Google Enters Travel Booking World

October 8, 2015 by · Leave a Comment 

You’ve been thinking about going to Montreal or New Hampshire in a few weeks to see the fall colors. When you start your search process, you notice that Google is offering to not only help you book your flight, but your hotel as well.

The ubiquitous tech giant is now dipping its proverbial big toe even deeper into the travel booking pool with its new initiative, “Book on Google”. And it has some of the other booking websites a little nervous.

Montreal, First YMCA. Now Hotel Gault.

Montreal’s Hotel Gault. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Google is currently conducting a beta launch in North America with 20,000 hotels that allows travelers to remain in its own navigation system from initial search to completed booking. Google’s partner? Sabre, the biggest global distribution system in the world used by more than 350,000 travel agents to access accommodation information.

The new “Book on Google” is the next generation of Google Hotel Ads, a search engine that searches other search engines and compiles the results for available hotels. What “Book on Google” provides that Google Hotel Ads doesn’t is direct booking all the way through to payment on mobile devices from Google Search, Google Maps, and Google+ platforms.

The hotels share the commission with Google and Sabre. This program complements Google Flight, which resulted from the purchase of ITA software, a flight information company, in 2015.

So now you can book a flight and find a place to lay your head without ever leaving Google. What’s next? Google room service, please.

Would you book with Google, or have you already done so? Let us know what you think in the comments section or on our Facebook page.

Atlantic® Luggage Announces its “Win a Trip for Four to Yellowstone National Park Sweepstakes”

October 1, 2015 by · Leave a Comment 

Sweepstakes runs October 1 through October 31, 2015

Boca Raton, Fla., – Oct. 1, 2015 – Atlantic® luggage, part of the Travelpro® family of brands and a market leader in affordable, lightweight luggage since 1919, is proud to announce its “Win a Trip For Four to Yellowstone National Park, Sweepstakes.”

Yellow Stone Sweepstakes GraphicIdeal for families who like to travel and have a scenic adventure, the Atlantic sweepstakes is offering the chance for a grand prize winner and three guests to win a fabulous trip to Yellowstone National Park. The winner will receive a trip certificate that includes roundtrip airfare for four (4); three (3) nights in a 3-star Cabin at Yellowstone National Park; Four (4) 1-day passes with admission to Grizzly & Wolf Discovery Center attractions; $500 cash spending money; and four (4) Atlantic carry-on sized suitcases.

“Atlantic Luggage is designed to make travel easier for the entire family. Known for its affordable, durable, lightweight luggage, Atlantic has pioneered great luggage since 1919,” said Scott Applebee, Vice President of Marketing for the Travelpro and the Atlantic Luggage brands. “We are pleased to offer a grand prize winner and three guests the opportunity to visit spectacular Yellowstone National Park, the leading family fun and scenic destination.”

The Grand Prize Package includes:

  • Round-trip economy airfare for four (4)
  • Three (3) nights in a 3-star cabin at Yellowstone National Park
  • Four (4) 1-day passes with admission to Grizzly & Wolf Discovery Center
  • $500 cash spending money
  • Four (4) Atlantic carry-on sized suitcases

The sweepstakes begins October 1 and ends October 31h, 2015. To enter or view the official sweepstakes rules please visit: No purchase or payment is necessary to enter or win.

About Atlantic Luggage

Since 1919, the Atlantic® brand has been synonymous with affordable, value-added and lightweight luggage. As a market leader in the lightweight luggage segment, from cleverly designed uprights and spinners to trendy and smart garment bags and totes, all Atlantic-branded luggage comprises superior quality and durability. Whether for business or recreation, travel is more pleasurable with Atlantic luggage, part of the Travelpro® family of products. Please visit the Atlantic Luggage website for a full list of the latest products and retail locations.

About Travelpro

For over 25 years, Travelpro International has prided itself on design innovation and durability in crafting the highest quality luggage for travelers worldwide. Since transforming the ease of modern day travel with The Original Rollaboard wheeled luggage, Travelpro has been the brand of choice for flight crews and frequent travelers on every continent. The company is dedicated to building a lifelong relationship with its customers by consistently meeting and exceeding their expectations. Travelpro was honored to once again be voted as the “World’s Best Luggage” by Premier Traveler Magazine in 2014.

Please visit the Travelpro website for a full list of the latest products and retail locations. You can also like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter at @Travelprointl.

Boeing Adding More Carry-On Luggage Storage Room

September 24, 2015 by · Leave a Comment 

Rollaboard owners rejoice! Boeing is trying to solve the ongoing carry-on luggage problem by adding bigger overhead bins.

According to a new Travel Pulse article, the new bins, called “space bins,” will carry more luggage than the previous bins. This will hopefully ease the stress and strain put on travelers and flight attendants as more people try to sneak larger bags onto flights.

Boeing Space BinsThe new bins will also be easier to load and see into, which is helpful since more than one traveler has been hit on the head by people removing heavy bags they didn’t quite realize they couldn’t carry.

One drawback is that it will decrease head space a bit.

It will be interesting to see how Virgin Airlines reacts to the news, given they recently said the interior plane space is actually the most valuable space. They were discussing charging for carry-on bags, and allowing free checked bags. Will this move be a revenue generator for them?

From Boeing’s perspective, they’re likely responding to requests from the airlines, who are hearing from customers. Right now, the airlines want to continue to charge for checked bags and allow carry-ons. Those passengers looking to save some money will be better able to maneuver their carry-ons and fit them into the new large bins.

Meanwhile, we’ve also been hearing some airlines are considering reducing the allowed carry-on sizes to accommodate more passengers using their carry-ons. However, Delta has said they plan to allow carry-on sizes to remain the same as they have been in the past.

We like the idea of the bigger bins. If you could turn your carry-on bag sideways (which is what Boeing is suggesting), you can fit six bags into the space instead of four. The loss of headroom does not seem like a great loss, especially since we’ll all be sitting. We’ll see if that continues to be the case or if headroom will be subject to shrinkage like everything else on the plane.

What are some of your ideas for getting more (or fewer) carry-on bags into the plane? Leave your ideas in the comments below, or on our Facebook page.

Photo credit: Boeing Media Room

Boeing Patents New “Cuddle Chairs”

September 22, 2015 by · Leave a Comment 

The name sounds weird, but “cuddle chairs” may change the way we travel and sleep on planes.

Boeing has recently patented a new travel chair that will allow passengers to sleep more comfortably by leaning forward into a backpack-like extension.

Boeing is calling them “cuddle chairs.” You sleep upright with your face resting against the cuddle chair, which attaches to your seat. It has a place for your face, so you can easily breathe. It’s like the hole on a massage table when you lie face down.

It’s nice to see Boeing think about customer comfort, but we’re not sure that cuddle chairs are going to cut it. Titling forward is not that great ergonomically sound although it may be better than other popular sleep options, such as slumping over sideways in your seat and leaning on whoever happens to be seated next to you.

Tilting forward could put a strain on your lower back, so we’re wondering if they have done research on the positioning. I was talking with Scott Applebee about this recently. He has a background in office furniture and he says that good office chairs should have a slight backward tilt to it, which you obviously won’t get from the forward lean of the cuddle chair.

The backward tilt opens up your body cavity a bit so you’re not putting stress on your lower lumbar. You don’t really even want to sit up straight, let alone forward. There are ways to lean forward but still keep your back in a good position but it doesn’t look like the cuddle chair will let you do that.

Another thing that concerns us is the feeling of being trapped by a device you strap around your head. Will the cuddle chairs really be all that cuddly? We’ll have to actually experience the cuddle chair before we decide if it will really work.

What about you? Will you try the cuddle chair if it’s ever available? Leave your thoughts and suggestions in the comments below, or on our Facebook page.

Video credit: The Patent Yogi (YouTube, used with permission)

How Protecting Time Off Improves Performance

September 17, 2015 by · Leave a Comment 

These working vacations we’re so fond of, these take-your-laptop-to-check-email vacations we take with the family, may be harming our overall performance on the job.

A recent article by the Association for Talent Development (ATD) discusses the need for workers to take quality time off from their jobs.

These days, many folks cart laptops or at least smartphones with them and stay in touch during the entirety of their time “away” from the office. While this can be necessary at times, it can also lead to burn out and feelings that their vacation wasn’t truly a vacation.

English: Rental cabins near the Great Smoky Mo...

Why would you want to work when this is your view?! Great Smoky Mountains National Park in Sevier County, Tennessee. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Time off is something that supports employee buoyancy; the ability to bounce back easily from stressors. Buoyancy is something every employer should encourage because an office filled with stressed out, grumpy employees with no tolerance for stress creates even more stress for everyone.

“True time off” can be taken if the employee plans ahead of time. Amy Fox, the article’s author, says that her company lays out a timeline for employees before time off that includes planning for who will cover, and talking with clients about what will happen during the vacation. She says that she encourages employees never to use the phrase, “if you need to reach me.”

At TravelPro, we like to encourage everyone to take real time off and not do any work at all. While I don’t do any work while I’m away, I do like to go through my email once a day to make sure I don’t have a jammed inbox when I get back.

It’s even possible to extend vacations because of the capability to take care of simpler tasks on the go and leave very important tasks until you’re back in the office. Since many of us can work anywhere, why not spend a few weeks out of the office working from an Airbnb or vacation rental?

How do you spend your vacations? Do you shut everything off completely, or do you cheat and work while you’re gone?

Leave your favorite practices in the comments below, or on our Facebook page.

Shorter Waits, Better Rides Coming to Amusement Parks?

September 15, 2015 by · Leave a Comment 

We recently read an article on Yahoo Travel that will make our kids jump up and down with excitement: the future of amusement parks is all about shorter lines, better rides, better food, and more interaction.

According to the article, the future of amusement parks looks like it’s going to be quite different from what we experience today and especially different from the past.

Dunas Park 2

Dunas Park 2 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

1. The use of smartphones and other personal devices will begin to reduce line length. Instead of having to wait in line for 2 hours, you can check in with your device and be called over to your spot when the ride is almost ready for you. Kind of like the flashing buzzer at a restaurant. If you’ve already experienced Disney’s FastPass, you’re familiar with the idea.

2. Expect more interaction in the parks. Amusement parks are expected to become “full on participatory adventures” in the near future. The article is a bit cagey about what that means, but we suspect there will be more of a role playing game aspect to park attendance. Think Renaissance Faire, only cooler.

3. Darker themes to parks will be more common. To appeal more to adults (especially the largest demographic, Generation Y), parks will start to seem a bit more like a darker type of video game rather than focusing solely on child-friendly/child-only themes. Things will be scarier.

4. Parks are going to be greener. Amusement parks use up a lot of energy and they’re going to have to start finding ways to minimize their impact from increasing recycling initiatives to reducing energy usage. Expect to see more of this in amusement parks across the board.

5. The food is going to be better. With the continued “foodiezation” of America, it’s no surprise that amusement parks are expected to get on board with this ongoing trend. (Again, look at Generation Y’s trends with food.) Food already costs an arm and a leg within parks, so increasing the quality is a great way for parks to increase the amount of money they can charge their captive audience in order to eat. Plus, it’s another way to increase appeal to adults.

What else would you like to see in your favorite amusement parks? Leave your ideas in the comments section below or on our Facebook page.

Can You Get Your Checked Bag Faster By Checking in Later?

September 10, 2015 by · Leave a Comment 

Does the “last in, first out” rule apply to airline luggage the same way it does a bus or elevator?

The short answer is “No,” and Yahoo Travel explores why this luggage myth is just that.

The author, Christine Sarkis, asked Delta about baggage delivery, after spending a rather anxious time waiting to retrieve her bag on an international flight to check it back in again for her domestic trip.

English: Baggage handlers loading a Northwest ...

Baggage handlers loading a Northwest Airlines airplane at LAS (Las Vegas Airport) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The answer? Luggage is distributed into the hold based on weight rather than when it’s checked in. When the luggage is loaded, it’s all done up in a very scientific fashion to help balance out the plane’s load.

In fact, for large planes, the luggage is loaded into “cans” (big boxes), which are loaded onto the plane to spread the weight out evenly. While it’s not completely random, your bag could be in any of those cans, depending on the total weight of each can.

Smaller planes practice “loose loading,” which means they load the luggage into the hold based on weight. They work to get the balance right, so even then, there’s no LIFO to the bags.

We’re very curious about exactly how this works and would love to get an insider tour of how the baggage handling process works, but when we asked a Travelpro team member to ride in a bag with a GoPro camera, he said no.

Meanwhile, we would be thrilled to hear any insider stories from baggage handlers or even be invited along on a luggage handling tour.

When it comes down to it, says Christine Sarkis, the only two ways to get your baggage more quickly is to fly business or first class or to carry it on yourself, in which case all you have to do is reach up into the overhead bin to retrieve your precious cargo. This is also a great way of ensuring that you don’t lose your luggage.

Do you have any other tips for retrieving your luggage faster on a trip? Let us hear from you. Leave your tips in the comments below, or on our Facebook page.

Should Airlines Honor Mistake Fares?

September 8, 2015 by · Leave a Comment 

In a world of cheap fares and automated ticketing systems, there are still times that airlines are prone to “fat finger mistakes.” According to a recent USA Today article, that’s when an employee has accidentally offered a fare at a discounted price because they mis-entered the correct fares or misplaced a decimal.

According to the story, one customer was able to jump on fare from NYC to Abu Dhabi for $227 due to a clerical error. The ticket usually costs about $1,500, but the airline was forced to honor the fare due to regulations. However, those regulations may be changing in the near future.

English: Dublin International Airport, Ireland...

Dublin International Airport, Ireland.(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The rule was actually created to protect consumers from dishonorable price hikes after they had already purchased tickets. But at this point, the U.S. Department of Transportation believes the rule is being used to scam airlines more than anything else. There have been numerous instances recently of customers finding mistakes and immediately spreading the news on social media so a multitude of other travelers can also take advantage of it.

The hope is that there will still be protection in place for consumers while also beginning to protect businesses that make clerical errors. While there’s something to be said for honoring prices even when they’re the result of a mistake, some of those errors can generate huge losses for a business.

People do make mistakes after all, and we expect others to forgive our human error. Some people may think the airlines are so big, and so unconcerned about passengers’ comfort, that they deserve to get hit where it hurts, but there’s a question of fairness to consider.

For starters, what if the airline did come back and retroactively charge you for a fuel increase because gas prices went up a week before your trip? That wouldn’t be fair or acceptable.

We think it’s fair if airlines may want to give customers a little something when such an error arises, such as a few frequent flyer miles or some kind of upgrade. But if an airline mistakenly gives a heavy discount on a fare, they shouldn’t be forced to honor it when doing so will harm their own interests.

How do you feel about it? Share your opinion in the comments below, or on our Facebook page.

Amazing Airbnbs That Still Fit Your Budget

September 3, 2015 by · Leave a Comment 

Airbnb has not only brought some big changes to hotel travel, it has even introduced travelers to some very exotic and wondrous properties.

Yahoo Travel recently discussed Airbnb rentals that are truly amazing places to stay. Although Airbnb is considered a budget travel site, it doesn’t always have to be a place to find hole-in-the-wall accommodations. In fact, there are quite a lot of nice places to stay.

Dairsie Castle, Scotland

Dairsie Castle, Scotland

And some places are amazing and affordable. Three particular places the article calls out include a glass tree house in the Tuscan forest, a Scottish castle, and a restored windmill in Santorini.

Who wouldn’t want to stay in such a place? And even if you’re not looking to stay in someplace quite so over the top, you can still find really nice spaces right in the heart of expensive cities for quite a bit less than you’d pay for a hotel in the exact same area — and with more amenities, like a kitchen or an actual separate bedroom.

We especially liked the boot house in New Zealand and all of us around the office want to stay at some of these places. They look very enticing.

Airbnb is something of a wonderland. You could create quite a unique getaway just in the properties, staying only in the places with a lot of charm and unique settings. Or you could even try a tiny house and see if you would actually enjoy joining the tiny home living trend. Since it’s a major lifestyle change for most people, diving in through Airbnb might be a good way to try it out.

On the other hand, a castle would be at the other end of the spectrum. You could get a party together to stay and split the cost in order to make staying in such a huge space affordable for everyone. (Or if you wanted to join the less popular living-in-a-giant-Scottish-castle trend, you could check that one out as well.)

The options on Airbnb are almost without limit. If you haven’t checked it out yet, try it out on your next trip and tell us what you think. Or if you’ve already stayed in an Airbnb, let us hear from you. Did you like it? Would you recommend it to friends? Or are you happier in a hotel? Leave us a comment below, or on our Facebook page.

Photo credit: Andy Hawkins (Flickr, Creative Commons)

USTA Study Shows Open Skies Is Crucial to US Airlines, Economy

August 27, 2015 by · Leave a Comment 

A recent article on Travel Pulse discusses a study commissioned by the US Travel Association on the Open Skies Agreements. These agreements foster open international policies regarding travel. The study says they not only help the U.S. air travel economy, they help the U.S. economy in general.

Some major U.S. carriers recently challenged the agreements. The recent influx of some Persian Gulf airlines, among others, has brought more competition into the U.S. market, which doesn’t thrill American Airlines, Delta Air Lines, and United Airlines.

Delta Boeing 747-400

Delta Boeing 747-400 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

“When the Big Three first embarked on their lobbying campaign against Open Skies, they had our attention because they claimed that their position was about protecting U.S. jobs,” said USTA president and CEO Roger Dow. “But it took about 30 seconds of reflection to realize that breaking those agreements is likely to have terrible consequences for U.S. employment, and now we have research in hand conclusively illustrating that.”

Since there are now three large legacy carriers in the U.S., they’ve developed a bit of a stronghold on the U.S. market. There’s less competition and therefore, looking from the consumer standpoint, if some of these other airlines come in, maybe we’ll get better fares.

The article says that research indicates that the Open Skies Agreements are very much pro-traveler and that these agreements support competition.

“The travel community weighs every policy proposal against a very basic set of criteria: is it pro-competition, pro-growth and pro-traveler? The Big Three’s move against Open Skies epic-fails every part of that test,” said Dow.

The challenge seems to be focusing mainly on Persian Gulf airlines that fly into the U.S., but the study, which was conducted by Oxford Economics, indicates that the airlines cited actually pump quite a bit of money into the U.S. economy.

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