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Traveling Has Never Been Easier

Technology has impacted every aspect of life, and the tourism industry is no exception. More than half of business travelers check into their flights and hotels with their smartphones. A vast number of people seek information online about purchasing tickets and hotel reservations as well as information about activities and entertainment in their chosen destination. Travelers can get all the information they need about visas, health concerns, political climate and more without leaving home.

Technology Enhances the Travel Experience

Tourism boards and travel brands are making an effort to include technology to enhance the travel experience of consumers. Today, you can get apps that give you a complete tour of thousands of sites around the world. Many of these apps offer special information about each place with hidden gems such as restaurants and other attractions that visitors may have missed on a regular tour.

Many hotels offer iPads specifically for guests to use for ordering food, planning their travel and get transportation, and free WiFi is available in most hotels and restaurants.

Some of the reasons consumers prefer the Internet for making travel plans are:

• They can research destinations before deciding where to go

• Look for travel promotions and incentives before booking

• Make plans based on the reviews of others

How Consumers Use Information for Travel

There are many different types of travelers including business travelers, family vacation travelers, budget backpackers, luxury travelers and personal travelers. The one thing they all have in common is how they plan their trips. Most travelers use:

• The Internet as a planning tool to search for options. The travel industry knows this, so they market directly to online searchers and effectively prompt travelers to book online

• Search engines to find the cheapest flights. Today, there are travel search engines that pull information from hundreds if not thousands of travel sites and give comparative information. They can be modified for date and time of travel

• Social media to connect with others who have gone before. Not only do people put their experiences online, but the travel industry also uses social media to inform and attract customers.

• Videos and vlogs to learn about their destinations from others during the travel planning process. Travelers also upload vlogs and apps that are travel-related

• Smartphones are the device of choice for many travelers. There are SIM cards available that make it cheap and easy to use their phones internationally, and they can take photos and keep copies of documents and travel information with them always

Travel Rewards Programs

Many credit card companies offer travel miles, hotel reservation discounts, car rental discounts and restaurant discounts when people make purchases with their cards. More and more people are taking advantage of these reward programs, not only for cheaper personal travel, but also for cheaper business travel.

Technology touches every aspect of the tourism industry and as airlines and hotels become more technologically advance, they need to remember that tourism is about people having a great time, and technology should serve that aim and hot hinder it.

 

How Retail Has Changed Since Going Digital and How Businesses Can Adapt

With factors such as contextual relevance and constant connectivity, the world of shopping has changed since going online, opening new opportunities for forward-thinking retailers. As Google’s SVP of Ads Commerce, Sridhar Ramaswamy claims, consumers no longer see a distinction between offline and online shopping. Whether they’re browsing the local mall or browsing via laptop, it’s all shopping. This competitive new reality is something smart retailers are adapting to, drawing on classic truths of retailing while embracing the growing digital world, bringing a retail revolution.

Knowledge

Before digital retail, people usually came in stores with little or no knowledge and often relied on salespeople to advise them on what to purchase. But now, shoppers are more accustomed to doing their own research to get the most value for every dollar they spend. They want to feel secure about the purchases they make. This shift of power brings a great opportunity for retailers; those that make use of the tools and insights from online can close the gap between smart online consumers and offline retailers. Doing so will also allow them to stand out in a competitive marketplace. When it comes to decision-making, every moment in a consumer’s journey matters. To gain an advantage in these situations, retailers need to be there when inspiration strikes consumers and as they start doing research for their online shopping.

The Mobile Factor

Back then, it took familiarity, or fortunate surprise, to find the right store and the product you’re looking for. Now, with blurring lines between online and offline, the innovative retailers are bring mobile into their offline store experience. When shoppers make an online search for a specific store or category, they expect come across a map with directions, a phone number that can easily click to make contact, or some special offers to match where they are and the time of day. To put it simply, mobile devices are driving foot traffic to stores. Adidas is a prime example of using mobile technology to win. They worked with their agency iProspect to look at how mobile clicks on their store locator links online were driving sales in the actual stores. They found that for a mobile investment of $1 million, the store locator clicks in mobile ads brought a value that generated an extra $1.6 million in sales.

The Weight of Opinions

In days past, the retail experience was an activity shared among friends and family, with word of mouth being a social force transforming new products into must-haves, also making small shops into retail empires. Now with social networks, and other ways for people to share their opinions with the world and not just a group of friends, opinions carry more weight than they did before. This is why reviews have been incorporated by companies like Google for their shopping apps and services. People share reviews for products such as dresses or the latest electronics, not to mention the stores and sites they do their shopping from.

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last update: March 26, 2015

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5 Ways to Improve the Success of the Online Business Platform

Online businesses have potential to become vastly different than their brick-and-mortar counterparts. From overhead costs to work schedules, there are many ways in which it could differ from traditional businesses. It’s this aspect of separation that drives many developers to create ways to enhance the online business platform outside of what conventional means provide.

Network Virtualization

Using a virtual network allows professionals in different locations to interact with the same data in a simulated local area connection. This can be accessed from nearly any location that has Internet access allowing for an incredibly level of mobility. According to Contel Bradford, blogger for StorageCraft.com, virtualization can keep staff connected in a secure online network with access to all resources among those that need the data.

Common Tools

Although each individual may have his or her own computer system and specific software, unification can be incredibly beneficial. For example: Instead of each person using a different image editing app, a unified use of specific software can help everyone remain productive without learning multiple different applications with the same ultimate goal. This can also help prevent file incompatibilities and greater capacity for internal assistance should one employee need help from another.

Hosted IP PBX Phone Systems

As technology continues to develop, PBX phone systems no longer require physical installation. Using TCP/IP connections, the business phone system can be remotely managed while sending various business calls to corresponding smartphones. This means that the entire business telecommunication system could literally span across an entire country without the caller realizing such.

Online Project Management Tools

Project management tools offer an excellent way to collaborate with staff to ensure jobs are completed correctly and on time. According to this post, these kinds of tools as well as customer relationship management can greatly improve the functionality of the online business. In many situations, the business may not have a physical location and requires constant interaction with employees that could be located in other states. The need for a cloud-based solution is apparent in this instance as lack of communication could lead to mistakes and lost opportunities.

The Effect of the Business Website

If the entire business platform is operated from individuals from the comfort of their own homes, then the website may become an integral part of future success more so than other businesses. The site will essentially become your business location much like a brick-and-mortar building houses a retail store. The only difference is that the digital representation of virtual real estate has a far less overhead cost to consider. However, this also means that the site will need to be carefully regulated and optimized to encourage online consumers as it may become the base of operations.

With the right utilization of tools, nearly any business could become more efficient. This greatly improves the chances of survival for the company. Whether you’re an online professional or you’re opening a small Internet cafe, there is an abundance of tools available to help the success of virtually any business. Keep a vigilant eye out for applications and devices that can enhance your business platform.

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3 Hidden Dangers of Fire Damage

firedamage

The dangers don’t end when the flames are put out. Fire damage can linger for years, and if you try to DIY with a clean-up, you probably won’t get all of the soot and flourishing mold from the water that tamed the fire. “Soot” is the residue left over from the smoke, and what exactly makes up the smoke can depend on a lot of things—like what burned and whether or not it was toxic.

Both soot and mold are dangerous leftovers from a house fire and why homeowners deserve professional fire damage clean-up. Not all soot is necessarily dangerous, but do you want to take that risk? Likewise, not all water damage will lead to mold, black mold or mildew. But again, are you ready to take that gamble?

Not only are homeowners lacking the appropriate tools, knowledge and experience to (safely!) clean up after a fire, they might unintentionally expose themselves to dangerous particles in the process. Plus, remember that if guests are staying in the home and you don’t properly clean post-fire, you could be held liable in a personal injury claim or lawsuit.

Here are just a few of the things that can go wrong if you try to save a little cash by cleaning up yourself:

1. Soot gets into your bloodstream

The particulate matter in soot is so tiny that it can get into your bloodstream and lungs without you noticing. According to the American Lung Association, breathing soot pollution can cause “cancer and developmental and reproductive harm.” The Environmental Protection Agency has described soot as “Microscopic particles (which) can penetrate deep into the lungs and have been linked to a wide range of serious health effects including premature death, heart attacks and strokes, as well as acute bronchitis and aggravated asthma among children.”

2. Black mold can kill

From in-home sprinkler systems to firefighter’s hoses, there was likely a lot of water involved to save your humble abode. Water damage can destroy your home’s structure, and it can also lead to mildew, mold and deadly black mold. Mold has a penchant for thriving in dark areas, so it’s possible only a professional will spot it. Even when mold isn’t deadly, it can cause respiratory issues and exacerbate allergies.

3. It may have stirred up asbestos

Asbestos fibers are the primary cause of mesothelioma, a cancer of the lungs and abdomen linings which is almost always deadly. However, rarely ingesting or breathing in asbestos in small quantities is usually fine. It was widely used in home construction from the 1950s through the 1980s and is still legally used today. However, a fire might “stir up” those fibers, so cleaning up yourself without the proper safety gear is a huge risk.

Simply put, you don’t know what exactly burned, what particles may have been put into the air or what toxic materials you might be breathing in. This is no time to pinch pennies or cut corners. Rely on a professional crew to clean up after a fire so you can rest easy knowing not a nook or cranny was missed. Otherwise, the residual effects of the fire might be more heartbreaking and lethal than you ever imagined.

Lifestyle:

Why the Sony Hack is So Important to Terrorists

James Franco and Seth Rogen

America and pretty much every other developed country in the world is vulnerable to sophisticated cyber-attacks. That much is not in question and isn’t new. What’s new thanks to Sony is the fact that terrorists around the world now see this new form or terrorism as a potential weapon for changing policies.

To understand this, we must first look at America through the eyes of people around the world. In many countries, there is only a thin line between the media and government. They’ve grown up in worlds where the idea of “free press” is unthinkable. As a result, they also view a distinct connection between the US government and Hollywood.

Continue reading Why the Sony Hack is So Important to Terrorists

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Improving HVAC Efficiency

Homeowners often fail to realize how their heating and cooling is affected by the cool air or increased heat entering or leaving through windows and doors. Efficient windows help put the HVAC system through less strain, so it is able to last much longer. As a result, energy bills are reduced.

Increase in Energy Bills with Poor HVAC Systems

A poorly-functioning HVAC system can cause an increase in energy bills. This is often due to lost cool or warm air from windows and doors. The cracks can let air from the system escape causing it to work harder to maintain ideal temperatures. Windows that are not designed to keep the system in its best condition also contribute to temperature fluctuations. In the summer, excess heat from the sunlight can enter the home through these windows. The extra heat makes the home harder to keep cool. In the winter, these windows may let out heat, taking away from the total insulation effects present in the building.

Windows Designed to Complement Your HVAC System

Efficient windows work to protect the radiant heat of the home in the winter and prevent the entrance of heat in the summer. These windows allow the HVAC system to work only as much as it needs to, and this saves homeowners on their energy bills. The peak load for heating or cooling is the maximum amount needed at one time. Reducing the peak load may even allow some homeowners to install new HVAC systems that are smaller and easier to maintain.

Making High-Performance Windows Appealing

High-performance windows may make a significant difference in the energy efficiency of a home, but they may not always be appealing to the interior esthetic quality. Many homeowners prefer technological components that do not compromise their décor, especially in rooms where visitors gather. There are various ways to make high-efficiency windows fit into the décor of a room. Curtains can conceal the window when light is not needed, and blinds offer increased control over the amount of light. Shutters can be added for a more durable alternative, and they also offer versatility.

For rooms with strong color coordination, curtains can make high-performance windows blend in with the remainder of the room’s furniture and fixtures, and they also add a more formal look to a room. Blinds offer quick and easy control over the amount of light entering the room, and they can easily cover windows that do not fit well with the room’s look. Shutters add to the décor and concealment of high-efficiency windows while also contributing to the temperature control. According to Bill and Sarah Burke, owners of Midwest Shutters, they have a high R-value, and this “provides protection from extreme temperature fluctuations” caused by the entrance or escape of heat.

Simple changes in the design of a home can have major impacts on how its HVAC unit functions. Controlling the natural flow of heat throughout the year is essential for getting the most value out of the heating and cooling system.

 

How Women Can Use Technology to Succeed in the Entrepreneur Marketplace

business tech

Women continue to be the minority in both technology and entrepreneurship, although the marketplace is quickly changing in their favor. There are many new opportunities for women related to the use of technology as it relates to building a new business. In order for women to succeed in the highly competitive global marketplace, they must find creative ways to make technology work for their new business. Many women have found unique solutions using technology to create a niche industry through entrepreneurship.

Connect With Other Female Innovators

Women who are entering the field of entrepreneurship should connect with other female innovators through social networking platforms such as Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook and others, explains this article on Business 2 Community. Connecting with other successful entrepreneurs allows women to explore the use of technology in a wide variety of roles, including marketing and finding initial investors. Online connections allow women entrepreneurs to connect professionally as well as personally.

Consider Alternative Uses for the Key Product or Service

As a woman goes out into the business community to introduce a new product or service, it pays to listen to the feedback, especially when it includes alternative uses for the product or service. This is especially true of technology-related entrepreneurs. Because a piece of website coding or a tool such as a digital iris scanner can work for a variety of industries, women entrepreneurs should not limit themselves or their product or service to a single role in the marketplace. Entrepreneurs should take the time to research the market and determine whether or not offering their product or service across a greater number of industries or applications would help increase their chances at success.

Deliver Products and Services Directly

Women entrepreneurs know their product or service like the backs of their own hands. Instead of marketing the product through a middleman, entrepreneurs would do well to use technology to market their product or service for them. The creation of a business website along with embedded videos to showcase and highlight the product or service provides a great way to engage customers and increase interest without having to pay a middleman to do so. The direct delivery of products or services by the product’s founder also allows for a stronger relationship between the entrepreneur and her clients. The creation of podcasts, online conferences and Skype communications also helps women entrepreneurs get the word out about their products.

Share Expertise With Other Women

Once a woman achieves success as an entrepreneur, sharing the experience with other women not only provides inspiration to the next generation but it also offers the opportunity to expand professional connections. Taking on a leadership role as an entrepreneur allows women to highlight their successes and build upon them. An entrepreneur can share her expertise through interactive technology as well as in-person demonstrations. From conducting workshops to giving seminars, women can use these tools to help others succeed and build their brands.

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Gas Engine Improvements You Should Implement Now

The demands placed on automotive manufacturers to increase fuel efficiency and reduce carbon footprints led to the development of alternative fueled vehicles. Nevertheless, gas powered engines remain dominant in the automotive market. Gas engines are not likely to disappear in the near future. However, engineers are continually adopting new methods of function that enable increased performance while becoming more eco-friendly. Whether buying a new vehicle or merely overhauling an existing vehicle with a different engine, consumers benefit from the technology.

Variable Valve Timing and Lift

Conventional engines are equipped with valves that open and close at regulated increments, which provides an air/gas mixture as fuel. In the past, regardless of the work load that engines undergo, the rate at which valves perform their function remained unchanged. This means that engines receive the same amount of fuel regardless of work load. In effect, engines proved inefficient and permitted unnecessary fuel consumption and loss. By developing technology that times valve function to more closely accommodate the needs of an engine, the vehicle becomes more fuel efficient. Studies indicate that this newer design saves up to five percent in fuel consumption.

Deactivating Cylinders

Vehicles have four or more cylinders, which are all engaged as long as the vehicle remains running. Fuel saving ideology led engine engineers to reconsider the necessity of having all of the cylinders functional when not needed, which wastes fuel. Sports cars and heavy duty trucks, for example, feature V-8 engines. While a vehicle may require increased fuel consumption during times of extreme speeds or when hauling loads, at other times, decreased demands only waste fuel. By deactivating cylinders when they are not necessary, vehicles become more than seven percent fuel efficient. Though this technology is currently available on V-8 engines, manufacturers are considering adopting the change for V-6 model cars and trucks.

Alterations in Fuel Injection

In conventional gas engines, a spark ignites fuel and air in the combustion chamber. However, studies suggest that heating and pressurizing the fuel before it enters the chamber makes gas burn cleaner and more efficiently. The alteration also reduces the amount of fuel needed to power the engine. Under normal circumstances, gas engines might have a compression ratio of around 10 to 1. Newer technology increases this ratio to 14 to 1. The engine in a Mazda Demio, for example, has this innovative design and gets a reported 70 miles per gallon.

Turbocharging

This invention involves fans that are powered by the gases that are en route to the exhaust system. This action creates a higher compression ratio by allowing more compressed air into the combustion chamber, which means more efficient combustion and better fuel economy. When smaller engines feature turbochargers, engine performance also improves while saving fuel.

Driver Retraining

How someone drives a vehicle additionally has an effect on gas consumption. The faster a vehicle goes, the more fuel the engine consumes. Newer technology provides drivers with visualization by adding dashboard mechanisms that display when vehicles are operating efficiently and when more conservative measures are necessary. Other innovations include eco-modes that regulate transmission shifting and encourages running at lower speeds.

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