Archive for February, 2014

One-on-One with Bob Diener, Co-Founder of Hotels.com & Getaroom.com

This month, ExpertFlyer talks with Bob Diener, Co-Founder of Hotels.com & GetaRoom.com.  Bob Diener has been a pioneer in the hotel consolidation and online travel industry for more than 25 years. In 1984, Diener and his college classmate, David Litman, began a career in the airline consolidation business. The two later founded Hotel Reservations Network, now known as Hotels.com, in 1991. Diener talks to ExpertFlyer about his latest venture as President and Co-Founder of the online travel site, www.getaroom.com, a resource specializing in the best hotel rooms at the best values.

bob diener, getaroom.com “We are more of a niche site, but we are growing at triple digit rates because consumers want value and we figured out how to deliver that.”

— Bob Diener, Co-Founder of Hotels.com & GetaRoom.com

There are many hotel booking sites in the marketplace offering “best hotel rooms for the best value,” including your former company, Hotels.com, and newer contenders, like Room77com.  Describe what getaroom.com is all about and what is the unique value-add that the service offers travelers?

We are the only company that offers unpublished rates which are typically 10-20% off and as much as 60% off the lowest rates online. We have over 25,000 hotels participating. The hotels give us lower rates than they offer direct or offer anyone else – and they are only available by contacting our call center at 1-800-468-3578 (1-800-HOTELS8).

We also offer a large number of flash sales daily. Flash sales are special sales for limited periods of time typically up to 48 hours. You must book the hotel within the flash sale booking window but can usually stay whenever you want. The discounts are usually 10-60% off the lowest online rate. This causes consumers to make a decision quickly to take advantage of the deal and fills a large percentage of the hotel rapidly.

 

Your home page prompts visitors who “want a better deal” to call for “secret unpublished rates.” Can you elaborate on that and why you would you want to move customers away from your website to a call center?

90% of the interaction is done online. Hotel comparison shopping, view amenities, descriptions, user comments, maps, directions. They only call us to get the lower unpublished rate.

Since being acquired in 2001, Hotels.com has become part of the largest online travel company in the world.  Do you think you have the right mix of features and market demand in getaroom.com to create another Hotels.com?

We are more of a niche site, but we are growing at triple digit rates because consumers want value and we figured out how to deliver that.

Is getaroom.com essentially a hotel room consolidation business?  Are your relationships with vacation properties unique? What’s different or exclusive about your inventory?

We are a consolidator. Some of our relationships are unique. For example, we have properties, such as the Luxury Suites at the Signature MGM in Las Vegas, where we offer large deluxe suites on the Las Vegas Strip from $79 a night through a special block of rooms within the property. We have properties like this in many major destinations.

There’s a growing trend and demand among dollar conscious travelers who are opting for lower-cost rental accommodations in residential homes and apartments.  Sites like www.airbnb.com and www.homeaway.com have surged in popularity over the past few years.  How are you competing with these options?

We now offer “shared bath” accommodations at great properties like the Jane and Pod in New York with rooms typically close to $100 a night even during the busy season. These are trendy, popular and well run hotels in central areas that either have part or the entire hotel set up with a hallway bathroom for several units, similar to a B&B. Rates can be as much as 80% less than the same hotel room with a bath, just without the bath in the room.

What other exciting developments can we look forward to from getaroom.com over the next year?

We are adding destinations at a fast pace. We are almost up to 100,000 hotels, resorts and vacation rentals worldwide and will continue to add. We are also expanding the hotels participating on both our unpublished rate program and our flash sale program. We will continue to innovate to find special values for consumers.

 

“Did you know…8 digital travel trends to watch?”

(Mashable)

digital travel trendsMashable’s list of eight digital travel trends to keep an eye on:

  1. Brands engage in real-time marketing during holidays and big events
  2. Brands can make viral videos on a budget by engaging customers
  3. Hotels invest heavily in next-gen guest experiences
  4. Airlines improve in-flight entertainment to attract flyers
  5. Airports adjusts regulations to make room for taxi-booking apps
  6. Cities make it easier for tourists to explore with Wi-Fi hotspots
  7. TripAdvisor’s plans to continue acquiring startups
  8. Amtrak attracts riders with less security and better Wi-Fi

Read the entire post here: http://mashable.com/2014/02/18/8-digital-trends-this-week/

“Did you know…Airline industry considers cracking down on unruly passengers?”

(CBSNews.com)

unruly passenger on IcelandairLast year, after a man on an Icelandair flight to New York downed a bottle of duty-free alcohol and became unruly and aggressive, passengers had to restrain him with duct tape.  A Frontier Airlines passenger was booted off the plane when she lost her cool over not being able to fit her carry-on in the overhead bin.  She lashed out at a fellow passenger who was recording the incident, grabbing and throwing his phone.

These are just a couple of examples of  a growing trend of air rage aboard international flights, in particular.  CBSNews.com reports that the industry is considering new rules.

Long lines, baggage fees and canceled flights: For passengers, the experience of flying today can trigger enormous stress. But internationally, airlines are focused on another pressing problem: incidents of air rage that are on the rise…between 2007 and 2011, reports of passenger misconduct increased dramatically, from 500 to more than 6,000, according to the International Air Transport Association.

Read the full CBS News report here: http://www.cbsnews.com/news/airline-industry-considers-cracking-down-on-unruly-passengers/

How to Pack Light to Avoid Airline Baggage Fees: Part 2

ExpertFlyer Hot Topics — Where the Rubber Meets the Runway

In Part 1 of our packing series, packing expert and head of Tortuga Backpacks, Fred Perrotta, outlined the basic rules of traveling carry-on-only and how to keep your toiletries within the rules. In Part 2, he’ll cover how to limit your wardrobe without looking like a bum.

how to pack a carryon most efficiently

Pack to maximize carryon efficiently

Packing Clothes in a Carry On
Never Pack for More than Two WeeksEven on long trips, never pack more than 7-14 days of clothes. You’ll need to do laundry, so pack for a shorter trip and wear the same, laundered clothes again every week or two. No one will notice and you’ll save a ton of space in your luggage.

Wear Neutral Colors
Choose a neutral color palette for your clothes. Neutral colors are easier to mix and match. Re-wearing them will be less obvious. I wear a mix of blues, grays, and muted greens.If you prefer bright colors and patterns, limit them to accessories like leopard print flats or colorful scarves.

Mix and Match
Pack interchangeable clothes. Each top should be able to be worm with each bottom. Neutral colors make this much easier.For example, don’t pack three complete outfits. Pack three tops and three bottoms that can be worn in combination. This strategy yields nine outfits, not three.

Dress in Layers, Not in Bulk
Traveling somewhere cold? Plan to dress in layers, not in bulky sweaters and jackets. The latter are huge space eaters in your luggage.Instead of packing a huge sweater, pack a base layer t-shirt, long-sleeved mid-layer (or two), and a lighter jacket. These items will take up less space than a sweater and will be more versatile in different temperatures.

Pack Quick-Drying Basics
Buy basics like underwear and socks made of quick-drying fabrics. Then you can quickly hand wash them between laundry cycles. You could pack as few as two pairs of each, alternating them each day. No one would know how often you’re re-wearing them.You don’t need to be that extreme to see the benefit. For a ten day trip, you could pack five pairs of socks and hand wash them in your hotel’s sink once in the middle of your trip. For five minutes of effort, you saved bringing five extra pairs of socks.If you pack basics made of quick-dry fabrics, you can hang them to dry overnight. I recommend ExOfficio for underwear and Smartwool for socks.

Wear Your Heaviest Items
Wear, don’t pack, your heaviest items when flying. Boots and jackets are much easier to wear than to pack. You can still bring them without sacrificing the space in your luggage.

Roll, Don’t Fold Your Clothes
Rolling your clothes, instead of folding them, takes up less room in your bag. Even flight attendants recommend rolled packing.

Condense Your Load with Cubes and Folders
Keep your clothes organized and condense them even more with packing cubes and folders. Cubes come in a variety of sizes to fit any luggage. You can also buy two-sided cubes to separate types of clothes or to keep dirty clothes away from clean clothes.Packing folders are ideal for anything that needs folded like dress shirts, blouses, and slacks. If you need something for a business meeting, consider packing it in a folder.

Conclusion
Packing light is easy once you have a system in place. Start with the advice above then adapt it to your own travel style and wardrobe. Once you have your technique nailed down, you’ll know what you need for every trip and will be able to pack quickly without dreading it. Keep that $50 in your pocket, not the airline’s.

 

 

How to Pack Light to Avoid Airline Baggage Fees: Part 1

ExpertFlyer Hot Topics — Where the Rubber Meets the Runway

Airline baggage fees can quickly add up for frequent flyers. At $50 per roundtrip flight, checking a bag is too expensive to be practical.  We’ve shared our own packing tips in the past, but we thought we’d give everyone a fresh perspective from Fred Perrotta, co-founder of Tortuga Backpacks, to get all the facts and fixes for packing light as a means to avoid baggage fees. Even if you have the status or a loyalty credit card that allows for a free checked bag, you’re still at the mercy of the airlines. Checking a bag is always a risk. Your luggage could be lost, misrouted or damaged.

Traveling carry-on-only is ideal. You’ll save money and spend less time waiting around for your bags at the airport. Packing light doesn’t have to be as difficult as many travelers imagine it to be. Below are the guidelines you need to know for traveling with only a carry-on bag.

The Basics

Carry-on luggage rules vary by airline. Most airlines do not allow bags larger than 45 linear inches (length + width + height). If your airline breaks it down by each dimension, 22 x 14 x 9″ is the most common configuration. These dimensions are a good rule of thumb when shopping for luggage.

Forty pounds is the usual weight limit outside of budget airlines, which are more strict. The lighter you can travel, the better.

tsa 311 for carryonsToiletries

Airlines are strict with liquids and gels. The TSA’s rule is 3-1-1.

Your liquids must be in bottles of 3.4 ounces or less. You must carry them in a “1 quart transparent plastic bag hermetically sealed.” Each passenger may carry one such bag.

The TSA is not flexible on these rules so follow them to the letter.

You can find travel-sized toiletries at Target or your local drug store. If you can’t find your favorite brand, try 3 Fl Oz, which only sells travel-sized bottles. For any must-have products that only come in larger sizes, buy a GoToob. GoToobs are refillable, rubber travel bottles for your toiletries.

You don’t have to scour the internet to put together your toiletry kit. Most products can be bought at your destination for the same price or less as at home. Buy anything that costs less than $10 and that you won’t need in transit after you land. I find that having a toothbrush, toothpaste, and face wash on hand can be a lifesaver after long flights.

Fred Perrotta helps travelers pack everything they need without checking a bag. He is the co-founder of Tortuga Backpacks, makers of the ultimate travel backpack.

In Part 2 of our packing series, we will cover how to pack a light wardrobe while still looking good.