Top 11 Essential Traveler Tips

Holiday travel is in full swing and business people who travel regularly need to be aware of what is lurking for them on the airplane, on the hotel comforter, or in the hotel ice bucket, just to name a few.Let’s start at the beginning; packing for the trip -Tip #1: Since your bag might be searched by TSA personnel, prevent the spread of germs by packing your personal items in plastic bags.Before & during the flight -Tip #2: Be sure to get a full eight hours of rest the night before your flight, drink lots of water before and during the flight to avoid dehydration, and consider taking an extra boost of vitamin C to ward off any pesky germs.Tip #3: Use sanitary wipes to wipe down the armrest and tray table, and use them to open the restroom door, flush the toilet, and turn on the faucet.Tip #4: Do not put items in the seat pockets (anything from dirty diapers to used tissues have been in there) and avoid using the airline pillows and blankets, which are rarely washed or sanitized.The hotel room; let’s concentrate on the remote control, telephone, comforter, drinking glasses, and ice bucket since they are the dirtiest, most unsanitary items in a hotel room -Tip #5: Put your luggage on the luggage rack provided, not on the bed or the floor. When the luggage is not in use, be sure to keep it zipped up so bedbugs cannot become stowaways.Tip #6: Clean the remote control with a hot, wet washcloth or sanitary wipe. The remote is rarely sanitized by the cleaning staff, but often harbors the most germs.Tip #7: After cleaning the remote, make your way to the telephone, which is also rarely sanitized.Tip #8: Pull the comforter off the bed, fold it up, and put it in the closet. It’s been confirmed by actual hotel cleaning staff that the comforters are only washed when there are visible stains.Tip #9: Do not use the drinking glasses; only use the plastic cups sealed in plastic. To find out why, watch this disturbing video from Fox 5 in Atlanta, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=C6uQC9MM5cQ.Tip #10: If you need to chill some drinks, be sure to use the plastic bag included with the ice bucket. If there isn’t one provided, call the front desk and request one. Like the remote and telephone, the ice buckets are rarely cleaned.If necessary, make the room kid-friendly -Tip #11: Wipe all the hard surfaces down with sanitary wipes (doorknobs, dresser knobs, fridge, microwave, etc.), check under the bed and all the dresser drawers for potentially harmful objects, and if toys fall on the floor, be sure to sanitize them immediately.As a general rule, remember to wash your hands as often as possible while at the airport, on the airplane, and at the hotel. Germs are lurking everywhere, but with a little preparation and by following the Top 11 Essential Traveler Tips listed above, you and your family can remain germ-free.Do you have any other tips to add? Do you have a related story to share? We would love to hear from you!

The New Rules of Home Improvement

Many homeowners are beginning to recognize the higher standards that are being demanded from home improvement contractors.The new rules of certification, accreditation and independent verification have complemented well the old ways of selecting a contractor so that the two establish a benchmark that bodes well for the professional perception of the industry. It is not a coincident that in 2010 credentialing and training organizations have achieved their highest growth rate in recent years.

I believe that a profound shift is taken place in the home improvement industry. This shift has embraced certification, accreditation and independent verification as the new rules of doing business. As a contractor who has been in the business for many years, for me, this shift means one thing – a chance to increase market share by showcasing a brand that understands and welcomes the new reality. Indeed, homeowners are beginning to demand this higher standard of training and perceived credibility to measure value. And, the surest way to achieve this is by checking for the credential of companies and the skill of their people. Now, besides the old ways of relying chiefly on word-of-mouth recommendation, customers will be able to more independently check for and measure the training and professional underpinning of a company. This is quite a significant development in the home improvement business brought on by dramatic emphasis on energy efficiency improvements in building.

The Federal government and large utility companies have contributed to this by providing tax credits and purchase rebates respectively for energy efficiency improvement initiatives. States have seized on these opportunities and have enacted changes to their building codes to encourage higher efficiency standards in building. The State of Massachusetts for example, has adopted the ‘Stretch Energy Code’” which its cities and towns are using to promote energy efficiency improvement to their building stock. The execution of these strategies create jobs, save money on utility bills and decrease the Carbon output to the environment from buildings. The savviest of small home improvement contractors are using these new rules to improve their companies’ image to portray a well trained professional operation. The majority of the buildings in the nation are in need of some sort of energy efficiency improvement, if we are committed to improving our building stock then the adoption of these new rules are just the start of the revolutionizing of the home improvement industry.

To be clear, the changes that are taking root are a result of the budding Home Performance Improvement industry that is taking shape and which is buttress by the Building Performance Institute (BPI), a national credentialing and training organization. Indeed, I believe two things, one, this is setting a new benchmark for the professional assessing of the home remodeling industry. Two, brand recognition will be an important criteria in selecting a home improvement company. The companies that recognize this and make the necessary positioning adjustment will be the winners.

All in all, these new rules that are required to operate a professional home performance improvement entity will no doubt usher in a change in the way the home remodeling industry operates generally.

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