How Market Intelligence Measures Will Lead You to Profit

Market intelligence measures are fairly new to the world of business. A few years ago, nobody even heard about these procedures. What are these measures anyway? These procedures are, in fact, tools that help you know your competition. It will give you detailed reports about the state of your enterprise and the competition as well. It is very important for businesses to have this knowledge in order to ensure productivity and profitability.Today’s world is filled with data. Almost every aspect of our lives and our society is being recorded. This huge pool of data can be tapped in order to improve a particular business’s profitability. This is done through the use of surveys, trending, and a lot of other techniques. A number of the techniques that people use are sometimes flawed or just plain inaccurate. But thanks to recent advances in marketing strategies, new techniques are being developed. These tools greatly enhance the ability of any type of business to better handle evaluation and interpretation of data from any part of the market.

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The impact of these measures is now becoming more apparent. A few years ago, nobody had high regard for such procedures. They viewed these as added expenses and nothing more. Today, almost everyone is now using them to boost the productivity and profitability of their enterprises. A prime example of putting these indicators to good use is Smith Travel Research STAR reports, where they were able to create a market out of nothing just by using these measures. Hotels have become very dependent on these reports for market data.Star reports is just one of the many indicators being used by businesses today. It does not matter from which line of business you belong. These scorecards have truly become and indispensable tool for success. So, how do you acquire these tools? It is fairly easy for they are available almost anywhere. However, the best place to look for them is on the web. The internet is loaded with all kinds of scorecards. But not all scorecards can fit your business or institution. You have to look at both the metrics and your organization carefully. Try to see if it will fit to the goals and objectives of your organization. Once you have selected fitting indicators, you will have to make some slight changes to them so that they will become a perfect fit. This will involve a lot of work. Just bear in mind that no matter how small the changes may be, they will still need to be precise and accurate.

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Applying these measures is not that difficult at all. If you made them to fit your organization, then the application will be much easier and simples. Just follow the indicators and they will lead you towards success. From time to time, you may need to update some key points of your market intelligence measures. Why do you need to update? It is because times are changing really fast so it would be important on your part to always keep track of the latest updates or changes in your line of business.

The Secret to Putting Rhythm

Golfers use their putter more than any other club in their golf bag during a round of golf, however, putting is one of the least effectively practiced parts of their game. Mike Shannon, putting instructor at Sea Island Golf Learning Center, and considered by many to be the world's best putting instructor, has some great advice regarding establishing a repeatable putting stroke.

According to Shannon, establishing a consistent rhythm to the putting stroke is essential. For every golfer, speed is everything in putting. Says Shannon, "When you talk about speed, you have to talk about the rhythm of the putting stroke." To establish an individual's rhythm, a simple drill is in order. One that makes use of a metronome.

Establishing a Rhythm

According to Shannon, "Ninety percent of all the (tour) players have a rhythm of 76 beats per minute." All tour players, says Shannon, have a rhythm of between 72 and 80 beats per minute (bpm) with a metronome.

A golfer can establish his or her rhythm using a metronome by putting 12 or so balls to a cup that is approximately 25 feet away. Set the metronome to 76 bpm, clip the metronome to a pocket, and practice putting to the cup in time with the metronome. As Shannon demonstrates, the putting stroke will consist of starting with one tone of the metronome and impact the ball at the next tone.

After putting the 12 balls a few times, says Shannon "most of your balls should be in a pattern." Most of them will be in a two to three foot radius somewhere around the cup.

"If most putts are right around the cup, then 76 beats per minute is right for you. If several are past the hole, three, four or five feet, 76 bpm is too slow, giving you too much time to make the stroke, so turn the metronome up to 77 or 78 bpm. If the pattern is short of the cup, then 76 bpm makes your stroke too short, so turn the metronome down. " (GolfersMD.com)

Once the optimal putting rhythm is established using the metronome, more consistency will be achieved. For putts of differing lengths, although the putting stroke will be either longer or shorter, the rhythm that is established will not change. According to Mr. Shannon, "For good distance control and good speed control, get your metronome and do some work."

Mike Shannon has been recognized as a top teacher by both Golf Digest and Golf Magazine.

Five Reasons Why You Should Work For the Hotel Industry

The hotel industry is a multi-billion dollar growing industry. There are many job opportunities available in hotels that are both part time and full time. They include housekeeping, waiters and waitresses, kitchen workers like cooks and then you have other areas like management, marketing and human resources. Below are five reasons why you should work for hotel industry.

1. A hotel job gives you the chance to meet and interact with different people from senior company executives to junior level management. That means your job can never be boring. It also means you can get useful contacts that can be helpful later if you need to advance in your career.

2. Working in a hotel gives you the opportunity to grow in your career. Depending on what your career goals are you have the opportunity to rise through the ranks through on job training and experience.

3. The job opportunities are limitless. Across the world there are thousands of hotels and many hotel groups including big brands, like the Marriot, Best Western and Sheraton to mention but a few. Once you have learned the trade in one hotel you have the option of finding a job in any of the thousands of hotels across the globe including working for some of the big names in the industry which is good for your Curriculum Vitae.

4. Opportunities to work abroad. Because many of the big hotel groups are found in many countries across the globe you have the opportunity of working away from home in another country. This gives you the chance to live and experience what it is like to live in another country with a different culture. You also have the opportunity to travel and enjoy travel and accommodation rates at much reduced rates compared to what is available in the market.

5. Opportunities to work in the travel and tourism industry. The training and skills acquired in the hotel industry are useful should you choose to work in the travel and tourism industry. This greatly increases your employment possibilities as the travel and tourism industry includes but is not limited to sectors such as passenger transport, travel agencies and tour operators.

10 Ways to Make Your Hotel Room Romantic

There are several ways that you can transform your hotel room in to your own private romantic hideaway. Of course, you either need to hire someone to pre-stage the room for you or you need to find your way in to the room before your significant other gets there.

Below are the top 10 ways to improve the look and feel of your guest room:

  1. Music. The best way is to have an i-pod with portable speakers (many hotels now have an i-pod docking station) so that you can pipe in her favorite music to fill the room. Not too loud, though.
  2. Lighting. There is nothing worse than walking in to a room filled with bright lights. Turn off all of the lights and strategically place some battery operated votive candles around the room (no fire hazard, allowed by hotels. Do not make the same mistake that some have made – using real candles only to have the smoke hit super sensitive detectors and cause an alarm to go off). Close the drapes / shutters.
  3. Rose Petals. When the person you are trying to impress opens the door, they will find a trail of rose petals leading from the front door to the bed. Sprinkle lots of rose petals on the bed as well. As a special note, most hotels do not like the use of real rose petals but you can use them as long as you are careful (eg if there is a white comforter in the room, protect the bed by placing a romantic blanket or throw on the bed and then place the petals on top).
  4. Flowers. Roses are king but some people do not care for them. Find out what her favorite flower is, and place an arrangement in the room (or can just be a single flower on the bed or placed in a bud vase).
  5. Edible decadence. Chocolate is an aphrodisiac and a favorite for romantic occasions. Skip the bargain basement heart shaped box and go for more of a high-end truffle from a local chocolatier or candy shop.
  6. Scent. Have you noticed how some hotel rooms smell like cleaning products? That can spoil the mood. Pick up a room fragrance spray from a store like the Body Shop. Or you can purchase a "plug in" and insert it into one of the room's outlets – just pick a romantic scent (like vanilla or jasmine)
  7. Bedding. Most nicer hotels have great sheets and comforters these days. But if you want to add something to the experience, bring your own Satin sheets and re-make the bed (yes, a little bit of extra work but worth it) or add a throw or faux fur blanket to the bed.
  8. Bubbly. Champagne always marks a special occasion and will go well with the chocolates. If not in to alcohol, then Sparkling cider is a great substitute (or non-alcoholic sparkling wine).
  9. Love letter. You've set this whole room up – but why? Tell your special someone in a note – but not a piece of binder paper. Buy a nice card, write something special and leave it in the room on the bed.
  10. Extras. Some other nice touches are having a bath ready (decorated around the rim of the tub with candles and rose petals), a framed picture of the two of you in the room, and a massage kit. Some couples may opt to hire someone for a couples massage – but would you rather massage your partner or have some stranger touching them?

Environmental Issues Affecting the Travel Industry

Protecting the environment is now one of the most talked-about and hotly-debated topics across the globe. Many companies are spending hundreds of millions of dollars to create products or make their products environmentally friendly. An example is the electric car that is being looked at as a viable option to that of the present gasoline powered car. In 2009 world leaders met in Copenhagen to discuss ways in which they can prevent global warming and reduce on the effects of climate change, in effect protecting the environment. The travel industry too has not been left out of this issue. In an industry where the number of people engaged in international travel has been predicted to reach the billion mark in 2010, there is concern about its contribution to the damage done to the environment. Also like every other industry the travel industry needs to be concerned about ways of doing business that are environmentally friendly. Outlined below are some of the environmental issues affecting the travel industry which stakeholders need to address and in some cases seek out long term solutions.

1. Aviation which ferries hundreds of thousands of tourists across the globe is of great concern to those seeking to protect the environment. A major concern for the industry is greenhouse gas emissions and their implication for climate change. Aviation produces at least two percent of emissions. One way the aviation industry is working on this problem is by rolling out newer planes that have fuel efficient engines which means less carbon emissions. However not all airlines especially in the poorer countries can afford buying new aircraft.

2. Mass tourism. With the cost of travel becoming cheaper and more and more people venturing further away from their countries to places that were previously inaccessible but can now be reached because of air transport, areas of environmental and historical significance are becoming crowded. This is putting pressure on ecosystems within these areas and threatening the flora and fauna. Also climate change is going to mean that certain places will not favour visitors because of weather conditions becoming extreme which will lead to overcrowding in other places with more favourable weather conditions. Again this presents a danger to the ecosystems in the overcrowded areas and to the tourism of the area.

3. Deforestation. In spite of the worldwide call to protect the environment there are still areas where massive logging is taking place. This is also contributing to destruction of flora and fauna and is a threat to the tourism in those areas.

4. With the call to go green affecting all industries across the globe the tourism industry has not been left out. There is pressure on those who are in the industry to find methods of doing business that are sustainable and environmentally friendly. For example can the hotel industry build hotels that are more environmentally friendly? What methods can they use to conserve energy and reduce on chemicals that are used in the dry cleaning of tons of laundry used in the industry?

5. Human encroachment. With populations continuing to grow worldwide there is now competition between man and animals for space. Humans are now encroaching on areas like National Parks that are protected and marked for wildlife. This has led to reports of people and their livestock being killed by wild animals which in turn leads to people hunting and killing these animals that are considered to be a threat. This is a threat to the tourism of the area. Human encroachment is also forcing animals to move away from their habitat to other areas where they can not survive leading to the extinction of certain species.

Playhouses for Children and Their Educational Benefits

There are many different types of playhouses for children available on the market today. While children's playhouses have the capability of providing hours of high quality entertainment to children that play in them, it has been established that there are many educational benefits associated with these types of toys. Many parents and professionals that work with children have determined that the outdoor world provides many possibilities when it comes to pretend play and educational benefits. Playhouses for children provide an opportunity for their budding imaginations to literally take off. Play that is imaginative in nature is an important factor when it comes to cognitive development. Throughout this article, you will discover the educational benefits associated with playhouses that are designed for young children.

Children that play in playhouses are able to explore the outdoor world through the senses. By exploring the world in this fashion, children are able to experience various forms of cognitive growth. This type of growth is based on the smells, sounds, and visual observations that are made while the child is playing in or around their playhouse. Playhouses for children allow them to explore the aspects of science that surround them. Feeling the cool breeze on their face, the rain drops fall on their skin, and even the heat of the sun will provide a young child with the ability to learn more about the world that surrounds them on a daily basis. Being outdoors on a regular basis will allow a child to explore several different scientific aspects of their world, without them even knowing it.

There are several life skills that a child may learn by playing in children's playhouses. Many may decide to plant items around their playhouse, while others may choose to build furniture and decorations for their play area. Then, of course, children will likely clean their playhouse and even pretend by playing "house". In this aspect, children will mimic the activities that they see other adults performing in their own homes. As they put the actions into play that they consistently see, they start to develop skills that will assist them throughout the duration of their entire lives. Even something as simple as pretending to cook and creating those glamorous "mud pies" in their playhouse may prove to be an educational experience for a child.

When we think of education, we often think of school. Since our children attend school, they often bring home homework. This is not the most exciting of tasks for children. However, if there is a playhouse in the backyard, it could provide a child with a quiet and enjoyable location to do their homework. You could place a desk in the playhouse, writing utensils, and other school supplies. You could even place a bookshelf in the playhouse and a large assortment of reference items. This would excite your child about school and have them wanting to visit the little play area over and over again. It is On: many ways there That Playhouses for children Could Prove to be educational. All you need is a little time and a bit of creativity and you can enhance your child's knowledge using children's playhouses.

Southwest Airlines Operations – A Strategic Perspective

Background:

Southwest Airlines is the largest airline measured by number of passengers carried each year within the United States. It is also known as a 'discount airline' compared with its large rivals in the industry. Rollin King and Herb Kelleher founded Southwest Airlines on June 18, 1971. Its first flights were from Love Field in Dallas to Houston and San Antonio, short hops with no-frills service and a simple fare structure. The airline began with one simple strategy: "If you get your passengers to their destinations when they want to get there, on time, at the lowest possible fares, and make darn sure they have a good time doing it, people will fly your airline . "This approach has been the key to Southwest's success. Currently, Southwest serves about 60 cities (in 31 states) with 71 million total passengers carried (in 2004) and with a total operating revenue of $ 6.5 billion. Southwest is traded publicly under the symbol "LUV" on NYSE.

Facts:

* The first major airline to fly a single type of aircraft (Boeing 737s)

* The first major airline to offer ticketless travel system wide including a frequent flier program based on number of trips and not number of miles flown.

* The first airline to offer a profit-sharing program to its Employees (instituted in 1973).

* The first major airline to develop a Web site and offer online booking. In 2001, about 40 percent ($ 2.1 billion) of its passenger revenue was generated through online bookings at [http://www.southwest.com]. Southwest's cost per booking via the Internet is about $ 1, compared to a cost per booking through travel agents of $ 6 to $ 8.

Key competitive advantages:

* Low Operational costs / High Operational Efficiency

* Award winning customer service

* Human Resource practices / Work culture

Operations Analysis – Competitive Dimensions:

Southwest clearly has a distinct advantage compared to other airlines in the industry by executing an effective and efficient operations strategy that forms an important pillar of its overall corporate strategy. Given below are some competitive dimensions that will be studied in this paper.

1. Operational Costs and Efficiency

2. Customer Service

3. Employee / Labor Relations

4. Technology

1. Operational Costs and Efficiency

After all, the airline industry overall is in shambles. But, how does Southwest Airlines stay profitable? Southwest Airlines has the lowest costs and strongest balance sheet in its industry, according to its chairman Kelleher. The two biggest operating costs for any airline are – labor costs (approx 40%) followed by fuel costs (approx 18%). Some other ways that Southwest is able to keep their operational costs low is – flying point-to-point routes, choosing secondary (smaller) airports, carrying consistent aircraft, maintaining high aircraft utilization, encouraging e-ticketing etc.

Labor Costs

The labor costs for Southwest typically accounts for about 37% of its operating costs. Perhaps the most critical element of the successful low-fare airline business model is achieving significantly higher labor productivity. According to a recent HBS Case Study, southwest airlines is the "most heavily unionized" US airline (about 81% of its employees belong to an union) and its salary rates are considered to be at or above average compared to the US airline industry. The low-fare carrier labor advantage is in much more flexible work rules that allow cross-utilization of virtually all employees (except where disallowed by licensing and safety standards). Such cross-utilization and a long-standing culture of cooperation among labor groups translate into lower unit labor costs. At Southwest in 4th quarter 2000, total labor expense per available seat mile (ASM) was more than 25% below that of United and American, and 58% less than US Airways.

Carriers like Southwest have a tremendous cost advantage over network airlines simply because their workforce generates more output per employee. In a study in 2001, the productivity of Southwest employees was over 45% higher than at American and United, despite the substantially longer flight lengths and larger average aircraft size of these network carriers. Therefore by its relentless pursuit for lowest labor costs, Southwest is able to positively impact its bottom line revenues.

Fuel Costs

Fuel costs is the second-largest expense for airlines after labor and accounts for about 18 percent of the carrier's operating costs. Airlines that want to prevent huge swings in operating expenses and bottom line profitability choose to hedge fuel prices. If airlines can control the cost of fuel, they can more accurately estimate budgets and forecast earnings. With growing competition and air travel becoming a commodity business, being competitive on price was key to any airline's survival and success. It became hard to pass higher fuel costs on to passengers by raising ticket prices due to the highly competitive nature of the industry.

Southwest has been able to successfully implement its fuel hedging strategy to save on fuel expenses in a big way and has the largest hedging position among other carriers. In the second quarter of 2005, Southwest's unit costs fell by 3.5% despite a 25% increase in jet fuel costs. During Fiscal year 2003, Southwest had much lower fuel expense (0.012 per ASM) compared to the other airlines with the exception of JetBlue as illustrated in exhibit 1 below. In 2005, 85 per cent of the airline's fuel needs has been hedged at $ 26 per barrel. World oil prices in August 2005 $ reached 68 per barrel. In the second quarter of 2005 alone, Southwest achieved fuel savings of $ 196 million. The state of the industry also suggests that airlines that are hedged have a competitive advantage over the non-hedging airlines. Southwest announced in 2003 that it would add performance-enhancing Blended Winglets to its current and future fleet of Boeing 737-700's. The visually distinctive Winglets will improve performance by extending the airplane's range, saving fuel, lowering engine maintenance costs, and reducing takeoff noise.

Point-to-Point Service

Southwest operates its flight point-to-point service to maximize its operational efficiency and stay cost-effective. Most of its flights are short hauls averaging about 590 miles. It uses the strategy to keep its flights in the air more often and therefore achieve better capacity utilization.

Secondary Airports

Southwest flies to secondary / smaller airports in an effort to reduce travel delays and therefore provide excellent service to its customers. It has led the industry in on-time performance. Southwest has also been able to trim down its airport operations costs relatively better than its rival airlines.

Consistent aircraft

At the heart of Southwest's success is its single aircraft strategy: Its fleet consists exclusively of Boeing 737 jets. Having common fleet significantly simplifies scheduling, operations and flight maintenance. The training costs for pilots, ground crew and mechanics are lower, because there's only a single aircraft to learn. Purchasing, provisioning, and other operations are also vastly simplified, thereby lowering costs. Consistent aircraft also enables Southwest to utilize its pilot crew more efficiently.

E-Ticketing

The idea of ​​ticketless travel was a major advantage to Southwest because it could lower its distribution costs. Southwest became electronic or ticketless back in the mid-1990s, and today they are about 90-95% ticketless. Customers who use credit cards are eligible for online transactions, and today Southwest.com bookings account for about 65% of total revenue. The CEO Gary Kelly thinks that this idea would grow further and that he would not be surprised if e-ticketing accounted for 75% of Southwest's revenues by end of 2005. In the past, when there was a 10% travel agency commission paid, it used to cost about $ 8 a booking. But currently, Southwest is paying between 50 cents and $ 1 per booking for electronic transactions that translate to huge cost savings.

2. Employee and Labor Relations

Southwest has been highly regarded for its innovative management style. It maintains a relentless focus on high-performance relationships and its people-management practices have been the key to its unparalleled success in the airline industry.

Mission Statement

To Our Employees
"We are committed to provide our Employees a stable work environment with equal opportunity for learning and personal growth. Creativity and innovation are encouraged for improving the effectiveness of Southwest Airlines. Above all, Employees will be provided the same concern, respect, and caring attitude within the organization that they are expected to share externally with every Southwest Customer. "

The Southwest mission statement shows that the company has a strong commitment to its employees. The company affords the same respect to its employees that is provided to its customers. The Southwest mission statement is unique in that it recognizes the importance of its employees within the broader business strategy, which emphasizes superb customer service and operational efficiency. The employees reciprocate the respect, loyalty and trust that Southwest demonstrates. Southwest employees are known for their loyalty, dedication, attitude and innovation. The employees are the distinguishing factor between Southwest and the rest of the airline industry.

Hiring

Southwest hiring policy is unique not only within the airline industry, but also more broadly, and revolves around finding people with the right attitude that will thrive in the Southwest culture. Extensive procedures are employed to hire for positive attitude and dedication. Those who do not posses those qualities are weeded out. Colleen Barrett, a non-operational officer at Southwest, states that

"Hiring is critical, because you can not institutionalize behavior. Instead, you must identify those people who already practice the behaviors you are looking for. Then you can allow Employees to be themselves and make decisions about Customer service based on common sense and their natural inclinations. "1

Recruiting and interviewing at Southwest is a two-step process. The first step is a group interview, conducted by employees, where communication skills of potential candidates are evaluated. The next steps in this process are one on one interview, where the candidates' attitudes and orientation toward serving others are evaluated. These hiring criteria apply to all job functions since all Employees at Southwest play a customer service role. A critical part of Southwest operational strategy is that every job at Southwest is a customer service position, whether it directly applies to the customer or whether it is internal.

The table below shows that even though Southwest is the most heavily unionized airline, at approximately 80%, that contract negotiations between the unions and Southwest are much shorter in duration than of the other major carriers. This shows the quality of relationship that Southwest has with its employees and with the unions that represent them.

Culture

Southwest was created as a different kind of company and from its beginnings a unique culture was nurtured. In 1990 Colleen Barrett formed the Southwest Culture Committee. This is unique within the industry and among all large companies. The committee also has a mission statement:

"This group's goal is to help create the Southwest spirit and culture where needed; to enrich it and make it better where it already exists; and to liven it up in places where it might be "floundering". In short, this group's goal is to do "whatever it takes" to create, enhance, and enrich the special Southwest spirit and culture that has made this such a wonderful Company / Family. "

It is this unique approach to company values ​​that has created a culture that differentiates itself from others. Southwest's culture is the reason why it is successful.

3. Customer Service

The Mission of Southwest Airlines
The mission of Southwest Airlines is dedication to the highest quality of Customer Service delivered with a sense of warmth, friendliness, individual pride, and Company Spirit.

Approach

Herb Kelleher, founder of Southwest, has been quoted as saying that "We're in the Customer service business; we just happen to provide airline transportation" .2 Award winning customer service is a distinguishing characteristic of Southwest and it is referred to internally as "Positively Outrageous Service". It means that from the top to bottom everyone does whatever he or she can to satisfy the customer. This includes Herb Kelleher, who has been known for helping out baggage handlers on Thanksgiving. It is through emphasizing the customer and employee that Southwest is able to differentiate itself from others in the airline industry. On a more technical level, each employee or group within Southwest has his or her own customer. This means that every employee 'serves' in one way or another despite not being directly involved with the passenger. The mechanic's customer is the pilot and the caterer's is the flight attendant.

Results

It can be said that the "Positively Outrageous Service" that is unique to Southwest "is not the result of a department, or a program, or a mandate from management. It is not secondary to the product; it is the product. "This approach creates the conditions where Employees are more likely to treat customers in ways that distinguish the company from others. There are numerous accounts of passengers who have received exceptional treatment from Southwest employees.

The question that needs to be answered is how Southwest's customer service is different and why? Is it common for customers of other airlines to rave about their special service? The answer is that it is not. While Southwest does not have a monopoly on people who are kind and who are willing to go above and beyond to satisfy a customer, such behavior is nurtured at Southwest to a much greater extent.

It can then be concluded that the customer service that is inherent to Southwest is a part of its culture. This culture is supported through employee encouragement to do the extra to satisfy the customer. This approach inspires people who would ordinarily only on occasion go out of their way to help someone, to become consistent performers that offer exceptional service all the time. Southwest employees are what differentiate its customer service from the other airlines.

4. Technology

Southwest utilizes technology in many ways to fulfill its business objectives and maintain its efficient operations. According to its CEO, technology equals productivity. Launched in 1996, ticketless travel was first introduced by Southwest. On May 1st 2000, Southwest Airlines introduces "SWABIZ," a portal that assists company travel managers in booking and tracking trips made through its web site [http://www.southwest.com]. There are many new technology initiatives being undertaken currently and some are in the pipeline.

Bar codes in Boarding Passes

Southwest Airlines has invested $ 12 million during the past three years to standardize corporate and terminal operations on about 10,000 Dell OptiPlex desktop and Latitude notebook computers according to its company executives. Southwest wanted to replace its well known, brightly colored plastic boarding passes with an electronic system with bar-code paper boarding passes. So it installed about 350 touch screen ticket readers powered by Dell OptiPlex desktops. The bar code gives Southwest more information to automatically reconcile the number of boarding passes with the number of passengers that actually board the plane.

Although the technology will help Southwest Airlines remain efficient by consolidating passenger information for the company's 3,000 daily flights, there were concerns it could lengthen the time to get travelers on board. However it was found that scanning each bar code on the boarding passes did not increase or shorten boarding schedules, but it did take minutes from administrative processes, such as looking up customer records. The new paper bar code system is giving Southwest ticket agents the ability to match a customer record within having to scroll through and log into multiple software screens. The process is much more automated. Once the bar code on the boarding pass is scanned at the terminal gate it checks off the person from the passenger list in real time.

The old process was manual that involved finding the information, scrolling through several software screens from reservations to check-in to boarding. The bar code hardware to scan the boarding passes has been deployed. The company is in the process of replacing customer service back-office equipment at airports including at its headquarters in Dallas.

Software Upgrades

Software applications, such as those used by clerks to check in passengers, are being replaced. Southwest Airlines' internally written "Airport Application Suite" is expected to rollout next year as the company transitions from green screens to Window-based user interface. Similar to Wal-Mart Stores Inc., Southwest Airlines believes in developing in-house the software that runs its operations. The company uses very little off-the-shelf software. There are between 75 and 100 projects in the works each year supported by approximately 900 IT employees.

RFID

Radio frequency identification technology, a favorable alternative to bar-coding for luggage identification, is also on Southwest's radar. It plans to test RFID technology sometime in 2006. Even though, Southwest is playing a little catch-up with other airlines such as Air Tran, Alaska and Champion Airlines, in many cases they are able leapfrog to more sophisticated applications easily having waited longer.

Challenges:

Southwest has emerged very successful, despite the most troubled times in the airline market. However, it faces new challenges in the face of increasing competition from other low fare airlines such as JetBlue, ATA airlines, America West.

Reserved Seating

Due to increasing security guidelines since September 2001, Southwest would need to prepare for assigned (reserved) seating to track its in-flight passengers. This change will involve large technology investments and may impact its gate operations negatively since the current way of unassigned seating has helped in quick gate turnarounds.

Passenger Demand

The keep-it-simple philosophy has served Southwest well. But as its own business grows and grows more complex, with plans to purchase dozens of new aircraft and an expected upsurge in passenger traffic to about 80 million boarding's a year, the simplicity strategy that has been reflected in the airline's IT philosophy is evolving. The CIO Tom Nealon says that "It's time to adapt our business processes for efficiency. As our airline scales for us to provide the same kind of high-touch customer service, we have to automate a lot of things we've been able to do without technology previously. The challenge is doing that without conceding the customer touch. " Southwest is also aggressively pursuing customer relationship management (CRM) techniques and has applications to get insight into customer's wants and dislikes. According to an interview with its CEO Gary Keller, Southwest has its focus on improving in two areas – customer's airport experience and in-flight experience.

In-Flight Entertainment

In an overall effort to improve customer's in-flight experience, in-flight entertainment is something that Southwest is currently evaluating and which JetBlue has been very successful at already because of its introduction in its long-haul flights. In comparison, Southwest has 415 airplanes to consider and that represents an investment decision at a whole new dimension. Additionally, Southwest has to consider how things may fit into their environment. At this point, 60% of its service is still very short haul. Southwest needs to be mindful of the fact that a certain approach that has been successful for its competitor may not be necessarily work to its advantage.

Summary:

Southwest has long been regarded as a benchmark in its industry for operational excellence. Southwest Airlines is a fine example of a company that is committed to its core competencies – efficient operations to drive its low cost structure, outstanding delivery of customer service and innovative HR management practices. We hope this paper provided a good insight into Southwest operations, as part of its overall strategy, to achieve success and gain competitive advantage.

References:

1. [http://www.southwest.com] (Southwest airlines official web site)

2. "Southwest keeps it simple" – Air Transport World, April 2005, Pg 36

3. "Around the World on $ 48 (or So): How High Can Discount Airlines Fly?" Strategy Management – Knowledge @ Wharton Newsletter Oct 5, 2005

4. TechWeb – [http://www.techweb.com/wire/ebiz/173601227]

5. "Southwest's Strategy for Success: Consolidate!" – The Oracle Magazine Magazine (Sept / Oct 2004 edition) Http://www.oracle.com/technology/oramag/oracle/04-sep/o54swest.html

6. "Southwest Airlines: High Tech, Low Costs" – Eweek.com, April 2005

7. "Jet Fuel Hedging Strategies: Options Available for Airlines and a Survey of Industry Practices" – Kellogg School of Management Research Paper, Spring 2004

8. Winning Behavior: What the Smartest, Most Successful Companies Do Differently, Terry R. Bacon and David G. Pugh, 2003

9. Time Magazine, Oct 28th 2002 issue, Vol. 160 Issue 18, p. 45

10. "Wings Of Change", Information Week, March 28, 2005,

11. Labor Contract Negotiations in the Airline Industry, Monthly Labor Review, July 2003, page 24

5 Best Extreme Sports in Peru – Peru Travel Guide

Many foreign visitors to Peru are happy with a relaxing few days travelling around ancient Inca archaeological sites, kicking-back in luxury hotels, and riding exclusive trains to Machu Picchu. But if your dream getaway is a taking things to the max in search of extreme thrills and fun, then you will not be disappointed either! Peru can offer it all! Here are the 5 best extreme sports in Peru.

Extreme Mountain Biking

Peru was made for mountain biking, after all the Andes – the world's longest mountain chain runs right down the centre of the country, peaking at 22,132 feet (6,746 m) in the Cordillera Blanca in central Peru. Possibly one of the most extreme sports in Peru with locals and foreigners alike, there are literally thousands of places to find fast fun down-hill thrills. In Cusco there is a handful of specialist travel agents that offer a range of different day (and multi-day) trips, with full suspension Kona bikes. Our favourite extreme ride is the 1 day Mega-Avalanche single track ride, that starts at the top of Abra Malaga in the Sacred Valley (close to Cusco) and descends 1600 meters to the village of Ollantaytambo. Oh, and you can do it three times!

Surfing

You would not think so, but yes, Peru is actually one of the world's best surfing spots. Along the northern coastline, Peru offers waves for everyone from beginners to pros. Peru has produced many world surfing champions, and it's easy to see why when you understand just how good the waves are. Chicama has the world's longest left-handed wave in the world at 4km's long, and Mancora (close by) has the world's largest left-handed point-break in the world. Extreme sports in Peru do not get much better than this!

Sand-boarding

During the 1960s, the small oasis town of Huacachina was once a holiday hot-spot for rich limenians. Nowadays, this rather less glamorous place is the home of one of the most fun and extreme sports in Peru – Sand-boarding. Located 7 km's from the main city of Ica, Huacachina is surrounded by vast sand dunes which stretch as far as the eye can see. There are only a handful of hostels in the town, but all of them will rent you sand-board for a few soles per day. Cover yourself from head-to-toe in sun-block and start climbing! It's fun, cheap, thrilling and often painful!

White Water Rafting

With so many mountains, there are bound to be quite a lot of fast flowing and rocky rivers to enjoy. Rafting is probably one of the most common extreme sports in Peru, and in the region of Cusco, there are many expert travel agencies that will take you out on the river. The Urubamba River (in the Sacred Valley) offers a thrilling full day experience which is suitable for beginners through to intermediary rafters. But hard-core rafters looking for the ultimate thrill need to go a little further afield. Cotahuasi Canyon is the deepest canyon in the world, and is also home to one of the world's toughest rafting challenges. The route includes 6 days of full-on, technical class 4 – 5 rapids, uncharted pre-Inca ruins and spectacular campsites. Extreme sports in Peru do not get much better than this! But be warned the Cotahuasi raft is for only the toughest travellers!

Zip Lines in the Jungle

15 Km's from Machu Picchu, close to the village of Santa Teresa is Peru's first canopy top zip line (also known as flying fox). A series cables with a total length of 2500 meters are broken up into six sections, with the longest section being 400 meters in length. At the fastest point on the wire it is possible to reach speeds of 60 Km / h (37 mph), which is enough to give the sensation of flight! Make sure that you are not scared of heights either, as part of the line hang 150 meters above the jungle floor. Extreme sports in Peru do not get much more fun than this!

Of-course there are a whole bunch of other great things to see and do in Peru, but if you think that there are better extreme sports in Peru than the ones listed, we would love to hear your thoughts!

Attorney Negligence: Did It Cost You Your Case?

Attorney Negligence: Did It Cost You Your Case?

Statistics show that legal malpractice claims have become more frequent for the last three decades. There are several instances where a client loses confidence in the abilities of his lawyer because the latter made matters worse instead of providing a resolution to the problem. If you suffered damages due to your lawyer's wrongful conduct, may it be due to his negligence or intentional act, you may consider the option of bringing a legal malpractice action. However, proving a legal malpractice claim could be challenging as it often involves extensive search for appropriate arguments and corroborating evidence. Despite the existence of actual damages, there are other factors that need to be examined to determine whether a claim of legal malpractice should be filed.

Damages

If the client can prove that the attorney's negligence or wrongful act resulted in damages, such damages could be recovered by filing a legal malpractice lawsuit. However, there are cases where damages are not easily ascertainable. In such cases, the California Supreme Court held that recovery of damages could still be awarded even if the existence and the cause of such damages are difficult to determine. On the most part, however, damages that are based on speculation or mere threat of future harm are usually not awarded by California courts.

Clients are likely to be more successful with the recovery of so-called "direct" damages. These are damages that have been the direct result of an attorney's negligence or misconduct. For instance, in a case where an attorney wrongfully advises his client to file for bankruptcy and sell his home for a lower price than its market value, the court is likely to award the client damages to the extent of what he lost from the sale. In another case, a California court awarded damages to a physician due to the loss of his good reputation and the increase in premiums for his medical malpractice insurance due to his attorney's negligence.

If the client can show clear and convincing evidence that the attorney can be held liable for fraud, malice or oppression, even punitive damages may be recovered, see California Civil Code § 3294. However, client-plaintiffs who have been denied the award of compensatory damages will not be entitled to punitive damages. In general, it is more difficult to prove the existence of punitive damages as courts usually require specific facts to prove that the attorney acted with oppression, fraud or malice. In one rare case, the court of appeals awarded punitive damages due to an attorney's "conscious disregard of plaintiff's safety". In that case, the attorney, who was also a physician, advised his client to postpone the surgery in order to strengthen their medical malpractice lawsuit even though he knew about the urgency of a surgery.

Furthermore, if the client-plaintiff lost his claim for punitive damages in the underlying action, it is very unlikely that courts will award him punitive damages in a legal malpractice lawsuit. The California Supreme Court held that such damages are based on speculation and plaintiffs should not be entitled to damages that can not be proven with certainty. Otherwise, lawyers would be exposed to more risks of liability, resulting in an increase in the cost of malpractice insurance.

Attorney Negligence

In a legal malpractice action based on the attorney's negligence, the courts will look into four factors. First, the client-plaintiff needs to show that the attorney-defendant has the obligation to apply the skill, prudence and diligence required from his profession. Second, there has to be proof that the attorney failed to fulfill the above mentioned duty. Third, the client-plaintiff also needs to show that the attorney's breach of his duty resulted in the damages he suffered. Lastly, as mentioned above, the client-plaintiff needs to present evidence of the existence of such damages and not just mere speculation. According to the California Supreme Court, client-plaintiffs who are facing criminal charges need to prove their actual innocence before they can bring an action against their attorneys. This way, the clients who have been found guilty by a criminal court would not be allowed to go after their attorneys and recover civil damages. An exception to this rule is a malpractice action that is not based on the quality of legal services provided by the attorney. For instance, a fee dispute between the client and the attorney can still be pursued in court even if the client was charged by a criminal court because such a dispute merely involves the attorney's billing practices.

Typical Cases of Malpractice

The most common basis of malpractice action is the failure of an attorney to adhere to the deadlines set by the Code of Civil Procedure as well as other statutory filing deadlines. As mentioned above, attorneys are expected to apply the required skill, prudence and diligence in providing legal services. The failure to file a lawsuit, initiate a proceeding or bring an action within the so-called statutes of limitation could constitute a strong claim for legal malpractice.

An attorney can also be held liable if the court in the underlying case issues a default judgment against his client due to his failure to file a pleading, see California Code of Civil Procedure § 585. Furthermore, if he fails to relieve his client from the default by filing a motion in a timely manner, namely within six months after the issuance of the default judgment, the client would have another ground to file a malpractice lawsuit against him assuming that the motion could have been successful.

It is also possible to hold an attorney liable for not raising viable defenses in a legal action. In such cases, however, the client-plaintiff needs to show that the defenses that were not asserted can be proven in court and would have led to a more favorable result. In one case, for instance, a California court denied the award of damages to the plaintiff because the attorney decided to leave out weak defenses.

In general, attorneys have an obligation to adhere to their clients' preferences particularly with regard to legal decisions involving their substantive rights. The failure to follow these instructions can be a basis for a malpractice action. In one case, for instance, a California court held an attorney liable for his failure to file a complaint despite of his client's specific instructions to do so.

However, courts have held that an attorney can make decisions without his client's consent if authority has been given in an agreement. Decisions involving procedural matters are also instances where attorneys can act independently. California courts have not yet drawn the line as to how to differentiate procedural matters and legal decisions. Thus, establishing a legal malpractice action based on the failure to adhere to clients' instructions could pose several challenges. On the other hand, courts have consistently held that attorneys are not obliged to follow instructions that can result in an illegal or unethical conduct. Furthermore, an attorney can reject a case if he determines in good faith that the case lacks merit.

Another frequent basis for a legal malpractice action involves settlements. According to the California Rules of Professional Conduct, an attorney needs to provide his client specific information pertaining to the settlement such as the amount, and the terms and conditions of the offer, see California Rules of Professional Conduct Rule 3-510. To be successful with a malpractice action, a client-plaintiff needs to prove three things. First, there has to be evidence showing the attorney's failure to inform the client about the settlement (or parts of the settlement). Second, the client-plaintiff needs to attest that he would have accepted the settlement offer if he had known about it (or had sufficient information about it). Last, evidence should be presented that the client would have benefited more from the settlement than the actual outcome of the case. The amount of damages in such a case will be determined by the difference between the actual outcome of the case and what the client-plaintiff would have received from the settlement offer.

Statutes of Limitation

In general, clients can file a legal malpractice lawsuit one year after the discovery of circumstances that support the malpractice claim or four years after the attorney's act of misconduct, whichever comes first, see California Code Civil Procedure § 340.6 (a). There are, however, exceptions to this general rule that could prolong the periods of limitation, giving plaintiffs more time to file a lawsuit. For instance, periods where the plaintiff is physically unable to bring a legal malpractice action against his attorney will be considered as tolled. The same applies to cases where the attorney-defendant is still representing the client-plaintiff in the same case where the attorney's misconduct is at issue. In such cases, the time limit for bringing a legal malpractice action could be exceeded.

Seeking Legal Advice

The success of a legal malpractice lawsuit will mainly depend on the evidence and arguments which will support the claim that the attorney has been negligent in representing his client. Even procedural matters such as determining the applicable deadline could pose some challenges as well. Thus, in cases that involve complex issues, consulting a lawyer who is experienced in legal malpractice cases is inevitable in order to prevent the occurrence of further damages to the client.

Sources:
California Code of Civil Procedure
California Rules of Professional Conduct

For further reading:
George Lindahl JD, California Torts, 2012
Suzan Herskowitz Singer, Attorney Responsibilities & Client Rights, 2003
Robert W. Schachner Esq., How & When to Sue Your Lawyer, What You Need to Know, 2005

Key Issues Facing Travel Agencies for Survivability

A travel agency that wants to survive the demands of the present and future business environment can no longer simply be an outlet for distribution, or a friendly neighborhood business. Agencies that are now looking toward the future with optimism are those that have structured a business rather than a distribution outlet. This article is intended to reach those agency owners and managers who have a fairly sizable volume, have established good business relationships with corporations, and are seriously concerned about their future well-being. I hope to touch on a few areas that are of concern, giving some insight into areas that you may or may not have already targeted as vital to survival. Remember, sometimes it is the obvious that escapes us, so do not believe that the simplicity of some of these areas is unintentional. The key to survival is overall profitability, but there are some subtle areas that affect whether or not you are profitable.

Profitability

A travel agency is a rather unique business when looked at from a profitability standpoint. It is perhaps the only retail industry that has a little or no control over its retail pricing structure. Although alternative pricing exists, it is not an effective means for the average agency to gain and / or maintain profitability. Thus, it is vital to make a careful analysis of your costs and your income.

Have you taken the time to analyze productivity; the average per transaction cost compared to the average per ticket / transaction fee revenues received? What about individual productivity? Do you have fair, firm, viable, and enforceable expectations of what your salaried employees must produce? Is your payroll in line with your business volume?

If you were asked to state by how much you wanted to increase your volume in 2012, you most probably would have a ready response. But, have you thought through what measures you will need to take to increase your volume? If you plan to increase your market share, you must keep a constantly growing and evolving prospect list and then follow-up with sales-related meetings and presentations. It will be necessary to generate new volume in order to increase profitability or in some cases just to maintain it. It is of utmost importance that your organization has a firm and tried sales and marketing strategy.

Set a goal, focus on it, and develop a plan. Measure yourself by setting 90-, 180-, 270-, and 360-day goals. Evaluate your progress along the way and give rewards to yourself and those who have helped you to reach those goals.

Another area that affects profitability is your overhead. Use the same common sense you do at home when it comes to improvement of your physical environment. There seems to be a tendency, lately, to go a bit overboard with these things, thus dramatically increasing capital costs, and depleting resources for potential investment in other areas.

Employees

Have you ever heard someone say that a company is only as "good" as its employees? The ability to attract and keep a good, solid, knowledgeable, mature staff is of great importance. State-of-the-art computerization in your office has little value without the people in place to make your operation profitable.

As the fierceness of competition in today's agency marketplace increases, it will become more and more difficult to locate and retain the top-of-the line employees. Look for employees with a good deal of experience, or lacking that, a drive for success that can be channeled under your good management and leadership. You must begin to look toward the future and develop an employee plan that will maintain the consistency that area of ​​the industry has lacked for a long time. Consistency in your employee ranks will greatly favor your operation. Your clients will be able to have the same friendly voices to relate to, and will not question your stability because of heavy turnover (which is also extremely costly to your bottom line).

Find out how competitive your total compensation package is. Develop "real" incentives that have goals and measures by which an employee receives rewards. Make sure the rewards have substance to them. You may even wish to develop a plan by which your employees could develop equity in your firm.

Examine your training procedures to make sure that your employees are keeping pace with the technological sophistication (changes, updates, modifications, and enhancements) required of today's travel agents. Your employees, although not likely desire to put in more hours, would like to spend their hours more productively. If this is achieved, then both you and the employee profit. There are many low or no-cost seminars and training forums available through a variety of industry vendors. Let your employees tie into these functions. Set up a program with your automation vendor and other vendors to provide on-going training for your employees at a level suitable for the individual. Remember: sending an employee to an advanced CRS training seminar who has never worked with that particular CRS may be counterproductive. Be sure to provide training at the employee's level of comprehension.

It may be time to take a look at the overall productivity of your employees and find out the real costs and profits of each person on your payroll. Do you have an expected level of productivity for each employee that justifies his / her salary? If not, realize that an employee earning $ 18,000, plus medical, dental, and life insurance needs to generate a gross sales volume of almost $ 250,000 in order for the company to afford the salary and benefits alone. This does not even take into account other overhead expenses – rent, utilities, other insurances, and a profit. In most operationally mature situations a good, profitable, commercial agent generates an annual sales volume of $ 1,000,000.

Costs

Believe it or not, you do not have to have 700 branches, in 41 states, and 12 foreign countries to achieve savings in the area of ​​cost control. Even if you are buying for just one office, a good vendor is going to want your patronage. For every cost area, seek out three potential vendors who can provide you with the entire scope of your needs. Then do your best to ascertain what your needs will be for an extended period of time. Remember, the greater the single purchase the more efficient for the vendor, thus allowing the opportunity for greater savings to be passed on to you. Request a bid from the vendors; much in the same manner your clients have requested bids from you in order for you to obtain their business.

The cost of everything is on the rise. The days of item purchasing in business is gone simply because of the economics involved. You can achieve greater survivability by changing some of your non-fixed expenses to semi fixed expenses and it does not matter if you're a single or multi-branch agency.

If you do have more than one branch, consider the concept of centralizing costs wherever possible. Even if there is considerable distance between branches, most vendors will pick up the shipping costs to outlaying locations of an account. The purchasing power gained by centralizing as many costs as possible will bring you cost savings as well as other efficiencies that are being passed up by many agencies, today.

The control of costs in today's arena of expense inflation will be vital to your survival over the next year or two. Not is the time to begin positing yourself in accordance with your business plan to gain the control necessary.

Industry Vendors

Forget what is in the past. This industry has a habit of being overly reminiscent, and it is costing the very lives of many agencies and seriously threatening many of those still in existence. The face of the basic industry vendor / agency relationship has been changing for quite a while, and I believe that 2012 and 2013 will prove to be the spear-hear period for those changes.

Now is the time to firmly build your alliances, and get to work with your future business plans along with your vendors. The entire distribution system as we now know it has been placed in a questionable posture. You must decide for yourself what steps are necessary for your survival. What agreements should be consummated between your agency and carriers, car rental firms, hotels, tour operators, automation vendors, etc.? Everyone is eager for your business. But, who is offering you the best overall deal in return? It is vital that you begin to explore your options, and look toward the long term. You will not be able to survive on short-term relationships which bring short-term dollars.

Most airline override agreements should be looked at as "the icing on the cake." Too many agencies make the error of thinking of this as secure, guaranteed income. It may not be. The vast majority of carriers have turned to market share based overrides, rather than what was the traditional "increased volume" based override. Of course, there are still the occasional "other deals" floating around that can help to get some more dollars into your agency. Be aware of every dollar a carrier is offering. Flight, and / or segment cash bonuses paid at point-of-sale can generate substantial immediate dollars for you. Make sure you, and / or a reliable member of your staff is constantly in tune with these "special" offerings. "Do not simply discard those pieces of electronic mail the carriers send you. You could be losing serious dollars. Information of pertinence is also available in all the agency CRS CO-HOST DRS pages.

Also be aware that airlines are extremely eager for your group business, and in some cases, you may be pleasantly surprised to find out how few people an airline will consider a group, and how nice the specific override on that group can be.

Hotels and car rental companies are in the override marketplace as well, more now than in the past. Calculate what your annualized volume with these vendors is, and much in the same manner that you can develop an override program with an air carrier; you may find yourself eligible for more dollars from your car and hotel vendors as well. There seems to be a great deal of latitude afforded the local sales staff of car rental companies, depending on their geographic location as to what they can do for productive agencies. It would seem to make sense to investigate these avenues. The work required to maximize your car rental commission may be well worth it in the long run.

To sum it up, vendors in today's marketplace are looking for strong and loyal allies. They are willing to compensate you for this loyalty. But, they are demanding that you produce substantial and consistent revenues for them.

Now is the time to look toward the future, and determine whom you should deal with.

MIS

The survivors in today's environment have developed a keen sense of awareness of the current needs of corporations to have accurate, and in-depth, management data. If you are not up-to-date with what is going on in today's automation / information world of the travel industry, it may well be time to seek out avenues whereby you can receive some education in this area. Agencies are being looked at more and more for their ability to act as managers, information and data sources, and travel budget and policy markers.

The change in the way corporations view travel agents is a welcome one. It has done much to bring respect to the business and the professionals within it. The question one must ask though is, "Am I prepared to accept the new challenges posed by the changing role of the travel agent?"

If you have any doubts, it's not too late to learn and grow in the areas you need to. Your ability to support the management information needs of a corporation is vital to your survival.

Areas of Specialization

Over the past several years agencies have begun to expand their menu of services from simply commercial and leisure travel, to include Incentives, Groups, and Meeting Planning. Be aware that such specialization requires knowledge, dedication, risk, and good planning. These "other" areas of endeavor are quite complex. Doing the job half-way generally results in failure.

Incentive Travel is complicated and often misunderstood as being the same as group travel. When properly administered, sold, and operated it can be an extremely profitable venture. The basic and override commissions paid by travel vendors are unusually good. Meeting Planning is quite time consuming, but again, when done properly can become quite lucrative. One of the challenges with Meeting Planning however, is that the air portion of the program can get quite complex. If you are not properly geared and staffed for it, you will be unpleasantly surprised. Again, there are excellent opportunities for increased profitability here.

Specialization in these or any area of ​​the industry is becoming more and more evident these days, and the reason is you must somehow stand out in the crowd to survive. Find out what it is that you and your staff excel at. It may well be worth the time and effort to clearly define an area of ​​specialization. Developing an identity as a "specialist," when done properly, can greatly enhance your exposure and positivity affect your overall business.

We are now faced with the challenges that many other industries have faced before – how to survive in a time of increased expense, and decreased revenues? If you want to survive, not is the time to act. Prepare for the future by committing yourself to a workable, flexible, realistic business plan. Align yourself with vendors properly. Review costs, and productivity. Set standards. Develop new avenues of revenue generation. Do not let what appears to be turmoil around you dissuade you from success.

Make 2011 a year that will make a difference. Make it the year that you decide to be a winner, and a survivor!