Archive for October, 2015

“Shark Tank” alum, Sara Margulis, talks about Plumfund and making people’s vacation dreams come true

ExpertFlyer Hot Topics — Where the Rubber Meets the Runway

We recently had the pleasure of interviewing “Shark Tank” alum and co-founder of Plumfund, Sara Margulis.  Her company has found a way to tap the trend in crowdfunding to make people’s dream vacation wishes come true.

How has crowdfunding penetrated the travel industry?
Travel crowdfunding really started in weddings about ten years ago, with our honeymoon gift registry site, Honeyfund. Over the years, many Honeyfund couples asked if they could use the platform for other life events, like anniversaries, retirement and graduations. We launched Plumfund in 2013 to make those travel dreams come true, and to allow anyone to raise money for anything!

What’s different about Plumfund?
Plumfund is built on the Honeyfund technology, so it’s really great at travel crowdfunding. And Plumfund works without a platform fee, so it’s the most affordable solution. We’re proud to have 10 years travel crowdfunding expertise through Honeyfund

Do people actually want to pay for someone else to take a vacation? Why?
Friends and family absolutely love to give the gift of travel! More and more, we crave experiences over things, and what a better gift than the experience of travel.

Give us some examples of how people are using Plumfund to take a trip of their dreams?
One plumfund was for a doctor who was retiring. His daughter setup a campaign to send him to Paris as a retirement gift. She wrote lovingly about all he had sacrificed for their family and how much it meant to her to be able to give him the trip.

What does this trend speak to in our current culture? Are we becoming a more benevolent society?
Giving feels good! It always has, and it always will. And what better gift for a close friend or loved one than a cherished experience?

Any tips on how to use Plumfund to supplement ones travel bucket list? Is there a right or wrong way to go about it?
The best way is think about a milestone event coming up in your life where friends and family would already want to send a gift. A 50th birthday, graduation, retirement or anniversary are great examples. Then ask someone close to you to setup the campaign and put the word out on your behalf.

Thanks to Oil Boom – North Dakota Enjoys Burgeoning Tourism Market

In this month’s One-on-One feature, we interviewed Sara Otte Coleman, director of Tourism for North Dakota. Over the past decade, North Dakota has experienced tremendous growth largely due to the recent oil boom. So much growth, in fact, that a 2013 census report showed the state’s population at an all-time high of more than 723,000, making it the fastest growing state in America.  But the population isn’t the only statistic growing in record numbers.  Tourism spending was up approximately 16 percent in 2014 and more than 115 new hotels have been built since 2010 to accommodate the state’s growing tourism industry.

Sara debunks some myths about the Peace Garden state and invites all the single ladies to North Dakota to fill the gender gap caused by the influx of males migrating to the state for work.


  1. ND has landed on people’s radar over the past couple years due to the oil boom.  How has this economic engine created new growth in the tourism sector?

North Dakota has grown in so many areas, including oil development, that it is leading the nation economically on many fronts. For tourism, it is most evident in the new hotel properties that have opened statewide. More than 115 new hotels have opened since 2010 with another seven to open yet this year. These properties are located in all areas of the state, in both cities and smaller communities. Every county in North Dakota has seen major growth in tourism spending the past several years. In 2014, the average increase was 16.4%

  1. How is tourism changing in the state?

While many of our major draws like Theodore Roosevelt National Park continue to offer scenic and serene hiking and wildlife viewing, amenities offered statewide have increased. The small gateway community of Medora now offers fine dining, lodging and a spa and cities like Fargo and Bismarck offer a huge variety of shopping, food, drink, live entertainment and recreational activities. The eclectic mix of unique ethnic restaurants enhances new local foods and craft drink specialty providers.

  1. Are there new attractions and events that people should know about?

A recently opened $58 million expansion to our State Museum at the North Dakota Heritage Center on the capitol grounds in Bismarck added three new galleries showcasing the state’s history beginning 600 million years ago. There are many other expanded museums like the Fargo Air Museum and the High Plains Cultural Center in Killdeer. Keplinfest, which received an “Event to Watch” designation from the American Bus Association, is held in the beautiful Turtle Mountains near the International Peace Garden along the Canadian border.  This festival celebrates the fiddle music and jigging of the Metis culture. Three other major events received the ABA Top 100 Event award: Norsk Hostfest – North America’s largest Scandanavian event; the United Tribes International Powwow – one of the nation’s largest in terms of pageantry, dancing and drumming; and the nightly Medora Musical in the beautiful Burning Hills Amphitheatre in the Badlands.

  1. What is ND most known for?

Unfortunately, it is not very well known and there are several myths:

It’s flat: It is not. Other than the Red River Valley, the state has varied topography statewide and rugged terrain in several areas, like the Pembina Gorge, the Turtle Mountains and the Badlands.

It’s cold: It does get below zero, but those days are limited. The average temperatures are higher than most believe. This fall has produced highs in the 80s and 90s. The past few winters have been mild and less intense than winters in the eastern US. What impresses people the most is our big skies, sunsets and friendly people.

  1. What’s your top 10 list of things to see and do in ND for the tourists who have never visited the state before?
  • National Buffalo Museum and sacred albino buffalo – Jamestown
  • International Peace Garden: Step into Canada without a passport – Dunseith
  • The Maah Daah Hey Trail: A 140-mile biking, hiking and horseback riding trail in western ND
  • Sixty-three (63) wildlife refuges (more than any other state) and the largest national grassland in the country – Little Missouri National Grassland
  • Pembina Gorge: Carved out of the prairie, it is a great place to canoe, hike and ride maintained OHV trails – Walhalla area
  • State Museum at the North Dakota Heritage Center and Capitol – Bismarck
  • Lake Sakakawea: Beautiful scenery, great recreation on the lake with 1,340 miles of shoreline
  • Lewis and Clark Trail: Many sites along the mighty Missouri, including Fort Mandan, where they spent the most time on the journey – Washburn
  • Fargo: Vibrant art and entertainment hub with eclectic city offerings
  • Theodore Roosevelt National Park: South Unit at Medora and North Unit at Watford City


“Did you know…The top 15 destinations for ‘bleisure’ travel?”

NYC skyline

According to, a new breed of traveler is mixing business with leisure around the world.  These ‘bleisure’ travelers are taking top cities by storm and spending big bucks along the way.  The Global Business Travel Association (GBTA) has ranked the top 15 destinations for business travel spending — and the US leads the pack.

Read the full article here.

Frequent flyers’ rating of TSA airport security leaves much to be desired

ExpertFlyer Hot Topics — Where the Rubber Meets the Runway

TSA infographicEighty-seven percent of frequent flyers think that the Transportation Security Administration is doing either a poor or fair job in performing security screenings at the nation’s airports, according to a new survey of frequent flyers conducted by Frequent Business Traveler magazine.

The survey finds that the typical American frequent flyer continues to hold the TSA in low regard with 71.9% of respondents indicating the TSA’s screening procedures are either not effective or not too effective at preventing acts of terrorism on an aircraft, an increase of 4.9 percentage points from 2014 and 6.4 from 2013.

In contrast, only 20.8% indicated the procedures are somewhat effective, 5.5% said very effective, and 1.9% said extremely effective.

A total of 2,129 respondents took part in the online survey conducted from August 21 through September 24 in partnership with FlyerTalk, the world’s largest online travel community, and ExpertFlyer, a provider of air travel information tools.

“This year’s survey results show that the TSA has a long way to go to build confidence in its mission,” said Jonathan Spira, editorial director, Frequent Business Traveler.  “Our survey respondents traverse security checkpoints multiple times each month and are in an excellent position to render a verdict on this subject,” he added.

Other Key Findings

—  Nearly 45% stated they were not satisfied with their last security experience;

—  Over three quarters (76.7%) of survey respondents have used PreCheck, the TSA trusted traveler security lanes.

— Satisfaction for PreCheck continues to fall from a high of 80.3% in 2013 to 62.7% in 2015 and the drop may be partially attributed to the TSA’s policy of allowing infrequent travelers, whose unfamiliarity with procedures slows down the screening process, into PreCheck lanes.