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Welcome to our website!!

Welcome to my website!! We will cover a lot of information about Transportation and some of the different ways to get around in the world today.

Many people prefer to use vehicles to move around their state or cross country. At least for me, I prefer to move around using my RV. I just love the feeling of moving around with my RV and with my family. There is no doubt that moving in an RV it feels like moving around with your own home.

Transportation-limo-airplanes-buses

But besides the cars and the RVs, I just love to watch the trains. Thanks to this amazing creation, America is what it is today. Thanks to trains the US started moving more and more products around the US faster and that helped with the economy.

Continue reading “Welcome to our website!!”

Microsoft – Drinks Chivas, Drives Volvo

Microsoft Corp. is facing an increasing competition in the online video realm. To boot, MSN video is currently the sixth place video destination in the United States and that spot is far behind Google’s YouTube, AOL’s Time Warner, and News Corp.’s MySpace. This is why the software giant is expanding affiliations to cover the wine maker Chivas Brothers Ltd. and the Swedish automaker Volvo Cars.

Microsoft has signed deals with Chivas and Volvo to support two new web series from Reveille, the company behind “The Office” and the “Ugly Betty” television shows. The two new shows include the “Driving School” which would be coming as a comedy about a driving instructor who shares life lessons to his students. The show will be hosted by actor Craig Robinson, who plays Darryl on NBC’s The Office.

The other show titled “This is the Life,” is about travel and adventure linked to a Chivas Regal advertising campaign. The shows will arrive on MSN Web site in the next six months, Microsoft announced Tuesday at an advertising industry conference. Microsoft did not disclose the financial or product-placement arrangements of the deals.

Last month, 11.5 million people visited MSN video, and spent an average of five and a half minutes on the site as compared with the 45 million people who each spent about 41 minutes on YouTube, according to Nielsen/NetRatings.

It could be recalled that after the acquisition of Google Inc. of YouTube, an online video Web site, the same has become a white-hot topic. Advertisers and ad brokers rushed to turn the trend of web equivalent TV ads into dollars. Since then, short spots before or after a video clip online became an instant success.

According to Gayle Troberman, the general manager of branded entertainment at Microsoft, those will remain a staple of Microsoft’s video advertising inventory. But advertisers are also experimenting with original series and user-generated videos as they venture to capture even deeper connections with online purchasers.

In 2006, Microsoft and Reveille produced a handful of MSN shows that fall somewhere between advertising and programming. Troberman touted “Chef to the Rescue,” which is sponsored by Kraft Foods Inc., as one remarkable success story from the Reveille partnership. The software giant said that after the cooking show’s launch in December, over 250,000 viewers printed out related recipes featuring Kraft products.

While it is tempting to label the shows advertorials and leave it at that, Ben Silverman, Reveille’s chief executive, said that he has tried to find more elegant ways to incorporate products and entertainment. “I don’t want to be in something where you’re ruining that content by stupid, clunky choices,” said Silverman.

Microsoft said it planned to expand its commitment to developing original content built around branded entertainment opportunities, announcing during an afternoon session at the company’s Strategic Accounts Summit (SAS) in Seattle, Wash., that it will extend its current relationship with the production firm Reveille while also launching several other new Web content projects.

“We are the leader of original content creation online,” said Joanne Bradford, the corporate vice president and the chief media officer for MSN, citing the 20 plus Web series the portal has launched in the past year. Among those original series is Chef to the Rescue, a result of a partnership between it and Reveille announced at the summit last year.

While others have speculated that MSN’s partnership with Reveille has been slow to yield success, Bradford said the two companies had agreed to extend their relationship, though she forgot to say the duration. During Tuesday’s presentation, Bradford ardently greeted Reveille CEO Ben Silverman – the brains behind the TV hits The Office and The Biggest Losers – with a pair of kisses before handing him the stage.

Volvo has signed on as that show’s charter sponsor. Through the shows, the Swedish automaker could flaunt Volvo master cylinder, safety features, and other milestone innovations. As such, it is expected for this trend to plague the entire Web. Silverman said that while he still believed that TV was a great brand builder, his company’s Web creations offer advertisers much deeper access that is unheard of in the TV business. “I’m always really annoyed that I’m kept out of those conversations [with TV advertisers],” he said. “[The networks] don’t get it yet.”

Silverman was not the only partner to share the moment at SAS. Allen Shapiro, the CEO of Dick Clark Productions and president of the Mosaic Media Group, discussed the success of a Golden Globes content program launched earlier this year with MSN – one that TV partner NBC was wary of. This year, his company – which owns the rights to many early TV performances of music stars like Prince and Madonna, is exploring launching a classic rock channel with MSN, along with a potential comedy network. “We’re now determined to step this up,” said Shapiro.

5 Ways to Accessorise Couture Wedding Dresses

By their very nature, couture wedding dresses, with their superb craftsmanship, demand attention. Brides-to-be seek a signature one-off piece that is imaginative, special and one that will complement all aspects of what is the most memorable day of their life. Accessorising to befit the gown is a considered affair, and one integral to the overall success of your look.

A designer of couture wedding dresses creates pieces with a definite sense of individuality that demand exquisite accessorising. Mindful of creating a complete look, the designer is qualified to give professional advice as to how they envisage the accessories flattering a particular gown. However, there is generally scope for tailoring to your particular taste, within the parameters of the designer’s vision. Below are five things to consider when accessorising your gown.

1. A tailored bolero crafted from delicate lace or silk doubles as a shield from the weather for those tying the knot in the cooler months, and a stunning statement piece with which to embellish bespoke couture wedding dresses.

2. An intricate custom-made veil flatters the blushing bride and adds a sense of tradition, mystery and completion to the bridal look. Your designer will advise you of possibilities and can work with you on the perfect look and design to complement your dress, face shape and occasion.

3. Your wedding dress can be complemented perfectly by meticulously crafted bespoke shoes. They can be decorated with embellishments, and customised to set off your gown. Bespoke shoes ensure the perfect fit and comfort; your special day needn’t be marred by sore feet.

4. Makeup of quality and a standard of application befitting couture wedding dresses must suit your location and theme. For a casual affair avoid dramatic, dark eyes or overly bright lips. Makeup with a light, even coverage won’t overpower your face.

A glamorous evening nuptial occasion calls for a more daring approach with lips and eyes. Make your eyes stand out by using shadow that contrasts with your eye colour. A bold lip colour can also add that ‘wow’ factor. Choose to focus on either eyes or lips as dramatising both tends to be overkill.

A spray tan can also accessorise your gown beautifully, but don’t overlook the fact that you may need to update your make-up shades accordingly.

5. Jewellery choice can make or break a look, if choosing a statement piece, or one of sentimental value, be sure to consult your designer to ensure it is in keeping with the overall look of the outfit and occasion. It may be wise to remember the wise words of Coco Chanel who famously declared, “I always take off one piece of jewellery before I leave the house to ensure I’m not overdoing it.”

Wedding Bands For Women And Bezel Set Engagement Rings

One of the most popular types of wedding bands for women are bezel set diamond rings. They are also very popular for men’s engagement rings. Choosing such an important symbol of love and devotion takes time and deserves attention to detail.

A prominent feature of these wedding rings is the security with which the gem is set in the ring. Unlike other methods of attaching a diamond to a gold, platinum or palladium band, the bezel set virtually encases the gem to the metal.

This style is ideal for active couples, or those who do not wish to frequently remove their valuable band. Imagine playing a rousing game of volleyball and discovering later on that your precious stone is gone. The chances of ever finding it are slim to none.

This setting is a very time-honored method of attaching a gem to the ring. Basically, the gem is set deep in the mounting then a special burnishing tool is used to stretch the metal over the top edges of the gem, holding it fast in place.

Some people hold the unfounded belief that this method prevents the clarity of a diamond from radiating out and glistening with its natural beauty. In truth, most of the radiance comes from the top of the gem and the metal setting does not really inhibit the gem from sparkling with radiance.

Though this method does leave a more pronounced and obvious mark on the ring, the security it provides more than offsets the intrusion of the metal on the gem. A good jeweler is expert at making a beautiful piece, in spite of the presence of the metal.

Partial bezels are also quite popular and provide a stunning backdrop to show off the natural beauty of a diamond or other precious gem. It is important, however, to be sure that the partial is still strong enough to securely hold the gem in place during vigorous activity.

Another important benefit of the bezel set engagement ring or wedding band is that the collar around the gem helps prevent dust, dirt and oil from collecting around the stone. This can cause the sparkle to become dull and cloudy.

One might be tempted to think that this design is limited to very simple and plain rings, but this is not the case. In fact, you can buy Irish Claddagh, Christian, custom design, and many other styles that use the bezel setting.

Men who choose a wedding band with precious stones very often opt for this style because of the strength and durability inherent in the design.

Diabetes At A Glance

Before knowing diabetes, we should have some ideas about insulin and blood glucose.

Insulin is a kind of hormone, secreted by pancreas; which helps reduce our blood glucose level. As soon as we have food, our blood glucose level increases and as our blood glucose level increases, our pancreas secretes this hormone i.e. insulin, which helps normalize and neutralize such high glucose level.

Blood glucose is one of the very essential body nutrients which is responsible for supply of energy and stamina for the proper functioning of the body cells. Blood stream carries the glucose to all our body cells, wherein it gets utilized; however, this glucose cannot enter the cells without the insulin support. In other words, it can be said that insulin works as an aid in transportation of blood glucose to the cells.

So from the above, it can rightly be commented that insulin is a body hormone, which has got a two fold function – on the one hand, it works as a blood glucose neutralizer and on the other, it facilitates it’s smooth carriage to the cells.

Diabetes is a kind of metabolic disease, which can be characterized by increased level of blood sugar / glucose, resulting from defects and anomalies in the process of insulin secretion by pancreas or by the incapacity of the cells to utilize insulin effectively.

Generally speaking, diabetes can broadly be categorized under two heads, i.e. type 1 and type 2.

Type 1 diabetes is also famously known as insulin-dependent diabetes – the main cause of this kind of diabetes is an auto-immune reaction within the body, whereby our insulin producing cells are attacked by the defense mechanism of our body. People having this kind of diabetes produce very lesser amount of insulin or no insulin at all.

Type 2 diabetes is also famously known as non-insulin dependent diabetes – the main cause of this kind of diabetes can be said to be a rapid and steady decline of beta cells which facilitates the production of the blood sugar.

In present days, diabetes is one of the very common diseases which we are often very inclined to ignore, but the fact is that; diabetes is neither an insignificant disease nor does it ever cures; so ignorance in this regard can be described as nothing less than foolishness.

Diabetes is one of the most dangerous threats to human race and may cause various ill effects on human health. Diabetes can lead to blindness, kidney failure as well as nerve damage. Diabetes may also be responsible for blockage of arteries, leading to strokes and coronary heart diseases.

So whenever you are diagnosed with diabetes, never ignore it – follow your doctor’s suggestions and prescriptions to avoid any further complications.

Southwest Airlines Operations – A Strategic Perspective

Background:

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

Facts:

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

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

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

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

Key competitive advantages:

* Low Operational costs / High Operational Efficiency

* Award winning customer service

* Human Resource practices / Work culture

Operations Analysis – Competitive Dimensions:

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

1. Operational Costs and Efficiency

2. Customer Service

3. Employee/Labor Relations

4. Technology

1. Operational Costs and Efficiency

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

Labor Costs

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

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

Fuel Costs

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

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

Point-to-Point Service

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

Secondary Airports

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

Consistent aircraft

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

E-Ticketing

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

2. Employee and Labor Relations

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

Mission Statement

To Our Employees

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

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

Hiring

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

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

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

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

Culture

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

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

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

3. Customer Service

The Mission of Southwest Airlines

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

Approach

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

Results

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

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

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

4. Technology

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

Bar codes in Boarding Passes

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

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

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

Software Upgrades

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

RFID

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

Challenges:

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

Reserved Seating

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

Passenger Demand

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

In-Flight Entertainment

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

Summary:

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

References:

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

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

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

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

5. “Southwest’s Strategy for Success: Consolidate!” – Oracle Magazine (Sept/Oct 2004 edition) http://www.oracle.com/technology/oramag/oracle/04-sep/o54swest.html

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

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

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

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

10. “Wings Of Change”,Information Week, March 28, 2005,

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

What to Wear to a Brunch Wedding

Brunch weddings have become increasingly popular lately. Couples like them because they have a relaxed family-friendly feeling, and also because they are less expensive to host than a traditional wedding dinner. Attire for a wedding held early in the day can be quite different than what one would wear to a formal evening wedding. This is what to wear to a brunch wedding.

Dressing up in the morning can be a tad confusing. The usual tricks we use to make an outfit festive, such as sparkly jewelry, shimmery fabrics, and the like seem out of place for brunch. Yet, a wedding at any time of the day is a special occasion, and therefore a special outfit is called for. The time of year also makes a difference, as one would dress a bit more formally for a winter brunch wedding than a summer one.

Wedding attire for men is fairly straightforward. For brunch, a nice pair of trousers worn with a jacket and tie is ideal. If the wedding ends up leaning more casual, it is a simple enough matter to remove the jacket. Dressy loafers would be a good choice for shoes. In the morning, a male wedding guests can feel free to experiment with more colors and patterns than he might for a formal evening reception. Whimsical ties, shirts with small checks or in colors other than white, and even fun socks (think argyle) would all be great.

Female wedding guests have more leeway in what they wear, which makes it more fun to get dressed, but also more confusing. For a summer brunch wedding, a knee length dress or skirt in a floral design would be pretty. It can be worn with cute flats or pretty low sandals, pearl earrings, and a small handbag. Even in the daytime, your everyday purse is not dressy enough for a wedding, so pick something like a cute little fabric covered clutch. Other accessories to consider include a little cardigan or wrap to wear over a dress and possibly an elegant wide brim hat with a ribbon. The hat would be marvelous for an outdoor brunch wedding and will help to dress up a more simple sundress style. Stay away from any jewelry or attire with a lot of beading or sparkles for a morning wedding.

If the brunch wedding falls in the winter months, plan to dress up a bit more. A beautiful jacquard dress would be ideal. Or look for the chic combination of a skirt and jacket in an elegant fabric to be paired with a silk or cashmere shell. Look for a skirt or dress which falls a little below the knee, rather than to the floor. Another great option is a pair of tailored velvet trousers worn with satin flats and a cashmere sweater. Black is pretty harsh for a morning wedding, so look for clothing in other colors. Deep winter hues like plum, chocolate, and forest are lovely, as are neutrals like pewter or champagne.

Fall weddings tend to be very difficult to dress for, stuck as they are between the sundresses of summer and the rich fabrics of the holiday season. For a fall brunch wedding, think cozy. A flattering wrap dress worn with elegant high heel boots and a pretty pair of drop pearl earrings would be highly appropriate. A wool skirt worn with a silk blouse or cashmere sweater would be another option, as long as the pieces are not too business-like or too casual. In other words, a pink tweed skirt and a fitted chocolate brown sweater with a pretty bow would be lovely, however the gray skirt from a suit or the heavy fisherman’s sweater would be too business-like and too casual, respectively.

The trend towards brunch weddings is likely to become increasingly popular, so it is helpful to know what to wear to that type of celebration. As with any wedding, err on the side of dressing up a little too much rather than putting in too little effort. Stay away from evening-only attire like cocktail dresses, low cut tops, and too much sparkle, and you will look wonderful for the brunch reception.

Merchant Ship Safety

Any retailer understands that customers now expect choice. In order to compete on the global market, it is important to provide customers with what they want. Without imports, the range of goods on offer would be significantly reduced, so we have become reliant on the ability to transport huge volumes of goods around the world.

As the global population has grown, so has the demand for goods. As the most viable means of cargo transportation, 80% of the products we buy and sell are shipped by boat. In response to the need to ship ever greater loads, advances in technology have enabled the development of unbelievably large vessels. These mega container ships have the capacity to carry over 10,000 containers, yet they can still float.

Merchant shipping fleets have also had to expand, so at any one time there are in excess of 50,000 merchant ships voyaging across the world’s oceans.

This is great news for consumers who want to stock up in the supermarkets, invest in a new car, buy the latest gadget or update their wardrobe. It does, however, impact on the safety of vessels, both in the open seas and in busy ports.

Port Provisions

It is one thing to design and build a mega-sized container ship, but in order for it to operate, it is essential that shipping channels and port provisions can cope with vessels of such a grand scale.

In recent decades many of the world’s largest ports have had to invest in expansion plans in order that the new merchant ships, which can be over 390 meters in length, can reach the port and manoeuvre safely. The cranes, logistics and on-going infrastructure also need to be in place to successfully load and unload the ships.

When at the helm of such an imposing vessel, it takes time for the ship to respond to the controls. External factors such as strong winds or the movement of other vessels impact on how the ship moves. The captain and port controllers have to factor all of this in when bringing a ship into or out of port.

It is now a regular occurrence for large vessels to be passing along narrow shipping lanes in order to dock. This is a high-risk situation, where everyone involved has to be fully engaged in order to prevent a safety disaster.

In addition to providing a safe passage for ships, port employees also need to ensure that every vessel is compliant with marine regulations. This includes onboard checks of equipment, crew conditions, medical supplies for ships and the safe handling of hazardous goods.

Meanwhile, the on-board officers may need to take responsibility for balancing the load, crew safety, navigation, security and medical care in addition to their main duty.

Modern vessels benefit from internal alarms to warn of any onboard issues, along with radar and advanced communication systems. Despite this, there is still a need for paper charts, binoculars and other traditional maritime resources.

Dover Strait

As an island nation, the UK is reliant on shipping to transport goods. Felixstowe, Grimsby & Immingham and the Port of London are amongst the largest trade ports and provide a link with mainland Europe. It is therefore little wonder that the Dover Strait is one of the busiest shipping channels in the world.

Around 400 shipping vessels pass through the Dover Strait every day, along with ferries, fishing vessels, leisure cruisers, scientific research boats and the occasional cross-channel swimmer. In such a congested stretch of water, it takes little imagination to work out the logistics involved in keeping everyone safe. Yet for many crews, this is just the start or end of an epic journey around the world.

The $99 A Month Car Dealer Scam

A lot of people get confused or excited when they see a car dealer advertise a $99 a month payment. Sometimes the dollar amount changes, dealers will use a $47 a month payment or some other low number. I’m going to explain why car ads that use these tricks are usually offering you a bad deal. In fact, I tell people that if a car dealer advertises in this manner they should avoid doing business with them. The reason car dealers use this advertising method is because so many people are fixated on what their monthly payment ends up being and they never understand how that number was generated.

You must understand how a car dealer arrives at your monthly payment to determine whether your $385 monthly payment is a good price or a bad price. Many people don’t understand that two people can have the same $385 payment for the exact same car and one person got a good deal, the other a bad deal! So when someone asks me to evaluate their car-buying skills by throwing out a low monthly payment I simply nod in approval just to be polite. Of course I do not know if they got a good deal or a bad deal and they usually don’t know either!

So let’s look at all the elements that make up a car buyer’s monthly payment so you can make intelligent decisions. Your monthly payment is a combination of the following: an interest payment for your loan, a fraction of your actual loan (if your loan is 48 months you pay 1/48 of the loan each month) along with any other fees or taxes you might have rolled into the deal. These are the separate elements that make up your monthly payment. So you must have negotiated a good purchase price for your car or your monthly payments will never be a good deal. This is true whether you are buying or leasing your next car. No figure has a bigger impact on your car deal than the car’s purchase price – common sense when you think about it.

Now you must take the vehicle’s purchase price and subtract any down payment or trade-in allowance. So if you are buying a $25,000 car and you put $5,000 down or give the dealer a trade-in worth $5,000 your financing figure becomes $20,000. Now we take that $20,000 and add any additional fees you might have rolled into the deal to create the final amount of money you will be financing.

When you go to financing you need to determine how much interest you are paying on the money you are financing, in our example let’s use $20,000. The length of your loan determines the number of monthly payments you will make. A common rule of thumb is the longer the loan and the large amount of money you finance, the higher your finance rate will be. So do not be afraid to ask if your financing gets better if you shorten your loan term.

For instance, let’s say two people are financing the exact same car for the exact same amount of money, $20,000. One person got a rate of 7.9% financing for 60 months. This person will have a monthly car payment of $404.57. The other person got a rate of 4.9% for 48 months. This second person’s monthly payment will be $459.68. Now remember, they both are financing the exact same amount of money, so who has a better deal? Many people instinctively would say the lower monthly payment is a better deal, I disagree. You see, the first person is paying $404.57 per month for 60 months for a total of $24,274.20. The second person is paying $459.68 for 48 months for a total of $22,064.64. The person with the higher monthly payment ends up paying $2,209.56 less for the exact same car!

Now that you understand the process you can see that anyone could buy a new Rolls Royce and have a $99 a month car payment. To accomplish this all you need to do is put about $125,000 down! Car dealers advertise $99 a month payments because they know that any potential customer who walks in the door off that ad is fixated on their monthly payment. This allows the dealer to jack up the financing rate, spread the payments out (some dealers now push 72 month loans). By hiking your rate several points and stretching the payments out an extra year or two the car dealer and the bank will make additional thousands of dollars on every customer! Don’t let this happen to you! Buy smart, don’t be fooled into judging a car deal by the monthly payment, it’s the easiest way to get scammed by a car dealer!

The Best Housing Option For Professionals Who Commute

Commuting has become a part of the professional life of many and those who have been commuting to and from work for years now know that the perfect commuting lifestyle is simply inexpensive, reliable and easy. This means living in a location where public transportation is available and efficient, that does not necessarily have to deal with bustling traffic each day. Living in the city near offices is usually stressful, expensive and often housing is unavailable. This is why many professionals who commute to Los Angeles and Ventura opt to invest in homes in bedroom or commuter communities that offer quiet, stress-free, comfortable and convenient living environments.

Escape The Hustle And Bustle Of The City

City life can be stressful and as a professional you have to deal with it each day, but having to deal with it every night, during the weekends and even during holidays can be very difficult. The only solution to such a problem is to live in a community that offers easy access to your office, but conveniently located at a certain distance to escape the typical hustle and bustle of the city. Choosing such a community offers you a cleaner and healthier environment with all the convenient amenities you can also enjoy in the city and more.

Cost Of Living

Money is not easy to get by and investing your hard-earned money wisely is very important as a professional. Leasing or buying a home in the city near offices and recreational facilities is very costly because of the location, but you can actually find a reasonable place to live in that ensures you get your money’s worth. You can find suitable housing that meets your taste and budget, such as condos, typical homes and estates, while being able to enjoy the various amenities in bedroom communities. You can take advantage of healthcare facilities, parks, trails, swimming pools and even golf courses, without having to splurge just like how you would have to spend a fortune in the city to enjoy such facilities.

Convenience And Comfort

Commuters have busy lifestyles and this means convenience and comfort are a necessity. With no time to waste, everything must be accessible and available. This involves banks, restaurants, convenient stores, pharmacies, clinics, retail centers and other business facilities. Living in a community designed for the comfort and convenience of professionals who commute each day, you will not have much trouble sticking to your schedule or worry about not being able to have access to facilities that can cater your needs before and after work.

What Horses Do Today – The Many Roles Horses Perform in Modern Society

What do horses do for a living? I love these great animals and they are my pets and companions today. For years we participated in amateur competitions and did some trail riding. One hundred years ago, these common domestic beasts were still used as means of transportation and their lives consisted of a lot of work. Rarely were they only pets.

I decided to look up current statistics to understand how modern horses spend their lives and how people relate to them now. Since I live in the United States my estimates are from the U.S. (I looked at data supplied by The Equestrian Channel, American Horse Publications, and the American Horse Council.)

Recreation

Today there are more than 9.2 million horses in the U.S. About 3.9 million of them are used for recreational purposes. This includes those that belong to people who simply like having them, ride non-competitively, and trail ride for fun.

Show

About 2.7 million are show horses. Showing includes any of the non-racing riding disciplines. Western riding takes a number of forms: barrel racing, reining, roping, cutting, and pleasure. English riding is done in dressage, hunters and jumpers, fox hunting, saddle seat, and eventing (combined training). There are also endurance riding and polo. We’ve been emphasizing riding, but driving horses continues to be an active form of horsemanship too.

Since few horses earn their way by winning money at shows, I’d say that these 6.6 million recreational and show animals could be considered to be non-earners of money. They earn their keep by the enjoyment they provide to their owners.

Racing

Just under a million (over 840,000) are race horses. Since racing is intended to make money for owners, I would say that these could be called money earners. They make money in the form of gambling proceeds, increase in their prices when sold, and enhanced value for breeding fees.

Traditional Work

Over 1.75 million other horses perform a variety of activities. They work on farms and ranches, in forests, and in cities. Farm and ranch work includes working cattle, ploughing, hauling, pulling equipment, carrying packs, and rodeo. City work includes pulling carts and carriages, and police work. They provide income to their owners by carrying out the work of the jobs that need to be done.

From these estimates, it looks like working breeds comprise almost 20% of horses in the U.S. at this time. I would have guessed a much smaller percentage still had day jobs in our modern motorized society. I was surprised to find out that true working types, in the traditional sense, continue to be needed in fair numbers.