Best Strategies for Saving on Flights and Hotels

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

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

Saving on Hotels

Book hotels and flights together

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

Surf online, book over phone

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

Advance fees

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

Take advantage of refundable bookings

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

Use corporate discounts

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

Last-minute travel

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

Say no to cookies

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

Flight Saving Strategies

Travel during off-peak hours

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

Fly on specific days

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

Take connecting flights

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

Check out from less expensive airports

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

Make early bookings

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

Book on the right time

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

Leverage refund rules

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

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

Where to Buy Shiitake Logs at the Best Price

The mushrooms grow on logs and these logs can be prepared by you. The Shiitake mushroom is easy to grow by anyone as it does not need soil of different layers and nutrition. They grow on logs. You may plan to grow a huge quantity of Shiitake fruits and for this – it is better to buy the logs. You will need logs with 4″ diameter and the log should have its bark intact. The woods that are preferred are oak, poplar, alder and maple variety. The hardwoods are to be avoided. The conifers like fir or cedar are also of no use for you. When you have a 4 feet long log, it will be better to handle and you can put 10 to 12 plugs in it.

Online stores

There are different online sites where you can buy these Shiitake Logs to grow your fruits on them. You will have to find out the way these logs are used for using them for growing the fruits. These fruits are grown widely and are second to the most common button mushrooms. You can use the Shiitake Mushroom Logs for these fruits so that you can raise certified and organic sprouts. These can be used to create a commercial operation if you have some space for the hardwood logs and shady place to keep these logs for a good production. You just need to get a reference from any friends who grow these mushrooms and go to the site to buy the logs for sale.

Stores with guidance and instructions

These stores will have logs containing a substrate that are inoculated with spawn for proper growth. These stores often will have mycelium for colonizing the substrate. The mycelium will be kept in some bags and used until the substrate is completely colonized. The store will ship you the Mushroom logs for sale so that you can harvest your crop within 10 – 12 days. You can grow the fresh fruits and sell to the proper outlets. Often the online stores will give you instructions to grow the fruits and save time for your crop harvest. The logs are of high yield and stable quality. They will also have a high conversion rate.

Farms with mushroom logs

There are farms that will have Oaks, hornbeams, sweet gum and ironwood for mushroom cultivating base. These farms will sell you the hardwood tree logs and you can start cultivating the fruits on them. The trees are cut after the leaves have turned brown and sap migrate downwards to work as antifreeze. These farms often take the logs from firewood suppliers or farmers too. They stack the logs in their storehouse in the proper shade. Loosely kept logs are handled with care and are mostly kept covered with cloth.

Prepare a Shiitake log

You can start preparing a log for growing the mushrooms on them. These logs must be hardwood and they are to be inserted with plugs. These plugs will have the mycelium growing there. The logs are bored with holes so that the mycelium starts colonizing. They will soon grow into Shiitake sprouts for you to take off and sell. You need to drill in the logs for the plugs and then rubber mallet the plugs. Use beeswax for sealing the plugs. Store the log in a shady place until it is ready for cultivation.

Entrepreneurial Mind Frame

Entrepreneurs make up only about 15% of the working population in the US. Far fewer actually succeed than those who attempt to become self employed business people and venture out on their own. So what makes people decide to take the entrepreneurial path, when so few actually make it a reality?

Is the American dream a possibility for anyone, or, does it take more than most to become a successful entrepreneur?
The success of an entrepreneur does depend on their mindset. A large percentage of business owners will quit in their first five years in business. What is needed is the fortitude and belief that goes with attaining success.

Entrepreneurs are risk takers and dreamers. The difference between the dreamer and the entrepreneur though, is that the entrepreneur takes actions based on their dreams. They persist through the hardships and never give up! Many entrepreneurs start with an idea. Their success is determined by their belief that they can create something greater than simple monetary success. Often, it is about creating something which will benefit the world.

James Dyson, for example, came up with the idea of the bagless vacuum cleaner. Despite multiple set backs, over 5000 prototypes and not being able to get any manufacturers or distributors to accept his idea, he persevered. It was over a decade after his initial idea when his concept came to fruition. Even then, it was after a lot of difficulties and hardship due to the vacuum replacement bag industry, which was worth £100 million in the UK.

In Simon Sinek’s book ‘Start With Why’, he suggests that the biggest companies in the world are so because of their “why?” – their reasons for building a business in the first place. In all cases, it wasn’t just to make money, or make technology better, or some whimsical ideology.

The Wright Brothers, for example, became known as the pioneers of the first manned flight. But their competition was much better funded and well connected – Samuel Pierpont Langley had worked at Harvard, had a number of powerful connections, including Andrew Carnegie and Alexander Graham Bell. The War Department funded his project with a $50k grant, a seemingly massive advantage to the unconnected Wright Brothers who had no money or influence. However, their passion and devotion to change the world with this new technology drove them to attain the first flight in history in 1903.

Desire for material things and monetary wealth can only carry someone so far. Unless you have a goal or passion which is bigger than that, you may lose the momentum and fail to maintain your enthusiasm for any length of time.

The entrepreneurial mindset is one which taps into your purpose. Without a purpose driven goal or aim, it can’t take long before disillusionment kicks in. With a mindset which takes into account a larger purpose, entrepreneurs can build huge businesses because they ‘saw’ a vision of what they wanted to create. If the purpose is greater than the obstacles which lie in the path of attaining it, no amount of setbacks will stop you from achieving your goal.

On the other hand, if you set out to do something and something gets in the way and stops you, your initial reason, (your “why?”), may not have been strong enough to endure all the battles along the way.

Entrepreneurial mind frame (or mindset) therefore, must be aligned with both your vision, your values and your purpose. If your values are not in alignment with your purpose and vision, you’ll come up against road blocks which will stop you from achieving your goal.

5 Effective Ways to Reduce Field Service Costs

There are five ways an organization can reduce their cost of field operations and delight the customers at the same time.

1. Go Mobile:
According to a recent Mobile Analytics Report released by Citrix, the total number of enterprise mobile devices worldwide had increased by 72% last year. Without mobility, service organizations can’t overcome some of the critical challenges like lack of real-time information, reduction in productivity, profitability and overall customer satisfaction. Customers, service managers, and field technicians can effectively use a single mobile platform for raising a case, managing work orders and invoices and get a real-time visibility of field support processes. Developing a customized app can streamline the workforce and push the productivity even further. Internet connection is mandatory to get the real-time visibility through mobile.

2. Minimizing fuel cost:
Fuel price is increasing every year globally. Every time a field technician covers longer distance, organizations have to bear the cost of fuel which reduces the profitability. With map integration, technicians can prioritize tasks based on distance, which helps to cut down on fuel costs. In a day, field technicians have to visit multiple places depending on the task assigned by service managers. Map integration not only helps field technicians to track the locations but also it helps customer and service managers to track the particular technician on the field as well. Map intelligence makes a big difference in travel optimization and cost reduction.

3. Knowledgebase integration:
It’s quite possible that field technicians may not be aware of a particular issue every time raised by any customer. Any unresolved issue generally leads to lower customer satisfaction. Organizations should integrate a knowledge base with the present application to look at similar issues and see how they were resolved. This knowledge base can be enriched every time when technicians face a critical and unique case and share their experience in the portal. Parallelly, customers can also have access to the knowledge base which helps the customer to resolve the less critical cases by themselves. It eventually leads to the reduction of service requests and overall cost.

4. Parts Management:
Effective parts management also plays a crucial role while it comes to the reduction of costs and productivity improvement. Most of the spare parts used in the day to day field service are quite expensive. A parts management application integrated with the current application can help organizations to enlist the relevant parts related to the particular products. It can also help to get the list of available parts of the warehouse, enable the field technician with the right tools and skill required. A knowledgeable and skilful service technician makes all the difference when it comes to customer delight and ensures service department with high first-time fix rate.

5. Timely alerts and notifications:
Alerts and notifications feature should be there in service manager console of the particular application which organization is using currently. It can play a major role when it comes to cost reduction and overall customer satisfaction. A manager should be informed of the cases which are not been resolved or an SLA is not met. It should also notify technicians when a new task is assigned or the task priority is changed. It helps to save ample amount of time and increase the overall service efficiency.

The key to managing service operations effectively is to assign the right technician with the job. Mobility can help with faster issue resolution, reducing time and cost for the organization. Customized solutions with the consideration of the above factors can improve the response time. It creates a positive impact for service managers, technicians, customers and overall organization.

Buying Art

Everyone buys art from time to time, some pay large amounts of money for original artwork – more people buy cheap forms of the arts on-line or at their local market. But regardless of your wealth there are plenty of great art sites selling many great forms of art.

Times are quickly changing and the world of arts is fast becoming more affordable for everyone. With today’s access to information on the web, finding reasonable works of art can save the average person a bundle.

Wealthy people pay large amounts for original art – this is understandable because they are buying the original work of an artist who has made a good reputation for himself . Buying original art is also considered to be a good investment. For some, buying original art may also be a way of increasing social status and attempting to conform to culture norms.

More people stick to buying limited edition art.

Limited edition artwork can range from two copies upwards to infinity. Should we pay big bucks for something that may be hanging on hundreds of walls?

I recently came across a Spanish artists website. His artwork was to a very high quality. He limited each print to 250 copies; they were on sale for EUR650 each. Is this too high a price for a limited edition print?

Are artists charging too much for their work?

I am constantly asking myself this question. How do we price our work? The answer is far from simple.

Do we, as artists un-limit our work and make them affordable to everyone or do we set an enormous price that only a small minority of the worlds population can afford.

When buying art, set out a budget that suits you before you go on-line. It you look at a large range of sites you will find some form of arts that suit your own pocket.

Just remember that the arts are for everyone to enjoy. People from all classes can enjoy, gaze and admire the many different forms of art. If you are looking to buy some form of the arts don’t rush into it. You may have to look at it for the next twenty years.