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The CEO of Marriott explains why he wrote a letter to Donald Trump and reveals his top travel hacks

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Arne Sorenson

Arne Sorenson is the first non-family member to run Marriott International, the largest publicly-traded hotel chain in the world.

He became president and CEO in March 2012 and led the company through a $13 billion acquisition of Starwood Hotels & Resorts in 2016. The company now owns 30 hotel brands with 1.2 million rooms globally that are available to book.

In 2017, Marriott plans to open 500 new hotels. Sorenson spends around 200 days a year traveling and visiting Marriott locations.

Sorenson sat down with Business Insider at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, and revealed how he plans to compete with Airbnb, win back millennials, and his best travel hacks. He also had a few words for President Trump.

The following interview has been lightly edited for length and clarity. The full interview can be found here.

Alyson Shontell: You had an eventful 2016, starting with a $13 billion purchase of Starwood Hotels. How has it been merging the companies?

Arne Sorenson: It was fascinating. We announced the transaction in November 2015. We got into 2016 hoping to get to shareholder votes and get to closing and do all the integration work.

We had a Chinese bidder that surfaced in March, so we went through another round of bidding. Of course, the approval process ended up taking longer. So we didn’t close until September.

We’re now about four months into it and there’s an enormous amount of work to do. We’re focused on our three communities. Those are the hotel guests, the associates that work for the company — there are about 650,000 people who where our hotel badge every day — and our hotel owners.

Our business model is to manage for real estate investors. They want to make sure this is good for their investment. So there's a lot of work to do, but so far so good.

Sheraton Four Points Hotel in Cuba

Shontell: Another thing you did last year was travel to Cuba with (former) President Obama. Tell me about that experience.

Sorenson: It's always great to be anywhere near the president. And it was fun to be in Cuba and to watch that whole thing unfold. I had been there once before. Cuba itself is a fascinating destination, particularly for Americans.

The relationship between the US and Cuba has been so complicated for so many years that I think many people are intrigued by this island which is so close to Florida, and they really want to go and see it.

President Obama in CubaThat history makes the transition difficult politically, and made it interesting economically to watch President Obama there with the Cuban government, trying to get to know each other and explore the way the relationship is going to work between the two countries.

We've already opened one hotel in Cuba, Four Points by Sheraton, and we expect we will open another one in early 2017. We're talking about another handful of hotels in Cuba after that.

Shontell: How has tourism to your hotel in Cuba been so far?

Sorenson: It's been great. There are not enough hotel rooms in Cuba to meet the demand. 

Shontell: After the election, you wrote Donald Trump a letter. What inspired you to write it, and did he ever get in touch afterwards? 

Sorenson: One, I like to write. I had an hour on a flight one week after the election, and I was thinking about what was on my mind.

On some level, I wanted to share the thinking that I had about what I would do if I were him. Listening to what happened during the election, thinking about who his voters were, thinking about the kind of comments he made.

I wanted to address some of the things that were important to him, but also important to us. Part of that is about the people who work for Marriott — 650,000 globally. They are keenly interested in the election and the outcome, and they worry about what the policies will mean for them. To some extent, I can be their voice.

Marriott CEO quotes_TrumpI don't know Trump. I've never met Trump. And I can't tell you for certain whether he's read the letter or not. The letter did get read quite broadly.

There were a few messages in it. The first was about inclusiveness and that we continue to respect a world in which people are different. People are leading different lives, they're from different places and all of them have worth and value. We have a diverse collection of associates, and we check in people from all around the world, so that's really part of our DNA. 

Then [I included] some things around travel, policy and tax reform. 

Shontell: Let's discuss some of today's travel trends. Airbnb is a ~$19 billion Marriott rival. Millennials like that they can go to a new place and feel like a local. How are you dealing with that shift, and how do you win millennials back?

Sorenson: Airbnb has grown quickly ... So far, the impact of Airbnb has not been profound to our business. I won't say it's zero because there is probably an impact. But it has not been as significant as you might think given how quickly it has grown. 

In many respects, they are selling a different product. At least in the first phase of its business it was different. It was home sharing, literally an extra bedroom or an extra couch. 

The other thing it offers, which is attractive to many, is it can be cheaper. So partly it's the shared economy and the different experience, and partly it's a pure cost issue. Both are areas where we need to compete.

We have never been the cheapest room in a market. We don't aspire to be. So how do you not be the cheapest? That's around product quality, service and location, and we'll continue to do those things.

Marriott CEO quotes_Airbnb_02When it gets to experiences in the shared economy, we have already been doing stuff in that space where, through a concierge, we help arrange local experiences. We have advantages because we have a community [at our hotels]. You're not alone in somebody's extra bedroom or house that they've left behind. You're around folks you can see in the lobby or at the bar or restaurant. You can talk to people who are there who will say, "Here's my favorite restaurant," or "What kind of restaurant do you want to go to?" "Here's the favorite hike I would encourage you to take." So I think we can compete extremely well.

Shontell: Have you ever tried to buy Airbnb?

Sorenson: No, we haven't. People certainly have asked, "Why didn't you start Airbnb?" or a version of that. Maybe we should have. But on one level the answer is simple: In many markets, the business they've done is illegal.

It's one thing for a startup to enter that space. It's another thing for an established company that intends to comply with laws to come in and start a venture that actually doesn't comply. I think the cities would respond differently to an established company like Marriott than they would to a startup.

Shontell: You're on the road about 200 days a year. What tips do you have for traveling like a pro? 

Sorenson: I've got lots of tricks. I never check a bag. I still read paper, which is a bit of an unusual thing although some of the news I get by tablet. But an awful lot of the books I read (and I read a lot), I carry paper. So I've got a full brief case, and a wheelie soft-sided bag that I carry as my suitcase when I'm gone for a week or two.

I have different routines around sleep on flights depending on where I'm going. If I'm going to Europe, which is typically an overnight flight, I'll have a bite to eat and then immediately go to sleep. When I go to Asia, typically you're landing at night time. I try to stay awake the full 13 or 14 hour flight over, so that by the time I get there, I'm exhausted enough to get a great night sleep.

Exercise is hugely important, particularly when you travel. I will hit the gym or run outside. Running is what I've always done. It's also the quickest and you need the least gear for it. 

I love to first open all the curtains in the hotel room when I walk in, including at night and in cities. Getting the natural light, particularly when you're in a different time zone, is really important, as is getting immediately on that schedule as opposed to giving into the exhaustion.

Shontell: What are little-known secrets about hotels? Any tips for getting upgrades or freebies?

Sorenson: They're not secrets, but the loyalty programs are huge. We've got Marriott Rewards and SPG. When we closed the transaction, we allowed customers to link their accounts and have their elite status matched between the two and trade points from one program to the other. 

If you're in the loyalty program, you're going to pay no more and — in many instances — less for your room than you would pay through any other channel. You'll get free wifi, room upgrades and other benefits.

It costs nothing to join a loyalty program. And it is the best way, on a regular basis, to be treated as well as you can be treated.

Shontell: So there's no code word you can say that will trigger an upgrade?

Sorenson: There's no code word. But I think a lot of our loyalty members like to still check in at the front desk because they're hoping they haven't heard about an upgrade before they've gotten there, or there will be a suite that didn't sell that night.

It's always useful to be kind. We want our people to be kind to all our guests. But human beings are creatures of human nature, and we all respond better to a smile than to anything else. Friendliness at the the front desk is always a useful thing for a guest.

Shontell: Let's move on to plans for the future for Marriott. What does 2017 look like for you?

Marriott CEO quotes_Rwanda_02Sorenson: We have about 1.2 million hotel rooms open and about 425,000 in development. In 2017, we will open close to 500 hotels — so more than one a day around the world.

Every new hotel opening is an exciting time because there are new jobs that get created with a new virtual community.

We also have to make sure we make good progress on the Starwood and Marriott integration. That's about technology, approaches we take to business, and our leadership teams around the world.

Beyond that, the intersection of technology and travel [will be a focus]. That's going to be around helping customers use technology which is intuitive and simple to plan and share their trips.

Shontell: Of all the 500 hotels opening, which are you most excited about? Which one should we be clamoring to check out?

Sorenson: We opened a Marriott in Rwanda late in 2016. It's the first hotel of any of our brands we have there.

Twenty years ago, Rwanda suffered one of the worst genocides the modern era has seen. One million people were killed in 90 days. To go to a place like that and see associates working in the hotel, virtually all of whom had been impacted by that event, with a regular job that's transformative to their lives, and with an optimism about welcoming people to Rwanda — those are the kinds of experiences and openings which are really inspiring to me.

Shontell: Is there a destination in America and even globally that's really hot right now?

Sorenson: Cuba for Americans is a really appealing destination. It obviously has warm weather, but people want to see Havana and they want to see the architecture.

Marriott CEO quotes_03The Chinese are increasingly drawn to Japan. To Tokyo, to Kyoto and to a number of the different markets. Japan is beautiful, it's close for them and the food is exquisite. So you see the visits from China to Japan increasing very, very significantly. 

We shouldn't forget that there are some global destinations that are extraordinarily attractive: Paris, London, New York, San Francisco, Rio. These are cities that people all around the world have heard of and they want to go to those places. 

Shontell: Looking beyond 2017, what will the future of travel look like?

Sorenson: The numbers that are top of mind for me: There were about 1.2 billion international trips last year. We think that will grow to 2 billion in the next decade or so. Our estimates are that a job will be created for every 30 trips. That's 25 to 30 million new jobs in the travel growth space alone. 

There are some trends that drive this that are powerful. Increasingly, all of us are more interested in experiences and memories than we are in stuff. People say, "It's really important to take that vacation and spend time with family and friends, and I'm going to prioritize that over buying a car." That's very different from a generation ago. It's not just a millennial trend. It applies broadly to people.

Another trend is the growth in the global traveling class, or the global middle class. You've got many, many more people who have the resources to travel and want to travel.

When you put those two things together, and I think the future is really bright.

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These mind-bending graphics show the complexity of Donald Trump's business ties

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President Donald Trump spent decades in the business world before launching his political career. His vast business empire and the conflicts of interest it could pose were scrutinized throughout his administration's transition and into the first week of his presidency. 

Before the inauguration, Trump announced that he would turn over control of his business to his sons Donald Jr. and Eric. Though Trump has stepped down from his role at The Trump Organization, ethics lawyers say his actions haven't gone far enough, as he has not fully divested from his businesses, nor has he placed them in a blind trust. Earlier this week, a left-leaning ethics group sued him over what it believes is a violation of the Emoluments Clause of the Constitution. 

Using data pulled from BuzzFeed's investigation into Trump's more than 1,500 business connections, designer Kim Albrecht created this stunning visualization of the president's vast network. 

"The number of [companies] Donald Trump owns or is president of is incredible," Albrecht said. "I hope this tool helps reporters and researchers to reach conclusions that I can't reach."

"I see myself as the mediator between the hidden data structures and something that people can make sense of."

trump connection entire network

trump connections visualization kim albrecht

trump network close up kim albrecht

trump all connections

SEE ALSO: An anti-Trump movement is calling for the boycott of these 32 retailers

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NOW WATCH: Scientists are saying we're closer to 'Doomsday' — and they blame Trump

Vice President Pence promised to stop taxpayer-funded abortion — but it's already not allowed

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mike pence abortion defund planned parenthood

Addressing the 44th annual March for Life on Friday, Vice President Mike Pence declared that it was a new day for anti-abortion activists in America.

"This administration will work with Congress to end taxpayer funding for abortion and abortion providers, and we will devote those resources to health care services for women across America," Pence told the crowd of thousands gathered on the National Mall.

But it's already illegal to use taxpayer funding to pay for an abortion.

Congress first passed the Hyde Amendment in 1977, four years after the Supreme Court ruled women have a constitutional right to abortion in Roe v. Wade. It prevents Medicaid dollars from paying for abortions except in the cases of rape, incest, or if the mother's health is endangered.

'Defunding' Planned Parenthood has very little to do with abortions

While politicians have popularized the term "defunding" when talking about stripping federal funds for Planned Parenthood, the group's political communications director, Erica Sackin, said this is misleading.

"There's no line item in the budget for Planned Parenthood," Sackin told Business Insider. "We're not funded through the federal budget bill."

Planned Parenthood health centers serve 2.5 million people each year, nearly two-thirds of whom rely on public programs like Medicaid to pay for their care. When lawmakers pass bills to "defund" the organization, (as many states have), those patients then have to pay for healthcare at Planned Parenthood out of pocket.

But, again, the Hyde Amendment prevents women from using Medicaid to pay for abortions.

So while it may seem as if "defunding" Planned Parenthood is a way to prevent abortions, Sackin said, "it's going to affect people who don't have anywhere else to go" get care like cancer screenings.

According to Planned Parenthood's most recent annual report, only 3% of the organization's services are abortions. Most people are getting birth control or STD tests at Planned Parenthood clinics:

planned parenthood annual report abortion funding breakdown

Most states follow the Hyde Amendment, but 17 have gone around the law to allow qualified women to use state funding to cover the cost of abortions. A handful of states, however, have passed laws allowing even fewer exceptions than Hyde provides, banning women from getting abortions even for rape or incest.

A new bill that passed the House on January 24 would aim to prohibit any taxpayer funding from paying for abortions, effectively doubling down on the Hyde Amendment. It would have to pass the Senate and be signed by President Donald Trump in order to become law.

What 'defunding' could do

paul ryan obamacare

At the start of this legislative session, House Speaker Paul Ryan said Republicans plan to defund Planned Parenthood when they try to repeal the Affordable Care Act, more commonly known as Obamacare.

If Republicans scrap the law, 47 million women could lose the guaranteed access to birth control without a co-pay that Obamacare provides.

But that's just part of the fight.

The GOP party platform outlines its firm stance against abortion, Trump has suggested he plans to appoint conservative Supreme Court justices to overturn Roe v. Wade, and Pence has enacted some of the country's strictest legislation against abortion as the governor of Indiana.

Kelley Robinson, the deputy national organizing director for Planned Parenthood, said one in five women will visit the organization in their lifetimes, and that defunding it would be a "national health disaster."

"The outpouring of need is so, so clear," Robinson told Business Insider. "People need access to Planned Parenthood. We're a part of their community, and we're a critical provider of health care."

SEE ALSO: Mike Pence addresses annual antiabortion rally: 'Life is winning again in America'

DON'T MISS: Here's where Trump stands on abortion and other women's health issues

Join the conversation about this story »

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Trump has two paths he can take on marijuana legalization — here's how they could affect you

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marijuana legalization protest donald trump inauguration

President Donald Trump set an ambitious agenda in his first full week in office.

After his inauguration on January 20, Trump signed an executive order that directs federal agencies to start rolling back the Affordable Care Act, revived two controversial oil pipelines, staged a war on the media, and played a game of chicken with the president of Mexico.

But we still don't know much about Trump's plans for marijuana legalization. There's a pretty simple explanation for that uncertainty: His administration finds itself in a bit of a Catch-22.

When it comes to marijuana legalization, there are two basic paths Trump can choose from. He can try to stamp out the $6.8 billion legal marijuana industry, or support states' rights to legislate their own drug policy.

Marijuana is regulated under federal law, which gives Trump and his administration the ability to upend programs in the US states that have legalized marijuana for medical use, recreation, or both. The Department of Justice can easily send "cease and desist" letters to companies that touch the plant. It's unlikely Trump will take that route, however.

marijuana donald trump rally protest inauguration

Support for marijuana legalization reached an all-time high in 2016. Sixty percent of Americans surveyed by the Gallup Poll last year said they favor outright legalization, up from 35% in 2005. Even Republicans, who traditionally oppose legalization, seem to be coming around to the idea.

Eight US states voted on marijuana legalization ballots in the 2016 Election. Five of them — Arizona, Arkansas, Florida, Montana, and North Dakota — turned red for Trump. Of those five, four states legalized cannabis in some form, the Marijuana Business Daily reports.

The results of the election tell us being a Republican and a marijuana legalization advocate are no longer mutually exclusive, if the labels ever were to begin with.

Tom Angell, chairman of pro-legalization group Marijuana Majority,told Business Insider in November that the new administration should recognize a "crackdown against broadly popular laws in a growing number of states would create huge political problems they don't need."

donald trump marijuana legalization graffiti

Alternatively, Trump could allow states to continue to ignore the drug's federal status and regulate marijuana. That approach would potentially satisfy both conservatives who support legalization and conservatives who respect the political powers reserved for the state governments rather than the federal government under the US Constitution. The decision would leave marijuana legalization advocates on both sides of the aisle happy.

There is a middle ground. Trump might support states' rights on paper, while finding other ways to undermine the legal marijuana industry. Many of these options are remnants of President Barack Obama's administration, which was also soft on marijuana reform.

  • His administration may very well preserve marijuana's Schedule I classification, which makes it difficult for scientists to get their hands on the drug for research.
  • The federal government might penalize banks that take money from companies that work in weed, and make it more difficult for those "ganjapreneurs" to do business. (While the Department of Justice largely stays out of the way of marijuana-focused companies that abide by state laws, few banks and credit unions take the risk of opening accounts for those entrepreneurs.)
  • The Department of Justice might shape the market by raiding a dispensary or two in states where they're legal to operate, sending waves of fear throughout the industry.

oaksterdam raid 2012

It's hard to predict how Trump will proceed. The real-estate billionaire has flip-flopped on the issue throughout his public life. He's publicly stated his support for medical marijuana and states' rights to regulate it, but his administration as yet to take a definitive stance.

His pick for US attorney general, Alabama Senator Jeff Sessions, is bad news for legal marijuana. Sessions said in an April Senate hearing on marijuana reform that "good people don't smoke marijuana." The senator also pointed to a tenuous theory that marijuana is a gateway drug, and said that, "you'll see cocaine and heroin increase more than it would have."

But for now, it's a safe bet that Trump will stick with the status quo and support states' rights, giving one in five Americans with legal access to marijuana the green-light to light up.

SEE ALSO: Marijuana is about as popular as Donald Trump in these 5 red states

Join the conversation about this story »

NOW WATCH: This power couple helped elect Obama then started a high-end marijuana dispensary

15 insane facts about the outrageous LA mansion that just listed for $250 million

The 10 hottest neighborhoods in America for 2017

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Eliot Oregon

Move over, New York and San Francisco.

Real estate company Redfin recently released its list of the hottest neighborhoods of 2017, and locales in city-adjacent towns such as Oakland, California, and Bellevue, Washington, dominated over their urban counterparts.

The ranking looked at neighborhoods that experts expect to become up-and-coming hotspots, and highlights a growing trend: Homebuyers want the amenities of both suburban and city life. They're looking for big, renovated houses minus the price tag a place in the heart of a major city would bring. 

"While many of 2017's hottest neighborhoods come with longer commutes, Redfin agents say they offer homebuyers the best balance of everything: quick access to public transit, trendy shopping and dining options, plus larger move-in ready homes with charm and price tags that are a little easier to bear," the report states.

To predict what will be the hottest neighborhoods of 2017, Redfin measured neighborhood growth by analyzing the number of pageviews from visitors to Redfin.com and the number of homes favorited by users on the site. Redfin also consulted local agents to confirm which areas are heating up in popularity. 

From turn-of-the-century homes outside New Orleans to Silicon Valley-adjacent pads in Sunnyvale, California, read on to see the hottest neighborhoods for 2017.

SEE ALSO: The 25 most expensive ZIP codes in America

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10. Tremé — New Orleans

Median sale price: $199,200

Median number of days on the market: 261

Average sale-to-list percentage: 89.3%

Redfin agent Caren Morgan says:

"Tremé is definitely becoming an 'it' place in New Orleans. It's right on the border of the French Quarter, but somewhat less expensive and historically not as trendy. The neighborhood boasts a lot of turn-of-the-century homes with beautiful architectural details, which are generally very popular, especially among out-of-state buyers."



9. Greenfield — Aurora, Colorado

Median sale price: $455,000

Median number of days on the market: 42

Average sale-to-list percentage: 97.6%

Redfin agent Stephanie Collins says:

"Greenfield has a community pool, a playground, tennis courts, a fishing pond and many trails for people wanting the outdoor, active Colorado lifestyle. Located in the highly rated Cherry Creek School district, it's a prime location — just five minutes away from the Southlands Mall District, with its retailers, movie theater and many restaurant options."



8. Hollywood Park — Sacramento, California

Median sale price: $345,000

Median number of days on the market: 9

Average sale-to-list percentage: 100.2%

Redfin agent Matt Jones says:

"As people get priced out of other neighborhoods near city center, I've seen an increase in interest in Hollywood Park in particular. It's one of the few neighborhoods that's in really close proximity to downtown and yet still has some affordable homes available. A lot of the buyers I've worked with appreciate the unique older homes there and they are willing to sacrifice certain other amenities (like higher Walk Score ratings) in order to have charming homes with character that are still affordable and just a ten minute commute to some of the hippest areas in Sacramento."



See the rest of the story at Business Insider

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These guys have one of the most dangerous jobs in the world

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The Professional Bull Riders organization, also known as PBR, recently visited Madison Square Garden in New York. Part of PBR's Built Ford Tough Series, the event saw 35 of the best bull riders in the world competing for a championship prize of more than $100,000. 

While the spotlight shined mostly on the riders, we took the opportunity to focus on the unsung heroes of the PBR organization — the bullfighters. Traditionally known as "rodeo clowns," there's nothing silly about these courageous men who risk their own lives every time a rider attempts to make it to 8 seconds. 

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Here's how to make the perfect Old Fashioned cocktail

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The Old Fashioned was a popular cocktail in the 1960s but nearly forgotten over the years. With shows like "Mad Men" and the rise in cocktail bars, the Old Fashioned is having a resurgence.

Here's how to make a "Fall Fashioned," a new spin on the classic cocktail.

OldFashionedIngreds

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Nike turned into a luxury brand when no one was looking

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Nike shoes

For anyone who has recently bought Nike shoes or apparel, or walked into one of its latest stores, this won't be news: Nike has slid upscale recently. 

In 2016, it overtook Louis Vuitton as the most valuable apparel brand in the world, according to a ranking by Forbes.

"It's not like people aren't spending money on high-priced items," Business Insider retail analyst Cooper Smith told Complex in May. "It's just that their preferences for lifestyle and their preferences for fashion are changing." 

Simply put: customers are willing to shell out more for what they prefer. 

Nike is taking advantage of that mindset with its prices. Nike has a lot of different models of shoes, ranging from the relatively inexpensive Air Monarch ($55) and going all the way up to the $720 HyperAdapt 1.0 self-lacing sneakers.

But more telling is the focus of Nike's advertising and innovation efforts, which, with few exceptions, is nearly always on the higher end of the price scale. For example, the Air Monarch is one of Nike's best-selling shoes, and it frequently appears on lists of the brand's top performers. But you wouldn't know that by Nike's telling of the story. The brand's promotional efforts skew towards its newest and greatest inventions, as well as its more expensive offerings.

Nike 45 Grand 60

That goes for the newest Air Jordans and the most technologically advanced trainers, as well as the priciest apparel, including (but not limited to) its $100 sweatpants. You know who else sells $100 sweatpants? Upscale Ralph Lauren brand Club Monaco.

More recently, Nike has signaled a different approach to welcoming customers into its stores. Its new store in New York's Soho neighborhood offers customers the opportunity to make one-on-one appointments with Nike staff for up to an hour. Customers can bring in all kinds of concerns for the staff to help with, including shoe fittings and finding the right equipment for all skill levels. 

If that sounds like Apple's Genius Bar, we have a sneaking suspicion it takes inspiration from that concept. 

The store also has areas where customers can test out its shoes and equipment in an "immersive experience." It represents a shift in how the company sees brick-and-mortar retail, and is being called a guide for future stores from the brand.

Nike

Nike's most expensive product by far is the HyperAdapt 1.0 sneaker. It's special in that it can automatically lace up when you slip your foot in. It's also special in that it does not come in Nike's characteristic orange box. It instead comes in a special, premium-seeming one, with room for both sneakers laid flat, the charging puck, and a little card with a phone number reserved specially for HyperAdapt owners.

Any HyperAdapt owner can call that number for service whenever they need, and they will instantly get a live human on the phone for any concern they may have.

Nike clearly believes that an elevated price point also means elevated service, and it's headed full speed in that direction. As Nike places a larger emphasis on its direct-to-consumer division, it's also taking greater care of how it is perceived by customers, as well as how it interacts with those customers.

Nike Shoes

SEE ALSO: Trump's policies have Nike facing one of its biggest threats in history

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Welcome to the suck: Here's what life at Marine boot camp is like

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Bootcamp

Established in 1915, Marine Corps Recruit Depot Parris Island churns out 20,000 new Marines every year.

Every Friday, a new crop of Marines leaves the base, and they leave happily.

The 12-week program is widely considered the most hellish of all recruit training regimens in the U.S. Military.

Here at Parris Island, the legendary drill instructors (DIs) make sure every waking moment of a recruit's life is jam-packed with training.

This article was originally written by Geoffrey Ingersoll.

SEE ALSO: The most elite special operations forces in the US

There's only one major road running into Parris Island.



Gorgeous marshlands stretch for as far as the eye can see all around the island.



Recruits who want to run away can't take the only road and are unlikely to brave the alligators in the swamp.



See the rest of the story at Business Insider

A couple who saved $50,000 to travel the world talks earning, spending, and working their way through nearly 50 countries

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The World Pursuit_Hiking in the Drakensberg Mountains, South Africa

Two weeks before graduating college and leaving for a months-long backpacking trip through Europe, Natasha Alden met someone.

And after two dates, they decided he would go with her.

More than three years later, Alden and Cameron Seagle are still traveling together. They've backpacked Europe, Southeast Asia, and now, they're spending a year driving across Africa.

In all, the 20-somethings have been to about 50 countries. You can follow their adventures through their site, The World Pursuit, and their Instagram.

Below, they told Business Insider how they saved up about $50,000 to fund their travels, why they're driving across a continent, and what it's like to travel the world together.

SEE ALSO: A 31-year-old who's been traveling the world for 5 years explains how she affords it

On that first post-graduation trip abroad, Alden and Seagle met in Norway and traveled together for two months, using money they'd saved from weekend and summer jobs throughout college.

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In Norway. 



Then, Seagle returned home to the US as Alden kept at it. After six months at home, he flew back out to meet her again in Southeast Asia.

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Backpacking through Bangkok, Thailand.



They spent two months together in Asia, then moved to New York City to fill their coffers for longer-term travel.

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At Storm King sculpture park in New York. 



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