California Coast RV Road Trip

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Going to Orlando and its Parks

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Helsinki City Guide

Helsinki, recently awarded as ‘City of Design’ by UNESCO, is the capital of Finland. Unlike the Nordic winter, the temperature of this city is quite livable, and life continues throughout the year. It has four seasons, and the temperatures vary from 32 degrees in the summer and about -20 degrees in the winter. With the More »

Tag Archives: business travel

Gideons spread the word one Bible at a time

Ever met a Gideon? Know anything about their core beliefs? Their religious ambitions? Their impact?

In a world virtually awash with often in-your-face religious groups intent on showing the weary the way, Gideons stand out for being the only ones sung about by The Beatles in “Rocky Raccoon” who still somehow remain divinely unsung.

“Most people are not aware of who we are or what we do, and I think people would be surprised to learn the global impact of the Gideons on behalf of the Lord,” said Jim Seluta, a former Eastman-Kodak traveling salesman who in 1977 became a Christian and a Gideon because of a Bible he’d overlooked hundreds of times.

“That Gideon Bible in the drawer at the Sheraton Inn in Sturbridge, Mass., room 312, saved my life.”

The Gideons are likely the most influential religious movement that is based not in a soaring house of worship but in a former tire manufacturing headquarters.

Bibles, not blimps

Since their founding by Christian traveling businessmen in 1899, Gideons have distributed more than 1.6 billion Bibles to 193 countries in more than 90 languages.

And they’re just getting started.

“We’ll likely reach the 2 billion mark within the next few years,” said Gideon International spokesman Woody Murray, from the old Bridgestone-Firestone headquarters in Nashville, Tenn., the organization has occupied since 2003 (tours available).

Each Bible costs the Gideons about $5.

Operating purely on donations, with no advertising or vast Internet outreach — there’s no Gideon blimp — the Gideon way works precisely because Gideons ignore a golden rule of sound business practices.

“Most marketers are seeking a return on investment that’s far higher than what the Gideons accept,” said Seth Godin, a marketing expert and author of 13 bestselling books. “They are using a different sort of balance sheet, so they can overspend and be delighted with a .1 percent ‘conversion’ rate, if you’ll excuse my use of the word ‘conversion’ in this case.”


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The Gideons make no bones that their idea of conversion rates differ vastly from that of a typical accountant.

Bibles and pocket-sized New Testaments are given away to hotels, motels, prisons and hospitals at a rate of 2.5 every second of every day — 1.5 million per week — with the hope that souls are bound to be saved.

‘Take the Bible, not the towels’

They are spiritual staples of nearly every hotel room and the only item guests are invited to steal.

“We don’t mind that at all,” said Murray. “Our statistics show one-quarter of all travelers will read the Bible in the hotel rooms and each Bible has the potential to reach 2,300 people over its six-year life expectancy.”

So Bible theft isn’t a sin?

“Not at all,” Murray said. “We often get notes in the mail with a contribution from someone saying, ‘Sorry, I took the Bible, but it saved my life.’ Take the Bible, not the towels.”

They’ll be replaced. Take the Greenbrier, a luxury resort in White Sulphur Springs, W.Va. “The Greenbrier has Gideon Bibles in every room and keeps a stack handy to replace the 25 to 50 each year that are removed by guests,” said resort spokesperson Lynn Swann.

Gideons, more than 200,000 worldwide with 100,000 auxiliary members (wives and widows), are a multi-denominational organization of Christian believers who must be personally recommended by pastors and who, because of their devotion and faith in Scripture, are deemed worthy.

Founding Gideons — the name pays tribute to the resolute Israelite warrior in the Book of Judges — concluded the most effective way to save souls in those pre-TV days was to put free Bibles where captive audiences might be ready to read.

“This is a lay organization that thrives without ever having had a charismatic leader courting public opinion,” said Mark Noll, a professor of American religious studies at Notre Dame University. “Gideons aren’t flamboyant. They aren’t controversial. You don’t know their positions regarding hot button issues. They are content to let the Bible be the face and voice of the organization.”

Changing lives

Once in the drawer, a Gideon Bible can be ignored by a thousand distracted travelers before it is picked up by just one who will use it to inspire millions.

Mary Kay Beard was on the FBI’s Most Wanted List in 1972 for a multi-state bank heist spree. She credits a Gideon Bible she read in prison for inspiring her to found the Angel Tree organization serving the children and families of inmates in all 50 states and in 45 countries.

Each day brings riveting new tales of redemption from people who entered hotel rooms with intentions of sin or suicide and found solace in a Gideon Bible, Murray said.

“The stories are so moving,” he said. “It’s a constant stream of people who were at the end of their rope and considering suicide when they decided to pick up the Bible.”

Flight canceled? Tricks to get on another plane



US airport body scanners to nix naked image

U.S. travelers frustrated with airport security may see a little relief later this year with the launch of a trusted traveler pilot program, the head of the Transportation Security Administration said Wednesday.



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TSA has been under pressure to improve the security screening process and create a program for those business and frequent fliers willing to undergo prior security background screenings so they can speed through airport checkpoints.

“We’re working with airlines, U.S. carriers initially, to say for those who are willing to share information about themselves, what can we gain from that that would help us make informed judgments” about passenger security, TSA Administrator John Pistole told the Senate Homeland Security Committee.

“We hope to … trial that starting this fall in select airports and (with the) airlines,” he said, adding that he hoped for significant changes next year. “It’s a complex issue and so I want to basically underpromise and overdeliver.”

While there have been some attempts at trusted traveler programs in the past, they have never advanced. But with the introduction of full-body scanners and physical patdowns, pressure has built up again for reviving such programs.

The U.S. Travel Association, which represents the hotel industry, online travel sites and car rental industry, is eager for Americans to travel more and earlier this year launched a campaign to press Congress to create such a program.

Separately, with continuing complaints about screening at U.S. airports which include full-body scanners and physical patdowns of passengers, including young children, Pistole said they are trying once again to address the concerns about kids.

TSA was confronted recently by another uproar when a six-year-old girl was subjected to a physical patdown after she went through a full-body scanner, raising questions about whether children pose a security risk.

Pistole said the child moved during the scan, prompting the patdown, but that TSA has once again changed its policy for such scenarios and that he plans to unveil more changes soon. But he noted that militants have used children in attacks before.

“We have changed the policy to say that there will be repeated efforts to resolve that without a patdown,” Pistole said. “I will be announcing something in the not-too-distant future about a change in policy as it relates to children.”

Copyright 2011 Thomson Reuters. Click for restrictions.

The real reason airlines use zone boarding

By Gus Lubin, Business Insider

If you’ve ever flown coach, then you know the feeling of standing in a mob of Zone 4 ticket holders while the flight attendant repeats for the tenth time: “Now boarding all passengers in Zone 1.”

One assumes it would be faster to board the passengers who are waiting at the gate, rather than wait for the last remaining Zone 1 passenger to return from Starbucks.

And it really is faster to board randomly — 5 to 10 percent faster according to American Airlines. The results of an in-house study were cited earlier this summer when American abandoned the standard back-to-front seating protocol in favor of random seating for coach passengers. Of course first class and priority passengers still get to board first.

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What is your biggest pet peeve when getting on a plane?

So why do most airlines insist on the zone boarding system?

Apparently because the random method involves more work for flight attendants, who must prepare the plane for takeoff faster and begin seating sooner.

The Assn. of Professional Flight Attendants disagrees [with the American Airline study]. It contends the process has created “complete chaos” among passengers, forcing attendants to spend more time preparing the plane for takeoff. The attendants are irked, it says, because they are not paid for the extra time needed to load the plane.

“We understand it needs to be tweaked a little,” said Jeff Pharr, a spokesman for the flight attendants union.

So, basically, there’s still disagreement about which is the fastest way to board, depending on who you’re talking to.

Airlines also don’t like “random” boarding because it doesn’t butter up their best customers — the members of their frequent-flyer plans.

More from Business Insider

American Airlines in talks for 250 new planes

American Airlines is in talks with aircraft manufacturers Airbus and Boeing Co. to purchase at least 250 aircraft in a deal valued at about $15 billion, The Wall Street Journal said.

The report published Wednesday cites unnamed persons familiar with the matter who say American seeks to replace its entire domestic fleet.

Such a transaction would represent a potential windfall for the rival aircraft makers and a bold step by American Airline parent company AMR Corp. to lift the airline’s fortunes.

The Journal report says American worked out a tentative agreement with Airbus several weeks ago without telling Boeing, then approached Boeing and asked it to make a counter offer.

American and Boeing declined to comment. Calls to Airbus were not returned.

American is based in Fort Worth, Texas.

Copyright 2011 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.