James Bond #007 faces his latest threat – armed only with an iPhone

Driving a powerful car was like making love to a beautiful woman, mused Bond

Bond was glad to put the city behind him. He gunned the willing throttle of the DB9 Coupe and heard the satisfying growl of the twin tailpipes, as the powerful six litre engine sprang to life. Less than 30 minutes later, he was driving fast through the English countryside, as the Autumn sunset flooded the darkening sky with vivid colours. As he made a racing change and swung the car through an S bend, he felt a soft, but urgent vibration through the fabric of his Sea Island Cotton shirt. What now?

He pulled the gun-metal grey Aston Martin over into a lay-by and reached into his pocket for the latest gadget from Q Branch – an iPhone 5 (“Do take care of this one, 007” Q had warned). He glanced at the device’s screen and smiled to himself. It was a calendar reminder for his hotel reservation and dinner that evening. Good old Moneypenny – trust her to think of everything.

Bond took a moment to check his Twitter account. #SecretMissileLaunch was trending – this situation was looking much worse than M had suggested. He opened the glove compartment and took out a can of Red Bull – his second that evening – to help him face the long night ahead. In the good old days, he would have popped a Benzedrine tablet and washed it down with Champagne. How times had changed, reflected Bond.

“Do you have Wi-Fi?” Bond asked the girl

He pressed on and soon arrived at the floodlit, 11th century castle, now one of Britain’s most striking and luxurious hotels.

The pretty receptionist greeted him with a welcoming smile. Her honey-sweet voice broke in on his thoughts, “Your name, please sir?”

“Bond. James Bond. Oh, and can I have Wi-Fi in the room please?”

“Of course, Mr Bond” said the obliging girl, who, according to her name badge, was called Kylee. Bond made a mental note to check her out on Facebook later.

As he kicked shut the door to his suite, Bond slung his Aspinal ‘Grand Tourer’ holdall onto the king-sized bed. He switched on his Onyx Dell Adamo laptop and followed the hotel’s simple Wi-Fi connection instructions. After nineteen log-on attempts and three calls to reception, he was finally connected to the internet.

As he surfed, Bond opened his engraved, solid silver Dunhill cigarette case and took out a Nicorette Gum tablet, his 50th that day. His first task was to check Twitter. His friend and colleague, @008, had Tweeted greetings from #Jamaica and, for a moment or two, Bond’s mind drifted to the sun-kissed, white sands of that faraway isle.

That was odd. M had unfollowed him for some reason.

Ah, Mr Bond! We’ve been expecting you

Bond then spent some time searching LinkedIn and what he found next made his blood run cold. A new Group had been set up for people with a shared interest in world domination, under the name of SPECTRE. SPECTRE? That could mean only one thing. Bond’s archenemy and evil genius Ernst Stavro Blofeld must have discovered the power of social media! Bond followed one of the links to You Tube and clicked ‘play’.

“On Friday at noon, giant secret missiles will be fired at all of Europe’s capital cities” said a chilling, faceless voice. But there could be no mistaking the identity of its sinister owner. As Bond watched the gloved hand slowly stroking the impassive White Persian cat, his face set into a mask of grim determination. This maniac had to be stopped and it was up to Bond to stop him.

Where would this end? As he updated his Facebook status and searched for Kylee, he lost the Wi-Fi connection again. It really was going to be a long night, thought Bond.

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Less is more – just ask @BarackObama

ImageTwitter is one of the most powerful social media tools available to business owners. Fact. But how do you get your message into just 140 characters? Isn’t it a bit limiting?

Well, just think about these short, yet powerful phrases:

  • “I love you”
  • “You’re fired”
  • “Will you marry me?”
  • “I do”
  • “You’ve passed”

All of them convey important – even life-changing – messages, but all do so in much less than 140 characters. This approach can be very powerful when using Twitter and this week we were treated to a masterclass in economy of words by none other than the President of the United States of America, Barack Obama.

You have probably seen Clint Eastwood’s odd, rambling attempt at humour at the Republican National Convention in Tampa, Florida, in which ‘Dirty Harry’ addressed an imaginary President represented by empty chair.

The response from the President’s official Twitter account was swift, witty and powerful. The three-word Tweet simply said; “This seat’s taken”, accompanied by a picture of the back of the President’s (occupied) chair at the White House. Brilliant! In just three words, the President dismissed the whole thing and, more importantly, reasserted his leadership. Whatever your political views, this was social media genius. No wonder it’s been re-tweeted more than 50,000 times.

Sometimes, less is definitely more.

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Twitter Dos and Don’ts

It’s easy to turn your Twitter followers off if you’re not careful!

In case you didn’t see the Sunday Times magazine last week, the issue was devoted to Twitter. As well as who to follow (and some to avoid), there was a helpful, fun list of dos and don’ts, under the heading “Twitterquette” by resident problem-solver, Mrs Mills.

Here’s that list in full:

Don’t overtweet: my number one reason to stop following someone is because they tweet too often. It is just annoying when your timeline starts filling up with aimless tweets because someone is stuck on a train, bored.

Don’t humblebrag: retweeting praise is the preserve of pondlife. The rest of the world doesn’t care, nor do we want our timelines cluttered with you RT-ing “Loved the column this week, you’re a genius xxx”.

Don’t drink and tweet: actually, I’m conflicted about this because it is very funny when someone starts tweeting about her man’s inadequacies while mispplling evVry other worm. She will regret it in the morning, but it’s been hilarious for the rest of us.

Don’t plug: while email dies a spam-induced death, so far Twitter remains a commercially light zone. Let’s keep it that way.

Do have a picture, not an egg: it’s just bad manners and suggest you are trying to stay anonymous, i.e., only one step away from being a psychopath. Some twitterers think it is also bad form to lurk – that is to follow lots of people but never tweet. Actually, can’t see anything wrong with this – it’s called being an audience.

Do remember everyone can see what you are saying: so if you’re 15, think twice before announcing how bad your hangover is, and if you’re the parent just remember before you start tweeting about the glories of your husband in the shower.

Don’t make social arrangements: it’s very annoying for your followers to find their timelines clogged with you arranging to meet a friend (shall we go for a drink? – which pub? – what time can you…zzzz). Use direct messaging, text or even (gasp!) telephone.

Don’t tweet things nobody wants to know: few of your followers will be interested in what you had for breakfast, that you’ve just missed the bus, or that your hair needs washing – unless you want to reduce your number of followers to immediate family and perverts.

Don’t @ celebrities: this is the cool view, particularly in America but, really, I don’t see why not? What are they on Twitter for otherwise? It would be like turning up to a party and expecting not to be spoken to – just arrogant. So do @ celebrities.

Thank you Mrs Mills – good advice!

For information on managing your social media activity contact me at www.louisehudson.co.uk

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How to protect yourself when using social media sites

Are you happy that your personal information is safe online?

This tweet above – from the parody twitter account, ‘made-up stats’ – really made me laugh! But behind the humour was the worrying news that 6 million LinkedIn passwords had been obtained by hackers. A few of the businesses I work with have asked me about online security, so I thought it might be useful to summarise a few simple steps you can take to minimise your risks.

  1. Don’t give any more information than is necessary or requested. When registering for a service, the required fields are usually indicated by an asterisk. Just fill out these fields only.
  2. Personal information is just that – personal. Respect the personal privacy of others by not posting their information such as their name, address, photo or phone number without their consent.
  3. Be aware of who is collecting, using or disclosing your information – just because you are on one site, doesn’t mean your personal information will be restricted to that site.
  4. Consider your password-recovery questions. Any information commonly used to recover a password should be kept private. This includes things like your mother’s maiden name, your pet’s name, your favourite books and films or the place you were born.
  5. Be careful about opening links from senders you don’t recognise. On Twitter, never open a link from someone you follow that says “I can’t believe what they’re saying about you here” or similar. It means their account has been hacked by spammers. If this happens to you, change your password at once.
  6. Consider changing you passwords on all of your social network sites regularly and don’t use the same password for every site.
  7. You don’t need to divulge personal information to communicate personal experience. Be general when appropriate (in forums or tweets) and detailed when necessary and safe (in a direct or private message).
  8. Carefully check your privacy settings and adjust the settings to protect your personal information. Social network sites often update privacy settings so get into the habit of regularly reviewing your profile.

These commonsense steps will help you get the most out of social media and protect you and your online reputation.

 

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The future’s bright – the future’s #social. The power of social media

Successful businesses are adopting a social strategy

Would you like your customers to be happier? How about a big increase in new business leads? And what business wouldn’t want more sales?

Well, those are just some of the benefits that businesses which embrace social media can expect. In fact, according to leading consultants McKinsey, companies that adopt social technologies can experience a 50% increase in customer satisfaction, a 48% increase in business leads, and a 24% increase in revenue.

There’s a revolution going on right now. The world is changing faster than we could ever have imagined. Smart business owners recognise this and have put social at the heart of their thinking and strategy.

A couple of examples of the power of social media include Netflix, the online TV and movie provider. When Netflix announced changes to its pricing structure, its customers revolted, posting 82,000 negative comments across its blogs and on Twitter and Facebook. Within months the company lost 800,000 customers and more than 60% of its market value.

By contrast, major airline KLM successfully used the power of social media to its advantage. KLM engages customers on the social web, where they can ask questions, check in for flights and have conversations about travel plans. In one innovative campaign, KLM surprised passengers who had checked in on Twitter at the airport with a personalised gift – something to enjoy on their trip. This created a huge amount of goodwill that will turn into customer loyalty.

And locally, in Newark and Grantham, I’ve seen some great examples of businesses successfully engaging with their communities and benefiting from it.

The thing is, with social media, everything happens faster than ever before.

Companies that respond to this and become social enterprises will connect with everything that’s important. They will be the successful companies of the future.

For more information on social media marketing, visit Louise Hudson’s website here.

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Some social media dos and don’ts

 

Social media is all about engagement

Today, it’s no longer a question of should a business use social media. It’s now all about how to get the best out of social media. Around the Grantham and Newark areas, I see some fantastic examples of local businesses showcasing their products and services and really interacting with their audience.

Organisations of all sizes are now reaching customers – existing, lapsed and new – in this way. Here’s some advice from business owners who are getting results from social media:

DO give people a reason to ‘like’ your page: “I see so many advertisers making the mistake of simply asking people to like their page, but with all of the clutter on Facebook these days you have to give consumers a reason to like your page. Do you share insightful industry trends? Do you have awesome giveaways? Are you funny? Just make sure that you hold up your end of the bargain. If you say you’re going to share industry trends, make sure you actually share them!”

DO post photos on Facebook: “A picture speaks a thousand words. I always include a picture of merchandise to entice the buyer. I try to keep the content fun, colourful and simple. I love sharing pictures of my customers and their favourite finds. This also drives traffic to your site, because they will share the link with friends and family.”

DON’T give all the information away in the post: “If the viewer already can see every single thing in the store from the pictures and they already know the price, they may be less likely to come and see it for themselves.”

DON’T obsess over numbers: “It is better to have 10 fans who listen, participate and buy than to have 10,000 fans who don’t hear a word you say.”

DON’T react negatively: An American restaurant criticised a customer on Facebook and Twitter and linked to her personal social networking account after she posted a negative review of the restaurant on the website YELP.com. In January, the restaurant posted the customer’s photo from her Facebook page on their own Facebook page and accused her of failing to leave a tip after using a coupon to eat at their restaurant. The restaurant later apologised, but in the meantime several more negative reviews were posted on in response to the company’s unprofessional behaviour.

DO be friendly: “Try adding a personal note to your social media profiles. Snap some candid photos around your office. Share a little bit about some of your key team members on a personal level.”

DON’T ignore your audience:”If you get an unfavourable comment, don’t delete it. Instead, address it. If someone asks a question about your business in a post, answer it.”

DO have fun! Social media is all about engaging with your audience and letting your personality – and your business’s personality – shine through.

For more information on social media marketing, drop by my website – www.louisehudson.co.uk.

Posted in advertising, Business, facebook, Grantham, Internet, linked in, marketing, Newark, Social Media, social media manager, social networks, twitter, you tube | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Social media marketing for smaller businesses – five steps to success

Social media marketing can help your business stand out from the rest

More and more business owners are growing their reputations and profits through social media. Some still haven’t got started though. Often, this is down to two things; uncertainty about how to proceed and/or the time to do it.

Yesterday, I came across a great piece by Amy Grishman, the CEO of Social Focus Marketing, which offers some sound advice for smaller businesses:

1. Recognise the benefits and define goals. All too often CEOs and campaign managers are only concerned with how social media marketing will translate into revenue and ignore the other benefits. Often overlooked is the opportunity to connect with current customers and clientele, raise brand awareness and improve brand reputation, acquire feedback, crowd source new ideas and products, and the list goes on.

2. Join the following five networks: Facebook, Twitter, Google +, LinkedIn, and YouTube. It will only take a couple of minutes per network to sign up, and each is designed with step-by-step instructions to make the process as seamless as possible for even the most novice user. Companies skeptical about joining YouTube should consider that, according to Nielsen, 90% of all web traffic will be video by 2014. Taking advantage of the vast pools of Internet users who frequent these networks is essential, and companies should secure their names on these platforms.

3. Measure results. Although there are many platforms through which to track social media data, Google Analytics will provide a panoramic view of an overall marketing strategy. This powerful tracking software is free and will diligently monitor website activity, visits from social media profiles as well as other websites, visitor demographics and much more. This data offers insight into customers’ activity, and measures the overall health of a marketing campaign, allowing a small business to rapidly respond to changes in consumer behavior, and to adjust their marketing strategies accordingly.

4. Companies should add social media links to their websites, blogs, email signatures, and business cards. Adding social media links in all the aforementioned places will help grow fan base in an unobtrusive and organic way. Once profiles are active, companies should spread the word to give their profiles an initial fan boost; letting their personal and professional networks know.

5. Outsource, if needed. Finally, it is important to keep fans actively engaged. Allowing accounts to languish will be more detrimental than not having accounts at all. If a small business cannot find time to log into their profiles more than a couple times per week to post updates, communicate with fans, answer questions, etc., it may be time to consider outsourcing social media management to an Internet marketing firm. For a fixed fee every month, one can hire a social media management team adept at engaging audiences and promoting brands effectively (most often this is much more cost effective than hiring an additional staff member). This team will represent a small business and provide sales, marketing, client/customer service, and PR all in one.

Social media is an organic and essential part of business today. Long gone are the days when people would see their local shop owners daily and stop by for a chat, but as the world has grown bigger, it has also grown smaller again through the connectedness of social media. Customers will be stopping by for a chat virtually, possibly from thousands of miles away, and they are talking about a product or service to someone else possibly thousands of miles away in the other direction. Small businesses can’t afford to miss this opportunity!

I know that Amy’s right. I’ve seen first-hand how local businesses in Grantham and Newark have benefitted from social media marketing. It really does work.

For more information on social media marketing, visit Louise Hudson’s website here.

 

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A great family day out – Belton Horse Trials near Grantham this weekend

Belton Horse Trials

Belton House, Grantham, Lincolnshire

March 30 – April 1 2012

Eventing at Belton Horse Trials

Whether you’re a horse eventing enthusiast, or just looking for a great family day out in beautiful surroundings, Belton Horse Trials has something for everyone.

Set in the stunning parklands of the National Trust’s Belton House, near Grantham in Lincolnshire, Belton Horse Trials is organised by Bede Events and takes place over three days, from March 30 to April 1.

Belton Horse Trials is a fab day outThis year, there’s a host of things to see, do and experience in Grantham’s most important event of year. There’s a packed competition schedule, lots of tempting trade stands to browse and stacks of things to see and do over the weekend. As well as the events, visitor attractions include:

Ladies’ Lunch

On Friday March 30 there’s a Ladies’ Charity Luncheon in the gorgeous Hospitality Marquee. As well as a wonderful three-course lunch, there’ll be morning coffee on arrival and a cookery demonstration by award-winning cookery writer, James McIntosh. Guests can use the Hospitality Marquee all day to leave shopping, or just to catch up with friends over a drink. And it’s all helping St Barnabas Hospice, which must be the best reason of all to come along.

Late Night Shopping

There's so much to buy at Belton Horse Trials

Belton Horse Trails is a great place to shop for bargains and things you won’t find on the High Street. If you just want to visit Belton to browse the trade stands, most traders are staying open until 7pm on Friday night and there’s free entry from 4pm.

Countryside Day

Saturday March 31 is Countryside Day at Belton, with gun dog demonstrations, dog agility, ferret racing and lots of activities for children. The Hospitality Marquee will be the setting for a special Countryside Lunch, with local hunts benefitting from each lunch booking.

Family Day

It's not just about horses at Belton Horse Trials!

Belton is a real family day out with something for everyone. As well as the amazing equestrian competitions and Tower Equine Stallion Parade, there are dog agility displays with a chance to have a go, an exemption dog show, ferret racing, Pony Club Games, pottery painting, face painting, a fun fair area, Grantham Classic Car Club display, a 10km run through the gorgeous, spring parkland and more than 100 trade stands to shop at, including crafts, artisan foods, jewellery, tack and countrywear specialists.

Families can even enjoy Sunday Lunch in the Hospitality Marquee – you can make a reservation in advance by contacting Clare Mortiboys on 0113 287 6387 or by email clare.mortiboys@cgcevents.co.uk.

Visit The Best of Grantham for more details on Belton Horse Trials – Louise.

Posted in Belton Horse Trials, cookery, Country House, day out, Equestrian, Events, families, Grantham, Horses, shopping, what's on | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Five social media marketing mistakes and how to avoid them

Have a plan to avoid social media marketing mistakes!

More and more businesses are using social media marketing to grow their sales and to engage with their customers. And no wonder! It’s one of the most cost-effective ways to promote your business and complement your other online marketing activity. Oh, and don’t forget search engine optimisation (SEO) – social media can really boost your rankings in internet searches. Your customers are out there now, talking to each other on Twitter, Facebook and the other social networks. You need to be part of it!

But (you knew there was a ‘but’ coming, didn’t you?), like any form of business activity, there are things you should do and things you shouldn’t do. So, here are some common mistakes to avoid at all costs:

1. Not having a plan

Lots of business owners decide to get into social media, so they join the social networks, set up their profiles, put some content up and sit back and wait for things to happen. And wait… and wait. Within weeks of the big launch, their profile has become a bit of a barren wasteland, with their followers wondering what they’re doing there.

You see, it won’t happen all by itself! Successful social media marketing requires a plan and it doesn’t just happen overnight. You need a simple plan with some goals and targets to follow. And don’t be put off if it’s slow going at first.

2. Not knowing your target audience

Depending on the nature of your business, it’s not just about growing the number of followers and fans. It’s more important to engage with relevant people and organisations. Know who you want to reach and have a plan to reach them.

3. Not enough interaction

This is a classic mistake. Lots of businesses update their profiles and merely push out messages (usually poorly disguised advertisements) to their followers. There’s no conversation going on. With social media, it’s all about engagement. The mantra is engagement, engagement, engagement. a lack of conversation with your followers decreases value of your social presence and you won’t be able to build those valuable relationships.

4. No real followers

This is another big mistake. It’s no good keeping an active page with lots of information and updates, but with no real followers. This means you don’t really have any support and that weakens the basis of your social presence. To avoid this, it’s important to build a steady network of real people.

5. Automated posting

Okay, there is a role for some automated posting and tweeting, and yes, automation eases the workload. But you do need some thought and structure to your social media marketing and, in the long run, random, automated posting doesn’t pay. You’ll look like just yet another spamming site! Always make it personal and engaging.

For more advice on successful social media marketing, visit Louise Hudson’s social media website here.

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From peaceful farms to elegant townhouses – six of the best B&B gems (just) off the beaten track in the heart of England

I don’t know about you, but for me one of the best bits about going away for a few days is the anticipation and excitement of staying somewhere new. What will it be like? Will there be any nice surprises? You know – things I wasn’t expecting, but things that will make my stay more comfortable and memorable.

And that’s what puts me off those dreary, ubiquitous roadside hotel chains. Okay, you do know what you’re getting, but that means the same old drab rooms where the only surprises are usually rather unpleasant ones.

Well, for the same price as a bog-standard motel – or even less – you can stay on beautiful farmland or in a lovely, period townhouse. And if you’re planning a visit to the Grantham or Newark areas, you’re really spoilt for choice. Whether it’s a business trip or a visit to one of the area’s many events, such as Belvoir Horse Trials or the Newark and Nottinghamshire Show, here are six of the best B&B’s around:

Meet the neighbours at Thorns Farm B&B

Thorns Farm B&B, near Grantham

Thorns Farm is a stunning, ‘home-from-home’ B&B, with well-appointed, self-contained, en-suite guest rooms. This is an ideal holiday accommodation for families and a well-located base for business people working in the Grantham area. Thorns Farm Bed and Breakfast accommodation is situated just minutes from the A1 and Grantham, where you will experience a peaceful woodland backdrop with beautiful views across rolling countryside. Idyllic.

Find out more here.

Not a Little Chef in sight at Westborough Lodge farm B&B

Westborough Lodge Farm, near Newark

Refurbished to a very high standard last year, Ostler’s cottage at Westborough Lodge Farm is a great bed and breakfast choice all year round. In winter, there’s central heating and, after a hot, relaxing bath or shower, you can put your feet up in front of the wood-burning stove and enjoy a great movie, or lose yourself in your favourite book. Ostler’s Cottage also has its own private orchard, complete with patio, garden table, chairs and barbecue. Perfect to enjoy a chilled glass of wine on a summer’s evening.

Find out more here.

Stylish accommodation at Compton House B&B

Compton House, Newark

Compton House has been likened to a luxury boutique hotel, retaining many of its original period features, its accommodation decorated with a mixture of antiques and fresh flowers. Guests can use the stunning drawing room, where they can browse through a library of books and read the newspapers and magazines in total, hotel-like comfort. Unlike many B&B’s, the hospitality is exceptional and for many it’s just like being at home. Check out the decadent four-poster room!

Find out more here.

Relax at The Firs B&B

The Firs B&B, near Newark

For holidays, business trips or simple overnight accommodation in beautiful, high-quality surroundings, The Firs Bed & Breakfast is the perfect place to relax and unwind. The Firs is a charming, stone building which dating back to the 15th Century, retaining many original features, yet recently decorated to bring out the unique character of every room. As a luxury Bed & Breakfast the emphasis is on quality and comfort, and each of our three stunning bedrooms enjoys luxury linen, towelling robes, large soft towels and Bronnley toiletries. The Firs offers log fires and a conservatory overlooking pretty gardens and is great for artists and anglers.

Find out more here.

A rural retreat at Greystones B&B

Greystones B&B, near Newark

If you’re looking for a special break, Greystones Bed & Breakfast Guesthouse is a charming rural retreat. Well located in the picturesque village of South Scarle, Greystones bed and breakfast offers complete peace and tranquillity – yet this stunning Grade II Listed B&B accommodation is within easy reach of the busy market town of Newark, the historic city of Lincoln and Newark County Showground. Greystones Guesthouse B&B offers four-star bed and breakfast accommodation in two splendid suites in a 400-year-old former farmhouse with courtyard buildings.

Find out more here.

Breakfast at Fir Tree Cottage B&B

Fir Tree Cottage

Situated on the edge of the pretty village of Collingham, just minutes from Newark, Fir Tree Cottage is just what you’d expect from an English country cottage.  The accommodation is in charming, beautifully appointed and furnished rooms, each with its own bathroom. The larger ‘Gainsborough’ room has a wonderful, king-size bed and large en-suite bathroom. Ideal for an indulgent break with someone special, or just for spoiling yourself! It has French doors which open onto a wide balcony with panoramic views of the stunning, extensive gardens and surrounding countryside.

Find out more here

So, if homogenous, drab rooms and the sound of passing trucks are your thing, then stay on the A1. But if, like me, you’re looking for something different and a bit special, then head just off the A1 and choose one of these wonderful, relaxing B&B’s. You’ll receive a warm welcome and the only surprises will be nice ones!

For more best businesses in Grantham and Newark, visit The Best of Grantham and The Best of Newark.

Posted in Accommodation, B&B, Bed & Breakfast, Belton Horse Trials, Country House, day out, Events, families, Grantham, Guest Houses, Hotels, Newark | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment