Airbnb Tests the Waters With New Tours and ‘Experiences’
Nov23

Airbnb Tests the Waters With New Tours and ‘Experiences’

Over 30 million U.S. citizens travel internationally every year, and even more travel domestically. One lodging company has changed the way that people travel. Airbnb, an eight-year-old company which allows travelers to stay in other peoples’ homes when they travel domestically and abroad, vastly decreasing the amount of money they must budget for lodging and accommodations. While the company, by nature, encourages traveling worldwide, they want these travelers to immerse themselves into a local environment, as if they are not just visiting, but actually living in these places. At the Airbnb Open, the company’s annual conference in Los Angeles, an addition to the company’s existing services was announced. Now, the company plans on adding insider guides and “experiences” for travelers who are exploring new cities. “Experiences” is now offered on the Airbnb app, and displays 500 options in more than 12 cities. These experiences are immersive and community-oriented. They are offered by Airbnb hosts and can last for multiple days on end or just a few hours. Some of the experiences include meeting with Miami artists and creating custom pieces, going truffle tasting in Florence, or embarking on a Los Angeles motorcycle tour, among others. Half of these experience cost less than $200. “Places” is another option now offered by Airbnb, which gives tips from local insiders on places to go and things to do. Some of these insiders are celebrities, like surfer Kelly Slater, who gives the inside guide on Malibu surfing, or actress Gina Rodriguez, who gives her favorite recommendations for trips to Venice Beach. Organized tours, both foreign and domestic, can also be scheduled through the app. The company will also be spearheading a trip itinerary offer to help travelers plan their trips from start to finish. The company expects to expand its services to include flights, trains, buses, and taxi services, as well as include integrated reservation services within the Airbnb app in conjunction with Resy, a company that helps make restaurant reservations. These initiatives are planned for launch in Airbnb’s three major markets: North America, the UK, and Australia, according to Chief Marketing Officer Jonathan Mildenhall. “As Airbnb moves into becoming more of an experiential brand, so too does the marketing—we have to become much more experiential,” said Mildenhall. “What you’ll see over the coming months is much more surprising experiential-type marketing initiatives.” The company has recently partnered with Facebook Live, which will feature six trip experiences that are dependent on the viewer’s area. For example, a viewer in Paris will see a different experience than someone in Portland, Oregon. These changes are coming at a time when Airbnb is facing legal scrutiny in...

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500 Drones Flying Through the Sky At Once for Advertising Purposes
Nov21

500 Drones Flying Through the Sky At Once for Advertising Purposes

Airplanes have been flying billboard advertisements since the early 1920s. Thanks to the advent and rapidly growing popularity of drone technology, there might be aerial advertisements piloted by drones. Intel, a tech company, unveiled its new “shooting star” drone in early November showing 500 drones flying across the sky in an airfare-style formation in Germany. According to CNN Money, these drones are all autonomous and are equipped with LED light propellers that light up the sky. Programmers can design the drone formations to their liking and can write sky messages with the LED lighting, the first example spelling “Intel” high above the ground. “Think of a display in the sky,” said Anil Nanduri, vice president of Intel’s New Technology Group. “What would you do with it?” Seeking Alpha reports that Intel plans on being the best-in-class regarding the brand new flight planning department of drone technology. The company recently acquired MAVinci, which will further the drone software experience Intel was originally lacking. “With this transaction, we are gaining expertise in flight planning software algorithms and also fixed-wing drone design capabilities that complement the technology and knowledge Intel previously acquired from Ascending Technologies,” Nanduri added. “This new acquisition will play a key role in providing solutions for industries such as agriculture, insurance, construction, mining and more.” A few years ago, technology companies had one or two prototype drones. Two years ago, Intel, the first of its kind, sent up a fleet of 100 drones into the sky. Only to outdo itself, Intel sent 500 more drones into the night sky with LED lighting equipped to spell out the first drone-based aerial advertisement in history. Brian Krzanich, Intel’s Chief Executive Officer, has recently hinted at doubling that number and flying 1,000 drones at once. All this happened in a matter of only three years, so it’ll be interesting to see just how many drones frequent the sky in the near future. “When they saw the light show,” added Nanduri, “they said, ‘Wow your team did...

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Gainesville Man’s Hoarding Causing Problems for Neighborhood
Nov21

Gainesville Man’s Hoarding Causing Problems for Neighborhood

Simply having a high quality-landscaping job can increase the resale value of a property by up to 14%. Some landowners, however, would rather use their property for storage and not for appearances. According to WUFT, Doug Englert, a Gainesville, Florida man, might be considered a hoarder by the majority of his neighbors and anyone passing by his property, but he credits his unconventional handling of property to the way he was raised. “Ever since I was a small kid growing up in the country, we’ve been conscious about not having a lot of waste and that tends to make you hold on to things longer than a lot of people do,” said Englert. “This society we live in today throws away a lot of things, and I’ve just never been that way.” Patch.com reports that Terry Shulman, author of Cluttered Lives, Empty Souls: Compulsive Stealing, Spending, and Hoarding, believes that this issue affects more people than originally suspected. “Relationship to stuff is a fascinating topic,” Shulman added. “The hallmark in the extreme is being unable to let go of almost anything, even a scrap piece of paper.” Englert’s neighbors have been complaining about his hoarding since 2006. The city’s code enforcement division, the Gainesville Code Enforcement, has had to visit Englert’s property numerous times over the last decade and force Englert to clean up his mess. After all eight times of the city’s code enforcement division visiting his property, Englert does in fact clean up his lawn, but it goes right back to being filled with cars, boxes, trailers, and more clutter. “Instead of him being able to come into compliance before fines start accruing, we would actually take this case to our hearing officer, our special magistrate,” said Chris Cooper, the head of the Gainesville Code Enforcement. “If we was found guilty of having these violations of city ordinance, the fines would actually start accruing from the date we actually cited a violation.” Englert plans on cleaning his property yet again and keeping it clean this...

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The Future of NAFTA Remains Uncertain Under President Donald Trump
Nov14

The Future of NAFTA Remains Uncertain Under President Donald Trump

When the North American Free Trade Agreement was first brokered in 1994, it established one of the largest free-trade spaces in the world between the United States, Canada, and Mexico. But if president-elect Donald Trump has his way come January 20, NAFTA will fast become a relic of the past. One of the primary items on Trump’s first 100 days to-do list, as detailed in his “Contract With the American Voter” released in late October, is “to renegotiate NAFTA or withdraw from the deal” altogether. After his election victory on November 8, his future international trade partners are waiting to see what might actually transpire. Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau congratulated Trump on his win and expressed a willingness to discuss future trade negotiations. “We’re hearing people on both sides of the border saying they just want a fair chance to succeed,” Trudeau said in a conference in Ottawa earlier this week. “If the Americans want to talk about NAFTA, I’m more than happy to talk about it.” On the opposite border of the U.S., however, Mexican Economy Minister Ildefonso Guajardo seemed more cautious in his approach. “We’re ready to talk so we can explain the strategic importance of NAFTA for the region,” Guajardo said, with a caveat: “Here we’re not talking about… renegotiating it, we’re simply talking about dialogue.” In many respects, an end to NAFTA would have a disproportionately negative effect on relations with Mexico compared to Canada. Mexican factory exports have increased 13% since 2012 with the U.S. as a principal trade partner, absorbing more than 81% of all of the country’s exported goods. A sudden tariff placed on that trade could severely impact the cost of manufacturing goods, as well as the strength of the Mexican economy itself. On the other hand, Canada is the top importer of U.S. goods. Though Trump’s principal rationale for abolishing NAFTA is to save American jobs from crossing borders, a tax levied on U.S. exports to Canada could ironically damage the many U.S. businesses that rely on that free trade for survival. “I really think Canada is in an enviable position here,” said Stockwell Day, a former Canadian trade minister. “They’re going to treat trade differently, but we’ve never really heard [Trump] talking about massive numbers of factory jobs going to Canada.” With more than two months remaining until his official inauguration, the future of NAFTA under a Trump administration remains pure speculation. After all, only 8% of all people ever accomplish their New Year’s resolutions, so whether his “100 Days” plan will produce any real changes remains to be seen. “The range of potential actions that could be...

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America’s First Offshore Wind Farm Comes to Block Island
Nov11

America’s First Offshore Wind Farm Comes to Block Island

North America’s first offshore wind farm, Block Island Wind Farm, just started operations late last month and expects to be working at full capacity by Thanksgiving. At that stage, the farm will generate enough electricity to power over 4% of all homes in Rhode Island — some 17,000 homes. Block Island is an ideal location for such an endeavor. The five wind turbines of the farm, towering 589 feet above the ocean, will be providing power to all of the island’s 1,000 year-round residents. What is a very exciting event for the American energy landscape is commonplace in Europe, where offshore wind energy is a booming industry. Indeed, wind farms represent a very sustainable energy generating technique. They generate between 17 and 39 times as much power as they consume, compared to 16 times for nuclear plants and 11 for coal plants. But after 15 years of fighting, it still represents a significant victory. “This has taken a lot of perseverance,” said Tom Kiernan, chief executive of the trade group American Wind Energy Association. “It’s been a long road to get here.” Originally, Cape Wind, off the coast of Massachusetts, was supposed to be the first wind farm in the country. The project was proposed in 2001 and would have boasted 130 turbines. Although Cape Wind never took off, its obstacles and failures helped Deepwater Wind, the developer behind Block Island’s farm, to plan better. Cape Wind started out big, with blueprints for 468 megawatts of power, whereas Deepwater started at 30 megawatts. Deepwater faces less opposition than did Cape Wind and had an added advantage in that Jeff Grybowski, the CEO, was the previous chief of staff to the former Governor of Rhode Island, Donald Carcieri. Deepwater still faced its share of doubts and opposition. Fishermen, in particular, were worried about the effects the project might have on their...

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