Commes des Garçons at the Met

Commes des Garçons at the Met

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April 24, 2017 at 04:31AM

The Getaway: A Bounty of Europe Travel Deals

The Getaway: A Bounty of Europe Travel Deals

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At the same time, the strong dollar, which has been hovering at near parity with the euro, means more buying power when you land. “Europe is the bargain of the decade,” said Karen Malone, a travel agent with Travel Leaders in Woodbury, Minn. “I am encouraging all customers who are thinking about Europe or are on the fence to go now.”

Rental prices are down 10 to 20 percent in Ibiza, Spain; Mykonos, Greece; and Tuscany, Italy, this summer, on Villaway.com, with about 1,000 rentals across Europe. A six-bedroom, six-bath villa with an infinity pool overlooking the Aegean Sea in Mykonos, for example, is listed for $1,509 a night this June, or $246 a night less than last June.

Last year, Valerie Lederle, an agent at Travel Leaders in Colleyville, Tex., booked a deluxe room with breakfast at the Splendide Royal in Rome for some clients. “They paid 957 euros for two nights,” she said. This year — thanks in part to a deal through her agency —- she said she would be able to book it for her clients for 781 euros, or about $838.

Photo

Kayak.com noted the biggest drop in fares, which are down 42 percent, on flights to Zurich.

Credit
Clara Tuma for The New York Times

While Italy and England continue to be top destinations, travel agents say interest is growing in Germany, Ireland, Norway and Portugal, and tour operators are responding. This summer, Globus is offering a new nine-day tour from Dublin to Limerick, Ireland, from $1,709 a person; Cosmos has a new eight-day tour of Andalusia, Spain, from $939 a person; and Monograms has a four-day Lisbon getaway starting at $657 a person.

Travelers on a budget will find plenty of options in Lisbon and Berlin, said Tom Meyers, the editor of EuroCheapo.com, which reviews inexpensive hotels in dozens of cities. “Lisbon offers sunshine, friendly locals, great food and the chance to stay in four-star hotels for the price you’d pay in a two-star hotel in other European capital cities,” he said. “Meanwhile Berlin has recently experienced a flurry of construction of trendy hotels, nearly all of which offer rooms for under 125 euros a night.” For example, Motel One, a stylish budget chain, just opened a hotel in western Berlin near the Kaiser Wilhelm Memorial Church with rates as low as €83, or $89 a night.

Copenhagen is also getting new hotels this year, including Hotel Danmark, an 88-room boutique hotel from Brochner Hotels, with a rooftop terrace scheduled to open in May. Rates will begin at 1,250 Danish krone per room per night, or about $180, and will include organic breakfast, high-speed Wi-Fi and a glass of wine or port during a “wine hour.”

The bargains seem to be outweighing the hesitancy that had grown over vacationing in Europe after a spate of terrorist attacks over the last 16 months, including a deadly one in London last month when a man driving a sport utility vehicle mowed down pedestrians on Westminster Bridge, then stabbed and killed a police officer outside Parliament.

“Decreased demand for certain countries in Europe has meant dramatic growth for others,” said Jean Fawcett, a spokeswoman for Abercrombie & Kent. “Interest in France is slightly lower, but Spain and Portugal are booming, as are Scandinavia and Germany. Turkey is down, but Greece has roared back.”

The decision by British voters to leave the European Union and the resulting weakened pound have created renewed interest in travel to the United Kingdom, with some travelers taking advantage of the lower rates to splurge. While the pound rose after Prime Minister Theresa May called for a snap election on June 8, the value remains lower than last summer. “A room that cost $750 last year is now approximately $625 for the same room,” said Philip Morris, the corporate director of revenue management at the Dorchester Collection. ”Americans are astounded at the value their money currently has in the U.K.”

“I have many clients who travel to London and other cities in Europe and this summer they are staying at more luxurious hotels, staying in suites and dining in finer restaurants,” said Eric Hrubant, the president of CIRE Travel, a division of Tzell Travel Group in New York City. He noted that clients who stay at the Savoy Hotel in London every July upgraded from a king room to a suite with a view of the River Thames for $1,991 a night — including a fourth-night-free promotion for booking through Tzell — a saving of $1,554 a night compared with last year’s rates for the suite.

Travelers looking to upgrade will also find bargains in business class and first-class. La Compagnie, an all-business-class carrier that flies from Newark to Paris, is offering seats for $1,300 round trip this summer. Meridiana, which flies nonstop from New York to Naples and Palermo, Sicily, is offering round-trip flights as low as $575 in coach and $1,550 in business class, with the best deals in April, May and October, said Joe Brancatelli, publisher of the travel site JoeSentMe.com, who alerts members to such sales. “Finnair is offering great deals in business class over its Helsinki hub to Russia and other European destinations,” he wrote in a recent newsletter, pointing out that travelers must book 90 days in advance and stay at least 10 days to score the round-trip deals, which range from $2,289 to Moscow to $2,849 to Helsinki from New York.

But don’t wait too long to make your booking. Some deals, like a flash sale to Iceland with flights as low as $269 from Boston, have already expired. And as summer gets underway, the best bargains will dry up fast.

Continue reading the main story

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April 24, 2017 at 03:33AM

British Airways parent invests in Esplorio and VChain

British Airways parent invests in Esplorio and VChain

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A trip-sharing service and a blockchain customer data business are two startups on the receiving end of an investment from International Airlines Group.

The umbrella company that contains British Airways, Iberia, Aer Lingus and Vueling has backed the companies as part of its new Hangar 51 accelerator programme for startups.

Esplorio and VChain were two of five startups selected for the first wave of businesses to go through the Hangar 51 programme announced last year.

Details of the investment value and/or stakes taken in the two companies have not been disclosed.

IAG says it has a “multimillion pound investment for digital transformation”.

VChain is building a digital identity platform for passengers, part of which could be used in conjunction with IATA’s One Identity project to speed up airport systems using biometrics and digital authentication.

Esplorio is a consumer-facing app that records and share travel experiences.

Both companies tested their technology on IAG internal processes or staff during the ten-week incubation period at IAG’s HQ in the UK.

IAG says it will be repeating the accelerator programme again in the future.

The group’s head of global innovation, Stephen Scott, says:

“The two companies we are investing in have the potential to add great value, rich content to our customers and operational efficiencies.”

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April 24, 2017 at 03:08AM

Ryanair hits all ancillary buttons to ride out turbulent times

Ryanair hits all ancillary buttons to ride out turbulent times

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Ryanair is flying more passengers than ever before. Less good news has been that while costs have dived, so have ticket revenues and profit as the airlines’ fierce market-share grabbing price war escalates. Hence the bumper marketing bundle Ryanair has just released!

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April 24, 2017 at 02:31AM

Behind the Scenes of Becoming an Artist

Behind the Scenes of Becoming an Artist

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Becoming an Artist

What? You didn’t get this one yet? Be sure to grab it in our online store. You can buy and download right now! 🙂" class="wp-smiley" style="height: 1em; max-height: 1em;" /> It’s our highest-quality production and I think you’ll love it. 🙂" class="wp-smiley" style="height: 1em; max-height: 1em;" />

Daily Photo – Behind the Scenes of Becoming an Artist

For those of you that saw Episode 1 of Becoming an Artist, you’ll remember I was in this dugout rowing around hippo-infested waters! After we were done with filming, I took a photo of our awesome camera gal Bel Jones here, relaxing with her hand in the water. It’s handy to have both a camera person and a model all in the same person! 🙂

Behind the Scenes of Becoming an Artist

Photo Information


  • Date Taken2014-10-02 00:48:02
  • CameraILCE-7S
  • Camera MakeSony
  • Exposure Time1/6400
  • Aperture
  • ISO100
  • Focal Length
  • FlashOff, Did not fire
  • Exposure ProgramManual
  • Exposure Bias

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April 24, 2017 at 02:27AM

Holiday Inn’s New Look Was Designed for the Millennial Mindset

Holiday Inn’s New Look Was Designed for the Millennial Mindset

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InterContinental Hotels Group

Holiday Inn’s new H4 guest room design includes a "welcome nook" near the entrance of each guest room. InterContinental Hotels Group

Skift Take: Has "Millennial mindset" just become a euphemism for "smart" and "decent" these days? Either way, it’s welcome, especially when it comes to hotel design.

— Deanna Ting

The newly opened 153-room Holiday Inn Hotel & Suites Bellingham in Bellingham, Washington is the first Holiday Inn to show off the brand’s new H4 guest room design.

The design emphasizes flexibility above all. A “welcome nook” for guests to hang their coat, drop their keys, and plug in their devices, just as they would near an entryway or mud room in their own homes, is included, and there is also a new room type called the King Bed with Comfort Hideaway. This room has a trundle-style bed that can double as a sofa during the day and transform into two twin beds at night. A new “moveable desk” is also located in each room so guests can work wherever they feel most comfortable. [See photos, below, for further details.]

The new room design is a departure from Holiday Inn’s previous guest room designs that were more traditional in nature and not nearly as contemporary in look and feel as the new H4 features.

“We designed H4 with a Millennial mindset, not just with the Millennial traveler in mind,” said Eric Lent, vice president of the Holiday Inn and Crowne Plaza brands in the Americas for InterContinental Hotels Group. “Over the past few years, design has become more approachable, affordable and therefore, expected by consumers, and hotel brands have had to evolve their design to keep up with changing consumer taste. One part of that design shift is how function intersects with style and comfort, creating a uniquely own-able brand experience.”

Lent added, “Given the diversity of Holiday Inn hotel guests, the brand needed a design that is adaptable and one that would work for the business traveler during the week, but also appeal to the leisure guest on the weekend. For example, we were very thoughtful in designing our new guest room to create more than just a flexible work space, but rather a flexible environment that allows guests to do what they want, where they want and adapt from business to leisure within the same space.”

“Going forward, all new build and renovated Holiday Inn hotels in the U.S. and Canada will use the H4 design,” he noted. “Hotels that are currently open will adopt the design through the lifecycle of their license agreement.”

Holiday Inn isn’t the only IHG brand in recent months to add new guest room designs in the Americas. Last year, the company also debuted new WorkLife room designs for Crowne Plaza as part of a $200 million investment to reinvent the brand.

A small desk in a redesigned Holiday Inn room.

The new Holiday Inn guest room design.

The new moveable desk feature in Holiday Inn rooms.

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April 24, 2017 at 12:06AM

News: Arabian Travel Market 2017: Rotana to showcase upcoming properties in Dubai

News: Arabian Travel Market 2017: Rotana to showcase upcoming properties in Dubai

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Rotana will showcase its key upcoming properties at Arabian Travel Market, the region’s premier travel and tourism event which starts today.

Rotana is preparing to open 17 new properties before the end of 2018, adding more than 4,500 keys to the company’s existing room count.

Key Rotana properties that will be on display at the high-profile exhibition includes Saadiyat Rotana Resort & Villas – a luxurious five-star hotel in Abu Dhabi set to open in the fourth quarter of 2017 on Saadiyat Beach.

Featuring 354 upscale rooms and suites in addition to 13 private beach villas, the luxury resort will be the 15th Rotana property to open in the capital of the UAE.

Visitors to the Rotana stand at ATM 2017 will also receive a glimpse into the traditional charm of The Cove Rotana Resort, a spectacular property located on an idyllic water inlet on the Ras Al Khaimah beachfront.

Currently undergoing large-scale refurbishment, the extension is due to open its doors in quarter two of this year.

Rotana is looking to use the ATM platform as an opportunity to build on its strong start to the year, with its hotels in the region showing a 4.8 per cent increase in average occupancy rates during the first quarter of 2017, as compared to the corresponding period in the previous year.

Rotana hotels in the UAE witnessed a 3.1 per cent growth in occupancy year-on-year, with Dubai up by 3.7 per cent, Abu Dhabi recording a marginal increase of 0.9 per cent while the Northern Emirates region grew the fastest at 9.3 per cent.

Omer Kaddouri, president, Rotana, said: “This year is an important year for Rotana as it marks the 25th anniversary of the company’s founding.

“The year also holds immense strategic significance as far as Rotana’s future direction and growth is concerned, as it heralds our entry into new geographic markets as well as our continued expansion in our stronghold markets, with a number of openings lined up for the last three quarters of 2017.

“We are hoping to keep our momentum going with a strong participation in ATM 2017, where we will be showcasing our upcoming hotels.”

Rotana recently made its long-awaited debut in Africa with the opening of the five-star Kin Plaza Arjaan by Rotana in Kinshasa, capital of the Democratic Republic of Congo.

Africa is a key focus market for Rotana and the company currently has a number of projects under various stages of development across the continent including Marrakesh, Luanda, Nouakchott, Dar es Salaam and Lagos.

Kaddouri added: “Rotana is today firmly positioned as the leading hotel management company in the region, with an operating portfolio of 56 properties and more than 15,000 rooms across all markets.

“We are currently one of the largest hotel operators in UAE, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Iraq and Bahrain, and our ongoing expansion means we are on track to becoming the dominant player in several more markets in the region.”

Rotana is also looking to strengthen its presence in Turkey by adding two more hotels in Istanbul.

With the scheduled opening of the inter-connected properties under “Centro by Rotana” and “Arjaan hotel apartments by Rotana” brands in quarter for of 2017, the company will add a combined 305 rooms to its inventory while taking its total number of operating properties in Turkey to four hotels.

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April 23, 2017 at 11:15PM

United Expands Its Basic Economy No-Frills Service

United Expands Its Basic Economy No-Frills Service

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United Airlines

Passengers who pay for a United basic economy fare don’t get overhead bin space or bow out of a chance for an upgrade. Pictured is a United lobby at Boston Logan International Airport. United Airlines

Skift Take: Like them or not, basic economy fares are here to stay. And United is expanding them throughout its domestic markets.

— Grant Martin

Basic economy fares are expanding into a new batch of United’s markets only two months after they went on sale.

The new fares strip away perks such as mileage accrual, overhead bin space and upgrade privileges from economy passengers for a cost savings of about $20.

Basic economy was designed to compete with low cost carriers such as Spirit and Frontier. On Delta Air Lines, which designed and debuted the fares on legacy carriers, at first incorporated basic economy only on routes that competed with the low cost rivals. United, which started selling its basic economy fares in February, took a different tack, instead electing to incorporate the fares on routes between Minneapolis St. Paul and its hubs such as San Francisco and Houston.

Throughout the process, both United and its peers picked up heavy criticism from consumer advocates. The blog “One Mile at a Time,” for example, pointed out that basic economy fares were less about giving consumers price flexibility and more about pushing up the baseline cost for economy tickets, saying “there’s no doubt here that basic economy fares are simply replacing the current entry-level economy fares.”

U.S. Senator Charles Schumer, a Democrat from New York, has been a vocal opponent of basic economy fares.

Still, the added revenue from United’s Minneapolis experiment seems to be making a difference and the company is clearly eager to replicate that model throughout its network.

It’s a strategy that’s already worked well for Delta, arguably the leader in basic economy fares. In April 2015, Delta expanded its basic economy fares after pulling in an additional $20 million in revenue after the first quarter. Looking to get over an ongoing media crisis and add onto its already-strong earnings from Q1, there’s no doubt that United wants to move on and copy that success.

According to The Points Guy, United is officially expanding the fares to 100 new domestic markets. Many of the fares are already bookable.

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April 23, 2017 at 11:03PM

Google Hotel Ads Is Becoming the Behemoth Everyone Feared

Google Hotel Ads Is Becoming the Behemoth Everyone Feared

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Skift

Google Travel’s VP of Engineering, Oliver Heckmann (left), spoke with Skift’s Dennis Schaal at Skift Forum Europe in London on April 4, 2017. Google’s Hotel Ads is growing rapidly, a new report finds. Skift

Skift Take: Google has all the tools, including a giant search engine, to make its mark in hotel metasearch and its competitors are starting to really feel it. The only hope for rivals is a hail Mary to regulators — or to focus on being faster and better.

— Dennis Schaal

Metasearch competitors such as Kayak and Trivago have been anticipating that Google would almost inevitably be coming on strong to eat their brunch — or take market share, that is — and Google’s surge appears indeed to be taking place.

In a new analysis of metasearchers Google, TripAdvisor, Trivago and HotelsCombined, hotel digital marketer Fastbooking said that Google Hotel Ads has “grown exponentially” annually “in terms of click volume and return on ad spend.”

Fastbooking, acquired this month by Accor, crunches some 1.2 million transactions per year and assists hoteliers in their digital marketing campaigns. Its report is based on its clients’ data.

Fastbooking argued that Google is on the cusp of being one of the globe’s most important metasearch companies.

“Based on click volume, Google’s Hotel Ads matured in 2016, and today the click volume equals or surpasses TripAdvisor while keeping a very profitable return on ad spend,” the Fastbooking analysis said. “As Google is integrating the ads deeper into its search results, maps, and other products, it is poised to become one of the leading hotel metasearch providers in the market.”

For its hotel clients, Fastbooking estimated that their return on advertising spend using Google Hotel Ads has reached 10.1x so far in 2017, just edging out TripAdvisor at 10x.

Google Hotels Ads’ traffic volume is outpacing TripAdvisor hotel metasearch and so is the increase in cost per click.

Fastbooking characterized TripAdvisor as having “held the dominant position in metasearch advertising” over the past five years,” especially in areas of the quality of traffic and the revenue Google generates.

That may raise eyebrows among people who have been watching TripAdvisor struggle over the last few years first with its rollout of metasearch, which started four years ago in 2013, and later with the transition to Instant Booking beginning in August 2014.

Actually, Fastbooking was also taking into account TripAdvisor’s pre-metasearch features, including when it served up pop-under ads that referred users to partner advertisers.

At any rate, Fastbooking noted that “although TripAdvisor remains as one of the key channels on the market and is still one of the best-performing platforms for metasearch, its numbers have recently declined both in traffic volume and return on investment.”

It should be noted that the findings of Fastbooking, which is headquartered in France, might skew a bit toward Europe and Asia Pacific given its client base.

Nicholas Ward, president of U.S.-based digital marketing platform Koddi, which helps companies with their metasearch campaigns, said Fastbooking’s findings “mostly line up” with trends he’s seeing in Europe, Asia Pacific and parts of South America, although there are exceptions.

For example, Ward characterized the growth of Google Hotel Ads as “growing by multiples, not exponents.”

Trivago Effective For Inbound Traffic From Europe

Fastbooking likewise found that the costs per clicks, or CPC, that Trivago charges are “the lowest of the metasearch providers” and fell dramatically from $0.42 (0.39 euros) in 2015 to around $0.25 (0.23 euros) in early 2017.

“The one thing that jumps out at me as not indicative of global activity is the Trivago CPC trend, where I think the overall story is that CPCs are more flat to up based on increased competition in big and expensive markets,” Ward said.

All of those Trivago TV ads trigger lots of traffic for the hotel-search site’s advertising partners, Fastbooking found, but many of those users are not ready to book.

“From a budget management perspective, this is a platform that requires careful observation and management,” Fastbooking states. “We have seen massive traffic increases each time TV ad campaigns are launched. However, the conversion rate is relatively low.

“To ensure that budgets are not depleted, we recommend hotels to make sure that their budgets and bids are properly managed for maximum returns. Small changes in bids (such as a single cent increase) can have a significant impact on impression share and can result in budget over-spend.”

HotelsCombined Is Vital In Attracting Travelers From APAC

HotelsCombined has focused on the business-to-business market over the years, and is increasingly trying to develop its own consumer brand.

Fastbooking characterized HotelsCombined’s click volumes as being stable and its return on advertising spend as around 7.1x in 2017, a slight uptick from the previous two years.

“HotelsCombined is one of the most important metasearch partners for our hotels in this area,” Fastbooking said. “One of the first companies in the hotel metasearch market, HotelsCombined delivers an excellent return on investment for hotels targeting travellers going to Asia Pacific, Australia, and New Zealand demographics.”

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April 23, 2017 at 10:34PM

Publications: Breaking Travel News Special Edition: Arabian Travel Market 2017

Publications: Breaking Travel News Special Edition: Arabian Travel Market 2017

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Arabian Travel Market, the Middle East’s leading travel industry showcase, opens its doors four days of business networking opportunities, insightful seminar sessions and top level ministerial discussions.

Here Breaking Travel News brings you all the latest new from the key players at this year’s event in our Special Edition magazine.

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April 23, 2017 at 10:03PM