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New Website Saves on Airfare By Choosing Your Destination For You

Getgoing.com

Getgoing.com, a new website that officially launches on March 6, promises to save leisure travelers up to 40 percent on airfare. How do they know you're really a leisure traveler? Simple. You choose two different destinations in the same region of the world (for example, Vienna and Geneva, or Costa Rica and Panama) and enter your travel dates. Then provide your billing information to complete your reservation. The Get Going team randomly chooses one of your two options. The "surprise" is supposed to be part of the website's charm. The savings is the other part.

The website covers hundreds of cities in more than 50 countries. Here are some airfares from New York I found on getgoing.com and the lowest comparable fares on Kayak: Milan, $568 ($635 on Kayak); Istanbul, $577 ($705 on Kayak); Las Vegas, $247 ($338 on Kayak); Beijing, $815 ($1,020 on Kayak). I didn't find any 40% discounts, and the flights on getgoing.com may be different from those on Kayak, but in every example I tried, getgoing.com had the lowest fare.

And now for the drawbacks: Getgoing.com is the wrong choice if you are a business traveler who needs to be in Los Angeles on Monday morning or you're traveling to a family reunion in Glasgow, because you may not get your preferred destination. You won't know which airline you'll be flying or the location of your stop-over airports (if any) until you complete your purchase. Even more important: your tickets are completely nonrefundable and changes are not allowed, even if you're willing to pay a penalty fee. You can, however, buy cancel-for-any-reason trip insurance at a cost roughly equal to 10% of the airfare.

For free-and-easy travelers who choose their destinations using a blindfold, a dart, and a map taped to the wall, getgoing.com could be a useful booking tool. But for the rest of us, maybe not.

2012-hs-mark-orwolljpgMark Orwoll is the International Editor of Travel + Leisure. Follow him on Twitter.


Image courtesy of Getgoing.com

Tech Thursday: TripAdvisor Takes a Stance Against Blackmail

201302-b-tripadvisor-hotel-check-injpg

Long gone are the days of the anonymous critic. Nowadays, anyone with a Yelp account can wield enough power to make a business owner quiver. But you already knew that much. A surprising new development? The rising trend of blatant blackmail—guests demanding freebies and service perks to prevent a zero-star takedown. And it's gotten so out of control that one entrepreneur has even introduced Reviewer Card, where for $100, members get a black card embossed with the words "I Write Reviews," a not so subtle way of saying, "Upgrade me—or else."

The Internet has already lashed out against the ridiculous concept of the Reviewer Card, but at this point, hoteliers and restaurateurs need practical support, not a flurry of blog-based comments. Enter TripAdvisor, which recognizes that extortion—even if just on digital review sites—is more than just a nuisance. In fact, it's illegal in many places. Their new blackmail reporting tool allows hoteliers to report any threats or suspicious behavior before a poor review is posted, creating a flag for similar-sounding, low-scoring posts coming onto the system. If a match is detected, the review will never make it online, whereas before, business owners would have to monitor their published reviews to find questionable content. It's a big move that benefits both businesses and consumers—and the latest weapon in TripAdvisor's strong fraud detection arsenal. For the sake of restaurants, which are just as affected by the blackmail trend (if not more so), we only hope that Yelp follows suit.

Nikki Ekstein is an Editorial Assistant at Travel + Leisure and part of the Trip Doctor news team. Find her at on Twitter at @nikkiekstein.

 

© Adrian Weinbrecht/cultura/Corbis

Trip Doctor: OpenTable Acquires Foodspotting for $10 Million

OpenTable

It’s been a big week for tech news, but for this foodie, no announcement was more exciting than OpenTable’s $10 million acquisition of Foodspotting. For starters, the dish-sharing app will bring new, visual content to the reservation titan’s portfolio of listings. But over time, we can expect the partnership to yield unprecedented search tools to help us find (and enjoy) our next great meal.

Officially, the deal isn’t yet written in stone, but OpenTable users will already see some changes. In advance of Tuesday’s announcement, OpenTable began rolling out preliminary features, such as incorporating user-generated photos from Foodspotting onto restaurant listings. Eventually, most restaurants on OpenTable will have a visual menu, documented with snapshots from Foodspotting users. And from a social standpoint, the partnership will allow you to canvass your Facebook friends for their favorite dishes at the restaurants you’re scheduled to visit.

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Free Online Photography Museum

Stieglitz

Arago is a new, free-access portal to all of the photography archives in France. At launch, the site included the collections of the Direction General des Patrimoines and public establishments under the Ministry of Culture–30,000 representative images from about 20 institutions. Arago will gradually expand to incorporate private collections as well as other public ones. The site is named after French politician and astronomer François Arago, who presented the Daguerrotype process to the Academie des Sciences in 1839, ensuring photography would be France’s gift to the world. Go on, browse—and be transported.

Tina Isaac is a contributor to TravelandLeisure.com.

Photo of Georgia O'Keeffe (1887–1986) by Alfred Stieglitz

Trip Doctor: Get Paid to Travel

Worksurfers

Nearly every Ask an Editor Day, you’ve asked us the same question: How can I get paid to travel? Here’s a new way to make it happen: Worksurfers. The recently launched startup aims to connect creative professionals with short-term freelance assignments around the world, allowing them to hop the globe—or prolong an existing vacation—while broadening their portfolio. Simply sign up and input the type of work you’d be looking for (and where) and you’ll be e-mailed job leads as they’re made available.

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Trip Doctor New Year’s Resolution: Saving for a Safari

African Safari

In 2012, I crossed one major dream trip off my list: a gluttonous tour of Italy, focusing on agriturismos throughout Emilia Romagna. And while it may take more than a year for me to save up for the next dream trip, I’ve resolved to start planning—and more importantly, putting aside the cash—to make it happen.

The destination and length of my trip are to be determined—but I know I want to safari in good company, particularly with friends who call Zimbabwe home. We’ll likely spend a few relaxing days in Harare before taking off on a game-tracking adventure, likely in nearby Zambia or South Africa. I've already started mining our recent safari planning guide to get a sense of cost, but even with friends on the ground, I know this vacation won’t run cheap. Here, a few tools that will help me start saving.

•    MyTab.co: The Italian getaway was only possible with the help of my honeymoon registry. I won’t be getting married again in 2013 (phew!), but birthday and holiday presents can still go into my travel fund. MyTab.co serves just this purpose, allowing users to collect money (from gifts and from personal savings) that must be used for travel. The best part? A “match my cash” program that earns users discounts on flights and hotels.
•    Mint.com: My husband and I have used Mint.com since merging bank accounts, but I’d love to maximize its potential in the new year. The tool, which analyzes where your money goes, can help me pinpoint areas where I can spend less (taxis, mid-week lunches)—then, it’ll show me how much leftover cash I have at the end of each month.
•    Miles, miles, miles: Getting to southern Africa will represent a large fraction of my total trip costs. I’ve been collecting miles, and will continue to do so, but if you’re not, check out this handy graphic from NerdWallet.com, which outlines the great sign-up bonuses that travel cards shell out for new users. Signing up for a card can earn up to 40,000 points—almost half of what you’d need for a long-haul flight on most airlines.

What trip are you saving for in 2013? Do you have tips we should add to our list? Let us know in the comments!

Nikki Ekstein is an Editorial Assistant at Travel + Leisure and part of the Trip Doctor news team. Find her at on Twitter at @nikkiekstein.

Photo courtesy of Micato Safaris

Young Travel Leaders Q+A: Evan Reece of Liftopia.com

Evan Reece of Liftopia.com

At last month’s PhoCusWright Conference, the travel tech industry’s much-anticipated annual event, some of the most exciting, buzz-worthy attendees were the wunderkinds behind travel start-ups and high-profile online products. Travel + Leisure sat down with select Millennial entrepreneurs—or maybe a better moniker is disruptors?—shaping the next generation of Travel:

Thirty-four-year-old Evan Reece is co-founder and CEO of Liftopia.com, the web’s go-to source for discounted ski lift tickets, equipment rentals, classes, meals, and activities at some 150+ resorts in North America, in addition to detailed resort profiles with trail maps and reviews from skiers and snowboarders. And while the company has been around since 2005, Reece and co-founder Ron Schneiderman (both former employees at Hotwire) didn’t start raising serious money until 2009. Liftopia.com is evolving rapidly.

Aside from its super-deep discounts (some tickets go for as much as 80 percent off!), the company is also working to change the marketplace overall by helping resorts manage and analyze inventory. It's working both the consumer and business angles, which we think is smart. And last year, they launched the Liftopia iPhone app. What’s next?

We sat down with Reece to ask him some questions:

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This Week in Social Travel News: 12/21/12

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In celebration of the world not ending today*, I decided to start a new blog series highlighting the top social media travel news of the week, for anyone that may have missed the headlines. In the news big this week? Privacy policies.

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Twitterature: Super-Short Travel Stories

Super-Short Travel Story: Dani Shapiro

Social media is a riot of snippets, photos, and links. But where are the real stories? We challenged five T+L wordsmiths to tell a pithy travel tale in just 140 characters. Read the results—and submit your own.

Henry Alford (@henryalford): Visited Campari factory outside Milan to determine once and for all whether the aperitif’s main ingredient is cinnamon gift soap. #TLStory

Peter Jon Lindberg (@peterjlindberg): Paddling Zambezi in 2-man canoe. Sunlight glints; hippos grunt. 18-ft croc slinks under boat. Paul (guide) not talking. Um…Paul? #TLStory

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Weather Channel Video: Weekend Getaways From San Francisco

Travel + Leisure's Sarah Spagnolo presents easy weekend getaways from San Francisco on the Weather Channel's Wake Up and Go.

1. EMERGING FOOD SCENE: Oakland, California

A now-thriving restaurant scene has put this East Bay City—just a 20-minute drive across the bridge from San Francisco—on the traveler’s map. WHERE TO STAY The Waterfront Hotel, a 143-room property right on the marina, with a heated pool, weekday wine and cheese hour, and a fireplace and balcony in every room. PRICE $149 a night. BOOK NOW 

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