Business and Technology News from NUS

Month: November 2017

Trends in the Travel Industry in 2017

Remember the last time you tried to get in touch with a travel agent to book your flight tickets? Neither do we. It is also a blessing that the trips we make to the consulate or embassy of a country every time we want to travel is leaden with far lower uncertainty as compared to even a decade ago. Just look up on the internet for Schengen visa requirements and voila! you now have enough information to go better prepared when you apply for a visa to Europe.

Thanks to the integration with technological solutions, the concept of tourism has changed dramatically in the last decade. Online booking has been just the first milestone in what is defined as ‘travel technology’ by many. Ranging from use of Artificial Intelligence to Virtual Reality to Cloud Computing to Drones, the new tourism technology trends are ready to redesign the travel experience to make it more convenient, automated and personalized. In this article, we look at top five such trends that are going to shape the travel industry in the future.

  1. Robotics for passenger comfort

The possibility of employing robots to save you from long queues at the airport is no longer a distant reality. Geneva airport has been testing a check-in robot named Leo that is programmed to collect luggage from busy passengers and check them in. It can carry two suitcases at a time and print baggage tags. Thanks to advanced programming, Leo (named after the famous Leonardo da Vinci) is fully autonomous and sidesteps hurdles while navigating through a congested Geneva airport.

  1. Biometric boarding pass

This system has already been implemented in selected airport terminals in the US and Australia. Instead of carrying a boarding passport or pulling out the passport every time you enter or exit the country, register to use a SmartGate. It is a boarding gate that lets travellers onto the airplane after scanning their face that should match their passport photo and other stored personal details.

  1. Cloud computing

Australia is already trying to phase out the traditional passport for ‘cloud passport’ that would work by securing the biometric data of passengers on cloud storage. The idea of passport-free travelling was taken up for security measures after as many as 38,718 Australians complained about stolen and lost passports in 2014-15, much like 38,689 such missing reports in the previous year. This world-first move was announced by Australian foreign minister Julie Bishop.

  1. Drone Photography

To explain it in simple terms, camera-mounted drones are the new selfie sticks. They provide such stunning aerial photographs that normal mobile and hand-held camera can never manage. With the price of drones coming down and manufacturers making them easier-to-use, the popularity of these devices has peaked remarkably this year. However, a new user might want to take formal training and check with the local authorities on flying rules, licensing requirement and no-fly zones. Flying over people and national parks is generally a strict no-no.

  1. Use of Virtual Reality

The hotel industry is already trying VR to sell stay packages at exotic locations. Take the Marriot group, for example. In 2015, they introduced “VRoom Service” – a first-of-its-kind guest service that allows guests to order VR experiences to their rooms. The idea is to let guests explore destinations and encourage them to plan their next travel, hopefully with the same hotel chain.

Many airlines also use similar strategy to woo passengers to book into their business and first-class cabins. VR is, in fact, the most promising trend among young entrepreneurs in the travel sector.

Above everything else, trends in the travel industry are focussed on personalization and affordability. With travel companies get ready to cater to more travellers demanding personalized services, the era of personalised travel is here to stay.

This article was written by the NUS community. If you would like to contribute your article, please get in touch.

Does Green Accounting Matter for Small Businesses?

For most of the world, the idea of green accounting or environmental accounting is a realm of fiscal management that only governments and mega-corporations can afford to worry about. Although there are rising concerns about environmental issues from businesses of all sizes, and a growing demand for sustainability management both from customers and suppliers, most small businesses assume that the costs will outweigh any benefits, and that there contribution overall to environmental issues would be quite small.

But that isn’t entirely true. Small businesses are vital to the growth and stability of the global economy accounting for the majority of private sector gross domestic product (GDP), are an integral part of the supply chain. As well as being massive contributors to employment creation. It’s obvious that they would have social and environmental impacts, luckily, even small-businesses can benefit from a “triple bottom line” approach.

This approach takes into consideration the impact your business has not just with your consumers, clients or investors, it also takes into consideration effects for the local community and environment. This is where green accounting comes into play.

Put simply, green accounting calculates the environmental costs of the business activity. Traditionally, environmental costs have been calculated into overheads, preventing them from being connected to the process or product that generates them. Green or environmental accounting identifies environmental costs individually. This allows them to trace their origins, which means management can more easily identify ways to reduce them.

Environmental costs can also incorporate other elements, like the societal cost, or cultural cost, of a product or project.

Speaking generally, there are three tiers of green accounting, managerial, financial and national. Managerial accounting is mostly internal, and intended to help a company made decisions about their own business. Financial accounting on the other hand is intended for external reporting of environmental costs to investors and the public. Finally, national accounting takes into consideration a country’s natural resources, and the costs involved in using them, for example, the cost of using timber would take into consideration a country’s national timber supply, it’s availability, and the ‘green costs’ that is the environmental, social or cultural repercussions.

Employing environmental accounting strategies can help to generate profitability by providing opportunities to trim costs through lowering waste, enhance employee morale, increase engagement with stakeholders, and reduce turnover. Small businesses can create environmental value not only through cutting their waste and lowering their carbon footprint. Initiatives such as volunteering staff time, or donating goods and raising funds for local charities. By taking the triple bottom line approach, and adopting green accounting practices, businesses can position themselves as ethical and make valuable contributions to their communities, while generating profit.

In the end, the initial cost of incorporating environmental accounting practices and methods into a small business can be offset by things like positive brand association, cost savings and reduced risks. This is even true when creating an ecommerce business or online store. By choosing an ethical and sustainable approach small businesses can create not only economic benefits, but also provide support to the community, and the environment.

This article was written by the NUS community. If you would like to contribute your article, please get in touch.

Everyone should be an entrepreneur. Here’s why

There is a quote floating around the internet that sums up what an entrepreneur is: entrepreneurs are the only people who will work 80 hours a week to avoid working 40 hours a week. And while that might put most people off, there are benefits which are not just monetary, when you are a business owner.

1. Strategy becomes a game

You will become better at making any kind of decisions purely because you have been placed in a situation whereby you call the only shots that matter. Any fumble could prove disastrous, but you will also learn that there is a viable solution to every problem.

2. Better creativity and imagination

Now this is where your inner child comes in. How do you keep people interested in whatever services or products you are selling? You might come up with promotions or brand new products and create a market for it. All this requires being able to brainstorm and think up fresh, interesting ideas. Contrary to popular belief, it is nurture, not nature,that allows certain people more creativity over others.

3. The world becomes your oyster

Once you have mastered the art of being in control and playing by your own rules, you will soon realize there is so much untapped potential around you. Money doesn’t grow on trees, but it grows on people who are more than happy to give it to you for something in return. It might not even be something they know they want, but you can make it so it is irresistible. You will see opportunities at every turn, learning, always learning about something new. Such as how to work social media and technology seamlessly through case-studies like “write my essay for me” services. They allowed their hosts to cross post onto Craigslist, effectively reaching more people with the ad and also publicizing the app on the company’s behalf – for free!

4. Limitless extra income

You reap what you sow, and if you have executed a great idea flawlessly, it will give you boundless returns. However, it is not always about the money. It is about challenging yourself and having the satisfaction of a job well done. A job done for nobody else but yourself.

5. Fine tunes your social skills & up your confidence

If there is one thing being your own boss will give you, it is to teach you to respect yourself. You never have to worry about meeting someone else’s requirements. Furthermore, you will be exposed to people from all walks of life, from people who might give you a leg up to those who will reject you and all those experiences will teach you how to be better at pitching ideas and inspiring others.

Most people might turn to entrepreneurship to escape the tedious repetition of a desk job, others might have a bright passion that absolutely refuses to shut up and while there are those who are complacent working for a corporation whose CEO will never even learn their name, everyone will benefit from being an entrepreneur regardless of whether they fail or succeed. Although, entrepreneurs will never see failure as one, but merely a learning experience.

This article was written by the NUS community. If you would like to contribute your article, please get in touch.

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