Business Travelers – Use the Loyalty Programs For Your Benefit

Many people abhor traveling for business, at least when they have to do it frequently. Others know the benefits and actually enjoy frequent business travel. Those benefits include free personal travel and a more luxurious business travel experience.There are a lot of benefits when one travels frequently for business and takes advantage of the loyalty programs like the frequent flyer programs. The most highlighted benefit is free travel. With enough points or miles one can fly for free, stay for free, and even get a free car rental. And because they accumulate so many miles, the frequent business travelers can fly when they want and take people with them. However, there are plenty of other perks to being a road warrior.One of the primary perks of being a frequent flyer is the elite status that comes with being a loyal and frequent customer of the hotels and airlines. There is free and often unexpected upgrades. For the hotels that could mean a free suite rather than a standard room. For the airlines that would mean being upgraded to business or first-class seating for a flight. Then there are complimentary things the hotels and airlines do to make travel easier for their preferred customers. The hotels have quick check-in for loyalty members and often access to lounge areas on the concierge floor for status members. The airlines have quick check-in for members also and allow elite status members to board the airplane first. Then there are the small things like maybe a free snack or refreshment in the hotel room when one arrives. Or a free drink on the plane if one is not upgraded to first-class. It is these perks that make traveling so much easier when on the road constantly.Frequent club members also get access to a dedicated toll-free number for reservations, which is nice during a busy season that one can get a live person reasonably quickly. As one’s status level increases that dedicated service improves. The highest elite levels get their own line with perks available for the asking. Also increasing with the higher elite levels is bonus points and miles. Typically, the highest elite levels get an additional twenty-five percent bonus to the miles or points for each trip or stay. This helps the frequent business traveler get more points or miles for a from each trip.These perks are so nice and welcomed by the frequent business traveler that they do become fanatics about getting miles or points. They also become experts on their particular programs. Every business traveler needs to join their airline or hotel’s loyalty program to start enjoying the free benefits.

Benefits of SMART Boards in the Construction Industry

Constructability issues are problematic for the construction industry as they can delay building work and increase budgets by huge amounts. One leading construction company now uses SMART Boards to solve such issues ahead of a project starting, and the benefits have been tangible.American company Turner Construction is one of the largest general builders in the world, having completed projects on the scale of hospitals, universities and airports both in the US and around the globe. Like all construction companies their fundamental challenge involves resolving specific construction issues so the building process is not prolonged. Recently they found a new and effective method of working that ensures no surprises crop up in building projects – using SMART Boards in combination with Building Information Modelling (BIM) software.BIM allows 3D digital models of buildings to be created, and Turner Construction has set up interactive workspaces, each containing two SMART Boards, so that the BIM models can be viewed in plenty of space. The software allows the models to be rotated and zoomed into so that the details can be clearly seen, and this allows everyone from the architect to the plasterer and electrician to see the plans and spot any potential constructability issues ahead of the build commencing.It’s rare that the company manages to get all the contractors involved in projects in one room – the very nature of the business means they are likely to be on site at other projects – but with these solutions this isn’t a problem. Using SMARTBridgit means contractors can access meetings using their computer or even iPad, and collaborate on the project wherever they are located.Once a project has been assessed and any issues resolved, the plans are signed off immediately on the SMART Board and the meeting session is saved as a PDF file and sent to everyone on the team. This means there are no communication problems and everyone has the exact same plans to work from, further reducing the chance of issues occurring on site.Since installing the equipment Turner Construction has found they are much more able to stick to building schedules because any problems are identified and dealt with at the planning stage, rather than once construction has begun. This of course saves money and labour, and ensures that projects are completed to deadline. As Dan Turner, National Manager, Integrated Building Solutions says: “SMARTBoards have changed our meetings. We’re able to get on topic, pull up a 3D model, show the problem and quickly get others on board. Everyone in the room can quickly understand what the issue is and collaborate on resolving it.”

How the Recession Has Affected the Commercial Construction Industry

For some time, I have asked myself (and others), “What was so great about The Great Recession?” This economic crisis has been deemed by the International Monetary Fund (IMF) as the worst world-wide recession since World War II. Its impact has been felt in nearly every industry imaginable, and particularly in the construction industry. It ran its course for 18 interminably long months, between 2007 and 2009; the worst period occurred at mid-year, 2009.How did it affect the commercial construction industry and what has/will be happening nearly 5 years after the official “end” of the Great Recession?What happened?The construction industry is accustomed to cyclical changes but the Great Recession was hardly a typical downturn or cyclical change. No sector of the construction industry was spared from the harsh impact of the Great Recession; not residential, commercial, industrial, or heavy and civil engineering.One aspect of the recession that is not often mentioned is that the cyclical boom of the construction industry was followed directly by the recession, leaving a large glut of residential and commercial real estate on the market.As the recession deepened, homeowners were defaulting on their homes, others were not buying homes as they had planned, and investors were being extremely cautious in financing new construction projects.2012 – 2013 was predicted to be a period of growth and non-residential construction activity was expected to continue its recovery. Once, again, there were recovery delays, fueled in part by government and financial institutions:

A federal budget sequester resulting in scaled back government spending.

A federal government shutdown.

Credit restrictions placed on construction projects, home loans, loans in general.

Increasing long-term interest rates based on expectation of the government reducing its stimulus program.
Those factors, and the extremely slow recovery of the world economy, certainly had a direct and negative influence on the construction industry.Moving into 2015So what is the state of commercial construction in 2014 and beyond? Recovery is happening, but not at an increased pace. Factors that (according to industry observers) influenced growth in 2014:

Weather-related delays on projects at the start of the year.

Ongoing sluggishness in the institutional market and lowered construction spending projections.

Financial institutions continued their restrictive lending practices.
Is there any good news? Yes! Let’s look at some of the more favorable changes in 2014 and some positive indicators going into 2015:

Some easing of lending restrictions; loans rose 4 percent in the second quarter of 2014, most of it related to the commercial real estate industry.

Commercial construction projects are rapidly increasing in several regions of the U.S., particularly in Texas (Houston) and the southern region in general, and New York (Rochester and New York City), Massachusetts (Boston), and Louisiana (New Orleans).

Consumers are “cautiously optimistic” and spending is up, as is the increase in jobs.
The commercial construction industry was, and continues to be deeply affected by the Great Recession. But industry watchers, like consumers, are cautiously optimistic (with more emphasis on cautious than optimistic) that the industry is slowly and steadily moving forward.