All posts in Hot Topics

“Did you know…Expedia plans to buy HomeAway for $3.9B?”

BIG NEWS in the sharing economy for travelers: Expedia has agreed to buy HomeAway for $3.9 billion. According to the New York Times, HomeAway also plans to change its business model to charge travelers a fee, based on a sliding scale. Up until now, HomeAway generated revenue by charging property owners to list their rentals. HomeAway also plans to lower commission rates for these pay-per-booking customers.

No big surprise that travel booking giant, Expedia, is looking to get in on the soaring popularity of vacation and short-term rentals. In a 2015 Barclays report, it’s estimated that home rental platform Airbnb books around 37 million night stays, which could increase to as many as 129 million by 2016.  But what are some caveats for home owners looking to cash in on the trend? We recently talked to Rob Stephens of Avalara MyLodge Tax, a financial and tax expert in the home rental space, to  learn what property owners need to do to comply and minimize their tax risk with the IRS. Watch our interview here.

Do you think this acquisition bodes well for vacation rental owners and lodgers?

Homeless and lovin’ it — Tips from a present-day nomad for living the life of your dreams

ExpertFlyer Hot Topics — Where the Rubber Meets the Runway

It’s difficult to put a number on how many people think about chucking caution to the wind and leaving the rat race for a life of untethered wandering and cultural enrichment — not to speak of the cost savings that come with living in far away destinations, like Southeast Asia.  That said, dreaming and reality are two very different things — or so we thought until we interviewed Paul Kortman, co-founder of, a site for people who have decided to live a life of location independence.

Check out our interview with Paul and learn how he and his wife and four kids have learned to live as a “homeless” family over the past two years.  Their experience has been life altering and the community they have congregated serves to give inspiration, support, feedback and camaraderie to others who dare to live outside the box.


“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.

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.




“Did you know…Man gets thrown in jail because he was 100 pounds heavier than his passport photo?”

Atterbell Maplanka

Atterbell Maplanka reunites with family – Photo via The Argus

In a recent USA Today story, it was reported that Atterbell Maplanka was arrested at Heathrow Airport after returning to London from his mother’s funeral in Zimbabwe because border officials refused to believe his passport was legitimately his own, since he appeared much heavier than his passport photo.

A resident of the UK for more than 15 years, Maplanka was prohibited from reentering the country. Instead, he was arrested and sent to an Immigration Removal Center after agents failed to recognize Maplanka as the markedly thinner man in his own passport photo. Maplanka did admit that he gained about 125 lbs. since the photo was taken.

Read the full story here.