Luxury travel in today’s economy

Luxury travel has always been something that higher class individuals have had the means necessary to participate in. For those who may not have the available financial budget for luxury travel, they can still go places, they just might not have as many benefits. Luxury travellers are a target audience that many marketers aspire to find. They are often highly affluent, time-poor, professional, and enjoy the finer things in life. They are looking for experiential travelling and to do things that a regular tourist may not do. Often luxury travellers have already seen most of the world and are looking for a new experience. That new experience often comes with quite the price if they are willing to pay for it.

Luxury is an arbitrary world that means varying things to different people. For example, luxury travel for some may just be camping in the mountains making food on the fire and hiking through the woods. For others, it may be visiting a beach one week out of the year and taking a relaxing vacation away from work. But for most people accustomed to luxury travel, it often means experiential travelling like nothing they have done before. This can include things like unique safaris, private beach destinations, penthouse views or a vacation on a houseboat. Because vacation and luxury travel are objective things, it is up to the traveller to define what luxury travel is to them

When planning for luxury travel, tourists must decide on the best travel agency to book. Often luxury travel agencies are more refined and smaller than the larger corporate travel agencies. This means they are more available to give individual time to the traveller to really decide on the interests of them. For instance, these smaller agencies can make bookings for luxury villas in the heart of a unique, bustling town. Because they are smaller, they also have the time to discuss with other agents across the globe and build partnerships that are exclusive to that agency. When picking an agency to go with, it’s important to have a list compiled of what is wanted from the trip. It is also crucial that the traveller has their travel dates already pre-planned as this provides the necessary means to allow the agency to properly plan to trip. If a traveller requires any or all transportation, this should also be mentioned to the agency as they can set that up for them.

Luxury travel should first and foremost be stress-free. As long as the traveler preplans well enough to let the agency know what they need, they should enjoy their trip and learn something new. Travelling allows individuals the means to learn about new cultures by immersing themselves in it. Luxury travel allows for this even more so because it generally has a larger budget to see more and do more in new places. Travelling is an amazing way to foster globalization across humanity by understanding the uniqueness of the human experience by having many shared experiences together.

Smart Homes and Changing Residential Lifestyle: Technicality, Responsibility and Awareness as Key Concepts

Modern living is a concept that has managed to raise a lot of attention, especially after several fundamental technological solutions were integrated into its products and services. As customers demand further enlightenment about the subject matter, the producers are more than willing to open up to the markets and their customers to provide valuable information and insight. Modern furniture stores are to be found in virtually any part of the world today, while international exhibitions and marketing organizations shape the way the furniture and home technology-related companies interact with their customers and with each other. In such a high-paced market development, home tech is becoming a necessity for millions of people, making research and investigation a must for such interested parties. Luckily, the media reports on new products, technologies and services on a daily basis and accessing crucial information is not that hard for regular people and specialists alike.

Smart living is a general subject and it is important to break it down to its components to make sense of the currently existing chaos of information and innovation. As the Internet of Things enters more homes each passing day, several functions and capabilities emerge out of the thin air for smart home residents to take notice and use. Smart thermostats are utile for use in conjunction with weather data to save time and resource for their users, while smart window blinds are useful to cut down on heating and cooling bills by maximizing the use and preservation of existent forms of energy. Smart lights are also economic in design but they also come in various forms and shapes to add design and character to user homes. User Interfaces such as Alexa now come in built-in hubs and provide centralized access to home technologies, while centralized control mechanisms such as SmartThings are also providing excellent authority over such homes and their integrated technologies.

Naturally, companies are seeking to take advantage of the new wave of technological developments for customer homes and Walmart is currently investing into a controversial service: to provide its customers with groceries when they are away from their homes. As long as the customers allow legal access to their homes, Walmart delivery personnel will be supplying such homes with the reportedly lacking items and products according to online information databases, which will work in conjunction with smart home systems. The customers themselves can also place such orders through the company’s online systems and authorize the delivery personnel to enter their homes and place the ordered items in the refrigerator or any other spot in the house as specified by the customer. As expected, the customer will be notified through an SMS, an email or a phone call prior to and following such operations to ensure that there will exist no lack of communication between such personnel and Walmart customers. The company is defending its revolutionary approach by stating that all the mentioned procedures will be 100% safe and secure and will only be carried out upon customer approval. In addition, the company’s vision seems to be moving away from traditional retailing to one-on-one customer relations for which this project holds a monumental value and importance.

Speaking of security risks associated with smart living, the issue of control over the installed applications, gadgets and appliances is becoming increasingly more important. Several cases of harassment have been reported by users of such technologies, namely by women and children, upon which it was discovered by authorities that company employees who have installed such devices are frequently granted access to their controls without user knowledge or consent. Such access is a direct threat to the protection of personal privacy rights and constitutes a significant violation of respective laws. The experts are stating that the best way to deal with such issues is to report such harassment as soon as it is detected by the user and replace the device or gadget immediately, preferring a different service provider. Such issues are very common between ex-partners who have shared homes in their past with one of the partners remaining in the shared household and the other messing with them through long-distance controls of household appliances and applications. Although it might seem harmless, the issue is of real concern, especially for high-profile people, who value and protect their privacy more than anything else in their lives to be able to remain as revered and respected individuals in their respective societies. Ill-minded and intended individuals have been known to steal personal information about such people to use against them for defamation and degradation of their public images, leading to serious public legal battles between the parties.    

Digital Marketing: The Rise of Chatbots

Digital marketing in 2018 is ever evolving. Most companies are aware of Digital Marketing trends, such as the need for seo strategies, social media strategy, email campaigns, etc. But businesses are also seeking new ways to automate their interactions with customers so that fewer man-hours are needed. With the rise of Artificial Intelligence the ability to be available to customers 24/7 is starting to become a reality. AI is opening up many new doors in the field of digital marketing, and the most popular right now is through Chatbots.

What are Chatbots? They are artificial intelligence-based technology that utilizes instant messaging with consumers around the clock. Customers take a lot of time and energy, and often businesses, especially in the healthcare and banking fields, get the same inquiries over and over from users/clients/consumers. Chatbots take some of the heavy lifting off of the company and allow the user to communicate with automated responses that are smooth, instantaneous and directly answer common questions or conversation responses.

Do customers approve of this type of communication? They actually do. Many consumers have reported that they actually prefer chatbot interaction because of the lack of emotion–or inability in getting impatient. Virtual assistants answer fast and efficiently. This customer interaction takes a huge amount of work off of the shoulders of company staff, allowing them to focus on other, more pressing needs within the company.

Chatbots have the ability to answer questions through question and answer triggers that create a chat based on specific keywords and a list of queries. Chats also can give out information about the company itself, handle specific requests, describe its products and services, and even inquire with customers for consumer information. With chatbot technology Facebook Messenger is blowing up, allowing people to hire cars, make payments, create an estimated time of arrival, etc. It’s easy to configure it so that people are able to sign up for things using these chatbots. The best part is that consumers have access to this information 24/7 without the need for actual manpower. Customer service can be available all day everyday. For any questions that are too complicated for a bot, a live operator can jump in during designated times.

The key to chatbots is to have the chatbot sound like an actual human talking. A company should write the queries, the questions and answers, in the sound or tone of voice of someone on their team. The chatbot is an extension of the company’s team and it should sound just as personable and relatable as an actual customer service representative. With the chatbot customization out there right now, it’s easy to make a profile photo that looks real and customize the conversation to fit your company’s tone and needs.

As 2018 comes to a close it’s time to consider expanding digital marketing strategies to include this beneficial artificial intelligence. The more it becomes a regular part of the marketplace, the more consumers will come to expect it.

Automotive Industry: Travelling Made Easy

The automotive industry is one of the prime movers of the global economy. The invention of the automobile is a milestone in the history of transportation and social advancement. Automobiles have impacted the manner in which people live and travel the world over, and touched all facets of society including families, economy and environment.

The automotive industry began in the 1860s with the advent of the horseless carriage. However, it was Karl Benz who invented the first gas-powered car in 1885. Benz’s rudimentary car had only three wheels and accommodated merely two people, but it marked the beginning of the gas-powered automobile. But it wasn’t until Henry Ford’s 1906 Model T that automobiles started to resemble what we have today.

Automobiles were first mass-produced and became affordable in the 1920s, thanks to Ford’s invention of the assembly line. These automobiles came equipped with features such as speedometers, seatbelts and rear-view mirrors. The next major development in the automotive industry took place in the late 80s, by way of keyless entry systems, electric doors and CD players. We are now in the golden, brave new world of automotive industry, characterized by MP3 players, hard drives, advanced safety systems, GPS and much more.

Automotive technology is driving today’s vehicles. The modern cars are sophisticated digital machines that can communicate seamlessly with the outside world with the help of electronics that are embedded into them. Advanced radar technology and computer-controlled engine systems are fuelling technological transformation and transforming engine construction, fuel and ignition systems, brakes and transmission devices.

The on-board diagnostics systems detect and provide warning of malfunctions long before these conditions can become precarious to both man and vehicle. Features such as airbags, safety locks, child locks, anti-skid brakes and rear facing cameras have enhanced car safety. Cruise control ensures that the car moves at an optimal speed, making for better fuel consumption and a smoother ride. Infrared radiation, thermal imaging, cameras and displays have turned driving into a secure experience, while LED headlights make night driving less dreadful. Navigation systems such as GPS have simplified driving as one can stream maps and follow instructions to make one’s way to the destination. There are also many environment-friendly options, such as hybrids with dual fuel options and regular fuel-efficient cars. The recent developments in self-driving cars and fully autonomous vehicles are set to change the face of fleet management. Companies such as ORIX are in the forefront of providing innovative fleet management solutions that streamline operations, and consolidate the wealth of data for better decision making and superior customer service.

The cars are getting cheaper and better with each passing day. Futuristic automobile technologies are leading to safe driving and facilitating a new driving experience. While the automobile shaped the 20th century more than any other invention, the technology of the 21st century is shaping the next leap in the automobiles space.

Tech Disruptions in Trucking Industry

Progress and change go hand in hand. With the fast changing pace of technology in today’s world, the trucking industry needs to keep up.

The commercial vehicle industry is vast, varied and complex. New technologies can make the workings of the many sub-industries that flourish under the big umbrella much smoother. Moving freights and goods can be a highly taxing and competitive business, so any technology that improves margins would be an advantage. Here are some future trends in the industry that experts foresee:

Adopting a truck routing software is the need of the hour due to the changing dynamics of the commercial environment. Stringent emission norms, narrowing margins and increasing competitions means that all freight companies need to employ efficient systems.

Dynamic routing allows commercial vehicles flexibility in finding the most cost efficient way to move from point to point. It plans routes using GPS and Advanced Fleet Management Systems and can incorporate delivery times using multiple time windows and heterogeneous fleets of commercial vehicles. This cuts time, promotes fuel efficiencies and helps drivers too with time management..

Keeping a driver scorecard helps manage performance. Monitoring hard braking and unwanted acceleration can help pinpoint performance problems. Driver performance can be the variable that adds or reduces fuel costs by 20-30 percent.

The networked operation of a fleet of trucks with optimal distance and speed is the future. It reduces fuel consumption and increases efficiency by almost 18 percent, according to experts. But as German Association of the Automotive Industry (VDA) president Bernhard Mattes, said at an international conference:

“The digitization of traffic opens up completely new opportunities for making mobility smoother and more efficient in large metropolitan areas and beyond. That reduces emissions. Most importantly, digitization, connectivity and automated driving will bring about a quantum jump in road safety.”

Tracking software makes not only tracking of freight easier but it also facilitates data collection for a seamless fleet management system. Data analytics can help in the maintenance of the commercial vehicles and track the fleets. Small businesses can map out profitable areas and tailor and customise offerings accordingly.

Temperature for perishables on freight can also be controlled. Any change in temperature can be fixed with the tracking devices and a log of the temperatures can provide due documentation in case of any trouble.

Another noticeable trend is the new technology disrupting the way businesses will operate in the future. Uber has come up with Uber Freight connecting shippers and freighters similar to its ride hailing services.

Such apps may take time to catch on as the freight industry is more business to business and getting fleets and drivers on board may be difficult. Only time will tell if this new apps based freight business will work out.

Why renting is the optimum choice for university students

Financial education is the most critical asset that any university scholar must possess. According to reports, for the academic year 2017-18, the average tuition fees for university programs in Canada shot up by 3.1 per cent. It is a significant hike, in the face of the fact that the average Canadian university tuition fee — not including the cost of stationery, books and other expenses — anyway comes to about CAD 6,500 every year. More expensive academic courses can incur a fee anywhere in the range from CAD 8,000- 22,000 annually.

For students who have taken loans to pay for such enormous tuition fee and other related expenses, it is essential that they know how to manage their financial resources efficiently, especially when it comes to controlling costs other than the fee.

For example, every student who is living far off the campus or having an additional part-time job would genuinely appreciate having his/her car. However, buying even a used car can strain one’s financial resources significantly, and it is not easy to manage a car loan along with an education loan. This strain can pose a severe problem because the fear of huge debts often prompts students to drop out of the programme.

In such cases where a student with limited financial resources may need a personal vehicle, he/she can explore the possibility of getting a car on lease. When you lease or rent a car, you have to pay a periodic or monthly fee for a fixed period, say about one to three years. Once the contract gets over, you can leave the car with the company or switch to another one.

Leasing has many benefits for university students, and some of those advantages are listed as follows:

  1. Cars on lease work better than used cars

When you lease a car, you will drive a vehicle which would be in its best condition, unlike used automobiles that are generally way past their prime years. Be it the technology, braking, lights or seat comfort; you will get a car in which these features will be working in their best condition. As a customer, you will have more extensive options in the choice of your vehicle.

  1. No worry about selling the car

As mentioned earlier, once you no longer need the vehicle, you can leave it with the dealer or ask one of the company agents to pick it up for you at a mutually convenient spot. You do not have to worry about finding a buyer for the used vehicle. Before you sign up for an auto loan, remember that unlike a leased car, a financed or purchased car depreciates the most in its first year of use on the road. You wouldn’t have to worry about depreciation when you lease your next car.

  1. Easier process

Even if a student were confident about managing an auto loan, it is possible that the student may not qualify for that. Car leasing has no such problems, and the payment plans are easy to manage as well.

Ed Tech prepares students for higher education and increases accessibility of knowledge

In the recent years, there have been a lot of technological advancements in almost all fields. Education Technology (Ed Tech) is just one of the many fields that have been influenced by the digital innovations. Ed Tech has brought opportunities in various manners and has allowed education to have a wider reach. Through Ed Tech, students all over the world have benefited in terms of extra learning, tutoring, and in some cases even schooling. Ed Tech has allowed more affordable and accessible learning and knowledge to children and adults throughout the world especially in terms of gaining higher education. There are now options available that can transform a students learning experience and help them prepare for university. Here are 3 different ways by which Ed Tech has changed the learning process of students.

  1. Online Certification Courses

Initially, the only way in which students could learn and discover their interests was through the limited classes they had available. Now, however, with platforms like Coursera and Edx, students have the ability to learn different online certificate courses. These courses can help one understand what one is truly interested in and develop their skills before proceeding with higher education. The courses available on these online platforms are both paid (in case one requires the certificate) and unpaid. They not only help a student understand where their strengths lie, they are beneficial when the student is deciding what university majors they would like to take. Moreover, as online certification becomes more recognized worldwide, it can be used to highlight one’s skills on their Resumes.

  1. Online Tutoring Services

Everyone knows how expensive finding a tutor can be and that not everyone can afford a tutor. A lot of capable students have missed out on opportunities because of their weakness in one subject which could have been easily learned with some extra support. Through Ed Tech, students have a higher possibility of understanding harder concepts. This is because they can access online information via YouTube and online tutoring platforms that provide explanations to students at much more affordable rates, and even for free at times. The increase of online tutoring has allowed a lot of students to succeed in their school years even if they have limited resources. The availability of learning material at lower costs allows more students to access opportunities and therefore proceed with their careers.

  1. Standardized Testing

Standardized testing is one of the most important parts of student’s high-school lives. A lot of the times, standardized tests such as the SATs are the most important factor in student acceptances from universities around the world. Higher scores in the SATs also help students get scholarships and apply for merit-based financial aid. The process of studying for standardized testing used to be costly. But, in the last few years platforms like Khan Academy and other standardized testing focused startups have developed that provide AP learning or SAT prep or a GRE class. These platforms are accessible to all and usually free and extremely reliable as they are focused on teaching students through researched and tested methods.

Overall, the availability of Ed Tech has opened doors for the young generation to pursue the career they want. It has made it more affordable for students to explore their choices and understand where their strengths lie. These digital innovations are allowing this generation to be more skillful, aware, and more educated.

How Information Technology affects tourism in East Africa

Information technology (IT) plays a crucial role in the tourism and hospitality sector. It not only facilitates the access to information from anywhere around the globe but also simplifies the booking and check-in/check-out processes.

Travel companies, airlines, and hotels have widely embraced IT to improve their operational efficiency, minimize costs, and most importantly enhance the quality of service along with customer experience.

The evolution of Smartphones, the internet, and other forms of technologies has seen tourists and travellers enjoy significant savings and convenience. Today’s consumers have access to wide-ranging resources that can help them make well-informed decisions about their travels. On the other hand, service providers can convey information about their services and promotions through apps and websites.

This article highlights how information technology influences the tourism and hospitality industry in East Africa.

The internet has revolutionized the way we do things, starting with research, communication, business, lifestyle, etc., and tourism is no different. Today, the internet serves as a powerful tool for travel companies as it helps them highlight the kinds of experiences they have in store for diverse types of clients through their websites. Similarly, it allows those who are planning to travel to different regions to have a feel of what they are going to experience even before they set out for the journey.

Now it is easier for someone in Canada to learn about the different types of safaris in East Africa from the comfort of their living room. It is also possible for them to read about the experiences of other people, which help clear out any uncertainties about the destination of choice.

Today, travellers do not need to drive down to offices to make a reservation for anything, whether it’s flights, hotels or tours, and travel company. All they need to do is go online, search for the company’s platform and make payments. Better yet, they can install the company’s mobile application (if available) and complete the process there and then. A while back, this wasn’t possible, and it was even harder if one was planning to travel to Africa.

The world is a global village; in this technological age, a person in the UK can pick up their phone and call a travel company in Kenya to enquire about a service or ask for clarification on any matter. It’s also easier for companies to call, email or text their clients about offers, delays or even advertising.

Besides, according to one study by Reuters, safety is a top priority for most tourists and carrying mobile devices that facilitate communication allows them to relax knowing they can call for help in case something goes wrong.

Lastly, tourists want the assurance that they can still communicate with their friends and loved ones back at home. The improving network systems in East Africa allow them to do this.

A while back, many were sceptical about traveling to Africa because they couldn’t do business due to lack of internet connectivity. But that’s not the case today; almost all hotels, lodges and restaurants offer Wi-Fi amenities to enhance the experiences of their guests. They even integrate customized applications to access room service options through e-dining internet sites or online.

Innovation in technology has largely increased how tours and travels companies communicate, not just with clients, but also with sponsors, partners, and business connections. The high-speed internet enables real-time video or audio conferencing with people from all corners of the globe; it is faster, cheaper, and convenient than the traditional methods.

Other than communication, it is also easier for agencies to send data to hotels, airlines or other service providers and get back to clients without any delays. This enhances the booking and coordination process that would otherwise take some few hours and even days to be processed.

Computers have played an incredible role in the organisation of documents as well as information. This has not only brought order in the offices, but also a golden chance for agencies to collect substantial information that they can use to enhance their solutions.

Since agencies can collect and store wide-ranging information around their services – including reservations time, dates and seasons, pricing, customer satisfaction rates and response, inquiries, questions, etc., it is easier for them to plan for future success. They can leverage the data collected to analyse their strengths, weakness, organization and come up with laser-focused strategies to provide better services. They also can use the customer information to help in innovation and planning.

Self-service booking is one of the areas where technology has influenced the level of service that travel companies offer. Today, clients looking to reserve a safari no longer have to go to the agency’s physical location (or send someone down). All they need to do is pull out their devices – laptop, mobile phone, or tablet – and log on to a platform, and make payments. The best part is, they can book just about every service online, whether its airline, hotels, safaris, etc.

The technological advancement has positively influenced the tourism and hospitality industry. Today, someone can get everything they want from the comfort of their homes or offices – right from research and consultation through to reservation and travel.

Hotels and lodges too, have benefited, thanks to the evolution of recordkeeping, from papers to computerized systems. This advancement has seen them reap profits and provide even better services to their clients.

Tour agencies now have a chance to display and advertise their solutions online, through interactive websites. They also can take clients through virtual tours, to give them an impression of what to expect when they visit.