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Travelocity Tops Expedia in Annual Satisfaction Survey

MSNBC.com Travel  |  Squeezed between travel providers on one side and meta-search sites on the other, it seems online travel agencies (OTAs) have one ace in the hole: Consumers still like using them.

That’s the upshot of a new American Consumer Satisfaction Index (ACSI) report released on Tuesday. Focusing on Expedia, Orbitz, Priceline and Travelocity, the report rated overall satisfaction with the sites at 78 on a 100-point scale last year, matching the record high set the year before.

“A score of 78 is good,” said Larry Freed, CEO and president at ForeSee, which helps produce the Index. “We consider 80 the threshold for a great performing site and they’re bumping up right against it.”

While the aggregate score was unchanged, individual results showed more fluctuation. After nine years in the top spot, Expedia slipped 3 percent, from 79 points to 77, losing its crown to Travelocity, which climbed from 77 to 79.

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Travel Tweet-Up: How To Get Great Treatment

sarah spagnoloExcellent service is one of the most important parts of travel; the type of treatment you receive can make or break a trip. With that in mind, we decided to host a special service-oriented chat on Twitter, bringing in a team of experts from all corners of the travel world, to find out just what goes into making your trip extra memorable.

So join us tomorrow (February 22), from 3p.m. until 4p.m. ET; the chat will be hosted by Travel + Leisure Digital Projects Editor, Sarah Spagnolo [twitter.com/sarahspagnolo], and special guest Anna Post [twitter.com/EmilyPostInst], the great-great-granddaughter of Emily Post, and the co-author of the 18th edition of Emily Post’s Etiquette.

Also joining in the conversation is a panel of travel experts, all eager to answer your burning travel questions. Our expert panelists include:

- JetBlue - @JetBlue
- Oberoi Udaivilas, Udaipur, India - @OberoiGroup
- Seabourn - @SeabournCruise
- Stafford London By Kempinski - @StaffordLondon

How does it work?

1. Log in to Twitter any time from 3-4p.m. EST and be sure to follow the chat hosts: @TravlandLeisure, @SarahSpagnolo, & @EmilyPostInst.
2. Use the hashtag #TL_Chat to follow and participate in the Getting Great Service Tweet-Up.
3. To keep up with the chat in real time, head over to http://tweetchat.com/room/tl_chat
4. We'll pulse out some questions for our expert panel to answer, but feel free to post your own answers to our questions! Or ask your own questions! Take advantage of this special access to this fab panel and get some expert travel advice.

We hope to "see" you there!

2010-hs-josh-pramisjpgJoshua Pramis is the social media editor and resident tech aficionado. Follow him on Twitter: @joshuapramis

 

 

Finding Top Restaurant Deals with Bitehunter

Bitehunter inventor Gil Harel

Innovator Gil Harel

Who He Is: Though he got his start working in the marketing department of Israel’s Isrotel hotel chain and at Expedia, the 39-year-old Cornell MBA now focuses on the restaurant and bar industry with his new website, Bitehunter.

His Big Idea: The Bitehunter site and its iPhone app scour more than 500 online sources including Gilt City, OpenTable, restaurant.com, and even Twitter to locate the best deals in any given area. It’s a Kayak-style approach for dining deals, which Harel acknowledges as inspiration for his food-focused search engine: “Historically, airlines adopt cutting-edge technology first, followed by hotels, then restaurants.” And as foodie deal services such as Groupon and BlackboardEats continue to proliferate, his simple aggregator is a welcome resource.

Photo courtesy of Hila Harel

Winter Travel Tweet-up with Travel + Leisure!

laura-begley-bloomjpgWhether you're looking to escape the unseasonably-warm-but-still-pretty-frigid winter weather of the north for a beachy getaway, or you actually want to get in some quality time with good ol' Jack Frost and hit the slopes, we've got the perfect solution to help plan your trip!

Tomorrow (February 1), we're hosting a live Twitter chat from 3p.m. until 4p.m. ET, along with Travel + Leisure Deputy Editor Laura Begley Bloom.

Also joining in the conversation is a panel of travel experts, all eager to answer your burning seasonal travel questions. Our expert panelists include:

1. Jamie Shupak, @JamieShupak
2. Johnny Jet, @JohnnyJet
3. Liz Sutton, @AlabamaWorldTvl
3. Rebecca Minkoff, @RebeccaMinkoff
4. Ryan Jones, @Liftopia

How does it work?

1. Log in to Twitter any time from 3-4p.m. EST and be sure to follow the chat hosts: @TravlandLeisure and @LauraBegley
2. Use the hashtag #TL_Chat to follow and participate in the chat.
3. To keep up with the chat in real time, head over to http://tweetchat.com/room/tl_chat
4. We'll pulse out some questions for our expert panel to answer, but feel free to post your own answers to our questions! Or ask your own questions! Take advantage of this special access to this fab panel and get some expert travel advice.

We hope to "see" you there!

2010-hs-josh-pramisjpgJoshua Pramis is the social media editor and resident tech aficionado. Follow him on Twitter: @joshuapramis

NBC Nightly News: New DOT Rules

Visit msnbc.com for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

T+L's international editor Mark Orwoll comments on the Department of Transportation's new rules on air travel.

 

 

Best Apps for Managing Frequent Flyer Miles

air travel mileage tracker

Staying on top of your many mileage, hotel, and rental-car programs is one of the biggest headaches for frequent travelers. Ditto figuring out whether or not you’ve accumulated enough points to book a first-class ticket for your next big getaway. But luckily, online mileage trackers have stepped in to help, letting travelers input their various member ID’s and passwords to conveniently consolidate all of their programs in one place. Besides displaying your latest balances, these services also notify you of all upcoming expiration dates, which is essential for keeping (and amassing more!) points.

Each site has its own edge: MileBlaster is particularly good at tracking your miles and alerting you whenever your points are about to expire, while AwardWallet smartly provides users with a convenient wallet-size card listing all of their loyalty numbers. We like TripIt’s iPhone- and iPad-optimized apps, which let you quickly access your details on the fly.

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TODAY Show: New Rules for Air Travel

Visit msnbc.com for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

New air travel rules go into effect this week. T+L Features Director Nilou Motamed outlines what you need to know.

Blurb Mobile’s Photography-Sharing App

Jim Lanahan

Innovator Jim Lanahan

Who He Is: When online custom book publisher Blurb wanted to build its mobile division, it tapped Jim Lanahan, a former photojournalist and early adopter of digital photography, for the job. Lanahan had previously helped to develop Apple’s original digital photography strategy in the early 1990’s, playing a big part in making it the go-to company for graphic designers and photographers.

His Big Idea: Blurb Mobile (free) is an app that lets iPhone and iPad users create beautifully packaged picture-and-video slideshows, then instantly share them not only with other Blurb Mobile users, but also on Facebook, YouTube, Twitter, and Tumblr—all in just a handful of simple steps. How simple? Lanahan’s 81-year-old father quickly mastered it, so he could share his travel photos on the fly.

Photo courtesy of Jim Lanahan

More Airlines Add Wi-Fi, but Fliers Balk at Paying

USA Today |  Travelers are treating in-flight Wi-Fi like a bag of peanuts: They'll take it, if it's free.

Airlines are spending millions of dollars to equip planes with Wi-Fi capability. But only a small percentage of travelers have used the service since it was introduced in 2008, numbers from providers and analysts indicate.

"It is certainly something everyone recognizes as a value, both to the airlines and the passengers," says Michael Planey, an industry analyst at H&M Planey Consultants. "The question is at what point do airlines or service providers make money or stem losses?"

Airlines and in-flight Wi-Fi providers won't disclose how much the service is used.

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Best Video-on-Demand Services

video on demand service

How do you watch your favorite programs while you’re on the road? Besides iTunes, the vast crop of on-demand services for your laptop, mobile, and tablet should keep you entertained.

Netflix ($7.99 per month) remains the undisputed leader, offering tens of thousands of TV shows (from classics to recently aired series) and movies (a healthy mix of blockbusters, obscure film-festival favorites, and more) for mostly seamless, advertising-free viewing.

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