5 ways to recognize low testosterone Mesa family survives lightning strike to home Ex-FBI agent details raid on Phoenix body donation facility New Valley school lets students pick career-path academies She says the combined security forces “will operate 24/7 in that community to detect and suppress acts of violence.”Persad-Bissessar met with the joint unit during a Saturday visit to the central area following the close of a Barbados summit of Caribbean Community leaders.Trinidad is preparing for Sept. 7 general elections. Opinion polls suggest the elections will be a tight race between the ruling coalition People’s Partnership and the main opposition People’s National Movement.Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed. Sponsored Stories PORT-OF-SPAIN, Trinidad (AP) — Trinidad and Tobago’s leader has created a combined national security force to combat gang violence in a crime-troubled community.Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar says the initiative dubbed “Operation Restore” will join together police officers and soldiers to “restore peace” in the central area of Enterprise, where gun violence by feuding gangs has recently escalated. Get a lawn your neighbor will be jealous of Clean energy: Why it matters for Arizona Here’s how to repair and patch damaged drywall Comments Share Top Stories
The World Luxury Hotel Awards are the world’s most prestigious awards exclusive to the luxury hotel industry, recognising the best facilities and service excellence the industry has to offer. The Coco Collection operates the renowned Coco Palm Resorts and Coco Spa brands. Coco Palm Resorts currently consists of Coco Palm Dhuni Kolhu and Coco Palm Bodu Hithi, two luxurious tropical getaways each with its own distinct personality.A member of Small Luxury Hotels of the World, the captivating Coco Palm Bodu Hithi oozes barefoot, luxury chic with traditionally Maldivian flashes. There are just 100 ultra-hip villas, a diverse selection of contemporary restaurants and bars, a totally indulgent Coco Spa, first-class land and water-sport facilities as well as a portfolio of memorable ‘Uniquely Coco’ experiences. Source = Coco Palm Resorts The Coco Collection has been recognized in four categories at the prestigious World Luxury Hotel Awards Gala Ceremony held in Zagreb, 16 September 2011. The Coco Collection won the category Best Luxury Hotel Brand in the Maldives and Maldives Best Luxury Spa Resort. Coco Palm Bodu Hithi won World’s Most Romantic Luxury Hotel as well as Maldives’ Luxury Island Resort. The Coco Collection has been honoured at the World Luxury Hotel Awards for a consecutive three years, which is testament to the resorts high standards and dedication to service.
Source = Chapman Freeborn Chapman Freeborn is delighted to announce that the company has been voted Air Cargo Charter Broker of the Year at the ACW World Air Cargo Awards 2012.This accolade marks its sixth year of success for Chapman Freeborn as international freight forwarders and cargo airlines have once again voted the global aircraft charter specialist as their favourite provider. The Air Cargo Week World Air Cargo Awards celebrate excellence and achievement in the global air cargo industry. This year’s achievement continues Chapman Freeborn’s run of winning the category every year since it was established in 2007. Dewi Gendo, Chapman Freeborn’s China General Manager, collected the award on behalf of Chapman Freeborn group at a glittering Gala Dinner in Shanghai: “We are very proud and honoured to have received this prestigious award for the sixth year in a row. Chapman Freeborn values the recognition and support of our customers, partners and friends in the industry – without them this award will not happen for us. We would like to thank all who have voted for us and we will continue to lead the way in the international charter broker industry.” Having been named Cargo Charter Broker of the Year 2012 recently by another industry title Air Cargo News, the ACW award reaffirms Chapman Freeborn’s leading position in the air cargo business.Elsewhere, Chapman Freeborn continues to break new grounds. In the last 12 months the company has opened further offices in Moscow, Russia, and Shanghai, China. Alongside its regular business of completing urgent and heavy lift cargo charter operations for freight forwarders and shippers, the company also provide an On Board Courier service ensuring maximum level of security for urgent shipments. Chapman Freeborn has also been involved in responding to a number of humanitarian events around the world, delivering humanitarian cargo including food, medicines, temporary shelter and vehicles for clients. Chapman Freeborn has 35 offices spanning six continents and provided over 6,000 cargo and passenger aircraft charters last year, in addition to many ACMI, wet and dry aircraft lease arrangements.
Shangri-La Hotels and Resorts held a cocktail reception at Altitude restaurant at the Shangri-La in Sydney this week to celebrate the acquisition of the Traders Hotel, Brisbane and the recent launch of their iPhone mobile application.Managers, sales and marketing directors and other staff from the Asia-Pacific group of hotels including Kerry Hotels, Shangri-La Hotels and Resorts and Traders Hotels were on hand to welcome industry members.Shangri-La Hotels and Resorts recently assumed management of the Traders Hotel, Brisbane.“This is the first Traders property operated by Shangri-La Hotels in Australia and we’re very proud and pleased to have acquired this wonderful accommodation,” Shangri-La Hotels and Resorts director of sales and marketing Jenny Williams said.Shangri-La Hotels and Resorts also recently launched the company’s first iPhone application.“We now have an app for our mobile customers which makes booking accommodation and researching our resorts that much simpler, easier and more accessible,” Shangri-La Hotels and Resorts regional director of sales and marketing, resorts Ogie R. Manuel said.Plans are underway for the second phase of this versatile mobile app and will be launched during the first quarter of 2013 to develop additional hotel-centric features.The industry’s elite were treated to an array of cocktails, canapés and sweets as well as a performance from our nation’s ‘Prime Minister’, Julia Gillard.Leave it to Diva Entertainment’s, Lesley Hancock entertained guests with a hilarious comedy routine and some high-powered dance moves.The talented impersonator belted out some impromptu tunes and was even able to re-invent our coveted national anthem, combining a range of popular Australian song lyrics and creating a new ode to Oz.Check out the photo gallery on our Facebook page for full coverage. Source = e-Travel Blackboard: P.T
An experienced pilot has been reported dead after the aircraft he was flying on its inaugural flight crashed in northern NSW over the weekend.Wayne Fisher, 62, took off for only a few moment in the brand new RV-12 kit plane, an ultra light aircraft , from Lismore airport at 9.50am on Sunday before it dived nearly 300feet, The Australian reported. NSW Fire and Rescue spokesperson said the aircraft was destroyed by fire.A friend of Mr Fisher said the pilot was well-respected and was able to “do thing with aeroplanes other people couldn’t”.Police are investigating the cause of the crash.Source = e-Travel Blackboard: N.J
Tourism Thailand open platform developed by 11-Infotech SystemSIPA (Software Industry Promotion Agency), a public organization under ICT (Ministry of Information and Communication Technology); in cooperation with MOTS (Ministry of Tourism & Sports) and TAT (Tourism Authority of Thailand) are launching “Tourism Thailand Open Platform” developed by 11-Infotech System.Tourism Thailand Open Platform consist of 3 projects as following:Standard exchange for electronic transactions in tourismThe biggest challenge to any travel technology provider, Online Hotel provider and Online Hotel Agent is having accurate and updated hotel information. As there is NO standard being set out to how destinations or hotel names is being called – this leads to many miss searchFor host2host integration, unique identification of hotel master data is one of the key information besides the platform technology. It is becoming complicated each day with rapid changes in the online world – now many are working with multi vendors/suppliers due to their high volume turnover and as such accurate Mapping of hotel profile is keyDestination Mapping country and cityEach hotel suppliers uses their own country and city code to do their mapping for their system. As there is NO standard code being created or use by respective suppliers as this is due to the lack of common rule and direction guideline.This has made Destination Mapping for country and city code extremely difficult and inconsistent. For wholesaler distributor, this issue is even more complex as a hotel provider might “divide” a city into zone or sub district and have different name to the city or island.Hotel Channel Manager – ThaiToTOPThe first and largest channel manager in ThailandGone are the days when hotels were able to manage their rates and availability manually.As we all know Hotel Channel Managers have played a very important role within the hotel online trading space. Previously, hotels used to sell their products through fewer distribution channels. For doing so they needed to connect to each channel managed website to load the rates and availability, which was already a tedious and tiresome task and never a one time job. Over time, this cumbersome process became harder and in particular, as hotels now operate within a BAR system which better manages their yields. Today, instead of a handful of different channels, there are literally thousands of them.So, how do hotels today manage their channels within this newly created competitive environment? With the challenge in mind, this is where our channel manager came from!What is a channel Manager?developed by 11-Infotech SystemA channel manager is a platform that allows for hotel rates and availability to be entered ONCE and to be shared and updated instantly at every point of sale. If a booking is made, either on the hotel’s own website or any third party sites, the inventory will be automatically updated to all channels. In other words, with the Hotel Channel Manager, hotels can centralize and manage the distribution channel from one place to update to all points of sale at the same time. By managing the process from one location all hotel inventory, rates and promotions will save time and reduce the work load of hotel staff and eliminate potential human errors. Thus, hotels can maximize their benefits with the assistance of channel manager.Furthermore, channel manager allows for all categories and structures to be loaded such as dynamic pricing and inventory (rate parity or BAR rates), as well as static rates and inventory (Wholesales contract), for those wholesalers who already have a contract with a particular hotel.Project: ThaiToTopThaiToTOP is the initiative of SIPA (Software Industry Promotion Agency) a public organization under the administrative supervision of the Information and Communications Technology (ICT) Ministry; in collaboration with TAT (Tourism Authority of Thailand) and MOTS (Ministry of Tourism & Sports).The Royal Thai government embraced the importance of online distribution and made the commitment to create ThaiToTOP, which is planned to be the first and largest channel manager in Thailand, specifically made for Thai hotels, guesthouses, bed & breakfast and resorts to distribute to a wider market and at a very minimal cost. Additionally, Tourism Authority of Thailand will contribute to the project by promoting the platform to international buyers.In a nutshell, the objective of this project is to:Promote the country as a top tourist destination on a global scaleIncrease SMEs competitiveness and revenue (by encouraging the introduction of new marketing channels)Allow SMEs and Thai owners of small hotels or any other properties to compete on a more level playing field (in a situation where everyone has equal chance of succeeding)/ increasing their local and international visibilityImprove the overall industry performance.How ThaiToTop worksAll hotels (sellers) in Thailand are welcome to join the platform by registering their property at www.thaitotop.com website. Once verified, then a user name and password will be sent to them. Following the registration process, hotels will be able to load their products such as inventories, rates and promotions to the platform.The same goes for buyers: Global Wholesalers, Global Distribution Systems (GDS), overseas & local travel agencies are required to register at the website. Once the access has been granted they will have available to them a list of hotels to select from and start trading.One of the important steps for both parties involved is ‘matching’, a process in which sellers choose buyers and buyers choose sellers. From the available list both parties will be able to see the properties they have an existing contract with.Once the connection has been established, the basic of how the channel manager information flows is as follows:For Sellers; this could be Hotels, Resorts, Guesthouses, Bed & BreakfastThey need to load their rates and availability, for which they have two options available:A) Their own Property Management System (PMS), rates and availability are being entered and maintained in their own PMS and then being pushed via XML connection to the channel manager platform.B) If they do not have a PMS system or they are unable to establish XML connectivity to channel manager platform, property owners can access to the Extranet module of channel manager and input the rates and availability directly.Once they have done that, the rates and availability will be then be made available to buyers. For buyers, we refer to Global Wholesalers, Global Distribution Systems (GDS), overseas & local travel agencies.For Buyers, with the state of art of the technology, there are 2 ways to obtain access to the hotel products:A) Rates and availability will be passing through the channel manager to the connected system, and connected system can store this information on and within their own platform.B) When the buyer makes a search, the request is sent to the channel manager which will respond with relevant rates and availability to the connected system.In just a few words and following the quick steps this is what sellers and buyers need to do:For SELLERS: Hotels, Resorts, Guesthouses, Bed & BreakfastPromoting your property is easy, quick and at a minimal cost!Register and Choose – Select how you want to connect to ThaiToTOP (Via extranet or your Property Management System) – Approval within 48hrs and receive your login access.Log in and record information – Set up your property details (property name, room categories, facilities, child policy, cancellation policy, images, .. etc).Enter rates and availability – Set up your property rates, promotions & availability (periods, extra bed, commissions, minimum stay, blackout dates, .. etc ).Select and match – Select the worldwide channels that you would like to connect, distribute and sell your property to and connect to only those that have chosen you as well (matching). Note that you will need to contact the Agent or Buyer directly in order to have a direct commercial agreement with them.Synchronize and monitor – Enjoy live updates of your rates and availability to multiple channels in just few clicks, and monitor your channels performance.For BUYERS -Global Wholesalers, GDS, Overseas & Local AgenciesRegister your company is easy, quick and reliableRegister – Approval within 48hrs and receive your login access details.Log in and record information – Set up your company information (company name, .. etc).Select and match – Select the Thai hotels, resorts, bed & breakfast and guesthouses that you would like to connect to and sell within your own platform. Connect to only those that have chosen you as well (matching). Note that you will need to contact them directly in order to have a direct commercial agreement with them.Synchronize – Enjoy real time rates, promotions and allotment of all Thai Hotels thanks to our ready API.BenefitsWhat are the benefits of ThaiToTOP for hotels?Sell through unlimited channels in one clickMassive time savingsLive update of rates and availability throughout multiple channelsUse their own PMS or our extranet to connectReach out to guests from all over the worldControl their inventory from one place (pooled inventory)Monitor their channels performance (through advanced reporting)A powerful tool to promote their hotel’s name, brand and servicesMinimal-cost for global distributionLoad your contract rates and BAR rates (dynamic, rate parity)Bottom line: Hotels grow revenue and increase sales while decreasing the cost of guest acquisitionWhat are the benefits of ThaiToTOP for buyers?Reinforce Thai hotels inventory with a wider range of choiceReady APIAccess dynamic and static ratesEasy to find & select hotels using a single platform in one goBottom line: Buyers get an array of choices and both types of rates in one single platformWe would like to welcome all of you on board for this exciting initiative of SIPA!Project : Tourism Thailand Open Platform B2B THTourism is a Business to Business (B2B) booking Platform designed to provide a complete and user friendly online channel for travel services’ bookings. These services will be provided to any B2B clients ranging from small travel agents to reputable retail travel chain stores. One of the main objectives of this project is to strengthen the travel industry through direct product control by the suppliers themselves. Promoting products will be easy to both foreign and domestic travel agents with an assurance that operators and travelers will not be exploited.In addition, the project will benefit both consumers and tour agents that are using the system. Travelers can check the pricing and services conveniently and bookings will be quick and easy. THTourism understand that travel agents may have issues in terms of service waiting or delay of response when conduct manual travel bookings. In this case, the B2B online system will ensure customers from different time zones and different countries can make travel bookings anytime, anywhere. Furthermore, in the event of Public Holidays or staff absences, it will not be an issue. With above mentioned, this is why THTourism has implemented this newly created platform; to help improve business expansion of Travel agents and Suppliers alike, as well as to make available a greater advanced technology not currently available to them.Why THTourism? AgentsGet best available rates through our direct contracts and close relationship with suppliersInstant bookings, amendment and cancellation onlineAutomated generation of e-vouchers and e-invoicesMonitor and control your account and transactions onlineMake your travel bookings anytime and anywhereBook multiple services at onceChoose from instantly updated rates and inventoryAssign your own markup for your distributionCustomize vouchers and invoices by adding your company name and logoEffortlessly access rates and inventory through XML connectionSuppliersMaximize your revenues and minimize the cost of buyers acquisitionNo cost distribution of your products and servicesFlexible input of your rates and inventory; either through XML connectivity from your own system or by using our extranetBe in control of your products and monitor your bookings, e.g. acknowledgement and rejections through THTourismAdvanced reporting, e.g. summary of bookings created from THTourism systemReach out to agents from all over the worldThe Project B2B THTourism is a project of SIPA (Software Industry Promotion Agency) in collaboration with TAT (Tourism Authority of Thailand) and MOTS (Ministry of Tourism & Sports). The main purpose of this project is to strengthen businesses within the tourism sector, promote and sell hotel rooms, airport and shuttle transfers, sightseeing tours, tour and golf packages through online channels in a transparent and cost effective manner.This B2B or Business to Business organization has been setup to promote the tourism and hospitality industries within the Kingdom by helping small and medium-sized enterprises (SME) to increase their revenue through a modern business model and advanced technology. The fully automated and user friendly booking system will certainly assist their business in terms of gaining competitive travel products and services internationally. On the wholesaler and supplier side, this B2B platform will allow suppliers to supply and sell their products and services through online extranet as well as via API (XML) connectivity, making the platform a one stop center for the buyer (travel agent) to purchase and book any travel service their clients may require. In addition, this project will be promoted to both domestic and overseas markets by attending various trade shows and exhibitions.How it worksdeveloped by 11-Infotech SystemFor B2B AgentsBooking has never been easier! To book via THTourism.com B2B Portal:Register – sign up on THTourism.com and receive your login credentials upon approval.Log in – use given credentials to log in to our system.Search and make booking – Get access to thousands of products in Thailand and make real time search and instant confirmation booking on following products: Hotel, Transfer, Sightseeing, Tour Packages and Golf Packages.Manage booking – Retrieve existing booking on system for view, amendment or cancelation purposes.For XML Integration with THTourism:Contact us – Contact THTourism for a commercial and system integration agreementGet specifications – Integration Specifications will be provided upon approval from THTourismLive the XML – connection upon connection certified by THTourismBook or cancel to THTourism via XML connection from your system 11-Infotech Systemclick here for all your tourism technology needs Amazing ThailandSource = SIPA – ICT – MOTS – TAT – 11-Infotech System
Airport named among nation’s high priority infrastructureWestern Sydney Airport has again been included among the nation’s ‘high priority infrastructure’ projects by Infrastructure Australia.Infrastructure Australia today released the 2019 Infrastructure Priority List, which names Australia’s most significant nation building initiatives, this year outlining a record $58 billion project pipeline.Western Sydney Airport Chief Executive Officer Graham Millett said the $5.3 billion Airport project would provide significant benefits, both locally and nationally.“The Airport will be a game-changer for job creation in Western Sydney,” Mr Millett said.“Not only will it support around 11,000 jobs in construction and up to 28,000 when operational, but Western Sydney Airport will be the catalyst for higher quality jobs in the region.“The Airport is set to attract high tech manufacturing, medical and research industries that will mean new types of jobs for locals, who will no longer have to travel to the eastern CBD.“At least 30 per cent of our construction workforce must be from Western Sydney, that increases to 50 per cent when the Airport is operating.”Western Sydney Airport is also set to tackle Sydney’s airport capacity constraints, stimulating broader benefits such as increased trade and tourism.“Western Sydney Airport will operate 24/7, which is crucial to providing new opportunities for producers to export fresh goods to lucrative Asian markets,” Mr Millett said.Mr Millett also welcomed the Infrastructure Priority List’s inclusion of crucial road and rail initiatives to support Western Sydney Airport and the surrounding region.“Constructing the M12 motorway to the Airport and ensuring a rail connection is in place when the Airport opens will be very important to ensuring easy access for workers and passengers,” he said.Western Sydney Airport is set to begin international, domestic and air freight operations in 2026.Source = Western Sydney Airport
Kuoni DVMS (Dubai Visa & Marhaba Services) unveiled an updated brand identity, which includes a redesigned primary logo. DVMS will now be Distribution. Visa. Marketing. Services.The new DVMS logo depicts broadening of DVMS scope of business. A core component of the design is the ‘+’ sign which portrays value and growth, further emphasised with the colour GREEN which establishes growth. Among the four broad services, Visa remains as a core business and thus highlighted by the colour green. In all the logo signifies change and seamlessly communicates DVMS brand value and broad scope of business.Speaking on the new brand identity, Manoj Chacko, CEO- Kuoni Business Travel said, “DVMS has been at the forefront in the market from 2007 and has been growing at a rapid pace. This strong foundation in UAE Visas & Meet & Greet Services has given us the confidence to go beyond and explore new avenues in the travel space thereby increasing our product & services offerings.”Clevio Monteiro, Business Head, DVMS said, “I’m very excited with the various new business opportunities envisaged under the revamped DVMS brand identity. The revamped brand inspires the DVMS vision for a better connect & recognition with our target segment.”DVMS is a trademark brand owned by Kuoni Travel (India) Pvt Ltd having 19 Visa Application Centres (VAC) in India and three international locations offering Visa and Marhaba Services for customers travelling to UAE.DVMS’s current services include:Visa Services> Tourist Visa (DXB, SHJ, AUH) for 30 days (maximum duration of stay)> Transit Visa (DXB) for 96 hours (maximum duration of stay)Marhaba Services (at Dubai Airport)> Marhaba Meet & Greet Services at DXB Airporto Gold Services (Personalised Meet & Greet Services on arrival with complimentary lounge on departure)o Silver Services (Formerly Diamond Meet & Greet Services)o Bronze Services (Formerly Standard Meet & Greet Services)o Lounge Services (While transiting or departing from DXB)o Limousine Services (to & fro)o City Stop Packageso Floral Bouquets Serviceso Terminal Transfer ServicesAdvantages of applying for Visa & Marhaba Services through DVMS> DVMS processes stand-alone visa applications> Local / Online submission of applications> Process visa application for any airline passengers choose to fly except Emirates> Quick processing & turnaround time> Apply from more than 20 convenient VAC locations in India including one at Madurai> Pay in INR> Visa application processed for Dubai, Sharjah & Abu Dhabi> Wide choices for you to stay including Hotels, Services Apartments, Relatives and Friends> Pre departure confirmed booking for all Marhaba Services
Indonesia intends to triple its international tourist arrivals by 2018 in a bid to boost its flagging economy, weakened by a sliding rupiah and global slowdown.The archipelago state has seen steady growth in the number of visitors in recent years, with arrivals growing by more than seven percent last year to 9.44 million.Early this year, the Ministry of Tourism was asked by the Joko Widodo administration to raise the tourism sector contribution from nine percent last year to about 15% by 2019.The Minister of Tourism, Arief Yahya, however has greater plans. “We have high ambitions to bring in 20 million more tourists within the next two to three years,” he said, announcing the appointment of Ogilvy Public Relations to drive the “Wonderful Indonesia” branding campaign.“This year, ‘Wonderful Indonesia’ ranked 47th as the best branding in the world out of 144 countries, by the Travel and Tourism Competitiveness Index,” added Arief, referring to the World Economic Forum-led index. “We are extremely proud of this and are determined to continue the momentum.”The ministry now has a budget of 1.3 trillion rupiah (S$135 million), allocated for the promotion of tourism in the current year. The amount is more than four times the 300 billion rupiah last year, as pointed out by spokesman Vincent Jemadu.Indonesia will be promoted through international media, including prominent travel and natural science magazines, as well as television advertisements overseas.
World’s first Angry Birds Entertainment Park marked its grand opening at Doha Festival City on April 25, welcoming guests into Qatar’s unique indoor and outdoor destination. Home to the world-famous Angry Birds flock, the 17,000 sq m nest brings a riot of fun for the whole family.Following the launch of its indoor section last year, the park extends the same excitement to its enchanting outdoor section, as part of the second phase. New attractions include the 42 m high Super Slingshot themed around the classic bird-flinging gameplay that catapults guests more than 60 m into the air, offering a truly heart-pounding experience. The Red’s House offers sand play activities for little ones while the Raft Battle takes visitors on a voyage from the Bird Island to the Piggy Island in an interactive cinematic experience. For a hearty dose of thrill, guests can climb aboard the Angry Coaster or simply head to the park’s City Studio to experience wall climbing, parabolic slides, roller gliders and ropes course.Once indoors, visitors can enjoy exhilarating rides or a laser tag battle. The park also boasts the world’s first indoor/outdoor karting track and The Big Tree – a multi-level creative playground offering a variety of edutainment workshops for little ones and exciting challenges such as ropes course and zip line. Visitors can keep the energy soaring at the Trampoline Universe, comprising a basketball court, foam pit and a kids’ court.With family entertainment at the heart of its offerings, the park is rolling out a host of attractions that will engage and entertain one and all, including an array of F&B outlets with an exclusive Angry Birds themed menu in addition to private birthday rooms and official merchandise from the cluster of retail stores across the site.Commenting on the opening of the Angry Birds World, Rashed AlQurese, Chief Marketing Officer, Qatar National Tourism Council (QNTC) said, “We continue to deliver on the Next Chapter’s promise of enhancing the Qatar visitor experience and our private sector partners’ support in this regard is of high value to us. Urban and family-oriented entertainment is one of the six areas that we are focusing on the development of the tourism sector. We are pleased to see the Angry Birds World added to the list of Qatar’s unique visitor experiences. Such amazing indoor recreational facilities combined with our calendar of festivals will give tourists more reasons to visit Qatar throughout the year.”Ali Bin Mohamed Bin Khalifa Al-Attia, Deputy CEO of Leisure, owner of Trimoo Parks – the company operating the entertainment park commented, “We are extremely delighted to open our doors to a first-of-its-kind indoor-outdoor destination. Visitors can enjoy a uniquely immersive experience that will delight the whole family – children and adults alike.”“The Angry Birds celebrate their 10-year anniversary this year, but our work has just begun in terms of expanding the brand’s footprint and establishing multiple touch points with our fans worldwide,” said Simo Hämäläinen, Head of Brand Licensing at Rovio Entertainment. “Angry Birds World is a fantastic ‘fun for the whole family’ attraction that shows the mass appeal of the Angry Birds brand and the joy it brings to people of all ages.”Angry Birds World constitutes one of the three major entertainment parks that are managed by Trimoo Parks at Doha Festival City, located along Al Shamal Road. The mall is home to Virtuocity – the region’s first gaming capital, and soon to open Snow Dunes – the country’s first indoor snow park.
July 5, 2012 459 Views Share Mortgage rates continued to drop Thursday as the average 30-year fixed mortgage rate slammed into a new record low of 3.87 percent, according to “”Freddie Mac””:http://www.freddiemac.com/.[IMAGE]The GSE found that for interest rates for the 15-year loan fell to 3.13 percent, while the jumbo 30-year fixed mortgage declined to 4.47 percent, each setting record lows. Adjustable-mortgage rates were mixed, with the average 3-year and 1-year ARMs inching higher to 3.07 percent. The popular 5-year and 1-year ARMs pulled back below the 3 percent threshold to a record low of 2.96 percent. Instability in the European and global landscapes continues to play a major role in historically low mortgage rates. “”While Europe has staved off any immediate meltdown ├â┬ó├óÔÇÜ┬¼├óÔé¼┼ô at least temporarily ├â┬ó├óÔÇÜ┬¼├óÔé¼┼ô concerns about the U.S. economy continue to mount as hiring is slow and the manufacturing sector shows surprise weakness,”” “”Bankrate.com””:http://www.bankrate.com/, which tracks mortgage rates in a separate weekly survey, said in a statement. “”The prevailing nervousness in financial markets, surrounding both Europe and the global economic landscape, are keeping mortgage rates at ultra-low levels.””The Web site also said that mortgage rates have not been above 6 percent since Nov. 2008. At that time, the average 30-year fixed rate was 6.33 percent, meaning a $200,000 loan would have carried a monthly payment of $1,241.86. With the average rate now 3.87 percent, the monthly payment for the same size loan would be $939.90, a difference of nearly $302 per month for anyone refinancing now. “”Frank Nothaft””:http://www.freddiemac.com/bios/exec/nothaft.html, VP and chief economist with Freddie Mac, attributes less consumer spending as one of the causes of the continued rate decrease. “”Recent economic data releases of less consumer spending and a contraction in the manufacturing industry drove long-term Treasury bond yields lower over the week and allowed fixed mortgage rates to hit new all-time record lows,”” he said. Adjustable-Rate Mortgage Bankrate Euro European Union Fixed-Rate Mortgage Freddie Mac Housing Affordability Mortgage Rates Processing 2012-07-05 Sara Ortega Mortgage Rates Slam into New Record Lows as Europe Wobbles in Data, Government, Origination, Servicing
President Obama embarked this week on a series of speeches designed to highlight the nation’s continued economic stress. The immediate response–and from both ends of the political spectrum–was to decry his efforts as “”same-old, same-old.”” [IMAGE]It is true the president has made this pitch before, emphasizing that the significant progress the country has made is not enough.And while we may have heard his speech before, this time it is different–unlike the 30-plus times House Republicans have voted in futility to repeal the Affordable Care Act (ACA). (Just why the president has embraced the term “”Obamacare”” for a law that has to do with making medical _insurance_ more affordable without affecting the cost of medical _care_ is another mystery. If the House majority succeeds in eliminating the law, it would expose millions of people to being rejected for insurance for a pre-existing condition. The only way eliminating the pre-existing condition discrimination works economically is if the pool of insured is expanded–by requiring insurance if necessary. Repeal of the ACA makes little sense. It makes even less sense when the House GOP wants to replace Medicare with a voucher system and push future seniors into the market. Will all those seniors who don’t have a pre-existing condition raise your hand. Not too many hands out there, are there? But I digress.)What makes the timing of the president’s repeated ├â┬ó├óÔÇÜ┬¼├àÔÇ£let’s-do-something-about-the-economy├â┬ó├óÔÇÜ┬¼├é┬Ø campaign different is the renewed feeling that the economy is floundering, numbers notwithstanding. To paraphrase: When your neighbor remains out of work, it’s a recession; when you remain out of work, it’s a depression.The Pew Research Center, just one day after the president began his tour, reported a growing percentage of Americans–44 percent of those polled–believe economic recovery is still a long way off, and the percentage of respondents grading the economy “”fair”” or “”poor”” was 82 percent, not much an improvement from the 83 percent in a similar survey in March. The percentage ranking the economy “”excellent”” or “”good”” rose to 17 percent in the most recent survey from 16 percent four months ago. When Obama was re-elected, only 13 percent saw the economy as “”excellent”” or “”good.””What’s a president to do? If you’re Obama, you do what you do best: give a speech, play your role as cheerleader-in-chief, and be careful to not get too tied up in your own rhetoric or trapped by your ideas. Of course, presidents can also dance out of corners, as George W. Bush did in 2001, when he argued first for a tax cut because the economy was doing well–but when it began to slip two months after he took office, said we needed a tax cut as a stimulus. Though Obama offered a tax cut as a stimulus shortly after taking office, he got no Republican votes from the Congress. Go figure.To be sure, the signs of progress in the economy are exceedingly slow and perhaps even remote.While jobs have improved–a monthly average of about 200,000 new jobs in the last year–the quality of those jobs remains uneven, with about a quarter of them coming from the two lowest-paying industry sectors: retail and leisure and hospitality. And as the number of payroll jobs has increased, so has the number of multiple jobholders, absorbing almost 10 percent of the payroll jobs created in the last year.The economic recovery doesn’t get good grades because government is shrinking: 725,000 fewer government jobs than when the President took office, though most of that reduction is at the local level, which has shed just over 500,000 jobs since January 2009. Government may not manufacture anything, but the people who would be in place to provide needed government services earn salaries that they spend, adding to sorely-needed demand. Sequestration hasn’t helped, and with no end in sight to mindless across-the-board spending cuts, we’re on course for continued sub-par growth.It’s no secret that consumers aren’t spending what they used to–they├â┬ó├óÔÇÜ┬¼├óÔÇ×┬óre gun-shy, so to speak. Even though top-line retail spending suggests strength, a peek behind the curtain reveals what economists know to be true: The monthly report on retails sales tells us very little about consumer attitudes and much more about prices for necessities.Even the improved housing numbers are not without risk: Home sales have improved as buyers rush the market before mortgage rates go up higher. The improvement in sales of new homes (actually contracts) reported for June may more likely be pulling future sales forward.Businesses certainly know and understand that. They’ve cut back on stocking shelves because buyers aren’t there. Nero, we’re told, fiddled while Rome burned. It could be Obama’s music is the lyrical melody of his speeches._Hear Mark Lieberman on P.O.T.U.S. (Sirius-XM 124) every Friday at 6:20 a.m. Eastern. When the Employment Situation report is released next Friday, hear him at 8:45 a.m. and again at noon Eastern._*_Want to write an opinion piece for publication on our site? Send your submission to_* “”MReportEditor@TheMReport.com.””:mailto:MReportEditor@TheMReport.com Commentary: Obama’s Magical Mystery Tour Agents & Brokers Attorneys & Title Companies Barack Obama Bureau of Labor Statistics Consumer spending Demand For-Sale Homes Home Prices Home Sales Investors Lenders & Servicers Mortgage Rates Payrolls Service Providers 2013-07-26 Mark Lieberman July 26, 2013 388 Views Share in Data, Government
November 19, 2014 521 Views Share The probability that home prices will drop in the next two years fell again in the second quarter, reflecting increasingly stable market conditions, according to a measure released this week.Looking at economic and housing market indicators in the second quarter, Arch Mortgage Insurance Company (Arch MI) says the odds of a decline in home prices in the next two years on the national level are 13 percent, down from 15 percent in the company’s summer estimate.The company bases its prediction on a review of several factors, including affordability conditions, unemployment rates, and price growth.Arch MI says the United States’ current economic health puts the country’s risk of future price decreases at “minimal.” By comparison, an average of 11 percent of metropolitan statistical areas (MSAs) experienced price declines in the pre-crisis era between 1980 and 1999, according to the company.At the state level, only Florida, New Jersey, and New York fell into the “moderate” risk category, each posting index values above 25—meaning at least a 25 percent chance of price drops in those states in the coming years.”These states are of the greatest concern due to higher-than-average mortgage delinquencies and generally weak economic conditions,” Arch MI explained in its report.A handful of states ranked in the 11–20 index range, classifying them as “low” risk states. That group included several of those hit worst in the housing crash—including California, Arizona, and Nevada, due to their price volatility—and a few others with higher than average unemployment such as Rhode Island and Washington, D.C.Arch MI categorized the remainder of states as “minimal” risk.Out of the 384 metropolitan areas tracked in the report, New Jersey’s Atlantic City ranked as the riskiest in terms of imminent price drops with an estimated 84 percent probability of a decline. The area has already seen prices come down over the past year, and high unemployment is expected to drive further drops, Arch MI says.Of the 50 most populous MSAs, four fall within the moderate risk category, including two in California: San Francisco-San Mateo-Redwood City and Santa Ana-Anaheim-Irvine, largely thanks to their low affordability. The New York City metro also made the list for the same reason, while Detroit’s weak economy earned it a spot at the top. Risk Index Forecasts Low Odds of Price Declines in Coming Years Arch MI Home Prices Housing Affordability Jobs 2014-11-19 Tory Barringer in Daily Dose, Data, Featured, News
Doubles Fair Value Gains Fannie Mae Net Income 2015-08-06 Seth Welborn Fannie Mae’s Net Income More Than Doubles for Q2; Pace Slowed From Last Year Fair value gains were the primary driver as Fannie Mae’s net income more than doubled from the first quarter to the second quarter, according to an announcement from Fannie Mae on Thursday.The GSE’s net income for Q2 was $4.6 billion, compared to $1.9 billion in the first quarter, totaling $6.5 billion for the year. Despite the substantial quarter-over-quarter increase in net income, Fannie Mae is still slightly behind last year’s pace, when the GSE reported a net income of $14.2 billion for all of 2014. Fannie Mae’s net income in 2013 was $84 billion.The quarter-over-quarter increase in net income for Q2 2015 was largely driven by fair value gains, offset by credit-related expense that was negatively affected by an increase in interest rates. Fannie Mae’s net fair value gains in Q2 totaled $2.6 billion, compared with losses of $1.9 billion in Q1. Increases in longer term interest rates that positively impacted the value of Fannie Mae’s risk management derivatives were largely responsible for the fair value gains in Q2.Fannie Mae’s provision for federal income taxes for Q2 was $2.2 billion, reflecting an effective tax rate of 32 percent. The Enterprise’s comprehensive income for Q2 was $4.4 billion, compared to $1.8 billion for the previous quarter and $14.7 billion for all of 2014.”We reported another strong quarter of financial performance with solid revenues and an impressive book of business that only continues to improve. We have reduced the risk of our business and have made great strides in transferring credit risk to private capital to better protect taxpayers,” said Timothy J. Mayopoulos, president and chief executive officer. “We are committed to serving our customers and the market with solutions that promote simplicity and certainty. We are creating revolutionary new tools, products, and solutions – and enhancing our existing foundational resources – to support our lenders. We continue to make changes throughout our company that improve the way we work and increase the value we provide to the housing finance system.”Fannie Mae also announced it will pay a dividend of $4.4 billion to the Department of Treasury in September 2015, bringing the total dividend payment to Treasury of $142.5 billion – about $26.4 billion more than Fannie Mae received in the 2008 bailout from Treasury ($116.1 billion).The Enterprise provided about $144 billion in liquidity to the mortgage market in Q2, which enabled families to buy, refinance, or rent homes. Fannie Mae also helped 34,000 distressed families avoid foreclosure or retain their homes through loan workouts during Q2, using both Fannie Mae’s proprietary programs and other government-sponsored programs such as the Home Affordable Mortgage Program (HAMP).Q2 marked the 21st consecutive quarter of declines for the single-family serious delinquency rate in Fannie Mae’s book of business. The rate was reported at 1.66 percent in Q2 and has declined every quarter since Q1 2010, when it was reported at 5.47 percent.”This decrease is primarily the result of home retention solutions, foreclosure alternatives and completed foreclosures, improved loan payment performance, as well as the company’s acquisition of loans with stronger credit profiles since the beginning of 2009,” Fannie Mae said in the report.Fannie Mae said despite the steadily decreasing number of single-family seriously delinquent loans in its book of business, the Enterprise expects the SF serious delinquency rate to remain above pre-2008 levels for years due to many factors, including the length of time required to complete foreclosures in some states, pace of loan modifications, timing and volume of future sales the Enterprise makes of non-performing loans, as well as changes in home prices, unemployment levels, and other macroeconomic conditions.To view Fannie Mae’s complete Q2 2015 financial results, click here. August 6, 2015 453 Views in Daily Dose, Government, Headlines, News Share
in Daily Dose, Data, Featured, News, Origination Share Existing-homes sales have been up against unfavorable odds including inventory shortages, soaring home price appreciation, and stagnant household income growth. However, they defied those odds and came out on top for the second consecutive month.The National Association of Realtors (NAR) reported Friday that existing-home sales, which include completed buyer transactions of single-family homes, townhomes, condominiums, and co-ops, rose 1.7 percent in April to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 5.45 million. March’s total was revised to 5.36 million and sales are now up 6.0 percent year-over-year in April.According to NAR, single-family home sales rose 0.6 percent to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 4.81 million in April from 4.78 million in March, and are now 6.2 percent higher than the 4.53 million pace a year ago.NAR Chief Economist Lawrence Yun noted that the April existing sales data “signals slowly building momentum for the housing market this spring.”Source: National Association of Home Builders”Primarily driven by a convincing jump in the Midwest, where home prices are most affordable, sales activity overall was at a healthy pace last month as very low mortgage rates and modest seasonal inventory gains encouraged more households to search for and close on a home,” he said. “Except for in the West—where supply shortages and stark price growth are hampering buyers the most—sales are meaningfully higher than a year ago in much of the country.”Realtor.com Chief Economist Jonathan Smoke said that the two-month streak of increases has brought existing home sales in line with the seasonally adjusted pace of sales at the beginning of the year and 6 percent higher than last year. This shows that momentum is continuing from a strong start to the year as the peak months for sales approach.”We’ve now seen 44 straight months of tight supply. In these conditions, home values have strong support, but potential buyers will continue to face challenges finding a home for sale that meets their needs,” Smoke stated. “The biggest challenge to prospective buyers is tight supply, and that’s why we’re seeing the age of inventory drop dramatically. At the same time, we estimate that sales to first-time buyers are up 11 percent so far this year, and they comprise the largest source of this year’s growth in sales.”The data showed that the median existing-home price for all housing types in April was $232,500, up 6.3 percent from $218,700 in April 2015. This increase marks the 50th consecutive month of year-over-year gains. The median existing single-family home price was $233,700 in April, up 6.2 percent from April 2015.Inventory fared extremely well for April, rising 9.2 percent to 2.14 million existing homes available for sale, but it is still 3.6 percent lower than a year ago when inventory reached 2.22 million homes. NAR reported that unsold inventory is at a 4.7-month supply at the current sales pace, up from 4.4 months in March.More first-time buyers came into the housing market in April. The data found that the share of first-time buyers was 32 percent in April, up from 30 percent both in March and a year ago.Yun stated, “The temporary relief from mortgage rates currently near three-year lows has helped preserve housing affordability this spring, but there’s growing concern a number of buyers will be unable to find homes at affordable prices if wages don’t rise and price growth doesn’t slow.”He continued, “Looking ahead, with demand holding steady and supply levels still far from sufficient, the market for entry-level and mid-priced homes will likely continue to be the most competitive heading into the summer months.”Stephen Melman, J.D., National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) Director of Economic Services said, “The Pending Home Sales Index increased 3.5 percent in February and 1.4 percent in March, so the continued upward trend in existing sales reported in April was not unexpected. Builder sentiment remains cautiously optimistic, and the tight inventory of existing homes bodes well for new single-family sales in 2016.” Existing-Home Sales Home Prices NAR National Association of Realtors 2016-05-20 Staff Writer May 20, 2016 707 Views Existing-Home Sales Emerge Triumphant
January 11, 2017 621 Views Breaking Down Lingering Negative Equity in Daily Dose, Data, Headlines, News Negative Equity Underwater Homeowners 2017-01-11 Seth Welborn Share The number of homeowners with negative equity (2.2 million as of the end of November) has been falling steadily since it peaked in 2012 as home prices bottomed out and is now at its lowest point in a decade, according to Black Knight Financial Services. At the same time, the aggregate amount of homeowner equity in the U.S. ($4.6 billion as of the end of November) is at its highest point in a decade.Since home prices have been rising steadily since 2012 and are now at or past pre-crisis peaks in many areas, the result has been a corresponding steady rise in homeowner equity. Nonetheless, large numbers of homeowners in some areas of the country remain underwater, and in particular, some demographics are having a more difficult time regaining home equity, according to a recent analysis from Zillow.Zillow reported that 10.9 percent of U.S. homeowners were underwater as of the end of the third quarter, but the share was higher in predominantly black and Hispanic Census tracts compared with areas composed of primarily white residents. The negative equity rate for areas where most residents were white was 9.9 percent at the end of Q3 compared to 20 percent for majority black communities and 12 percent for majority Hispanic communities, according to Zillow. For communities where no race had a majority, the rate was 11.9 percent.According to Zillow, home price appreciation which has been strong since 2012 on a nationwide basis but has been slower than the national average in some communities were a majority of residents are black or Hispanic, which has prevented homeowners in these communities from getting above water.“Negative equity is not an equal opportunity offender, with certain markets still being more affected than others,” said Zillow Chief Economist Dr. Svenja Gudell. “Our previous research has shown that negative equity is more concentrated among less expensive homes, and now we know that it is also more prevalent in minority neighborhoods than in white communities, which are also trailing in the overall housing recovery. These gaps can and will have long lasting implications for growth and equality.”Specifically, negative equity has the potential to adversely affect the entire housing market. Underwater homeowners generally cannot sell their homes (unless they take a loss), and a large number of them translates to fewer homes for sale, which leaves potential buyers with fewer options, according to Zillow.Click here to view Zillow’s complete analysis.
Veros Introduces UCD-compliant Solution Veros Real Estate Solutions, a Santa Ana, California-based technology provider, announced Wednesday a new solution that satisfies the GSEs’ Uniform Closing Dataset requirements, which go into effect next week.“We are pleased to announce our new VeroDATAFI for lenders to be able to comply with the new UCD requirements and address the system and process challenges that September 25th will bring,” said Charles Rumfola, SVP of Strategic Initiatives at Veros.Veros already has a strong relationship with the GSEs. In fact, Rumfola said, “Veros played an integral part in successfully implementing the Uniform Collateral Data Portal (UCDP) for the GSEs, and we are looking to build on that success for UCD.”VeroDATAFI accepts UCD XML data and delivers it directly to Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. The delivery can take place either through the VeroDATAFI web portal application, a secure portal that connects directly to the GSEs and offers pre-delivery checks.A second option is to deliver the files through the Application Programming Interface Automation Integration via Veros’ PATHWAY. According to Veros, this solution “seamlessly integrates into the lender’s current infrastructure and is the right technology for high volume delivery.”VeroDATAFI leverages Veros existing PATHWAY, which according to the company is ranked No. 1 for appraisal delivery volume into the UCDP and exceeds 99.9 percent up-times.“VeroDATAFI is certified by both Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac for the UCD XML file delivery, which enables lenders to start immediately delivering the UCD XML file to the GSEs, Rumfola said. “We are excited to continue to work with both our lender customers and the GSEs to expand upon our proven systems to continue to serve the mortgage industry’s compliance needs.”The GSEs will begin implementing their UCD requirements Monday, September 25 and will only accept UCD XML files. in Headlines, News, Technology September 20, 2017 532 Views Fannie Mae Freddie Mac GSEs UCDP Uniform Closing Data Uniform Closing Data Program Veros Real Estate Solutions 2017-09-20 Krista Franks Brock Share
Mortgage Organizations’ Relief Efforts in Effect foreclosure relief HOUSING mortgage quickenloans TD Bank 2017-11-30 Nicole Casperson Share From the homeless to homeowners facing tax foreclosure, Quicken Loans and TD Bank recently announced the different ways they intend on helping those in need of housing relief.TD Bank will assist in financing Project HOME’s, a non-profit organization, development of an affordable housing residence for young adults that have experienced homelessness or are at risk of homelessness, those who have aged out of foster care, disabled or special needs households, and LGBTQ individuals in North Philadelphia.The bank has committed $11 million in total, including a $6.7 million tax-exempt construction loan. Additionally providing a $4.3 million investment through the Community Capital Group in partnership with Raymond James Tax Credit Funds, a national sponsor of affordable housing, with more than $1.1 billion in tax credit equity closed in the fiscal year 2017.The money will be used for the construction of a four-story building with 30 one-bedroom apartments including a living area, a full-size eat-in kitchen, a bedroom, a bathroom, property management, and residential services offices—among many other amenities.The first phase of the two-affordable housing development project is set for Wednesday, December 6, 2017.In a separate announcement, Quicken Loans is working to help in their own way—by helping homeowners avoid foreclosure. With over two thousand Detroit families and households losing their homes due to tax foreclosure, Quicken Loans Community Investment Fund (QLCIF) is funding a new $500,000 campaign called the “Neighbor to Neighbor” effort, according to the Detroit Metro Times.Through this campaign, QLCIF and the United Community Housing Coalition (UCHC) will partner with about two dozen community groups and nonprofits in an effort to reach the 65,000 Detroit households behind on their taxes.The new “Neighbor to Neighbor” effort involves Quicken Loans’ community investment fund partnered with UCHC to knock on the doors of 3,300 residents of Detroit homes facing the 2017 tax foreclosure auction. According to QLCIF, that outreach effort helped residents in 2,100 homes avoid tax foreclosure.”Our goal is to start getting in front of people as soon as they get behind on their tax bill and letting them know that there are networks of support and that things like the poverty tax exemption exist,” Laura Grannemann, the VP of Community Investments at Quicken Loans told Detroit Metro Times. The focus will be on informing homeowners about an underutilized property tax-exemption that can reduce or eliminate the tax bill for low-income households. According to Grannemann, only 3,600 Detroit households are currently enrolled in the exemption—despite Census data suggesting about 40,000 households could be qualified. November 30, 2017 686 Views in Daily Dose, Featured, journal, News, Servicing
Keeping Pace With Digitization in Mortgage Lending in Daily Dose, Featured, News, Origination Borrowers digital Homebuyers Lenders loans mortgage 2018-08-27 Radhika Ojha August 27, 2018 851 Views We are just over halfway into 2018, and it’s already proving to be a transformational year in the mortgage space, especially for technology adoption. Look no further than the latest funding rounds in Silicon Valley. Startups offering digital mortgage capabilities and real estate technologies are gaining strength from the backing of venture capital firms and growing in number.Research by Accenture shows that 87 percent of consumers start the home buying process online. Not only that, but their expectations for a simple, end-to-end, digital real estate experience are on the rise. Digitization is no longer a ‘nice-to-have’ option for customers. The lack of a clear digital path through the mortgage lending process will soon become a deal breaker for an ever-increasing share of consumers.In 2017 alone, 43 percent of home buyers said they digitally applied for a mortgage loan. All signs are pointing to that trend continuing to grow in the years ahead, setting up organizations that embrace digital transformation as those that will emerge as the market leaders of the future.While it’s exciting to be on the cusp of the housing market’s digital revolution, there’s no guarantee that the new technologies flooding the market will be adopted by both lenders and borrowers. Though the industry is going digital, it is essential to adopt a thoughtful and purposeful strategy towards digitization.Don’t mistake ‘thoughtful and purposeful’ for ‘slow and plodding.’ The pace of change will be unlike anything we’ve seen in the past. After all, that’s the nature of digitization.What are the steps to effectively implement a digital strategy this year and beyond? Here are a few ways the mortgage banking market can keep pace with the ongoing shift to digital.Prioritize SynergyDigitizing the lending experience can come with its fair share of risks, but the competitive opportunities are significant and worthy of the investments. For those companies not moving fast enough, the risk to them is getting too far behind and unable to catch up. There are also many disrupters impacting the market that need to be considered. The biggest disruptor today is the number of new participants in the digital mortgage space. Not only does it create more competition and new technologies not typically seen in mortgage, but it also encourages the traditional players to innovate more quickly. The good news is that innovation often comes in the form of collaboration.To truly optimize the mortgage experience for the digital era, lenders must seek out partners who have strategic synergies—especially when it comes to scaling solutions over time. New and exciting approaches are valuable as they spur innovation across the loan life cycle. But when the rubber meets the road of such a complex and heavily regulated industry like mortgage finance, leveraging true banking-grade and scalable technology is critical.Those who choose their partners unwisely face the risk of unintended negative consequences. Make sure the focus is on operating for the long-term and what it will require to scale.Build Your Digital Dream-teamWhile outside partnerships can be a step in the right direction, that doesn’t mean work stops for your internal resources. It’s important to make sure the decision makers within the business grasp the digitally-driven changes in the marketplace and why it matters to have new, long-term ideas to keep pace with the shift.Industry players should opt for the creation of in-house digital groups, whose sole focus is on the agile development and success of technology initiatives. These teams should be able to digitize the necessary parts of the business, while also keeping an eye out for how those new capabilities may impact downstream processes.Get the Full PictureDigitizing the mortgage experience requires a broad view of the entire mortgage lifecycle. While the industry has traditionally focused on one step of the process at a time, digital transformation thrives when lenders can take a more holistic approach to their digital strategy goals.Going beyond the specific pieces of the lending process, such as loan origination or post-close, will allow lenders and other mortgage market participants to reap the rewards of digitization. From minimizing time and cost to close to decreasing fraud and increasing accuracy, there are payoffs from adopting this innovative approach.Digital or BustIt may be easy to get caught up in the excitement of change, but don’t forget to think smart when it comes to which technologies you’re pushing forward and who you’re teaming up with along the way. In such a highly regulated industry, a mature approach to disruption is always best. Don’t be afraid about what the future of the industry holds, but stay informed. Remain proactive and open to new technologies, ideas, as well as partnerships that can help your customers, your team members, and your business stay ahead of the pack. Share
April 23 , 2019 Global Grape Summit wrap-up part two: Consumer res … You might also be interested in The global table grape industry has undergone some of the most significant changes of any fruit commodity over recent years, and the worldwide panorama continues to evolve at a breathtaking pace.Hand-in-hand with a 17% rise in total exports over the last five years, new production regions and new varieties have dramatically modified the traditional market windows enjoyed by many of the world’s top suppliers, and are likely to continue to change them even in the future.Understanding these changes and knowing what to expect in the coming years is vital for all players in the table grape industry in order to make the most strategic business decisions.Manuel José Alcaíno, president of DecofrutFor this reason, Manuel José Alcaíno, president of Chile-based market research company Decofrut, will kick off the Global Grape Summit in London on June 5 with a presentation entitled “The Global Table Grape Panorama”.The inaugural event, which will be held in conjunction with the London Produce Show and Conference, will bring together leading actors from the global table grape supply chain for a forward-thinking day of insightful educational sessions and networking.At FreshFruitPortal.com, we caught up with Alcaíno to hear more about what attendees could expect to hear from his wide-ranging talk in one of the world’s top grape markets.“I’m going to talk about the positions of the main markets and the most important suppliers from the Northern Hemisphere and Southern Hemisphere,” he said. He elaborated that new elements in both regions that have recently begun to play an increasingly instrumental role – “elements such as new varieties that have longer seasons, that are harvested later…and which enter into the other hemisphere during the local season”.There is therefore less and less space between the various marketing windows of differing production countries, or – as is increasingly the case nowadays – a clear overlap in supplies from numerous different countries that was not there before. Inaugural Global Grape Summit draws large internat … Global Grape Summit announces stellar lineup of pa … “The table grape industry over the last three or four years has been affected by various changes, and it’s important to understand them and be able to forecast them in order to know what’s going on, to chose the best markets and to chose the dates in which to produce,” he said.He added that, by understanding these changes, companies in the industry can “get in the best position with the best marketing windows in the best markets and supply the best varieties when they are in high demand”.Peru’s position in the global table grape industry will also be addressed. Alcaíno said the country has become an increasingly important actor “due to its volumes and due to its potential to produce early in the Southern Hemisphere season”. In fact, the South American country became the world’s third-largest exporter by value last year, displacing Italy and China.“There are lots of countries that are entering into the business,” he said, adding that India is another country that has increased its international presence significantly over recent years that will be addressed in his presentation.Alcaíno will also analyze the position of countries that are more established in the industry but that have managed to extend their seasons. A prominent example is Mexico – a key supplier to the U.S. market in the transition between the Chilean and California seasons. He said that the industry in Mexico is “trialing production in new sectors to arrive earlier”.“The most valuable thing for these countries that are overlapping is the analysis of those windows, which are highly influenced nowadays by the varieties that are being planted,” he said.This overlap also reduces the price peaks the produce industry traditionally sees, often resulting in more balanced market conditions due to the more stable supply, he said.Speaking about the Global Grape Summit, Alcaíno stated that it is a unique event that will allow actors from the Northern and Southern Hemisphere to meet, start a dialogue, and analyze the best ways to progress.“I think that that is the great virtue of the event – getting the players of this industry together…and I think that it is an excellent idea,” he said.Don’t miss the Global Grape Summit on June 5 in Grosvenor House, Park Lane, London. For tickets, sponsorship opportunities or any other information, click here. London gears up for Global Grape Summit tomorrow …