customer relationship management process or crm – salesforce

CRM definition
CRM is an abbreviation for customer relationship management, a method for managing a company’s interaction with current and potential customers, and storing and analyzing data about past interactions. Management consulting company Bain defines CRM as “a process companies use to understand their customer groups and respond quickly—and at times, instantly—to shifting customer desires.” But CRM can mean both the process and philosophy for meeting those goals, and the technology used to implement that process.

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CRM software
According to Salesforce, the leading CRM provider (and more on them in a moment), CRM software grew out of the contact management software of the 1980s, which in turn was meant to provide a digital version of the rolodexes that were so important to sales professionals. At first, CRM software lived on individual PCs; later, it migrated to servers where it could provide services to an entire organization, at which point people started using the phrase CRM system,reflecting the fact that it spanned across an enterprise’s infrastructure.

One of the most important things to keep in mind about a CRM system is that it is ultimately less important than the data you put into it. That’s one reason to think of CRM as a philosophy and set of practices for recording data about customer interactions, not just a software package you buy.

What is CRM software used for?
Customer relationship management is a strategic process that helps you better understand your customers’ needs and how to meet those needs and enhance your bottom line. CRM systems link up information about customers from a variety of sources, including email, websites, physical stores, call centers, mobile sales, and marketing and advertising efforts. CRM data flows between operational systems (like sales and inventory systems) and analytical systems that sort through CRM data for patterns.

If you don’t have an accurate view of who your customers are and what their needs or desires are or will be at any given stage in their lives, or if you are losing customers to a competitor, that’s a clear indication that you need a CRM system.

There are many technological components to CRM systems, but thinking about CRM in primarily technological terms is a mistake. Instead, CRM should be viewed as a strategic process to better understand and meet your customers’ needs. A successful CRM strategy depends on bringing together lots of pieces of information about customers and market trends so you can more effectively market and sell your products and services.

With an effective CRM strategy, a business can increase revenues by:

providing services and products that are exactly what your customers want
offering better customer service
cross selling products more effectively
helping sales staff close deals faster
retaining existing customers and discovering new ones
These revenue gains don’t happen by simply buying software and installing it. For CRM to be truly effective, an organization must first understand who its customers are, their value, their needs, and how best to meet those needs. For example, many financial institutions keep track of customers’ life stages in order to market appropriate banking products like mortgages or IRAs to them at the right time.

Next, the organization must look into all of the different ways information about customers comes into a business, where and how this data is stored and how it is currently used. One company, for instance, may interact with customers in a number of ways, including email campaigns, web sites, brick-and-mortar stores, call centers, mobile sales force staff and marketing and advertising efforts. CRM systems link up each of these points. This collected data flows between operational systems (like sales and inventory systems) and analytical systems that can help sort through these records for patterns. Company analysts can then comb through the data to obtain a holistic view of each customer and pinpoint areas where better services are needed. For example, if someone has a mortgage, a business loan, an IRA and a large commercial checking account with one bank, it behooves the bank to treat this person well each time it has any contact with him or her.

CRM vs. ERP vs. marketing automation
Before we move further, we need to clarify the difference between CRM and a couple of other terms you might have heard thrown around in this space: marketing automation and ERP. While there is some conceptual overlap — all three involve storing, analyzing, and making use of customer data to improve business processes — the three actually occupy distinct niches, and learning what those are helps clarify what each tool does:

Marketing automation is all about low-cost effective communication with potential customers, or prospects, mostly in the form of email and social media contacts. Ultimately, the purpose is to gather leads (contact info on prospects) to hand them off to the sales team.
CRM aims to converts leads into contacts, which is to say leads that have expressed interest in buying your products, or have bought in the past and, you hope, will buy again in the future.
ERP coordinates the process of actually producing and delivering products to the people you sold them to, and managing the financial information about those sales.
These three tools can work in sequence — the output of the marketing automation process goes into CRM, and CRM info on completed sales should go into ERP — but each of them represents a distinct domain, and truly the only people who should have login privileges on all three systems are your IT staff. (Read more about the distinction between CRM and marketing automation and CRM and ERP.)

Salesforce: CRM and beyond
One of the reasons that CRM, ERP, and marketing automation aren’t as distinct as they should be in the popular mind is that Salesforce, the giant in the CRM field, is also trying to work its way into the ERP and marketing automation spaces as well. With 26 percent of the market, Salesforce has a massive lead over its competitors in CRM; other big names in this space include Oracle, SAP, Adobe, and Microsoft.

Types of CRM
Beyond the brand names, there are two main types of CRM: on-premises, which means the CRM software is installed on a server under the customer’s control, and cloud or on-demand, which runs on the vendor’s cloud infrastructure and follows a more metered or pay-as-you go approach.

The market for on-demand CRM has soared, particularly among small and mid-sized companies, largely because of fears about the expense and complexity of large-scale on-premises CRM implementations. And indeed, on-demand CRM is often a good choice for companies that want to implement standard CRM processes, are able to use out-of-the-box data structures with little or no internal IT support, and don’t require complex or real-time integration with back office systems.

However, on-demand CRM software is not always as simple as the vendors would have you believe. For instance, customization can be problematic and hosted CRM vendors’ API tools cannot provide the degree of integration that is possible with on-site applications. Getting a hosted CRM system working shouldn’t take as long as a traditional software package, but larger and more complex rollouts can still take a year or more. And while the hosted option reduces the need for in-house technical support, upgrades can still sometimes be technically tricky. In addition, some companies with particularly sensitive customer data, such as those in financial services and health care, may not want to relinquish control of their data to a hosted third party for security reasons.

Free CRM
A hosted CRM system will cost in the ballpark of $50 to $100 per user a month. If you want more sophisticated functionality and a greater level of support, you pay a lot more. An enterprise on-premises CRM package can cost anywhere between several thousand to several millions of dollars, depending again on how many functions you purchase and how many computers or “seats” have access to the software. For instance, one company or department might purchase an email marketing management application or a salesforce automation application, while a larger firm might want to purchase an integrated package that includes a database as well as applications for marketing, sales and customer service and support (via call centers and online). Obviously, the integrated software package is much more expensive.

Those costs, even the hosted options, are well beyond the means of many small businesses. Fortunately, there’s a burgeoning niche of free CRM options which, while less sophisticated, are usually more than adequate for the needs of a small or medium enterprise. Included in this category are open source offerings like SuiteCRM and SugarCRM. (Read more about the pluses and minuses of seven free CRM options.)

What is the best CRM software?
We’d love nothing more than to give you a one-sentence answer that IDs the top CRM offering. Unfortunately, as is the usually the case for complex questions about important software tools, the answer is “it depends.” Or, as CIO writer Matt Kapko puts it, “The best customer relationship management software is the one that has the right capabilities and features for your objectives.” Kapko has a detailed lowdown what the key features to look for to match your needs are, and you should definitely follow him on this deep dive if you’re asking this question.

Managing CRM
As we’ve noted, CRM is as much a process and a state of mind as it is a software platform. That’s why the biggest returns come from aligning business, CRM and IT strategies across all departments and not just leaving it for one group to run. The reason for this, as Moira Alexander writes, is that “in most companies, individual departments or teams believe they hold the key to understanding customer needs more than other areas of the business. But the reality is that different departments simply have a different view into customer expectations and none has an all-encompassing view.”

In fact, it’s best for the business departments who actually use the software to take ownership of the project, with IT and the CIO playing an important advisory role.

CRM rollouts are very complex and have a certain degree of notoriety as doomed to failure. From the beginning, lack of a communication between everyone in the customer relationship chain can lead to an incomplete picture of the customer. Poor communication can lead to technology being implemented without proper support or buy-in from users. For example, if the sales force isn’t completely sold on the system’s benefits, they may not input the kind of demographic data that is essential to the program’s success. One Fortune 500 company is on its fourth try at a CRM implementation, because it did not do a good job at getting buy-in from its sale force beforehand and then training sales staff once the software was available. (Read moreon what to do if your CRM project crashes and burns.)

The final thing you need to keep in mind when managing your CRM project is that you need to eliminate data silos to succeed. Users need access to data beyond what they themselves enter into the system. That means integration — across users and across departments — and integration projects are always difficult. But trust us: the payoff is worth it.

CRM examples
Ready to see some examples of CRM in action? Check out this post from the Teamleader blog. They’ve got some great detailed stories on how real-world companies are deploying CRM to boost their bottom lines.

More on CRM:

8 CRM implementation best practices
Evaluating CRM software: Key features to look for
What to do when your CRM project fails
10 signs your CRM system needs an overhaul
The 9 dirty little secrets of CRM
Next read this:

Top 9 challenges IT leaders will face in 2020
Top 5 strategic priorities for CIOs in 2020
7 ‘crackpot’ technologies that might transform IT
8 technologies that will disrupt business in 2020
7 questions CIOs should ask before taking a new job
7 ways to position IT for success in 2020
The 9 new rules of IT leadership
20 ways to kill your IT career (without knowing it)
IT manager’s survival guide: 11 ways to thrive in the years ahead
CIO resumes: 6 best practices and 4 strong examples
4 KPIs IT should ditch (and what to measure instead)
Related: CRM Software Marketing Industry
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Review: Love Hotel: The Carolina Inn in Chapel Hill

Built in 1924, this magnificent hotel, known for its distinctive blend of Antebellum, Georgian and Neoclassical architecture, was designed by award-winning architect Arthur C. Nash. This is an award-winning hotel that has maintained its AAA Four Diamond status for the past twenty years. It is also listed in the National Register of Historic Places.

The Carolina Inn is the perfect place to stay if you want to step back in time in moderation, without sacrificing the modern comforts you expect from a luxury hotel. Plus, hotel proceeds support the North Carolina Collection at the University of North Carolina Wilson Library!

[Tap the sliding images at the top to see more of The Carolina Inn]

Getting There: The hotel is located in the heart of downtown Chapel Hill, North Carolina. On the grounds of the UNC, Chapel Hill Campus, which currently owns the hotel. Chapel Hill itself is about twenty minutes from the nearest airport, RDU, and one hour from the Greensboro airport. If you’re flying from another state, you’ll need to rent a car or take a shuttle into town, but there’s plenty to do within walking distance once you’re there.

Your experience: The appeal of this hotel is hard to deny. It gives the impression of a magnificent old mansion set back among the trees, no small feat for being so close to the city center. The interior of the hotel perpetuates this sense of old-world elegance, from the fresh floral arrangements in the lobby to the antique-looking wood furniture in the rooms.

For me, the real star of the show was the restaurant. I had the chance to sample the new tasting menu and it was a truly phenomenal experience. Masami Ranch Beef Grilled Flatiron and Mafioso Chocolate Cake were my favorites from the fall tasting menu and new items are added every season. The chef did a great job applying his Michelin star experience to local ingredients and the staff helped create the kind of experience you would expect from a fine dining restaurant in New York City, but with warmth and charm. typical of the south. .

How to stay: Booking a room on the hotel’s website is a straightforward process. During the low season, the hotel even has reasonable specials and rates as low as $ 180 per night. However, due to its affiliation with the University, rooms fill up quickly around graduation and other University sponsored events, making things more difficult and expensive. It’s best to avoid the dates around graduation in May and parent’s week in October if you can.

Where to eat: The inn recently hired seven-time Michelin-starred executive chef Brandon Sharp to run the property’s restaurant, Crossroads Chapel Hill. The restaurant recently announced a new signature tasting menu, a six-course meal with optional wine accompaniments, which will change seasonally. They will also expand their offer of regular menus to reflect the gastronomic experience of their new chef.

If fine dining isn’t really your thing, there’s no shortage of delicious and low-key options in downtown Chapel Hill.

Advantages and disadvantages:

The inconvenients:

  • Rooms fill up quickly around UNC events. If you’re coming from out of town, the timing can seem a bit confusing.
  • During peak season, rooms can be a bit pricey, up to $ 350, depending on the type of room and the time of year.
  • Getting to the hotel can take a bit of advance planning, as the nearest airport is twenty minutes away.

Benefits:

  • The beauty of the hotel makes it an ideal location for a romantic getaway or dinner.
  • Just steps from the city center, the location is hidden enough to maintain a quiet elegance, even in the middle of a university town.
  • Off-season rates and specials are often surprisingly reasonable for a historic hotel, with $ 180 being the average price for a room.

[Tap the sliding images at the top to see more of The Carolina Inn]

Last 5 posts by Lynn Brown

Review: Love Hotel: The Old Rhinebeck Inn

There is a certain charm to Northern New York’s Dutchess County in the springtime and it is encapsulated in The Old Rhinebeck Inn. Tucked away on a country road in Rhinebeck, NY, and lined with horses, sheep, a pond, and neighbors making waves as they pass, this bed and breakfast is a quiet respite from the noisy hustle and bustle of New York.

Originally built in 1738, the inn began as a home to the farming family of Johann Michael Pultz. He and his wife had 10 children and built the house room by room as they grew older. Today friends Jonna Paolella and Cindy Curnan runs The Rhinebeck Inn together. In the shadow of its history, the space is cozy as you walk from the entrance to the living room, which is filled with plush seating, a fireplace, piano, and books on the Roosevelt family – the FDR Presidential Library, Hyde Park and the Eleanor Val-Kill’s house are just a short drive away.

Just beyond the seating area is the inviting dining room and a sunken kitchen where Jonna and her husband Dave made a delicious breakfast each morning with herbs and vegetables fresh from their garden and left a juice of fresh fruit for new customers. When Shannon and I arrived on a rainy Friday afternoon for our weekend, she served us a crisp homemade citrus spritzer. After dinner at the Terrapin restaurant in town, she showed us the tea, coffee and hot chocolate table just outside our room, just in time for a bedtime cup or a sip in the middle of the night . I had the maple apple cider tea, which now that I’m home I’m trying to order more from Amazon. It’s adorable.

For Saturday’s breakfast, Jonna served hot scones, chilled Swiss Alpine oatmeal topped with fresh fruit, a baked pear and raspberry pancake, and sides of sausage and roasted sweet potatoes. The meal was interspersed with good conversation from our fellow Inn customers as we all ate together. Jonna popped her head to share a story from time to time, one about how co-owner Cindy was related to people who worked for Eleanor Roosevelt and lived in Val-Kill with the late First Lady.

In our room called the Ryefield Suite, we had two beds, one king and one single, both of which must be some of the most comfortable mattresses I have ever snored on. I lay down and passed out like a light. The bedrooms were warm and fully stocked with extra quilted blankets in case we got cold in the unnaturally cool springtime. For starters, a cozy fleece-lined robe waited in the closet to wrap around me while I watched Netflix on our bedroom TV. I did this while Shannon spent her morning jog in front of those aforementioned horses and sheep and she found plenty of room to stretch on the floor once she was done. Overall, while the suite was perfect for our girlfriend’s weekend, we also saw how a couple who bring a teenager plus one or want more space would love it.

Finally, if you are looking for accommodation in Dutchess County, The old Rhinebeck Inn is a great choice if you want to check in somewhere where you are well taken care of and feel like home away from home compared to a more impersonal hotel. I have a feeling that if I stayed there often, Jonna would have a stash of everything she noticed I loved – that maple cider tea, honestly – that was waiting for me when I arrived. She is caring like that.

Advantages and disadvantages:
The inconvenients:

  • The Rhinebeck Inn is not in the city, so you will need to rent a car or uber to reach it and the main tourist destinations in the region.
  • Depending on the room, prices range from $ 275 to $ 350 per night, which can be a little more than an airbnb in the area.

Benefits:

  • Location may not be in the city but it’s a short drive to most of the major tourist destinations. If you rent a car, you can get around very well.
  • The comfort of the Rhinebeck Inn makes it an ideal getaway if you literally want nothing more than to unwind in peace. But there is solid wifi if you don’t want to go completely offline and show off on Instagram. There are plenty of them on Instagram, lol.
  • As there are only four suites, it is virtually impossible for the hostel to feel too crowded so there is always room to relax by the pond or relax and read how Eleanor is was badass in the living room.

The old Rhinebeck Inn
340 Wurtemburg Road,
Rhinebeck, NY 12572

Last 5 posts by Hillary Crosley

Review: Your weekend getaway to… Dutchess County, NY!

It’s summer, the best time of year to make the most of the weekends and get away from your daily routine, especially if you live in a metropolis like New York. For Shannon and I, we recently headed to Dutchess County in upstate New York to get rid of neighborhoods close to the city in search of quaint charm and a chance to explore the nearby wilderness. And by nature, I mean antique shops, restaurants that served ramps (they’re in season!) And vineyards. Here’s an overview of what to do, where to eat and where to shop in Dutchess County, from our #TravelFly lounge perspective.

FRIDAY:
We left Brooklyn mid-morning and went Meyer’s Olde Dutch in Beacon, New York with little to no traffic. Perfect as the Hudson Valley has some of the best views worth stopping by. The Meyer’s is a quaint, slightly retro locovar burger with a small bar offering a solid selection of whiskey and the addition of vegetarian and chicken sandwich options. We ordered two New York state specials, a cheeseburger with Muenster McAdam cheese and a garlic aioli which all came together for a delicious bite, especially with their twice baked fries. Of course, we washed everything down with whiskey cocktails.

Then, as Meyer’s is located on a cute street full of shops, we checked out a few across the road. In Plastic dream, we explored chotchkies like Polaroid cameras, funky buttons, ornate oven mitts, and several quirky and unique maps. A few doors down to Notions and potionsI found a cleansing crystal that I was looking for with lots of incense, candles, and more.

After checking in to our guest room The Rhinebeck Inn, we went to dinner at Terrapin, a farm-to-table restaurant and bistro in downtown Rhinebeck, New York. Our waiter basically told us what to order and honestly most of his selections were perfect. From cocktails – I had the Sour Cherry Bourbon Manhattan and Shannon had Blueberry Bramble – to appetizers – loved the oyster shooters – to the main course and this is where I should have listened to it and ordered the chop maple glazed double thick pork but instead, I was able to enjoy Shannon’s blue cheese crusted filet mignon with port demi-glace. It was fabulous, we almost licked the plate until we remembered we were in public. As for dessert, we shared a bread pudding that felt like a warm hug on a cold day – please order it.

SATURDAY:
The next morning, after the most restful sleep I have had in months thanks to the comfortable and cozy bed at the Rhinebeck Inn, Shannon went for a run and I caught up with my amazing Netflix que. Doing nothing, at least for a little while, is important. Once she returned we cleaned up and headed back to downtown Rhinebeck for some antique shopping at the Beekman Arms Antiques Market, the great lady of the neighborhood shops. I found a cool book on Creem rock magazine and fell in love, while Shannon zoomed in on a particularly fabulous full-length fur coat for an extremely low price. The market also had lots of old records, books, scarves, shoes, hats, and vintage toys, like the early Star Wars action figures.

In front of the antiques market was The arms of the beekeeper, The oldest inn in America. We took a look around and quickly felt that we were extras in a revolutionary war drama on AMC. The Beekman is also having a ghost story session in their cellar, I think, for really terrify their guests, if you like that sort of thing.

After that, we strolled through East Market Street which is home to a variety of antique stores, interesting boutiques, and memorable places like A.L. Stickle 5 & Dime store which sells pretty much everything you don’t need but really want, like cool bandanas, silly putty, scooters, stickers, yarn and huge plush toys. It’s a dream store for the child in all of us.

Then the wine tasting at Millbrook Vineyards and Vineyards in Millbrook, NY and a small operation, Clinton Vineyards in Clinton Corners, NY. Millbrook provided a very professional tasting experience, with a sommelier humorously explaining each wine on the tasting menu to small groups. Then Shannon and I grabbed bowls of chili and a plate of cheese from the cafe and sat on a patio overlooking their spread of vines and the beautiful skyline. After a quick stop to buy a few bottles of their Hunt Country White, we hopped in the car and headed to Clinton Vineyards, which offers a more informal tasting experience where we discovered something called – wait for it – the patio pestle. Really the wine is called Twilight Rose, but its nickname made us instant fans, so much so that I sent a bottle to an out of state buddy.

Later that night, after a well-deserved nap at the Rhinebeck Inn, we set off to make our dinner reservations at one of Rhinebeck’s newest restaurants, Amsterdam. I think our favorite part had to be a pinot noir called Complicated from the Sonoma Coast in California. For aperitifs, we went wild with the pâté, the charcuterie platter and ended with a hamburger and duck breast, all pleasant thanks to our charming waiters and waitresses. While waiting for our food, we admired the scenery from the open kitchen and agreed that another visit was mandatory as the rainy weather did not allow us to see their fireplaces and outdoor living area which was much talked about after our meal.

SUNDAY:
On the last day of our northern exploration, we checked out Eleanor Roosevelt’s home and grounds at Val-Kill. Since we arrived at opening time, we beat the crowds and received a personal tour of Ms. Roosevelt’s home by one of the guides. Considering that she was essentially part of the model of modern feminism and an example of intersectional politics – note her resignation of the Daughters of the American Revolution when they did not allow famous African-American singer Marion Anderson to perform at Constitution Hall – it was a pleasure to see where Mrs Roosevelt received heads of state like President John F . Kennedy before he became president, to gain his favor.

In the afternoon, we headed to Poughkeepsie for a bite to eat at Essie Restaurant, a new restaurant much loved by Chef Brandon Walker. Chef Walker’s modern American menu is inspired by flavors from around the world and his family roots in the Caribbean and southern United States. When we got there when they opened, we beat the Sunday brunch swarm before they finally filled all the tables. Luckily we already had our shrimp, chicken and waffle oatmeal stuffing and a cheese plate by that time, not to mention the sorrell rum punch and old Cuban cocktails. Because Poughkeepsie is at the southern end of Dutchess County, it’s definitely worth a visit for our freaks of neighboring White Plains, Mount Vernon and Yonkers who could use a good brunch.

Overall, Dutchess County proved to be a great, quick getaway for two busy city dwellers who needed a break from their day to indulge in rest, their love for great food, wine and fabulous vintage finds. To plan your own ‘busy girlfriend getaway’ or maybe something for your family or more on the romantic side, take a look at the travel planners on offer on the Dutchess County Tourism Website. Here you will find itineraries based on food, romance, outdoor activities, arts and culture and much more!

Last 5 posts by Hillary Crosley

Review: The #TravelFlySolo19 Tour du Maroc Is Here!

It’s finally here! We’ve launched our signature annual trip, the #TravelFly Solo Week, and in 2019 it’s all about the Tour du Maroc! We love this travel experience, it’s truly everything PARLOUR come to life—so much so that it deserves its own website! Click or tap here to get more information and live your best life with us next June!

Steps in Chefchaouen aka The Blue City, one of our four stops!

Last 5 posts by Parlour

Review: The Ultimate Trinidad Carnival / Crop Over Packing List

They say no trip is without a good story, and I’ve got one to tell. In 2015 I found myself in a hotel room in Trinidad in tears—my carnival costume was absolutely stunning, with a bra that barely covered a nipple. There was no time to get a new one and if it wasn’t for the fact that I had a glue gun, an extra flesh-toned bra, coffee and some matching extra fabric courtesy of a friend, I would’ve been the prettiest girl on the road…in a tank top and feathers. Lesson learned? When you stay ready, you don’t have to get ready. And when it comes to the Caribbean’s two largest carnival celebrations, Trinidad Carnival and Barbados’ Crop Over, your “a-game” means that you already have everything you need in your bag before you arrive.

If this is your first time jumping or playing mas—what you pack could spell the difference between a carnival to love, and one that is unforgettable for all the wrong reasons. To help, we’ve consulted with our crew of seasoned, multi-island carnival regulars to compile the ultimate packing list that will get you from Trinidad, to Barbados and beyond.

While this list was inspired by these two festivals, this list to could arguably be used for any carnival throughout the Caribbean.

Costume + Road Lifesavers

  • Travel sewing kit with double thread. [ link to buy ]
  • A pack of safety pins of all sizes. [ link to buy ]
  • Two or three pairs of flesh-toned fishnet and/or SHEER TO WAIST pantyhose or stage tights (if you choose to rock them) Check out Nude Barre, Carnival Stockings, Carnivalista and more websites!
  • Monistat Chafing Gel. This is a winner for “thigh rub” if you choose not to wear pantyhose.
  • Makeup setting spray. You WILL sweat…but your makeup should stay on! [ link to buy ]
  • Makeup Blotting sheets or a small, dark handkerchief that can be folded in your wristlet. [link to buy]
  • Makeup gems / rhinestones, etc if you plan on wearing them. [ link to buy ]
  • Eyelash glue or spirit gum and remover for your makeup gems. [ link to buy ]
  • Extra gems that are similar or identical to what is on your costume. Many bands will provide you with that information (model numbers, pictures, etc) on request so you can order them and have a back-up in case of any last minute alterations or costume fixes. Websites like Shidor and Amazon are great resources!
  • A bikini / swimsuit, etc that resembles your costume’s body wear in color and material. In the event that your costume does not fit, this will be your last-minute lifesaver!
  • A flesh-toned G-string/thong to wear under your costume.
  • Insoles. Bring a few packs of your favorite insoles for all shoes. [ link to buy ]
  • Wedge sneakers, flat “carnival boots” or comfortable shoes that are at least one half-size bigger than what you normally wear. This will allow room for your insoles and for your feet to naturally slide/swell with ease and less pain. If you are playing frontline, consider a comfortable wedge sneaker or boot with a rubber sole that will elongate your legs in your costume.
  • Small glue gun and glue sticks (mandatory). [ link to buy ]
  • Clear nail polish (to stop runs in stockings).
  • A road purse. This can be a wristlet (especially for frontliners), or a cross-body. Most carnival bands will give you a small bag, but by bringing your own you can control the amount of space you will need and have something that compliments your outfit! Leave the band bag for a keepsake or wet swimsuit, etc bag. If you don’t want to carry anything, consider a boot or arm purse.[ link to buy ]
  • Feather dust. In the event it rains, this powder will keep your feathers intact so you don’t look like a wet chicken. [ link to buy ]

For J’ourvet + Caesars Army AM Bush (Paint & Powder Parties)

Basically, your clothes will get DESTROYED while having fun. So be prepared to dump everything you wear/bring in the trash when it’s over.

  • A bottle of baby oil to keep the paint from sticking to your skin. Use generously 🙂
  • Cut off shorts, black bikini bottoms or black boy shorts or or a combo of all three.
  • Dedicated bra and underwear as the paint, water and powder will stain through. That or a bathing suit works fine, just don’t plan on keeping it.
  • A headscarf you like or some even wear a cheap and fun wig. Most bands will give you a scarf, but always bring a backup. If you don’t want to wear anything, bring a heavy-duty/clarifying shampoo and a good conditioner + oil to wash out all the paint, etc. We like this one from Shea Moisture.
  • Sneakers or boots you don’t mind destroying. These MUST have a good rubber sole as the streets/grass can get slippery.
  • A water-resistant/water-proof fanny pack or pouch.
  • Waterproof phone case if you plan on posting while partying. Trust us. [ link to buy ]
  • A black hand towel if you are staying in a private home/rental villa. Most hotels will have wash-off stations that you must pass through before you return to your room. Be sure to check beforehand and if there aren’t towels to use, bring a black towel so that you don’t destroy your private property’s linens. [ link to buy ]

For The Fetes + Boatrides

  • Wristlet purses that go with everything. Cross-body styles work too but can get in the way when you are dancing. Leave your expensive purse at home. [ link to buy ]
  • Swimwear + cute bikini cover-ups for beach fetes and select boatrides.
  • Waterproof phone case if you plan on posting while partying. Trust us. [ link to buy ]
  • Cute, flat sandals, etc. Many fetes are in places where you will be walking down slopes, on gravel, etc to get to the main area. Bring a wedge if you want, but leave the stilettos for the club.

General “Need to Survive” List

  • Spray sunscreen. [ link to buy ]
  • Insect Repellent. [ link to buy ]
  • Daily vitamins & supplements.
  • Alka Seltzer – great hangover cure (Thanks Tracey!) [ link to buy ]
  • Neosporin – for insect bites [ link to buy ]
  • Bobby and straight pins + your favorite hair accessories X 10. You don’t want to have to make a beauty supply run…you will be too busy partying. [ link to buy ]
  • A pack of EmergenC packets and any other electrolyte/hydration tablets or packets such as Nuun or Drip Drop and Pedialyte. Travel size packets of these are road life-savers. [ link to buy ]
  • Turmeric. Yes turmeric! You can find this pretty much anywhere or bring a small travel container full of it. If you often find that your fingers, etc swell in extreme heat—water mixed with turmeric and/or cucumbers + water work almost instantly to bring it down and then drink more water. [ link to buy ]
  • Tiger Balm / Panadol or Extra Strength Tylenol. The best combo for foot and leg pain to get you through. [ link to buy ]
  • Condoms, dental dams, etc if that is on the itinerary. Safe sex over everything!
  • Advil, Tylenol, Zyrtec/Benadryl, Aloe Vera Gel.
  • Hand sanitizer (wipes or purse size bottle) for fetes and mobile bathrooms.
  • A phone ring. If you absolutely have to have your phone out and ready, consider getting a ring for you case which make holding your phone much easier! [ link to buy ]
  • A stain pen a la Tide (bring 2). [ link to buy ]
  • Tampons, pads, etc because you seriously never know!
  • Facial moisturizer with sunscreen. [ link to buy ]
  • A compact mobile charger. [ link to buy ]
  • Earplugs (for loud sound systems on the road). [ link to buy ]
  • A dedicated Epi-pen, inhaler, etc JUST for travel.
  • Snacks on snacks on snacks. Small packs of nuts, granola/protein bars, crackers, cheese bites, fruit rolls, etc.

Feel like we missed something? Chat us in the comments! Also, if this IS your first time heading to Trinidad, get into our first-timer’s “need to know” guide here.

Last 5 posts by Shannon Washington

Review: The Travel Seven: Dee Olateru

Name: Dee Olateru

Home City/Country: Lagos, Nigeria, currently living in Minneapolis, USA

Passport Stamps Include: Austria, Belgium, Bosnia & Herzegovina, Croatia, Czech Republic, Denmark, England, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Italy, Luxembourg, Malta, Monaco, Northern Ireland, Portugal, Scotland, Slovakia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Netherlands, Turkey, India, Maldives, Philippines, Thailand, UAE, Vietnam, Bermuda, Canada, Mexico, USA, Bolivia, Chile, Peru, New Zealand, Vanuatu, Benin, Cape Verde, Ghana, Kenya, Mauritius, Morocco, Nigeria, Rwanda, South Africa, Zimbabwe.

1. My best travel memory so far is… There are so many, but one that stands out is my very first backpacking trip to Turkey and Greece, a trip I ended up going solo. This was the trip that turned my wanderlust up a notch, it was the trip where people first asked me for pictures as a black woman abroad and I was shocked. I then realized that representation matters everywhere. It was on this trip that I went to Cappadocia and watched the sunrise as I floated over amazing rock formations in a basket attached to a hot air balloon. I thought—wow…there’s a world out there and I plan on seeing it!

2. My favorite hotel & why… Any hotel with the signature Westin Heavenly Mattress is a win in my books.

3. My must-haves on any flight are… A scarf because I get cold easily, music on my phone, my favorite podcasts downloaded, and my notes app on my phone. I’m often writing down ideas or blog posts in flight.

4. When I’m on the road, I absolutely hate… Getting an upset stomach but thankfully, this rarely ever happens-knock on wood!

5. My dream destination or vacation is… Madagascar.

6. The three things I can’t travel without are… My passport, my camera, and a positive attitude.

7. The top lesson I’ve learned while traveling is… Not to sweat the small stuff. Things will go wrong: a lost passport, stolen wallet, delayed flight, missed flight or even a broken bone. A bad (travel) day does not mean a bad life. As bad as a situation may seem in the moment, it will pass. These are life lessons!

Already on your second or third passport? Join the Travel Seven and submit your answers here. Once we review and approve we will feature your profile on Parlour. | #travelfly

Last 5 posts by Parlour

Review: Chicken & Ginger Chips and Fulani Flavors: A Taste Of Ghana

If you’re like me you’ve always got two things on your mind—food and travel. Thankfully the ladies of Dine Diaspora traveled to the Ghana’s cosmopolitan capital Accra to taste the latest flavors and trends in the region. Also known as another reason to make Ghana and it’s African neighbors next on your travel list! Get the full taste below and watch the vid.

Last 5 posts by Parlour

Review: How a Solo Sojurn Around the World Saved Me

The Pre-Journey, Journey:

“You’re committing career suicide, you know” I hear over the speaker phone as I carefully packed a box of dishes. The concept was already familiar to me as a few other well-meaning friends and colleagues gave the same advice. I thought about those words while walking over to the kitchen to grab more plates when I responded, “But I’ll be committing soul suicide if I don’t do it…and right now I need to save myself.”

The confidence needed to walk away from everything I’d spent the past ten years building in order to globetrot around the world didn’t come easily at all. In fact, the four years leading up to this point were undoubtedly the most difficult part of the entire process. Fortunately the objective was always clear: I’ll visit many countries, immerse myself in other cultures, and (re)learn how to define happiness. I was mentally prepared to give up my house, car, and career, to make it happen, but I was blocked on how to get started.

So where did I go for support? Hollywood. I devoured everything I could find with the following plot: desperate American woman sets off on a solo journey after painful life event (ie., divorce, career failure, spiritual restlessness, etc). She travels from place to place, interacts with local people, has the epiphany which provides the needed clarity, then hops on a plane for home (sometimes with new beau in tow) ready to start the next chapter in her life. That was always exciting and motivating but I still didn’t have answers to the logistical questions like: how did she prepare financially, did she take a leave of absence or quit her job, who took care of her affairs back at home, what did she do with her stuff, how long did it take to get visas, and so on. It all became so overwhelming that I resorted to strategically distracting myself with other things in hopes that this crazy idea would eventually fade away.

That approach worked for a while until one day, on a beach in Costa Rica, a local friend looked me in the eyes and asked, “Sheree, are you happy with your life?” I didn’t even have time to formulate a response before the tears came rushing down. But apparently, at that very moment, something inside of me shifted. I suddenly realized that I had to push past the fear, even if it meant losing everything, in order to make this dream happen. Two weeks later I was planning my exit strategy from work and setting a budget for the trip. Six months later, I was sitting on my living room floor packing up my apartment and listening to my friend caution me against career suicide.

The Journey:

I spent the first three months going back and forth between Central America and Miami as I slowly transitioned out of the company that I managed and adjusted to my new reality. This was the first time in my adult life that I allowed myself to just be. (I didn’t even know that it was an option before.) And contrary to what many of my career-centered friends had hoped, there was no ambitious plan to write a book, or start a travel blog, or volunteer at an animal shelter, or teach English in Asia. I just wanted to (re)connect with who I was, or at least who I was supposed to be.

After Central America, I spent three months floating between Vietnam, Thailand, Cambodia, Myanmar, Hong Kong, and Japan. The colors, sounds, tastes, smells, and friendliness of the people woke up my overly-stressed Western senses within days. My face looked alive, my spirits were lifted, and I was finally feeling like myself again. My daily itinerary included waking up (without an alarm clock), researching a fun local experience, then going out into the world to find it. Some days my mission was as simple as exploring a new place then searching for the best foot massage and red wine in town.

After Asia I spent six months traveling between the Middle East, Africa, and Europe. Some of the highlights included Shabbat dinner with a family in Jerusalem, dancing with locals in a township in Cape Town, participating in a mushroom festival near Milan, attending a local wedding in Angola, dancing and singing with gitanos near the Alhambra in Spain, exploring the (then) budding food and wine scene in Portugal with local journalists and aristocrats, sitting down with a Palestinian family in Hebron while listening to their stories, and much more.

To say that it was the best year of my life to date is a gross understatement. This soul-searching/soul-saving sojourn gave me more tools (and gifts) than I ever expected. I learned to trust my intuition more, I felt empowered beyond belief, my confidence got a serious boost, I made friends with people from all around, and most importantly, I finally felt completely comfortable in my own skin. And luckily for me, it did not stop there. For the past three years now, I’ve had the honor of reliving these experiences by helping others design their own life-changing journeys as well.

Sheree M. Mitchell has traveled to 40 countries, lived on three continents and speaks English, Spanish, Portuguese and some Italian. In 2014, Sheree gave up a comfortable life and career in Miami to embark on an ambitious 14-month, five continent transformational solo sojourn around the world. Today she oversees Immersa Global and IG Scholar, two boutique firms that specialize in designing unique immersion experiences abroad for discerning travelers and students.

Review: #TravelFly To Thailand With Us!

Private villa luxuries, social laughs, unforgettable encounters, and solo self-care.

This is 10 days in Bangkok and Phuket filled with bucket-list-worthy experiences, 5-star stays at theSO Sofitel BangkokandAnantara Mai Khao Phuket Villasplus luxe touches like a private concierge, photographer, spa treatments, island-hopping day trips and more all included. This is the perfect balance of group interaction and solo time so you can customize around your own style.

This is the #TravelFly Solo Week: Thailand Treats!
Happening June 24 to July 3, 2020.

There’s nothing average about you…so why go on an average trip? Jesse and I worked for 2 months to make sure that this was our absolute best trip yet, you will not be disappointed!

PS. Did you see that we were just featured as a ‘Trusted Black Travel Business’ by Essence!

Last 5 posts by Shannon Washington