Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Ottinene sunset viewpoint ner Byndoor- revisited

After my first visit to Ottinene in October 2011 in an Aria, I've had 2 more visits to this place off NH17 (66) between Byndoor and Bhatkal.

Ottinene is known for its sunset view point.However first 2 visits were during morning and the latest visit was exactly at sunset time. As we drove in, I was expecting sunset to happen right in front of me, where I could view river joining the sea. But the viewpoint is angled southwards, while sunset would happen on the west, so naturally my expectation was stupid. Also the bushes had grown a lot compared to 2011 and view was not so great.

So we walked downwards towards the ocean, using the steps in between the woods. From here we could get good sunset view and some photos below for your reference.

There're some cottages here in Ottinene if you wish to stay, but bookings need to be done at Forest Department Office in Kundapura town. Room rents are about 800 Rs a day. However no restaurants are available, you'll have to drive to nearby town for the same. One resort is also available nearby (Sai Vishram resort)

Below: Cheetah sneaking in from the woods, waiting for its pray





Nearby: Murudeshwara * Kodachadri * Maravante * 10 Adventure activities you can try in Karnataka

Saturday, April 12, 2014

Book Review: "Awaken the leader in you" by Mitesh Khatri

'Awaken the leader in you' is a practical and highly useful book on personality development. Author Mitesh Khatri is a well recognized corporate trainer in India and in this book, he has shared many of the secrets he would share with his workshop participants. 

Awaken the leader in You is not written to induce false dreams into you to become super rich super quick. It is instead written to help you learn viewing daily problems from a new perspective and finding practical solutions. 

Book explains with simple illustrations and examples how leaders differ from ordinary people.Let me share a few examples from the book:

1. There are few things that are not in our control and few that we can probably change. We should quickly identify these two, accept things we can't change (for example, your boss) and focus on things that can be changed/improved (your co-workers, how you manage your time etc). Wasting time and energy on wrong things is no good and will drain you out, leaving little to spend on what you could have changed.

2. Instead of asking 'why' , think 'how'. Instead of thinking "Why is this happening to me", ask "how can I come out of this". This simple change in approach makes huge difference to outcome.

3. Situation + Response= Results. For same situation that everyone faces, how you respond makes the difference between a leader and an ordinary people. Leaders face the situation and try to turn it into opportunity or manage it well, while ordinary people are comfortable avoiding the situation or succumbing to it.

4. Ordinary employees always think with an employee mind set, find excuses to justify their inaction or failures, while leaders think with entrepreneur mindset, often taking ownership of the situation and getting things done dispute the odds. While it is easy to take cover behind a layer of excuses and justifications, success follows those who deliver results, consistently.

5. Take control of your physiology to take control of your emotions. If you're physically tired and exhausted, your brain can't be at its best. 

Book also has stories of several prominent leaders and businessmen who started from almost nothing and now leading their respective empires. Lots of games and exercises conducted in the workshop is also shared.

'Awaken the leader in you' has 11 chapters, focusing on different key topics such as Emotional Intelligence, Values, Managing time, Communication, Building trust,  Building great teams and so on. It is a must read for all individuals having bigger ambitions in life, irrespective of their current positions and situation.

It was very interesting to know that Mitesh Khatri conducts walking on the burning coal (he is a known fire walking expert) exercises for his workshop participants, to boost their confidence and eventually achieve extra ordinary results.

Summary:
Title: Awaken the Leader in You
Author: Mitesh and Indu Khatri
MRP: Rs 250 (Rs 200 on flipkart and Amazon, $2.67/Rs 160 for Kindle edition)
No of Pages: 185
Genre: Personality Development
Publisher: Jaico

Author can be reached through his website, www.miteshkhatri.com/

Note: This review is part of BecomeShakespeare.com Book review program. I got a copy from them for review purpose. There're few other books with same title but written by other author. Be careful while buying.

Friday, April 11, 2014

Skywatch-An evening with XUV500

For this week's Skywatch, its a car again. This time the XUV500 W6. You might have seen some of the pics already (it was too difficult to resist posting them)


 



Little later, when the sun was further down, clicked by Ravi Raj


More skywatch pics on skyley
Skywatch Muttukadu * Mircolight flying *Sunset with Ecosport *  sunset with BMW, Sunset with Tata Nano Twist

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Zoomcar vs Carzonrent Myles- Blr Self Drive Comparison

I've written lots of posts about self drive rentals, but there's still more to write. In this post I am comparing 2 key operators in Bangalore, for self drive car rentals.

My detailed review of Zoom can be found here and recent carzonrent experience can be found here




Carzonrent Blr
Carzonrent.com
Remarks
Rent Amount
Approx 30-60% more than Carzonrent on weekends, but includes 225km worth fuel 

Same as Carzonrent during weekdays,  fuel included
 Swift Rs 1500 a day, XUV500, Rs 3200 a day etc, fuel extra
 Refer illustrations in the end
Deposit
None
30k to 70k blocked on credit card, refund takes a week
If you don’t have a credit card, you can’t rent from carzonrent
Fuel charges
225kms worth fuel included in rental, for subsequent use, per km charge of Rs 12/15 applied, fuel expense reimbursed
Car will be given full tank, to be returned full tank. No km limit. If returned less than full tank, a 15% charge in addition to fuel expense will be levied

Pickup locations
 About 17 in Blr & counting
About 19 in Blr & counting

Pickup-drop
Not Available
Not Available

One way rental
Not Available
Not Available

Vehicle Options- Compact
Figo, Reva e20
 Beat, Swift VDi, i10, Polo, Pulse, i20
Not all cars are available in all locations
Vehicle Options- Sedans
Vento, City S
Vento, Sunny, Etios

Vehicle Options- SUV/7 seaters
Ecosport, Scorpio, XUV500, Safari Storme
Duster, Fortuner, XUV500, Ertiga
 Thar in Goa, Endeavor in Delhi
Vehicle Options- Premium cars
BMW 320d
NA
BMW 5 series is available in Goa
Interstate permit
AP state permit will be refunded by Zoom
To be paid by customer

Automatic cars
BMW 320d, Reva e20
Reva e2o

Booking Process
Very simple in fact, Breeze
Manageable- could be simplified. Need to sign dozen pages, block amount on card etc
Instead of taking copy of passport, DL each time, Carzonrent can take it once and store it
Offers
Many- weekday 40% discount, Tuesday extra discounts etc
None, same rate all days

Speed restriction
125kmph
None officially, cars might be electronically limited to certain speed say 150kmph

Cancellation Policy
Free upto 24 hours
Free upto 24 hours

Mobile App
Yes
No

Accessories in the car
Navigation, Line in cable, charger (all cars)
Video entertainment, fire extinguisher (in some cars)
Tissue paper- all cars

Active on Social Media
Yes, very active and responsive
Yes, but not very active

Hourly Rent
Available
Available

Weekly/Long term
Available
Available

24 hour operations
Yes
Yes



Refer below table for rental illustrations to identify which is cheaper when

Illustration 1: Weekday, quick city ride (120kms), 4 hours, Vento
Zoom
Carzonrent
Vento 4 hour rental: Rs 720 all inclusive
100 kms worth fuel included
Rs 12*20= Rs 240 extra
Total: 960 Rs (rent for 5 hours instead)
Vento 4 hour rental: Rs 1507 all inclusive
Fuel extra (about Rs 350) for 120 kms

Total: 1857 Rs


Illustration 2: Weekend short trip, 150kms, 6 hours, Compact SUV
Ecosport  4 hour rental: Rs 1950 all inclusive
150 kms worth fuel included
Total: 1950 Rs
Duster 4 hour rental: Rs 2261 all inclusive
Fuel extra (about Rs 640) for 150 kms

Total: 2900 Rs


Illustration 3: Weekend short trip, 300 kms, 2 days, Small car
Figo  2 day rental: Rs 5000 all inclusive
450 kms worth fuel included
Total: 5000 Rs
Swift VDi 2 day rental: Rs 2975 all inclusive
Fuel extra (about Rs 1200) for 300 kms

Total: 4200 Rs


Illustration 4: Weekend trip ultra long drive, 1000kms, XUV500, 2 days
XUV500 2 day rental: Rs 8000 all inclusive
450 kms worth fuel included
550*Rs 15=8250
Total: 16250 Rs
XUV500 2 day rental: Rs 6181 all inclusive
Fuel extra (about Rs 6000) for 1000 kms

Total: 12200 Rs


Illustration 5: Long term rental- 1 week, 2000kms, 7 seater
Safari LX 1 week rental: Rs 14000 all inclusive
1300 kms worth fuel included
Extra 700kms*Rs 15=10500
Total: 24500 Rs
Innova  1 week rental: Rs 15108 all inclusive
Fuel extra (about Rs 10000) for 2000 kms

Total: 25108 Rs


Note:
Rental amount as displayed in corresponding websites at the time of compiling this post. Rentals are subject to change


Conclusions: 

Zoom scores heavily in terms of simple process, interactive website and support, not having to worry about fuel. Carzonrent on the other hand little cumbersome w.r.t process, but works out cheaper for very long drives.
  • Weekend, ultra long drives- Carzonrent will work out cheaper 
  • Weekday and Long term rentals- if your usage is within 200-250kms a day, Zoom will work out cheaper
  • Weekend, depending on kms run and vehicles chosen, equation can tilt both ways. Compare and decide
Also read exclusive vehicle reviews:
Zoom: BMW 320d * Ecosport * Scorpio * Figo * Reva
Carzonrent: XUV500 * Ertiga

Tuesday, April 08, 2014

10 Tips to Interpret online reviews effectively!

Our purchase decisions are heavily influenced by online reviews these days. Before buying a product/service we almost always check online to find out what others are saying. A few negative reviews often turn us off and we decide not to buy that product/service and look for alternate options. But in the online world, everything white is not milk and everything dark is NOT poison.

Below I am listing some tips and tricks which should be kept in mind, when you refer online reviews for your purchase decisions. These tips will aid you to conclude if you should take a review seriously or not.

1.       It is important to check reviewer’s profile when you read a review. If you come across an extremely positive or extremely negative for a service (say a hotel booking) and the reviewer hardly has any reviews in his/her name other than this one, then you should be careful. The review could be work of a PR agency trying to promote a particular brand or demote the competition- this is more probable when reviewers name is very generic and can’t be verified against a real person (Check the reviewers name and check if he/she has any other online presence- twitter, linked in etc) It is true that people come and write review only when they experience something negative, but when identify of reviewer sounds fishy and he/she has only 1 review in his/her credit over years, then give less weightage to such reviews.

2.       Was reviewer a real customer? Some websites allow only paid customers to write a review. Such sites are more credible because reviewer has paid for the product/service and is writing from his/her experience. Sites like flipkart put a flag ‘Certified Buyer’ next to reviews. Such reviews can be given higher weightage compared to someone who may not have really experienced the product/service (It is very much possible that I buy a book elsewhere but review on flipkart- I am not saying discount other reviews completely). While launching Samsung tablet, Samsugn ran an indiblogger campaign where users had to review the product, for a chance of winning it. Many bloggers wrote great reviews purely based on the specs, without even touching the product. Such reviews carry very low credibility. This is also the case with many premium brands- those who can review it can’t afford to buy it, while those who buy it don’t care to review it.

3.       Is the review very generic or has specific points? If a review uses extreme sentences (“Our stay was hopeless, nothing was in order, all staff are cheats and idiots, this hotel is total waste, one should NEVER stay her” or “Hotel X is an amazing hotel with better than 5 star facilities, it was a lifetime experience staying here”), be careful. Though such extremely bad or extremely good experiences are possible, most of the normal experiences will be in between these 2 extremes. If a review has exact specifics on what worked and what didn’t work, then it is worth giving more weightage

4.       Are the concerns applicable to you? When a reviewer has mentioned specific pain points, check if they are applicable to your situation. Example, a review might say ‘Hot water was not coming’. If you’re going in summer, this may not be a concern. If ‘lift was not working’, it could be a temporary problem, probably fixed by now (call and confirm). But if the concern is ‘to reach this hotel we need to take a 1 km walk uphill at 45 degree angle’, then this needs serious attention.

5.       Is the reviewer responding to brand’s replies? Most review websites enable brands to respond to reviews written against them. At times these hotel chains respond to a review and try to explain their stand or offer to undo the damage. A reviewer is usually expected to respond to such replies and try to resolve the matter. But if the reviewer totally absconding after the review, its credibility could be low. (Of course sometimes the replies by brands is very generic like ‘we’re investigating this and get back to you’ and of no practical use, which are ignored by reviewers)

6.       Is reviewer hiding his/her part of the mistakes? Service industry is a tricky business. While customers want the max value for their money, service providers need to make money out of each deal. At times mistakes happen from both sides- customer may turn up at a hotel with more guests than booked and demand that they be accommodated, or customer has typed a wrong telephone number and is complaining that service provider never reached him etc. Mistakes do happen from both sides, but reviewers often underplay their mistakes. While reading the review we should read it in neutral mindset and assess the fairness of the criticism

7.       Who is the least of the evils? At times, all option you have will have negative reviews (For example, if you take the case of mobile operators, there’re negative reviews against Airtel, Aircel, Vodafone, BSNL and almost all other operators. But these companies still continue to operate and server millions of customers. There’s no one provider with 0% negative review. So we might have to take our chances and hope that we are not subjected to same torture. Similarly when it comes to hotel or bus services, one or two negative reviews will be there against all operators. So we’ve to take our chances. What we can do is list the things that went wrong with others, make some additional checks, take extra or specific confirmation/follow ups to ensure that same issue won’t happen with us. (Example, if you read a review that a laptop was stolen from the room, carrying a lock is more practical than booking at a different hotel and hoping that same won’t repeat.

8.       Paid Review vs Voluntary review: Many brands pay for a positive review. Reviewers may or may not disclose it in the review. Extreme praise for the brand, stating that this is the best of the best and top class, without any real experience illustrations or proper detailing/comparison are possible candidates for paid reviews. A voluntary review often talks about both pros and cons and let the readers decide on final purchase decision.

9.       Understanding reviewer persona: Assume a reviewer is a budget travel and has reviewed a 5 star hotel as very expensive place. You’re a rich guy and don’t mind the price- then the review is not applicable to you, because your needs, point of view and affordability is totally different from that of the reviewer. This is true particularly for hotels and holiday packages, as every individual’s needs and expectations differ. Do not arrive at a decision based on one off negative reviews.

10.   How recent is the review? Internet throws up reviews decades old. Brands evolve over time and service experience might have improved. There is a possibility that past mistakes have been rectified or recent service is not as great as it was few years ago. Look for recent reviews. (Trip advisor doesn’t allow review if you’ve not been to a place recent enough)

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