies and hand-churned ice cream, to name a few of our summer favorite foods. Texas’ major cities offer magnificent museums such as Dallas’ Nasher Sculpture Center in the middle of the largest urban art district in the United States and Fort Worth’s incomparable Arts District, which includes the Kimbell, Amon Carter, Modern Art Museum, as well as, the Cowgirl Hall of Fame.20130317_123941kimbellartamoncarter

Now through September 5, 2016, stay at a participating Marriott listed below, and Marriott Rewards® members can earn 2,000 Marriott Reward® points. It’s free to join the program and points are earned right away. Members also enjoy free standard in-room Wi-Fi and other exclusive offers and promotions just by registering for the program.

Participating Summer Splash Down properties:
Renaissance Austin Hotel
Renaissance Dallas Hotel
Dallas Marriott City Center
Dallas/Plano Marriott at Legacy Town Center
Dallas/Addison Marriott Quorum by the Galleria
Dallas/Fort Worth Airport Marriott
The Worthington Renaissance Fort Worth Hotel *** OUR FAVORITE!!!
JW Marriott Houston
Houston Marriott Medical Center
Houston Airport Marriott at George Bush Intercontinental
San Antonio Marriott Riverwalk
San Antonio Marriott Rivercenter

What’s Included:
· 2% discount during midweek stays, 5% discount for weekends
· Rewards Members may earn 2,000 bonus points for every stay between May 26, 2016 and September 5, 2016, starting on the second stay
· Rewards Members may qualify for 100 prizes of 100,000 points each; a 10 million bonus point giveaway during the summer to Rewards Members

Happy Trails to You!

How to Succeed as Influencer #SparkMe

Influencer“Influencer marketing is the fastest-growing channel, ” according to the latest poll from influencer marketplace Tomoson. Everywhere Agency‘s Founder and President Danica Kombol reaffirmed this at the first day of Spark.me conference in Budva, Montenegro. You can read more about her talk, “Marketing Under the Influence” here. Today, I want to focus on how you get noticed by people online through social media and blogging. It is not something that comes by accident.  It requires hard work and an innovative strategy. At its core, being an influencer is having the power to create an effect, change opinions and behaviors, and drive measurable outcomes online. Here are five effective ways to become more savvy and succeed as an influencer. There has never been a better time to get started.

#1. Find your voice.
In any given field, there will already be big-name influencers who have been building their authority for years. Rather than trying to compete, find you voice in a targeted topic or field. You have a unique perspective and approach in how you look at things, so why not write about it. Do not underestimate YOUR story.

#2. Be authentic.
The entire notion of influencer marketing is built on authenticity. Tell YOUR story! Do not write for a brand or post pictures online for the whole purpose to be found by a brand. Brands hire services of an influencer though the purchase of your social media space. Brands that are great to work with will give you a lot of freedom to create content that is authentic to your space, but also creatively incorporates their product or service to your brand. However, there are ground rules as it concerns to being paid to represent a brand. Make sure that you use up-to-date disclosure information on your blog and social networks, according to the FTC’s list of ethics rules.

#3. Partner up.
Don’t be reluctant to find and partner with other bloggers or vloggers. One of the best ways to expand your reach outside your current audience is to guest post on high-traffic sites. Ideally, reach out and see if you can become a regular contributor to those sites. This will allow you to steadily build your audience while also receiving referral traffic to your own site. When using this strategy, watch your analytics carefully to see which sites are most effective in terms of targeted traffic. It may be tempting to post to high profile sites, but if you’re not getting results, you’re wasting your time. Note: don’t avoid smaller, niche sites just because of their size! Sometimes smaller sites with loyal audiences that can send the most targeted and enthusiastic visitors.

#4. Take it offline.
Most of your influence can built up online. That’s where you’ll be spending most of your time and investing most of your resources. However, most influencers also spend some time building their authority offline, through live speaking engagements, teaching classes or doing interviews. It is great meeting people face-to-face and hearing what they enjoy about your site or what stories they really connected with them personally. Writing a book can also be a huge boom to your career as an influencer.

#5. Be responsive and active.
Being active on social media is more than posting on your own accounts. You need to be engaging and participating in a variety of communities. This means showing up at other people’s Twitter chats, commenting on other people’s Instagram posts and tagging others on Facebook. Join Facebook groups and share insights with no expectation of getting traffic or any other benefit. In other words, get out there and make sure people in your field see you and get to know you as an expert.

People expect influencers to be approachable and responsive. This means consistently responding to emails, social media mentions and blog comments. While you don’t have to respond to every comment or question, it helps to let your readers and followers know that you are at least reading them.

Becoming an influencer doesn’t happen overnight. It requires a lot of time and a whole lot of hard work. However, if you stick with it and follow the five steps above, you have a reasonable chance at achieving influencer status… maybe sooner than you think!

What would you add to this list? What other strategies are you using on your path to becoming an influencer?

Can’t Stop the Feeling: Prepare for Spark.Me

Spark.me is less than a month away! And today, Justin Timberlake drops a new song that expresses how I feel. I may have modified some of the lyrics ;), but turn up the volume and dance with me.

“I got this feeling inside my bones. It goes electric, wavey when I turn it on. All through BUDVA, all through MONTENEGRO. We’re flying up, no ceiling, when we in our zone. I got that sunshine in my pocket. Got THIS good song in my feet. I feel that SPARK in my body when it drops. I can’t WAIT FOR END OF MAY, moving so phenomenally WELL. You gon’ like the way THIS CONFERENCE rocks it, so don’t stop. Under the lights when everything STARTS. Nowhere to hide when CONFERENCE getting you close. When SPARK.ME STARTS, well, you already know. So just imagine, just imagine, just imagine…SPARK.ME WILL MAKE you dance, dance, dance. Feeling good, good, SPARKING up on you. So just dance, dance, dance, come on. All those things I should do to PREPARE, but you dance, dance, dance. And YOU ARE leaving soon, so keep dancing…”

I CAN’T STOP THE FEELING! How about you? 😉

10-Tips-for-Spark-MeHere’s my TOP 10 checklist to help you prepare for Spark.Me, so you can continue to dance your way to Budva, Montenegro, on May 28-29, 2016.

  1. Search Twitter, Facebook and Instagram for anyone talking about #SparkMe. You can then determine if you want to follow them and start conversations ahead of Spark.Me. This works amazingly well for people who might be a bit shy. Make sure you are also using #SparkMe hashtag, so can people can also find and engage with you.
  2. Visit the speakers blogs or youtube channels for ideas of how things are going in their lives or in their businesses. Before meeting them, maybe you’ll read that they just closed a B round of funding, and thus might have budget for a project with you. It’s free intelligence before a conversation.
  3. Check out the partners for Spark.Me. Visit their web pages. What do you know about them? Are they a prospective vendor for you? A client? Do you see some business value in meeting any of them?
  4. Write some of your best work in the days leading up to Spark.Me and have a great post launch on the day of the event. The likelihood of people checking out your blog during or just before an event is high. JUST DO IT! 🙂
  5. Consider writing posts that might help you form conversations at Spark.Me. For instance, if you’re looking to work with startups, write a blog post about how you’d help startups get funding. Thus, people who might investigate your blog ahead of time might also know what you’re thinking about and will engage you.
  6. Consider making a video about something and posting it to your blog. Videos will give people an even better opportunity to observe you and see what you’re about. It might also help with the people recognition factor, as seeing you in motion might improve their chance of seeing you at an event. 😉
  7. If you’re going to take lots of photos or videos at Spark.Me, check your gear to make sure you’ve got everything (charger, media transfer tools, spare things, etc.). Consider any extra batteries or power supplies you might need to bring with you.
  8. Backup your laptop before you travel. You might not think about it, but there are many chances to destroy your data once you’re on the road. Make sure that’s not going to happen.
  9. Pack business casual clothes and comfortable shoes for two days and a nice black dress or button-down shirt & nice pants for the cocktail party! And, DON’T FORGET YOUR SWIMSUIT to wear while you enjoy the Bečići beach. 🙂
  10. Practice, practice, practice your elevator pitch explaining who you are and what you do. Be crisp. Make it easy to say. Be very clear. If you’re looking for work, be clear that you’re available for a few extra projects. It seems that lots of folks beat around the bush or don’t exactly know how to have a beginning, middle and end to a conversation. REMEMBER, YOU ARE AWESOME! TI SI SJAJAN/SJAJNA!

Look forward to seeing old friends and meeting new ones. For now, make sure that we are connected on all these social networks: Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat, Periscope and Pinterest.

How to Throw an Epic Captain America: Civil War Party

captain-america-civil-warMy son loves the Avengers…like LOVES the Avengers. I could not tell you how many times that I have seen that movie – well, I digress. The excitement has been building in our house for the newest movie, Captain America: Civil War. Naturally, when I asked my son what he wanted his birthday party theme to be, he yelled: “Marvel!” This year, we threw an epic birthday party for his friends, and I am here to share how his party has just the right amount of epic awesomeness to get your family pumped for Captain America: Civil War. The only question remains is, are you for #TeamCap or #TeamIronMan? 😉

Themed Snacks Instead of Flashy Decorations
I am all about themed snacks. They can double as decorations, and since the point is for you and your guests to eat the snacks, it can cut down on your cleanup time after the festivities are over. Here are a few snack ideas to help get your creative juices flowing.Hulk-Juicecaptain-america-pizzateam-cap

Bring the Entertainment Home Instead of Paying for a Playhouse
Next, I had to figure out what entertainment to provide for 9 year-old boys. Thanks to my friend, Facebook, I discovered a piñata company in Kotor, Montenegro. Angela is amazing and made us an Iron Man head. We just added some hard candy into the piñata and grab the nearest scarf and broom stick – an the party festivities went up to an epic level. Then, we added a “pin-the-star on Cap’s shield” game and much fun was had. Here’s are some of the fun pictures.Iron-Man-Beforeiron-man-pinatairon-man-blastcaptain-america-shield-gamepin-the-star-captain-america

Why Bloggers Should Takeover Another’s Snapchat

How-To-Do-Snapchat-TakeoverWith over 7 billion video views per day and close to 200 million users, Snapchat is becoming the go-to platform for bloggers looking for new ways to increase brand awareness and connect with a younger (at heart 😉 ), creative and engaged audiences. Read my top 10 Snapchat Tips here. For creative bloggers, you are beginning to see an effective new strategy called a Snapchat Takeover.

What is a Snapchat Takeover?

A Snapchat Takeover is when a blogger allows another blogger to “take over” their Snapchat account and create a story from her unique perspective. Takeovers typically happen for a day, and both bloggers start telling their fans across all their social media channels to watch her “take over” story on Snapchat. By leveraging the attention of their audiences, it also helps bloggers gain new audiences with increase exposure.

5 Steps to Takeover a Snapchat Account Effectively

#1. Establish Goals.
Before developing the campaign or approaching a popular snapper, you should determine what you want to accomplish from this Snapchat takeover. Goals and objectives such as “increase Snapchat followers” or “drive awareness for a product launch.”

#2. Find the Right Blogger.
Finding the right snapper to host the Snapchat Takeover is more complex than simply reviewing vanity metrics (e.g. number of followers, impressions), though these baseline metrics are useful in forecasting a campaign’s reach. To determine if a blogger is a good fit, watch their stories and see how they engage with their existing audience across other social channels.

#3. Coordinate and Plan the Date.
Prior to the Snapchat Takeover, the person taking over the account should develop a campaign outline. We think Snapchat Takeovers are best when you have something happening that day, like an exclusive event, product launch or unique experience. Mention it at some point in your story. Remember: authenticity is key to a successful Snapchat Takeover, so overly-scripted material should be avoided whenever possible. Be sure to allow enough time (1-2 weeks) to promote the campaign.

#4. Promote The Takeover.
Both the blogger taking over the account and the Snapchat account owner should promote the Takeover extensively across all social channels (Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and on their blogs) in the weeks and days leading up to the campaign.Promote-Snapchat-Takeover#5. Takeover and Document.
Give the snapper access to your Snapchat channel, so they can create their story. Watch the campaign. Record any engagement that occurs. Screenshot “snaps” and download the story within 24 hours of the beginning of the Takeover. Snapchat erases all stories within 24 hours, so don’t forget to document your campaign. Here’s an example of how Jovana Biga also known as atomski_mrav3 took over our account.

Why You Should Participate in a Snapchat Takeover

Snapchat Takeovers offer bloggers a way to authentically connect with audiences and increase brand awareness in a fun, creative way. Because Snapchat doesn’t currently have a way for users to find new channels, Snapchat Takeovers are also an effective way for bloggers to grow their followers and gain exposure. Lastly, Snapchat’s storytelling format lends itself exceptionally well to covering events, etc. As such, many bloggers // snappers are giving their audiences an intimate, authentic experience that would otherwise be impossible to create on other platforms like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, etc.

10 Snapchat Tips for Bloggers

snapchatSnapchat is getting bigger and bigger, and it’s quickly becoming a favorite tool for a lot of bloggers. Why? Because it’s the perfect way to engage with your followers on a more personal level while promoting your blog. Here are 10 tips that will help you become a better Snapchatter.

#1. Snap daily.
Snap often, but always keep in mind the message you are sending. Always add to “your story.” Adding to your story allows your followers to view your snaps for 24 hours, rather than the 5-10 seconds as a direct-snap allows.

#2. Share “uncurated” moments.
Share some parts of your daily life, behind the scenes at events and your process of writing a blog post. The more authentic it is, the more your followers will appreciate you and continue to follow you.

#3. Don’t go “snap cray-cray.”
It can be tempting to start snapping everything at first but limit yourself if you can. Generally, people will unfollow if it share more than 3 snaps of the same thing // subject. I don’t show every single moment of my life, but rather the moments that are either entertaining or bring value to my brand.

#4. Talk to the camera.
This can be hard at the beginning, but your followers really like to hear your voice. So, talk to the camera, and let your personality shine. 🙂

#5. Chat with your followers.
Ask some questions and chat with your followers. This allows you to connect with them in a very powerful way, since it’s a direct line of communication.

#6. Watch other people’s stories and engage with them.
At the end of the day, I usually sit down on my couch and watch people’s stories like i would watch a sitcom. I might not have time to do it more than once a day or even daily, but this is one of the reasons that I love Snapchat. It reminds me of the early days of Twitter. I feel like I am getting to know the personalities of the people, and I have some great laughs at people’s creativity — and I tell them!

#7. Have fun.
The beauty of Snapchat is that allows you to show your true self, so don’t overthink it and have fun. I may have had a “hammer time” in my story one day. 😉 Vogue!

#8. Partner with fellow bloggers and takeover each other’s accounts.
I first discovered this concept while listening to a GaryVee exclusive video as a newsletter member. What a great concept of promoting a fellow blogger and widening your brand. It was great to see what my followers thought and how much the fun my fellow snapper had sharing her launch of an event for work with my followers. Here’s how to do a Snapchat Takeover.

#9. Share your blog posts.
Don’t forget to tell your Snapchat followers every time you have a new post on your blog. This way you will get more attention on your post.

#10. Use Other Social Media to Promote Snapchat.
Snapchat doesn’t have a public friends feed that will show people that their friends are viewing and engaging with your content. As such, a great way to build your audience is through your pre-existing followers on other networks.

Also don’t forget to follow Real Posh Mom on Snapchat (realposhmom)! We’d love to hear from you in the comments, too. How have you been using Snapchat? Any tips you’d like to share?

#SparkMe // Where to Stay in Budva, Montenegro

Spark-Me-HotelsFrom 28th to 29th of May, #SparkMe digital community will be taking over the breathtakingly beautiful coast of Montenegro in Bečići // Budva. Read my previous post on WHY YOU NEED TO ATTEND spark.me. I am excited that this year I am one of their official bloggers. Join me on my journey up the coast, as I will be live blogging about what will SPARK me into action from smart women like Veronica Belmont, Danica Kombol and many more. As people will be gathering from near and far, here are all the hotel information that you will need to plan your travel to Budva, Montenegro.

Hotels

Hotel Mediteran – Spark.Me HQhotel-mediteranDistance to event: 0 min walk
Bečići, Montenegro
BOOK HERE.

Hotel Splendid Conference and Spa Resort – 5-Star Resort + Real Posh Favorite
Refined accommodations in a high-end lodging featuring 3 restaurants, 3 bars, a spa & a casino.splendid-spa-resortDistance to event: 7 min walk
Bečići, Montenegro
BOOK HERE.

Hotel Sentido Tara
Polished hotel with an outdoor pool, a spa & an international restaurant, plus 3 bars.sentido-tara-hotelDistance to event: 1 min walk
Bečići, Montenegro
BOOK HERE.

Hotel Montenegro
Casual beach resort offering rooms with balconies, & 6 restaurants, plus a spa, 2 saunas & pools.
Distance to event: 2 min walk
Boreti, Montenegro
BOOK HERE.

Hotel Anitahotel-anita
Distance to event: 5 min walk
Bečići, Montenegro
BOOK HERE.

Iberostar Bellevue
Modest rooms in a beachside property with free breakfast, plus relaxed dining, pools & a spa.iberostar-bellevueDistance to event: 6 min walk
Bečići, Montenegro
BOOK HERE.

Hotel Slovenska Plažahotel-slovenska-plazaDistance to event: 23 min walk
Budva, Montenegro
BOOK HERE.

Hotel Bracera
Distance to event: 27 min walk
Budva, Montenegro
BOOK HERE.

Batman V Superman? Let the Kids Decide!

In two weeks, the battle is on when Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice comes to theaters on March 25, 2016! The Children’s Place is partnering up with Batman & Superman to treat one lucky winner to a heroic family trip to Los Angeles with VIP Warner Bros. Studio tour passes. Click here to enter! The-Childrens-Place-Batman-V-Supermanbatman-v-superman-kidsNot only can you enter to win, but you can also find apparel for your kids to support their favorite superhero. GRAND PRIZE INCLUDES:
· 4 roundtrip airfare tickets to Los Angeles & complimentary ground transportation to/from LAX
· Hotel accommodations for 3 nights
· 4 VIP Warner Bros. Studio tour passes
· $200 gift card to The Children’s Place


This video also features another contest, but it gives back to the community. If you donate, you could win a prize package that includes a trip to the Los Angeles premiere of Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, a ride in the Batmobile with Ben Affleck, a ride in a helicopter with Henry Cavill and an opportunity to “photo bomb” the Red Carpet at the premiere.

Now, your kids may not necessarily care about the moral differences between Batman and Superman. Let’s be honest, some of them will not be seeing this movie in the theater (rated PG-13), BUT they undoubtedly have participated in conversations like this one. “Who do you think would win in a fight between Batman and Superman?” or “Which superhero is cooler?” I have to admit that I am #TeamSuperman because well Henry Cavill…oh, and Batman is Ben Affleck. Also maybe it’s because of my love for Kryptonians by watching Supergirl on CBS.

Post below which one you // they are cheering for! 🙂

How to Celebrate International Women’s Day

celebrate-womens-dayInternational Women’s Day isn’t just about giving a flower or chocolate to a woman you appreciate. Today (March 8) is a symbol of the struggles that women around the world have undergone to gain equality and a reminder of how far we need to go. Fortunately, there are some things that you can do to help celebrate this important day. For more information on what International Women’s Day is, click here.

Donate to a local women’s shelter. This can be anything from money to clothing or food to your time. Helping out a local women’s shelter or an organization fighting human trafficking, like The Family Place or New Friends New Life, helps to remind you about the difficulties women continue to face, as well as doing your part to help alleviate some of this suffering.

Help out a close female friend or family member. This can be anything from taking care of your friend’s children for the evening free of charge to doing all the housework for her. Consider making a pledge to continue helping her out throughout the year.

Mentor another woman. In order to achieve equality in the work force, women have to help other women. Take the time on International Women’s Day, or during any day, to mentor a female coworker from your job or similar industry. Take her out to lunch, talk to her about her career goals and offer her your wisdom. Mentoring is a great way to empower young women and a chance for older women to pass on their skills and life experience.

Teach your children about amazing women. Spending quality time with your children is the best possible way to celebrate International Women’s Day. Watch a film about Amelia Earhart or Margaret Thatcher, read a book by Jane Austen or Charlotte Brontë, or perform science experiments together and talk about the accomplishments of scientists like Marie Curie and Rosalind Franklin.

Tell a woman what she means to you. This could be your boss or a family member. Communicate why she is important and all that she contributes well. For instance, if it’s your boss, tell her why she’s a great boss and how much you’ve enjoyed working for her. A lot of the things that women do, especially women who are in charge, are scrutinized for every single thing they have done wrong or ignored entirely. Let’s empower and lift up those above us.

Thank the women in your life. Don’t just tell them why they are important, thank them for being there for you and for doing what they do. This could be as simple as thanking your mother for helping to raise you (You turned out well, right? 😉 ), or thanking a female friend for helping you out during tough times in your life.strong-women

Recipe: Egg and Lemon Soup from Albania

With the colder, rainy weather lately, I have been enjoying chili and soups more. I thought that I would share this tasty egg and lemon soup (supa od jaja i limona), which I recently ate at Restaurant Shqiponja in Shkodër, Albania. This soup is popular in Albania, and it is delicious to enjoy when you are wanting to stay warm at your grandmother’s house or trying to get well with a winter cold. You could modify the recipe by adding chopped chicken to the soup. This soup is comfort food that is amazing on a cold winter day because it adds warmth and a bit of sunshine to your day! 🙂

Egg and Lemon Soup // Supa od jaja i limona

egg-lemon-soup800ml chicken broth // 800ml pileći bujon
4 eggs // 4 jaja
2 freshly squeezed lemons // sok od 2 limuna
3T butter // 40g maslac
3T flour // 30g brašno
salt and white pepper // so i bijeli biber
parsley // peršun

Melt butter in a pot and then add flour to make a roux. Add chicken broth and simmer for 10 minutes. In the meantime, beat eggs in a large bowl and add all of lemon juice and season with salt and white pepper. Take the broth off the heat, and while constantly stirring, add the broth mixture into the bowl with lemon and eggs. Then sieve the soup and leave on low heat for one minute while stirring constantly. Garnish and serve with parsley leaves.
supa-jaja-limuna

Priprema

U loncu rastopiti maslac, zatim dodavati brašno dok smjesa ne zgusne. Lagano dosipati pileći bujon i kuvati 10 minuta. U drugoj posudi umutiti jaja sa solju i bijeli biber i dodati limunov sok. Bujon skloniti sa vatre i uz stalno miješanje uliti ga u posudu sa jajima. Supu zatim procijediti i kuvati na tihoj vatri jedan minut uz stalno miješanje. Servirati u dubokom tanjiru i dekorisati grančicom peršuna.