Posts Tagged ‘travel’
Dutch airline KLM is currently developing an innovative tool that will allow passengers to choose who they sit next to on flights in 2012. The passengers will be able to do this by accessing other passengers’ profiles, who have opt-ed in for this service on Facebook or LinkedIn.
The service is aptly named “Meet and Seat”. It will allow passengers to pick whom they will seat next to on an airline flight based on interests, professions, or even looks. However, the program might not be all it’s cracked up to be. Imagine a fellow business traveler picks another business traveler thinking that they will have a quiet and peaceful flight, but it turns out the fellow business passenger gives them a non-stop sales pitch throughout the entire flight. Or for a single person looking to meet another single person, the situation could turn into an awkward experience that neither person can escape from for the rest of the flight. The question is will the service resonate and succeed with passengers?
AirTroductions, an online dating service for frequent fliers, offered a similar service to meet fellow travelers back in 2006. However, the service appeared to never really take off and they rebranded their name to TripLife. TripLife is the same concept, but they have now expanded the scope past just the airplane and the airport. TripLife members can meet someone at any point before and during travel, such as at a hotel bar or restaurant.
However, this is likely just the beginning for social media innovation in the blue skies. For example, Malaysia Airlines released a service on Facebook to see if friends are visiting a similar destination or if friends are taking the same flight at the same time. Some airlines, like Virgin America, even offer a seat-to-seat text chat service through their in-flight entertainment system.
Will any of these services take off and will customers want to use the service? One never knows. However, other companies, like airline Virgin Atlantic, have expressed interest in the idea. One could easily envision a Virgin Atlantic flyer meeting another passenger at the bar in-flight on the plane. As social media continues to grow, I imagine that we will see more of this type of innovation and marketing from other travel companies. I believe this service will be a big hit with young, single people. Other travel industries, for example cruise ships, could also offer similar services. I know I will not be requesting to sit with another passenger anytime soon since the only person I want to request to sit next to is my wife.
My wife and I recently went away for a weekend and we stayed at the luxurious American Club in Kohler, Wisconsin – for which we got a room at a good rate. Having my smart phone, I wanted to check out directions to Whistling Straits, their award-winning golf course. Not to play the course, but just look at the scenery. At my level of golf I can’t justify the $350 green fees for the privilege of playing one of America’s great golf courses. Perhaps if I played better… Regardless, when I was about to use my phone for directions to the golf course, I thought to check to see if Wi-Fi was available in the hotel. I was pleasantly surprised, not only was Wi-Fi available, it was available free of charge to all guests on the property! This got me thinking what other hotels offer free Wi-Fi and which do not.
When I searched Comperemedia, I observed a few examples of hotels that advertised free Wi-Fi to consumers. A print advertisement for the Best Western in Bloomington, Minnesota offered “complimentary Wi-Fi, iPhone, and iPod charger.” An online ad for the Residence Inn answered “Free Wi-Fi” to the question of “What’s included with my stay?” Holiday Inn, in a direct mail piece, showcased “100% free Wi-Fi in every room.”
When looking online for hotels that offer Wi-Fi access, I found two guides, which were located on TravelPost (http://www.travelpost.com/hotel-internet-access.aspx) and HotelChatter (http://www.hotelchatter.com/Hotel-Wifi-Report/2011). The results of who charges for Wi-Fi – and who offers free Wi-Fi were surprising. Less expensive hotels, such as Comfort Inn, Days Inn, Holiday Inn, Howard Johnson, and Super 8, all offered free high-speed internet access. However, expensive hotels, such as Four Seasons, InterContinental, Ritz-Carlton, and W Hotels charged various fees for internet access for their guests. Personally, as a consumer, I do not like or want to be charged to connect to the internet. Why should I get nickeled and dimed for Wi-Fi that is offered for free by McDonalds and Starbucks? What is next for these higher-end hotels? Paying for the number of towels that you use? The higher-end hotels can charge up to $600 a night, but then you have to pay an extra ten or twenty dollars just to connect to the web. That just seems wrong to me. I feel that Wi-Fi should be included free of charge in all hotels.
I find it interesting you can get free Wi-Fi at Holiday Inn, but the InterContinental will charge you costly fees for connecting to WiFi. This is even stranger considering that the InterContinental Hotels Group owns both Holiday Inn and InterContinental. My only guess to why hotels charge for Wi-Fi access is that the more expensive hotels tend to cater to business travelers and the hotel likely assumes that the business traveler can expense the Wi-Fi access back to their employers. Regardless of the reasoning, I hope the remaining hotels that do not offer free Wi-Fi eventually get on the bandwagon of offering free and reliable internet access for all guests. (And hopefully soon!) But for now, at least some high end hotels, like the American Club, are doing the right thing by offering free Wi-Fi for its guests.
What makes a cruise ship stand out from the rest?
Is it size that matters most? If so, Royal Caribbean gets that title twice over for having the two largest ships on the water today, Allure of the Seas and Oasis of the Seas.
Is it the destination? There aren’t too many destinations that are off limits for today’s cruise ships. Every heard of Svalbard? Cruise Norway will take you to this frozen city above the Arctic Circle to meet the polar bears and reindeer.
But for some travelers, it’s all about the alcohol.
Typically, cruise lines like Royal Caribbean and Carnival offer packaged deals that include all the food you can eat, but they usually leave out soft drinks and alcohol. This has caused some frustration with passengers who want to drink on their vacation but are turned off by the high costs on board the ship. Passengers are even prohibited from bringing any of their own alcohol on board. In a move to meet market demand, Royal Caribbean recently announced the arrival of new, one-price, all-you-can-drink packages.
Scheduled to rollout this month, Royal Caribbean International is offering tiered drink packages with varying costs and inclusions. The base package with the smallest price tag costs $29 per passenger per day, and will get you all beers and house wines by the glass plus a 25% discount on all other wines and liquors. The high end of the spectrum will run you $49 per day and includes all beers, wines (house and specialty up to $10 a glass), liquor, cocktails and a 25% discount on bottles of wine, glasses of wine over $10 and specialty liquors.
According to a recent article in USA Today, these new packages are only being offered on three Internationally-based Royal Caribbean vessels as a way to serve the many non-American passengers that have a higher demand for these types of all-inclusive deals. I think the idea is one that would appeal to many Americans as well, especially those who select cruise vacations precisely for the reason that it’s a way to get an entire vacation for one set price and not worry about making many transactions along the way.
I do, however, think these drink packages are a little on the pricey side. If you plan to have at least 4-5 drinks a day then maybe it’s worth it, but I also think it will only encourage excessive drinking in order for passengers to feel like they are getting their money’s worth. And what about the $49 plan? I guess if you are partial to the good stuff and want to splurge at every meal it could be a bargain.
Royal Caribbean isn’t the only cruise line acknowledging the demand for alcohol. Crystal Cruises, which caters to more high-end, upscale passengers, recently announced that it will also be all-inclusive by early next year. Unlike Royal Caribbean, Crystal Cruises isn’t charging for specific packages though. Instead, it will be offering complimentary fine wines and premium spirits at no extra charge on its two ships. Crystal Cruises is also promising the option for pre-paid gratuities, saving passengers from nearly all financial transactions during their vacation.
These new cruising amenities sound like great improvements to any cruise experience, but I would definitely need to ask myself if it’s worth the additional cost. Will this give new meaning to the term booze cruise?