Just as airline loyalty programs are making it harder to cash in on rewards, hotels are upping the ante, letting guests earn points for tweets and social media interactions—not just night stays. The latest to join the nascent trend is Kimpton, who today announces a new loyalty program to replace InTouch. The name, Karma, says it all—the more love you give Kimpton, the more love comes back to you. Here’s how it works:
In a live broadcast this morning, Airbnb cofounders Brian Chesky, Joe Gebbia and Nate Blecharczyk announced a major site redesign for the San Francisco-based company. Over 13,000 Airbnb users tuned in from 78 countries to the invitation-only event, and T+L spoke to company Product Lead Justin Santamaria for a sneak peek at the new look.
Add Qatar Airways’ print-at-home luggage tags to the growing list of ways you can shorten your travel to-do list before even arriving at the airport, (flight check-in and security clearance included) and getting out of Doha is now as easy as finding your gate and browsing the duty-free emporium.
The official carrier for Qatar is now offering its unique service, called My Q-Tags, to passengers departing the new Hamad International Airport to 103 destinations. Unfortunately, there are no domestic stops on that list at this time due to TSA regulations.
Seabourn, the luxury, small-ship cruise line, recently announced an alliance with UNESCO (United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization) to help protect as well as promote World Heritage.
As if airfare wasn’t expensive enough already, the TSA has just announced an increase in the federal Sept. 11 security fee—its first since the administration was founded in 2002. Effective on tickets purchased on or after July 21, the new fees are more than double the current ones.
With airlines devaluing their loyalty programs left and right, the door is wide open for OTAs to benefit—and we’ve certainly seen them try. Orbitz has recently introduced a rewards system (enhanced by their credit card) that offers instant cash back on every purchase—as much as ten percent on certain purchases. Hotels.com offers a free night for every ten you book. And now Expediais jumping back into the game, with a refreshed loyalty program that aims to compete. But does it? Here are the basics you need to know.
The "fun ships" are becoming healthier too: Carnival Cruise Lines announced this week that, starting October 9th, it will ban smoking on stateroom balconies, joining an ever growing fleet of companies restricting where guests can light up.
Cigarettes will still be permitted in designated areas—such as certain nightclubs, casino areas, and several outdoor decks. Why the new restriction? According to Carnival’s official statement, the shift comes in response to the “preferences of a majority of our guests.” It also brings Carnival in line with its sister companies Cunard and P&O, which updated their policies last August. Other brands owned by the Carnival Corporation, such as Seabourn and Holland America, still permit balcony smoking.
A new travel tech discovery we are digging? Borrowlenses.com. The site, which is owned by Shutterfly, offers cameras, lenses, and a broad range of photography accessories for week-long rentals. The idea solves an age-old travelers’ dilemma without the typically-requisite financial commitment—if we had a nickel for every time a T+L editor has canvassed the office for pro-grade photo gear before heading off on a safari or transatlantic adventure, we’d be made. Here, lenses that retail for well over a thousand bucks can be rented for as little as $20. For instance, a $1,395 Carl Zeiss wide angle lens (great for landscapes) runs $65 for a week, while a $6,749 Nikon 200-400mm f/4G lens (for sports and wildlife shots) costs $271 to rent. Travel packages bundle a few essentials and a tripod for $131, and most camera brands are supported. Time to sharpen those photo skills.
Nikki Ekstein is an Assistant Editor at Travel + Leisure and part of the Trip Doctor news team. Find her on Twitter at @nikkiekstein.
Photo courtesy of BorrowLenses
Leave it to the efficient Germans: Düsseldorf Airport now uses a robot to park cars, rather than have travelers search for a spot on their own.
Ray, as the new robot is called, picks up vehicles from six drop-off "transfer boxes" near the terminal before leaving the cars in one of 249 parking spots available through the program—the first of its kind in the world.
Seattle, the second-most literate U.S. city in 2014, is also very literary: its Queen Anne neighborhood hosts 21 ‘Little Free Libraries’—boxes built by neighbors for book-sharing—and is hosting a competition for best LFL designs under $150.
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