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Best Hotels for Business Traveler

Hotel Travel + Leisure magazine recently compiled list of the best hotel chains for travelers. Amenities, location, and quality of service were all factors.


The Ritz-Carlton has long been known as one of the most elite hotel chains in America. Now, its 86 different properties offer the benefits of the Marriott rewards program along with business friendly smartphone apps.

The Luxury Collection By Starwood

Starwood’s most prestigious hotel collection has recently expanded with 15 new locations in business districts in the Ukraine, China, and New Mexico.

Kimpton Karma

This group of small boutique hotels has one of the best loyalty programs in the industry. Business travelers enjoy free Wi-Fi at check-in just for signing up. Personal touches and ample room space also land to the business-friendliness of the hotel chain.


World-renowned for its luxury amenities in business-class services, the Waldorf Astoria and Hilton worldwide have put new business traveler accommodations in Beijing, Dubai, Jerusalem, and Amsterdam.


Founded in San Francisco, the Fairmont brand is best known throughout Canada for its exceptional accommodations. The hotel group is now available with convenient locations for the Asia-bound business traveler.

For Season

The four seasons brand is perhaps best for business travelers needing to relax after a long day. The hotel is known for its spa services.

Grand Hyatt

Grand in both name and amenities, this super star hotel chain offers plenty for business travelers. From high-speed Internet to ample meeting facilities, the grand Hyatt delivers exceptional service from its established locations as well as its new strategically placed buildings in China and the Bahamas.

JW Marriott

JW Marriott hotels are world renowned for their architectural excellence, large and comfortable accommodations, and unrivaled event space. The company has held events for Christie’s and Art Basel.


Based in Dallas, Texas, Omni resorts has locations in Nashville, look Costa, and Homestead, all located within bustling business districts.


Known for its exceptional cuisine and concierge services, the Intercontinental hotel group offers free iPad guides for travelers along with comfortable lodging and outstanding business services.

Google Users Search for “Robin Williams,” “World Cup” in 2014

Google recently presented their annual report of the leading search terms of 2014, with the results showing a diverse number of interest among Internet users over the last 12 months.

Overall, the top trending term was “Robin Williams,” the popular, award-winning actor and comedian who passed away on August 11. Finishing in the runner-up position was “World Cup,” a tribute to the international

soccer tournament held every four years in locations around the world. This year’s edition took place in Brazil between June 12 – July 13.

After “Robin Williams” and “World Cup” came “Ebola,” the rare and deadly disease that gained global attention towards the latter part of the year.

Along with the list of the most popular search terms, Google shared its countdown of the top YouTube videos. It comes as no surprise that the winning clip featured an animal. In the number-one entry, a dog dressed up in a spider costume incited laughter among YouTube users worldwide.

Google has emerged as the most significant search engine in the world. In the United States, the company currently holds a 67 percent share of the online audience. By comparison, Microsoft Bing has garnered a mere 20 percent share. All statistics are courtesy of ComScore, a technology firm that offers statistics for a wide range of industries and companies.

Top Trending Searches (United States)

1st Place – Robin Williams

2nd Place – World Cup

3rd Place – Ebola

4th Place – Malaysia Airlines

5th Place – Flappy Bird

6th Place – ALS Ice Bucket Challenge

7th Place – ISIS

8th Place – Ferguson

9th Place – Frozen

10th Place – Ukraine

Top Trending “What is…?” Questions (United States):

1st Place – “….Ebola?”

2nd Place – “….ALS?”

3rd Place – “….ISIS?”

4th Place – “….Bitcoin?”

5th Place – “….Asphyxia?”

6th Place – “….Gamergate?”

7th Place – “….WhatsApp?”

8th Place – “….MERS?”

9th Place – “….Hamas?”

10th Place – “….Airdrop?”

Ford Motor Company Revs Up with New and Improved 2015 Transit


Ford Motor Company is planning to hire at least 12,000 employees by the close of 2015, with nearly half of these employees expected to serve on the assembly team for the 2015 Ford Transit. This marks the first time the Ford Transit has been manufactured and sold in the United States.

Sold regularly as a cargo van, the Ford Transit is also available as a pickup truck, cutaway van chassis, minibus or passenger van. The Transit is a complex vehicle that offers consumers a choice of two wheelbases, three roof heights, three body lengths and diesel or gasoline engines. It is being created with new and improved paint and body shops and assembly lines. Additionally, Ford has invested more than $1.1 billion to increase production of the company’s full-size F-150 pickups and commercial vans.

In 2014, Ford had stated a goal of hiring 5,000 salaried and hourly employees in the United States. Kansas City currently includes nearly 5,000 hourly workers on three separate crews – the last of which was created in the summer of 2013. Extra workers have been hired for plants at Michigan Assembly and Flat Rock, as well as Lima and Louisville, Ohio. Approximately 300 more jobs are expected at the engine plant in Cleveland.Ford recently paid out over $500 million to cover service, recall and warranty costs for vehicles.

By the end of 2015, Ford plans to open two additional manufacturing facilities in Asia and one in South America. The company will sell the stripped chassis and the E-series cutaway and is working with fleet customers to prepare for an upcoming switch from the E-series to the Transit.



Firehouse Subs, Qdoba Among America’s Favorite Restaurants in Terms of Dining Satisfaction

Sub-Sandwiches According to a recent study, Firehouse Subs scores high marks among American consumers.

Market Force Information surveyed 6,100 consumers for a research study that examined the leading restaurants in four major food categories: chicken, sandwiches, Mexican and pizza. Participants were asked to share their satisfaction rates of recent dining experiences, as well as the likelihood of their referrals to friends and family members.

The results were compiled and the researchers calculated a Composite Loyalty Score that expressed the overall satisfaction for today’s consumers. In the category for sandwiches, Firehouse Subs scored the highest loyalty score (68 percent), trumping Panera Bread (62 percent). Jimmy John’s finished in third place at 54 percent.

Qdoba Mexican Grill won the Mexican category and Papa Murphy’s finished first in the pizza category. Qdoba surpassed Chipotle Mexican Grill, 65 percent to 63 percent. The leaders were followed by Moe’s Southwest Grill, Del Taco, Taco John’s and Taco Bell. Papa Murphy’s stood tall followed by Pizza Ranch, Papa John’s, CiCi’s, Domino’s, Pizza Hut, Little Caesar’s and Sbarro.

Respondents ranked their satisfaction on seven attributes: fast service, value, healthy food, quality food, friendly service, atmosphere and accommodating children.

Firehouse Subs has recently introduced a number of menu changes, including the addition of low-fat menu items under 500 calories. Co-founders Robin Sorensen and Chris Sorensen have also created lighter takes on old favorites such as the Hook and Ladder Light. Capitalizing on the latest food trends, the Sriracha Beef is another new feature.

The authors of the study reported that Firehouse Subs emerged at the top of the list due to its impressive line of specialty hot sandwiches, as well as its support of public safety causes and organizations. Firehouse owns and operates over 750 restaurants throughout the U.S. and Puerto Rico.

US Coal Imports Surge in 2014

US coal mining companies have recently seen a major decrease in production; Colombian coal cheaper, high quality.

Coal imports to North America, and specifically the United States, have risen dramatically even as Central Appalachia has seen a number of mines close.

The reason: price. Costs to transport coal from Central Appalachia is 173% more expensive than to import

from Colombia – a country where coal is cheap to acquire and can be shipped in higher quantities.  Research firm IHS Energy calculates that the average load of coal from the US costs $26 per ton to ship while Colombian coal averages just $15/ton. Lower labor costs also contribute to the disparity in price. Colombian coal is, on average, $4 cheaper per ton than US product.

China, the largest coal importer in the world, has seen a weaker demand in coal use this year. Europe’s declining imports have also added to the depressed coal prices.

The first six months of 2014 saw a surge of coal imports. The US bought more than 5.4 metric tons between January and June which is a 44% increase from the same period in 2013. Only one-third of this was purchased domestically. Colombian coal companies ramped up production by 24% to meet the increased demand.

The US Energy Information Administration predicts that US coal consumption will rise to 862 tons by the end of the year. The expected increase is directly related to a frigid start to the year when power companies used more coal to produce electricity than expected.

Birmingham, Alabama-based Drummond Co. anticipates that its two Colombian mines will produce nearly 30 tons of coal this year. The company refused to comment on the fundamental cause of the ramped up production but said that reflected a 19% production increase.

US coal producers are working toward creating competitive pricing as the year progresses. Rail company CSX has announced plans to increase its fleet to over 4,700 locomotives by year’s end and Burlington Northern Santa Fe Corp. will add 5,000 new cars.


New Study Reveals Americans’ Attitudes about Personal Data Usage by Major Companies

The personal data gathering techniques of Facebook, Google and other international organizations has deepened the fear of many Americans who are worried about privacy issues, according to a new poll conducted by Reuters.

Facebook and Google ranked at the top of Americans’ list when expressing concerns about the ability to monitor personal communications and spending habits and track physical locations, according to a new Reuters poll.

The survey displays the public’s ambivalence towards companies whose online services – search, e-commerce and social networking – have grown into one of the world’s most powerful businesses.

As the line between real world services and web products has blurred, many Internet companies are working to carve a niche in a variety of industries, from automobiles to home appliances. Amazon, Facebook, Google and others have been busy acquiring a wide range of companies and developing technology projects. Google in particular has developed into one of the most ambitious companies, investing in drones, robots, augmented-reality glasses and self-driving cars.

Among the 4,781 respondents, a little more than half (51 percent) said that three companies – Twitter, Microsoft and Apple – were playing too much of a role in people’s lives.

Approximately one-third of respondents said they were unaware of Google’s plans to move into the arena of real-world products like appliances, cars and phones. Meanwhile, more than two-thirds of respondents were worried about how these companies would store their data or collect personal information. New wearable devices such as smartwatches and fitness bracelets have allowed many companies to gather biological data.

Only 13 percent of survey respondents expressed negative feelings about online home appliance companies. On the other hand, 42 percent said they were concerned about drones (29 percent robots).

University of Washington law professor Ryan Calo, who recently published a paper about the social and legal implications of robotics, indicates that the recent revelations of NSA surveillance as related to the Edward Snowden scandal have heightened public sensitivity about data security.

Tax Refunds Means More Spending, Saving, and Doing for Americans

From vacation to education, American taxpayers have more options than ever before to allocate their incoming funds.

Every year thousands of businesses advertise special post-tax season sales in an effort to garner a portion of America’s big payday. The most popular promotions across the board are the Tax Day freebies. While it may seem counterproductive to give things away, businesses known that if they can associate their name with something positive in times of stress – such as tax day – consumers are more likely to patronize them all year long.

Some of the most popular tax day giveaways include a free 15 min. HydroMassage (available at Planet Fitness), free shredding service from Office Depot, and even a complimentary dinner at Hard Rock Café.

Other businesses opt to slash prices on large purchases to convince buyers to take the plunge. Many auto dealerships across the nation offer vehicles at or near cost, appliance and electronics retailers boldly display their goods with low down payments, and vacation destinations will gladly check people in for up to half price – as long as they’re willing to prepay.

But, not all refund holders will splurge. According to, the average tax refund is over $2500. The site suggests that savings will also be hot in 2014. Families have numerous options to put their money to good use aside from traditional retirement accounts.

A large tax refund may offer the opportunity to create an emergency reserve for expenses such as food, utilities, and mortgage. Additionally, consumers can save thousands of dollars over the course of a credit card repayment cycle by paying down their balance. Those looking to build further into the future typically elect to invest in their careers by spending money on continuing education programs. Other ways to save in the long run include paying for a home energy audit or tackling energy-consuming maintenance projects.



Notre Dame, University of Virginia Among Winners in Business School Rankings

notredame Mendoza College of Business at Notre Dame University has scored the number-one position in Bloomberg Businessweek’s rankings of the top undergraduate business schools in the United States.

McIntire School of Commerce (University of Virginia), Dyson School of Applied Economics and Management (Cornell University), Carroll School of Management (Boston College) and Olin School (Washington University – St. Louis).

The Mendoza College of Business features more than 2400 students in graduate, undergraduate and executive studies.

A total of 132 programs were ranked in five different categories. Wharton School (University of Pennsylvania) is the lone entry on both the undergraduate list and the recent MBA rankings. Notre Dame appeared in the top five for employer sentiment and academic quality, and placed first in student assessment. Kelley School of Business (Indiana University) moved into the top ten for the first time at No. 8.

The School of Business at Wake Forest University secured first-place honors in the category of Academic Quality for the second year in a row. This category takes into account such components as student-faculty ratio and average SAT score. Olin School at Washington University – St. Louis kept the top ranking for best percentage of placing undergrads in leading MBA programs.

Tepper School of Business (Carnegie Mellon University) tied with Wharton and McIntire as the educational institutions with the highest starting pay at $70,000 annually. According to the National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE), undergraduate business owners can expect an average starting salary of $55,144.

A major reason for the between MBA and undergraduate top tens is that many institutions such as Harvard University and University of Chicago do not provide undergraduate business programs. With the increased demand for undergraduate business education, Stanford University and other schools are creating certificate programs. In order to attract students from across the country, many private colleges with leading MBA programs have begun to offer courses for younger students.

Amazon Emerges as Major Competitor to YouTube, Hulu with New Preroll Ads


These days, media giants such as AOL, Yahoo, Hulu and YouTube have some heavy competition in their midst.

Amazon has started placing preroll ads within original series pilots that are available for streaming on Amazon Prime Instant. The company is currently collaborating with several advertisers on future video campaigns.

Amazon users can share which TV pilots they wish to see promoted to series as distributed on Prime Instant Video. Geico is slotted as the presenting sponsor for the

company’s “pilot season.” As a portion of the agreement, Geico will have 15-second TV spots streaming prior to episodes, as well as banners on landing pages.

Only series pilots are available for free to Amazon users. A subscription fee is required to access further episodes.

Amazon’s most significant efforts in the field of video advertising began late in 2013. Consumers who viewed the first few episodes of particular television shows through the Kindle Fire were shown a variety of video advertisements. In order to bolster their activity, Amazon has collaborated with major TV networks to offer advertisements during many of their shows.

Last month, Amazon shared details about a new deal with FreeWheel, a video ad-tech company. The company will now begin playing commercials before how-to videos and movie trailers on the site. According to industry insiders, the partnership is intended to draw the company closer to providing more videos for advertisers over the next 12 to 24 months.

The online video market has proven to be a valuable one for many retailers. The national research organization eMarketer estimates that U.S. businesses will devote $5.75 billion on video advertisements in 2014. At this time, YouTube holds about 20 percent of this burgeoning market. Based on their latest endeavors into video marketing, Amazon hopes to take a big chunk out of the number in the near future.



Travel Experts Share Favorite Global Hotspots for 2014

travel The International Business Times recently assembled 20 lists from English-language travel magazines, guidebooks and news organizations to determine what locations travel experts are recommending in 2014.

The top five countries, in order, are: Brazil, Scotland, Myanmar, Iceland and Panama.
The top five cities, in order: Riga, Latvia; Glasgow, Scotland; Cape Town, South Africa; and Chengdu, China.

The Americas

The usual suspects like Nashville, Charleston and Austin strutted their stuff once again, but a few surprise entries shook up this year’s list. Major U.S. cities such as Detroit and Chicago appeared on numerous lists. Colorado’s new marijuana laws have increased intrigue in the mountainous states. The warm and sunny environments in Orlando, Palm Springs, Miami and Honolulu have proved quite popular.

The World Cup is bound to draw visitors from across the globe in 2014.

Uruguay rated first on several lists due to its proximity to Brazil, as well as its recent move to allow same-sex marriage and legalize marijuana. The Panama Canal celebrates its 100th anniversary in 2014, ensuring an influx of visitors throughout the year.


In 2014, Scotland hosts the Commonwealth Games along with other international events. Glasgow in particular received high marks on the survey. War anniversaries place Sarajevo, Belgium and Berlin on many lists, while Iceland continues to be consistent performers. However, 2014 Winter Olympics host Sochi, Russia, received only scattered mentions.


The death of Nelson Mandela has inspired renewed interest in South Africa, particularly Cape Town. U.N. World Tourism Organization co-hosts Zimbabwe and Zambia stormed up the rankings, while Uganda, Rwanda and Kenya experienced small jumps.


China and Myanmar were the formidable twosome at the top of many tallies. After securing rights to the 2020 Summer Olympics, Tokyo experienced an uptick. Taiwan, Indonesia, New Zealand and Bhutan also earned multiple plaudits.