Airline lets you pick a seatmate using Facebook

February 24, 2012
By Harriet Baskas, msnbc.com contributor

Today in Amsterdam, KLM launched a new social networking program that allows passengers to link their flight reservations with their Facebook or LinkedIn profiles, find out who else is on their flight and make a seat selection or other flight-related plans using that information. 

“This new service connects passengers and aims to give them a more inspirational journey,” said KLM managing director Erik Varwijk in a statement announcing the new “Meet & Seat” program.

The program will eventually be available on KLM intercontinental flights, but for now is being tested in a pilot program on flights from Amsterdam to San Francisco, New York and São Paulo.

Here’s how it works: Using KLM’s ‘Manage My Booking’ section, passengers flying on intercontinental flights choose personal information from their Facebook or LinkedIn account to share with other passengers and then link their flight reservations to their profiles. The reservation program allows passengers to choose a seat between 90 days and 48 hours before departure.

“They can find out whether someone they know will be traveling on the same flight, or discover who else will be attending the same conference in the USA,” the airline said in a statement explaining the program. “They might arrange to have a coffee before their flight, select adjoining seats or decide to share a taxi afterwards.”

Raymond Kollau, founder of airlinetrends.com, an industry and consumer research agency, liked the program. “The concept makes perfect sense as people like to surround themselves with like-minded persons,” he said. “It will certainly apply to specific demographics, such as a generation Y, who are more interested in meeting new people, as well as business travelers en route to a conference. Singles will of course also be interested.”

Although KLM claims that it is the first airline to integrate social networking into its regular flight process, this is not the first social seating effort in the skies.

Malaysia Airlines’ MHbuddy program not only allows passengers the option of booking and checking in for a flight on Facebook, it also offers travelers the option of seeing pictures and seat numbers of Facebook friends on the same flight. Alaska Airlines’ Flying Social program also integrates Facebook.

The social seating trend isn’t just for the skies. Last August, Ticketmaster rolled out interactive, Facebook-integrated seat maps that allow ticket buyers to tag their seat locations and see where their friends — or potential friends — will be sitting in a venue.

“We’ve heard stories of seat tagging reuniting fraternity brothers at college football games and making the planning of live event outings much easier,” said Ticketmaster spokesperson Jacqueline Peterson.

Airline branding consultant Shashank Nigam notes that independent companies Satisfly and Planely enable passengers to find and book seats next to others with specific interests across airlines. Nigam said some travelers may feel such programs are “creepy.” He also questioned how quickly or frequently travelers will adopt the service.

Still, he noted that “Meet & Seat” is the first social seating effort led by a major airline. That’s why, he said, “there is excitement around it and chances are good that it might work.”

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Las Vegas Spa Retreats

February 21, 2012

 

RELAX. REVIVE. REJUVENATE. THE LAS VEGAS WAY

 

What The Spa at The Mirage lacks in size, it makes up for in service. With only 17 treatment rooms, The Spa at The Mirage provides separate men’s and women’s wet areas including steam rooms, saunas, whirlpools and relaxing meditation rooms.

“Guests can expect exceptional service, comfort and the ability to relax,” says Stephanie Doud, director of spa operations. “Being a smaller spa in comparison with other spas on the Strip, we provide a more intimate experience and we strive to create a one-on-one guest service.”

Further setting The Spa at The Mirage apart is its Yoga Among the Dolphins experience ($50), during which guests practice the downward dog in a room featuring panoramic views of the dolphin pool at The Mirage. “It’s a fantastic yoga class,” says Doud, “with dolphins floating by through the windows. I don’t know if the dolphins are more interested in the yoga poses or if the people are more interested in the dolphins.”

As far as treatment packages go, he says the Invigorate package provides the most luxurious experience. For $235 pp, it includes a stimulating Blueberry Bliss body treatment, featuring a blueberry soy slimming wrap to leave skin soft and silky, followed by a 50-minute Swedish massage, using light and medium pressure to release stress and tension. “Then if you’re going out for the evening, follow it with the Vibrance package, which includes a blow-dry and style, polish change, and make-up at the Kim Vo Salon ($150 pp).” Overnight rates at The Mirage start at $79 per night.

Vdara sees The Mirage’s dolphin encounter and raises it with a Snakeskin Pedicure at its Spa & Salon Vdara.

The treatment—easily the most untamed option at the spa—allows guests to take a walk on the wild side using actual skin naturally shed by snakes. To accomplish the look, nail technicians shape a piece of snakeskin to each nail and layer it between gel polish. Snakeskin options include a wide array of colors and designs, and guests who prefer not to have real snakeskin slither across their toes can opt for the faux version instead. Snakeskin Pedicures start at $200, or $150 for faux snakeskin. Overnight rates at Vdara start at $109 per night.


1000 Places To See Before You Die – Why Britain’s best made the book

February 4, 2012

 

1000 Places To See Before You Die

 

By Getachew Teklu

The international travel bestseller is back nearly a decade after it first hit the bookshelves, 1000 Places to See before You Die is being  released with over 200 entries for Britain. “Every trip to Britain guarantees surprises at every turn. England promises a remarkable variety of things to see, from world wonders to small and unsung gems – both man-made and places of natural beauty. Scotland is empty and majestic, Wales a plethora of castles, and Belfast born again with an irresistible high-energy scene. And with everything within a relative small area, a visit to Great Britain is manageable and a delight – a veritable see-before-you-die experience”. Patricia Schultz, author.

Britain has no shortage of entries in the book with 53 destinations and over 200 places getting a mention. From Lands End in Cornwall, where the Olympic torch will make its entry to Britain, to Balfour Castle in the Orkney Islands off the coast of Scotland, with plenty of places in between. Britain has some magnificent cathedrals – all of them offering something unique to see. Visit the grave of Jane Austen or see Antony Gormley’s famous sculpture Sound II at Winchester Cathedral or try Canterbury Cathedral to see for yourself what inspired Geoffrey Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales. The oldest surviving original clock face of its kind in the world can be seen in Wells and the view from the top of the tower at Salisbury, Britain’s tallest spire at 225 feet above the ground is breathtaking.

If you love nothing more than seeing how the Lords and Ladies of past and present live then the wealth of stately homes and houses in Britain must be on your list of places to visit. Britain has a huge variety of festivals that take place every year that are attended by visitors from all over the world. In the world of opera, Glyndebourne is unique. The opera house stands next to the country home of John Christie, who founded it in 1934. So whether you start with North Wales, home to some of Europe’s finest surviving examples of medieval castle construction, The Causeway Coast in Northern Ireland, The Lochs and their legends in Scotland or The Lake District in England make sure you get there before you die and see why some of our most loved destinations made the book


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