Must Be Nice: 10 Extravagant Services People Hire for the Holidays

For many, the holidays are a whirlwind of activity, chock-full of decorating, entertaining, and shopping for that perfect gift to put under the tree. But even at this busiest time of year, some people aren’t rushing around. In fact, they’re not even lifting a finger. A few smart—and well-heeled—folks are turning to professionals to take care of all their holiday needs. Click through to discover some of the unbelievable (and pricey!) services people hire for the holidays.
Bob Vila : Trusted Home Renovation & Repair Expert

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Guangzhou Auto Group Chairman Sees Fewer Cars, More Services in the Future

Automobiles are becoming vehicles in a different sense. The cars of the future, besides ferrying people from A to B, will also act as conduits for value added services, opening up new opportunities for the mobility sector.

Speaking at the Fortune Global Tech Forum in Guangzhou, Bill Peng, a partner at PwC’s consulting subsidiary Strategy&, highlighted three ways advances in technology will impact the auto industry. Firstly, products will be more creative. Secondly, car ownership will decline. And lastly, the auto industry supply chain will be transformed as automakers vie to provide more longterm customer services.

Peng’s second point is a particular threat to carmakers in China. In August a report from Strategy& revealed that 79% of Chinese car owners would give up their vehicles if on-demand, autonomous vehicles, also known as “robotaxis”, became available. For comparison, in Europe that percentage is 47% and for the U.S. Peng thinks the proportion is only around 30%.

Zeng Qinghong, the chairman of Guangzhou Auto Group (GAC) says his company is already responding to that challenge. Last year GAC expanded its business focus to include the realm of mobility as a service, or MaaS – a market which Peng predicts will be worth $ 200 billion globally by 2020. At last year’s Guangzhou auto show, GAC unveiled its iSPACE concept car, offering a glimpse of what pivoting towards MaaS might look like for the automaker.

The iSPACE was developed in partnership with Tencent, the Chinese tech giant most famous for its instant messaging service, WeChat. The autonomous electric vehicle runs on Tencent’s “AI in Car” operating system, which enables it to recognize users as they enter the vehicle, and customize the driving experience to suit their tastes – selecting music, tv shows, and even preferred routes.

Tencent, which announced major restructuring in October to focus on business services, might seem like an odd partner for an auto company but Zhong Xiangping, Tencent’s head of Intelligent Mobility Services, says the pairing plays well with what the company calls the “attention economy”.

In short, the attention economy means the longer Tencent can retain a consumer’s attention, the more money it stands to make. In the future, passengers of autonomous vehicles will provide a potentially lucrative and certainly captive audience.

Zeng summarizes, “The space within a car is limited, however within this limited space you can have unlimited life.” Or in other words when it comes to monetizing MaaS, it’s the journey not the destination.

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Ralph Lauren Receives Honorary UK Knighthood for Services to Fashion

Ralph Lauren can add a new notch to his leather belt: Honorary Knighthood.
The 79-year-old designer, who is celebrating 50 years in business, has been made an Honorary Knight Commander of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire. He may be called Ralph Lauren KBE, if he wishes.
The honorary knighthood insignia will be presented to the designer by a representative of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II at a ceremony next year.
Antony Phillipson, British Consul General to New York and Her Majesty’s Trade Commissioner for North America, said the award recognizes that “in fashion, business and philanthropy, Mr. Lauren has played a key role in forging transatlantic cultural and economic connections. As creator and visionary of the Ralph Lauren brand worldwide, Mr. Lauren has been a vanguard for the global fashion industry and American style for nearly half a century. In addition, monumental philanthropic efforts, especially in the realm of public health, cancer research and treatment in both the U.S. and the U.K., have led to benefits felt by citizens around the world.”
Lauren is the first American fashion designer to be recognized with an honorary knighthood. Other notable American recipients of an honorary U.K. knighthood or damehood include former Presidents Dwight

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Amazon Web Services Just Opened a New Cloud for the U.S. Government

Amazon Web Services has opened a new region of interconnected data centers specifically for the U.S. government and its various contractors.

Amazon’s cloud computing arm said Monday that its so-called GovCloud region is now operating live in an unspecified area on the East Coast. The new government cloud region comes seven years after Amazon’s first West Coast government cloud region debuted in 2011.

Unlike traditional data centers, cloud computing and big Internet companies like Microsoft and Facebook typically operate clusters of interconnected data centers that essentially act as one big facility.

Teresa Carlson, AWS vice president of the worldwide public sector, said that one of the reasons the company built a new government cloud was to let government agencies and their third-party contractors maintain duplicate copies of their data and apps. In the case that a problem occurs in one facility, the other data center facility can pick up the slack.

Having a second data center region will also reduce the latency, or delays, that might occur when East Coast federal agencies have to use Amazon’s cloud services from the West Coast, Carlson explained. She declined to say where the facilities are physically located, citing security reasons.

Amazon’s opening of a new government cloud highlights the efforts of big tech companies to score big federal contracts as the government attempts to modernize to newer IT technologies. For instance, Amazon built the CIA its own separate cloud data center region, and is in the process of bidding against companies like Oracle and Microsoft for a $ 10 billion Joint Enterprise Defense Infrastructure (JEDI) cloud contract with the Pentagon.

Carlson said that the new government cloud data center region is separate from Amazon’s bidding on the JEDI contract.

Some of Amazon’s competitors in selling on-demand computing resources to the federal government include Microsoft, IBM, and Google, said Adelaide O’Brien, International Data Corporation’s research director of government digital transformation strategies.

Although Amazon’s government cloud business is likely to be much smaller compared to its enterprise cloud business, Carlson said Amazon is building more government data center facilities to keep up with demand. She said the government cloud business has a compound annual growth rate of 185%, but declined to say from what number.

When Carlson first began pitching Amazon Web Services back in 2010 and 2011, she said that federal employees were unfamiliar with the online retail giant’s information technology business.

“Oh, you want to talk about books?” Carlson said federal workers would ask her.

No so anymore. “There is not anyone out there today that does not know what cloud computing is,” Carlson said in regards to how the service has become more mainstream with businesses and government agencies.

Carlson also echoed recent comments made by Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos, who said that Amazon and his Blue Origin rocket company would continue pursuing Pentagon contracts, regardless if it upsets employees or critics who don’t want the tech giant to supply the U.S. military with war-fighting or surveillance technologies.

“They got to make sure that when they commit to you, you commit to them,” Carlson said of supplying the U.S. military with unspecified technologies.

As for the idea that the government should potentially regulate the use of artificial intelligence technologies, because the technologies could lead to unforeseen consequences, Carlson believes that too much regulation could stifle the tech industry from innovating. It’s a contrast to Microsoft President Brad Smith, who has urged the government to regulate the use of facial-recognition technology and that both the public and private sector should develop standards around how to use the tech.

Amazon executives have previously said that the government should specify the regulation’s guidelines, and that the company would follow.

“I would say any time you’re trying to regulate something, we really push back on that,” Carlson said. “Because history has taught us that any time you try to regulate, you just might as well stomp it out, because it kind of stagnates everything.”

Fortune

SPECIAL NEWS BULLETIN:

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SPECIAL DONATION REQUEST UPDATE:

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5 Pricy Services You Can Get for Cheap if You Let a Student Practice on You

One of the best experiences I had when I was pregnant with my first son nine years ago was a  free ultrasound at a sonography school.

In a room with other pregnant volunteers and our partners, ultrasound tech students took turns examining our various-sized baby bumps, learning what to look for in fetal ultrasounds under the guidance of vetted professionals.

What that meant for me was that rather than the short-and-sweet ultrasounds I’d had at my OB’s office, I got to watch my little love squirm, kick and do all the other fetus things for an entire hour. Plus, they sent me home with a bunch of sonogram photos to get my baby book started — all for exactly zero dollars.

Sonography schools always need models, so if you’re interested in an extended sneak preview of your baby-to-be, you can find a sonography school near you.

But even if you aren’t pregnant, other types of services are available at fractions of the normal costs. That’s because these services are performed by students nearing graduation. They need your trust and, more importantly, your physical body before they can get licensed.

Save Big on Beauty Treatments

You can get deeply discounted beauty services at cosmetology schools — from haircuts and color to manis and pedis, and even waxing, facials or just getting your makeup done. All you have to do is let someone practice on you. Fellas, you can get it on this, too, with facial grooming options, shaves and even “guy lights.”

I know, I know — it’s a little risky letting a student shape your eyebrows. But you’re actually in good hands.

In my experience, cosmetology students take their time and make sure you’re happy with what they’re doing. Also, there are established stylists walking around to make sure everything is being done properly.

Sample prices include haircut and style services that start at $ 12, color starting around $ 40 and manicures for $ 15.

You can find local cosmetology schools in your area. In addition to local options, schools like Aveda and Paul Mitchell have locations all over the United States.

Find an Aveda near you, and check out its super affordable prices.

Or search for Paul Mitchell Schools locations — here is its list of its services and prices.

Both price lists are for specific locations, but the costs are comparable across the nation.

Pay Less for Massages

Massage therapy is another profession that requires practice on real-life bodies. Yay! We have those!

Most schools have fees, but they’re about half what you would normally pay for a massage.  

At Cortiva Institute, which has 30 U.S. locations, an hourlong massage of any kind is only $ 30, and 90 minutes is $ 45.

Since the average cost for a massage is about $ 60 per hour, the student massage route is a win-win for all involved. Judging from the glowing Facebook reviews of the Alpha School of Massage in Jacksonville, Florida, student massage therapists are doing some pretty amazing work.

To find massage schools near you, start by checking out the American Massage Therapy Association’s website.

Eat Fancy Food at Budget Prices

Grab a cheap gourmet meal at a local culinary school.

At The Tutored Chef, a restaurant run by students at the Art Institute of Tampa, all appetizers are only $ 3. The salads are $ 4, and sandwiches and lunch entrees are all a budget-friendly $ 6.

And while you may say, “Yeah, but I can get McDonald’s for cheaper than that,” I counter with this: Can you get marinated pork tenderloin, pickled vegetables, fresh jalapeno, cilantro, a French baguette (which you just know is made from scratch) and Parmesan garlic herb fries at a regular restaurant for only $ 6?

While this is just one student-run restaurant at one culinary school, the gist is the same for all of them: decadent, handcrafted foods at equally delectable prices.

Important to note: These offerings are generally only available at certain times on certain days during the week, so check ahead of time.

Find your local culinary schools for deals near you.  

Get Deals at the Dentist Office

If you don’t have dental insurance (and maybe even if you do), the cost of oral care is no joke. Going to a dental school is a great way to keep up with your oral hygiene, help a future doc out and not go broke.

I went to one through the University of Florida to get my long-overdue wisdom tooth extraction. Both the hygienist and the dentist were very nice and patient, which I appreciated, because getting your wisdom teeth out is a little freaky. I had no issues afterward and had the best experience one could expect.

Dental schools are open to anyone, but pricing is different by location and is determined your personal mouth situation. Dentistry schools offer services for all dental care needs, including for kids, emergency situations, specialized care or just preventative care.

Find local dentistry schools in your area to see what your options are.

It’s that easy to help a student hone their craft, while you get pampered for a portion of the usual cost. Everybody wins!

Amy Beeman is a writer and researcher in St. Petersburg, Florida.

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This was originally published on The Penny Hoarder, which helps millions of readers worldwide earn and save money by sharing unique job opportunities, personal stories, freebies and more. The Inc. 5000 ranked The Penny Hoarder as the fastest-growing private media company in the U.S. in 2017.


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Rebecca Taylor to Offer Services to Help Time-Starved Customers

TIME SAVER: Need a manicure? Or a new hairstyle? Or just want to put your kids somewhere while you shop? Rebecca Taylor is offering harried women a time-saving shopping experience. Beginning this Saturday, Taylor’s boutique at 980 Madison Avenue in New York will offer customers complimentary babysitting, hairstyling, manicures and workout classes, among other things. Called Saturday Services, the Rebecca Taylor brand will strategically align with other brands such as Dry Bar, Pure Barre, Paint Box and Hello Sitter to offer these complimentary services on Saturdays to their customers. One service will be offered each week and a geo-targeted e-mail will go out to people in the neighborhood touting the particular service.
“We recognize that women are time-starved, and there are many demands on her weekend. Saturday Services was conceived so that our customer can maximize her time by aligning activations that would enhance the shopping experience and provide valuable services,” said Janice Sullivan, chief executive officer of Rebecca Taylor.
She said the company developed the program to not only bring traffic into the store, but to help their customers, who are juggling full-on careers and raising children. “Rather than do book signings or talk about finances, this makes her life easier,” said

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