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Travel Channel’s Samantha Brown Shares Family Spring Break Tips

ExpertFlyer Hot Topics — Where the Rubber Meets the Runway

Last week, working with Bank of America and a recent survey they published on family Spring Break travel plans, we learned that nearly half of US families are getting away. This week, the Travel Channel’s Samantha Brown, shares tips for a smooth Spring Break trip.

samantha brown, travel channel• Rehearse the security line
Between taking off your shoes, unpacking our laptops and taking off coats, the security line can get a bit messy. Prepare your kids by practicing with the whole family the night before; pretend the kitchen island is the security table, a salad bowl a bin and a doorway the metal detector.

• Get the first flight out
While it’s hard to get the family up early, the first flight out is always cheaper and most likely leaves on time which is important when you have a connecting flight. For little ones, the TSA now allows children 12 years and younger to walk through airport security with shoes and a light jacket on.

• Never think you’re going to be fed on the plane
Don’t wait to eat at the airport, plan your food ahead of time. Whether you eat at the house or bring snacks it will save you time and money. Just be sure to check TSA regulations to see what is allowed through security.

• Let your rewards do the work
Use credit card rewards to offset the costs. The BankAmericard Travel Rewards credit card gives you the flexibility to earn 1.5 points for every dollar spent on all purchases that be used for hotels, vacation packages, cruises, rental cars and more. You can also find the best value by booking a hotel where perks are included, such as a breakfast buffet. It makes the morning easier by being well fed and coffee’d up!

• Don’t get upset when things don’t go as planned
Travel is rifle with missed connections, wrong turns, long lines and unexpected closings. Put together a Plan A and Plan B list you can easily access to prepare for the unexpected. Always remember how you react is how your children will so have fun with it and put a smile on your face!

• It’s called Spring BREAK
So take one. Give your family a break around 3 or 4pm when everyone is naturally feeling a lull. Nap, read a book or magazine and kids can draw and color or write in a journal. Get the whole family involved in the travel planning process. Have each member choose and plan an activity so everyone is invested in the family vacation.

Survey says: Nearly half of American families are headed on a Spring Break vacation

ExpertFlyer Hot Topics – Where the Rubber Meets the Runway

According to a recent survey by Bank of America, nearly half of American families are headed on a spring vacation this year. So, what’s on their itinerary? Check out the infographic below and come back next week for some Family Spring Break Tips from Samantha Brown of the Travel Channel.

Families Head for Spring Break

“Did you know…You can get $1,000 for your Lost Baggage?”

blue ribbon bagsA new insurance company called Blue Ribbon Bags gives travelers peace of mind in the event that they experience suitcase separation. For a mere $5.00 service fee, Blue Ribbon Bags pays luggage-less travelers $1,000 for each bag lost by the airline after four days missing.  Even better, you don’t have to come up with any receipts for baggage contents to receive payment.

Who says insurance isn’t exciting? Visit www.blueribbonbags.com to learn more.

One-on-One with Matteo Sarzana, Founder and CEO of Avionerd

This month, ExpertFlyer talks with Matteo Sarzana, Founder and CEO of Avionerd, an interesting and soon-to-be-released travel app that relies – literally – on the kindness of traveling strangers. Sarzana explains how – and why – elite frequent flyers can share their status privileges with the rest of us.

matteo sarzana avionerd“Our goal is to connect frequent flyers with normal flyers and have the frequent flyers share their status privileges with them.”

– Matteo Sarzana, Founder and CEO of Avionerd

Since Avionerd isn’t even available yet, can you give our readers an overview of what this app is designed to do?

Avionerd is a mobile app which will help everyone fly in a better way. Our goal is to connect frequent flyers with average flyers and have the frequent flyers share their status privileges with them.

There’s nothing like it on the market today and we’re sure it’ll be a killer opportunity for both travellers and airline companies.

How exactly does an elite status flyer pass on perks, like Lounge Access, Priority Checkin, Priority Boarding & Upgrade to a stranger booked on the same flight?

The baseline is that the app connects people on the same flight to share frequent flyer privileges.

Once you attain frequent flyer status, you’re allowed to share your privileges with another companion or your family. Avionerd is putting this under-utilized opportunity to more use by linking a frequent flyer solo traveler with a non-frequent flyer to let him or her experience the perks.

The app will let you know, with a push notification, of the possibility to get in touch with the frequent flyer and connect to organize the meeting or the other way around. We like to call this “sharing economy for the airline industry.”

The mechanism is pretty straightforward. Users sign up and create a profile inserting their frequent flyer information, if they have it, or they can skip this step. They then input their flight information and if on one of the flights there’s someone willing to share their privileges and someone without them, the users will be connected.

After the flight, they will be prompted to share their feedback and points are awarded based on the actions and privileges shared. Users will also be able to see their friends’ activities and search for flights with the most people willing to share their privileges.

Have you piloted or test marketed the app?  What makes you think that frequent flyers will be open to sharing their privileges with complete strangers?  What’s in it for them?

After a lot of research, we know there are no competitors at the moment. The closest thing is the Flight Connect page at FlyerTalk where people post their flight schedule to try to connect.

Market research also tells us that frequent flyers spend an average 18 percent more when buying tickets to stay with one airline for the frequent flyer miles and privileges. Proving to airlines that Avionerd is a marketing tool for them when normal flyers experience frequent flyer perks will be the key success factor to involve them in the project.

There are three main reasons we think frequent flyers will want to share their privileges:

1- To meet new, interesting people.

2- To be the one getting the privileges when they are not able to fly with the airline they have status with. Sort of a karma situation when a Delta Platinum is forced to fly American Airlines.

3- Be part of a global community, and in the future, be able to get even more airline miles.

How do you think the airlines will react to this? Airlines haven’t always looked kindly on those that try to game the system. Do you expect push-back from them?

I don’t think airlines will push back on Avionerd. We think the airline industry will see our app as a marketing opportunity to educate more consumers about the benefits of becoming frequent flyers.  Turning a typical flyer into a loyal frequent flyer means more money in the long run; our research tells us that frequent flyers spend up to 18% more to fly with the airline they have status with.

Also, every airline frequent flyer program offers companion sharing benefits. If an airline changes this rule, people will switch to a different program. Here are some key reasons we believe the airline industry will be interested in the app:

- Frequent flyers are a minority of the people who fly each year

- Frequent flyers usually spend 18% more than people without a status to keep flying with the airline they have status with

- We believe airlines are not exploiting the opportunity of educating more people about the benefits of being a FF, thus they are not leveraging the marketing opportunity

- Educating more people about the FF privileges could lead more people to sign up for FF awards programs, thus making them high spending people

- If airlines can understand that, they should be happy we are actually doing the work for them.

You also employ a points system for users who offer feedback based on their experience.  How are points earned and what rewards do flyers gain them for?

For each action performed by users, such as priority boarding, lounge access or upgrade, there will be a score awarded to them. In the beginning, points will be aggregated in a global ranking. We’re working with partners to give users the chance to convert their aviopoints into airline miles.

How soon can travelers expect to find Avionerd available for iOS and Android mobile platforms?

We are planning to submit the app to apple for approval by end of April. If successful, we’ll start working on the Android version.

 

Wild (life) Travel Adventures: Part 2

ExpertFlyer Hot Topics: Where the Rubber Meets the Runway

Last week, Tania Segura from the World Wildlife Fund’s Travel Program, took us to the Namibian Bush and snowy landscapes of Manitoba, Canada, where we checked out some of the best vacations for travelers who yearn to get up close to lions, elephants and polar bears.  In Part 2, we visit the Galapagos and Komodo, Indonesia.  If you missed Part 1, click here to catch up.

GALAPAGOS

iguana in galapagosClassic Galapagos Adventure

Six hundred miles off the coast of Ecuador, surrounded by open ocean, a volcanic archipelago straddles the equator. The Galapagos Islands, forged of black lava and named for the giant tortoises that are among its most noted inhabitants, are like nowhere else in the world. Home to a profuse array of wildlife, the islands offer an immersion in nature that feels primeval, where iguanas and penguins and blue-footed boobies share the beaches with us, unconcerned by our presence. Herman Melville called the Galapagos “Las Islas Encantadas,” or The Enchanted Isles, an apt moniker for a realm that remains otherworldly, even today. Choose between two vessels: our distinctive yacht, the M/Y Letty, or the ultra-deluxe M/C Athala II.

What to expect:

  • WWF’s flagship itinerary is among the best week-long Galapagos experiences, with the islands’ most highly trained naturalist guides
  • Seal at GalapagosWith the best guide-to-traveler ratio in the islands, guests are ensured personal encounters with the extraordinary nature and wildlife of the Galapagos
  • Snorkel with sea lions, sunbathe with iguanas, scout for whales and dolphins, and spend a night among wild tortoises at an exclusive highlands camp

The Galapagos Islands are one of the world’s premier nature travel destinations, and deservedly so: there may be no better place on the planet for close-up encounters with wildlife than this remote archipelago that’s home to an assortment of unique and gentle creatures. It’s thus essential to experience the Galapagos in a way that affords intimate interactions with wildlife, with personalized interpretation by top naturalists—something you don’t get with larger cruise ships and formal lectures, or less qualified guides.

Price tag: 11 Days / Year-Round, From $5,695

Komodo National Park, Indonesia

komodo snorkelerKOMODO SNORKELING

The Coral Triangle is one of the most biodiverse marine regions in the world. Komodo National Park is a place of raw natural beauty. Its islands are home to such exotic animals as the giant carnivorous Komodo dragon, and its crystal-clear waters are home to thriving corals and a variety of fish. WWF’s newest snorkeling adventure gives you an opportunity to see both.

What to expect:

  • Go on daily snorkeling outings in some of the planet’s top spots, including one consistently on experts’ top 10 lists.
  • Snorkel in search of electric rays, manta rays and big pelagic species.
  • Take a guided tour to look for Komodo dragons in the forests of Komodo National Park.
  • Live aboard a comfortable, small private yacht with just 12 fellow travelerskomodo dragon

Foray into the diverse waters of the Coral Triangle during snorkeling outings at the reefs surrounding the marine reserve of Moyo and the uninhabited volcanic island of Satonda. Huge sponges, healthy corals and massive schools of such fish as bannerfish and red tooth triggers abound.

The area around Gili Banta offers great chances to swim with the big guys. Sharks, mantas and dolphins are regular visitors to the current-bathed waters around Gili Banta.

Hike with the islands most famous inhabitants, Komodo Dragons! Because this region possesses geology unlike any other place on Earth, the three islands that comprise Komodo National Park have developed endemic species that epitomize nature at its wildest. Avid birdwatchers and others will enjoy an early hike on the beaches and trails around Horseshoe Bay to catch glimpses of several endemic species.

Price tag: 12 days / July 4-15, 2015  |  From $9,020 per person