Wednesday, December 16, 2009

the Automotive World's All A-Twitter

While checking in on my "tweets" today, I couldn't help but notice a flurry of of activity from our friends at AAA. You know AAA. They're the people you call when your car breaks down and you need a tow from a "trusted supplier". They're the people who invented the "TripTik" - that personalized map that got my family from Ohio to Florida for so many years. (Though I still don't know why we got a new TripTik each year. It's not like the U.S. Government destroyed I-75 anytime during the 1970's. I guess it gave us peace of mind though.)

But I digress.
Today the folks at AAA posted all kinds of holiday season travel stats. In case you don't follow AAA on Twitter, here's the news:

  • AAA expects 280,000 dead batteries during the Christmas/New Year's holidays. (Good for the aftermarket sales of batteries, good for tow truck operators!)
  • Of the 1.3 million stranded motorists AAA will help during Christmas/New Years, AAA will fix 3 out of 5 issues on the roadside. Of the 1.3 million stranded, a half million will end up taking tow truck rides instead of sleigh rides.
  • 77.7 million are expected to travel by auto during the Christmas/New Year's holidays, up 4.4% (Yep, my family of 4 will be part of that 77.7 million throng.)
  • 4.2 million are expected to travel by air, an increase over last year of 2.9%.
  • Holiday travelers will travel an average 791 miles roundtrip with 40% traveling 700+ miles. My family will be in the 800 miles traveled range. Ugh. Are we there yet?
  • Airfare and car rental prices are up 2% this year, but (GOOD NEWS) hotel prices are expected to be down about 10% during the holidays. Hotel rates this year will be at their lowest average since 2004.
  • More Americans traveling during winter holidays is another sign consumers are continuing to grow more confident.
  • AAA will change 170,000 tires during the holiday period and retrieve another 170,000 sets of keys locked inside cars. Does that imply a correlation of some sort?

Monday, December 14, 2009

Fun on a Friday

Old school sidecar - who doesn't love a Vespa?
Does this remind anyone else of 1930's Germany?
See the USA in a Vay-double-vay

Sexy sidecar

Inspired by DeLorean?

On the road with a Red Bull?

Home is where the heart is

Thursday, December 10, 2009

The Future of the Internet

I liberated this from today's I've never been one to "live in the moment" very well, and as the year draws to a close, I tend to think about the future more and more - waiting for this year to end, and anticipating the beginning of a new year with new opportunities.

This article discusses changes that are brewing in the way we connect as a society. One conclusion I drew from it is that it is expected we will have significantly more sophisticated connectivity in the future, but this will not necessarily lead us to be more connected to each other. In other words, we'll have all kinds of ways to reach out and touch someone electronically, but this may not automatically lead to an actual physical connection that could encourage brand loyalty, friendship, integrity or any other aspects usually attributed to a solid friendship or business relationship. I would conclude that these changes in technology may make it more difficult than ever before to get the right message to the right market. Interesting times ahead!

Herman Trend Alert: The Future of the Internet

December 10, 2009, By Herman Trend Alert

Expect the changing Internet to have new and unexpected effects on many aspects of our lives, as its user interface evolves itself into more elaborate systems.

Our phones will continue their evolution being our primary devices for online access. Improvements in voice-recognition will be significant -- especially for those whose hands are less able to operate keyboards. Artificial and "augmented" reality will become more embedded in everyday life, and the very architecture of the Internet itself will improve. These findings reflected the beliefs of select Internet leaders, activists and analysts as reported by the Pew Internet & American Life Project. The Pew Project asked respondents to assess predictions about technology and its roles in the year 2020. The panel of experts disagreed about whether this advancement will lead to more social tolerance, more forgiving human relations, or better home lives. In previous Herman Trend Alerts we have discussed the important role of mobile devices. These experts believe by the year 2020, mobile devices will be the primary connection tool to the Internet for most people in the world. For the last few years we have been reporting the rise of the mobile platform. In many countries where the infrastructure for landlines is less well developed, cell phones are the major medium for communication. The widespread established base of cell phone users will support this trend.

President Obama has long touted the importance of transparency. Technology will support the possibility of that transparency. The Pew Project forecasts that "transparency of people and organizations will increase." Unfortunately, that transparency "will not necessarily yield more personal integrity, social tolerance or forgiveness. Other key findings include that by 2020, "Voice recognition and touch user-interfaces with the Internet will be more prevalent and accepted" and globally, intellectual property law and copyright protection will continue to be a challenge to enforce, while others continue to find ways to copy and share content -- without payment. Divisions between personal time and work time and between physical and virtual reality will further evaporate with mixed effects in their impacts on basic social relations. Expect the changing Internet to have new and unexpected effects on many aspects of our lives, as its user interface evolves itself into more elaborate systems.

About the Author
Herman Trend AlertHerman Trend Alerts are written by Joyce Gioia, a strategic business futurist, Certified Management Consultant, author, and professional speaker. Archived editions are posted at

Monday, November 23, 2009

Thanksgiving Travel - What are Your Plans?


AAA expects 38.4 million Americans will travel 50 miles or more away from home over the upcoming Thanksgiving holiday weekend. That’s a 1.4-percent increase over last year when 37.8 million traveled. The number of travelers by automobile is expected
to increase 2.1 percent to 33.2 million. That’s 86 percent of all holiday travelers. Last year, Thanksgiving travel dropped a precipitous 25.2 percent in the wake of the housing and financial crisis.
I find it amazing that Thanksgiving travel will still be so low this year. The price of gas has leveled off in the $2.60 - $2.70 range here in NE Ohio and no one (meaning the local media) seems to take much notice of it. There are fewer flights scheduled and they are definitely more expensive this year than last. But the difference in the number of people traveling this year versus two years ago is still 12 million people!

Friday, November 20, 2009

Tomorrow's Technician School of the Year Update

I just finished writing more than 100 individual e-mails to various students, automotive instructors, administrators and automotive industry members who have taken the time to nominate a school for the Tomorrow's Technician School of the Year. It took most of the afternoon. You might be thinking "that's a lot of time to spend communicating with students and instructors", and it is, believe me. But think about it - almost 200 individuals took the time to nominate their school, and we still have about 5 weeks to go before the contest closes and the judging begins. A few hours of my time isn't so much.

I've done this before, and I'll do it again. I'm going to let the entrants tell you how important it is to recognize this portion of the automotive market. No matter what segment you represent, it's probably fair to assume that you haven't spent much of your career thinking about the next generation of automotive technicians.

Tony Southern, Instructor at Alleghany HS, NC says, "One of the smallest schools in NC with an automotive program. NATEF-certified program. Students compete in NC Auto Dealers competition. Very valuable program in small community under stressful economy conditions that allows students to graduate with ability to provide for their families."