Best Strategies for Saving on Flights and Hotels

As a business owner, you always look for ways to save money when running a business. Amongst all areas business travel is one key area where you can find savings on flights and hotels. By following the best booking strategies and utilizing affordable options, travelers can reduce the cost of their business trip.

Here are a few ways to save on hotels and flights:

Saving on Hotels

Book hotels and flights together

Online travel booking sites offer price breaks for purchasing a flight and hotel together. Combined packages are mostly used by vacationers but also offer great value to business travelers with flexible preferences.

Surf online, book over phone

To get the best deals, browse through various online booking channels and figure out your preferred option. Get in touch with the hotel and ask them to reduce the rate further. This works as many hotels will go lower to avoid paying third-party booking fees.

Advance fees

If you are sure about your travel plans, nonrefundable hotel reservations offer the best price. Paying advance can save up to 20% on bookings made directly with hotels.

Take advantage of refundable bookings

Alternatively, you can make a refundable booking by looking for the best prices online. Hotels usually don’t have any cancellation fees like airlines.

Use corporate discounts

Businesses often negotiate with preferred hotel vendors and get discounts up to 40%. So, using corporate booking tools can give you the lowest possible fare when booking.

Last-minute travel

If you are booking in last-minute, you can find deals on unused rooms. Talk to your preferred hotels to know about possible cancellations. Also, searching last-minute booking sites such as Hotel Tonight can help you get other options.

Say no to cookies

Travel sites maintain cookies to identify customers with strong intention to buy. Clearing your browser history might give you more favorable prices.

Flight Saving Strategies

Travel during off-peak hours

Flights are cheapest between 5 am to 7 am and after 8 pm. Businesses can save an average of $116 per flight by flying at peak times.

Fly on specific days

Reports from recent studies revealed that Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Saturdays are the low cost days to fly. Flying on these days can save you money.

Take connecting flights

Direct flights are convenient, but flights with layovers will cost you less. Taking connecting flights is one of the strategies that can help you save money.

Check out from less expensive airports

When you search for flights, check the box “include nearby airports”. You can choose alternative airports that cost you less than others and not necessarily farther away.

Make early bookings

Tickets booked fewer than seven days before departure will cost you an average of 44% more than if they had been booked 15 or more days in advance.

Book on the right time

Airfares fluctuate throughout the week. Studies revealed that the best time to book air travel is Tuesday at 3 PM ET, the time when airlines will release their discounted seat inventory.

Leverage refund rules

Bookings made at least 7 days in advance can be canceled within 24 hours. This creates a grace period in which you can cancel your bookings if your travel plans are not final.

These strategies can help you save money while booking flights and hotels.

Signs of Poor Taxi Service

find it easier to travel on a daily basis now. The lines between traditional taxi services and ride sharing services have blurred. This assimilation has increased expectation for ride sharing services to operate more like a professional cab service.

For a smooth and non-stressful ride, it is recommended to watch out for these red flags before a service is hired.

Unusually high fares
Cut throat competition has forced transport sector to drive innovation and continue reducing fares. This has been true for taxi services too. Unless there is a shortage of drivers due to high demand or premium services being offered, there is no incentive to pay extra.

Questionable maintenance
Good taxi services walk the extra mile. They often partner up with local bodies to have their cars certifiably inspected for faults. This translates into a safe and relaxed environment for its customers and repeats business. Any taxi service failing to ensure such maintenance regularly will naturally lose credibility.

Resistance towards technology adoption
Without a shred of doubt, technology has become one of the most integral parts of our lives. Without it, our complex ecosystem will collapse. A good taxi service tries to stay ahead of the curve and employs latest technologies. While this does increase their cost in the short term, it brings more revenue in the longer term. As a rule of thumb a good taxi company will employ at a bare minimum: –

– GPS tracking

– online bookings

– dedicated platform for drivers and customers

– email confirmation

Inflexible payment solutions
In an ever digitalizing economy, less people are carrying cash with them for daily settlements. While a bad taxi service turns blind eye to this, good taxi services see opportunity to retain and expand existing customer base. As such, they offer customers the convenience of paying via not only credit cards but cash and even wallet systems.

Non-existent or poor customer service
A substandard taxi company does not feel obligated to ensure customer satisfaction. Instead, it operates on a basic, no-frills business model. An important pillar of customer satisfaction is during service or after sale service. This is done to ensure that customers have an option to provide feedback or complaint about the service. The underlying idea is to empower users to speak directly to a company representative; to share positive feedback or raise concern.

A taxi service operating without customer service could potentially turn out to be the single biggest red flag. It goes on to display the concerned company has for its users.

Unprofessional drivers
Demonstrating professionalism for a driver is myriad of, rather subjective, intangibles. Being a professional driver is not simply about driving fluidly but also ensuring customer accompanied does not feel uncomfortable in any way. A good taxi company should, therefore, have a system of metrics in place to rate the performance of its drivers.

The list is not exhaustive in any form. Indeed, many of the indicators might be trivial to one person but a deal breaker for other. At the end of the day, the service that focuses its energies on customer convenience and facilitation is likely to triumph over others. If you need the best taxi service then make sure that they don’t have bad signs.

Why Image Masking Is Necessary

In Post-processing, it is nearly impossible for a designer to avoid using the image masking features and methods. Image masking opens up a new window of endless editing effects and a dedicated designer is bent on taking every single opportunity.

Sound knowledge about these options and functions will ensure a satisfying end result. Now to address the question at hand:

Non-Destructive: As opposed to erasing a background using the Eraser Tool, masking technique does not obliterate the image details. They are cleverly hidden below various layers so that they can help us out in case we need to make changes. On the contrary, the Eraser tool permanently deletes these pixels and it is close to impossible to bring those back in case a tweaking is required.

Transitions: The basic or simplest function of image masking technique is to have a “hide and seek” effect in some areas of the photo. This transitioning effect can be created using brushes and gradients for soft masking. This requires delicate strokes and soft brushes. This transparency of pictures can be controlled. The opacity level can be adjusted to suit the photo and its background. This is not the only technique for achieving this effect, but it is the simplest.

Editing Specific Areas: Many times we are faced with projects where we need to edit a small portion of the photo; such as, changing the color of someone’s clothes in a photo and fixing shadow/light issues. You can use masking techniques to highlight the portion and edit it as you wish e.g. color correction, brightness, contrast, exposure, shadows etc.

Removing / Replacing Background of Translucent Objects: Masking is an easy option when it comes to removing backgrounds of translucent objects. Any object with any level of transparency can be isolated from its background by careful masking. Even in cases of semi-transparent clothes’ photos, this technique can be applied.

Single Advantage of Clipping Mask: Clipping mask, when compared to Layer Mask, has the advantage of making different areas visible by simply moving the clipped image. It can be determined by the user which part of the background they want to be visible and which part they don’t by using clipping mask. Other than this one advantage, regular layer masking is more than good enough for most masking work.

Creating Collage Photos: Collage images are fun and it is even more interesting when you play with the masking tools while making a collage. Interesting and cool effects can be made by using a number of pictures and masking them. Soft brushes in varying gradients and hues of gray will definitely make these blending smooth.

One Bad Decision Can Cost a Hospital Millions

Things can go wrong without the right team in place

I recently read an article that was attempting to explain the cost overrun experienced by a hospital during the launch of their new EMR. The article was clear on what caused the overrun but failed to communicate why the decision was made that created the cause.

In many hospitals, emotions can run high fueled by attitudes of resistance to change. The pressures and stress associated with go-live can be a challenge to manage; however, allowing those forces to affect decision-making can have lasting adverse financial effects. When all planning, budget, constraints, and common sense that should be applied are set aside, you can almost always expect the worse. It may feel like appeasement is the right thing to do to relieve the stress, but it may not be the best thing. Sticking to the plan, and staying within the budget should always be the guiding factor that drives decisions even when the pressure is great.

It’s unfortunate, but some decisions are based on problems that may not exist at all but are only perceived based on excessive negativity. Having an experienced team in place that can help make decisions based on fact is vital.

Negotiating Skills Do Pay Off!

When doing logistics, treat it like it’s your money

Getting one of the best hotels in the city to give you the lowest rate with great concessions is excellent. In this agreement, the hotel managed the flight itineraries and provided transportation to and from the airport. They supplied one large conference room for orientation and then surprised us in the contract with a complimentary welcome reception for 120 guests with heavy hors-d’oeuvres. Provided two fifty-six seat luxury buses and several shuttles to transport consultants to the training facility and back. They also agreed to use their shuttles to take those consultants that worked within two miles of hotel to work and back each day. Everything listed above was in the price of the rooms $105.09 with tax. Note, this took a huge burden off the consulting firm, and the savings were passed on to the hospital.

When a hospital hires a consulting firm, that consulting company should put forth all effort to save money, not spend money. Creating a positive cost variance (CV) indicates the consulting firm is in fact on your team. Negotiating for the best price is good, but getting the most value for the lowest price is better.

Consultants Saved the Day!

Good consultants can mean the difference between success and failure

I sat in an auditorium with over three hundred consultants when the speaker invited to the podium the senior implementation project manager. “Dr. So and So has overseen the EMR implementation of nineteen plus hospitals please give him a round of applause.” Wow, nineteen projects that’s impressive. However, it turned out to be a challenging project in many areas but mainly with significant workflow issues.

Although it is confusing why this happens, it is clear the leadership was out of touch. Seeking someone with excellent qualifications can be attractive for any hospital, but having someone with the insight that can eliminate problems before they exist is priceless. I am not sure why this project manager didn’t know this.

Fortunate for everyone the consultants came with the experience and knowledge necessary to handle these types of issues. Jumping into action and based on past experiences they began the process of educating the staff and leadership on what works. This go-live would have never survived without the tremendous efforts of the consultant.

Palm Oil Plantation Business in Indonesia: How to Get Started

Palm Oil Plantations are a very lucrative agricultural business for agriculture entrepreneurs and companies to invest in. The potential in this business makes palm oil one of the largest revenue streams in Indonesia. After the President of Indonesia Mr. Joko Widodo (Jokowi) imposed a moratorium on the land available for plantations, the value of palm oil plantations has increased dramatically.

The process of acquisition or take over of plantations, especially oil palm plantations, is not as easy as imagined. There are a number of important factors that are key to success in the take-over of oil palm plantations that must be followed and implemented based on the principle of gentlement-agreement by each party.

Considering that transactions in the property sector, especially the take-over of oil palm plantations, contain very high capital business and involve many parties as mediators, the government in this case the Minister of Trade of the Republic of Indonesia feels the need to make rules to safeguard the rights and obligations of the parties involved through the Minister of Trade Regulation of the Republic of Indonesia no. 33 / M-DAG / PER / 8/2008 concerning Brokerage Company of Property Trade.

However, even though there are regulations governing trade transactions, it is not uncommon for a transaction to be too convoluted and less cooperative between mediators, so that the take-over process actually becomes unsuccessful or completely void.

The following are steps to acquire a palm oil plantation in Indonesia

First, contact a trusted brokerage firm and ask if they have palm oil plantations to sell. Do not contact individual brokers as they may not have the complete detail on specific plantations, and generally they are not clear with the actual relation to the available plantation. Such cases often occur in Indonesia and you should make sure that the plantations have no legal issues.

Second, ask the brokerage firm to do the due diligence so that you avoid future legal issues in Indonesia. A trusted brokerage firm must have qualified survey tools such as drone mapping and a reliable agronomist / business analyst team. Thus, there is a match between the plantation legal documentation and the actual physical plantation.

Third, make sure the selling price of the plantation is fair. Almost all individual brokers markup the original price up to 30%. You should be careful in doing business with these types of individual brokers because of this type of lack of transparency. In this case you need to appoint a trusted agent to represent you in the take-over process. A typical commission fee of 1-3% should be expected from the plantation selling side.