Multi Business

Any business (and affiliates and marketers) that engages in interstate commerce will be subject to federal laws. Interstate marketing and advertising practices are regulated by the Federal Trade Commission (“FTC”) under the FTC Act. Services and goods offered through the Internet are considered to be a “use in commerce” since the services are available to a national or global audience. The FTC regulates Internet advertising, marketing activities and sales to consumers as the watchdog agency. The same consumer protection laws that apply to commercial activities in other media apply to the Internet. Under Section 5 of the FTC Act, illegal advertising practices are categorized as either an unfair method of competition or an unfair or deceptive act or practice.

Any activity that is likely to cause consumer confusion as to source, sponsorship or affiliation of any good or service is essentially an “unfair” act or practice under the FTC Act. However, the real culprit for interstate businesses, affiliates and other Internet marketers is avoiding advertising claims which are unfair or deceptive. There is no hard definition of what practices are considered “unfair” or “deceptive,” under the FTC Act.

But, in the simplest terms, all advertisements:

must be truthful and not misleading;
must have evidence to back up any claims made in the ad; and
cannot be unfair.

Complying with FTC laws really boils down to a single standard that your advertisements or marketing practices will be judged under. This “standard” is known as ‘materially misleading.’ This is basically the crux of website advertising law and the standard by which all Internet claims and representations are measured to determine whether they are deceptive. Either an ad or claim is materially misleading, or it isn’t deceptive. This standard is defined by a series of guidelines, rules and policy statements published by the FTC. The FTC rules and guidelines illustrate what the FTC believes is illegal under the technical language of the FTC Act.

The principle guidelines on advertising are contained in the FTC’s Policy Statement on Deception. Under the FTC’s Statement, an advertisement or marketing practice is deceptive if there is a representation, omission of information or some other practice that is likely to mislead a reasonable consumer and which is likely to influence or otherwise “affect the consumer’s conduct or decision with regard to a product or service,” to that customer’s detriment.

In terms of Internet advertising, an unfair or deceptive act or trade practice is usually made by publishing a false advertisement. The Act specifically states that using a false advertisement in commerce is unlawful and doing so is also categorized as an unfair or deceptive act or practices. The term false advertisement means an advertisement, other than labeling, which is misleading in a material respect. As you can imagine, flat out lies about your products or services, or those that you promote or endorse, are going to be misleading and illegal. Simply stated, you cannot make any false claims. However, a claim can be misleading in many other ways and this is where most Internet businesses land into trouble.

If you don’t understand the nature of what is considered materially misleading, you could very easily violate FTC laws. You MUST understand all the ways a claim may mislead a consumer and you MUST know what is considered a claim or representation in the first place. This is really the key to understanding FTC laws. For instance, a claim can be literally true, but if it is only true in limited circumstances, or if it is subject to more than one interpretation, one of which is not true, or misleading in its overall effect, it is deceptive. I am going to take you through each element of an advertisement from the FTC’s point of view so you can master this understanding. Again, either you can pay an attorney to look at your specific ads, throw them up blind, or take the time to learn the fundamentals yourself.

A. Overall Context Matters

A claim can be suggested by the overall context of an advertisement. This means a representation or claim can be made or suggested by any “statement, word, design, device, sound, or any combination thereof”. In other words, the FTC won’t just look at the words of an advertisement by itself to determine if it is misleading. Other than the words of the ad, the name of the product, the nature of the product, any visual or audio depictions or symbolism can all provide the context to establish a claim. Even the website name or metatags can provide the context for a claim. The overall experience conveyed by viewing the ad in relation to the rest of the website sets the context for a particular claim.

The U.S. District Court, Third Circuit stated the FTC standard regarding context of an ad clearly. “The tendency of the advertising to deceive must be judged by viewing it as a whole, without emphasizing isolated words or phrases apart from their context.” Beneficial Corp. v. FTC (1976). Using illustrative pictures on your website to demonstrate the effectiveness or results of a product is a common example. Without stating some direct, express claim in words, these pictures would be just as effective in suggesting some claim to your visitors.

EXAMPLE: You operate a website called homesavers.com which offers loan modification and “foreclosure rescue” services. The title of your webpage is labeled as “save home” and your home page contains a picture of a “happy and relieved” couple sitting at a kitchen table looking at their laptop which shows homesavers.com on the screen. The website advertisements include a heading titled “Begin the process of saving your home now” and other claims of “if you act now, we can save your home.” Without any qualifying disclosures, the overall context of the website may imply that consumers can expect to save their homes by using homesavers.com.

B. Express and Implied Claims

If an ad makes either express or implied claims that are likely to be misleading without certain qualifying information, this information must be disclosed. You must determine which claims might need qualification and what information should be provided in a disclosure. The important thing to understand is the fact you can make an implied claim through your advertisement and that you cannot suggest any claim which you are not permitted to make expressly by law. An express claim is an obvious one. For example “This product will stop bullets from penetrating your body in an advertisement for a bullet proof vest. Similarly, the claim “removes every type of stain from your carpet” is an express claim that the advertised product will remove all stains from your carpet.

An implied claim is one made indirectly or by inference and causes the most problems for Internet advertisers.

EXAMPLE: In an ad about the innovative bullet proof vest, it claims the vest is “used by law enforcement officers and professional body guards.” Since the ad claims law officers and security professionals use the vest, it implies they use it to stop bullets. It may also imply reliability to the average consumer.

EXAMPLE: “2 out of 3 mechanics prefer mighty wrench to any other wrench on the market! Besides having to substantiate that 2 out of 3 mechanics prefer mighty wrench, this claim implies that the tool is adept at working on cars. This is an implied claim even though the ad does not expressly state that “mighty wrench” is suitable for cars.

EXAMPLE: In an advertisement for sprinting shoes, your website claims “Joe Sprinter wore these shoes during his Olympic 100 meter Gold medal run.” This implies that the shoes are made for, even particularly well-suited for, sprinting and running fast. This ad implies a particular quality about the shoe.

EXAMPLE: Your website sells household carpet cleaning products. You use an ad promoting your “wonder-clean” carpet cleaner, stating that it “removes the toughest household stains.” Directly below the ad, there are a series of illustrations depicting a dog standing on a carpet next to an obvious wet spot on the carpet and the product then being applied by a woman. Then, that same woman is depicted with a smile on her face and the wet spot has disappeared. The ad suggests that it removes dog stains from your carpet (maybe even common pet stains in general).

EXAMPLE: An ad claiming “experts agree our product beats our competitors hands down” probably implies that there is actual proof that most if not all experts have made such a proclamation.

C. Leaving Out Important Information

A claim can be misleading if relevant and material information is left out. An advertisement cannot leave out facts which are material in light of any claims made or material in light of how the customer will use the product under the conditions stated in the advertisement (or under ordinary conditions). If a claim is only true in limited circumstances or a benefit only applies sometimes, this must be disclosed.

EXAMPLE: In ad for revolutionary new speakers your sell from your discount stereo web store, your website boasts that the speakers “can achieve a 98% efficiency rating.” But, this rating cannot be done with every type of stereo receiver. In fact, a few different models of speakers can achieve the same rating, but only if they are used in conjunction with certain receivers. These are considered “high-end” receivers and are not common. Since the stereo receiver required is uncommon, this should be disclosed.

D. Material Claims

In order for a claim to be materially misleading, the claim or any information left out must be important or significant to the consumer’s choice to purchase the product or service. If the average consumer would not find the claim to have any significant influence on his or her decision to purchase, the claim is not material. The FTC has stated that examples of material claims include representations about health or safety, a product’s performance, features, price, effectiveness or other central characteristics. But, these are not the only types of claims which are material. Information is also likely to be material if it concerns durability, performance, warranties or quality. Information pertaining to a finding by another agency regarding the product may also be material.

The FTC presumes that express claims are material. As the Supreme Court stated recently, “in the absence of factors that would distort the decision to advertise, we may assume that the willingness of a business to promote its products reflects a belief that consumers are interested in the advertising.” Where the seller knew, or should have known, that an ordinary consumer would need any omitted information to evaluate the product or service, or that the claim was false, materiality will be presumed because the advertiser intended the information or omission to have an effect. Similarly, when evidence exists that a seller intended to make an implied claim, the FTC will infer the claim is material. The FTC might also look at other evidence that the claim or omission is likely to be considered important by consumers, such as testimony or customer surveys.

If a claim is material, it also means that injury is likely to exist because of the representation, omission, or practice. Injury to consumers can take many forms according to the FTC and it exists if consumers would have chosen differently but for the deception. If different choices are likely, the claim is material, and injury is likely as well. The statement on deception states that injury and materiality are different names for the same concept.

E. Substantiating Your Claims

Advertisers must have sufficient evidence to support any claims made, or the claims are deceptive. In order to avoid deception, you must have a “reasonable basis” for any factual or objective claims you make in any advertisement. (FTC vs. Pfizer, Inc. (1972)). This is also referred to as the doctrine of “substantiation.” This reasonable basis must be based on objective, credible and reliable evidence. You can use surveys, statistical evidence (studies) and expert opinions to substantiate any claim you make and otherwise prove a claim is true.

If the advertising claim suggests a level of support, it is obvious that the advertiser must have evidence of that support. For example, if a marketer claims that “three out of four customers prefer our brand”, then the marketer must have reliable survey evidence backing this statement up. If an advertiser claims “clinical studies show,” the FTC requires that clinical studies must show what you claim.Where a claim is not specific, the FTC will look at a number of factors in reviewing substantiating evidence to determine whether there is a reasonable basis for the claim including: 1) The type of claim; 2) The product involved; 3) The consequences of a false claim and the benefits of a truthful claim; 4) The cost of developing substantiation and 5) The level of substantiation experts would believe is reasonable.

EXAMPLE: A website that sells energy drinks and related energy products makes clams that its products give its customers energy lasting “all day” or “gets you through your work day.” Those claims need to be true and need to be backed up by an actual clinical study showing that the drink or other products boost energy levels for the duration specified.

The FTC will look at a number of factors to help determine the appropriate amount and type of substantiation necessary, including:

The Type of Product. Health and safety claims are subject to the most scrutiny by the FTC as they pose the most risks to consumers. Also, alcohol and tobacco are particularly put under the microscope along with dietary and herbal supplements, weight loss products and nutrient claims since these are related to health. These types of claims require competent, credible and reliable scientific evidence. I discuss scientific evidence in much more detail under the discussion of substantiating health claims.

The Type of Claim. Technical claims and claims that consumers would have trouble or cannot possibly evaluate themselves are subject to much more scrutiny. For instance, “reduces your energy costs by 30%” “kills germs on contact” or “environment friendly” are claims consumers cannot easily substantiate on their own. As a matter of policy, when consumers can easily evaluate the product or service this has historically attracted less FTC attention than those claims that consumers would have difficulty evaluating directly, such as “e-cigarettes contain none of the harmful ingredients of tobacco cigarettes.” Also, if a product is inexpensive and it is frequently purchased, the FTC will examine the practice closely before issuing a complaint based on deception. According to the FTC’s view, there is little incentive for sellers to misrepresent in these circumstances since they normally would seek to encourage repeat purchases.

General Results Claims

Stating that your products will deliver certain results may also be misleading. You must be able to substantiate any results you claim. If you make any specific claims of product results, you must also disclose that the product will not deliver the same results to everyone and may not even be effective for some purchasers, unless this is absolutely the case. Of course, if you can substantiate that the product would achieve the results claimed in each circumstance of use for all purchasers, you don’t have to worry.

For instance, a website that instructs businesses on how to establish and build a good business credit rating and makes the following claims on its website: “Instantly obtain multiple credit lines” and “establish a top credit rating fast.” How about a website offering SEO services that claims “our customers usually see double the traffic within 2 months.” These are results based claims. If the average client is not likely to achieve these results, you should disclose these facts. Otherwise, these ads may be misleading and thus deceptive.

If your business is offering a new product, then you can’t make a general results claim if no data on the results exists. As burdensome has this seems, the FTC’s comments on the matter of substantiating claims are pretty clear. I get a ton of questions on this issue. Section 5 of the FTC Act requires advertisers to have substantiation for the messages that consumers reasonably take from their ads, which means they must first know what messages consumers take away from those ads.

F. Reasonable Consumer Standard

The FTC will always evaluate any advertisement from the point of view of the “reasonable consumer.” This basically means looking at how the average reasonable person would interpret or respond to any claims or representations you make. Your business will not be liable for every interpretation or response by a consumer. This is actually a fairly well-stated principle in the context of advertising. Advertisers are not liable for every possible misrepresentation, no matter how outlandish. Misconceptions occurring among the foolish or feeble-minded are not reasonable.

The FTC provides the example that all “Danish pastry” is made in Denmark. The fact that some unreasonable individuals may believe that all Danish pastry is actually made in Denmark is not reasonable and does not cause liability to the advertiser. A claim is not deceptive only because it will be unreasonably misunderstood by an insignificant and unrepresentative segment of people.

When representations or sales practices are targeted to a specific audience, the FTC will look at how a reasonable member of that specific group would interpret the claim. For instance, terminally ill consumers might be particularly susceptible to exaggerated cure claims, children would likely believe claims adults would not, claims toward the elderly may be viewed by differently than the general public, etc. Similarly, “claims directed to a well-educated group, such as a prescription drug advertisement to doctors, would be judged in light of the knowledge and sophistication of that group”(FTC Policy Statement on Deception).

In addition, part of the reasonable consumer standard means that an ad may be capable of more than one reasonable interpretation by a consumer. So, if your ad conveys more than one meaning, or is interpreted differently and that meaning is misleading, you will be liable. This is true even if the main meaning of the ad is not deceptive. The critical question is determining what overall impression consumers would take away from a given ad when looking at the ad as a whole.

G. Subjective Claims, Opinions & Puffing

The FTC generally will not bring advertising complaints based on subjective claims that consumers can judge for themselves (i.e. claims based on taste, feel, appearance or smell), opinions or obvious exaggeration or puffing. For example, if a seasoning salt boasts on its website that the product is “delicious” or an ad claims a particular candle “smells great” these are general subjective claims regarding the taste and smell of the products. Stating a product has a “handsomely finished exterior” or comes complete with an “attractive carrying case” are examples of subjective opinions. Just because not everyone might find the exterior of the product in question handsome or that the carrying case is attractive does not make the ad deceptive.

Since these types of claims don’t pose risks to health or safety even if they were deceptive, they really are not scrutinized by the FTC anyways.

Similarly, a product endorsement that proclaims the product to be “the best product I ever used” is a subjective opinion. The claim is not a statement of fact or some claim about some result, quality or characteristic of the product. In general, if the claim is a subjective one and does not contain an objective component, it is not unlawful.

In contrast, claiming a product is superior based “on all the latest research and data” is not subjective any longer. It’s misleading if the product really is not superior based on the most recent research and data. Claiming a flashlight “outlasts all other major brands” or “more customers prefer our hand lotion to any other” is an objective claim which must be supported with some credible evidence of what is claimed. Opinions are deceptive only “if they are not honestly held, if they misrepresent the qualifications of the holder or the basis of his opinion or if the recipient reasonably interprets them as implied statements of fact”.

Advertisements involving obvious exaggeration or puffing are not unlawful. These are claims that the reasonable consumer would not believe. For example, claiming a child’s wooden sled that is “handcrafted by Santa’s elves” is obvious exaggeration, or claims that a product is “superior” to all others is a general statement and is puffing. Vague statements such as “the breakthrough the Industry has been waiting for” or “this could be the opportunity of a lifetime” are also examples of puffing and are lawful. These statements are really more in the nature of boasting than making an actual factual claim.

EXAMPLE: American Italian Pasta Co. vs. New World Pasta Co. (2004). The court stated that in order for a claim to be false, it must be “a specific and measureable claim capable of being proved false.” The Court in this example found that American Italian Pasta Co.’s use of the phrase “America’s favorite pasta” was not a statement of fact, but was considered subjective and vague puffing. This case provided a very good definition of what is considered puffing: “puffing is exaggerated statements or boasting upon which no reasonable person would rely or vague and highly subjective claims of product superiority.”

Money management is not as easy as it sounds. However, in order to lead a happy and successful life, it is a must for each and every individual to manage his or her finances effectively. Managing money effectively doesn’t require any special skills or training, it just requires a little understanding and planning. To help you get started, following are some of the financial tips that will ensure that you live a comfortable and prosperous life.

Plan your budget
Every individual must plan his or her financial budget. You will face times when you will be tempted to make a purchase, which you actually don’t require. However, it’s better to avoid such situations as far as possible. This is more apt in case of youngsters, who tend to spend lavishly on high-end phones, branded clothes and expensive automobiles. However, you should be wise enough and exercise self -control while buying these items. If you do not learn to manage your money at a young age then there is a strong chance that you may face financial difficulties in future.

Create an emergency fund
Irrespective of how much your salary is or how much you are spending, each month you should keep some money separate as an emergency fund. Having such kind of fund will help to ensure that you do not encounter any emergency problem. This fund will act as a cushion in the troubled periods of your life.

Start saving at an early stage
At a young age you can take more risk as the family responsibility is far more limited and thus you must invest in various financial tools that offer high returns. Also, never invest your money in a single financial tool and spread it across various tools to ensure that there is a proper mix of equity, bonds, fixed deposits etc. Also, by investing at an early age, you will be able to save a lot of money for your retirement.

Understand taxes
You must know how the income tax in your country works, so as to save money on it. You should try to invest in various tax saving tools so that you don’t have to pay more income tax. If you have a complicated balance sheet, you must avail the services of a charted accountant. He will suggest you about the various ways through which you can divert your funds, thereby saving money on taxes.

It’s fun to make your own library of classical music recordings and decide which classical composers and their music pieces you would like to include. One way is to do this is to purchase the CDs of your choice from the local chain stores. But the problem here may be the high CD cost the local stores may charge due to the overhead charges. Moreover the local store may not be able to provide you the music piece or the composer of your choice.

You are therefore left to rely on the Internet for downloading music CDs. The Internet is indeed a veritable ocean from where you can take as much music as you like sitting in the comfort of your home. There is a wide margin of choice, and a lot of competition among the vendors too. Therefore with a little search you can download the best quality music of your choice at cheaper rates. Besides the competition and the wide choice, the net vendors of classical music can afford to sell the music at cheaper rates due to the absence of overhead charges that your local store has to bear. Download of music on the Internet also eliminates the shipping charges because you are not asking for the CDs, which can only be sent by post.

You also need to select the right classical music Internet vendor. You should opt for the site that offers to supply you the labels and tracks that you want. It should offer a wide variety and flexible choices, including music by emerging artists in every music genre. You should be able to burn as many CDs as you want, transfer music to MP3 devices or any desktop, portable music player or digital device and also make multiple copies of downloaded music. Your vendor should offer to deliver music in the universally compatible MP3 format, which is the most popular and versatile digital file format. The music should have the highest quality fidelity, and should be downloadable to any platform such as PC, Macintosh and Linux.

Market Driven Innovation (MDI) is designing, managing and implementing your innovation process based on the needs and wants from your key markets. MDI is not new, but still today, many companies have found it difficult to transform their innovation work from their entrenched technology and product forward approach they have been using to a market back approach. Often, their entire business processes have been built around their assets and products they produce and their go-to-market strategy based on their historical sales experiences. The result of this behavior is premature commoditization of their value propositions, their most important assets. Market Driven Innovation is based on a strict set of principles:

o Engineering/technical resourcing decisions are made based on a validated market need and an attractive business case.

o Organizational Focus is achieved from understanding market segments and targeting the most attractive segments for growth

o A cross-functional team approach, marketing, technical, and sales all contribute to the growth initiative together, and thus are aligned on the strategy:

o Accelerated ramp up after launch from a higher operational knowledge of the market

o Accelerated technology development because better design specifications from a segmented market

o Driven by business leaders who make resource allocation decisions consistent with the strategic direction of the business, and link development to marketing process.

Market Driven innovation begins with a business orientation towards specific and targeted markets. These markets define strategy which defines resource allocations especially those resources dedicated to the innovation process. In this context we define innovation as the creation of value, and Market Driven Innovation as placing emphasis on customer values, beginning with choices as how a business goes to market; to how they position their brand and products in those markets they proactively choose to serve; to the nature of their product improvements; and to their search for new products and services that may more effectively meeting the emerging future needs of their targeted markets.

Identifying these target markets is core to Market Driven Innovation. Understanding what drives market growth and major unmet needs of the key market players as well as how they define value and establish the basis for generating growth ideas and concepts – straight from the market. These ideas and concepts are the genesis of the innovation process. The more market back concepts, the more opportunities for successful growth. Knowing target markets enables a business to:

o Design, communicate, and deliver more robust value propositions aimed at specific market segments

o Capture more of the value we provide because they can measure the value and make strategic pricing decisions that are consistent with their marketing strategy.

o Apply resources more effectively where they bring value by focusing them only on where value is identified.

o Develop and bring new offerings to the market faster because they know what the market values and how to deliver their offering based on value.

o Evaluate new markets where they can bring more powerful value propositions and new offerings

These elements of business design when generated from a market back learning model, form the basis for a market driven organization, and more specifically, Market Driven Innovation as a core driver of your growth process:

o Provides business management with facts from direct contact with the marketplace to decide which concepts merit moving forward with resourcing.

o Balances depth and speed in this disciplined approach using an organized set of activities.

o Enables cross function teams to develop a common understanding, direction, and shared values throughout the innovation cycle

o Enhances chances of success

Voice of the Customer (VOC) captured early and operationally is an essential component of creating and delivering value with the growth process. Capturing VOC is not a trivial or casual activity, and well thought our and designed VOC is critical to Market Driven Innovation. Effective VOC requires:

o Learning Customers desired outcomes – what they want to happen to help them become more successful.

o Getting to Fact based and data driven information that can be translated into offering features that address the customer outcomes.

o Clearly identifies the benefits the customer will receive and thus the discrete value they will place on an effective solution to them.

o Must be well understood by both marketing and technical in the same way with an aligned sense of the relationship to strategy and core competencies.

VOC is the work you do and do well before you even think of applying technical resources to do product development work. In this regard, you don’t misuse valuable and limited technical capacity. Technical people need to focus on projects that have been market validated both to focus their limited resources and provide them with advanced market specifications that help accelerate the development cycle.

To this end, as we will discuss more later, you engage your technical resources along side of your Marketing people to co-learn VOC, and thus both are better prepared to do their work that is defined by your targeted markets. In this way our resources are aligned from day one of an innovation effort through to launch of a new offering. A key outcome of an aligned and shared approach is achieving success faster and at less overall cost. No wasted costs as a result of false starts and lingering stops.

The three key components or a successful change to market oriented MDI are:

o Creating The Right Mindset – Leaders set the agenda

o Building the necessary skill set – A common framework for implementing

o Providing the best toolset – Fact based information guides decisions

Incorporating all three into the business process is a requirement for successful transformation to a market driven organization. It’s as straight forward as knowing where you are going, how to get there, and a map to take you there. We will discuss each of these three success drivers in more detail below

Creating the right mindset

Leaders must take charge of the agenda beginning with examining and changing how they lead, what marketing and technical practitioners do differently, and most importantly, how they work together using a rigorous framework from concept selection through to offering commercialization. Leadership owns the MDI process highlighted below. The first two levels in the process, Concept Development/selection and Market Validation are the critical elements. In this model, Leadership does not resource technology development until sufficient market evidence and validation provides the basis for resourcing. Technology resources only work on market validated concepts. Leadership’s ownership of the process means they:

o Demonstrate the value and set expectation

o Focus and align the organization around strategic direction and core capabilities.

o Identify, and guide the performance requirements necessary to generate the profit results.

o Organize people to assure the right combination of organizational strengths are applied to both know and act effectively on markets.

Three crucial questions are answered in market validation and business case development:
1. Is there an external basis for believing the concept has sufficient value to the market to proceed?
2. What is the best validated value proposition that sets the design basis for development?
3. Can we make money from developing and commercializing this value proposition?

Building the Necessary Skillset

The Innovation provides the basis for skill development and tool utilization. Each element of the framework requires specific work designed to deliver decisions to move from one element to the other. A short description of the work elements are describe below.

Concept Development and selection: Developing and characterizing concepts (sometimes called the “Fuzzy Front End”). Idea generation methods are generally well-known and most work well enough to assure a good set of concepts to evaluate. What we uniquely require is a concept characterization approach that helps the evaluators better understand and choose among several concepts.

Market Validation: Once a project has been chartered, a decision (stage gate) is made to resource to development and includes four key components, validated market landscape; Value Proposition Development; Competitive Alternative Assessment; and Business Model Evaluation. A validated market landscape identifies and characterizes the market spaces in which the concept may bring value. In this context, it provides the basis for demand, and thus the first real attempt at generating revenue potential. It identifies the key specifiers and influencers, and begins to describe their unmet needs that the concept may address as well as key hurdles that must be overcome to have a successful and sustainable initiative.

The Value Proposition is a description of the value your concept will bring to the targeted market, the benefits the market will receive, and how you will get paid for bringing the value. Value proposition development is the holy grail of marketing. If you learn your value proposition, and it truly brings the market real value, you can build the remainder of your growth initiative around it. Value propositions must be measurable and actionable.

Business Case Development: Before you engage in developing the required technology, answer the questrion – “Can we make money on this value proposition?”. Market Driven Innovation often requires a new way to go to market to accelerate and maximize acceptance and value capture. Value adding chain analysis through to the end user is an important skillset to utilize for business model evaluation. Business models are defined by what customers are selected; how we capture value; our level of strategic control; and the scope of our value proposition. The Business Case should be determined as early in the innovation process as possible. Opportunity modeling can provide the necessary basis for understanding the top line potential and the marketing cost for the innovation.

Technical Development:Effective market validation provides the product developers/designers a clear and crisp basis for building in the necessary design elements into an innovation. We now know the needs (what the market is willing to pay for) and the wants (potential areas of uniqueness). No more starts and stops caused by changing specifications from learning on the fly. Product developers can utilize their best practices with the certainty that they are on the right track. Because we begin the development process with clear market understanding, we now can bring the key customers into the development cycle early and often. We know their testing protocols, and their current standards by the competitive alternative they are using today. We design, we test, we engage the customer to test, we upgrade. Active parallel processing accelerates the development process and we get to launch faster.

Commercial Launch: Preparing for the launch includes the short term developing the marketing entry plan and the marketing mix, and the longer term multigenerational planning. These should be done together since the longer term positioning could have an effect on the launch protocol. The launch plan includes the target market; the offering positioning based on the value proposition; the communications strategy and plan; the channel strategy and plan; the pricing strategy and implementation plan driven by long term optimal pricing decisions. Multigenerational planning (beyond the launch); includes second and third generation offerings; strategy mapping; and a revenue acceleration plan. The managing process and control plan are incorporated into the commercial launch to assure optimum demand creation and delivery

Providing a Useful toolset

The toolset necessary to enable Market Driven Innovation consists of an integrated qualitative and quantitative set that enables the Market Driven Innovation team to successfully address the critical market questions identified in their chartered project. Two interdependent approaches make up the composite of Voice of the Customer (Market Driven). Together, they are designed to answer all the questions necessary to progress through the innovation process defined earlier.

A qualitative market learning tool should be installed to translate concepts into possible value propositions, begin the segmentation process, define the industry structure and dynamics, and expose the relative value vs. competitive alternatives. It also provides the basis for design of the quantitative VOC that follows once a decision is made to proceed to the business case and technical development stages.

A quantitative instrument that captures: concept tests including value elements and price; attribute importance rankings and current performance ratings; outcomes rankings; feature benefits; and competitive ratings. Other pertinent information to assist in segmentation should also be incorporated.

Getting Started With Market Driven Innovation: Market Driven Innovation can either be installed inside a business unit which is structured with both a technical and marketing unit, or can be institutionalized within a corporation as “the way we innovate”. The initiation for each is different given both the breadth and depth the sponsors must address in the change process. It is simpler and much faster to initiate change in an organization that is both ready and organizationally integrated. The leadership can evolve the change live while doing their innovation work by starting with a few projects that are definitive and have a short horizon. As the teams demonstrate success the change process takes on a life of its own and becomes a natural new way of doing work. The basic framework for such an approach is:

o Leadership diagnostic to define both scope and level of change required. Many groups already have an external perspective to their work and thus, change becomes a reinforcement of their beliefs.

o Develop and agree on a project plan to install MDI.

o Training the leadership and team on MDI elements. Utilize one or two projects to exemplify throughout the training. Note: the idea here is just in time training. Teams are trained on each element then they experience the element and move forward to training and experience thought each stage of the process. Prevents training fatigue and accelerates progress towards commercialization

o Select and charter projects.

o Customize framework to fit organizational culture and existing operational approaches and language.

If you are in the market for a new buggy and you do your research online, almost every review you will read about the Maclaren Techno XLR pushchair is favourable. Every owner who gave their feedback about this baby stroller usually have only good things to say about the XLR, which is probably why it’s one of the most popular and highly rated pushchairs around – but is it the perfect pushchair for your needs? Read on and find out.

Maclaren Techno XLR: The Pros

The Techno XLR is Maclaren’s version of a luxurious Techno XT which is one of the bestselling pushchair in the Maclaren range. So if you like the XT but want the best in both functionality and comfort, the XLR is the one for you.

Most owners have observed that the XLR pushchair is very sturdy/durable even after prolonged, daily use. It is no wonder that Maclaren is known for excellent workmanship.

For parents who are aggravated with logging around their pushchairs in public transportation, the XLR offers them the solution. It is so easy to push up curbs and maneuver around tight corners. This feature makes it different from the rest.

Another benefit of using the Techno XLR, is that it’s lightweight. It’s perfect for people living in upstairs apartments. With only 8kgs, together with the hood and shopping basket, parents and carers will not have to be troubled with carrying their pushchairs up and down the stairs.

The XLR has been designed for tall people who would otherwise encounter problems with low setting handles at 110cm, usually available with other pushchairs. Its unique feature is its high setting handles which can be adjusted up to 130cm with the lowest setting at 110cm.

Another plus is the Techno XLR’s hood with viewing window and sun visor, which is big enough to unzip from the back and extend forward. This would give your babies protection from the sun. For your added convenience, it is installed with pockets and net bag at the back of the hood for your traveling accessories.

The seat reclines to 4 positions, and yes it reclines to more than 150 degrees, making it perfectly suitable for newborns. The new 2009 model has a simple lever used for recline adjustment that you can operate with one hand. Again, this will tickle your fancy if you rarely have both hands free.

Maclaren Techno XLR: The Cons

The shopping basket is a disappointment in my opinion because it can only hold up to 2 kg.

For those vertically challenged, the handle height will be a difficulty. For those standing 5’1” to 5’3”, the lowest handle setting will be at chest to armpit level.

Another thing is that the seat is not reversible so it’s not a good choice for parents who want a travel system to use from birth likes to face their baby during the first few months.

The last thing to consider is that the XLR is not designed as an all terrain pushchair. For those planning to use the pushchair extensively on rough country roads, an all terrain type would be more suitable. The XLR is recommended more for people living in the city.

Conclusion

The Techno XLR would be perfect for people living in the city. From its sturdy, easy to use design and lightweight features to its easy to maneuver features in narrow spaces, this pushchair would definitely be the best choice for you.

Online, world travel guides are coming into their own. While they may never beat a solid guidebook that you can dog ear and mark up as you travel the world, they are becoming more valuable for research pre-departure. Thanks to the minimal resources required to create a travel guide online (no publishers, distributors, materials, etc.) we will continue to see more pop up as the world gets smaller. However, as the quantity of world travel guides increases, the need for quality, dependable information becomes more scarce. Here are the most authoritative spots online to help you prepare your next big

Travelfish.org. If you are looking for intelligence on Southeast Asia, look no further than Travelfish (even Lonely Planet, creator of the classic “Southeast Asia on a Shoestring” acknowledges their hard hitting advice). They provide detailed information about all of Southeast Asia, with a focus on Laos, Cambodia, Thailand and Vietnam, with additional sections on Singapore and the Philippines. Their FAQ for each country is an exercise in mind reading: they answer questions you didn’t realize you had such as “What kind of lock works best in a bungalow?” They also break down electrical requirements and other technical advice pertaining to cameras, laptops and mobile devices.

Gridskipper. Let me put it this way: Gridskipper is the premier website for big city types. They offer the best information on major cities in the world (San Francisco, London, Paris, Berlin and Tokyo seem to get the most coverage) including restaurant reviews and advice on the best clubs. If you want to explore the rice fields of Vietnam, you are in the wrong place! A word to the wise: this isn’t a site for the faint hearted, and you probably don’t want to check this out at work.

Virtualtourist. The biggest world travel guide online, loaded with information about travel hotspots around the world.

Lonely Planet’s Thorn Tree forum. Here you can seek advice from people close to the ground. Visa requirements change, roads get blocked, storms may hit… save yourself the trouble and run it up the thorn tree.

Software applications have been explored in a wide range of activity domains significantly simplifying the workflow, however this advancement has taken a particular sphere of interest to the uttermost, more precisely, financial service companies. This division has experienced a tremendous expansion simply because online solutions perfectly match the basic functional principles governing all financial transactions. All three main segments: capital management, banking, and insurance, have taking advantage of large-scale implementation. In essence, the major change relies on the fact that traditional transaction methods have been successfully replaced by truly advanced computer-based and web-based applications.

The classic approach has undergone major transformations due to the fact that initial means have been optimized to enable transactions in real time. Besides this facet, IT solutions in the financial services field, have opened the path for new services. For instance, financial services technology has set higher standards in the financial world, as experts confirm the fact that instant access and secure financial procedures can be adjusted to the global evolution of the financial market. Without going into detail, financial service technology has literally set in motion the overall activity of the financial market, and every single branch has taken advantage of easy-to-use financial software applications. Firstly, these advanced tools have set the basis for full control over financial instruments enabling faster transactions. We all know that online approach has refashioned the entire financial service industry because this service has broken physical and temporal barriers. Therefore, we can access services from anywhere in the world as long as we have an Internet connection.

For many years now, financial operations and, implicitly financial services, have been considered a sophisticated process, as, these days, a click may synthesize all complicated procedures on the condition that we make decisions. All financial services departments have experienced this ascending trend based on ultimate technology. At first, we may assume that such platforms help professionals streamline their entire activity, however, by taking over demanding operations, experts have the opportunity to focus on the strategies they should develop to reach higher performance standards.

To sum up, financial solutions rely today on advanced software applications and the emphasis still falls on the integrated services, as the financial sector is extremely volatile and permissive regarding financial operations. Moreover, customers prefer a provider who can take care of all their needs when IT comes to financing. Thus, we are very likely to witness for the years to come innovative solutions that might take the financial market to a higher level.

Introduction
Computer forensics is the practice of collecting, analysing and reporting on digital information in a way that is legally admissible. It can be used in the detection and prevention of crime and in any dispute where evidence is stored digitally. Computer forensics has comparable examination stages to other forensic disciplines and faces similar issues.

About this guide
This guide discusses computer forensics from a neutral perspective. It is not linked to particular legislation or intended to promote a particular company or product and is not written in bias of either law enforcement or commercial computer forensics. It is aimed at a non-technical audience and provides a high-level view of computer forensics. This guide uses the term “computer”, but the concepts apply to any device capable of storing digital information. Where methodologies have been mentioned they are provided as examples only and do not constitute recommendations or advice. Copying and publishing the whole or part of this article is licensed solely under the terms of the Creative Commons – Attribution Non-Commercial 3.0 license

Uses of computer forensics
There are few areas of crime or dispute where computer forensics cannot be applied. Law enforcement agencies have been among the earliest and heaviest users of computer forensics and consequently have often been at the forefront of developments in the field. Computers may constitute a ‘scene of a crime’, for example with hacking [ 1] or denial of service attacks [2] or they may hold evidence in the form of emails, internet history, documents or other files relevant to crimes such as murder, kidnap, fraud and drug trafficking. It is not just the content of emails, documents and other files which may be of interest to investigators but also the ‘meta-data’ [3] associated with those files. A computer forensic examination may reveal when a document first appeared on a computer, when it was last edited, when it was last saved or printed and which user carried out these actions.

More recently, commercial organisations have used computer forensics to their benefit in a variety of cases such as;

Intellectual Property theft
Industrial espionage
Employment disputes
Fraud investigations
Forgeries
Matrimonial issues
Bankruptcy investigations
Inappropriate email and internet use in the work place
Regulatory compliance

Guidelines
For evidence to be admissible it must be reliable and not prejudicial, meaning that at all stages of this process admissibility should be at the forefront of a computer forensic examiner’s mind. One set of guidelines which has been widely accepted to assist in this is the Association of Chief Police Officers Good Practice Guide for Computer Based Electronic Evidence or ACPO Guide for short. Although the ACPO Guide is aimed at United Kingdom law enforcement its main principles are applicable to all computer forensics in whatever legislature. The four main principles from this guide have been reproduced below (with references to law enforcement removed):

No action should change data held on a computer or storage media which may be subsequently relied upon in court.

In circumstances where a person finds it necessary to access original data held on a computer or storage media, that person must be competent to do so and be able to give evidence explaining the relevance and the implications of their actions.

An audit trail or other record of all processes applied to computer-based electronic evidence should be created and preserved. An independent third-party should be able to examine those processes and achieve the same result.

The person in charge of the investigation has overall responsibility for ensuring that the law and these principles are adhered to.

In summary, no changes should be made to the original, however if access/changes are necessary the examiner must know what they are doing and to record their actions.

Live acquisition
Principle 2 above may raise the question: In what situation would changes to a suspect’s computer by a computer forensic examiner be necessary? Traditionally, the computer forensic examiner would make a copy (or acquire) information from a device which is turned off. A write-blocker[4] would be used to make an exact bit for bit copy [5] of the original storage medium. The examiner would work then from this copy, leaving the original demonstrably unchanged.

However, sometimes it is not possible or desirable to switch a computer off. It may not be possible to switch a computer off if doing so would result in considerable financial or other loss for the owner. It may not be desirable to switch a computer off if doing so would mean that potentially valuable evidence may be lost. In both these circumstances the computer forensic examiner would need to carry out a ‘live acquisition’ which would involve running a small program on the suspect computer in order to copy (or acquire) the data to the examiner’s hard drive.

By running such a program and attaching a destination drive to the suspect computer, the examiner will make changes and/or additions to the state of the computer which were not present before his actions. Such actions would remain admissible as long as the examiner recorded their actions, was aware of their impact and was able to explain their actions.

Stages of an examination
For the purposes of this article the computer forensic examination process has been divided into six stages. Although they are presented in their usual chronological order, it is necessary during an examination to be flexible. For example, during the analysis stage the examiner may find a new lead which would warrant further computers being examined and would mean a return to the evaluation stage.

Readiness
Forensic readiness is an important and occasionally overlooked stage in the examination process. In commercial computer forensics it can include educating clients about system preparedness; for example, forensic examinations will provide stronger evidence if a server or computer’s built-in auditing and logging systems are all switched on. For examiners there are many areas where prior organisation can help, including training, regular testing and verification of software and equipment, familiarity with legislation, dealing with unexpected issues (e.g., what to do if child pornography is present during a commercial job) and ensuring that your on-site acquisition kit is complete and in working order.

Evaluation
The evaluation stage includes the receiving of clear instructions, risk analysis and allocation of roles and resources. Risk analysis for law enforcement may include an assessment on the likelihood of physical threat on entering a suspect’s property and how best to deal with it. Commercial organisations also need to be aware of health and safety issues, while their evaluation would also cover reputational and financial risks on accepting a particular project.

Collection
The main part of the collection stage, acquisition, has been introduced above. If acquisition is to be carried out on-site rather than in a computer forensic laboratory then this stage would include identifying, securing and documenting the scene. Interviews or meetings with personnel who may hold information which could be relevant to the examination (which could include the end users of the computer, and the manager and person responsible for providing computer services) would usually be carried out at this stage. The ‘bagging and tagging’ audit trail would start here by sealing any materials in unique tamper-evident bags. Consideration also needs to be given to securely and safely transporting the material to the examiner’s laboratory.

Analysis
Analysis depends on the specifics of each job. The examiner usually provides feedback to the client during analysis and from this dialogue the analysis may take a different path or be narrowed to specific areas. Analysis must be accurate, thorough, impartial, recorded, repeatable and completed within the time-scales available and resources allocated. There are myriad tools available for computer forensics analysis. It is our opinion that the examiner should use any tool they feel comfortable with as long as they can justify their choice. The main requirements of a computer forensic tool is that it does what it is meant to do and the only way for examiners to be sure of this is for them to regularly test and calibrate the tools they use before analysis takes place. Dual-tool verification can confirm result integrity during analysis (if with tool ‘A’ the examiner finds artefact ‘X’ at location ‘Y’, then tool ‘B’ should replicate these results.)

Presentation
This stage usually involves the examiner producing a structured report on their findings, addressing the points in the initial instructions along with any subsequent instructions. It would also cover any other information which the examiner deems relevant to the investigation. The report must be written with the end reader in mind; in many cases the reader of the report will be non-technical, so the terminology should acknowledge this. The examiner should also be prepared to participate in meetings or telephone conferences to discuss and elaborate on the report.

Review
Along with the readiness stage, the review stage is often overlooked or disregarded. This may be due to the perceived costs of doing work that is not billable, or the need ‘to get on with the next job’. However, a review stage incorporated into each examination can help save money and raise the level of quality by making future examinations more efficient and time effective. A review of an examination can be simple, quick and can begin during any of the above stages. It may include a basic ‘what went wrong and how can this be improved’ and a ‘what went well and how can it be incorporated into future examinations’. Feedback from the instructing party should also be sought. Any lessons learnt from this stage should be applied to the next examination and fed into the readiness stage.

Issues facing computer forensics
The issues facing computer forensics examiners can be broken down into three broad categories: technical, legal and administrative.

Encryption – Encrypted files or hard drives can be impossible for investigators to view without the correct key or password. Examiners should consider that the key or password may be stored elsewhere on the computer or on another computer which the suspect has had access to. It could also reside in the volatile memory of a computer (known as RAM [6] which is usually lost on computer shut-down; another reason to consider using live acquisition techniques as outlined above.

Increasing storage space – Storage media holds ever greater amounts of data which for the examiner means that their analysis computers need to have sufficient processing power and available storage to efficiently deal with searching and analysing enormous amounts of data.

New technologies – Computing is an ever-changing area, with new hardware, software and operating systems being constantly produced. No single computer forensic examiner can be an expert on all areas, though they may frequently be expected to analyse something which they haven’t dealt with before. In order to deal with this situation, the examiner should be prepared and able to test and experiment with the behaviour of new technologies. Networking and sharing knowledge with other computer forensic examiners is also very useful in this respect as it’s likely someone else may have already encountered the same issue.

Anti-forensics – Anti-forensics is the practice of attempting to thwart computer forensic analysis. This may include encryption, the over-writing of data to make it unrecoverable, the modification of files’ meta-data and file obfuscation (disguising files). As with encryption above, the evidence that such methods have been used may be stored elsewhere on the computer or on another computer which the suspect has had access to. In our experience, it is very rare to see anti-forensics tools used correctly and frequently enough to totally obscure either their presence or the presence of the evidence they were used to hide.

Legal issues
Legal arguments may confuse or distract from a computer examiner’s findings. An example here would be the ‘Trojan Defence’. A Trojan is a piece of computer code disguised as something benign but which has a hidden and malicious purpose. Trojans have many uses, and include key-logging [7], uploading and downloading of files and installation of viruses. A lawyer may be able to argue that actions on a computer were not carried out by a user but were automated by a Trojan without the user’s knowledge; such a Trojan Defence has been successfully used even when no trace of a Trojan or other malicious code was found on the suspect’s computer. In such cases, a competent opposing lawyer, supplied with evidence from a competent computer forensic analyst, should be able to dismiss such an argument.

Accepted standards – There are a plethora of standards and guidelines in computer forensics, few of which appear to be universally accepted. This is due to a number of reasons including standard-setting bodies being tied to particular legislations, standards being aimed either at law enforcement or commercial forensics but not at both, the authors of such standards not being accepted by their peers, or high joining fees dissuading practitioners from participating.

Fitness to practice – In many jurisdictions there is no qualifying body to check the competence and integrity of computer forensics professionals. In such cases anyone may present themselves as a computer forensic expert, which may result in computer forensic examinations of questionable quality and a negative view of the profession as a whole.

Resources and further reading
There does not appear to be a great amount of material covering computer forensics which is aimed at a non-technical readership. However the following links at links at the bottom of this page may prove to be of interest prove to be of interest:

Glossary
1. Hacking: modifying a computer in way which was not originally intended in order to benefit the hacker’s goals.
2. Denial of Service attack: an attempt to prevent legitimate users of a computer system from having access to that system’s information or services.
3. Meta-data: at a basic level meta-data is data about data. It can be embedded within files or stored externally in a separate file and may contain information about the file’s author, format, creation date and so on.
4. Write blocker: a hardware device or software application which prevents any data from being modified or added to the storage medium being examined.
5. Bit copy: bit is a contraction of the term ‘binary digit’ and is the fundamental unit of computing. A bit copy refers to a sequential copy of every bit on a storage medium, which includes areas of the medium ‘invisible’ to the user.
6. RAM: Random Access Memory. RAM is a computer’s temporary workspace and is volatile, which means its contents are lost when the computer is powered off.
7. Key-logging: the recording of keyboard input giving the ability to read a user’s typed passwords, emails and other confidential information.

Furniture, especially wooden furniture, plays a very important role in emanating a pleasant and peaceful atmosphere in your home. However, while everybody wants to have wooden furniture to deck up their homes, not many are aware about what furniture to buy. It is very important to know several aspects involved in the buying of furniture. These include the type of wood you’re looking for, the place where you want to place your furniture, the color of the furniture that would be ideal for you etc. These are some of the basic questions that one has to answer ahead of buying wooden furniture.

If you’re a person who is intending to buy some quality wooden furniture and also appreciate quality then you have to spend some time on determining the type of furniture you want to buy. Your budget, of course, would be the most important factor while buying wooden furniture. There’s no denying of the fact that quality wooden furniture is expensive. Wood has become dearer these days because of the strict tree felling norms imposed by governments worldwide and the move to conserve forests and balance the ecology. This has led to the emergence of alternative materials like metal and plastic for furniture manufacture.

Wood, however, has managed to retain its position among furniture enthusiasts. The expensiveness of fresh wood has led to the use of recycled wood in furniture. Here, wood is sourced from old buildings that are being torn down. Sometimes, old furniture is spruce up, painted and given a new updated look. This has also resulted in refurbished wooden furniture finding dedicated connoisseurs in the market.

As regards the wood, be careful in selecting it properly. Certain conditions would determine the type of wood you’ll want i.e. hardwood or softwood. For instance, if you plan to use the furniture outdoors, you have to select hardwood that can withstand the elements of nature better. They warp less and also absorb lesser amounts of water. Oak and teak are the two best woods that can be used outdoors. If you plan to use your furniture indoors, you can go for some variety of softwood like mango wood or rosewood. Indian sheesham is also used extensively for the manufacture of indoor furniture.

As already said, the placement issue plays another big role in determining the furniture that you want to buy. You must always have an idea of the space available to place your furniture. This is because you may have trouble if you find that you have bought a furniture item and there’s insufficient space to keep it. It would be nothing short of a disaster. Also, too small a furniture piece at a relatively larger space would be an eyesore.

Of late plywood and particle-board furniture have become very popular because of solid wooden furniture becoming dearer. They, however, lack the longevity of the latter and have no resale value. They simply have to be disposed off when their lifespan is over. Sometimes disposed-off wood is mixed with ply for making new furniture.

With property management firms charging as much as 45% of a rental property’s income, more and more vacation home owners are turning to the Internet to book their rental properties themselves in order to keep more of their rental income.

While websites such as HomeAway have given vacation home owners a new venue to advertise their rental properties, most vacation home owners are finding that these sites alone do not produce enough rentals to keep their properties fully booked. Even worse, vacation home owners are finding that the mundane tasks of replying to inquiries, manually sending out invoices and rental agreements, updating their properties’ availability calendars, and all the other tasks associated with replacing a property management firm all add up to a full-time job.

There are online software management tools for vacation rental properties, though, that can greatly reduce the amount of time you have to spend managing these types of activities.

To help vacation home owners find, book and manage online rentals for their rental properties, here are the top 3 time-saving vacation rental management tools that no vacation property owner should be without.

1. Online Booking and Reservations Management System

If there’s one thing that online consumers have learned to expect, it’s instant gratification. If a potential renter can’t instantly book and reserve your vacation property online, then you are lowering your chances of getting their business.

Websites like HomeAway urge their vacation home owners to “respond quickly! Data shows that owners who respond to inquiries within 3 hours close 57% more bookings than owners that respond within 24 hours.” Just imagine what eliminating response time altogether can do to improve your bookings, then.

With today’s integrated online booking, credit card processing, and reservations management systems, there’s no reason to make your potential renters wait. These best of these services provide renters an instant rate quote, including taxes, and allows them to sign-up and book your vacation rental property instantly using any major credit card.

Some vacation rental management software solution providers offer this service – including setting up the merchant credit card processing on your behalf – with no up-front costs. You just pay a small portion of your reservation amount when a renter uses the online system. If you have multiple websites, make sure to find a provider who allows for their software to be integrated into your other sites, too, so you can centrally manage online bookings for all of your websites through one main interface.

2. Self-Updating Availability Calendars

If you’re like most vacation home owners, in order to find enough renters to book your property as often as you’d like, you have listings on all the large vacation listing sites. You might supplement those efforts with manual postings on Craigslist and even your own personal website that you maintain. Whenever you book a rental you have to log in to each website/ listing and update your vacation property’s availability calendar. That can take a lot of time.

A better way to manage your vacation home property’s availability calendars is to use a centralized, self-updating calendar that’s tied to a booking and reservations system. Whenever you accept a booking through the reservations system, the availability calendar automatically marks the dates booked as unavailable. Once you point all of your websites and listings to your centralized calendar (as easy as inserting a link into the webpage), then all of your listings are updated with the latest availability information automatically – requiring no manual intervention on your part.

3. Electronic Rental Agreements

A big time-saver for the do-it-yourself vacation home owner is electronic rental terms and agreements. If done correctly, an electronic agreement is a legally valid, signed contract. Many vacation rental software providers offer vacation home owners the ability to customize the rental terms and agreements and include agreeing to these contracts an integrated part of the reservations/ booking process – ensuring that your renters have signed and agreed to your terms before they are able to reserve your vacation home.

Looking to online software management tools for the vacation home rental owner can save you time and present a more professional appearance to your online renting activities. Look for a vacation rental software management company that makes installing their management software tools into your existing sites easy. Some providers even offer you the ability to create a website using their service for the most highly integrated looking website possible.

Be sure to do your research, though, as pricing, functionality and set-up activities vary widely among these vacation rental management software firms. In the end, though, using online software management tools for vacation rental property websites like the ones listed above can help increase your bookings through their increased functionality. Plus, they’ll save you time since they’re designed to put your online vacation rental website efforts on “auto-pilot”.