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Travel and Tourism

Airbnb Offers Journalists Solutions to Their #SochiProblems

We’ve covered a weighty topic or two today, so we’ll end the week on a lighter note: as Brian Morrissey of Digiday noted this afternoon, the famously responsive Airbnb decided to make the most of the many journalists documenting their terrible experiences with Sochi hotels by doing that thing they do and directing them toward alternatives in the area.

It started last night with this announcement:

The company’s social team followed up by interacting directly with those journos in need of a better place to rest:

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The High Life Atop New York’s Hotels: 16 Rooftop Heated Bars for Winter Celebrations

Monarch Lounge Terrace2Kimberly Hotel Outside2Manhattan’s high life is hotter than that of many major cities, including the home turf of the visiting Super Bowl teams. Denver has a scenic Rocky Mountain backdrop, and Seattle has the famous Space Needle. But the Big Apple has a growing number of hotel rooftop lounges with panoramic skyline views. The heat is on at many of these bars, now winterized with tents, heat lamps, or glass-enclosed with retractable roofs. So revelers can capture the outdoor spirit and sip a “Mad Mojito” without the Arctic chill.

PRNewser compiled a list of rooftop venues where you don’t need to be a hotel guest to enjoy the festive ambiance. Nearly all are open to the general public and can be set up for private events, though a few are for hosting groups only. These bars, located in midtown and downtown, on the east and west sides, range from casual to chic. But be sure to check ahead to see if the space is booked that night, or you may end up back on ground control.

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It’s Hard to Tell Whether Britney Spears’ Vegas Show is Good or Bad for Her Career

brit brit vegasBritney Spears’ Las Vegas stint “Piece of Me” at the Planet Hollywood Resort and Casino (50 shows in 2014 and 2015) debuted on Friday. And while it’s great that she’s back on stage, the AP starts by calling the gig her “early retirement.” Eek!

The usual Vegas audience for these sorts of shows (typically headlined by artists like Celine Dion) is older than the average Brit Brit fan. And even she’s getting a little older (32… gasp!), with the Associated Press pointing out the nostalgia in the show with “several callbacks to the 1990s and early 2000s, including plaid shirts tied around dancers’ waists and a recap of the skin-tight sparkling bodysuit Spears wore in the ‘Toxic’ music video.” Her songs really speak to a moment in time. There’s only so much audience for that kind of entertainment.

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Here’s a Hotel Group’s Take on Brand Journalism

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SWEET necklace, bro

This morning, amidst all the talk of the FTC and native ads, Rafat of Skift made us aware of a hotel group that’s launched its own branded journalism venture. The post links to a site created by EVEN Hotels, an IHG offshoot which bills itself as the “first wellness hotel brand.”

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So, Smaug (The Dragon) Landed at LAX This Morning. No Big Deal.

smaug-plane-1What’s that in the sky? It’s a bird! It’s a plane! It’s a dragon!

If you were in sight of Los Angeles airport this morning, the latter two answers would both have been correct.

Air New Zealand gets to call itself the official airline of Middle-earth thanks to a partnership with the upcoming film The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug, which was largely filmed in New Zealand. In celebration of tonight’s Hollywood premiere of the film, the airline transformed a Boeing 777-300 aircraft – emblazoning the 177 foot-long Dragon on both sides. The aircraft, which is the only place the film’s Smaug has ever been shown in his entirety, touched down at LAX this morning, just in time for the second film in The Hobbit Trilogy to premiere at the Dolby Theatre in Hollywood this evening.

Air New Zealand Chief Executive Officer Christopher Luxon says the airline has been in discussions for some time around permission to feature Smaug on the ‘flying billboard’ ahead of the film’s official release. “For our partners to allow Air New Zealand to reveal their star exclusively to the world ahead of the movie premiere and theatrical release in ten days is a huge privilege. We worked with the digital effects company behind The Hobbit Trilogy, Weta Digital, and they designed the graphic for us especially for this purpose.”

And while seeing Smaug himself land on an LAX runway must have been exciting for fans and onlookers, even the director of The Hobbit Trilogy, Sir Peter Jackson, thought seeing his creation on such a massive scale was pretty darn cool. Read more

Here’s An Eagle Taking an Accidental Selfie While Trying to Eat a Camera

Apropos of absolutely nothing, here is a video from an Australian land council in which an eagle mistakes a camera for a food item of some kind before stealing it, flying away with it and abandoning it without even realizing that he/she had reminded us why “selfie” was the word of the year:

Of course this little clip doesn’t have much of anything to do with our industry, but there’s got to be some way Australia can use it in a tourism campaign (hopefully without including “Fly Like An Eagle” on the soundtrack).

(H/T to NPR)

Luxury Travel Industry Hits All-Time Low with Fake Shanty Town

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Can you recall what you have seen on some disturbing late-night infomercials?

You know the ones: sad violin music, somber voice overs and still shots of kids with flies on their foreheads? That’s real, and even those kids have it better than people who live in a shanty town. These are acres, maybe miles, of self-developed “homes” made of flimsy scrap metal, stolen drapes or even wet cardboard glazed with every bacteria you can’t imagine. While a roof is overhead, share that roof with about 20 to 30 people with little to no energy, water, food, and maybe share a toilet.

Remember that nasty scene in Slumdog Millionaire where the kid plays cannonball in a lagoon of crap? That. 

Now imagine a luxury tourism agency thumbing their noses at a shanty town by creating a fake one for grins and an opulent vacation: giggling at extreme poverty and giving a middle finger to Bono. Yeah, well that just happened too.

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Starbucks Is Now on the Rails… In Switzerland

StarbuckswagenEuropean train travel has always conjured images of adventure or romance in classic movies. But in America, trips by rail seem to be more about getting from point A to point B. Now Starbucks has set out to capture the cachet of Continental railway voyages by branding a café car on the InterCity train from Geneva’s airport to St. Gallen in Switzerland.

Starbucks is also continuing its expansion plan to serve customers worldwide in community gathering spots using local designs. In 2001 the brand established a Swiss retail presence, and now they have 53 stores in the country. They partnered with Swiss Federal Railways, aka SBB, on this venture. Here the SBB initials don’t signify “Starbucks brand building”; they’re the Swiss-German translation of the national railway’s name. Switzerland was Starbucks’ first outpost in Continental Europe, and now this is the first train in the world with a Starbucks café.

SBB said their objectives are to enhance the on-board experience for their passengers by offering new food and beverage selections on Swiss trains.”Starbucks’ popularity in Switzerland spoke for our cooperation”, said Jeannine Pilloud, director of SBB’s passenger transportation. “We want our customers to enjoy a pleasant journey and to feel at home while traveling with us”, she added. Pilloud spoke during a recent preview in Zurich, as reported by Swiss media outlets.

The train cafe combines key branding elements and colors from both organizations, and the design process took two years. The design challenges were notable, including the “constant movement of the train, space limitations and stringent safety regulations”, according to Liz Muller, Starbucks’ creative director of global design. “This is one of the smallest espresso bars and stores we have ever designed”, she said.

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#PRFail: Newport Beach Marketing Director Fired Over LAX Shooting Tweet

(Al Seib / Los Angeles Times / November 4, 2013)

TSA agents leave flowers and say a prayer at a memorial at LAX. Funny, right?

If you are responsible for social media in any fashion, you strive to know what is trending in pop culture. That useless knowledge actually contributes to time-sensitive tweets and relevant posts. And then, there is what Jeff Soto, former marketing director for Newport Beach, Calif. did

You’ll remember the tragic shooting at Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) that left one agent dead and seven other travelers injured. While that left people reeling for days, Soto thought that would be a great opportunity to shill for his city and impress the corner office. To wit, he tweets this gem (courtesy of Mekahlo Medina of KNBC in L.A.):

I understand tourism dollars may be down with the economy, but is this fool serious?!

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Airlines Now Want You to Instagram Your Flight

Instagram users: what’s a more obvious photo subject than your brunch, your baby, your half-drunk friends or the landscape near your house at sunset? Apparently the answer is “views from a plane”, because today Digiday tells us that two airlines saw a big marketing opportunity in new FAA regulations allowing for the use of portable devices throughout every flight.

Delta and JetBlue are both promoting the hashtag #below10Kfeet, the point being that pics taken below the clouds are a hell of a lot more interesting—and now you don’t have to wait until the plane hits the 10K mark to break out the iPhone.

Delta went more aggressive out of the gate, turning the tag into a contest in which the best photographer will win two first-class tickets to anywhere within the US. But we prefer JetBlue’s way of showing us why the development matters:

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It’s true! But don’t you dare try to raise the price on window seats…

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