How Technology is Shaping Travel and Tourism

 

Technology improves every aspect of travel.

60% of all travel-related searches begin on a mobile device according to MobileMarketing, a specialist in the delivery of mobile marketing.  The ubiquity of smartphones makes travel research and experiences much easier.  With mobile apps and websites, people can quickly shop for the best flights at the lowest prices.  Most airlines offer mobile check-in and tickets, eliminating the need for paper tickets.

Using filtering criteria, travel websites search thousands of destinations and arrangements to find the perfect fit in minutes. Online reviews provide a better understanding of different travel destinations and accommodations.  Nielsen Media Research reports 92% of consumers trust recommendations over all other forms of advertising.

Even at arrival, mobile apps can help improve your experience. Apps such as Firef.ly tailor travel recommendations based on the user’s personal interests, budget, etc.  Some apps show users the best restaurants, historical sites, and tourist attractions.  Itineraries are easily accessible down to step-by-step directions. Wi-Fi hotspots are readily available when traveling, making it easy and free to stay connected through calls, texts, emails and more.

Social media fuels tourism.  Travelers often document their experiences on platforms such as Instagram and Facebook.  This is free advertising for travel destinations.  Seeing a post from a friend on vacation may lead someone to indulge in research about that place.  According to National Geographic, “in 2015, the tourism board of the small alpine town of Wanaka, New Zealand, began inviting and hosting “influencers”—social media trendsetters with large followings—to post about their adventures.”  This led to a 14% increase in tourism.

The accommodation industry has changed.  Many travelers opt to rent a house or apartment instead of staying in a hotel.  Hotels adjust their strategy to compete.  Many give their customers a more personalized experience.  Hotels today analyze online and offline data to provide guests with the most personalized experience possible.  Technology may be entering the field, but a good personal touch remains essential.

The travel industry is focusing on millennials.  This generation would rather spend their money on experiences than material goods.  According to AARP, millennials are 23% more likely to travel than older generations.  Growing up in a world of social media, millennials often travel for the sake of capturing an Instagram photo or bragging rights on Twitter.

Millennials, when traveling, want a different experience than past generations.  Millennials do not want to do all the “touristy” things, but instead, want to experience everyday life in their destination.  This means eating at local restaurants and bars, going to lesser-known attractions, etc.  Many millennials even decide to rent a house, or apartment instead of a hotel to make them feel part of the local community.

There has been an increase in business travel in the past couple of years.  Business travel is more important than ever to building strong customer relationships.  Many millennials do not have much responsibility at home (kids, family, etc.), allowing them to take longer trips.  They are more likely to extend their business trips into leisure trips than any other generation.

The biggest impact technology has made to improve traveling is save time.  When traveling, you want to take advantage of every single bit of time you have.  Mobile apps, websites, and more have simplified and personalized the traveling industry as a whole.

Electronic library

How Technology is Changing the Publishing Industry

Publishing is in constant change.  Since the birth of modern publishing in the 19th century, the rise of e-books has led to a decrease in physical book sales; publishers have had to adjust their business strategies in order to stay afloat.

The publishing industry, like most, was heavily impacted by the financial crisis in 2008, and has not been the same since.  Publishing companies downsized, crumbled, or merged together.  Twenty years ago, there were three dozen “major publishers,” while today there are a “Big Five:” Hachette Book Group, HarperCollins, Macmillan Publishers, Penguin Random House, Simon and Schuster.

In 2007 the Amazon Kindle was released.  Two years later, Borders closed in the United States.  Publishers took this as a wake-up call.  The industry was drastically changing, and publishers would have to find new ways to generate revenue to keep the business running.

Today, with the proliferation of smartphones, everyone has access to a whole library in their pocket.  People can read their favorite books at anytime, anywhere.  As a result, publishers are now focusing a great portion of their energy on e-books.  Many physical books today even include reminders that they are also available digitally.

E-books open a whole new door of opportunity for publishers.  With e-books, publishers reach a new audience.  Many classics have been converted into e-books, making them more attractive for a younger audience, and the cost of producing digital books is cheaper than the physical counterparts.  This means e-books cost less for consumers, and in turn readers often buy more books.

The problem publishers now face is being able to generate sufficient revenue through e-books sales.  Many people expect the internet to be free and therefore it is difficult for publishers to get consumers to pay for their books and protect their intellectual property.

Another big change in publishing, resulting from the rise of technology, is self-publishing.  Self-publishing has been a method of publishing for years but has only recently taken off.  This method that once only yielded poor, unprofessional books, has risen through the charts with quality that is indistinguishable from traditionally published books.  In fact, the Oscar-nominated film The Martian was based off a self-published book by Andy Weir.

In the past, people would write stories and keep them private. Today, it is easy to publish anything yourself quickly and with great quality.  Self-publishing has many benefits.  With self-publishing, authors exert all the control over the book.  When signing with a publishing company, the author gives away his/her control of the book to the publisher in exchange for an advance and royalties.  However, this also means that the author bears the financial risk of the whole enterprise.  When self-publishing, the cover, editing, copywriting, and release of the book all become the responsibility of the author.

It is important for self-publishers to make sure they do not release a low-quality book, for this will hurt their reputation.  Writers, editors, proofreaders, etc. were once only accessible through publishing companies.  Now many of these professionals are readily-accessible as freelancers and can be of great service to self-publishers.

According to advocacy website Author Earnings, independent authors are now earning more from e-books than authors who are handled by publishing companies.  Big name authors, such as Stephen King, have realized that they can bypass a publisher and go directly to Amazon, where they receive more of a revenue for their work.  Kindle Direct Publishing can even give authors up to 70% of the purchase price, while allowing them to retain copyright and a non-exclusive deal.

Though there are many benefits to self-publishing, many still go the route of traditional publishing.  When signing with a traditional publisher, the author surrenders his/her creative and content control of the book.  However, there are many benefits to traditional publishing.  When signing with a publisher, an author will receive an advance.  This assures the author that he will receive monetary compensation even if his/her book fails.  Books from a publishing company also have greater access to mainstream media.  The only people who still look at the publisher as a source of credibility are journalists, who in turn will review and bring attention to the book.

Getting a book published by a publishing company is a big process, often taking 2 to 3 years.  Plus, if the author does not have an existing audience, it is nearly impossible to get a deal with a publishing company.  Book Agent Byrd Leavell says “Publishers aren’t buying anything that doesn’t come with a built-in audience that will buy it. They don’t take risks anymore, they don’t gamble on authors, they only want sure things. I won’t even take an author out unless they have an audience they can guarantee 10k pre-sales to.”

Building an audience has never been more important.  With the internet, readers want and expect to be in communication with their favorite authors.  Many authors today have Facebook groups, Twitter accounts, and e-mail chains.  There are many different outlets available for authors to build an audience, so it is vital they take advantage.  It is impossible to write for everyone, so finding a niche audience is very important for an author.

Publishing companies have implemented the use of data and analytics into their decision- making process, identifying reading trends every year to find out which genres, titles, etc. generated the most sales.  Social trends are fast-paced and always changing, making it important for publishers to jump on them while they’re still popular.

Audiobooks are another driving force in the publishing business, especially with the ubiquity of smartphones, audiobooks have risen in popularity. Audiobook sales in the U.S. rose by 31% from 2015 to 2016.  Audiobooks do not replace reading, but instead allow people to explore books that they otherwise would not have time for.  People often listen to audiobooks while performing menial tasks such as cleaning, driving, etc.  People also finish more books when listening to them instead of reading, leading them to purchase more as well.

The publishing industry has been turned upside down by the rise of technology in recent years.  Though, what will never change about publishing is the necessity of telling a good story.

Michael Eisner

Where They Are Now – Former CEOs

It is no secret that CEO’s do not have much job security, and do not often have extended careers.  This is especially true with large corporations. Here is a look at a few prominent leaders in the early 2000’s that had turbulent or short-lived careers.

 

Michael Eisner – DisneyMichael Eisner

Michael Eisner was named CEO of Disney in 1984 after leaving Paramount for the job at the request of Roy Disney, the nephew of Walt Disney.  At Eisner’s arrival, Disney’s entertainment division was struggling and relied heavily on its theme park revenues.

Eisner turned Disney into a global media empire.  Eisner increased the company’s value from $1.8 billion at his arrival, to $80 billion by the end of his tenure.  Eisner was the top paid CEO in 1998, and released his first book, Work in Progress: Risking Failure, Surviving Success. 

Although Eisner brought Disney great financial success, he was criticized by many investors.  Fans believed Eisner was selling too hard, and subsequently taking away the Disney magic.  At a shareholders meeting around the time these complaints surfaced, Roy Disney stated that “Branding is something you do to cows. Branding is what you do when there’s nothing original about your product. But there is something original about our products. Or at least there used to be.”  In 2005, Michael Eisner resigned as CEO of Disney.

Eisner did not leave the entertainment business behind after his departure from Disney.  In 2005, Michael founded the Tornante Company, a privately held business that invests in, acquires, incubates, and operates media and entertainment companies.  Through Tornante, Michael also created Vuguru, an independent multi-platform studio.  The Tornante Company has recently found great success with the Netflix show BoJack Horseman.  Eisner has also published three additional books with his most recent work, released in 2010, titled Working Together: Why Great Partnerships Succeed.

 

Sanford Weill – Citigroup

Sanford Weill has brought success wherever he has gone throughout his career.  In 1981, Weill sold his first company, brokerage firm Shearson Loeb Rhoads, to American Express for nearly $1 billion.  After serving as President for American Express for a short time, he bought the Commercial Credit division of Control Data Corporation and rejuvenated the division.  Weill  later merged the company with Primerica, and then acquired Travelers Insurance.  The company took the name Travelers Group.

Weill had accomplished a lot, but his hope to create a “one-stop-shop” for consumer banking was yet to be achieved.  In 1998, Weill got one step closer by merging Travelers Group with Citicorp in a $76 billion deal.  The company took the name Citigroup and was one of the world’s largest financial services companies.  This was the largest merger in history at the time.

Weill was CEO of Citigroup until 2003, and stayed on as chairman until 2006.  In 2009, shortly after Weill’s departure from the company, the financial crisis almost led to Citigroup’s demise.   Many believe that Weill’s attempt to create a financial supermarket spurred the Great Recession of 2008.  Weill was placed on Time Magazine’s list of “25 People to Blame for the Financial Crisis.”

The financial crisis hurt Weill financially, but recovering Citigroup shares have restored his place on the Forbes billionaire list. Weill and his wife are now active philanthropists, having been honored with a Carnegie Medal of Philanthropy in 2009.

 

Rick Wagoner – General Motors

In 2000, G. Richard “Rick” Wagoner was named CEO of General Motors.  Wagoner, appointed at the age of 47, was the youngest CEO in GM history.  Wagoner was successful in his early years with the company, being named Executive of the Year by Automotive Industries in 2001.

In 2003, Wagoner faced adversity.  Increased competition, government regulation, and massive pension and health care costs made it very difficult for GM to turn a profit.  Japanese car companies, such as Nissan, Honda, and Toyota, had become more popular as well.  The company’s revenue decreased by 2.4% in 2003.  Wagoner promised the public a turnaround in profits, but the market situation made this a very difficult promise to keep.

General Motors continued having financial difficulties while Wagoner was criticized by the public for flaunting his wealth openly.  A report released in 2007 showed that Wagoner received over $14 million in compensation. A later incident revealed Wagoner arriving to a company hearing in a private jet, which landed him on the wrong side of public criticism.  Wagoner was also disparaged for resisting to invest in electric, and hybrid cars.

The financial crisis of 2008 hurt General Motors immensely, having caused the company to declare bankruptcy later in 2009.  The Troubled Asset Relief Program, a group of programs run by the US Treasury to stabilize the country’s economy following the 2008 financial crisis, invested about $50 billion in General Motors.  Part of this agreement with the Obama Administration included that Rick Wagoner would have to resign as CEO to provide further funding.

Since resigning as CEO, Wagoner has spent his time advising startup companies.   In April 2017, Wagoner was appointed to the board of ChargePoint Inc., the world’s largest electric vehicle charging network.  Many find this ironic because of his opposition to electrification during his tenure with General Motors.

 

Lee R. Raymond – ExxonMobil

Lee R. Raymond began working at Exxon in 1963.  Raymond worked his way up the ranks, eventually working in a refinery in Aruba, where he turned profits around.  Raymond was appointed CEO of Exxon in 1993. In 1998 Exxon merged with Mobil to create ExxonMobil.  The merger was very successful, and the company increased its earnings by $1.2 billion in the first year of the merger.

Raymond maintained his position as CEO of Exxon-Mobil after the two companies merged.  Following the merger’s completion, Raymond cut costs by cutting many employees.  Within four years of the merger, Raymond had let go about 16,000 employees.

Lee R. Raymond was a very private person.  He prided himself on keeping his personal life private from the media.  Raymond was said to be extremely smart.  His colleagues noted that he rarely sought advice from others, and never had a clear number two.  Many people who he worked with found Raymond to be arrogant.

Although many competitors, such as BP, Amoco, and Shell, were researching renewable resources, Raymond resisted.  Raymond stated that ExxonMobil would stand by oil and stay away from renewable sources of energy.  Being the CEO of an oil giant, Raymond had to deal with environmentalist protestors.  Raymond dismissed the idea of global warming, claiming it to be a hoax.  However, Raymond often mentioned the company’s initiative to work with car manufacturers to reduce vehicle emissions.

Lee R. Raymond was set to retire in 2003 at the age of 65 but delayed his retirement until 2005 so the company could groom a new CEO.  Raymond had a very successful career as CEO of ExxonMobil, increasing the market value fourfold to $375 billion.  In April 2006, it was announced that Raymond’s retirement package was worth about $400 million, the largest in history for a US public company.  Today, Lee R. Raymond sits on the board of JP Morgan Chase & Co.

 

These former CEO’s prove that large corporations had their struggles retaining great executives without the price of public humility, financial loss, or multiple transitions.

Millennials

Company Growth & The Millennial Generation

In recent years, I increasingly hear from employers in all industries and of all sizes, the challenges associated with retaining and inspiring employees from Generation Y, the Millennials.  (Millennials, aka Gen Next, were born between 1980 and 1994).   Stories relayed to me have been backed by research.  This is the next generation of leadership, but it will be a very different kind of leadership.

Keep in mind that labels are just that.  The traits described in this article certainly do not apply to all who fall into the Millennial generation.

This generation values work-life balance and flexibility.  They often demand the ability to work from home. They typically do not want to travel for business.  Overtime is okay but not as a routine event.  They will turn down jobs not meeting these needs, despite a high salary.

Millennials are very willing to change jobs if they do not agree with leadership.  They may not want a decision-making role, but they insist management hears them.  They will deliberately flout policies they do not respect or see as a policy that exists merely for the sake of having a policy.

The older members of this generation are reaching 38, a career stage where upper management considers whether an employee can be an essential member of the future management team. If companies wish to retain these key employees, they will have to adjust strategies based on generational expectations.

The often-quoted “The Millennial Leadership Survey” conducted by WorkplaceTrends.com and Virtuali, a leadership training consultancy, found Millennials will lead in a very different way.  Over 90% see themselves becoming leaders, a trait shared equally by men and women.  They value empowering employees over money and power.  They picture themselves as transformational leaders, looking to challenge and excite employees.

They are great self-evaluators.  They often see themselves as strong communicators and excellent at building relationships.  They believe these are by far the most important skills for a leader. They see current management as lacking in those areas.

They know their industry and technical weaknesses and want their employer to provide training.  But don’t send them to a classroom. They much prefer mentoring and self-study on-line classes.

Millennials are expected to lead companies that will develop and empower employees.  They will provide employees the work-life balance and flexibility they seek.  Interestingly, the drawback most cited by Millennials about becoming leaders is the disruption of this balance.  The Millennial-led company will have flatter management allowing easier communication both up and down.

Though many of our readers lead smaller companies, where many of these company characteristics exist by default, today’s leaders should rethink their strategies for the future.  Creating a company that will grow beyond current leadership is a goal that must be addressed regularly.

Fortune 500 Companies in 2000 versus 2017

Technology has made today’s world unrecognizable from what it was at the turn of the century.  If companies do not adjust their business strategies, they will be left in the dust.  The above image proves just that: even Fortune 500 companies have fallen between 2000 and 2017.  Here’s a look at a few key ones in various industries we all know.

General Motors (GM)

General Motors was the top revenue earner in 2000, but the company has been unstable ever since.  The financial crisis of 2008 greatly impacted the company.  In fact, in June of 2009, General Motors went bankrupt.  The “Troubled Asset Relief Program”, a group run by the US Treasury to stabilize the country’s economy following the 2008 financial crisis, invested about $50 billion in GM.  General Motors has since settled, but has not fully recovered to the same success.

Wal-Mart Stores (WMT)

Walmart has increased its bottom-line tremendously since the turn of the century, becoming the largest U.S. retailer by revenue in 1990 and holding strong since.  Then, in 2002, the company hit the top of the Fortune 500 list for the first time by continuing to develop along with industry trends.  They’ve made strides to improve the green and healthy values of its store brands, as people become more health-conscious in recent years.  The company has also instituted an impactful online store, keeping up with digital retail giants like Amazon.

Exxon Mobil (XOM)

The Exxon Corporation and Socony-Vacuum Oil Company (Mobil) merged in 1998, creating the largest corporate merger of its time. Together they formed the Exxon Mobil Corporation,  which has consistently been on the Fortune 500 ever since.  As of 2015, Exxon Mobil reached a new milestone by ranking as the fifth-largest oil and gas company by revenue in the world.

Intl. Business Machines (IBM)

IBM earned approximately $79.9 billion in 2017, setting the ranking at 32nd on the Fortune 500 list.  IBM has come to the forefront of artificial intelligence, with Watson, its AI program, gaining national attention in 2011.  IBM has partnered with many major companies in this endeavor, including Apple, Twitter, and Facebook.  IBM’s technology is ahead of the curve and the company is expected to grow in the coming years.

Citigroup (C)

Citigroup ranked 30th on the Fortune 500 list in 2017, citing $82 billion in revenue, which was similar earnings in 2000.  During the financial crisis of 2008, Citigroup was heavily affected, and by November of that year was insolvent.  The company responded by laying off more than 100,000 employees.  In the ensuing months, the government arranged a buy-back to the tune of $306 billion in loans and securities, as well as $20 billion directly invested in the company. It wasn’t until 2010 that Citigroup achieved its first profitable year since the financial crisis.

Apple (AAPL)

Apple, formed in 1976, has seen exponential growth up to today.  In 2000, Apple earned slightly over $6 billion in revenue, ranking 285th on the Fortune 500 list.  In 2007, Apple released the first iPhone, as the company shifted its focus from computers and into personal devices.  Since then, iPhones have become nearly ubiquitous in America, and Apple’s revenues have grown as a result.  The company earned a record-high $233 billion in 2015, following the release of the iPhone 6 and 6s.

UnitedHealth Group (UNH)

UnitedHealth Group earned a mere $19.5 billion in 2000, placing them at 86th on the Fortune 500 list.  In 2002, the company acquired AmeriChoice and merged it under the Medicaid program.  The company has since made efforts to implement technology, such as electronic health records, to make systems more efficient across the industry. In 2015, UnitedHealth’s Optum joined with MedExpress, an urgent care office and later in 2016 created a partnership with CVS Pharmacy and Walgreens.

Comparing Fortune 500 companies of 2000 to 2017 shows just how quickly the world and businesses have changed.

In 2000, Apple did not even crack the top 100 revenue earners.  Since then, Apple has taken the tech industry by storm to break into the number 3 spot on the Fortune 500 list.  This proves how quickly technology has progressed, and how important it is for companies to get ahead of the tech curve.

Celebrities in Business

Fame Leads to More Fortune

By Kyle Jennings

Often, young celebrities are given a lot of money without knowing how to manage it and are left facing financial hardship.  However, there are several celebrities who significantly increased their wealth.  Some earn more from their business ventures than from their entertainment careers.

Ashton Kutcher

Kutcher’s career took off when he was cast as Michael Kelso in That 70’s Show.  Kutcher was inspired to begin investing in startups when rapper 50 Cent earned somewhere between $60 and $100 million from his Vitamin Water investment when Coca Cola acquired it in 2007.

Kutcher’s digital chief, Sarah Ross, introduced Kutcher to key Silicon Valley players, including Michael Arrington of TechCrunch.  Arrington invited Kutcher to invest in Skype in 2009.  His investment quadrupled in value when Microsoft bought Skype in 2011.  Kutcher became fluent in the language of tech startups.  There are many Hollywood investors who are viewed as throwing their money at companies but are not capable of offering much more.  Kutcher is not among these investors.

In 2010, Kutcher joined with talent manager Guy Oseary and investor Ronald Burkle to create A-Grade Investments.  It seeks to invest in companies who propose a solution to a pressing problem.  A-Grade Investments takes active roles with the companies it invests in.  “Every single person in our portfolio has our personal phone numbers,” says Kutcher. “They can call us at any point in time, 24 hours a day, whatever it is.”

Kutcher’s investment success was, at first, seen by many as luck.  The prestigious New York Times once called Kutcher a “handsome ditz” who “mastered the utopian lingo of Silicon Valley.” Kutcher’s continuous success has quieted his doubters.  A-Grade Investments has an investment portfolio including Uber, Airbnb, Spotify, and Pinterest.  In 2011, A-Grade invested $500,000 into Uber; that stake is now worth 100 times what they paid.

Kutcher works very actively with the companies whom he invests and utilizes his fame to generate business.  After A-Grade became the first major investor in Genius, a lyrics website, Kutcher used his massive social media influence to drive viewers to the site.  When New York City tried using regulation to stifle Uber’s growth, Kutcher used social media to publicly criticize Mayor de Blasio, who quickly reversed his stance.

In 2015, Oseary and Kutcher split from Burkle to launch Sound Ventures.  Mark Cuban, the billionaire entrepreneur and venture capitalist, once said Kutcher and Oseary “both have a great feel for what works with consumers.”  The two have been much more private about their investments with Sound Ventures than with A-Grade Investments.

Michael Jordan

Michael Jordan, arguably the greatest basketball player of all time, used his talents to increase his fortune.  Jordan, a five-time winner of the NBA’s Most Valuable Player award, became the highest-paid NBA player in 1997-1998 when he earned $33.1 million.  That record still stands.

During his career, Jordan took advantage of his basketball fame.  His shoe brand, Air Jordan, a subsidiary of Nike, launched in 1984.  In 1996, Jordan starred in the Warner Bros. picture, Space Jam.  In 1998, Jordan launched into the restaurant business with Michael Jordan’s The Steak House N.Y.C.  Today, the steakhouse has expanded with four locations.

Though retired from basketball, Jordan continues his sport brand endorsements.  Deals with Nike, Hanes, Gatorade, and others proved incredibly lucrative.  Forbes states Jordan earned $100 million from sponsorships in 2014, more than he ever made in a single basketball season.

In 2010, Jordan became the majority owner of the Charlotte Hornets.  Though the team has not performed well within the league since 2010, it has proven to be a strong investment.  In 2015, Jordan made Forbes’ “World Billionaires” list for the first time.  He remains there to this date.

Sean Combs

Sean “P. Diddy” Combs turned his success in hip-hop into hundreds of millions of dollars.  Combs’ very humble beginnings taught him that “if I give the customers my best and service them differently, whether music, clothing, or vodka, I’ll get a return on my hard work.”

Combs began his career by producing for Uptown Records.  Combs launched Bad Boy Records in 1993.  The record label came to fruition just as hip hop entered the mainstream.  One of its artists, The Notorious B.I.G., was among the most popular names in pop culture.  In 1998, Combs launched clothing company Sean John.  He told Entrepreneur magazine: “Any business I get into, I go and I do the proper studying and I do the research to make sure I thoroughly understand that business.”  Combs grew Sean John into an international brand, earning over $500 million annually in revenues.  In 2016, Global Brands acquired a majority stake of Sean John. Forbes reports that Combs received about $70 million from this deal.  Combs still owns 20 percent of the company.  Combs owns parts of Ciroc vodka, DeLeon tequila, and AQUAhydrate, a water company he co-owns with actor Mark Wahlberg.

Today, Combs has many different streams of revenue to sustain his multi-millionaire status.  His Bad Boy Family Reunion tour of 2015 & 2016 earned significant revenue, selling out arenas such as the 19,000 seat Barclays Center.  In 2016, Combs opened the Capital Preparatory Harlem Charter School.  Combs wishes to give back to the community, giving leadership curriculum to inner-city youth.

In 2017, Combs ranked first on Forbes’ celebrity 100 list.  He is on track to become hip hop’s first billionaire.

Jimmy Buffett

Jimmy Buffet never reached the superstar status of the Rolling Stones or David Bowie, but Forbes calculated his net worth at $550 million in 2016.

Buffett, as an aspiring country singer, signed his first record contract in 1973.  Buffett’s laid back, beach-bum image attracted many fans.  The singer gained an instant following, calling themselves “Parrot Heads”, who followed the singer on tour in a bus, sporting Hawaiian shirts and other tropical apparel.  In 1977, Buffet broke into the mainstream with his album “Changes in Latitude, Changes in Attitude,” which contained the hit song “Margaritaville.”

In the late 1980’s Buffett began expanding his sources of revenue.  He launched a chain of clubs, a line of beach clothing, and released several books, including Tales from Margaritaville.  Buffett began his own Margaritaville Record label, which was eventually absorbed by Island Records.  In 1999, Buffett began a new independent record label, Mailboat Records.

In 2005, Buffett started the Sirius XM radio station Radio Margaritaville.  In 2007, he launched Landshark Lager, a beer that meshes with Buffett’s beach-loving vibe.  By 2010, the first Margaritaville Hotel opened in Pensacola Beach, Florida.  In 2011, the first Margaritaville Casino opened in the Flamingo Hotel in Las Vegas. Margaritaville has continued to expand, opening a resort in Buffett’s hometown of Key West, Florida.  It is opening retirement communities under the brand Latitude Margaritaville, the first in Daytona Beach, Florida.

Today, while Buffett continues touring, most of his income is from Margaritaville resorts and casinos and his other ventures.

The News Industry & How It Has Changed

News flash: the way people receive the news and the way it is presented has entered a new realm.  Public distrust of the media is at an all-time high.  How did this happen and how can it be rectified?

Television news broadcasts began in the late 1940’s but were not considered credible throughout the 1960’s.  Journalists considered television reporting a form of entertainment rather than serious reporting.  This changed with the Kennedy assassination in 1963.  After this tragedy, people then realized pictures and video were the future of news broadcasting.

News programs became profit centers.  By the end of the 1970’s, the news division typically produced 60% of a station’s profits.  In the 1980’s, large conglomerates bought many of the top media companies.  This forced media corporations to become more aware of profits and stockholders.  News stations became increasingly concerned about the entertainment value of the news.  The focus became giving the people what they wanted to see, rather than what they needed to know.

News organizations today post more content than there is relevant news, leading to a decrease in actual news and an increase in opinion, commentary, and blogs.  Many people no longer have a standard of what news should be and cannot tell the difference between a real news story and political commentary.

The increase in fraudulent news has created a lack of trust in the media.  Polls show more than half of Americans do not trust the media to deliver the truth.  This distrust rose dramatically after the recent allegations that Russian operatives played a major role in spreading fraudulent information during the 2016 U.S. presidential election.  President Trump has even called the press the “enemy of the people.”

News programs are often biased.  Among viewers of Fox News, a traditionally conservative news network, President Trump’s approval rating is 78%.  Among viewers of MSNBC, a traditionally liberal news network, President Trump’s approval rating is a much lower 18%.   News organizations cater to these different political views.

Social media is today’s driving force in news.  Anyone can voice an opinion on current events in social media.  A Stanford University study published in March 2017 stated, “Content can be related among users with no significant third-party filtering, fact-checking or editorial judgment. An individual user with no track record or reputation can in some cases reach as many readers as Fox News, CNN or The New York Times.”

Social media has turned the traditional one-way communication of the news into a two-way conversation.  Michael Skoler, president of Louisville Public Media, suggests that the new style of journalism is a journalism of “partnership” with an audience who feels they can add content and opinion to the news and issues.

Social media often presents inaccurate stories.  The journalistic standards of accuracy and double-checking facts do not apply.  A December 2016 survey by Pew Research Center determined 62% of Americans get their news primarily from social media.  The survey further states 23% of U.S. adults have shared fake news, knowingly or unknowingly.  A study done by American Press Institute concluded that a highly trusted or distrusted sharer of a news article has a greater effect on a reader than the source of the article.

To counter these biases, informed readers should gather news from both sides of the political spectrum.  Websites such as AllSides.com present multiple sources side by side to provide a full scope of news reporting.

 

How Technology Has Changed Education

According to the National Center for Education Statistics, nearly all US public schools have internet access.  Students have endless information at their fingertips.  They can learn anywhere, at any time.  Many experts believe the internet will help bridge the socioeconomic gap in education since more students have access to the same information.

Educators are finding the best ways to introduce technology in the classroom.  Laptops and tablets are replacing notebooks.  E-books are supplanting textbooks.  Interactive whiteboards replace the chalkboard.  On these interactive whiteboards, teachers access the internet to play educational games with students, show video clips, and more.  This makes the educational experience much more engaging for students.

Students today access the classroom through their laptops and other devices whenever they want wherever they are.  Online colleges grant degrees to students who are learning from their living room.  College is available for students who may not have the time or money to go to a traditional campus.  The annual cost of tuition for an online college is on average $12,000 less expensive than a traditional college. Over time, online college degrees have become regarded as equivalent to traditional college degrees.

With increasing technology, parents expect more from teachers, looking for teachers to post grades, absences, and assignments online.  Newsletters and school updates are found on school websites, keeping parents connected.  Communication between teachers, parents and students is simpler with email, social media, and text messaging.

Many teachers, though, after many years teaching in a more traditional way, find it difficult to transition to the new technology.  Some parents are uncertain of the use of technology in the classroom.  Many fear schools feed into children’s technological addictions.

Technology enhances personalized learning, where learning is tailored to each student’s learning abilities, interests, and aspirations.  Traditionally, teachers teach a standard curriculum to the entire class.  These techniques are aimed at the average student.  Some students are left behind; others are far ahead.  Personalized learning allows each student to learn at his/her own pace using the teaching style that works best.

Though not a new philosophy, technology allows personalized learning to be more available.  Data and analytics help teachers better understand what an individual student needs to do his/her best learning.   Programs are designed to use this information.

In years past, projects were a rarity, often seen as side work.  Today, projects are key, teaching students problem-solving and communication and skills.  We learn by doing.  Projects allow students to implement the skills they have learned.  Projects increase student engagement and help students retain a longer-term and deeper knowledge of the curriculum.

Projects teach collaborative skills better than traditional learning can.  In the workplace, people work collaboratively, solve problems, and present ideas.

No one can predict the future of education. There are too many variables from financing to curriculum requirements.  But whatever direction it takes, technology will be a part of education.

Offshoring & Technology’s Impact On The Manufacturing Industry

Manufacturing jobs are decreasing due to technology and offshoring.  According to CNNMoney, in 1960, one in four Americans was employed in the manufacturing industry.  Today, fewer than one in ten works in a factory.

Offshoring’s Effects

Offshoring took away many manufacturing jobs since it started in the late 1970s.  Many companies moved their manufacturing plants overseas due to attractive labor costs and less stringent regulations.  At first, plants moved to Mexico.  Today, the field has expanded to Asia, South America and other areas.

Offshoring, though, created problems.  Shipping delays, quality problems, and miscommunications occur frequently.  Yet, American companies are willing to deal with these issues in exchange for lower costs.

Plants which moved overseas are starting to return.  The Reshoring Initiative works to bring back good, well-paying manufacturing jobs.  It reported about 60% of reshored jobs came from China because labor costs in China rose. Wages in other once low-cost countries are also increasing.  Automation eliminates the need for unskilled jobs and increases the need for highly-skilled, educated workers.  These higher-level skills often don’t exist in these offshore, third-world countries.

Technology’s Effects

Robotics are increasingly incorporated into manufacturing.  According to the Robotics Industry Association, North American companies spent 32% more on robots in the first quarter of 2017 than the same period last year.  Robots have led to an increase in production in the US, yet they have eliminated many manufacturing jobs.

In 1980, it required 25 semi-skilled employees to generate $1 million in manufacturing output. Today, it takes just 5 highly-skilled workers.  President Trump is working to bring back millions of manufacturing jobs.  Many industry experts believe this goal is difficult.  They claim robotics has eliminated more jobs than offshoring.

Holding a semi-skilled manufacturing background is not sufficient today.  Workers must be skilled in computer operations.  Universities are restructuring their curricula by implementing a STEM education – science, technology, engineering, and math.

While technology eliminated many jobs, it has positive effects on the jobs that remain.  Workers today are better educated, make better products, and, as a result, are better paid.  According to the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis, average hourly manufacturing wages as adjusted for inflation increased from $23.23 in June 2010 to $26.51 in June 2017.

Robotics holds many advantages.  Productivity rises.  Robots need no downtime; they work 24×7 with consistent results.  They are less prone to error, improving both efficiency and product quality. Robots perform jobs considered too dangerous for humans.

Though the cost of robotics continues to decline, a trend expected to continue, they require a significant capital investment.  Advanced skillsets are needed to operate and maintain robots.  Qualified workers are in short supply and highly compensated.

Matthew Rendall, writer for TechCrunch, the publication of crowdfunding CrunchBase, believes robots improve the manufacturing industry: “So, will a robot take your job? Maybe. But in return, you- and your children and grandchildren- will likely find more meaningful work, for better pay.”  Robots will continue to play a major role in manufacturing.  Let’s see how the industry responds.

8 Major Changes In Marketing

By: Kyle Jennings

Marketing is fast paced and always changing.  Marketing teams must constantly alter their strategies to get the edge over competitors.

How we market has changed drastically.  The internet gives consumers and businesses access to endless information, diminishing the need for salespeople.  Marketing’s focus is moving away from just interpersonal approaches.

Companies are at a marketing standstill; they are not sure what works.  According to Adobe, only 40% of companies believe their marketing is effective.  Marketing professionals have taken on the role as researchers, discovering new strategies to reach their target audiences.

Here Are The 8 Major Changes In Marketing We’ve Witnessed:

  1. Interruptive phone calls and mass emails have become ineffective. Marketing teams are turning their attention to digital marketing.  Expensive television ads are replaced with internet campaigns which are conducted at a much lower cost.  Mobile-friendly websites have become imperative.
  2. The rise of social media and the internet has leveled the playing field. Virtually anyone can effectively market on social media at a very low cost.  Social media communications must be continuous, holidays and weekends included.  Customers expect immediate responses to their inquiries.  Marketing has evolved to 24×7.
  3. Online reviews are very influential and can make or break a company. A HubSpot study discovered that consumers reach out on social media to compliment a brand more often than to criticize it. Reviews benefit the company and the customers. Reviews give customers a chance to see the opinions of others, and also give the company instant feedback.
  4. Video is gaining popularity in marketing. Nearly three quarters of us are visual learners; we would rather watch than read.  HubSpot estimates that video will claim 80% of all web traffic by 2019.  Customers often share videos on social media.  Today’s smartphones can show professional-quality videos, making video much more accessible.
  5. Companies with the most advertising were once the companies that thrived. Now having targeted content is key.  Traditional online ads where one ad is used for all viewers are less effective.  Companies focus on bringing the best targeted content to its specific audiences.  Web analytics instantly reports the results of marketing campaigns, showing which strategies work best.  J. Agrawal, in a February 2016 Inc Magazine article, compared not using analytics to shooting in the dark.
  6. Internet Live Stats, part of the Real Time Statistics Project, reports over 6 billion searches occur daily across the globe with over 77% of them on Google. Google processes over 40,000 search queries every second.  Search engine optimization (SEO), or optimizing a website so that it appears towards the top of results, is essential.   Viewers rarely scroll past the first results page.
  7. Videos, links, FAQ’s and blog posts are tactics which improve a website’s SEO. Surprisingly, long articles are favored over short ones.  Increasingly, journalists work in marketing departments rather than at traditional, and declining, news outlets.  Journalists are trained in research and in writing articles that are not “drawn out,” but informative, attention-grabbing pieces.
  8. Public image is significant in today’s world. Charity gives companies a positive image, while benefiting the community.  The work the charity does is often related to the company’s work.

It is an exciting time for marketing.  The industry is fast-paced and oftentimes challenging.  The most effective marketing strategies today will change as technology and buyers continue to evolve.