Archive for July, 2012

Announcing the ExpertFlyer Seat Alerts Free App for iPhone/iPad

If you’re like most consumers and business professionals today, you are always on the go and rely on your iPhone and iPad to keep up with emails, news, weather, and probably your travel itinerary.  While thousands of travelers have used ExpertFlyer‘s award-winning Seat Alerts feature to get them out of the middle seat or closer to the front of the plane, not everyone has access to a desktop, laptop, or Internet service all the time.

Seat Alerts App - Home Screen

Seat Alerts App - Home Screen

Introducing the Seat Alerts iPhone/iPad app from ExpertFlyer.  Now, setting a Seat Alert can be quickly and easily handled from anywhere you and your iOS device go…which is probably everywhere.

Simply go to the App Store app on your iPhone or iPad, and search for “ExpertFlyer” or “Seat Alerts.”  Download the app when prompted and you are ready to set an alert.

Click “Create Seat Alert” and enter information about the flight for which you are interested in finding a new seat assignment (Flight number, date, airline, etc.).  The seat map (pictured below “a”) for your flight will appear.  Simply select the type of seat you want (any aisle, any window) or advanced options, such as any exit row, any two seats together or specific seats (advanced options require a fee of $0.99 for Free users).

At anytime, you can click on a seat in the seat map to see ratings from  SeatGuru by TripAdvisor. The pop up (pictured below “b”) will describe the amenities (or downside) to a specific seat selection. Once you are satisfied with your selection, “Save” the alert.

When ExpertFlyer finds a seat based on your criteria, you will receive a notification alert directly to your iPhone or iPad (pictured below “c”), as well as an email, distributed to your choice of up to three email addresses.  Simply access your airline itinerary and select your new seat, which you will now see is available, or contact your carrier by phone and ask an agent to kindly move you.

For existing ExpertFlyer users that have already created Seat Alerts, just download and login to the app with your existing account on your iOS devices to register them for push notification alerts.

If you have an iPhone or iPad and you fly at least once a year, you need to have this app!  Read more about ExpertFlyer and the original Seat Alerts feature in our One-on-One with President and Co-founder, Chris Lopinto.

Seat maps

Seat Maps (image a); click to enlarge

Seat Alert App with Seat Guru Pop-up

Seat Alerts App with Seat Guru Pop-up (image b); click to enlarge

Seat Alerts Push Notification

Seat Alerts Push Notification (image c); click to enlarge

“Special” Vacations — Part 3 of 3: Vacation Options for Special Needs

After covering growth trends in medical tourism and niche getaways to suit your passion, we are wrapping-up our “Special” Vacations Hot Topic series with a look at a burgeoning travel speciality that caters to the 54+million children and adults with special needs.

Travel Options for Special Needs

inforgraphic

Disability in America

According to a 2011 Disability in America Infographic by BraunAbility, 19% of the non-institutionalized population suffers from some form of physical or cognitive disability – that’s nearly 1 in every 5 people.  When you stop to consider the number of seniors, wounded veterans and others who have affected mobility alone, and require wheelchair access, the population is staggering.  With a very large aging demographic those numbers are set to climb even higher.

So, what options are available to wheelchair-bound would-be travelers?

As the world’s leading mobility enhancement company, Scootaround, provides scooter, wheelchair rentals and airline-related mobility equipment repair services in over 1,500 locations throughout North America.

The company offers convenient rental service to people that rely on electric scooters and related equipment to remain mobile in everyday life, including:

  • Busy conference attendees who need to navigate a large convention center
  • Cruise goers who want the independence and safety that these devices provide
  • Elderly and those with physical challenges who simply need extra assistance.

For more information, visit www.Scootaround.com.

Another condition that is reaching epidemic proportions is Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD).  It’s reported that 1 in 88 children are diagnosed with an ASD today.  Many of these children are prone to meltdowns; have difficulty socializing, communicating and are often intolerant to changes in their environment.

With so many children and adults on the autism spectrum, there are hundreds of thousands of families that never or rarely enjoy a break – much less a vacation.  We talked to Mike Sobbell, owner and founder of Autism on the Seas (AotS), a niche travel company that organizes and staffs cruises and land resort vacations for these families.

autism on the seas

“We are the only niche travel service company in the US that organizes and staffs cruises and land resort vacations for families with special needs.  We work with top-tier cruise lines, including Royal Caribbean, Disney and Carnival, as well as land resort destinations, such as Club Med and Walt Disney World,” says Sobbell.

“Vacations with AotS are nothing less than transformative for both child and family. Families share story after story about how their child has come alive in ways they never dreamed possible – communicating, socializing or even climbing a rock wall!”

When asked about their unique success, Autism on the Seas points to a combination of:

  • Exposure to a new non-therapeutic, unrestrictive and uniquely fun setting
  • Warm, caring and playful staff: AotS’ young energetic staff is comprised of experienced and caring professionals who work with children and adults with ASDs, Down Syndrome, Cerebral Palsy and other cognitive, intellectual and developmental impairments
  • Respite time for typical siblings and other family members to reconnect – difficult to do with a special needs child at home
  • Parents building relationships and lifelong friendships with other AotS parents with similar special needs lifestyles – creating a valuable support network
  • Normalcy, belonging and dignity – new perspectives and hope for their child

Visit the AotS website to learn about their vacation grant program and regional “I Need a Special Vacation” essay contest.

“Did you know…Four Underrated Travel Apps for Business?”

(Mashable)

Travel Apps for BusinessSometimes in life it’s the little things that make the biggest impact.  When traveling on business there are the obvious “must-do’s” and “must-take’s” for maximum business efficiency…like your sales presentation, laptop and deodorant.  Mashable reviews four unheralded apps for travel that will prove invaluable to corporate road warriors:

  1. Packing Pro

  2. AllSubway

  3. LocalEats

  4. TripLingo

Read the full story here.

“Special” Vacations – Part 2 of 3: Niche Getaways to Suit Your Passion

Welcome back to our very special Hot Topic series on “Special” Vacations.  Last week, Rudy Rupak, founder of the largest medical tourism agency worldwide, PlanetHospital.com,  offered a primer on how medical tourism is growing and will continue to do so as Obamacare takes hold.  This week, we are excited to explore niche getaways with Jeff Greif, editor-in-chief of TravelSquire.com, a sophisticated travel magazine and a custom travel planning service all rolled into one.

Niche Getaways to Suit Your Passion

Traveling may be one of your passions, but we understand you have other interests in your life. Why not combine the excitement of traveling with your zealousness for adventure, your passion for philanthropy, your fascination with art? The following passion points feature popular hobbies and interests that can be enjoyed in exotic and exciting places.

Voluntourism

Voluntourism

For those who enjoy helping others, there seems to be an unlimited amount of opportunities to lend a hand abroad. The combination of traveling and volunteering keeps the travel bug at ease while indulging in philanthropic passions. Post-war countries and areas where natural disasters occurred are some places where voluntourism is both welcomed and encouraged. Volunteers can offer their services in places like Cambodia, where there is an abundance of orphaned and abandoned children. Since the earthquake in Haiti, many groups and travelers have offered their services rebuilding homes and helping Haitians in need.

Arts and Culture

There are some places in this world that breathe art, as if every street corner or building facade was an artist’s muse. Greece’s diverse towns and cities, from bustling Athens to its rural seaside islands, offer a vast array of both art and distinctive culture. Gazing upon the archaic Parthenon and the breathtaking artifacts in Athens’ many museums, Greece’s art exudes distinctiveness and mastery. But its authentic food and traditional Greek dancing keep with the culture. Hungary’s distinctive culture and art is also a site worth seeing. The Hungarians’ expertise in handicrafts and beading add more significance -to the term hand-made.

Adventure

Zip lining, hiking, scuba diving. If these activities sound up your alley, you might be interested in traveling to an adventurous destination. For those who love the outdoors, the Amazon Rain Forest offers an in-depth exploration of the jungle’s natural marvels. Another adventure filled destination would be to zip-line through Thailand’s lush jungles of Chonburi.

Green/Eco Traveling

Going on vacation doesn’t mean taking a vacation from being environmentally efficient. If you’re committed to reducing your carbon footprint, there are travel destinations that offer green hotels and resorts. Iceland’s energy is generated from natural resources, like waterfalls, volcanoes and geysers. The oh-so-famous windmills of Holland are used to generate electricity in such a way that doesn’t harm the environment. And green initiatives are utilized at eco-friendly hotels and resorts across the globe, such as Utah’s Zion Lodge, whose Green Suites include bamboo floors, recycled carpets and organic linens.

Smithsonian Museum

Learning

Going to destinations in pursuit of knowledge is an opportunity to broaden your horizons and do something really different from the conventional vacation. Touring museums will open your eyes to new sides of history that you might have never heard of. Washington D.C. has the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History as well as the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum, each having over six million annual visitors according to “Travel + Leisure”. For more exotic history, take a tour of Mexico’s fascinating archaic Mayan cities. Whether you’re exploring Chichen Itza, Uxmal, Calakmul, or Palenque, the ancient ruins are teeming with history.

Whatever your passion may be, traveling for the specific reason of exploring it could bring about some big changes that may not have occurred at home. Let your passions be your guide, and you may encounter the trip of a lifetime.

Join us next week when we talk about travel and vacation options for children and adults with special needs.

“Special” Vacations — Part 1 of 3: Medical Tourism

ExpertFlyer Hot Topics — Where the Rubber Meets the Runway

In light of the recent Supreme Court ruling to uphold the Affordable Care Act, a.k.a., Obamacare, we’re kicking off a three-part Hot Topic series on “Special” Vacations with an installment on Medical Tourism.  Many people think cosmetic surgery when they hear the term medical tourism, but did you know that thousands of Americans are visiting places like Korea, Costa Rica and India to undergo life-changing medical procedures, including cancer treatment, dental work and coronary bypass surgery?  To learn more about the growing trend in Medical Tourism and why Obamacare will mean more business for doctors abroad, we caught up with Rudy Rupak, founder and CEO of Planet Hospital, the world’s first and largest medical tourism company.

medical tourism

Medical Tourism in the Age of ObamaCare

How will Obamacare effect medical tourism?

The short answer is very positively. The two major misconceptions of healthcare in America today are that there are no wait lists and that America has the best healthcare in the world. A large aging population has actually started to create wait lists that average 4 months (sometimes even longer in rural areas) for heart and orthopedic procedures. Obamacare would most likely contribute towards a longer wait time. Therefore, medical tourism becomes an attractive alternative for those who must have surgery. Yes, America does have the best healthcare in the world…if you can afford it.  And what about the myriad US-invented breakthrough healthcare treatments and other diagnostic innovations that are still unapproved by the FDA and only available in other parts of the world? Once again, medical tourism offers access to these alternatives.

Medical Tourism includes traveling domestically across state lines

Medical tourism is not just the act of traveling across an international border for healthcare, but also traveling across state lines. Obamacare might force more interest in competition amongst healthcare providers state-by-state, which in turn creates motive for healthcare seekers to become migrant. Medical tourists are also seeking care that is not covered by insurance, such as fertility, stem cell, certain transplants, etc. Also, medical tourism is not just an America to other destination industry, but rather a point to point industry. For example, Planethospital has an office in Russia and sends patients from Russia to South Korea and India. In fact, more foreign tourists are regular consumers of medical tourism than Americans.

Misconceptions about Medical Tourism

Although medical tourism has just reached the Malcolm Gladwell definition of the tipping point, misconceptions abound: Are  the hospitals safe and clean?  Are they certified and accredited? One only has to look at the number of Indian and other foreign doctors in American hospitals to understand the high degree of training one receives in a foreign country when it comes to medicine. Furthermore, we read a lot about medical tourism, but have yet to read about large amounts of terrific outcomes from quality destinations that reputable medical tourism companies, such as PlanetHospital work with. If bypass surgery in India is just not your cup of tea, we work with more mainstream destinations, such as Australia, Belgium, Singapore, among others.

To learn more about medical tourism and the types of procedures and destinations that are known for their astute, high quality care, checkout PlanetHospital.com.

Join us next week for Part 2 of our “Special” Vacation Hot Topic series where we talk with TravelSquire.com about niche vacations that take you to your passion.