Let’s face it: social media is taking over. If you’re not at least on Facebook and Twitter, you’re, well, behind on the times. To honor and acknowledge those in the Travel industry who are doing an exceptional job on these new platforms, we’re introducing the first-ever Travel + LeisureSocial Media in Travel & Tourism Awards or, as we’ve come to call ‘em, "The SMITTYs." (Clever, right?)
Want to nominate a travel company that's doing something cool? Or has your company launched an innovative/exciting/super-successful social media campaign? If yes, submit one or more nominations for a chance to win one (or more!) of these monumental new awards. Who exactly can enter? We’re looking for submissions from the following:
Breaking news for surfing enthusiasts: The new website Wavecation.com—think of it as a HomeAway or VRBO tailored to the surfing community—lists hotels, private homes, and other rental options close to ride-worthy waves all over the globe. The most important criteria? The property has to be oceanfront (or front-row, in cases when a jungle or other natural barrier blocks coastal views) to the water and surf spots. “These places are the equivalent of ski-in, ski-out properties on a snow mountain,” says founder Matt Thomson, who has turned down a number of interested homeowners to maintain his super specific standards. The Austin-based resident is surf-obsessed himself. He started riding when he was 12 and has traveled the world—from the coasts of Nicaragua and Mexico to Hawaii and California—in search of the best breaks.
Requesting vacation time is not for the faint of heart. Just ask the 57% of working Americans who, according to a recent study, have opted to labor through nearly two weeks’ worth of paid vacation days this year.
Excuses run aplenty, but “being too afraid to ask the boss” takes the cake. In all honesty, how long does it take you to muster up the courage to ask for a week, an extended weekend, an hour away from your desk? (Case in point? It took me a full two months to muster up the courage to request time off, and I work at magazine that encourages travel!) Luckily, JetBlue sympathizes with this very plight.
This season, they’ve developed a fun, creative, interactive, amusing Facebook app that allows employees to pop the question without ever having to step up a meeting. Simply choose the month and amount of days you’d like to request, fill in a few names, decide between four funky themes, and voilà: a mini tailor-made movie that croons your workplace superior until their heart melts and your getaway is as good as on the calendar. (That is, of course, if you’ve the courage to hit “Send.”)
Who He Is: “I am a passionate traveler, a passionate photographer, and a passionate technologist,” says Hullot, a former Apple apps CTO who created software for the first Macintosh computer. After leaving Apple in 2005, he spent two years taking inspiring trips.
His Big Idea: Hullot conceived Fotopedia, which includes an image-driven encyclopedia made from user-submitted photos with minimal text—a visual Wikipedia of sorts. Lately, Fotopedia apps for iPad focused on UNESCO World Heritage sites, Paris, and (most compellingly) North Korea have given the traditional coffee-table book a digital spin. “In most magazines and books, pictures are used to illustrate a story,” Hullot says. On this app, it’s the image that tells the story.
And having also grown up in Australia and the Middle East, it’s no surprise Melanie’s world view is big—one that’s surely influenced and helped cultivate her good eye (and her good taste). Few know, however, that before her start in the travel industry, she worked as an editor at Vogue Australia.
Today, Melanie officially returns to her early professional roots with the launch of The Travel Curator. The new website is her little black book of favorite finds from the road. Think of it as the short list or cheat sheet (hotels, restaurants, shops, more) for the world’s top luxury destinations mixed with smart trend coverage.
The first city in the spotlight? Sydney, of course. Melanie tips readers off to everything from a Surry Hills boutique renown for its custom textiles to what she calls “the best food truck in the Southern Hemisphere,” which sells meat pies with all the fixings around the clock. “Believe me, at 2 a.m. it’s just what the doctor ordered.” We do, Melanie!
What’s the best hotel in Aspen? According to Web entrepreneur Travis Katz, it all depends on who you are: a Goldman Sachs banker might want the luxury and cosseting service of the Little Nell, while a 20-year-old yoga instructor on a budget might opt for the more-bang-for-your-buck Limelight Lodge. Earlier this year, Katz, a former MySpace executive, officially launched gogobot.com, a sort of Facebook for travelers that lets you exchange tailored hotel, restaurant, and other destination recommendations with like-minded friends on the site and through other social networks. Gogobot, which creates stylish destination scrapbooks for users by drawing from their manually submitted reviews and FourSquare and Facebook check-ins, is based on the premise that travelers trust their friends’ recommendations over those of guidebooks or online user-generated review sites like TripAdvisor.
The cluttered realm of online shopping is becoming a little more refined thanks to a new breed of websites that deliver the goods with a highly selective approach. By asking tastemakers to step in as guest curators, they give you insider, and often exclusive, access to items from around the world. Ahalife.com allows you to buy one unique item daily from international designers. Whether it’s a cotton pestemal (hammam towel) made by local artisans in Buldan, Turkey, or a hand-beaded, tribal-chic necklace from London-based jeweler Fiona Paxton, everything is chosen by notable travelers such as Daniel Boulud or Petra Nemcova.
No sooner did Google unveil Flights, its new airfare search tool, on Tuesday than the criticism began to fly—not least from key competitor Kayak. But let's let's let Robert Birge, Kayak's chief marketing officer, speak for himself.
"We recognize Google is a formidable competitor, but they haven't been successful in every vertical they've entered," Birge said in a statement that went on to laud Kayak's own attributes.
I got the statement in an unusual email today from the Kayak's P.R. rep, who suggested that Google Flights doesn't work for international destinations; has no regional airports; and has questionable accuracy when it comes to actual airfares. I noted some of those things myself when I spent some time on the site this morning and Tweeted about it.
Who She Is: Splitting her time between New York and London, with an Italian passport to boot, Pavia Rosati—who was the executive editor of DailyCandy for nearly a decade—has always been a go-to person for travel tips. “I once planned a honeymoon in Greece for my intern’s brother’s best friend’s cousin, whom I never even met!” she says—fodder for her recent venture.
Her Big Idea: The new website Fathom compiles vintage-style e-postcards—complete with personalized snapshots—from celebrities, trendsetters, and regular folk in the know. The result is a lively, opinionated travel blog with a fun, retro feel. “We’re all for edited, user-generated content,” Rosati says. Up next? A mobile app with guides for everywhere from Buenos Aires to Beirut, plus an online boutique that’s meant to be “a one-stop shop for all your travel needs.”