Posts Tagged ‘travel’

Skyauction.com, still as relevant as ever.

July 24, 2013

 

In the world of purchasing travel everyone has been taken for a ride once or twice.  Even the most frugal and savvy amongst us don’t know, and can’t know what pricing surprise is about to occur a day, a week or a month from now.  The entire industry has gone through what can only be called a dynamic rearrangement of consumer behavior in the past 5 years.  Advance planning is on the wane, and last minute impulse (hey, I still have a job) is growing each and every day.  It is true that some of the more paranoid individuals do things way, way in advance but that crowd is now down to a fraction of what it was ten years ago.  Sure people understand that travel product spoils like fruit and the older or closer to utilization it come, the less it is truly worth.  These days, even products that never discounted now are creating more and more, “specials” because it is important to get every last dollar of revenue possible. 

Understanding this new dynamic, Skyauction.com is in the perfect place to help intrepid, engaged travelers save money.  We do require a certain, higher level of engagement than most other “deal centric” sites, but in our case that extra work converts directly to dollars saved by the consumer.  If you want to save, you have to take these simple steps:

  1. Read the offer carefully
  2. Study the value of the product you are interested in on some other sites.
  3. Bid with your head, not over it.
  4. Understand that the entire process from initial bid to confirmation can take a bit of time.

These four easy steps have been managed by millions of winners over our tenure.  Sure, some people come to the site and want to win for the $1 starting price but while we control the starting price we don’t control the ending price, all of you do that.

So if you are serious about purchasing travel for less, by now (after 14 years) you should have gotten to know us.  If you haven’t and somehow you come across this piece, click here to see our latest round of $1 offers.  We are only just getting started!

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When common sense loses out…

July 18, 2013

 

After being in this crazy tourism business there are a few unstated rules you understand but never fail to ignore.  One of the understood principles it that travel is a subjective experience and what is great for one really sucks for someone else.  There is little you can do to prepare yourself for the inevitable complaints about something you have sold hundreds of times before flawlessly, only to have it blow up on you when you least expect it.

Review sites point out this in a very dramatic fashion.  I know that of course, many of these sites are loaded with brilliant, glowing endorsements written by contracted staff or “ghost reviewers”. By the same token many of the glaring bad reviews are written by competitors employing “blog saboteurs” whose only role is to make the other guy look really bad.  On some occasions however, the actual guest sees everything in a very different way.  Perhaps he is used to staying at Ritz Carlton, but just decided to check out the motel 6 for this particular trip.  Just maybe they got such a good deal they thought, “What the hell” and purchased something outside of what they would do normally.  Either way, it is usually quiet impossible to tell as with all things blog, track record could be completely fabricated and fictional or totally non-existent.

I have written on the dangers of review sites before, yet they grow in strength and numbers every day.  I have even made the mistake of directing customers, friends and family to do their own research prior to purchase only to end up with shock, surprise and dare I say, crap as a result.  Aren’t we all responsible for our own choices?  Is there anything objective about travel other than getting someone to a place, getting them a room and services they paid for?  Even these elements aren’t a slam dunk, usually due to what someone “thought” they would be getting.  How it looks when you are there may not be entirely the picture you had in your mind’s eye.  Travel is about the experience, and expectations and perceptions are just that, not real.

I know it is wrong to rant, to blame others for their misconceptions and expectations.  Dream on, book that $1,000 per night hotel room for $100, I am sure it is the same, exact thing!  Maybe, just maybe value isn’t at all in the place or the food or the room, maybe it is in the experience you have with those you are travelling with or those you meet along the way.  That is the only real reason to travel, after all.

A Father’s Day Travel Blog

June 15, 2013

I wrote this blog a few years back, but it is as relevant as ever today.  I think my theory of a “genetic” link to the travel industry has been proven correct, even if just in my own family!

 

On this Father’s Day I will be remembering the man who introduced me to travel and helped put me on a career path that while difficult has been rewarding and a lot of fun as well.  My Dad was kind of an aviation pioneer, of sorts.  He began his airline career back in the 1950’s before it expanded into the mass transportation system it is today.  He wasn’t CEO or even an executive, he was guy who worked the ramp at a very small airport in NewarkNJ for that great by-gone airline Eastern Air Lines.  As a child I remember riding the tractors with him across the ramp (pre-high level security) and how cool it was to pull up to the airplane and watch the well dressed people climb the stairs to all kinds of exotic destinations. (Miami)  I can still remember how proud I was of my Dad and how special I felt to be there with him working on giant airplanes.  I used to dream of being one of those people capable of traveling anytime to virtually anywhere in the world without boundaries but I knew how expensive it was and that the only way a kid like me could accomplish that was to get a job like my Dad working for an airline, preferably Eastern Air Lines. 

 

I am happy to say that I was able to do that and much more.  Working for many different airlines I always enjoyed being able to follow in my Dad’s footsteps in basically working in a business that allowed people the freedom to live their lives by moving from place to place for any number of reasons. The excitement of the business and the constant urgency that seemed to be “ever present” I feel was the perfect lead into our fast paced online travel present day.  Although I have left the airline business behind, I still have great respect for the difficulty, responsibility and the pressures they have to keep themselves afloat and provide jobs for the hundreds of thousands of guys (and Girls), who like my Dad, worked so hard so all of us could simply, fly.  I salute them all and my Father’s Day wish is for the return of better days for the aviation industry so they will be able to continue to do exactly that.  Working for an airline isn’t easy, but sometimes, it can be really cool!  Thanks Dad.

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A safe and effective way to enhance your travel performance without the use of steroids or any type of enhancement drugs. (By using your Brain)

June 7, 2013

With all this talk about people using all types of substances to enhance this or that performance you can rejoice in the fact that you can enhance your “travel” performance without the use of any outside stimulus.  That is correct, each one of us possesses the tools we need to travel and save money like the most seasoned professional, and we only need to use one thing, our brain!  (You might need your fingers to type with or maybe not) 

I am not trying to be sanctimonious or pass judgment on those who feel injecting themselves with hormones or smothering themselves in product reviews and brochures might somehow bring them to a greater state of travel enlightenment, quite the contrary.  Go on, go through whatever ritual you feel works for you but no matter what you do, you aren’t getting the most for your travel dollar unless you understand how auctioning travel changes the very game itself. 

 WWW.skyauction.com has been around for many a year now. (Since 1999)  We have helped millions of customers to develop their full potential when it comes to the confusing world of purchasing travel.  Our formula is quite easy to relate to:  Find the best price you can on the trip you want to take and then come to our site and bid for it, or any like product.  I know you are getting bombarded by tons of sites telling you this and that about what a great deal they have for you.  You are receiving daily deals, deals with groups of other travelers, deals for jetsetting people, deals with prices on the line, deals for bookings and so many more, you just don’t understand which one is the best for you.  That is where we make it easy, you put in the bid amount you want to pay, simple. 

You use your brain to determine the best price on a deal and that is what you bid on www.skyauction.com.  We have luxury products that can save you hundreds on your purchase.  Of course we have cruises, hotels, packages, vacation rentals (no one has them for less) and even shows and attractions.  What we don’t have are a lot of fixed prices that steal your individualism by forcing you to join some kind of “group” to get a real deal on travel.  Besides, no other company makes you a winner in the process! 

So bulk up on your knowledge and come and bid on your next trip.  Don’t worry we don’t test for any banned substance either!

Don’t let a hurricane ruin your vacation, really?

June 2, 2013

I am sorry, but reading articles like this makes me wonder if the people who write them know anything about travel whatsoever.  I think the title pretty much describes something which is virtually impossible.  It is obviously a really slow news day when major news sites publish articles which any 10 year old could have written. 

My summer Sunday morning reading began with a check on nbcnews.com in order to grab the important headlines of the day and there it was, above the fold, glaring for all of us who make our living selling travel, “Don’t let a hurricane ruin your vacation”.  It isn’t a badly written article it is simply a total waste of cyber-space.  It doesn’t offer any ground breaking news or information or even any helpful tips that could save, money, time or perhaps even your life.  All this article does is rehearse the fact that hurricanes do occur at a time when individuals are making summer travel plans.  It doesn’t talk about the fact you can save huge money traveling to the Caribbean during the summer months and that your chances of being caught in a hurricane are really, quite minimal. 

My favorite part of the article talks about Hurricane Sandy which struck New Jersey in October of last year and made it sound as if there was something that people could have done to protect themselves from what could only be described as a once in a lifetime storm. The premise is basically stupid, storms happen, rain, snow, hurricanes, volcanoes, earthquakes, tidal waves and everyone should be aware that if any of these happens it could ruin your vacation.  Personally, I can’t live my live worried about the potential for disaster either at home or on the road.  If you are engaged in marketing travel products you don’t highlight each and every conceivable, possible situation which could negatively impact someone’s trip.  You might expect, as I do, that people use COMMON SENSE and understand that if something bad is happening you do your best to KEEP YOURSELF SAFE.         

So there you have it, I have condensed the article into a sentence.  I would humbly request that would be travel writers stop trying to scare potential travelers with idiotic articles of no real value.  It hurts the industry, clouds the minds of consumers and offers them nothing in return.

Defending your online reputation: Why I hate Internet Crybabies and Liars.

May 4, 2013

In the beginning, there was the Internet, and it was good.  I mean, it was mostly good if you put aside all the scam companies, disorganized startups and miscellaneous charlatans who grabbed land in those early days.  Real companies struggled to understand the landscape, compile technology resources and evolve traditional businesses to fit this new marketplace.  I don’t know anyone that went through this metamorphosis who would question how easy it looked, but how difficult it really was.  Learning was all about trial and error and we quickly learned that any mistake you made will follow you around like scars you accumulate from the battles you been in.    

While that in and of itself isn’t all together a bad thing, what is bad is the scars you accumulate from the tales told by people whose only real claim to knowledge is their vivid imagination of events that have never really transpired.  That is right my friends, many Internet reviews, testimonials and condemnations are full blown, concocted lies, fabricated to support events which have NEVER really transpired.  It seems that people will do and say just about anything to help them in supporting positions of complete and utter illegitimacy.  These Internet consumers seem to feel that character assassination is their legitimate right as long as they end up with the desired result that suits their needs.  I wish I had a dollar for every email I have fielded that said, “if you don’t do this, I will write a negative review on every Internet site I can find”.  Usually, these complaints gravitate around people who through their own actions ended up in a physical place or a financial place they didn’t want to be in.  Is the phrase, “non-refundable and non-changeable really arbitrary”?   Do you really expect compensation when you buy clothes and then don’t like how you look in them?  Would you go to a store and stomp your feet when that box of cornflakes just didn’t blow your mind at breakfast?  Yet, this is what we deal with all the time and to make matters worse these email strong-men freely lie to us, to online complaint sites and to arbitrary, “consumer rights” sites like the BBB.  Like the boy who cried wolf, they have truly destroyed any and all credibility these sites have ever had.  The only word that comes to mind in the way of description is, extortion, holding your very reputation hostage to get something they want when they truly aren’t entitled to it.

The point of my rant isn’t to say that there aren’t legitimate complaints that good people post to help others who will follow in their stead.  There are, and every company, no matter who, makes mistakes and mistreats customers and should be held to a reasonable standard of quality assurance.  It is the job of every commercial company to strive to please customers, communicate clearly and to present an ethical, morally correct policy of simply treating others as they would be treated in their place, in my humble opinion.  It is the obligation of consumers not to buy into the old credo, “the customer is always right”, even if they know they are simply lying to get something they aren’t entitled to.  Don’t feel that lying to get something you want is ever right or fair or legitimate, simply because it is a company you are dealing with.  Treat others as you would have them treat you in their place and you will never go wrong.

I have stack of emails I have compiled over 15 years that I have long threatened to make into a coffee table book of actual, factual statements made to my company that would blow the mind of even the most creative storyteller.  People will say anything to support the end result desired.  I have read about things about people’s personal lives that should never be put in writing and I know things about medical conditions that I didn’t think were physically possible, all in the name of a refund.  Some customers were victimized by fictitious storms and acts of nature, while other have had issues with the fact that there were “too many Latinos” on the island of Puerto Rico.  These customers, disguised behind legitimate registration screen names, have bashed our company on “complaint” sites and with credit card companies telling tales of “misrepresentation” and “services not delivered” while repeatedly warning us of their “campaign of complaint and reputation assassination” if not granted their desire for returned money.   Of course, we always win our battle with credit card companies because we can display every single step taken during the purchase process and we always return funds when we make mistakes, which since we are human beings, does happen from time to time.

Now there are steps companies can take to shield themselves from some of these “negative reviews”, things like purchasing a membership to the BBB, which keeps hidden the number of complaints you receive.  You can also “defend your reputation” by overwriting the negative reviews with a barrage of positive ones which in my opinion is just as illegitimate as customers who lie. You can always tell the honest companies as the ones where the reviews aren’t all positive but continue to do business and aren’t afraid of the comments they receive.

So read on my friends, don’t let the Internet muscles of some stop you from making value judgments based on your own instincts.  Do you really think that even the most legitimate and honest companies don’t have a few pissed customers?  Wouldn’t we all like a means to getting our money back on any purchase for any reason, be it subjective or objective?  All of us would like that option but most would not resort to lies and character assassination to achieve that goal, in fact most people, customers display integrity even when experiencing legitimate problems.  It is those people who give me hope, and keep us going when we suffer the injustice perpetrated by a few, dishonest Internet Crybabies.  

JFK Airport Terminal 3, a Building Stuck in Time

April 29, 2013

Any way you look at it, JFK Airport in New York is probably one of the most important gateways on earth.  It almost boggles the mind how many millions of people, aircraft, cars, trucks, buses, and subway trains have come and gone successfully from this one point over its long and storied history.  When you think about the scope of this operation it is hard to imagine how it all works so well day after day. 

Over the course of years and with the evolution of Newark Airport I haven’t had much call to fly in and out of JFK as I have had in the past.  The increase in numbers of people traveling, as well as a geographic spread has forced us develop other facilities, but JFK’s importance hasn’t diminished, it has remained the centerpiece of air travel for the entire New York City region.  That is one of the reasons I was so excited recently to take a flight out of JFK, albeit not as convenient as what I am used to traveling from Newark. (Since I live 10 minutes from that airport)  I have fond memories of JFK since my very first international flight originated from this point.  Of course, if I could skip the Verrazano Bridge and Belt Parkway traffic, that would have been best but you can’t have everything.

So much has changed since my days of traveling in and out of JFK.  The Air Train makes this very convenient for travelers going in and out of Manhattan, and also for those, like me, utilizing the long term parking lots.  It simply works really well.  Many of the terminals are shiny and new and bare little to no resemblance of the terminals of the past.  My old stomping grounds T1 or the Eastern Airlines Terminal has been transformed to a modern, quasi-European building that is beautiful and functional.  Of course Eastern is a thing of the past and many of the newer airlines, like Jet Blue have staked a very large claim on this airport territory.  It is healthy, I suppose to change with the times and overall JFK has done a really good job of doing just that.

That brings me to the bad part, the part stuck in a past which was once glorious but now seems in desperate need of a bulldozer.  Pan Am was the airline that put international travel within reach of most Americans.  It’s incredible history of pioneering aviation is widely known and doesn’t require my restatement.  Along the way, however, Pan Am made more than its share of mistakes some financial, some operational and yet others in how it designed its facilities.  JFK terminal 3 is a shining example of how NOT to design an airport terminal.  I was sure that it would have been torn apart by now under the guidance of its new tenant, Delta Airlines.  Its upstairs, downstairs, around stairs gate situation caused miles of needless walking over its long tenure.  With a stupidly designed uphill entrance ramp, and no walkway you need to slink around the side to avoid breaking a sweat just getting into the place.  The checking counters are basically outside with wild birds flying every which way as you stand amazed waiting in line.  Even the professionalism and pleasant nature of the Delta staff is overshadowed by the refurbished conditions they work in.  Once clearing security I was struck by how they have tried to shoe horn in new retail venues into the same old infrastructure which hasn’t handled the years very well.  It is ugly, badly maintained and dirty overall.  It still has its famous long narrow hallways that simple don’t work in today’s carryon world.  Instead of feeling like a visit to an old friend it was like visiting your old school that you hated then, and you hate even more going back to. 

I would gladly use JFK again but please tear down this last mistake that Juan Tripp left behind as a legacy.  Even this titan of aviation is entitled to one mistake, right?

4 Travel Deals: Buy it or Bid for it? You be the judge.

March 22, 2013

It was not all that long ago that the travel industry was pinned down to one standardized method of distribution. Not that working through travel agencies is a bad thing but the quality of the service varies wildly and without any warning. You have some great industry minds who manage and run agencies and you have a lot of people who think working in travel is a sexy, glamorous way to make a living. (It really isn’t) What you have is a big wide world of possibilities and no one can really expect any agent to know it all, all the time.
Along comes the Internet and prospective travelers can not only do unlimited research they can also work with companies directly whose expertise can be narrowed down to their area of interest. It is safe to say that someone who sells Greece for a living knows a thing or two about it. So consumers, more and more, are purchasing based on their own criteria and not worrying about whether or not their local agent is selling them something simply because they are making some additional money in commission one product or another.
As empowering as it is to have real distribution choices, there are limited choices when it comes to finding the products you want to purchase for less money. If you really want a deal, you simply can’t rely on most of the sites that promise you as much. Daily deal sites are a joke when it comes to their travel offers. Most tour companies have to build in commissions whether or not they are distributed via a travel agent and rock bottom, net price online giants are battling more and more with hotel companies that simply won’t let them discount. So what’s the solution? I think it is auctioning.
For over 14 years we have been offering a wide array of top quality, brand name products at auction each and every day. We have quietly and efficiently saved people tons of money over our tenure. We are considered an “alternate distribution outlet” and hence, are not subjected to some of the rules other distributors find themselves constrained with. It all depends on whether the consumer wants to engage in the purchase process that requires them to study, understand, price and bid for the products they want to buy. I mean, people are saving hundreds on a single trip so, why not?
Check it out for yourself?