United’s Adding Tons of Mountain Flights This Ski Season

United’s Adding Tons of Mountain Flights This Ski Season

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Feels a bit odd to be thinking about ski season when temperatures throughout the US are climbing well above 100 degrees on a consistent basis. But especially if you’re planning to head to a popular ski resort during peak periods (such as Christmas or New Year’s), now’s the time to start looking at flights. And this year United’s making it a bit easier to get where you’re going without a mid-trip stop.

The airline just announced a slew of increased frequencies and a couple new routes (highlighted in bold font below). I’m especially excited about the daily flight between Newark and Jackson Hole, Wyoming — one of my favorite ski resorts (that’s consistently a bit challenging and expensive to reach from the East Coast).

So, here’s what to expect from United’s hubs this ski season:

Denver (DEN)

  • Bozeman/Big Sky (BZN) will maintain 5 flights for the majority of the season, up from four last year
  • Multiple Eagle/Vail (EGE) flights will be transferred to mainline equipment
  • Glacier/Whitefish (FCA) will increase by one daily flight throughout the season with a peak of four daily flights, up from three last year
  • Steamboat Springs (HDN) will increase by one daily frequency after the New Year’s holiday, peaking at four daily flights, up from three last year
  • Montrose/Telluride (MTJ) flights will increase to five daily flights during the holiday period
  • Reno/Lake Tahoe (RNO) will fly three times daily for the entire season, up from two in the period after the New Year’s holiday last year

Chicago (ORD)

  • Bozeman/Big Sky (BZN) will increase to three daily flights during the Presidents Day and spring break periods, up from two last year
  • Eagle/Vail (EGE) increases to daily service during the Presidents Day and spring break periods, up from weekends only last year
  • Glacier/Whitefish (FCA) will now fly daily during the holiday period, up from weekends only last year
  • Steamboat Springs (HDN) will fly daily for the entire season, an increase from weekend only for periods last year
  • Reno/Lake Tahoe (RNO) service is new this year, will operate Saturday throughout the season and most Sundays
  • Sun Valley (SUN) service is new this year, will operate most Saturdays throughout the season

Houston (IAH)

  • Bozeman/Big Sky (BZN) increases to daily service during the Presidents Day and spring break periods, up from weekends only last year
  • Reno/Lake Tahoe (RNO) will increase to daily service during the Presidents Day and spring break periods, up from weekends only last year

Los Angeles (LAX)

  • Aspen (ASE) will now operate four daily flights for the entire season
  • Bozeman/Big Sky (BZN) will fly daily for the season, an increase from weekend only for some periods last year

San Francisco (SFO)

  • Aspen (ASE) will now operate a minimum of two daily flights throughout the season, up from one flight at times last year
  • Eagle/Vail (EGE) service is new this year, will operate Saturday throughout the season and most Sundays

Newark/New York (EWR)

  • Bozeman/Big Sky (BZN) increases to daily service during the Presidents Day and spring break periods, up from weekends only last year
  • Jackson Hole (JAC) will fly daily for the season, an increase from weekend only for periods last year

Bottom Line

Hopefully more capacity will translate to more award seats and lower fares, but that’s not what I’m seeing just yet. For example, with that Newark-Jackson Hole route I mentioned, round-trip fares start around $600, and they only go up from there. And if you’re flying from EWR to JAC over New Year’s, expect to pay as much as $2,175 round-trip — in economy. Jackson fares from United’s other hubs are similarly expensive.

There are some economy award seats, however — primarily in the “XN” fare class, which is available exclusively to customers with United elite status or a co-branded credit card, such as the United MileagePlus Explorer Card from Chase.

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Of course these new flights and frequencies aren’t just limited to folks departing from those airports — with six of the airline’s major US hubs covered, there are plenty of connecting options from the East Coast, West Coast and everywhere in between. Though regardless of where you’re traveling from and to, during peak periods these flights won’t come cheap.

Featured image courtesy of Chase Dekker Wild-Life Images.

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August 8, 2017 at 07:01PM

Rachel, Peter, Bryan, and the Basic Cynicism of “The Bachelorette” Finale

Rachel, Peter, Bryan, and the Basic Cynicism of “The Bachelorette” Finale

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On Monday night, millions of Americans, expectant and weary, settled in
for the finale of “The Bachelorette,” to find out whom Rachel Lindsay,
the breezy Texan protagonist, would offer her final rose. This season of
the show, like this year as a whole, has been a revealing one. A grim
kind of reality television is now broadcasting daily from the White
House; we are all more conscious that our systems of pleasure darkly
mirror our systems of dominance. A good reality TV show—and “The
Bachelorette” qualifies—recognizes its ridiculous ability to expose and
magnify the culture’s natural machinations. It follows, then, that, in
2017, “The Bachelorette,” on its surface an escapist soap, might also
brandish a sneaky pessimism: above all, it is a game show, and whoever
works its weepy calculus most skillfully wins, plain and simple.

The finale was a torrid, three-hour affair. In live segments before a
studio audience, Lindsay, who had spent two months traversing the
flatlands of America, the peaks of Geneva, and the vineyards of Rioja in
search of a husband, would be watching along with the viewers, giving
insight into the final week. Chris Harrison, our nonpartisan host,
strolled on stage, looking funereal. The lighting was medicinal pink. He
announced to the audience that this final episode would be like none
other in the franchise, which has trudged on for sixteen years. Out of
thirty-one men, three remained, and while they waited backstage three
cameras aimed at their faces. Their body language said it all. Eric
Bigger, a personal trainer from Baltimore who once admitted to Lindsay
that he wondered if he were capable of love, had his hands clasped.
Since the finale had been taped, back in May, he had sprouted a fetching
beard—an indication that he, like us, had been aged by this ordeal.
Peter Kraus, the clear fan favorite, looked shrunken, his beautiful,
caterpillar eyebrows raised in the manner of a concerned Disney prince.
Bryan Abasolo, the eerily smooth chiropractor from Miami, smirked.

The live portion of the show cut to prerecorded tape, and the camera
crawled over the sun-bleached expanse of Spanish wine country, making
even Monasterio de Valvanera, a monastery with Benedictine origins
dating back to the tenth century, look tacky. Rachel tearily enumerated
her options. “When I’m with Bryan, I feel like I’m in a fairy tale.”
Eric made “our souls feel intertwined.”(Soon after, Rachel eliminates
Eric, with little fanfare.) Peter, whom she had fallen for first, and the
hardest, had saddled her with the biggest dilemma, one that disturbed
the grotesquely sanguine science of the show: he did not want to rush
into getting married; he was unsure that, at the final rose ceremony, he
would feel ready to propose. A couple of episodes earlier, when Peter
met Rachel’s parents, her family had been reassured by his hesitance,
which seemed like a sign of seriousness. Rachel was not. Part of what
had endeared her to fans was her practicality: Rachel wanted to get
married. Now, in the final week, Peter reiterated his reservations.
Rachel cried. “There has to be a way to fix this,” she said. “I feel
like he’s fighting it.”

“The Bachelorette” does not reward Peter’s strain of seriousness,
however valiant it might have seemed. It’s abundantly clear that, if he
and Rachel had met outside of this champagne-filled petri dish, they
would have continued their relationship and let it run its natural
course, whether toward marriage or not. But “The Bachelor” franchise is
predicated upon the idea that the foundation of a marriage can be built
in two months. For eight weeks, participants and viewers alike—many of
these viewers being women and gay men, who have historical reasons to
distrust the institution of marriage—take residence in this delicious
lie. This is the show’s deep cynicism: the red roses and glittering
gowns are merely window dressing; the chase is to the ring—as material a
goal as any other reality-show prize. The viewers are romantics; the
contestants are strategists. (The majority of “Bachelor” and
“Bachelorette” couples, unsurprisingly, break up within a few months of
taping.)

Rachel and Peter’s stupefying, protracted breakup, which dominated the
finale, called attention to the perversity of this formula. It was the
only story line of the night that showed emotion. After their overnight
date in the fantasy suite, the camera captured bells tolling, and we
knew they were meant as omens. For their final date, Rachel and Peter
consulted a monk at the monastery. He told them that relationships were
difficult. Standing against dramatic mosaics of Marian motherhood, Peter
and Rachel rehashed their differences. Their fight drifted into the
night. Rachel cried so much that her fake eyelashes wilted. (At the live
debrief, Peter tells Rachel that, after she left the suite, he could not
bear to pick the fibres up from the floor.) Finally, Peter offers to
propose, and Rachel denies him. “I want you to do it because you want to
do it.” Peter grows upset: “Okay, well, then go find someone who is
going to give you a mediocre life!” They have reached an impasse. It is
too hard to say goodbye—so Peter rends his sweater, and Rachel blots the
last of her makeup from her eyes. Their end felt sordidly real. In the
live studio segments, there was a mesmerizing stiltedness between them,
which again seemed to violate the antiseptic core of “The Bachelor”
franchise—it was confusing to feel that, amid such artifice, a real
tragedy may have occurred.

Essentially, Bryan won by default. There’s not much to say about him.
His cheekbones are prominent, his inner life nowhere to be found. (It
turns out that he was once a contestant on a UPN dating show called “The
Player.”) “The sass, the charm, the attorney in her. That actually turns
me on,” he said when Harrison asks him what attracts him to Rachel. From
the beginning, Bryan had tunnelled toward the prize, letting Rachel
know, over and over again, that he shared her desire to get married.
After Peter leaves, we see Bryan consulting a jeweller. He picks out a
pear-shaped diamond ring—a modern, ubiquitous cut. The proposal is
devoid of tremors, of stumbles, of any other indicators of true
connection. In the climactic moment, on a Spanish cliff, Bryan strides
up to Rachel, who is caught in a fierce wind. He opens the box and
Rachel shrieks. “It’s so pretty! Give it to me! It’s so pretty!” Game
over.

Later, still steeped in a mood of lost love, I saw a tweet appear on my
timeline, which showed a screenshot of Peter’s high-school yearbook. “Go
to art school, become famous in one way or another, be on The Bachelor,
live happily,” it read. The network will choose its next Bachelor soon.

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August 8, 2017 at 06:19PM

5 Trends Shaping Future of Luxury Travel

5 Trends Shaping Future of Luxury Travel

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Nekupe Resort

Poolside at Nekupe, a luxury resort helping local communities benefit from tourism. Nekupe Resort

Skift Take: There are so many forecasts about the future of luxury travel, yet most track the same trends. Here’s Sabre Corporation’s take on what’s next.

— Laura Powell

Changes in the world are happening at warp speed, and the expectations of luxury consumers are following suit, according to The Future of Luxury, recently published by Sabre Corporation.

The report notes that smart brands will make a move toward more individualized and transformative forms of luxury in order to appeal to the new consumer ethos of wanting to broaden personal horizons while finding purpose and connection.

Sabre identifies five core trends that luxury purveyors should be paying close attention to–trends that tap into the desires to be unique and to access luxury on one’s own terms.

The five core luxury trends are:

1. The Quintessential Self: “The endless search to realize the idealized version of themselves that they carry around in their head.” Consumers are looking for brands to deliver goods to “help them fulfill their dreams to be better human beings.”

A prime example of a product appealing to this trend is Le Monastere des Augustines, about which we previously wrote. A bit more extravagant is Maverick Helicopter’s Yoga in the Desert. For “just” $3,500, yogis are transported by helicopter from Las Vegas to Valley of Fire State Park for a 75-minute class.

2. No-Frills Chic: Growing numbers of experienced luxury travelers consider themselves post-status, according to the report. They say they are not drawn in by brand prestige, but rather by quality and purpose.

Many luxury travelers “are looking for more subtle indulgence, choosing low-key brands, products and services over showy opulence.” That said, as the report notes, even the display of shunning brands is a status play. It’s just an alternative way of expressing it.

Examples of “no-frills” include the 2016 introduction of a new Louis Vuitton luggage line with the LV logo obscured. Another example is Airstream, whose camper trailers range in price up to $140,000.

3. Premium Redeemed: “Thanks to an ever-greater awareness of the impact of their actions, many travelers feel increasingly guilty about the negative impact their consumption has on the environment, society and their health.” So, there is a rising demand for luxury products that make the world a better place. The report notes that businesses should be looking at how to make products sustainable and/or how the brand can do social good.

For example, in Nicaragua’s countryside, the not-for-profit American Nicaraguan Foundation runs a luxury resort helping local communities benefit from tourism. Nekupe Sporting Resort and Retreat is situated on land where slash and burn agriculture was previously practiced. According to Sabre’s report, “The aim of the hotel is to educate visitors about its goals of improving local employment, sustainable farming and environmental stewardship.”

4. Extravagance on Demand: “Smart phone-fueled on-demand services have rewired the expectations of customers.” Luxury brands seeking to get a leg up must realize that their consumers expect the benefits of instant access and “will push their on-demand mindset to new highs, and into entirely new domains of consumerism.”

Recharge taps into this trend. The app allows consumers to reserve luxury hotel rooms by the minute. It debuted in New York this spring. The cost of a New York city luxury hotel by the minute–66 cents to $3. (Doing the math, that’s $40 to $180 per hour).

Blade, an on-demand helicopter service, partnered with Delta Airlines to reduce travel time from JFK Airport to Manhattan. Upon arrival at JFK, an elite service team whisks guests and their luggage to an awaiting chopper, which takes them to Manhattan in ten minutes.

5. Customized: “Many luxury travelers want to construct experiences that align with their unique interests, needs and values.” The report notes expectations around personalization are constantly being heightened online, where it appears everything can be tailored to individual preferences and interests

Nothing’s more personal than your own DNA. Last year, London-based Travel Unwrapped launched DNA Unwrapped, a series of travel itineraries inspired by the traveler’s genetic code.

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August 8, 2017 at 06:02PM

Register for IHG’s Huge Fall 2017 Accelerate Bonus Points Offer

Register for IHG’s Huge Fall 2017 Accelerate Bonus Points Offer

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Following the World of Hyatt launch (and a sky-high requirement to stay 60 nights to earn top-tier status), this year I’m focusing most of my hotel stays on Starwood Preferred Guest, so I can requalify for Platinum (which earns me Marriott Platinum as well). But as hard as I try, it’s simply impossible to always book a Starwood hotel, which led me to a handful of Hilton and IHG stays while working my way through New Zealand earlier this year.

That adventure helped me appreciate the IHG Rewards Club even more, and especially the IHG Rewards Club Select Credit Card, which, thanks to its annual free stay perk, saved me several hundred dollars on an Intercontinental stay in Sydney.

As a cardholder, my IHG status never drops below Platinum, which means I generally earn 15 points per dollar spent at member hotels — a 10.5% return based on TPG’s most recent valuations. And when you pair that earn rate with the chain’s frequent (and generous) Accelerate promotion, which just launched for Fall 2017, you can earn a very nice return.

Even though I don’t have any specific IHG stays in mind, I always register for this particular promo — this time, offering up to 59,300 bonus points if I complete each requirement on the list.

Screen Shot 2017-08-08 at 8.27.18 AM

Meanwhile, here’s the breakdown from our very own JT Genter:

Pasted image at 2017_08_08 11_25 AM

And here’s Katie Genter’s:

Pasted image at 2017_08_08 11_36 AM

This particular promotion is valid for stays from September 1 through December 31, 2017, giving you a full four months to earn. And while I know some folks go out of their way to unlock the “achievements” (perhaps more for the fun of it than the earning potential), I’ll likely only be able to score a few thousand bonus points this time around — if I end up with any eligible stays at all.

As for what counts as an “eligible stay,” there are plenty of exclusions to keep in mind:

Bonus points are not issued for Non-Qualifying Room Rates or Non-Qualifying Stays. “Non-Qualifying Room Rates” or “Non-Qualifying Stay” include the following: any stay at a Kimpton Hotel, net wholesale individual and group rate, certain package rates, employee discount rate, friends and family rate, crew rate, special discounted contract rates, seasonal worker/crew rate, 50% travel club discount rate, travel industry discount rate, distressed passenger rate, IHG Rewards Club Reward Nights/Airline Hotel Reward rate, rates booked through third party web sites, complimentary hotel Stays and any other rates not defined as a Qualifying Room Rate at IHG’s sole discretion

Bottom Line

Is this the world’s most lucrative hotel promotion? No, not even close, but if there’s a chance you’ll be staying with IHG later in 2017, you might as well click through to sign up — even if for no other reason than to see what crazy offer you’ve been targeted for this time around.

What’s your fall 2017 Accelerate offer from IHG?

Featured image courtesy of the Intercontinental Sydney.

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August 8, 2017 at 04:55PM

New Data Sheet: The U.S. High-Income Traveler Survey Results 2017

New Data Sheet: The U.S. High-Income Traveler Survey Results 2017

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Skift Take: A data dive into the habits of U.S. high-income travelers. What do they value and what expectations do they have from their travels?

— Dave Montali

Today we are publishing the full results from our 2017 U.S. High-Income Traveler Survey. Travel demand is booming and with the global economy on an upswing, travel brands are looking to build relationships with consumers that can afford a bit more when it comes to transport, accommodations, in-destination activities and other travel products and services.

To address this segment, Skift Research designed and fielded a comprehensive 50-question survey aimed at the top 20% of income earners in the United States. With more than 1,300 responses, we segment and cross-tabulate results to identify travel trends based on income, education, accommodations preferences, .

This comprehensive data series rolls up the data costs and the value-added insight from our seasoned bench of analysts.

Preview and Subscribe

The majority of U.S. high-income travelers rarely or never used traditional travel agents to book their travels.

Price was not the only reason for choosing an Airbnb listing over a hotel room.

Subscribe to Skift Research Reports

This is the latest in a series of monthly reports, data sheets, and analyst calls aimed at analyzing the fault lines of disruption in travel. These reports are intended for the busy travel industry decision-maker. Tap into the opinions and insights of our seasoned network of staffers and contributors. Over 100 hours of desk research, data collection, and/or analysis goes into each report.

After you subscribe, you will gain access to our entire vault of reports conducted on topics ranging from technology to marketing strategy to deep dives on key travel brands. Reports are available online in a responsive design format, or you can also buy each report a la carte at a higher price.

Subscribe to Skift Research Reports

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August 8, 2017 at 03:54PM

Does Deep Learning Hold the Answers?

Does Deep Learning Hold the Answers?

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August 8, 2017 at 03:33PM

InterContinental Hotels Won’t Rush to Follow Rivals Into Alternative Accommodations

InterContinental Hotels Won’t Rush to Follow Rivals Into Alternative Accommodations

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InterContinental Hotels Group

InterContinental London – The O2. The company is focusing on the development of its new midscale hotel brand. InterContinental Hotels Group

Skift Take: InterContinental’s new CEO Keith Barr seems happy — for now — to carry on with the work done by his predecessor. While rivals have explored other areas, IHG keeps doing the same thing, although it is developing a new midscale brand. Only time will tell which strategy is right.

— Patrick Whyte

The have been a flurry of deals in recent months involving hotel companies investing in the alternative accommodation market.

To varying degrees, Hyatt, AccorHotels and Wyndham Worldwide have all increased their exposure in the sector.

Not everyone is convinced by the argument, though. InterContinental Hotels Group, one of the most traditional of the big chains, says it won’t be getting involved in the buying spree any time soon. Instead it plans on continuing to focus on expanding its core hotel portfolio.

InterContinental executives love to use the jargonistic phrase “white space” to describe holes in their business and aside from the deal to buy Kimpton Hotels and Restaurants, the company has been content to try to fill these in-house.

Much of InterContinental’s focus is now on developing the as-yet-unnamed midscale brand, which the company announced in June.

“We look at this area and we evaluate the opportunities there and whether it could become scale and whether it really works with our revenue delivery platforms and our loyalty etc.,” said chief financial officer Paul Edgecliffe-Johnson on an earnings call Tuesday following the company’s first-half results announcement.

“In reality you could probably do something there but it’s just looking at which is the biggest opportunity for us and certainly something like our new midscale brand is a huge opportunity and then we’ll look at the others that are out there and think, where does it fit within the white space that [CEO] Keith [Barr] talked about.

“It’s probably not top of our list, not to say that we would never do something there if the right opportunity came up but there are some that probably fit better with our revenue channels than getting into that space.”

Edgecliffe-Johnson’s comments echo those of former CEO Richard Solomons, who referenced at Skift Forum Europe earlier this year the different strategies employed by InterContinental’s rivals.

New Chief Executive

Barr took over from Solomons in July and when there is any change in leadership there it is an open question about whether there will be a new direction.

At least on the surface this seems to have been an orderly, managed transition and as such there has been no hint at a major divergence in IHG’s approach.

The move to an asset-light strategy through the sale of a number of iconic hotels has largely been completed, meaning that Barr’s focus will be on growing the brands that the company already has, as well as the aforementioned new midscale offering.

Barr will also preside over the replacement of the antiquated Holidex guest reservation system with a system developed in partnership with Amadeus. Incredibly, Holidex has been around since 1965.

“Having been at the company for 25 years and worked around the world I think I have a broad perspective on what we do well in the company and where we can improve and again one of my areas of focus is on continuing to figure how we can accelerate growth to drive net system size,” Barr said.

“Fundamentally that’s one of the keys areas we have to be focused on and so its looking at how can we think about accelerating growth, launching…  new brands and developing new brands and strengthening the performance and return on investment for our owners in our existing brands.”

First-Half Results

In the first-half of its financial year InterContinental made a pre-tax profit of $326 million, an increase of 9.4 percent on the prior year. Revenue per available room, a key hotel industry metric, grew by 2.1 percent.

“In our view IHG’s strategy is appropriate and already being well-executed, but realistically, the hotel cycle will be the biggest determinant of earnings in the short to medium term,” analysts at Numis said in a note to investors.

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August 8, 2017 at 03:05PM

RedAwning raises $40 million

RedAwning raises $40 million

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Vacation rental platform RedAwning has earmarked a $40 million funding announced today to further develop its tech platform and grow the business.

The funding has been led by Silversmith Capital Partners from Boston which gets “a significant minority stake” in return for the cash.

To date the business has been funded by CEO Tim Choate and CTO Lance Nelson, both of whom are remaining with the business. The business is profitable, according to the announcement, and Silversmith is its first institutional investor.

RedAwning’s technology platform for owners has already “reinvented the business of channel management for the vacation rental segment,” according to Jim Quagliaroli, managing partner of Silversmith.

The funding will be used to accelerate development of the platform, to expand RedAwning’s presence in existing markets while entering new ones and also double its workforce and secure bigger premises.

The business has 100,000 unique properties on its books in 10,000 destinations. It distributes inventory via RedAwning.com and also via third parties including Expedia, booking.com and Airbnb.

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August 8, 2017 at 01:10PM