All posts in Weblogs

Peer-to-Peer Rental vs. Home Swapping – One on One with Jim Pickell, Pres., Homeexchange.com

While peer to peer rentals have been attracting a lot of attention lately, the first sharing economy startup for travelers, HomeExchange.com, is experiencing renewed interest and a tremendous growth surge by offering a zero cost option to travelers. ExpertFlyer goes One-on-One with Jim Pickell, president of HomeExchange.com, the first, largest and fastest growing online home exchange club in the world.

We’ve been covering the sharing economy quite a bit recently with the soaring popularity of Airbnb, Flipkey, Uber and Lyft, to mention a few.  Your service is similar to Airbnb, but very different at the same time.  Give us a quick overview of the service.

Soaring popularity sounds about right! Last year, the sharing economy was everywhere, from the proliferation of ridesharing services like Uber and Lyft, as you’ve mentioned, and more. HomeExchange.com belongs to the “sharing economy” in that it is a peer-to-peer service—the concept is you stay in my home, and I stay in yours. But in that exchange, there’s a simple and important distinction that sets us apart from other companies: there is no monetary exchange between our members. We’re 100% exchanges, not rentals. Continue reading →

Why Traveling the National Parks is a Must-Do in 2016

ExpertFlyer Hot Topics – Where the Rubber Meets the Runway

Just in case you didn’t get the memo, August 25th marks the 100th year anniversary of the founding of the National Park Service (NPS). The NPS was created under the Woodrow Wilson  administration to preserve the ecological and historical integrity of the places entrusted to its management while also making them available and accessible for public use and enjoyment.

Today, the Park System includes 410 areas covering more than 84 million acres in every state, the District of Columbia, American Samoa, Guam, Puerto Rico, and the Virgin Islands. ExpertFlyer interviewed Ford Cochran, Director of Programming for National Geographic Expeditions, to find out why visiting the Parks is extra special in 2016.

Not too many people realize that 100 years ago the National Geographic Society was a founding patron of the NPS and actually helped persuade the US gov’t to create it. Tell us a little about the history between Nat Geo and NPS.

From shortly after National Geographic’s founding, and even before the creation of the National Park Service, the Society and those most closely associated with it have explored, documented, nurtured, and celebrated our national parks. Society founders John Wesley Powell, Clarence Dutton, and Almon Thompson systematically explored and mapped vast expanses of the Colorado Plateau, including regions that today contain Grand Canyon, Bryce Canyon, and Zion National Parks. Another founder, Robert Muldrow, was the first to measure the height of North America’s tallest mountain, Denali, now the centerpiece of Denali National Park. Continue reading →

goSeek.com hopes to shake-up the monopoly in online booking

ExpertFlyer goes One-on-One with Clem Bason, former president of Hotwire.com and current head of freshman hotel metasearch engine, goSeek.com, to learn how they’re overcoming the online booking monopoly with hidden deals and extras that consumers haven’t been effectively accessing before.

You have about one year under your belt as a freshman hotel deal metasearch engine. Talk about goSeek’s niche and how your first year has been?

goSeek was born out of two observations.  The first is that consumers are searching a large and ever-increasing number of sites before actually booking, seeking the best value.  Years ago they were visiting other sites 20 times before making a purchase.  Today the number is likely 30+.  Yet these same people are saying – even after all that searching – that they are not satisfied with the value of their travel purchase.  In fact, over half are dissatisfied.  They have a visceral sense that there is a better price out there.  And I can tell you that there most certainly is.  I can take a recent hotel purchase from just about anyone and find a better price.  There are hidden discounts out there everywhere.  You just have to know where to look.  Most folks don’t. Continue reading →

The US & Cuba have agreed to restore commercial air travel – Time to expedite your visit

air travel to cuba

For the first time in half a century, commercial air traffic will be restored between the United States and Cuba based on a deal signed this week between the two countries.

According to the Associated Press, dozens of new daily flights will bring hundreds of thousands more American travelers a year to the island as early as this fall.

So, is now the time to go?  Forbes contributor, Ann Abel, says, “Cuba is evolving, which is why visiting right now is fascinating. We’re nearing another inflection point—Cuba’s succession plan for when (if?) Raul Castro steps down in 2018 is a big question, as is the outcome of the upcoming US election.

For now, the safest, and most educational, way for Americans to go is on a “people-to-people” visa arranged by a tour operator that has earned State Department approval and has organized heavily structured itineraries of “cultural exchange” with at least one Cuban contributing to the conversation at all times.”

cuban street

Photo: Sonia Laguna

Expertflyer caught up with Cuba travel expert, Sonia Laguna, Founder and CEO of Just 90 Miles, to take a pulse.

EF: Now that the US and Cuba have officially opened commercial air travel between the two countries, what do you think the impact will be?  
SL: I believe the impact will be positive. Once it takes off, it will make it easier and more convenient to book flights.
EF: Is there greater pressure to visit Cuba sooner rather than later? 
SL: As relations stabilize and the influx of American tourists becomes greater, changes to the island will most definitely come.  For people who want to experience Cuba as it’s been for many years, I recommend planning your trip sooner, rather than later.  As time passes, Cuba will change and modernize.
cuban beach

Photo: Sonia Laguna

EF: Will this affect the affordability of visiting Cuba? 
SL: People do expect that with competition prices will be more affordable.  Today a round trip ticket from Miami, FL, on a charter airline ranges from $300 to $500, depending on the month. Similar flights to the Bahamas are in the range of $200 to $550.
Expedia prices over the past 21 days:
$204
Lowest price
$556
Highest price
$254
Average price
EF: Which airlines do you think will be the best bet for Cuba travel and why?
SL: The airlines that are currently operating with Charter Companies are American Airlines, JetBlue and Eastern Airlines. But I think all the major airlines will try to get routes. It will largely boil down to individual traveler’s preferences and associated loyalty programs may also have a bearing.
cuban architecture

Photo: Sonia Laguna

EF: What else should we know about Cuba tourism today?
SL: Today Cuba is on so many people’s bucket lists.  If you are looking for  a once in a lifetime experience traveling to Cuba, TODAY will guarantee you a country different from any other, with very little modern conveniences, but wonderful architecture,  classical cars, the world’s greatest cigars, music, rum, and most importantly, the warmest and friendliest people you will ever meet.

 

Should we get excited about movie theaters becoming the new “thing” at airports?

ExpertFlyer Hot Topics – Where the Rubber Meets the Runway

In a recent report by CNN.com, cities like Portland, Minneapolis-St.Paul and Miami and offering cinema experiences to bored, delayed or otherwise curious airport dwellers. In the case of Portland and Minneapolis, the cities are using mainly short films created by local artists to share the cities unique culture and artistic fingerprint.

airport movie theaters

While Asia has long pioneered the airport movie theater – even screening top box office hits for free – most aviation experts agree that it’s unlikely the US will see pervasive adoption of in-airport cinemas across the country.  In an interview with the LA Times, Bob Hazel, an aviation partner at Oliver Wyman, a management consulting firm, says the economics of providing a movie theater in a U.S. airport are unfavorable. “Airport construction is just about the most expensive form of construction there is,” he said.

The good news is, with airports beefing up their power outlets, charging stations and wi-fi, as well as making DVD rentals available, travelers craving some video entertainment will be able to get their fix on their mobile devices pretty easily — who needs the big screen, right?