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Prepare Yourself For The Shock Of Mass Implantable Brain Technology

One of the most controversial narratives of our time will be discussion around identity and intention, that is who is it actually doing or thinking whatever it is you may be witnessing and why. This disruptive shift will be about discerning between human intelligence, artificial intelligence, hybrids-of-sorts and the types of parameters with which to best frame each category. Get ready because we are all about to experience things of which we previously only dreamed. However, the advent of some will be so disconcerting, so questionable that many will wish that such visions remained safely within a fantasy realm.

Our whole world is about to change right before our eyes at a pace at which most none of us voted, few will be early participants and all should remain extremely vigilant. Artificial Intelligence may be one thing, but the advent of actual implantable technology into the brain is a completely different phenomenon.

The new film I Am Human directed and produced by two women, Taryn Southern and Elena Gaby, debuted the Tribeca Film Festival and is an important new addition pertaining to vital discussions around the delicate intersection of the brain and its actual augmentation by technology that is anticipated to take place in a mass manner.

Typically relegated to academic environments, such topics around the brain-tech intersection started to be discussed in a slight bit more pedestrian manner starting back in 2013 when President Obama announced across major media that $100 million in funding would be targeted for an unprecedented neuroscience initiative intended to reconstruct the activity of every single neuron as it fired simultaneously in different brain circuits.

Shortly thereafter, a project known as BigBrain, a collaboration between researchers in Europe and Canada, mapped the human brain with massive precision. Fast forward a bit to today, and we find Elon Musk hard at work trying to link brains to software via chip implant to create something like a situation a la Johnny Depp’s character in the film Transcendence.

And just is touching on only a few jolting highlights in the arena.

Somehow making your brain subject to, paired with, integrated into technology is becoming a completely normal thing to ponder – at least for some. Indeed Southern and Gaby note that several hundred thousand people in the world already have plantable technology in their brains but that by the year 2029 this number is expected to triple due to a move from merely academic to general usage.

The first wave of evolution is expected to offer healing-of-sorts for various individuals such as those profiled in the film with Parkinson’s Disease, paralysis, blindness and more. The next wave is more about general usage.

Of course, who would deny any person suffering from neurological disorders the ability to possess a better quality of life through brain implants? But when such technology is beginning to be touted via interviews in this documentary as that which will be able to help you jump higher, run faster, rid oneself of this habit or that, or that annoying personality trait or another via programming, we could be teetering on some very shaky moral and spiritual ground.

Though the film is positioned more or less as a cheerleader for such technology improving lives, I Am Human only touches on ethics and morality about its subject as more of an obligatory footnote rather than the true deep dive that seems to be mandatory.

Brief in nature is the few minute segment of the film during which a professor addresses a class on neuroethics. She asks the class at what point do such actions around the brain and implantable technology become problematic?  Who is it who will have access to such procedures first? She encourages us all to ponder new questions in society such as what type of legal protection will you want for your brain when you will be able to, essentially, connect it to some type of technology that could be compromised at a push of an upload or download. Data privacy takes on an entirely new meaning when brain hacking on a new and exponential level could be just around the corner.

Indeed, during the Q&A after the film’s premiere, one of the filmmakers excitedly talked about her experience with even just a removable brain interface where she learned such things as about herself at the moment via computer like, well, that she was, ummm, drowsy. But do we really need technology to tell us this? Do we miss the important part of developing a better mind-body connection without such aids or learning so much about our emotions, understanding ourselves and our bodies organically  -which is vital to what many say is essential to both spiritual and emotional maturity  – by taking such short cuts? Or does such tech access provide support to those who do not want to or cannot ever come to such realizations?

The issue is that so much of the answer to the above is gray, dependent upon each individual and has no real precedent from which to make a  one-size-fits-all decision. Further, none of us should be so sure that those purporting to mind the brain interfacing/transplant store, such as those seen in the film, are nearly qualified enough to make decisions for a very, very fragmented society where various agendas lurk around every corner of culture.

As the interest in brain implant technology quickly shifts from medical to mainstream, watch for debates to become very heated. The issue is, perhaps, not so much about the capabilities that this technology affords as it is that such advances now present themselves so quickly that we are not afforded the time to truly test, evaluate and reflect in order to make decisions before blasting for take-off. This is what is demanded and is, fortunately or unfortunately, still very much a human responsibility.

Source:https://www.forbes.com/sites/laurencoleman/2019/05/12/prepare-yourself-for-the-shock-of-mass-implantable-brain-technology/#77481c782407

New technology could help keep kids safe at school

LAS VEGAS (KTNV) — A technology company in Las Vegas thinks a communications system being marketed to large hotels and hospitals could help keep kids safe.

This new tech uses Bluetooth beacons on an app in emergencies to send messages while tracking the locations of employees – as the tracking feature is activated when a threat has been declared.

Employees and possibly students are then asked to respond with whether they are safe or not.

“You would probably test it in a single school to start with and see what challenges we have if any,” said CEO of Technovation Solutions Peg McGregor. 

She also said the technology recently qualified for a federal program that lowers the cost for schools interested in the system.

Source:https://www.ktnv.com/news/new-technology-could-help-keep-kids-safe-at-school

Looking for a moon vacation? Billions being invested in burgeoning space tourism industry

Neil deGrasse Tyson, director of the Hayden Planetarium, famously declared that Earth’s first trillionaire will be a space miner. There’s gold in them thar asteroids.

Perhaps, but the first big money to be made in space will more likely come from tourism, says John Spencer, who founded the Space Tourism Society and designed elements of the International Space Station for NASA.

Commercial space exploration is already attracting vast amounts of capital, according to space-analytics company Bryce Space and Technology, which reported that space startups received $3.2 billion in investment in 2018 and $22 billion since 2000.

A portion of that money has bolstered the growing space-tourism industry.

Potential Options for a Space Tourist

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The industry arguably took off in 2001, when Los Angeles businessman Dennis Tito became the first space tourist, paying $20 million to join a Russian cosmonaut crew on a Soyuz rocket to the International Space Station. Since then, six others have followed, paying to sojourn at the ISS.

Outside the Space Station, which no longer accepts tourists, an industry providing people a suborbital taste of what it’s like to be in space has flourished. Zero Gravity Corp., for example, allows people to feel as though they’re floating in zero gravity by flying a modified Boeing 727 in a parabolic arc, and a number of companies are gearing up to carry passengers to various heights above Earth’s surface, including a hot-air balloon that would provide a view of Earth’s curvature from 12 miles high, and Blue Origin’s passenger rocket, which would provide even more expansive views from 66 miles up — high enough for passengers to be considered astronauts.

And last fall, Elon Musk announced that a passenger had booked a trip on a rocket aiming even higher: the moon.

Japanese billionaire Yusaku Maezawa purchased seats for a one-week journey around the moon with up to eight artists on SpaceX’s as-yet-unbuilt Big Falcon Rocket. The tentative launch date for Earth’s first moon tourists is 2023.

Once journeys such as Maezawa’s become commonplace, Spencer imagines tourism in space will eventually evolve to resemble tourism on the ocean.

Think of it: the cruises, the hotels, the adventure sports and high-end yachts, each of which would require the staff of its Earth-bound counterpart, plus the support staff needed for space.

“Eventually, there will be a lot of jobs in space,” Spencer said. “We need people who cook and clean; we need a space guard service.” He foresees sports such as dune-buggy racing or low-gravity basketball bringing television crews, crowds and the corresponding infrastructure.

Clint Wallington, a hospitality professor who worked with the International Space Station’s education-outreach program and once ran Rochester Institute of Technology’s space-tourism course, agreed that space tourism would create a lot of jobs.

“You start to see how to put together a full hotel support,” he said. And then, he added, you would need people who know how to respond if equipment malfunctions or a passenger gets injured.

Wallington predicted that the type of infrastructure that would allow tourists to visit the moon or spend a few weeks on a space station is decades, if not a century, out.

But he remembers the excitement of the original space race, and does not discount what humanity can accomplish when it becomes captivated by an idea.

“If something becomes super-popular,” he said, “interesting things can happen in a short time.”

Source:https://www.houstonchronicle.com/local/space/mission-moon/article/Looking-for-a-moon-vacation-Billions-being-13818354.php

Technology could widen the gender employment gap, the IMF warns

Technology is often espoused as a great leveler, enabling sudden and sweeping economic progress for huge swathes of society.

But it could also play a role in perpetuating a major societal divide: The gender employment gap.

That’s according to a new report from the International Monetary Fund, which found that women face a greater threat of losing their jobs to technology than their male counterparts.

Up to 26 million women in major economies could see their jobs displaced within the next two decades, if technology continues at its current rate, the IMF found.

That puts 11% at high risk (a 70% likelihood) of job disruption compared to 9% of men, which the report said could lead to a further widening of the pay gap between men and women.

The disparity noted by the report is led primarily by occupational divides, which see women disproportionately represented in low-skilled, clerical and sales roles that are routine-heavy and therefore prone to automation. That’s a result of both “self-selection” — women choosing certain professions — as well as exposure, the report said.

“We find that women, on average, perform more routine or codifiable tasks than men across all sectors and occupations ― tasks that are more prone to automation,” the report’s authors wrote.

“Moreover, women perform fewer tasks requiring analytical input or abstract thinking (e.g., information-processing skills), where technological change can be complementary to human skills and improve labor productivity,” it added.Measuring ‘routineness’

The IMF researchers developed a “routine task intensity” (RTI) index to measure the so-called routineness of various occupations and then broke that down by the gender make-up of each role.

On average, the RTI index was 13 percent higher for women workers than men, due to “women typically performing fewer tasks requiring analytical and interpersonal skills or physical labor,” the report said.

The index’ results were not uniform, however, the report said.

The gender routineness gap was far lower in Central Europe and Scandanavia, while it was among its highest in Japan, the Slovak Republic, Singapore and Estonia. The IMF said that was likely “indicative of countries’ positions along the automation path” as well as long-standing gender biases.

Meanwhile, the report also found oldest, less well-educated women to be at the greatest risk of job automation, adding that recent decades have seen more young women shift away from clerical and low-skilled occupations toward service and professional jobs.

“Women are increasingly selecting into jobs that are more insulated from displacement by technology,” the report said.

“Gender automation gaps between men and women are smaller for younger cohorts even among workers facing the highest risk of automation (e.g., less-well educated, in clerical and sales positions).”

Source:https://www.cnbc.com/2019/05/07/technology-could-widen-the-gender-employment-gap-imf-warns.html

5 email marketing tools for startups

Traffic generation techniques and driving branding through digital marketing has been talked about so extensively already that we do not need to review them any more. 

Almost any startup can learn to use Google Ads, Facebook Ads, content and organic search engine optimisation (SEO) to get traffic at the top of their funnel. These are great ways to get the word out and making the brand visible. 

However, in order to nurture your leads and keep your customers engaged, you need to master email marketing. 

Email marketing remains the most powerful channel to communicate directly with the people who want to hear from you. This includes your blog’s content audience, your customers, people who want to work with you in the future, and your leads for the products and services you plan to sell.

When people sign up for a service, the most important initial communication, like login details, receipt of purchase, etc, is expected to be communicated over email. This also includes sending out relevant and personalised content so that you have your subscribers’ undivided attention. 

Relevance in the times of instant communication

Many digital marketing experts claim that email marketing is dead because of the rise of Twitter, Instagram, and other social media platforms and, most importantly, instant communication apps such as Facebook Messenger and WhatsApp. But email still continues to drive revenues at our startup and for thousands of other startups in the world.

Email marketing works when email subscribers expect to receive an email from you. Else, unsolicited emails are just spam.

Many startups have tried to use email marketing to drive brand awareness and instant sales, but it doesn’t work. That’s when people claim email marketing is dead. But the problem lies in the fact that people have little to no idea about how to do it correctly.

The permission to reach the inbox of the subscriber should be used judicially and nurtured over time with relevant content.

Email marketing is personal because the email inbox is a personal space. And people like to hear from people, rather than brand names, because people want to connect with people. (Read Seth Godin’s Permission Marketing, if you haven’t read it yet). 

When people give you permission to communicate with them, and you carefully nurture that permission without abusing it with promotional messages, email marketing can work wonders. 

In this article, I want to talk about the top five email marketing tools that startups can use. These tools are pocket-friendly, have an easy on-boarding procedure, and come with the basic set of features that startups can use without the need to have a tech team.

Awhile back, email marketing software was not cheap and one had to pay heavy upfront costs to get things up and running. Most of the email marketing tools in the market nowadays will charge you based on the total amount of email subscribers you have hosted with them. That way you are not going to incur heavy upfront costs like setup fee. You will pay more only when your business grows along with it. 

Most of these email marketing tools come with a free trial or a money-back guarantee. You can experiment with multiple tools without risking money and find the best fit for you. 

So here goes my list:

ConvertKit

ConvertKit is one of my favourite email marketing tools. Their interface is simple and easy to use. Nathan Barry, Founder of ConvertKit, is a designer himself, and he has taken a personal interest in designing the user interface.

The ConvertKit plan starts with $29 a month for up to 1,000 subscribers. If you have 10,000 subscribers, you would pay $119 a month. The cost goes up based on the number of subscribers you have.

ConvertKit is the only tool that allows unlimited email sending for any given number of subscribers you have. Most of the email marketing tools have a sending limit of seven to 12 emails per subscriber per month, and if you send more emails, you will be billed separately.

For example, if you have 1,00,000 subscribers, you will be able to send a total of 5,00,000 emails a month and if you send another 5,00,000 emails to the same subscriber base, you will be charged the equivalent of having 2,00,000 subscribers. Such pricing is unpredictable and gives early-stage startups surprise bills.

ConvertKit is made for bloggers and info-product marketers, but it works for anyone who has a focus on personal branding.

Many email marketing tools come with a lot of bells and whistles, which include fancy HTML email templates. ConvertKit keeps the focus on the conversation and doesn’t encourage you to add fancy designs. The email editor is plain and simple, and your HTML emails look more like plain text emails. 

If you are looking to send heavy branded HTML emails, then ConvertKit might not be the right option for you. However, if you are trying to leverage 1:1 communication with your subscribers with written content, ConvertKit is the best fit for you.

ConvertKit also has the best delivery rate in the industry and has a high conversion ratio for emails sends to opens. They have maintained the reputation of their email servers very well by carefully monitoring all the users and preventing spam complaints.

One downside of ConvertKit is that they do not support highly customisable automation. If you are looking to build custom marketing automation funnels, then ActiveCampaign might be a better fit for you.

ActiveCampaign

There are three reasons why ActiveCampaign is better than ConvertKit. The pricing of ActiveCampaign is slightly lower than ConvertKit at higher subscriber slabs.

For 1,000 subscribers the monthly pricing plan starts at $29 a month – which is almost the same as ConvertKit. If you have 10,000 subscribers, the pricing is $129 a month.

At higher subscriber slabs, there are significant differences in pricing. If you have 100,000 subscribers, you will be paying $459 a month for the Lite Plan on ActiveCampaign, and $679 a month for ConvertKit.

While ConvertKit doesn’t have multiple plans, ActiveCampaign comes with four different plans.

The Lite plan of ConvertKit is good enough for most of the bloggers, information product marketers, and startups. If you also want sales automation with features like Lead Scoring, then the Plus plan will be the right fit for you.

The professional plan comes with predictive sending and site messaging. And there is also an enterprise plan for people who want to customise the entire offering. 

ActiveCampaign allows you to add webhooks in the automation, which helps you pass data to other tools. You can also set up an SMS drip campaign with ActiveCampaign – which is not available with tools like ConvertKit.

If you have a lot of subscribers, are very price conscious, and if you want to have the possibility of upgrading to a CRM automation suite in the future with the same subscriber database, I would recommend ActiveCampaign over ConvertKit.

The only downside of ActiveCampaign is that the tool is much more complex to use than ConvertKit. You might find it difficult to create a simple drip marketing automation and finding an email template that looks like plain text emails (if plain text emails are your preference). 

Aweber

Aweber is one of the oldest email marketing companies in the world. Aweber has a very simple interface and allows users to send plain text emails. Plain text emails have a higher chance of landing in the primary tab of Gmail (and 90 percent of internet users who use email are on Gmail). 

Aweber has high-reputation email servers that have built trust with the email ISPs over the years. This helps to get very high delivery rates and open rates for your email campaigns.

The pricing of Aweber is very simple. The basic plan for 500 subscribers comes at $19 a month. If you have 10,000 subscribers, it would cost $69 a month. It’s $149 a month for up to 25,000 subscribers. And beyond that, it’s $8 additional for every 1,000 new subscribers that are added to the database. 

Aweber supports the creation of a simple drip marketing campaign but is not the best tool to build complex automation.

Drip.com

Drip is one of the most sophistical email marketing and CRM tools out there in the market. 

Initially Drip was competing against ActiveCampaign and ConvertKit with the same set of features and pricing. Later Drip has rebranded itself into a communication tool for e-commerce companies.

If you are an ecommerce startup, Drip.com might be the right option for you as they have custom built the features keeping in mind the needs of an ecommerce startup.

The pricing starts at $49 a month for 2,500 subscribers and goes up to $1,300 per month for 100,000 subscribers. Drip.com is the highest priced tool on my list.

Drip allows advanced rules and liquid templating, which helps you dynamically change the content on the email based on Subscriber tags. Unless you are an ecommerce startup, I wouldn’t recommend using Drip.com. 

MailChimp

Any mention of email marketing tools for startups brings MailChimp into the conversation. MailChimp is the largest provider of email marketing services for the internet, and one of the oldest and most profitable companies in this field.

MailChimp is the only tool that comes with a free plan. For up to 2,000 subscribers, there is no cost. You can upload your subscribers and send emails for free. Just make sure that the subscriber list you have is an option subscriber list. If your email campaigns have a high spam complaint rate and bounce rate, MailChimp will immediately ban your account. 

If you want all the features of MailChimp that include marketing automation, I recommend the Pro plan. It costs $199 a month, and then additional pricing based on the number of subscribers you have. For 1,00,000 subscribers, you will pay $475 per month plus $199 a month, which puts you at a cost of $674 per month.

MailChimp, being a leader in the email marketing field, has the best email servers that help you get the best delivery and open rates for your email marketing campaigns. Advanced automation is still difficult with MailChimp and the learning curve is steep.

The pricing is very similar to ConvertKit. And ActiveCampaign is much cheaper with a better set of features. 

Final thoughts

My personal recommendation for the best email marketing tools will be ConvertKit, and ActiveCampaign. Both have a compelling set of features, come with flexible pricing, and have great customer support. 

I wouldn’t recommend setting up your own email server for sending emails. Setting up your own server is complex and there are too many chances of failure. Signing up for an email marketing service provider is always easy and gives you peace of mind as you scale up your business. 

Source:https://yourstory.com/2019/05/email-marketing-tools-digital-solutions-startups

Technology As The Great Enabler For Female Entrepreneurs

Often, we think of technology relative to a career as an asset, a tool or skill to be leveraged for gain. But during a recent dinner, Professor Vanessa Chan reminded me that the changing nature of work means technology can be so much more: it can be the key with which entrepreneurs unlock the global economy or the secret to a successful work-life integration and balance for others.

Chan is currently a Professor of Practice in Innovation and Entrepreneurship and the Undergraduate Chair for the Materials & Engineering Department at the University of Pennsylvania. She also is an inventor, runs her own startup, and invests and advises dozens of other startups. We met so she could discuss a business idea, but the conversation quickly grew into a wide-ranging discussion of entrepreneurial thinking, useful technologies, and best practices in their everyday applications.

Professor Chan followed a traditional path early in her career. After receiving a Bachelor’s in Engineering from the University of Pennsylvania and then a PhD in Engineering from MIT, she climbed the corporate ladder to become the first female partner in the North America Chemicals practice at McKinsey. She also co-led the firm’s innovation practice.

She credits McKinsey with helping her to build out a bench of soft skills to go along with the technical skills she learned earning her PhD. She is quick to share research from Harvard University that says: “85% of job success comes from well-developed soft skills and only 15% comes from technical skills & knowledge.”

Interestingly, she feels this combination is lacking for newly minted engineers and the explicit teaching of soft skills is notoriously absent in most university programs. To counter it, she is committed to teaching many of those skills in her own classes, hoping to help Penn Engineering students  become known both for their technical acumen and their ability to work effectively within large and complex teams and ecosystems. She does this as part of a class for engineering students that teaches them how to build their own companies, and in her Senior Design course, where Engineering seniors pursue  their capstone project.

Her mission is to produce more well-rounded engineers that can attain even greater success when they graduate. Professor Chan mentions a recent departmental review that felt validating because it recognized her curriculum teaching as one of the strengths of the department and is considering rolling it out to graduate students as well.

Professor Chan is passionate about this because she believes people in the real world thrive not because they had the highest GPA but because of soft skills that allow them to work effectively in complex ecosystems, whether it be academia, industry or startups.  She says that startups are critical to the growth of the economy, and points to the Small Business Administration statistics that say over 627,000 new small businesses open each year and that small businesses (defined as 500 or less employees) contribute to almost 50% of the United States GDP as evidence.

One of the reasons Professor Chan feels so strongly about this is  because she also runs her own startup called re.design studio. As part of the studio and company, she invented a tangle-free headphones product called loopit. The experience of designing, funding and launching that product opened her eyes to the democratizing power of technology for business.

She explains that through a Kickstarter campaign for loopit, she was able to connect with more than 500 complete strangers who backed her campaign. It brought her into contact with people as far away as Europe and Asia — people she never would have been able to meet, interact or (more importantly) transact with as little as ten years ago.

When it came time to actually manufacture loopit, Professor Chan turned to online tools and platforms like Alibaba and Maker’s Row. They helped her construct prototypes and source manufacturers that could build early versions of loopit then scale to meet demand. She says she never would have been able to have the same level of success as a one-woman company struggling to bring her ideas to life without these powerful platforms.

Outside of her role at Penn and with her company, Professor Chan is involved with more than a dozen other startups as an angel investor and advisor. She is also testing the waters with keynote speaking to help inspire others to adopt a growth mindset and be confident in failure as a catalyst for that growth. Technology plays a role in all of these endeavors, helping her spread the word on her message.

But Professor Chan also makes the point that we should embrace technology as a key platform for our personal lives. Powerful, yet common tech tools today give us the freedom to work remotely or from home while also enabling families to keep in touch while apart.

Ultimately, Professor Chan sees technology as a critical enabler that makes it possible for each of us to tap into the global economy in some way. It can also function as a great leveler, helping advance work-life balance and opening new opportunities for distributed careers.

One way that Professor Chan hopes technology is used better is to recruit more women into related fields. She notes that across all of her roles – professor, startup founder, investor, and angel investor – she sees less than 15% of positions held by women. The power of technology today should make it more accommodating for women to enter and succeed in these same roles.

For Professor Chan, that means it’s more than just the availability of technology. She says we need more female role models to inspire the next generation of female tech leaders and grow those numbers.

In Professor Chan, we have just such a role model.

Source:https://www.forbes.com/sites/traceywelsonrossman/2019/04/29/technology-as-the-great-enabler-for-female-entrepreneurs/#608f0c3d53cd

Digitisation will shape travel and hospitality sectors

A growing wave of digitalisation is helping to drive growth across the travel, tourism, and hospitality sectors in the UAE, experts said ahead of the Arabian Travel Market (ATM 2019) exhibition.

Opening its doors on Sunday, April 28, 2019, the 26th edition of the show will welcome over 2,500 exhibiting companies and an expected 40,000 industry professionals, with over 150 countries represented, 65 national pavilions, and more than 100 new exhibitors set to make their ATM debut.

Issam Kazim, CEO of the Dubai Corporation for Tourism and Commerce Marketing (DCTCM), noted that there are lots of changes that are happening in the industry right now.

“Everything is on the digital front now, and we have seen this transition over the past few years,” he said. “There has been a tremendous advancement, not just in the way that we use technology to communicate with end users, but also how people are using it to travel. We are doing a lot more targeted messaging where people are interacting with content that is based on what is relevant to them. Based on this, we are trying to provide them with more options, in real time, on what it is that they can do in Dubai when they visit.”

Kazim also highlighted the importance of leveraging technology to help the industry and sell Dubai as a destination across multiple channels. “Our focus remains on working with our partners and getting more people to visit Dubai, whether it be for business or for leisure. We have to ensure that they are aware of the breath of options that they have when they come to Dubai so that they can extend the length of their stay,” he said.

Chris Newman, chief operating officer at Emaar Hospitality Group, also described the impact of digitisation on the industry as a transformation.  

“Digital technology is something that is really shaping the way that we live, work, and play in the world today,” he said. “From the point of planning your stay, to the stay itself, and then, even more importantly, after your stay, the whole guest journey and experience is becoming more digitalised. Having said that, while digital technology will shape the hospitality sector, it is power of genuine personalised service that will drive the success of the hospitality business.”

Technology, he said, is going to be responsible for helping to reduce the focus on the transactional part of the business, and allowing players to focus more on the engagement and experience that guests enjoy during their stay.  

Similarly, Kathryn Wallington, country manager for the UAE at Travelport, also agreed that digitisation has supported professionals in the travel sector by minimising more administrative tasks and creating a smoother work stream.

“The travel and hospitality industry is evolving rapidly in today’s era of digitisation, driven by emerging technologies that are opening up new possibilities and escalating demand for real-time services and solutions from travelers,” she said.

Travellers in the UAE, she revealed, are tech-savvy and comfortable with the digitisation of services. “However, today we are seeing a growing demand from them for agent advice, digital solutions and hybrid support delivered throughout their travel experience. Travellers in the UAE today don’t see digital and physical solutions as separate elements. Their expectation is that solutions should be delivered seamlessly across multiple channels 24/7.”

Source:https://www.khaleejtimes.com/digitalisation-will-shape-travel-and-hospitality-sectors

How Technology is Simplifying & Personalizing Travel

Technology and travel go hand in hand. Millions of people who love travel use technology in their quest to explore exotic locales or visit well-travelled tourist destinations. The technology that makes travel easier and more enjoyable isn’t a new plane, train, ship, or car, rather its well-crafted apps that run on smartphones. Using such apps, tourists or visitors get the best deals at hotels and find the most affordable air or train tickets; however even these relatively new apps pale in comparison to others that promise a more enriching travel experience.

Get Off the Beaten Path

Thousands of Indians travel overseas every year to cities like Paris, New York, London, Bangkok, Dubai, Sydney, Amsterdam, and countless others. Increasingly many travellers are growing weary of visiting tried and tested destinations where they, and everyone else, do the same things. This is where new some innovative companies add value to tourists. A number of apps are less concerned with how travellers arrive at a destination or where they stay once they reach; rather these apps add value by making a travel experience totally unique and personalised.

Consider someone who enjoys birding. Such a person will likely have thousands of photos of birds carefully taken while on birding expeditions. On his next expedition, he wants to add to his growing collection photos of pintails and herons. Even though he knows these birds are most likely to be seen at Nal Sarovar Bird Sanctuary in Gujarat and Ranganathittu Bird Sanctuary in Karnataka, he’s not certain he’ll be able to add photos of these birds even if he travels there. There are apps available today that greatly increase the success rates of birding expeditions. Such apps give travellers updated information about the most recent sightings of birds and other wildlife. This means a traveller to Ranganathittu Bird Sanctuary, or to any other sanctuary, using the app, can see where a particular species of bird was spotted. This greatly increases their likelihood of seeing and successfully clicking a photograph of the particular species of bird.

Apps such as these aren’t restricted to providing information about birds, rather they’re updated with information about where all kinds of wildlife have been spotted. This increases the likelihood of seeing the Asian Golden Cat while travelling to Manas National Park or seeing any other shy animal in dozens of wildlife reserves across India or overseas.    

The Magic behind Technology

The world is moving to a sharing based economy whose backbone is technology and people. Whether it is apps that let users live in stranger’s homes in an unfamiliar city or apps that allow users to let others know where they’re likely to spot an exotic species of bird; technology that allows people to share information and resources is making life more enjoyable and richer.

The global sharing based economy is backed by innovative companies, the unparalleled processing power of smartphones, advanced software, and high speed yet affordable internet. Those behind such technologies understand peoples need to make their vacations one of kind. By bringing together people and technology, creative individuals understood how to get the best out of both. The ultimate beneficiary is the tourist who wants to post pictures of him and his family in exotic locations doing things few others in his circle can imagine.   

Source: https://www.entrepreneur.com/article/332721

Use AI to Improve Customer Experience in the Hospitality Business

The cost of cloud computing and smart software solutions have drastically come down since the turn of the present decade. Today, for a few dollars a month, small businesses can sign up for intelligent software services and optimize their business operations and revenue in the first year itself. This is a remarkable achievement.

Because of the ubiquity of accessible solutions – which are smart and affordable– a lot many of your competitors in the hospitality industry are changing the way their businesses are conducted. I am sure that you might have heard or read about Artificial Intelligence solutions created for the hotel industry.

Are you skeptical about it? Do not worry. Let us help to understand the real value of smart solutions and how it can a) change the way you spend money to run your business;b) and how you can increase your RevPAR within a matter of a year.

Operational Optimization via Artificial Intelligence for the Hotel Industry

As a hotel owner, three aspects drive your profits:

Using your inventory and resources optimally; ensuring that you deliver the best experience; and developing long term communication with guests to be retargeted

Artificial Intelligence based channel managers, revenue managers, and booking engines help you control and achieve the aforementioned factors.

Channel Manager’s (CM) used case is to help you manage and distribute all inventories on one dashboard. A CM will also help you monitor channel performance. So, at the end of each month, you can see which channels are bringing you the best business at the best rates.

You can easily eliminate the channels which do not generate a lot of bookings. This insight is just the tip of the iceberg. You can also set a base price, and let the channel manager set all rate plans for all room types.

Revenue Management System (RMS) will help you analyze your past performance based on your historical data. Then, you begin with forecasting demand for an entire year. Revenue managers consider factors such as market forces, which determine tourist traffic to your city and to add to that certain well-equipped RMS allows you to monitor your competitor prices on many online channels. This way, you make informed pricing decisions. An AI based RMS will change prices dynamically to match demand.This way, you won’t miss out on charging more when there’s great demand.

booking engine however allows travelers to book rooms on your website directly.

Online channels demand a high percentage of commission to sell your rooms on their websites and mobile apps. By integrating a booking engine onto your website, you can generate direct bookings – thereby saving commission costs. Or, better yet, entice travelers with discounts for booking rooms directly on your website.

Why do you need direct booking on your website?

When guests visit your website, a booking engine can collect valuable guest data, such as service preferences, family size, food preferences etc. These factors help you serve your guests better and lower your cost of operations.

Artificial Intelligence-based Booking Experience shows Travelers that Hotels Care

Travelers don’t mind sharing information, such as preferences, likes and dislikes, if they are convinced that the information will help them get top class hospitality/ services.

Customers know what they want, but they rarely tell that to businessestablishments. It is up to each hotel to invest in their guests’ interests and show that you care.

Imagine if you motivate a guest to fill a service preference form while booking their room on your website. And you learn that the guest is allergic to artificial room fresheners. You get a chance to put a natural room freshener in the room and put a welcome note in the room wishing them a safe stay and good health.Your guest won’t hesitate for a moment to write a glowing review about your service on Facebook or Instagram with the photo of your welcome message card. This is the power of customer data.

The moment travelers experience personalized services, they would expect the same everywhere and want to go back to such hotel brands in the future.

Travelers generate a lot of data. Analyzing large data sets and allows meaningful insights and producing quality services is what will determine if you will survive in this dynamic, innovative industry.

By: Anil Kumar Prasanna – Source: https://www.entrepreneur.com/article/332646

How Teachers Use Technology in the Classroom

While more educators are using technology in the classroom every day, there is no monolithic way that teachers are implementing new forms of learning, according to a study from Columbia University researchers published in the journal Teachers College Record. The study finds most teachers fall into four buckets: dexterous (24.2 percent), evaders (22.2 percent), assessors (28.4 percent) and presenters (24.8 percent). The study is using information from the Department of Education’s National Center for Education Statistics Fast Response Survey System from 2009 in a report entitled Teacher’s Use of Educational Technology in U.S. Public Schools.

“There is a tendency to say that there are good users of the technology and bad users, but I found the opposite,” said Kenneth Graves, lead author of the study. “We need to stop pushing the ideal technology and start thinking about what teachers need and how context influences what teachers are using as opposed to seeing technology as a neutral act that doesn’t have any outside influence.”

Dexterous teachers report that they are comfortable with any type of technology and are ready to learn more through professional development. This is in contrast to evaders who are resistant to technology in any way. Presenters are teachers who use technology to aid with lectures and also guide students on how to use presentation software to produce written texts and presentations. Assessors are the most comfortable using technology for drill and practice software for use in areas such as math or reading.

The researchers found that teachers in low-income schools are more likely to be assessors and less to be presenters than dexterous. The study determined that low-income schools are more likely to have teachers who use technology in less meaningful ways.

Graves said he hopes that his study will help school administrators determine what is best for professional development.

“If you are principal and you know that you have a school of assessors and low-income students, it’s difficult to justify purchasing smartboards for every classroom,” said Graves. “You need to use context for the way that you purchase technology not based on trends. This perspective hasn’t been talked about in schools much where there is a data informed way of doing technology leadership in schools.”

Graves’s work is funded through grant from the American Educational Research Association. He said that he has plans to publish more research related to how school principals are using technology and looking at how to solve the digital divide through a “social justice lens.”

Source:https://thejournal.com/articles/2019/04/15/how-teachers-use-technology-in-the-classroom.aspx