Last-Minute Hotel Deals Will Make a Procrastinator Out of You

Last-minute hotel deals were once looked at as being able to get what you could at a price higher than you really wanted to pay. In other words, the idea of a ‘deal’ was relative and was non-existent. Sure, there were times you could score some cheap travel lodging, but it was rare & had a slew of hidden issues attached.

Nowadays, the notion of planning ahead for any type of travel seems almost crazy. What’s more, this applies to travel in-state, state-to-state-, and even international travel. No longer are borders problematic, and considering how finicky lodging can be for some travelers, this is especially welcome & also perplexing.

How is the ease of making last-minute hotel plans possible? One word – Internet. The fact remains that the Internet has revolutionized the travel industry, and you are in the driver’s seat for the entire travel booking process. Never in the history of the world has it been easier to be so involved in all facets of travel, and the truly mesmerizing thing that it just keeps getting better.

Websites all over the world for everything from the most basic motor lodge to the best five-star hotel offer user-friendly websites that allow customers the chance to even be able to see what rooms may be available. Some offer live chats with prospective travelers, and even more profound are the hotels that offer a 360° view of available rooms so that when you book, you know exactly what you’ll be seeing when you arrive. The advancement of technology is just astounding.

21st century technology has now spawned the dawn of the mobile app, which connects prospective hotel visitors to the entire world by way of a little application. On these apps, you can explore rooms, reviews, prices, and even proximity to locals attractions. Even more crucial is that these apps often have four to five-star ratings for their accuracy & ease of use, essentially silencing the critics who believe that such ‘flash-in-the-pan’ tech is limited.

A last-minute hotel room is made even easier because there is so much competition between competing hotels for your business, you can almost list your own terms, including price. There was a time when you were stuck with one option for a hotel stay, and since everyone was vying for the same rooms (i.e., Spring Break, Memorial Day/Labor weekends), you really had to plan far in advance to make sure you had somewhere to stay. While this may still be the case in more rural areas, more often than not, you really have a tremendous amount of choice when it comes to the hotel you want with the type of room you want, and you can wait until even the same day to book.

As a final note, though, travel experts do advise travelers to use common sense when booking their lodging & urge them to understand that waiting too long for last-minute hotel deals can result in having no lodging available all together, so be mindful of your plans & book accordingly.

Is Your Hotel Ready for the Millennial Traveler?

Before I continue, let’s first make sure we’re on the same page about who were referring to when we use the expression ‘millennial traveller’.

Millennials, also more commonly referred to as Generation Y or Generation Next, are people who were born between the early 1980s and early 2000s. They make up about 20% of international travellers and it is estimated that by 2020, they will account for more than 320 million international trips.

Phew. Those are some staggering numbers right there! It’s no wonder that hotels are wooing them with everything they have. But for all the effort they’re making, do hotels really have what Millennials want? Do they even know what Millennials are looking for?

If you’re not quite sure, let me drop a few hints your way

Hint No.1: Technology is their life force

Technology is to Millennials what water is to fish – life itself. The perks that most of us consider good to have – Internet, Wi-fi, hi-speed mobile data – are essential to their way of living.

What this means for hotels

According to a report, almost 71% of Millennial travelers considered free Wi-fi an important factor when choosing a hotel. So hotels, pull up your socks and put the technology in place for them. Or they’re likely to walk up to your competitor and book a room with them.

Hint No.2: Millennials love their smartphones

‘Technology at your fingertips’ is an expression that’s taken very seriously by the Millennials. He is likely to go for hours without food and water, but not without checking his smartphone. He works, plays, chats, networks, writes emails, watches videos, and stays up to date on news using his phone. Other more complicated actions like booking tickets, making hotel arrangements, and paying bills can also be competently handled by his handset.

What this means for hotels

It’s absolutely imperative that hotels invest in superior mobile technology, starting with a website that adapts to different screen sizes and resolutions. With more than half of millennial travelers using mobile devices to discover and book hotels, the hospitality industry is paying a heavy price for not investing in a mobile responsive website. You might also want to consider getting an app for your hotel, to facilitate functions like mobile check in, check out, payments, and en-cashing loyalty points.

Hint No.3: Millennials are ‘social’ creatures

Generation Y is often criticized for shirking the forms of social interaction that their parents were fond of. They’re considered aloof, standoffish, and a little bit asocial. But the truth is that Millennials do tend to connect to each other, just not in ways that are familiar to us. The online world, especially social media, takes precedence in their social life. Facebook, Twitter, What’sApp, GChat, and Snapchat is where they hang out, check in, upload pictures, start conversations, and share details of their life.

What this means for hotels

Given that social media is one of the biggest influencing factors in the life of a Millennial, hotels must make a concerted effort to have a presence on various platforms. In fact, they must go beyond the token Facebook and Instagram page and build a community online. Reach out to your audience, engage them, solve their problems, and invite them to leave reviews. An active social media profile inspires confidence among Millennials and is likely to win you brownie points in the long run.

Hint No.4: Millennials place great faith in peer reviews

Generation Y is a suspicious lot and they can recognize a marketing gimmick from a mile away. For this reason, they rely heavily on ‘peer review’ to gather information about a place. Whether they’re buying a new gadget or trying out a restaurant in the neighborhood, you’ll see them pouring over reviews before deciding to do anything. They consider it a more authentic and ‘real’ source of information. And you can be 100 per cent sure that they’ll be reading up about your hotel before deciding to stay there.

What this means for hotels

Do not try to patronize or trick the Millennial traveller. All your online properties (website, blog, social media profiles) should display accurate information, accompanied by up-to-date pictures. If you’re offering a deal or discount, lay out the terms in black and white. Encourage your visitors to leave you a review on platforms like Trip-advisor or your Facebook page; incentivize the process, if you have to. Should you receive a negative review, take steps to address it and resolve the situation.

Millennials don’t expect you to be flawless. However, they do expect you to be transparent and sincere. Mistakes are an inevitable part of your industry and if you’ve taken every possible step to rectify the problem, you will be forgiven. Otherwise, you’ll find yourself at the receiving end of a nasty review posted for the entire world to see.

Hint No.5: Millennials are into Bleisure

Generation Y is relatively unencumbered by responsibilities at home and are more open to taking business trips. However, unlike the previous generation, almost 62% of millennial travelers will extend their business vacation to explore the place and gain cultural experiences.

What this means for hotels

Gone are the days when that solitary desk in the hotel room took care of any ‘business needs’ that travelers had. Millennials do not like working inside their rooms. This is the generation that steps out to a coffee shop to sit with their laptops and work for hours. The concept of the ‘third space’, independent of home and office, has been popularized by them. Design hotel lobbies to cater to this demand, so that when they step out in search for a place to work, they don’t have to go very far.

Hint No.6: Millennials look for authentic experiences

Despite what might look like their preoccupation with the cyber world, Millennials are always looking for unique and meaningful travel experiences. They want their stay personalized and won’t pass up an opportunity to learn something valuable. Not content with hitting the high spots of a tourist destination, they crave interaction with locals and enjoy immersing themselves in a variety of cultural experiences.

What this means for hotels

Reject the cookie cutter approach to the services you offer your guests. Offer them a genuine travel experience, one that is immersive, interactive and hands on. Don’t just take them on a regular sightseeing tour that showcases the city from behind the panes of a bus or car window. Take them to meet local artisans, show them the way to the hip and happening underground bar, and expose them to interesting customs and traditions. That’s the only way to add true value to their life and create an experience they will cherish for life.

There’s no denying that Millennials are driving the hospitality industry with full force. They already account for a third of the hotel guests in the world, and by 2020, the figure is expected to climb to 50 per cent.

To keep pace with growing demands, hotels must show a willingness to evolve and reinvent themselves. They have to put aside traditional methods of functioning, revisit their marketing strategy, and curate unique experiences for Generation Y.

Besides, it is in their best interest that hotels up their game. By updating their offers, hotels stay relevant within the industry and equipped to deal with the demands of changing times. Millennial travelers are the cash cow that every industry dreams of, and by catering to them, hotels are ensuring themselves a solid revenue stream for the next few decades, at least.

WhatsApp, iMessage, and Snapchat Attacked Because of Their Encryption

You can not realistically ban encryption. Encryption is used to protect communication through electronic devices; it protects your bank information and online accounts. This is cryptography, it is used in hundreds of systems. We have politicians speaking about banning these technologies. How can this be? British Prime minister David Cameron has raised a red flag on encrypted messaging apps like WhatsApp, iMessage, and Snapchat. He has called for the banning of these apps; implying that they are being used by criminal organizations and terrorists to communicate.

“In our country, do we want to allow a means of communication between people which we cannot read?”, rhetorically said by the Prime Minister

With this sort of logic I am going to go as far as to say; we should leave our houses and cars unlocked; and valuables left unguarded in public spaces because surely it would be much simpler to catch thieves and put them in prison.

Security is not just for what the social norm calls the “good guys”. It is a two way street. I would rather have peace of mind that my data is being protected so well; to the point that Government officials can not tap into it. Think about the various ways this could go wrong. Imagine corrupt politicians with access to data or just consider that lightening up on security measures, will make it easier for the average hacker to gain access.

Computer scientists have spoken out on the futility of weakening encryption; so only Government officials have access.This same weaknesses can be exploited by malicious hackers. This view is held by many computer experts actively in the field.

A few months back a ban was called on WhatsApp in the UK; it has recently been dropped because of mass criticism. But this can of worms has not been closed just yet. This has just pushed the issue to other parts of the world; where they can theoretically gain some traction and spread. India has a ban on certain types of encryption. WhatsApp uses end to end encryption; which is illegal in India. WhatsApp uses a 256bit encryption which is only known by the sender and the receiver. India only allows 40bit encryption if you want to have permission you need to apply through the Government. The Indian Government has asked for the keys to be able to gain access; but WhatsApp creators have said they do not have them. So all user using the latest version of WhatsApp in India are technically breaking the law. No actions have been decided on what to do with the company; they are not based in India making things complicated. Recently Brazilian authorities have been reported to have been reported to be collecting WhatsApp data with the hopes of fighting drug tracking. WhatsApp has been cooperating with law enforcement; but have gone on to say that they cannot provide the full extent of what they want. We are just uncovering what’s on the surface; do some research on what your local Government and even internet service providers are doing; and what data they are doing with this data.

Slot Machines – Where We Were, Where We Are, and Where We’re Going

Where We Were

Charles Fey invented the slot machine in the 1890′s. He probably never envisioned that his creation called the “Liberty Bell” would evolve into the most popular form of casino gambling today.

The slot evolution however had a lot of growing pains as many in the United States viewed gambling as a social ill. By 1910 all legal gambling activity was shut down,which left horse racing as the only legal entity in America.

During the 1920′s prohibition era, the public’s thirst for gambling matched that of booze. Slot machines along with alcohol were found in “Speak Easy’s” throughout America, many of them controlled by Organized Crime. After prohibition ended underground casinos remained active.

States began to crack down on illegal casinos and began to seize and destroy gambling equipment, including slot machines. Mayor LaGuardia of New York City called them “mechanical pick pockets”, destroyed them with a sledge hammer, and dumped them into Long Island Sound. (You can watch the action on YouTube.)

In 1931 Nevada legalized gambling. Slot machines populated the floor in the states’ casinos but were there only to amuse the wives and mistresses playing their pennies and nickles while the men did all the heavy gambling at the tables. (A portrayal of this is depicted in the 1952 movie, “The Las Vegas Story” with Vincent Price, Victor Mature, and Jane Russel.) Slots remained a “ladies” game until Atlantic City legalized gambling in 1978.

Bally Manufacturing invented a unit powered by electricity and slots began to “light up” and produce various sound effects. When multi-coin acceptors were introduced, new dollar machines meant larger jackpots for customers. When the Random Number Generator was invented top prize amounts could be increased on four and five reel versions. A spin button became an alternative to the handle.

The Indian Gaming Act was approved in the 1980′s which allowed casinos on reservation land and newly legislated dockside riverboat gambling attracted new slot players while racetracks added the one arm bandits..

IGT launched Megabucks in 1986 and slots were now linked across Nevada by phone lines offering a giant lottery size jackpot that grew with each coin wagered. The Progressive Jackpot was born and players could now become millionaires. Players began abandoning the table games, flocked to the machines and casinos took notice.

Where We Are

The proliferation of slots paved the way for new inventions. A video slot with 25 lines, up to a bet of 10 credits per line allowed for a ticket in, ticket out, (TITO) system. The coins and the handles followed the dinosaurs.. Operators could now lower the denominations to as little as a penny and still turn a profit.

In the new century slot makers were quick to promote the themed slot, units based on popular movies, TV shows and entertainers. Players could now spin the Wheel of Fortune, giggle at Curley, Larry, and Moe, take a ride with Captain Kirk, or croon over Ol’ Blue eyes. All the games have video clips from favorite shows.

The themed slots have evolved to 5 video reels with up to 40 lines. Chairs have comfortable high backs, and some even vibrate when certain bonus features are hit. Touch screens have the latest LCD technology, 3D graphics and Bose sound systems as they continue to evolve. Depending on the game theme, players can wager as little as one penny(credit) per line up to $2, $3, and $4 maximums. Bonus features offer generous payouts while progressive jackpots climb to six and seven figures.

Newer games saw the introduction of CSI, Sex and the City, Iron man, Michael Jackson, David Copperfield, The Walking Dead, Back to the Future, Jurassic Park, Wonder Woman, Ellen, Let’s Make a Deal, the Godfather, Monopoly, and The list goes on and on.

Where We’re Going

The themed slot will no doubt continue to grow. However there’s a huge segment of casino patrons looking for something different. They are the Millennials.Born in the early 1980′s to the late 1990′s who grew up playing video games. Casinos took notice that this generation didn’t care to sit in front of a machine that did all the work for them in order to win. They want to be involved to make it happen. This led to the introduction of Games of Skill at the 2016 Global Gaming Expo in Las Vegas.

Two companies, GameCo and Gamblit Gaming introduced their wares at the expo and by all accounts, things look very promising. Other companies, Konami and Scientific Games are creating their own versions to attract the Gen Y’s. Other companies will soon follow.

Some of the games are based on poker where a limited number of players use their skill to grab the cards they need. In another game players have to collect rare treasures in Pharaoh’s Secret Temple before time is up.