The Return of the Travel Agent

We needed to take a trip for some business, and decided to try out a few of the big-name travel agencies you’ve probably see on TV… Needless to say, it didn’t go as smoothly as they make it sound in their flashy ads.

Complicated websites with overwhelming options. Every company claiming to have the best deals. Hidden fees cropping up when you least expect it. Advertisements trying to distract you at every turn. Planning a trip is never easy. But using DIY travel booking sites like Travelocity.com and airline sites like Delta.com have shown us exactly how much work goes into finding the absolute best itinerary.

We eventually gave up trying to book our own trip, and went with a great travel agency out of Austin called Departure Lounge – they provided services that no website could ever offer – including Wine and Coffee, delicious snacks, and customized service to help us get exactly what we needed, and well under our budget.

What we, and many people, are finding out is that we still need travel agents. Rather than making it easier, these travel sites have made itinerary planning even more difficult than ever before, and people are starting to go back to the travel agent to solve this problem. Once thought by industry experts to be obsolete, travel agents have been making a comeback recently; below are some of the reasons for this unexpected shift in the travel industry.

 

Online travel sites have become too confusing

One of the goals of travel booking sites is to bring all of your options into one place. But it seems like they just became too big. One can spend hours and hours on a single site, clicking through hundreds of links trying to find the most affordable and least time-consuming travel options. It doesn’t help that many people find the navigation of these sites to be confusing. In all this confusion, how does someone know which options to settle with?

Travel Agents are the solution, as people are realizing that they don’t understant the options available to them and need to talk to someone who can do the searching for them and guide them through their best options. A travel agent is an experienced professional who can make sense of the information overload that is travel booking and can explain travelers’ best options to them. Travel booking sites present too many options to make sense of; it’s a travel agent’s job to sift through these and find the best ones for their clients.

The explosion of restrictions and fees

Another way travel has become more confusing in recent years is hidden fees. To most travelers, many of these aren’t obvious at all, as they’re nestled into the fine print or not even made clear. These fees crop up at every step of the travel booking process and from all kinds of sources, and this can make it very difficult to find out exactly how much an itinerary total expenses will be.

A travel agent can determine exactly how much an itinerary will cost and be clear and up front about the bottom line with the client. There are no hidden fees when dealing with a travel agent and, pPerhaps even more importantly, they’ll make sure to find the lowest rates possible with the fewest tacked-on fees.

The absence of popular airlines from major booking engines

For all the options travel booking sites offer, they’ll never be 100% thorough. There are always options left out, and sometimes the things they leave out are huge. Most glaring in recent years is the absence of the juggernaut Southwest Airlines from the most major online booking engines. Leaving out such a major airline eliminates a huge number of itinerary options, and any option left out could possibly be leaving out a specific traveler’s best, most cost-efficient itinerary.

A travel agent will be able to be more thorough than a booking site, doing their best to search through every option possible to find the best one for a specific client. And they’ll only present the best options to the client rather than throwing everything at you all at once.

The big online travel sites got too smart for their own good

The last reason online booking engines have revived the travel agent is, ironically, that the sites have become too much like travel agents. They’ve tried too hard to become smarter and do the same things travel agents used to do. They make assumptions about users with their algorithms and try to clean up and filter their overwhelming database to offer the best options to what it thinks the user needs. Just like Social media sites like Facebook and entertainment services like YouTube, travel booking sites show us not what we need to see, but what they think we want to see.

The problem here is that a website can never replace an actual travel agent. By offering the same services, online travel sites have put themselves in direct competition with travel agents—only travel agents do the job much better.

By filtering results, travel sites risk leaving out options that are actually better for the user. There’s only so much a site can learn about someone by running their online clicking behavior through algorithms. An actual travel agent can truly understand a client and make the best choice regarding what’s best for them.

Conclusion

Booking sites do have their place. Travel agents say they have value in booking short and simple trips. But when it comes to more complex itineraries, nothing can replace the expertise of a professional. Even online travel sites agree that an actual agent is important in booking complex trips, and now people are starting to re-think what they use these sites for and what’s better left to the professionals.

Water Filter Types 

If you’re like most people, then you probably have some type of water filter in your home, whether it’s a cartridge in a pitcher or a nozzle on a sink.. You’ve also probably heard that the water running through the pipes of most homes is hard, and that your water filter is softening this hard water to make it taste better. The truth is, however, water filtration is not the same thing as water softening, and there are many different types of water filtration methods that take different things out of the water.

The differences between all these types can be complicated and sometimes confusing. This guide aims to explain the different types of water filters in a simple way to clearly lay out the purpose and uses of each type. Knowing this will help you figure out whether you need a water softener or filter, and what kind of filter you need.

Carbon Absorption

The first type of water filter we’ll go over are carbon absorption filters. These are the most common kind sold in stores; the little black dots in the filter cartridges are small pieces of carbon that chemically bond with some of the contaminants in water to remove them. These filters are good for removing dangerous pollutants like asbestos, lead, and mercury, and also bad tasting chemicals like chlorine. Surprisingly, however, they can’t really remove inorganic compounds like arsenic and fluoride.

Carbon filters come in 2 basic types. There are carbon block filters that use a large block of carbon that’s been shaped under high pressure. The water flows through this block, and the carbon removes contaminants. More effective, however, are granulated carbon filters. These work in the same way, but are usually more effective because of the higher surface area of small grains as opposed to one large block.

Here’s a video of a Counter Top Carbon Water Filter so you can see it in action:

 

Micro-porous Filtration

These are very simple and rudimentary filters that work by passing water through a material with very fine holes such as ceramic. They block solid contaminants like sediments, but chemical impurities make it through; because of this, they’re best used for filtering dirty or muddy water and won’t do much to the water coming out of most pipes

There are three types of these filters called depth, screen, and surface filters. Each serve a different function, but they are all commonly used as pre-filters because they are economical ways to remove almost all of the suspended solids in water.

Reverse Osmosis

These filters act as a compliment to carbon filters. They can remove most of the chemicals left behind by carbon filters such as arsenic and fluoride, and they’re often paired up with carbon filters because they both remove what the other leaves behind. A filter setup like this can be extremely effective if both the reverse osmosis and the carbon filters are high quality.

Reverse Osmosis filters work by pushing water at high pressure through a semi-permeable membrane. This means that the membrane lets some chemicals through, but blocks others. Because of this, however, they should only be used for drinking and cooking water, as they take in a lot more water than they produce.

Water Softening

Water softeners, unlike most drinking water filters, aren’t designed to make water taste better. This is because they’re designed to remove the minerals that make water hard (calcium and magnesium), and these minerals are also what gives water good flavor. They work using an ion exchange process that actually makes water taste salty. The minerals they remove, however, can build up and clog plumbing fixtures, so water softeners are typically used for industrial purposes and not necessarily for drinking and household use.

There are, however, more sophisticated water softeners that can remove the hard water minerals without making the water taste salty. Contractors can install more advanced equipment like this for homes and businesses; Clear Water of San Marcos is a good local company that can set you up with saltless water systems. They even offers several add-ons depending on the filtration jobs you need.

Conclusion

Those are just a few of the most common filter types. There are many more out there, and it’s important to know the differences between them because each one serves a different purpose, and knowing this information can help you make a more informed decision.

Relocating Digital Rebel’s Headquarters

At Digital Rebel, we’ve been working hard behind the scenes to bring you some awesome content.  As we’ve expanded to get all this content ready for you, we’ve realized that we needed more space, so we moved our location!  We thought the move was going to be extremely stressful, so we did research and found some great tips.  We’ve compiled that info and have added in some of the stuff we learned during the move into the cheat-sheet below – if you’re going to be moving anywhere, we hope you’ll find this guide useful!

For those of you who are curious, we recently made the move to the Dallas-Fort Worth (DFW) area – and we are loving it!  If you live in the area, we’d love to catch up with you =)  Without further ado:

Moving Company DFW - Dallas and Fort Worth

Some Insights on Choosing the Ideal Company

Choose the kind of mover you require, such as a moving solution, interstate moving company, neighborhood movers, or home shipper.

Talk with your close friends or neighbors that have relocated lately for referrals. A word of mouth reference is the ideal way to be assured the movers will certainly do excellent work.

Ask potential agents for recommendations, and also give them a call to find out exactly how pleased their clients are with past moves (testimonials are a great resource).

Obtain written price quotes from at least 3 movers prior to making a decision.

Moving can be on the expensive side, so in order to decrease the hourly charges for a short-distance move, you may wish to attempt to do as much of the packing yourself that you can. Do keep in mind that movers generally won’t insure boxes that you’ve packed yourself, though.

Think about if you would prefer the moving company to pack and exactly what other extra services you could need.

Notify the moving company of uncommon circumstances, such as accessibility or vehicle parking issues so they can give you the most accurate quote possible. If the moving company does not understand possible troubles ahead of time, surcharges might be added on. Confirm that the agent is accredited. You can make inquiries from agencies that regulate transportation, or search online for things like the Division of Transport (DOT).

Spend time talking with each moving firm. It’s an excellent indicator that they will offer outstanding solutions if they take the time to understand your moving needs. If the business representatives aren’t useful and pleasant, call another company.

Things to Steer Away From while Picking a Moving Company

Phone Estimates – Do not accept them. Moving is a complex task with tons of variables, and it’s impossible to give an accurate quote without seeing the locations as well as the things that are going to be moved.

Don’t Pack Items You’re Going to Get Rid of Anyway – Throw away things you are probably going discard anyway. If you take these with you, it will increase the costs of the move.

Avoid Brokers – If you are trying to find moving companies on the web, don’t use brokers. Once you sign with a broker, they market the work to the highest bidder; that’s the last you’ll hear of them. With a broker, you won’t know what company is going to appear on moving day, which is unsettling. You might get stuck with a mover with terrible reviews and service.

Do not permit a moving company bait you with reduced per hour rates. You’re spending money for your possessions to be delivered carefully and properly. Keep in mind that you usually get what you pay for.  We almost went with a really cheap mover, but we checked their reviews and saw that they were pretty careless with people’s possessions.

Concerns to Address with Prospective Movers

Make sure you obtain the answers to these inquiries before you settle on the best mover.

  • What is the estimated shipping time and date?
  • How will the driver communicate with me?
  • If I pack everything myself, what kind of packing products are appropriate?
  • How can I pay? Cash, charge cards, checks, money orders?
  • When do I pay?
  • Will they take everything apart as well as rebuild at the destination?
  • If I have acquired obligation insurance and I should make a claim, just what is the procedure?
  • How long has your moving been in business?
  • Do you offer storage solutions?
  • Are you authorized for interstate transportation? (If required)

Crucial Paperwork for the Move

  • Be certain you have all of these documents filled out prior to moving day.
  • A certificate to show proof of the moving insurance policy.
  • A written quote/estimate.
  • Evidence of employees compensation coverage, to protect you if someone gets hurt during the move.
  • A thorough item inventory. You will sign an inventory sheet upon loading the truck up. When the shipment reaches your brand-new residence, the moving truck driver will again present the inventory sheet to you for you to sign.

Moving to a new home can be a taxing experience, but rest easy knowing that you aren’t the first person to move. Follow the helpful tips above and you should have a great move!

A New Digital Rebel, a New Brand Identity

As the new owners of DigitalRebel.net, we would like to welcome you to our new site!  Please excuse our mess as the site is very much under construction, but you should find tons of awesome resources here soon!  Please keep checking back, participate in the comments sections, shoot us emails, and subscribe to our weekly e-zine!  To start off the launch of the new site, we’re going to be holding a logo design competition.  Right now our staff is walking around with boring old Polos and button-downs on, but we want to get some shirts embroidered, get our new signs and banners made, and start establishing our identity/brand.

So, while we work out what we’re going to give away for the logo competition, you can read more about how we’re going to monogram our new polos… exciting stuff!

According to the Merriam-Webster Dictionary, monogramming is defined as “a symbol that has the first letters of a person’s first, middle, and last names and that is put on towels, blankets, clothes, etc. as a decoration or to show ownership.” Historically, Greeks and Romans used monogramming for identification purposes of their rulers. Monogramming is also commonly used by artists and designers as a means to identify their brand. Presently, monogramming still plays a crucial role for businesses and individuals. It’s important for businesses as it can be a vehicle for advertising and spirit. Additionally, it provides individuals with luxury.  We’ve decided to go with RiverCity Sportswear (http://welogoit.com/embroidery-austin-san-antonio-and-san-marcos) to have our embroidery work done, and we’re quite excited!

Advertising is the deciding factor to the success of a business. And it’s costly. In order for a business to grow it’s important to have diverse strategies for getting their name out to possible customers. Monogramming is a beneficial way to do this. They are able to monogram their products and they can also monogram promotional items. Both will effectively promote their business. Products that are monogrammed act as a billboard for businesses. Using Louis Vuitton as an example, owners of big-name brand products are continually advertising the richness, usefulness, and functionality of their products. Famous monograms are unmistakable. Similarly, monogramming giveaways is another brilliant way to get a business’s name circulating. This can be achieved on t-shirts, backpacks, or even reusable bags. 

Monogramming allows loyal customers and fans the ability to use, or wear, their products with pride. “Loyal customers, they don’t just come back, they don’t simply recommend you, they insist that their friends do business with you,” states Chip Bell. Sports fans everywhere look for monogrammed items to show their spirit for their team. They are proud and will pay top dollar to display this. Likewise, monogram products like Michael Kors offer their loyal customers the same opportunity. Monogramming is essential for offering items that provide loyal customers and fans the opportunity to promote the spirit they have.

As with the above examples of luxury designers monogramming their products, monogramming is luxurious. Monogrammed towels, bathrobes, blankets, and soaps in the home can make an individual feel classy. Monogramming is a distinguished form of identity. Displaying these items can add a royal touch to any wardrobe or home. They can also be the perfect posh gift that will make the recipient feel special. Giving a monogrammed gift will be personalized, showing thoughtfulness from the giver.

In conclusion, monogramming is the world’s oldest form of imprint. It still provides numerous benefits today. Businesses can use monogramming for their products and promotional items as a vehicle for advertising. It allows the loyal fan the ability to wear their team’s logo with pride. Monogramming offers individuals the ability to add touches of class to their homes. They can also use monogramming on their wardrobe to establish identity. Who knew that stitching letters, one, two, or the traditional three, would become a timeless art? As Glenn O’Brian stated, “A Monogram is your name boiled down the essence, with graphic artistry.”