Internet Banking: Relevance in a Changing World

Surprising, but true – Internet-based activity is not the preserve of the young “digital native” generation alone. A 2008 survey says that Generation X (those born between 1965 and 1976) uses Internet banking significantly more than any other demographic segment, with two thirds of Internet users in this age group banking online.

Gen X users have also professed their preference for applications such as Facebook, to share, connect and be part of a larger community.

This is some irony in this, since online banking, as we know it today, offers minimal interactivity. Unlike in a branch, where the comfort of two way interaction facilitates the consummation of a variety of transactions, the one way street of e-banking has only managed to enable the more routine tasks, such as balance inquiry or funds transfer.

It’s not hard to put two and two together. A clear opportunity exists for banks that can transform today’s passive Internet banking offering into one that provides a more widespread and interactive customer experience.

It is therefore imperative that banks transform their online offering, such that it matches the new expectations of customers. Moreover, Internet banking must journey to popular online customer hangouts, rather than wait for customers to come to it.

There are clear indications that the shift towards a “next generation” online banking environment has already been set in motion. It is only a matter of time before these trends become the norm.

Leveraging of Social Networks

Forward thinking banks are leveraging existing social networks on external sites to increase their visibility among interested groups. They are also deploying social software technology on their own sites to engage the same communities in two way discussions. Thus, their Internet banking has assumed a more pervasive persona – customers are engaging with the bank, along with its products and services even when they’re not actually transacting online.

Heightened visibility apart, banks can gain tremendous customer insight from such unstructured, informal interactions. For example, a discussion on the uncertain financial future among a group of 18 to 25 years old could be a signal to banks to offer long term investment products to a segment that was previously not considered a target. Going one step further, a positive buzz around a newly launched service can create valuable word-of-mouth advertising for the business.

Collaborating through Web 2.0

The collaborative aspect of Web 2.0 applications has enabled banks to draw customers inside their fold more than ever before. Traditional methods such as focus group discussions or market research suffer from the disadvantages of high cost, limited scope and potential to introduce bias. Feedback forms merely serve as a post-mortem. In contrast, Web 2.0 has the ability to carry a vast audience along right from the start, and continue to do so perpetually. Thus, an interested community of prospects and customers participate in co-creating products and services which can fulfill their expectations.

The pervasiveness of Web 2.0 enables delivery of e-banking across multiple online locations and web-based gadgets such as Yahoo!Widgets, Windows Live or the iPhone. This means next generation online banking customers will enjoy heightened access and convenience

A New York based firm of analysts found that 15% of the 70 banks tracked by them had adopted Web 2.0, a number of them having done so within the last 12 months.

Standard Chartered Bank employees connect with their colleagues through Facebook and use the platform to share knowledge, clarify questions and participate in discussions on ongoing company activities.

Bank of America, Wachovia Bank and Commonwealth Credit Union have built a presence within interactive media to create awareness and keep up a dialogue with interested communities. They have employed a variety of methods, ranging from creating YouTube communities to launching campaigns on Current TV, a channel in which viewers determine content.

Personalization of Online Banking

Vanilla e-banking divides customers into very large, heterogeneous groups – typically, corporate, retail or SME, with one type of Internet banking page for each. That’s in sharp contradiction to how banking organizations would like to view their clientele. Banks are moving towards customer-specificity, almost viewing each client as a “segment of one”, across other channels, and online banking is set to follow suit. For instance, a specific home page for home loan customers and another for private banking clients could well be a possibility in future.

Interestingly, National Bank of Kuwait had the foresight to do this several years ago – they enabled customers to determine which products they would view and access, and were rewarded with a dramatic increase in online transactions.

Money Monitor from Yes Bank allows customers to choose their landing page – for example, they can set “all transactions”, “net worth” or “portfolio” as their default view. Other features include the ability to categories transactions as per customers’ convenience and the printing of custom reports.

Empowerment Online

Beyond doubt, Internet banking has created a more informed, empowered class of customers. This is set to climb to the next level once customers are allowed to proactively participate in many more transaction-related processes. The Internet has already made it possible for customers to compare product loan offerings, simulate financial scenarios and design custom retirement portfolios. Going forward, they would be able to consummate related transactions – which means, after comparing interest rates, they could originate a loan online, and once secured, they can begin to repay it online as well.

Portalization

The emergence of Web 2.0 technology coupled with banks’ desire to personalize their e-banking to the highest degree is likely to result in “portalization” of Internet banking. The idea of banking customers being able to create their own spaces online, filled with all that is relevant to them, is not that far-fetched. Customers can personalize their Internet banking page to reflect the positions of multiple accounts across different banks; they could include their credit card information, subscribe to their favorite financial news, consolidate their physical assets position, share their experiences with a group and do more – all from one “place”.

Money Monitor enables customers to add multiple “accounts” (from a choice of 9,000) to their page. Accounts could be savings or loan accounts with major Indian banks, or those with utilities providers, credit card companies, brokerage firms and even frequent flyer programs. Users can customize their pages as described earlier.

As banks seek to develop their Internet banking vision for the future, in parallel, they will also need to address the key issues of security and “due defense”. While it is every marketer’s dream to have customers work as ambassadors, adequate precaution must be taken to prevent the proliferation of malicious or spurious publicity. Therefore, before an individual is allowed to participate in a networking forum, he or she must have built up a favorable track record with the bank. The individual must be a recognized customer of the bank, having used a minimum number of products over a reasonable length of time. Qualitative information about the person’s interaction with the bank’s support staff (for example frequency and type of calls made to their call center, outcome of such interaction and so on) may be invaluable in profiling the “right” type of customer who can be recruited as a possible advocate.

Collaborative Web 2.0 applications may necessitate opening up banks’ websites to outside technology and information exchange with third party sites, raising the spectre of data and infrastructure security. A robust mechanism of checks and balances must be built to ensure that the third party sites are secure, appropriately certified and pose no threat to the home banks’ sites. Likewise, before a third party widget is allowed to be brought on to a site, it must have passed through stringent security control.

Due diligence must be exercised before permitting users to place a link to another site to guard against the possibility of inadvertent download of malicious software, which could, in the worst case, even result in phishing originating from the banks’ sites.

It is equally important for a bank to guard its customers against invasion of privacy, data theft or misuse. The concept of portalization envisages deploying technology to bring information from other banks’ or financial service providers’ websites into the home bank’s site. The home bank must ensure that its customers’ personal or transaction related information, which may be shared with the other providers, is not susceptible to leakage or outright misuse.

Banks will do well to partner with an Internet banking solution provider which has not only the expertise to translate their vision into a cutting edge e-banking experience for the user, but also the foresight to define boundaries for safety. With security concerns adequately addressed, next generation Internet banking is full of exciting possibilities. Banks that seize the opportunity may find that Internet banking can become a means of differentiating themselves from competitors, rather than a mere cost cutting tool. Clearly, providing a more powerful and interactive e-banking experience, is the way forward.

The Various Styles of a 10k Gold Ring

Stylish jewelry does not mean it has to be expensive. Many styles are very affordable, like a 10k gold ring. When looking for items made from gold, you could choose an item that has a lower karat weight. Usually, the higher the karat, the higher the price is. A 10k gold ring will be much less expensive than one with 24-karat gold. For most jewelry made of metal, the featured metal is not the only metal used in the item. A gold metal ring for example, will have gold mixed with silver and nickel to create the band of this particular ring.

The karat weight for the gold content lets you know how much of the actual piece of genuine gold is. Out of 100 percent, even twenty-four is a small fraction. Besides the higher price of gold, another reason the metals are mixed is to create a harder substance. Gold by itself is a very soft metal, which means your delicate gold ring would get scratched very easily. The lower gold content in a ring will not generally affect the overall look of your ring. These 10k rings made with gold will still come with stylish gemstones placed in the band’s settings.

You may be surprised to find genuine diamonds set in the lower karat gold, but there some rings that have them. The advantage to this is that you can get an elegant diamond ring at a fraction of the cost of a higher karat setting. You can find some of these rings with diamonds retailing for as low as $200. A variation on the traditional yellow colored gold will be white gold and pink gold. The various ingredients used in creating the metal determine the color. Pink is derived by adding copper to the various other metals in the mixture before the item is formed.

Another popular type of gold is called rose gold, from the Black Hills. This is also available in varying karats and may come with gemstone settings. If you are looking for a ring to wear more for fun or fashion than for elegance, you could select a 10k gold ring set with a cubic zirconium stone. These have all the sparkle and glitz of a diamond, but come without the high price tag. All of these rings created from gold are available in sizes and styles suitable for either men or women to wear.

Read This If You Need Fast Money The Legal Way

If you need fast money, you must first check your resources. If you need money fast and need money now, you must first check yourself to see what you and are not willing to do. Thanks to the internet, if you need fast money, and legally, the means are ever available to you.

There are numerous ways to earn if you need fast money. One of the fastest and easiest ways to make money fast is to sell a gig on any of these popular gig sites, such as Fourerr, Fiverr, and Uphype, etc. I posted one gig and made my first sale less than two hours later, literally.

Now I do not want to come off as some salesman or turn this into some spammy brochure, nor do I want to seem like some sort of schemer, but one of the best ways to earn if you need fast money is utilize social networks such as Facebook and Twitter. The thing with these social networks is that they are familiar to everyone, and everyone who is friends has some sort of credibility with each other. If you lightly promote some sort of product, program or system to your friends on these social networks, especially those who you know need money fast and need money now like you do, you will make money fast. As it has been said though, it is not what you do it is all in how you do it.

If you need fast money, the best way to go is online. Your first step is to pick a niche. Find out what your friends are looking for. Find out who needs what. If you choose to go the gig route, you can almost create your own market for whatever you are selling. However, when dealing with the social networks, just ask. You will find that there is an existing market already at your reach that you can quickly bank from.

To be honest with you, the making money niche is a great niche to profit from, but the internet is saturated with these kinds of offers and programs. So your chance of getting enough traffic from Google to any affiliation you make with any of these offers, without knowing how exactly, will not turn you a profit fast. However, you know your own circle. You know how to speak to them. You know how to press their buttons. So do it!

If you need money fast, sift through the resources that are available to you now, and go for it. Find an offer or system that is appealing, and simply suggest them to your friend list. Them knowing you personally alone will give you a jump start in getting them to come out of their own pockets for you. The key is to not try to sell them anything, just ask them to simply check it out, and let the product or system do the rest for you. If they ask you about your own results, embellish a little. Do not blatantly lie, but stretch your truth some. You make up for this when you help them out or direct them to where their questions will be answered, and you stay in a good light.

If you need fast money and look hard enough, you will usually find that you have exactly what you need already to make that money you need now. It is a classic situation. You steadily search outward for something that you had all along. Look at what is in front of you right now!

There Is No Doubt That the Home Furniture You Choose Can Have a Huge Impact in Your Home

There is low-priced home furniture available and it serves its purpose. It’s cheap and cheerful but will not last beyond a few years. To many people that is the ideal as they tire of furniture quickly and want to replace it on a regular basis. Many other people however choose to go for durable furniture that will look just as good in 10 years as it does on the day they buy it. Whatever you want in your home, the flat pack veneered furniture or the durability and beauty of natural wood, go for it. Our homes are part of us and are indeed an extension of our personality so we should reflect ourselves in our homes.

Home furniture can be purely practical or something stunningly beautiful, and as we all have different tastes we tend to have mixes of such items in our homes. The beauty of a solid oak dining table is something to be admired for years and will serve a family well for meal times, homework times and entertaining times. In these tough financial times we all have to question when we make a choice of furniture, can we afford it. Sometimes thought buying cheap is a false economy, and the cheap furniture will look tatty and awful in a short time. So the practicality of a dining table coupled with the beauty of solid wood is an easy choice to make.

If you do have a limited budget then there is always the route of buying good quality pieces of furniture one or two items at a time. It’s rare that people have the money set aside to buy a full room full of home furniture so key items are sometimes bought to build upon in later years. Naturally you can get all kinds of furniture for your home, but you also have to consider your personal style and décor. You can have tons of gorgeously stunning furniture, you dump it in a very poorly decorated or appointed room, and it can look plain and dull. Furniture is something that we do choose carefully, especially if we have a family.

We want a lot from our home furniture, we expect it to last if it is expensive, and we want it to remain looking great and pristine. If you have an expensive cream leather suite however and young children, how long is that gorgeous suite going to stay looking gorgeous? Crayons, felt pens, makeup and even lunch can all end up on that cream leather and that would prove expensive to be cleaned if indeed it can be. When choosing your home furniture it should be all about balance and also the usage it will get. If you all sit in the living room with a takeaway at weekends watching the latest Dancing on Ice or X-factor then you need to take that use into consideration.

When choosing furniture for any room you need to assess your needs for that room first. Do you need extra storage? What about somewhere to display your prize medals for the egg and spoon race or your charity run? How many does the room need to accommodate at any one time? These kinds of questions will help you get the best out of your room, as you will be selecting home furniture that suits your purposes. There is absolutely no point in spending good money on great furniture if it isn’t exactly what you need. Give your home the impact and drama, but still choose your furniture carefully.

How to Make XP Run All the Latest Games With Ease

Many gamer choose to run XP on their gaming computers, as its one of the most popular and reliable operating systems out on the market. However, because it’s so dated, many people are finding that XP cannot play your latest games fast or smoothly. Here’s how to get round that and play all the latest games on XP.

Windows XP is widely known for being reliable, effective and versatile. However, one this that it is not good at is keeping up with the latest advances in technology. And this typically means that if you have an XP PC, it could struggle to play the latest games. The problem is all down to the way XP reads the settings and files that all games need. Because it’s so old (it was released in 2001), XP has an outdated system structure, which takes much longer to fetch settings for your software than the later versions of Windows. And because all the latest games need 100’s of settings to run, this antiquated system makes your PC play games much slower than if you use Vista or Windows 7.

The problem with XP is a lot like having a highway that’s full of traffic. Each time you want to play a game, XP has to load up 100’s of files to help that game recall all your settings and play the way you need it to. But with XP, getting these settings can take a lot of time, which slows down your computer & game to a crawl (like having a traffic jam on your system). This is a problem that is present on every XP PX and is amplified when you play a game that needs a lot of settings to help it run. Also, the problem gets much worse when a lot of the settings on your PC become damaged and unreadable – further slowing down your game play.

To fix this problem, you need to make sure that XP can read all the files & settings that it needs in the fastest time possible. To do this, you can use a ‘registry cleaner’ tool to scan through your system and fix any of the problems that are causing it to run slow. These are software programs which basically make your XP settings all clean, allowing it to read them as fast as possible. This will not only speed up your games dramatically, but it will also give your other software a boost in speed as well.

Save on Travel Now: Discover How Much Money You Can Save on Travel Now Using This

Who else wants to save on travel today? I realize that may sound like a silly question and the fact is, economic times are rough right now. Most people (including myself…) are looking to save big money on their travel prices. If you want to save a lot of money on your travel expenses, the solution to doing just that is actually a lot easier than you think. If you want to go to a nice luxurious hotel, resort, or cruise, the reality is you really can and at affordable prices that everyone can afford…let me explain…

The answer to saving on your travel has nothing to do with travel sites that have been known to save you up to 30%. I am talking about are travel memberships wherein you pay a one-time fee and gain immediate lifetime access. You can literally begin saving up to 80% off your travel needs for the rest of your life. No restrictions of when you travel, either! I am speaking highly of something known as a travel discount club that many are now discovering for the first time.

If you have never heard of a travel membership, basically what this mean to you is this…..it eliminates the high prices when it comes to travel prices. Have you ever gone to a hotel thinking that you paid way too much? Me too! These overpriced prices have gone on for far too long in my opinion. So in essence what these memberships do for you, is save you a log of money.

When you are a paid member, you then have access to over thousands of highly sought after travel locations from around the world. This will save you up to 80% off of your travel expenses around the world. You do not have to worry about when you travel because you get to decide that.

You can literally go anywhere and save a lot of money. You will save limitless amounts of money if you are member. If you are a member, you will have the luxury of being able to stay at some of the very most luxurious relaxing condos. You can also take advantage of scenic cruises, villas and cottages and best of all, when you want!

Savings are available at many of the finest of resorts, too. You can stay at 4 and 5-star hotels and be treated like a king or queen! For many, this is a dream come true because of the fact that you will have the ability to stay at some of the very best resorts from all over the world. This is not a timeshare, mind you.

These memberships do not require you to pay any additional fees, at least the ones that I have checked out. No maintenance fees or annual fees is a huge plus to many, who have been burned by timeshares. That is something that no timeshare can even come close to when comparing the two. If you compare the amount of money that you would have to pay on a retail vacation, a membership blows the retail price right out of the water. You will easily save over 50% or more.

Do your own research and see for yourself. Having a membership to for access to thousands of luxury hotel locations at rock-bottom wholesale prices is what makes this an easy decision for many. When you compare the savings to the retail price that you would have to pay, it just makes good sense..

Take for example the fact that you can get:

a 2-bedroom condo at multiple worldwide locations for less than $200 for a seven-day vacation stay. The only question is why would would you want to spend several hundred more than what you need to? The retail price for this vacation retailed for $998 on a site that offered the exact same amenities.

When I first learned of these savings, I jumped on the opportunity because I hate having to spend more money than I really have to. When you join, you will gain immediate private access and be a part of the vacation club that allows you to profit from these vacation deals. When I first took a look at it, I could not believe the savings. In fact, I thought there had to be a catch….I was pleasantly surprised when I realized there was no catch on having access to unbelievable discounts on these luxurious vacations. It was a dream come true for me.

Another big advantage is that you will also have access to travel advisors. These are advisors who will assist you with various travel needs on other travel related expenses. When you are getting ready to go on a trip, the less that you have to worry about is priceless.

These memberships are the answer to saving money when it comes to traveling throughout the entire United States, but all across the globe. While memberships are not free, you could easily make your money back on one vacation alone. So basically, you get your money back after your first vacation. Keep in mind that there are pretty high priced memberships compared to other clubs.

If you want to save some serious cash, consider a membership because it will certainly save you more than just a few bucks when you consider the fact that you can save several hundreds of dollars on your first trip. I cannot say enough about these memberships. They really are the way to travel when it comes to saving money at worldwide luxurious hotels, resorts and cruises.

No matter if you are casual traveler or a business traveler, saving up to 80% on travel related expenses is the perfect solution for literally anyone who travels I do not know about you but most everyone I talk to travels at least once in a while. So even if you just travel once in a while, you still save a lot of money.

If you want to save money on your travel, having a membership that will save you several hundreds of dollars on resorts, cruises, fine hotels and many other vacation expenses, is the best deal. The reason is that having one of these memberships pays you back every time you access your membership privileges. It allow you to take immediate advantage of for the unlimited savings.

Travel Insurance FAQ

Travel Insurance is an essential part of any trip and is something that should not be put aside. Most soon-to-be travelers usually have heard about travel insurance, but might not know the specific reasons why they need travel insurance. This is an important article about frequently asked questions for travel insurance. This article also provides a link for further reading about travel insurance.

What is travel insurance protection?

Travel insurance is a type of insurance that covers you financial for any losses or illness that may unfortunate occur while you is on your trip. Travel insurance can be bought for international or national (within your country) trips.

Why should I buy travel insurance?

Since travel insurance protects you while traveling, this will help and provide the necessary protection you will need in the occurrence of a unfortunate event. Any individual traveling anywhere without travel insurance will be in a dangerous situation if an accident occur.

What is the coverage for travel insurance?

Travel insurance should provide coverage for medical cost, transportation to a medical facility, and reimburse you for certain or some nonrefundable costs due to a interrupted trip, and financial loss of funds.

How much does travel insurance cost?

How much the cost of your travel insurance will be depends on your insurance company provider and their policy. The cost of travel insurance usually will range up to 12 percent of the cost of your vacation/trip.

Is travel insurance really important and how many people actually get paid for their claims?

Travel insurance is highly recommended, there are usually about 10% of people who file claims. Sometimes some travelers make have taken a overly expensive trip that they would have to pay out of their own money if they have not bought travel insurance.

What is the medical care coverage?

When there is a case of illness or serious injury, medical transportation to an appropriate medical facility, and medical treatment will be covered. You should also have coverage for if it is deem necessary to bring you back home.

Does travel insurance cover business trips?

This will depend on the insurance company. Most insurance companies will provide travel insurance for a business trip, but the coverage may be separate from the standard coverage.

How long will travel insurance provide coverage for me?

You can often buy travel insurance starting from as little as two weeks, up to a year. Different insurance companies may vary with their service of coverage.

When is the best time to buy travel insurance coverage?

The best time to buy travel insurance is as soon as possible before you go on your trip or vacation. You want your travel insurance active during your whole trip.

What will happen if my money is lost or stolen?

If you can not receive traveler checks replacements many insurance companies provide a service where a travel agent can arrange a money transfer or traveler check for you to receive. You will have to ask more about this to your travel insurance provider.

Base Tendriling Travel Expenses

As business travel expenses nose upward, companies are realizing that better cost-management techniques can make a difference

US. corporate travel expenses rocketed to more than $143 billion in 1994, according to American Express’ most recent survey on business travel management. Private-sector employers spend an estimated $2,484 per employee on travel and entertainment, a 17 percent increase over the past four years.

Corporate T&E costs, now the third-largest controllable expense behind sales and data-processing costs, are under new scrutiny. Corporations are realizing that even a savings of 1 percent or 2 percent can translate into millions of dollars added to their bottom line.

Savings of that order are sure to get management’s attention, which is a requirement for this type of project. Involvement begins with understanding and evaluating the components of T&E management in order to control and monitor it more effectively.

Hands-on management includes assigning responsibility for travel management, implementing a quality-measurement system for travel services used, and writing and distributing a formal travel policy. Only 64 percent of U.S. corporations have travel policies.

Even with senior management’s support, the road to savings is rocky-only one in three companies has successfully instituted an internal program that will help cut travel expenses, and the myriad aspects of travel are so overwhelming, most companies don’t know where to start. “The industry of travel is based on information,” says Steven R. Schoen, founder and CEO of The Global Group Inc. “Until such time as a passenger actually sets foot on the plane, they’ve [only] been purchasing information.”

If that’s the case, information technology seems a viable place to hammer out those elusive, but highly sought-after, savings. “Technological innovations in the business travel industry are allowing firms to realize the potential of automation to control and reduce indirect [travel] costs,” says Roger H. Ballou, president of the Travel Services Group USA of American Express. “In addition, many companies are embarking on quality programs that include sophisticated process improvement and re-engineering efforts designed to substantially improve T&E management processes and reduce indirect costs.”

As companies look to technology to make potential savings a reality, they can get very creative about the methods they employ.

The Great Leveler

Centralized reservation systems were long the exclusive domain of travel agents and other industry professionals. But all that changed in November 1992 when a Department of Transportation ruling allowed the general public access to systems such as Apollo and SABRE. Travel-management software, such as TripPower and TravelNet, immediately sprang up, providing corporations insight into where their T&E dollars are being spent.

The software tracks spending trends by interfacing with the corporation’s database and providing access to centralized reservation systems that provide immediate reservation information to airlines, hotels and car rental agencies. These programs also allow users to generate computerized travel reports on cost savings with details on where discounts were obtained, hotel and car usage and patterns of travel between cities. Actual data gives corporations added leverage when negotiating discounts with travel suppliers.

“When you own the information, you don’t have to go back to square one every time you decide to change agencies,” says Mary Savovie Stephens, travel manager for biotech giant Chiron Corp.

Sybase Inc., a client/server software leader with an annual T&E budget of more than $15 million, agrees. “Software gives us unprecedented visibility into how employees are spending their travel dollars and better leverage to negotiate with travel service suppliers,” says Robert Lerner, director of credit and corporate travel services for Sybase Inc. “We have better access to data, faster, in a real-time environment, which is expected to bring us big savings in T&E. Now we have control over our travel information and no longer have to depend exclusively on the agencies and airlines.”

The cost for this privilege depends on the volume of business. One-time purchases of travel-management software can run from under $100 to more than $125,000. Some software providers will accommodate smaller users by selling software piecemeal for $5 to $12 per booked trip, still a significant savings from the $50 industry norm per transaction.

No More Tickets

Paperless travel is catching on faster than the paperless office ever did as both service providers and consumers work together to reduce ticket prices for business travelers. Perhaps the most cutting-edge of the advances is “ticket-less” travel, which almost all major airlines are testing.

In the meantime, travel providers and agencies are experimenting with new technologies to enable travelers to book travel services via the Internet, e-mail and unattended ticketing kiosks. Best Western International, Hyatt Hotels and several other major hotel chains market on the Internet. These services reduce the need for paper and offer better service and such peripheral benefits as increased efficiency, improved tracking of travel expenses and trends, and cost reduction.

Dennis Egolf, CFO of the Veterans Affairs Medical Center in Louisville, Ky., realized that the medical center’s decentralized location, a quarter-mile from the hospital, made efficiency difficult. “We were losing production time and things got lost,” he says. “Every memo had to be hand-carried for approval, and we required seven different copies of each travel order.” As a result, Egolf tried an off-the-shelf, paper-reduction software package designed for the federal government.

The software allows the hospital to manage travel on-line, from tracking per-diem allowances and calculating expenses to generating cash advance forms and authorizing reimbursement vouchers. The software also lets the hospital keep a running account of its travel expenses and its remaining travel budget.

“Today, for all practical purposes, the system is paperless,” says Egolf. The software has helped the hospital reduce document processing time by 93 percent. “The original goal focused on managing employee travel without paper,” he says. “We have achieved that goal, in part due to the efforts of the staff and in part due to the accuracy of the software.”

With only a $6,000 investment, the hospital saved $70 each employee trip and saved almost half of its $200,000 T&E budget through the paper-reduction program.

Out There

Consolidation of corporate travel arrangements by fewer agencies has been a growing trend since 1982. Nearly three out of four companies now make travel plans for their business locations through a single agency as opposed to 51 percent in 1988. Two major benefits of agency consolidation are the facilitation of accounting and T&E budgeting, as well as leverage in negotiating future travel discounts.

A major technological advance that allows this consolidation trend to flourish is the introduction of satellite ticket printers (STPs). Using STPs enables a travel agency to consolidate all operations to one home office, and still send all necessary tickets to various locations instantly via various wire services. As the term implies, the machinery prints out airline tickets on-site immediately, eliminating delivery charges.

For London Fog, STPs are a blessing. London Fog’s annual T&E budget of more than $15 million is split equally between its two locations in Eldersburg, Md., and New York City. Each location purchases the same number of tickets, so equal access to ticketing from their agency is a must. With an STP in their two locations, the company services both offices with one agency in Baltimore. Each office has access to immediate tickets and still manages to save by not having to pay courier and express mail charges that can range up to $15 for each of the more than 500 tickets each purchases annually.

Conde Nast Publications’ annual T&E budget of more than $20 million is allocated among its locations in Los Angeles, San Francisco, Chicago, New York and Detroit. Since 1994, travel arrangements have been handled by a centralized agency, Advanced Travel Management in New York City, by installing an STP in each of these five locations. In addition to increased efficiency due to consolidation, Conde Nast now has the ability to change travel plans at a moment’s notice and have new tickets in hand instantly.

The real benefit is that the machines are owned and maintained by the travel agency., so there is no cost to the company. Due to the major expense involved, however, STPs remain an option only for major ticket purchasers. “STPs are a viable option in this process for any location that purchases more than $500,000 per year in tickets,” says Shoen.

As airfare averages 43 percent of any company’s T&E expenses, savings obtainable through the various uses of technology have become dramatic. For example, the ability of corporations to collect and analyze their own travel trends has led to the creation of net-fare purchasing-negotiating a price between a corporation and an airline to purchase tickets that does not include the added expenses of commissions, overrides, transaction fees, agency transaction fees and other discounts.

Although most major U.S. carriers publicly proclaim that they don’t negotiate corporate discounts below published market fares, the American Express survey on business travel management found that 38 percent of U.S. companies had access to, or already had implemented, negotiated airline discounts. The availability and mechanics of these arrangements vary widely by carrier.

What’s the Price?

Fred Swaffer, transportation manager for Hewlett-Packard and a strong advocate of the net-pricing system, has pioneered the concept of fee-based pricing with travel-management companies under contract with H-P. He states that H-P, which spends more than $528 million per year on T&E, plans to have all air travel based on net-fare pricing. “At the present time, we have several net fares at various stages of agreement,” he says. “These fares are negotiated with the airlines at the corporate level, then trickle down to each of our seven geographical regions.”

Frank Kent, Western regional manager for United Airlines, concurs: “United Airlines participates in corporate volume discounting, such as bulk ticket purchases, but not with net pricing. I have yet to see one net-fare agreement that makes sense to us. We’re not opposed to it, but we just don’t understand it right now.”

Kent stresses, “Airlines should approach corporations with long-term strategic relationships rather than just discounts. We would like to see ourselves committed to a corporation rather than just involved.”

As business travel expenses nose upward, companies are realizing that better cost-management techniques can make a difference.

US. corporate travel expenses rocketed to more than $143 billion in 1994, according to American Express’ most recent survey on business travel management. Private-sector employers spend an estimated $2,484 per employee on travel and entertainment, a 17 percent increase over the past four years.

Corporate T&E costs, now the third-largest controllable expense behind sales and data-processing costs, are under new scrutiny. Corporations are realizing that even a savings of 1 percent or 2 percent can translate into millions of dollars added to their bottom line.

Savings of that order are sure to get management’s attention, which is a requirement for this type of project. Involvement begins with understanding and evaluating the components of T&E management in order to control and monitor it more effectively.

Hands-on management includes assigning responsibility for travel management, implementing a quality-measurement system for travel services used, and writing and distributing a formal travel policy. Only 64 percent of U.S. corporations have travel policies.

Even with senior management’s support, the road to savings is rocky-only one in three companies has successfully instituted an internal program that will help cut travel expenses, and the myriad aspects of travel are so overwhelming, most companies don’t know where to start. “The industry of travel is based on information,” says Steven R. Schoen, founder and CEO of The Global Group Inc. “Until such time as a passenger actually sets foot on the plane, they’ve [only] been purchasing information.”

If that’s the case, information technology seems a viable place to hammer out those elusive, but highly sought-after, savings. “Technological innovations in the business travel industry are allowing firms to realize the potential of automation to control and reduce indirect [travel] costs,” says Roger H. Ballou, president of the Travel Services Group USA of American Express. “In addition, many companies are embarking on quality programs that include sophisticated process improvement and re-engineering efforts designed to substantially improve T&E management processes and reduce indirect costs.”

As companies look to technology to make potential savings a reality, they can get very creative about the methods they employ.

The Great Leveler

Centralized reservation systems were long the exclusive domain of travel agents and other industry professionals. But all that changed in November 1992 when a Department of Transportation ruling allowed the general public access to systems such as Apollo and SABRE. Travel-management software, such as TripPower and TravelNet, immediately sprang up, providing corporations insight into where their T&E dollars are being spent.

The software tracks spending trends by interfacing with the corporation’s database and providing access to centralized reservation systems that provide immediate reservation information to airlines, hotels and car rental agencies. These programs also allow users to generate computerized travel reports on cost savings with details on where discounts were obtained, hotel and car usage and patterns of travel between cities. Actual data gives corporations added leverage when negotiating discounts with travel suppliers.

“When you own the information, you don’t have to go back to square one every time you decide to change agencies,” says Mary Savovie Stephens, travel manager for biotech giant Chiron Corp.

Sybase Inc., a client/server software leader with an annual T&E budget of more than $15 million, agrees. “Software gives us unprecedented visibility into how employees are spending their travel dollars and better leverage to negotiate with travel service suppliers,” says Robert Lerner, director of credit and corporate travel services for Sybase Inc. “We have better access to data, faster, in a real-time environment, which is expected to bring us big savings in T&E. Now we have control over our travel information and no longer have to depend exclusively on the agencies and airlines.”

The cost for this privilege depends on the volume of business. One-time purchases of travel-management software can run from under $100 to more than $125,000. Some software providers will accommodate smaller users by selling software piecemeal for $5 to $12 per booked trip, still a significant savings from the $50 industry norm per transaction.

No More Tickets

Paperless travel is catching on faster than the paperless office ever did as both service providers and consumers work together to reduce ticket prices for business travelers. Perhaps the most cutting-edge of the advances is “ticketless” travel, which almost all major airlines are testing.

In the meantime, travel providers and agencies are experimenting with new technologies to enable travelers to book travel services via the Internet, e-mail and unattended ticketing kiosks. Best Western International, Hyatt Hotels and several other major hotel chains market on the Internet. These services reduce the need for paper and offer better service and such peripheral benefits as increased efficiency, improved tracking of travel expenses and trends, and cost reduction.

Dennis Egolf, CFO of the Veterans Affairs Medical Center in Louisville, Ky., realized that the medical center’s decentralized location, a quarter-mile from the hospital, made efficiency difficult. “We were losing production time and things got lost,” he says. “Every memo had to be hand-carried for approval, and we required seven different copies of each travel order.” As a result, Egolf tried an off-the-shelf, paper-reduction software package designed for the federal government.

The software allows the hospital to manage travel on-line, from tracking per-diem allowances and calculating expenses to generating cash advance forms and authorizing reimbursement vouchers. The software also lets the hospital keep a running account of its travel expenses and its remaining travel budget.

“Today, for all practical purposes, the system is paperless,” says Egolf. The software has helped the hospital reduce document processing time by 93 percent. “The original goal focused on managing employee travel without paper,” he says. “We have achieved that goal, in part due to the efforts of the staff and in part due to the accuracy of the software.”

With only a $6,000 investment, the hospital saved $70 each employee trip and saved almost half of its $200,000 T&E budget through the paper-reduction program.

Out There

Consolidation of corporate travel arrangements by fewer agencies has been a growing trend since 1982. Nearly three out of four companies now make travel plans for their business locations through a single agency as opposed to 51 percent in 1988. Two major benefits of agency consolidation are the facilitation of accounting and T&E budgeting, as well as leverage in negotiating future travel discounts.

A major technological advance that allows this consolidation trend to flourish is the introduction of satellite ticket printers (STPs). Using STPs enables a travel agency to consolidate all operations to one home office, and still send all necessary tickets to various locations instantly via various wire services. As the term implies, the machinery prints out airline tickets on-site immediately, eliminating delivery charges.

For London Fog, STPs are a blessing. London Fog’s annual T&E budget of more than $15 million is split equally between its two locations in Eldersburg, Md., and New York City. Each location purchases the same number of tickets, so equal access to ticketing from their agency is a must. With an STP in their two locations, the company services both offices with one agency in Baltimore. Each office has access to immediate tickets and still manages to save by not having to pay courier and express mail charges that can range up to $15 for each of the more than 500 tickets each purchases annually.

Conde Nast Publications’ annual T&E budget of more than $20 million is allocated among its locations in Los Angeles, San Francisco, Chicago, New York and Detroit. Since 1994, travel arrangements have been handled by a centralized agency, Advanced Travel Management in New York City, by installing an STP in each of these five locations. In addition to increased efficiency due to consolidation, Conde Nast now has the ability to change travel plans at a moment’s notice and have new tickets in hand instantly.

The real benefit is that the machines are owned and maintained by the travel agency., so there is no cost to the company. Due to the major expense involved, however, STPs remain an option only for major ticket purchasers. “STPs are a viable option in this process for any location that purchases more than $500,000 per year in tickets,” says Shoen.

As airfare averages 43 percent of any company’s T&E expenses, savings obtainable through the various uses of technology have become dramatic. For example, the ability of corporations to collect and analyze their own travel trends has led to the creation of net-fare purchasing-negotiating a price between a corporation and an airline to purchase tickets that does not include the added expenses of commissions, overrides, transaction fees, agency transaction fees and other discounts.

Although most major U.S. carriers publicly proclaim that they don’t negotiate corporate discounts below published market fares, the American Express survey on business travel management found that 38 percent of U.S. companies had access to, or already had implemented, negotiated airline discounts. The availability and mechanics of these arrangements vary widely by carrier.

What’s the Price?

Fred Swaffer, transportation manager for Hewlett-Packard and a strong advocate of the net-pricing system, has pioneered the concept of fee-based pricing with travel-management companies under contract with H-P. He states that H-P, which spends more than $528 million per year on T&E, plans to have all air travel based on net-fare pricing. “At the present time, we have several net fares at various stages of agreement,” he says. “These fares are negotiated with the airlines at the corporate level, then trickle down to each of our seven geographical regions.”

Frank Kent, Western regional manager for United Airlines, concurs: “United Airlines participates in corporate volume discounting, such as bulk ticket purchases, but not with net pricing. I have yet to see one net-fare agreement that makes sense to us. We’re not opposed to it, but we just don’t understand it right now.”

Kent stresses, “Airlines should approach corporations with long-term strategic relationships rather than just discounts. We would like to see ourselves committed to a corporation rather than just involved.”

Scarves For Women – The Many Fashion Styles and Uses

It used to be that scarves were worn as a winter clothing necessity. Both men and women had them wrapped around their necks as a protection from the chilly winter breeze. Over time, this functional clothing item has transcended its original purpose and has become one of the most versatile accessories to date. Scarves have been worn in different ways and in different seasons.

Many women want to reinvent their wardrobe so they can have different looks all throughout the year. They can add a scarf to any drab outfit and it will look more vibrant and new. You can experiment with many different styles depending on the kind of image you want to project. Women’s scarf is very handy in a girl’s closet because it can be worn with virtually every outfit.

One of the advantages of wearing the women’s scarf is in spicing up your outfit so people will think that you have a lot of garments in your wardrobe. This is because a scarf can dramatically change the way your clothes look on you. One scarf can also be worn in different ways so you can make a lot of styles with the same pieces of clothing.

The scarf can be worn over the head to conceal unruly hair or to protect the hair when it has just been treated. This usually looks good with big-framed sunglasses and is perfect for a summer getup. You can choose the color of your scarf to match your current outfit. A smaller scarf would be perfect with this style because you can then carry it lightly on your head. When it is cold, you can use the scarf as a jacket or cardigan. This is the most common use of gorgeous scarves. You can add some elegance to your outfit by doing this. This looks good with a long-sleeved shirt and a pair of jeans. If you are going to a formal event, you can use a scarf made of special fabric to go with your evening dress.

You can keep the scarf inside your purse as a spare item of clothing in case the temperatures drop. If you need an extra layer of warm clothes, you can just take it out and wrap it around you. This is useful when the weather is unpredictable or when you are planning to go out at night or see a movie. A scarf can also be used as a belt. This is done by allowing the scarf to drape around your waist or hips. You tie it at the back or side to create the style you prefer. A triangular knot is perfect if you have a short scarf. A light, thin scarf would be perfect to use as a belt because it does not get bulky when you tie it around your waist. It will look more graceful.

Finally, a scarf can be used as an accent for your purse. This is usually done to make handbags more stylish or to give them color and design. You can pair your scarf with your dress to make it more fashionable. You can also match the color with your shoes. In this case, it is better to use a smaller scarf so you can easily tie it to the handle of your purse.

Scarfs really are useful both as a protection from the weather and as fashion accessory. It is not only useful during winter but during other seasons as well. The scarf is indeed one of the most functional pieces that you can keep in your closet. Once you have mastered the art of wearing it in different ways, you will be able to exhaust the different possibilities.

Snow Boots Fit and Flatter Most People’s Fashion Styles

Everybody should be the master of his/her fashion style. In such a period when a large amount of beautiful or unique fashion works hits the shelves in a high rate, this especially becomes important. As long as you look forward to making your presence a luminous spot in the crowd, you will find it’ s a must to be sensible about which style you should go for. Nevertheless, if you always fail to make an accurate judgment on your own personality or seldom put your classy fashion taste into good use, just follow the newest fashion trend. Of course, this is a safe bet anytime.

Let’ s face it: more than 80% of people should be conscious about their appearances in any era. This is best understood by lots of modern females. Instead of being qualified, yet thoughtless trend followers, they tend to be rather aware about their choices on clothing, footwear and any other delicate accessory. They keep open minds and discover popular items to make their looks fit those hot fashion trends. But seldom have they forgotten applying their own ideas while finishing their fashion statements. Additionally, another drastic change detected on most of today’ s females is that they become more interested in seeking for ideal shoes to match their good-looking clothing. Rather than considering shoes just as life necessities, they do realize great footwear can be finishing touches to their total images.

When it comes to popular trends in the present fashion footwear world, you will find really lots of options available. A luxurious tide may be replaced by something moderately splendid or retro on the next day. A modern fashion trend may go out of style when something traditional pops out and speaks for a rich or special aspiration. To make sure your shoes will long-timely fit and flatter your fashion style, it’ s a better idea to go for some classy and classic collections, such as sheepskin boots.

Sheepskin boots are also called as snow boots or winter boots because incomparable function in warming feet is detected on them. It’ s completely believed you will better enjoy your life in a passionate mood after wrapping your feet with a pair of sheepskin snow boots. The terribly freezing climate can not get access to your feet, insuring fabulous health benefit to your body too. Nowadays, the presence for winter boots has triggered an international trend among people in any age. To be honest, except incredible warmth on these shoes, it’ s not difficult to find they are really wonderful toner for most people’ s fashion styles.

Search online; you will discover a large quantity of sheepskin boots is available in different brands at present. As we all know, designers are required to change their themes to cater to different fashion appetites from people in diverse periods. But on winter boots, fashion gurus have never gone far away from the initial motif. No attachment is added onto those smooth sheepskin uppers. All the way, these shoes are crafted in silent colors, such as black, chocolate, grey, chestnut and sand. Any sheepskin pair seems like a quiet & exquisite work of art, which goes well with any outfit. Believe it or not, sheepskin snow boots finish whatever type of fashion statement in a moderate, high-class and practical method. Try on a pair; you will realize this from the chic style, classy material, refined workmanship and also magic warmth.