Category: Travel and leisure

What does TripAdvisor’s move to social and personal means for reviews?

TripAdvisor has announced plans to relaunch as a “travel feed”, a personalized social media mash-up that delivers to members familiar Twitter-esque, Facebook-like pages. For TripAdvisor, it is creating a new publishing platform for travel brands in the process.

It’s a bold move away from TripAdvisor’s reviews wheelhouse and the ongoing arguments around the validity and veracity of the reviews posted on its site. It raises the question on whether TripAdvisor, like the social media giants,  will be in a stronger position to defend itself when asked about responsible content curation.

The new platform is currently in beta, and will “launch globally to the public later this year across all markets and languages where the company operates.” TripAdvisor has produced a video which gives an idea of the look, feel and functionality of the new site, based around a couple’s trip to Nashville.

The official release from TripAdvisor also includes a link through to a video recording of the press conference announcing the launch.

The new platform expands the TripAdvisor community to include brands, influencers, publishers and friends. When they log-in, members will see a newsfeed that will feel familiar to social media users, and can connect with others on the platform to get advice and inspiration as they plan their journeys.

Stephen Kaufer, CEO & co-founder of TripAdvisor said:

“TripAdvisor is poised to disrupt the travel industry once again as we create a more personalized and connected community. The new TripAdvisor is the one travel site that brings together social-assistive tools, amazing content and our existing booking capabilities to merge the joy of planning and discovery together into a single experience. We are assisting our members at each step of their journey as we become a more personalized, inspirational and useful TripAdvisor.”

More than 500 social media influencers, consumer brands, publishers and travel partners are live on the beta site. The company’s TripAdvisor Media group brands will contribute content and its own destination experts will contribute their insights to the platform.

Some big media brands joining include: National Geographic, Condé Nast Traveler, Travel Channel, Business Insider & Insider Guides, PopSugar, Great Big Story (CNN Travel), Pandora Music, GoPro, Goop, NYC & Company (via their consumer-facing tourism website,, Nashville Music City, and The Knot.

Chris Thorman, vice president community products and growth, National Geographic, contributed a quotation to the release, saying that “as a global media company, we’re always seeking new opportunities to share our awe-inspiring articles, photos and video content, and a partnership with TripAdvisor allows us to do just that.”

Of course, publishers have been keen to join social media publishing platforms in order to draw a greater audience to their online sites. Facebook’s own history with publishers may serve as a guide of the pitfalls that both TripAdvisor and the publishers joining this new platform will want to avoid.

On the whole, it appears a smart move for TripAdvisor, opening up new opportunities for revenue streams in partnerships and advertising, giving its “book now”

Attention turns to 360-degree VR video marketing

This is a viewpoint by Ara Parikh, product marketing manager for OmniVert.

More and more, travel marketers today are using 360° VR Video, whether on Facebook, Snap, YouTube, or other distribution methods, to tell their brand stories.

Why invest in a new marketing format?

In today’s digital world, there is a staggering amount of content, branded or not, competing for audience attention. Ad performance for traditional, flat ads has suffered. Consider this: in 1994, the first banner ad launched on, resulting in a click-through rate of 44%. Today, an average banner ad might get a click-through rate of 0.05%, the kind of nosedive travel marketers cannot settle for.

So when 360° VR video ads double the CTR performance of standard ads in the travel vertical, marketers pay more attention.

360° VR vs. Standard Media SM) and Rich Media (RM) – SOURCE: Google Rich Media Gallery Benchmarks

But it’s not just performance that has led travel marketers to 360° VR. Story matters too.

360° VR Video is all about bringing audiences to a place they can explore digitally. 360° videos allow users to click and drag or move their phone to explore 360° of content, and ultimately be immersed in that content. This works especially well for travel, which is all about the promise of a place. Audiences can see a full 360° view from the top of a mountain, step inside a grand hotel, explore the galleys of a cruise ship, and more.

See case studies below for how top travel marketers are using 360° VR Video for both performance and story.


Cathay Pacific’s 360° VR ad was the airline’s best digital campaign to date. The creative featured 360° videos of its business class lounge, airport experience, and cabins. The airline saw gains in unaided awareness (+27%), favorability (+25%) and preference for the airline (+12%). The ads also saw higher click-through rates of 0.33%. Customers spent an average of 20.8 seconds on the experience.

Travel tech/booking

The Tokyo Metropolitan Government launched a 360° video on YouTube, featuring scenic scapes of Tokyo and the Chogoku and Shigoku regions. The video has over 1.1 million views.  


TravelNevada was looking for a way to visually wow and inform potential travelers of the multitude of outdoors activities and little-known gems of Nevada. Its 360° video ad was distributed as an interactive banner with 1% CTR, a 9% engagement rate, and 53 seconds on average spent on the content.

This is a viewpoint by Ara Parikh, product marketing manager for OmniVert.

Opinions and views expressed by all guest contributors do not necessarily reflect those of tnooz, its writers, or its partners.

Certify buys Captio, hints at more deals to come

US-based expense management firm Certify has bought Spain’s Captio, its first acquisition outside North America, as part of its ambitious “multi-brand” expansion plans.

Terms of the deal have not been disclosed.

Robert Neveu, president and CEO of Certify, told tnooz that Captio would continue to operate as a brand in its own right as part of Certify’s “multi-brand” growth plans.

Certify will offer a total of five brands including Abacus, which specialises in “real time” expenses technology and was acquired by Certify this summer.

Certify, which is backed by private equity company K1 Investment Management, also bought a corporate online booking tool from nuTravel Technology Solutions last year as the firm ramps up its range of products and aims to go head-to-head with Concur.

Neveu explained that Certify’s approach was not to create a “one size fits all” technology solution but to develop a range of platforms to serve different parts of the corporate market – from small firms of 25 employees or under, to those with thousands of staff globally.

“Captio will continue with its product road map, with its own team, as will Certify,” he added. “We will be able to share a number of services and technology. It’s about identifying the best practices across the group. The goal is not product domination as we don’t believe that one size fits all.

“There will be a lot of shared technology, such as the online booking tool, payments and receipt scanning, which are going to be offered through Captio.

“Certify believes in building a multi-brand strategy which we can take to customers, marketplaces and prospects. There will be growth across all our brands – with certain features and capabilities that products will have. It’s about having segmentation by market size.”

Neveu hinted that Certify would be making more significant moves in the near future without giving further details.

“K1 has a very strong appetite for this space and we have plenty of dry powder to continue to accelerate the business…Expect more announcements and more growth, revenue acceleration and meeting market needs.

“In North America, 50% of organisations with 1,000 employees or under are still using Excel or manual paper processes for expenses. In Europe, that figure is even higher. We see a green field with lots of opportunities for growth across our multiple brands – aggressive organic and inorganic growth.”

The purchase of Captio adds 60 employees to the company, on top of Certify’s existing workforce of 300 – a 20% increase in size.

The Spanish business was founded in 2012 and offers an end-to-end, cloud-based expense management platform with mobile capability. Its platform also has the ability to comply with different taxation requirements in countries such as Spain.

The move confirms Certify’s intent in moving into international markets – last year it expanded a partnership with the UK’s Sage Software to offer enhanced products to shared customers, while a deal with Western Union allows Certify to offer international payment capabilities to customers outside the

Las Vegas: Best shopping destination in the West

The Forum Shops at Caesars © Allie_Caulfield/Flickr Creative Commons CC by 2.0

Las Vegas has always been best known for its famous casinos and over-the-top hotels. Add to this a world class dining scene, a desert climate and proximity to the USA’s greatest natural wonders, and it’s little wonder Sin City is one of the world’s foremost tourist destinations.

What’s less well known is that Vegas is also a shopping destination to rival New York, with everything from luxury brands and mammoth department stores to bargain-filled factory outlets and quirky one-off boutiques, all in or within moments of the city centre. Here’s our guide to the best on and off-Strip locations.

On the Strip

With six department stores and more than 200 speciality shops and boutiques, Fashion Show is the largest shopping destination on the Las Vegas Strip – in fact, it’s one of the largest malls in the USA, and is top of nearly every shopper’s hitlist. Not only does it contain Sin City’s only Neiman Marcus and Nordstom but there’s a flagship Macy’s and Dillards too, along with UK favourites Topshop and Topman. Not sure what’s on trend? Live weekend afternoon runway shows on the hour should give you all the inspiration you need.

Spanning the Palazzo and Venetian hotels, the Grand Canal Shoppes house a collection of 80 luxury boutiques and restaurants clustered around a twee reproduction of Venice’s Grand Canal, which weaves its way past streetside cafes and stores – you can even float along it on a replica Italian gondola. Famous names like Harley Davidson, Louis Vuitton and Jimmy Choo all call The Shoppes home.

The super-stylish (and the super-rich) flock to Via Bellagio for the ultimate in retail therapy. The exclusive shops, which include Tiffany & Co., Louis Vuitton and Valentino wind their way alongside Lake Bellagio in an arcade-style setting designed to replicate a Milanese galleria.

Another long-established mall with the Italian touch is The Forum Shops at Caesars, with Neopolitan street scenes and fountain shows entertaining the crowds. Still an upmarket destination, the Forum Shops mall does at least contain plenty of stores with less stratospheric prices, such as Nike, Abercrombie & Fitch, Victoria’s Secret and H&M.

The futuristic The Shops at Crystals is the 500,000 square foot entertainment and retail space at the heart of what was formerly known as the CityCenter project, the largest private construction project in the USA when it opened back in 2009. It includes 2,400 private residences, and the Vdara, Aria and Mandarin Oriental hotels. The dramatic crystalline and metal-clad structure is home to yet more luxury brands like Cartier, Stella McCartney and Tom Ford but even if you’re strapped for cash it’s worth a wander inside for the architecture alone.

The Shops at Crystals © Joseph Hunkins/Flickr Creative Commons CC by 2.0

Off the Strip

Las Vegas Premium Outlets have a location to the north of the city, and another on the southern end of the strip past the airport. Both are a

Springboard. Leadership development for women

Training – it might sound dry, but it’s one of the most exciting, important things we do here at Virgin Atlantic. It’s about developing our people into the best they can be, whatever their role at the airline. Giving them the tools to do a great job, to look after our customers and each other, and to work towards our goal of being the UK’s most loved travel company.

One of the training courses we’ve started to offer is called Springboard. It’s a personal and professional development programme, designed and delivered by women for women. It gives women at Virgin Atlantic the skills and confidence to make meaningful changes and improvements in their careers and their personal lives.

Why do we need Springboard?

For a number of mostly historic reasons, the airline industry has a poor record on gender pay. It’s a significant missed opportunity for us and something we’re determined to put right. It’s going to take time, but everyone in the company is committed to addressing this imbalance and we have an ambition to have a 50:50 gender mix within our leader population by 2020.

Springboard is about developing some of those leaders from the women within our airline who may not have realised their own full potential. That’s a fantastically exciting prospect and the job of delivering it falls to our Head of Performance and Development, Myra Cooke, and Talent Management Consultant Jen Breach. Both are incredibly passionate about the programme and excited about the journey they’re taking the candidates on.

Jen and Myra

“We realised more than 80% of our women were at lower grades here at Virgin Atlantic,” said Myra. “Springboard is about creating a fairer distribution and helping women at lower levels to be more confident and take control.”

Jen first realised how powerful the programme was in a previous job. “I saw the big change it brought to the community and to the company,” she said. “After enrolling I got first-hand experience of the life-changing effect it could have. Springboard gave me the confidence to move into a management role. After moving to Virgin Atlantic, I knew it would work really well here.”

The course consists of four workshops and a workbook and looks at:

How to assess your own strengths and weaknesses How to assess the business world around you How to establish core values and set goals Where to find support and information How to be more assertive How to manage stress How to create and implement action plans How to create a positive impression.

Myra and Jen are both full of enthusiasm about the development programme.  “Looking back at our first course, it’s amazing what we’ve achieved in a short space of time,” said Myra. “This isn’t a traditional training programme. It’s more of a network and a space where women can share their experiences and learn together.”

“It’s contagious” says Myra “It makes me realise why I went into training in the first place. Everyone is open and

Your Five Favourite KLM Cockpit Tales!

Being the grandson of a pilot, the nephew of two KLM cabin attendants and the son of a flight dispatcher, there were few places holier for me than the cockpit of a KLM aircraft. Then again, what child wouldn’t want to spend time fiddling with all those levers, buttons and dials?

KLM launched its Cockpit Tales series in 2015, giving the public unique insight into a place that is seldom accessible. I’ve selected the five most popular Cockpit Tales and ranked them for your enjoyment! Ready for take-off?

5. How do airplanes actually fly?

Let’s start with this essential question: how exactly do these big birds stay up in the air? Ranked 5th in the series, with 643,000 views, this clip features Captain Andrea van Dijk explaining what is required to keep a Boeing 737 airborne, as it makes its way to Athens. Weight, speed and all the other factors are briefly covered.

4. How to land an airplane in the dark

What does it take to land in an African thunderstorm, with zero visibility? No problem for Captain Thijs Jongsma and First Officer Dimitri van der Vieren. This edition of Cockpit Tale is all about cockpit instruments. Yes, there are windows allowing pilots to fly by sight, but sometimes visibility is so poor that they have no choice but to rely on their instruments.

3. Crossing the Atlantic

Did you know there are highways in the sky? And even turnoffs! When crossing the Atlantic Ocean, aircraft sometimes battle headwinds of up to 200 knots. It may sound strange, but it can be quicker to take a detour, instead of opting for the shortest route. Captain Henk de Vries explains this in more detail on his way to New York.

2. Autopilot in action

Most people are familiar with the expression “switching to autopilot”. In daily life, it usually means you’re “zoning out” to avoid having to do too much thinking, but that certainly isn’t the case in the cockpit. Especially if you’re flying from Amsterdam to London Heathrow! Captain Michiel van Dorst has no time to zone out on the flight across the Channel, even though he’s flying on autopilot.

1. Big plane, short runway

This is by far the most popular clip in the series, with no fewer than 8.5 million views, and rightly so! “Big plane, short runway” features a Boeing 747-400 passing low over a beach as it approaches Princess Juliana International Airport on the Caribbean island of Sint Maarten, where the runway is just 2,300 metres long. Naturally, there are spectacular, hair-raising views, which is why this edition of Cockpit Tales is a must-see!

Here Is Where You Celebrate Summer!

From the lavender fields of Provence to California Dreaming along the beaches of Los Angeles, life looks a lot sunnier in summer. In iFly KLM Magazine’s special Summer Selection, we’ll show you where to celebrate the summer. I’ll highlight a few of them for you right now.

Sensational beaches

Looking out over the ocean with your eyes focused on infinity and the sand between your toes, is there anything more wonderful than the beach? And while every beach has its own charm, there are always a few that have something special. How about Glass Beach in California? Here you will find bits of glass in all the colours of the rainbow. Or Hyams Beach in Australia, reportedly the whitest beach in the world. You will find even more surprising gems in our Top Five.

Summer all year round

It’s summer all year round in Mauritius. We travelled to this new tropical KLM destination to make an enticing video. Anderson, our guide, will take you to his favourite beach, the Seven Coloured Earths, the bustling Port Louis, and of course the Garden of Pamplemousses. Once you’ve seen this video, you’ll want to pack your suitcases right away.

Cycling along the beaches of LA

Los Angeles is the city of cars. That makes it all the more fun to grab your bike. Along the beaches of this metropolis you’ll find The Strand – more formally the Marvin Braude Bike Trail. This 35-kilometre-long cycle path will take you from Pacific Palisades to Torrance County Beach. Along the way you’ll pass through glamorous Manhattan Beach and of course over-the-top Venice Beach. In iFly we’ll give you the best tips for this sporty route.

The best summer festivals

Summer is far and away the festival season. Of course, you can go to any number of dance or music festivals. But how much fun would it be to travel to something really special – meditating in the Arizona Desert, dancing to honour the dead in Japan, or whale-watching in South Africa? We sought out the best events around the world for you to enjoy in July, August, and September.

For the full Summer Selection, click here.

Want more travel inspiration?

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