Entries in Travel (59)


‘Las Vegasdotcom’ Star of New Sin City Campaign VEGAS) -- For a city that’s known for the fast life, choosing an average Joe to represent it in a new marketing campaign may seem an odd choice.

He’s 45 years old. He sells insurance. And his name is Las. Las Vegasdotcom. Everything was fine, you see, before the explosion of the Internet. Now everyone thinks he’s a website. And now everyone wants Las to hook them up with the very best of Vegas.

The new campaign debuted Monday.

The ad’s goal, of course, is to tell viewers about all the cool things Vegas has to offer and ultimately drive potential visitors to the website and convince them to book.

One video shows Las being accosted on the street by a man who wants to know about the secret pizza place inside the Cosmopolitan hotel. “What’s secret about it?” he asks. “That nobody tells you where it is? Or they don’t even tell you what the toppings are and you just sort of get a grab bag of toppings?”

Another asks, “So the sharks at Mandalay Bay? Like, have you swam with them? Do I need insurance for that?”

“The new website and ad campaign are based on comprehensive research about our visitors and what they want,” said Courtney Fitzgerald, spokesperson for the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority. "Based on our research, we know we have two audiences: the ‘core’ and the ‘persuade.”’

Each audience represents more than 40 million potential visitors a year.

Fans of Sin City’s famous “What Happens Here Stays Here” campaign need not worry — the famous slogan isn’t going anywhere. The new campaign is designed to “compliment” what’s already in place, Fitzgerald said.

The character Las Vegasdotcom isn’t too far off the typical Sin City visitor. ABC built a profile of the typical Las Vegas visitor based on data from the LVCVA. If you’re a married white male, late 40s, employed making over $100,000 per year and love to gamble, it seems Las Vegas is your vacation spot of choice.


Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio


Packed Planes and High Fares for Christmas Travelers

iStockPhoto/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- Planes are full and that means even higher prices for holiday travel. A new report from airline trade group Airlines for America released Thursday shows demand strong and planes flying at 85 to 90 percent capacity over the 21-day holiday travel period.

About 42 million passengers will fly between Monday, Dec. 17, 2012, and Wednesday, Jan. 6, 2013.

Translation: The time for holiday airfare bargains is up. Non-stop ticket prices Christmas week are nearly double what they were at the beginning of the month, and rising by the day.

"Every day you wait for your virtual airline ticket, add about $7 to $8 ... and if you wait until the second week in December you could start adding about $15 a day," said Rick Seaney, CEO of FareCompare.

The average domestic air fare is now $414, according to Travelocity, nine percent more expensive than last year's holiday season. The most expensive days to fly, up to $500 or more a ticket, are Dec. 21 and 22 and on the return Dec. 30 and 31, and New Years Day.

The cheaper days to fly? Christmas Day, and the three days following. Flying on those days can save as much as $330.

"You're going to sacrifice price for convenience, but you'll also encounter fewer crowds at the airport," said Genevieve Shaw Brown, ABC News Travel and Lifestyle Editor.

Adding injury to the already insulting high holiday fares this season: Baggage. It, too, increases the cost for travelers this holiday season. Airlines charge excess baggage surcharges that start at $90 on top of the now-normal checked bag fee, and the scales at the airport are not always accurate. Use a home scale to make sure your bags aren't overweight., experts advise. "Fees can range wildly from as low as $100 for bags over 50 pounds to over $275 depending on the airline," said Seaney. "It can cost really more than your airline ticket on a short-haul airline flight. The checked bag starts out as $50 round-trip, this [excess bag fee] is on top of that... The only exception to that is JetBlue and Southwest where your first checked bag is free."

An ABC News investigation last year at this time showed five percent of airport scales checked nationwide were off by at least half an ounce, enough to add costs. New York had the highest rates of inaccuracy with 48 troubled scales at JFK alone. San Francisco had 13 off; at Dallas, seven were faulty.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


The Cheapest Days to Fly This Christmas

Creatas/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- It’s the most wonderful time of the year.  That is, unless you have to fly somewhere.

Airfare booking data from online travel agent Travelocity shows domestic airfare this holiday season is 9 percent more expensive than last year.  The average cost of a round-trip domestic ticket is $414, including taxes.  An international ticket costs $990, 6 percent more than last year.

And prices are only expected to go up in the coming days.  Rick Seaney, CEO of Fare Compare, estimates travelers will pay an extra $5 for every day they wait to purchase holiday airfare through the second week in December and $10 per day the following week.

But not all days are created equal when it comes to finding a cheap flight home for the holidays.  Travelocity conducted a day-by-day analysis of prices over the Christmas travel season to find the cheapest days to fly.  Not surprisingly, Dec. 24 and 25 come in at some of the least expensive days.

But it may be worth it: Travelers who choose to depart on Dec. 23, 24 or 25 and return later in the week can save up to $379 on their airfare as opposed to those who leave the weekend before Christmas.

Here are some date combinations to avoid: Dec. 21/Dec. 29; Dec. 21/Dec. 30; Dec. 22/Dec. 30; Dec. 22/Dec. 31; and Dec. 22/Jan. 1.  Travelers departing and returning on these dates will pay more than $500 on average for their airfare.

The cheapest date combinations are: Dec. 25/Dec. 26: $187; Dec. 25/Dec. 27: $283; Dec. 25/Dec. 28: $329; and Dec. 24/Dec 27: $330.

And to bring down the cost of your ticket, incorporate any of the following dates into your travel plans: Dec. 24, Dec. 25 or Dec. 26.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


'Dead Week' Travel Brings Huge Savings

John Foxx/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- For travelers on the hunt for bargains, dead week is one of the best -- that is, cheapest -- weeks of the year.  And it's coming up: mark Jan. 4 to Jan. 16 on your calendar.

Coming on the heels of the Christmas-New Year's Eve travel period, the dead week brings incredible savings on airfare, hotels and cruises.

"A lucky handful of flexible travelers can scoop up the cheapest prices of the year -- slashed by more than 60 percent compared to the holidays -- with the added bonus of an empty middle seat," said Rick Seaney, CEO of FareCompare.

The bargains are due to a dramatic drop in the number of people traveling.

In December 2011, the number of domestic air travelers was about 37 million, according to industry group Airlines for America.  The following month (January 2012), that number dropped to 34 million.

Think of it as a holiday travel hangover.  Many people have traveled for Thanksgiving or Christmas or both, and perhaps even New Year's.  Wallets are light from holiday shopping, and kids are going back to school.  All this leads to the perfect recipe for people staying home, which is exactly when the budget-conscious should strike.  

But beware -- the dead time comes and goes quickly.  Once Martin Luther King weekend comes around (Jan. 21) and many are celebrating a three-day weekend, prices start to creep back up.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


$1,200 Dish at New California Restaurant

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(LOS GATOS, Calif.) -- What would you do if you sat down to try the new restaurant in town and noticed a $1,200 dish on the menu?

Some people may be a little discouraged, but what if that dish consisted of some of the finest caviar out there?

A high-end Japanese restaurant, Katsu, has just opened in the northern California town of Los Gatos. First thing on the menu is a dish called the Decadence Staircase, featuring Russian Sevruga, Osetra, Golden Osetra caviar and premium Beluga caviar, descending along bamboo stairs.

It also includes Pacific spiny lobster sashimi, Japanese Wagyu shabu shabu — and what better way to top it all off than with 24-karat gold leaves?

The restaurant’s top chef and part-owner, Chef Katsuhiko Hanamure, used his worldly experience in high-end kitchens and personal training by famed chef Nobuyuki Matsuhisa to craft the menu at Katsu.

“I would like to attract many different people who are craving high-quality ingredients,” he said.

And for the prices they charge, there are definitely some high-quantity ingredients imported from all over.

“Pricing is based on market supply and scarcity of products that are difficult and costly to import,” said Derek Schuette, the restaurant’s general manager.

Local resident Hida Baghbni said she was a little hesitant to attend the restaurant at first, but she said her experience at Katsu was incredible, with dishes that are hard to find in the United States.

“It was the real stuff, I was pretty impressed,” she said. “The fish just melted in your mouth.”

Los Gatos local Bob Dobkin heard a lot of hype about the new restaurant and showed up on opening night, but said he was not impressed with all the restaurant had to offer.

“First thing that greets you on the menu is a $1,200 plate, and that doesn’t make you feel too comfortable,” said Dobkin. “I wouldn’t go back unless they cut their prices in half.”

The menu also includes an item called Serendipity that includes Wagyu beef — American, Australian and Japanese — for $400.

Another pricey dish is the Japanese Kegoshima Prefecture Wagyu New York strip for $200.

Schuette said Los Gatos is an intimate, high-end community that has some of the greatest chefs in the world but it was lacking something.

He said Katsu was an opportunity to bring something new to the area for residents to explore and indulge in.

Another local, Mike Cooper, said he’s been to the restaurant a few times since they opened. He said he enjoyed it and recommended it for a younger, more upbeat crowd.

“It’s great, very N.Y.C., L.A. vibe, great down-tempo music that picked up a bit later,” he said. “Hollywood is here!”

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Thanksgiving Travel Rush: Americans Brace for Holiday

Medioimages/Photodisc(NEW YORK) -- As the Thanksgiving travel season starts to heat up, there's a double threat to air travel on the West Coast.

First, airport workers are scheduled to demonstrate at Los Angeles International Friday afternoon, prompting warnings for passengers to give themselves a three-hour cushion at LAX and an extra 90 minutes in travel time.

And second, crippling rain in Oregon and Washington expected to delay Northwest flights.

But since these are not major domestic hubs, the ripple effect of bad weather there is unlikely to spread.

And there is good news for the rest of the country: Weather is on travelers' side for a change.

"If there were to be a storm in Chicago or the Northeast you could count on mass chaos, but it doesn't look like that's going to be the case at all," said Genevieve Shaw Brown, ABC News Travel & Lifestyle editor.

New 2012 holiday tricks for savvy travelers:

Some airlines will allow you to avoid the baggage counter by tagging and checking your own bag.

TSA has a new pre-check program this year. Sign up and you pass through a separate security line, with your laptop in your bag, and your shoes on your feet.

New smartphone apps monitor security lines, so you can know how much time you'll spend on them. You don't want to miscalculate; flights are full and re-booking will be a challenge.

"It's extremely important to know how much time you actually have to get to your gate so that you don't potentially miss your flight and get stuck at the airport for Thanksgiving," said Brown.

One final tip: Leave the cranberry sauce at home. Because of the TSA ban on liquids, your turkey is welcome but the cranberries are on the no-fly list.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Busiest Airports for Thanksgiving Travel

Hemera/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- More than 24 million people are expected to fly this Thanksgiving weekend -- about 150,000 more people than last year -- despite an increase in the price of airfare since Thanksgiving 2011.

And the crowds aren’t just at the airport: Expect planes to be packed. Airplanes, on average, are expected to be nearly 90-percent full on the busiest day of one of the busiest travel weekends of the year.

But some airports will be busier than others. Orbitz, the travel booking website, has just released the list of the busiest -- and least busy -– airports over Thanksgiving weekend 2012, based on the top 50 U.S. airports. If you’re traveling out of one of the busiest airports, be prepared to arrive early and wait on lines.

Busiest Airports Nov 21 – Nov 26:

1.    Chicago O’Hare International
2.    Los Angeles International
3.    San Francisco International
4.    New York LaGuardia
5.    Boston Logan International
6.    John F. Kennedy International
7.    Orlando International
8.    Denver International
9.    Ronald Reagan National
10.  Ft. Lauderdale International

Least Busy Airports Nov 21 – Nov 26:

1.    Buffalo Niagara International
2.    Jacksonville International
3.    Nashville International
4.    Sacramento International
5.    Bradley International
6.    Palm Beach International
7.    Cleveland Hopkins International
8.    John Wayne Airport
9.    San Antonio International
10.  Salt Lake City International

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Travel Industry Begins to Move Again After Sandy's Mess

Hemera/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- It's been one of the most difficult weeks in memory for travelers. Nearly 20,000 flight cancellations, hotels that are flooded and shuttered, cruise ships stranded at sea. But a few days after Hurricane Sandy, travelers are beginning to travel once again.

While air travel is by no means back to normal (600-plus flights were cancelled Thursday, but that's far from the nearly 8,000 cancelled Tuesday and Wednesday), all three New York metropolitan airports -- JFK, LaGuardia and Newark -- are open. Other previously shuttered airports in the Northeast are also open to flights.

"Barring any unforeseen airport damage or operational issues like staff getting to the airport, road warriors should pretty much be back in business on Monday," said Rick Seaney, CEO of Fare Compare. "The trend in cancellations since Oct. 29 is a hockey stick in the downward direction."

Amtrak, too, is beginning to move. Starting Thursday, there is modified Northeast Regional service between Boston and New Haven, Conn., and between Newark, N.J., and points south. Amtrak will also operate shuttle service trains between Springfield, Mass., and New Haven; Keystone Service trains between Harrisburg, Penn., and Philadelphia; and Downeaster service trains between Boston and Portland, Maine, along with additional overnight services to and from the Northeast.

Amtrak is also taking reservations for modified service between New York City and points south, including Trenton and Philadelphia.

And the cruisers aboard the Norwegian Gem who were forced to stay at sea when the Port of New York closed the day they were scheduled to return from a nine-day cruise? They were given the option to leave the ship in Boston on Wednesday. Vanessa Lane, a Norwegian Cruise Line spokesperson, said 50 percent opted to leave. The others returned to sea and will wait until New York's port re-opens to end their trips. The cruise line thinks that could be on Friday, Nov. 2.

Ericka Nelson, general manager of The Muse New York, said the hotel's been completely sold out since Saturday. Only now are guests starting to travel home. "In some cases they're renting cars, a few are getting on flights." But, she noted, "now we're focused on getting those rooms to locals who need a place to stay."

Orbitz, the travel booking website, reported a 15 percent increase in hotel bookings in New York City this week as compared with last week. In Washington, D.C., bookings were up a whopping 68 percent.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Man Launches Cross-Country Trip Fueled by Trading Bacon

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- An actor has set off from New York with his sights set on Los Angeles, but he's not carrying any cash or plastic -- he's lugging only bacon.

As part of a savvy promotional campaign for Oscar Meyer's thick cut bacon, Josh Sankey has a trailer full of the pork product, and is looking to trade its crispy goodness for everything from cab rides to room and board to toiletries.

Using the handle and hashtag #baconbarter on Twitter, Sankey is tracking his trip and taking offers from interested parties. One such example: an off-campus house at Purdue University, which tweeted, "if you're driving through IN and want to visit Purdue, we have couch space and 29 girls obsessed with bacon!"

Those interested can track Sankey's progress at the website

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Gas Up, Airfare Down for Labor Day Travel

Jupiterimages/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- Thirty-three million people will travel at least 50 miles from home this Labor Day weekend, a 2.9 percent increase from last year, according to AAA.  The vast majority -- 85 percent-- will go by automobile, a 3.1 percent increase compared with last year.

The increase in automobile travel comes despite rising gas prices, up 16 cents per gallon as of Tuesday from a year ago.

Decreased airfare may play a part in the rising number of air travelers this holiday weekend, expected to rise 3.7 percent.  AAA reports average domestic airfare is down 4 percent from last year.

That decrease in airfare is even deeper to some of the nation's most popular vacation destinations.  Orbitz flight booking data found airfare was flat or down to most of its top 10 Labor Day destinations.  Airfare to Anaheim, Calif., saw the most dramatic drop at 11 percent.  Las Vegas airfare decreased 9 percent and airfare to Atlanta, 6 percent.

The vast majority of holiday weekend travelers are opting to stay stateside, turning the three-day weekend into an all-American holiday.  That's according to online booking giant Priceline, which compiled the top 50 Labor Day destinations based on bookings.  Some 47 of the top 50 destinations are domestic; Niagara Falls, Montreal and Toronto are the only international spots on the list.

"It appears that the Olympics hype and favorable exchange rates didn't do enough to offset high international airfares for the holiday," Priceline spokesperson Brian Ek said in a news release.  "Major U.S. cities, however, are going to be crowded over the long weekend, as visitors get in their back-to-school and fall shopping, and enjoy the restaurants, theaters and museums."

New York, Seattle and Las Vegas appear four times each on the top 50 list, while Chicago, San Francisco and Boston make three appearances each.  Philadelphia, with four spots on the list, and Hawaii, with two spots, failed to make the top 50 list in 2011.


Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

ABC News Radio