Tag Archives: Travel

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Bon Voyage, or Should We Say Bonvoy?

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This past Sunday during the Oscars, Marriott International broadcasted a 60-second commercial as a part of their new global marketing campaign for the newly combined loyalty program – Marriott Bonvoy. This is the first of the extensive multi-media campaign that will be spanning across 22 countries around the world educating consumers about Bonvoy.The new rewards program combines and replaces Marriott Rewards, Ritz-Carlton Rewards, and Starwood Preferred Guest making it the largest loyalty program for a single hotel company with over 120 million members. 

The commercial itself is made up of vignettes of various travelers and their unique experiences at Marriott properties around the world using the word “Bonvoy” as a play off the saying bon voyage. Some of the properties featured include The Ritz-Carlton, Courtyard by Marriott, Sheraton, JW Marriott, and The Westin. In addition to Bonvoy, the commercial also features the new tagline of the rewards program which is ‘Rewards Reimagined.’ This tagline is helping to educate consumers about all of the 30 brands within the Marriott portfolio as well as the countless benefits that can be earned through booking with Marriott. 

Karin Timpone, Global Marketing Officer, Marriott International, says, “Marriott Bonvoy expresses the joy of ‘good travel’ made possible by our unmatched portfolio of hotels, culture of hospitality and unique member benefits.”

So next time when you are looking to book a trip, make sure to check out Marriott Bonvoy to create the best travel experience for you and earn rewards! 

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Student Spotlight: Megan Watkins

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Megan Watkins is a fourth year Public Relations major with a minor in Sports Management at UGA. She is a pop culture and entertainment media enthusiast, a Jacksonville, Florida native and best of all one of my housemates.

Megan is one of the most driven individuals I know. During her time at Georgia, Megan has been a part of seven on-campus organizations and has held six internships including her current position as a Corporate Communications Intern at Delta Airlines. To say she has kept herself busy would be an understatement.

In her current internship, she assists the Customer Assistance team with both in-flight and on the ground customer experiences. She also gets the opportunity to write for Delta NewsHub surrounding news going on in the Delta-sphere and aids in planning and organizing events. A great benefit of her internship is the flight benefits which allow her to travel on her off days.

Over the years, Megan has traveled across the globe with her family and friends. Last spring, she spent the semester abroad in Cortona getting to learn about and create art, as well as experience Europe with her colleagues. Once she arrived back to Athens, our house went to the art exhibition from Cortona at Lamar Dodd. It was heart-warming to see Megan and her classmates’ work and celebrate the immersion of culture.

I admire how Megan strives to work in and for what she is passionate about. It is evident in her writing for the travel blog Never Stop Traveling, Delta Airlines Newshub, NBCUNiversal Media, and Donovan Public Relations. It will be exciting to see what’s next for Megan!

Be sure to check her out on LinkedIn!

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The 2019 Spring Study Away Fair

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UGA students hiking volcanic mountain ranges in Costa Rica.

What would you say if you could explore the world and get class credit simultaneously? That’s a no-brainer, right? Every year, UGA students embark on adventure and immerse themselves into different cultures around the world. With programs ranging in length from Maymesters, full semesters, and year-long exchanges, Georgia Bulldogs are representing the University of Georgia across the globe. This week, the Spring Study Abroad Fair is taking place in the 3rd Floor Mural Hallway in the Tate Student Center on campus from 10am to 3pm on Tuesday, January 22nd. At the this event, students will be able to learn about UGA’s three campuses abroad: UGA Costa Rica, UGA Cortona, and UGA Oxford, as well as other trips offered through different schools on campus. The Mural Hallway will be lined with tables where individual programs will be set up and prepared to answer questions regarding itinerary, costs, and other details of their trip. The goal of the Study Away Fair is to expose students to study abroad and help them figure out which programs they have an interest in.

The view captured by a student in Turin (Torino), Italy.

It seems almost cliche to say that everyone should study abroad before they graduate, but with the vast opportunities that UGA’s Study Abroad has, there really is no excuse not to go. Students all over campus in a variety of majors serve as unofficial brand ambassadors for their trips, constantly discussing and posting on social media about how much they loved the program they went on. It’s unheard of for a student to come home from a study abroad program only to say they regretted going. Instead, students are often overheard saying that they wished they had studied abroad for longer. The overwhelming positive feedback is a testament to the incredible programs led by UGA’s top professors. The professors that teach abroad are some of the most passionate, driven educators that UGA has to offer. Their unique teaching styles contribute to the experience that a student can expect from their study abroad experience. Due to this, every trip is unique, and no two cohorts will have the exact same adventure.

A student immerses herself in South Korean culture during a Summer study abroad program.

When students arrive at the Study Away Fair, they may feel overwhelmed. A student who is interested and prepared, will likely come to the Tate Student Center ready to embrace everything that the fair has to offer. But a student who just needed to walk through the hallway and accidentally found his or herself in the midst of the study abroad fair may not know what is happening. Suddenly, they have twenty different pamphlets and are late for class because they were listening to an emotional story about a fourth-year’s trip to China. The trip leaders are like professional salespeople, trying their hardest to convince students to fill a spot on their trip. The student didn’t have study abroad on their radar, is now late for class, and didn’t even have time to get the sheet on how many scholarships are given out for study abroad each year.

A photo from the UGA study abroad 2018 photo contest.

It’s easy to get confused about the different opportunities and program options, as there are so many. As students make their way down the hallway, they will be given pamphlets, fliers, cost cards, and promotional items specific to each trip. Some trips will spark an interest, others will end up on the bottom of a backpack or a trashcan. No two trips are alike, just like no two people are alike, but a short, one minute conversation with the program director may not be enough for some students to truly grasp why they should go abroad. There truly is a trip for everyone, but the process of finding, applying, and then committing to a program can seem intimidating.

Students should keep an open mind and be present when listening to the overview of each program. They need to hold on to the information cards and promotional pens instead of viewing the possibility of their abroad trip as wishful thinking. While UGA does have three campuses abroad, students are not limited to those three. In the photo above, a student poses in front of the finish line of the Mount Kilimanjaro climb in Tanzania. Those who attend the Study Away Fair, but don’t find a trip that sparks their interest, can find many programs like this Tanzania trip on the Study Away website.

Students pose with a UGA flag in New Zealand.

Common “excuses” for many college students include that they need to find a job, take classes, don’t have the financial capability to go abroad, or simply don’t have the time to commit to a program. With the large amount of scholarship opportunities available for students who want to study abroad, the wide variety of class credit options, and the overwhelming number of learning experiences available, there are no excuses not to study abroad… or at least not to go to the Study Away Fair on Tuesday, January 22nd from 10am to 3pm in the Tate Student Center.

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Airline Social Media: Part 8

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8th airline up: American Airlines

Places I have flown to with American Airlines: Florida

1st platform up: Facebook

Their Facebook page is one that readily grabbed my attention. This is mainly because their posts are filled with entertaining videos. Videos are a great way to provide a visual and audio explanation of what the company is trying to communicate. They are obviously different from regular text posts so they are more likely to grab the viewers attention because of that fact. Today, consumers like to be more interactive which makes videos the perfect medium to publish content. Way to go American Airlines for noticing that trend! Based on their posts, I can assume their audience is middle class everyday citizens because they are fun and light hearted. However, I noticed that they struggle with responding to comments on their page. This surprised me because as you will read in the next sections, customer service seems to be something they pride themselves on. If I were to give any recommendations it would be to increase their response time. Overall, however, I think their Facebook strategy is working to their advantage. They excel in many areas as described above which encompassed with their captions sway people to visit their website.


2nd platform up: Twitter

American Airline’s Twitter is AMAZING! I enjoyed reading their posts! Their Twitter is all about customer service. For example they post weather updates and multiple times their captions stated something along the lines of “you asked so we listened and fixed the issue” as shown by the screenshot below. This to me makes it seems as though they really take pride in their expertise in customer service/relations. They in my opinion want to make this apparent and differentiate themselves from their competitors. Additionally, they post about Breast Cancer awareness and featured a labor day spotlight on its employees which show who they are as a company and what they value. This is extremely important when it comes to gaining and retaining customers because like I have said in previous posts, it provides transparency. Transparency is crucial for customer service and relations because it provides insight as to how the company works.

Be sure to check back next week when I take a look at another airline!

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Hurricane Michael’s Impact on Tourism

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Hurricane season is in full force and on Wednesday, October 10th Hurricane Michael slammed the U.S. east coast. Mexico Beach, FL and Panama City, FL were two cities drastically impacted by the storm. Many sources are claiming the damages estimates could reach $4.5 billion and could impact the coast for generations to come. This is bad news for anyone living in the area, but even more so when a business thrives on visitors to the area.

Tourism to the Florida panhandle will be nonexistent for months and possibly years to come. However, professionals in the tourism marketing industry located on the panhandle believe the recovery will be faster and stronger than ever before. A lot needs to happen before it’s safe for tourists to come back, but hopefully the recovery efforts happen quickly and summer 2019 will offer a comeback for the region.

How long do you think it will take for vacationers to consider visiting the Florida panhandle once again?

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From Swiss Ghost Town to Hotel

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Corippo is a small village in northern Switzerland near the border of Italy. It once had 300 residents but since has dwindled to only 12, with 11 of those residents being over the age of 65. To revitalize this town and keep it from dying, the Fondazione Corippo, a local organization, has come up with a plan to make the village into a deconstructed hotel. The village is planning to reconstruct 30 of the 70 homes into villas and hotel rooms.

The idea of converting a failing town into isn’t anything new. Italy has actually proven this model to be successful since the 90s. This option not only keeps the towns alive and culture thriving but also brings in tourist revenue to the area.

In Corippo, local activities include hiking, cultural excursions, and other recreational outdoor activities. With tourists coming to the area, Corippo would thrive economically and socially for the first time in centuries.

Would you stay at this village?

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Marriott Merges with SPG

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The Marriott Hotel chain has just made a drastic move that makes traveling all the better for their rewards members. The rewards system allows customers to open a Marriott Credit Card with Chase bank and gain points on select purchases, similar to Delta Sky Miles points. When a customer collects enough points, they can redeem a free night stay at any Marriott chain. On top of the points system, consumers are given extra benefits like late check out, early check in, free breakfast, and one free night after each year of membership.

Marriott and SPG have just merged their brands to become an even larger force. SPG contains familiar brands like The Ritz Carlton, Sheraton, and St. Regis as well as lower ranked brands. To make this change beneficial for their rewards members, SPG and Marriott points will now combine and can be used on over 25 different hotel chains. You can use your Marriott credit card for everyday purchases and score free nights at some of the nicest hotels in the world!

This mass of brands covers almost the entire world, so if you’re dying to stay in Bora Bora or even backpacking through Thailand all you need to do is save up your points or just wait one year to redeem your free night stay!

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Travel Blogging: Combining Passion and Pleasure

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Travel bloggers are becoming more and more popular as people look to them to see where they should plan their next vacation. Blogging was once a fun pastime, but now bloggers are finding new a creative way to make a profit from their passion.

How does someone make money by traveling? With social media platforms like Instagram and Pinterest, sponsorships are becoming the norm for companies associated with travel wanting a shoutout from a popular blogger. Companies will give gifts like free plane tickets, vacations, and gift cards to bloggers willing to support their products.

Bloggers traditionally only used blog platforms but as Instagram becomes more and more popular, travel-bloggers are following the crowd and switching to Instagram posts. With photos containing gorgeous landscapes and new cultural surroundings, these profiles are arguably some of the most followed accounts on Instagram.

These bloggers can make thousands of dollars per post depending on their amount of followers. With this type of income they can travel all they want on someone else’s dime!

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Scooterino – Swerving the Rules

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Take a look at any news broadcast during the 2017-2018 year and you’re almost guaranteed to see a segment about angry taxi drivers displeased with Uber taking over their cities. In the United States, these concerns have for the most part been ignored, but in other parts of the world governments took it to heart. With European countries banning Uber, tourists need an alternative for cheap transportation. Thus, companies like Scooterino have formed.

Scooterino is a Rome-based company that allows consumers to hitch a ride on a scooter with a click of a button. It works in the same manner as Uber with just a download of the app. Since Rome’s streets are narrow and parking is hard to come by, this company thrives in the city but would be a hard sell in the U.S.

Scooterino has a difficult task when marketing their services, because they want to have as many customers as possible. On the other hand, they don’t want to have so many customers that they’re taking business away from Taxi drivers. By having a few social media campaigns on popular social media sites, Scooterino is able to keep enough interest in their company to make a profit and also not disrupt the local competing industries.

If you were in Rome, would you call a ride on Scooterino?

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Airlines Social Media: Part 1

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The first time I traveled out of the country was 6 years ago and I have gone almost every year since. I have been big time bitten by the travel bug. It is a problem. A really big one. I have been to 10 different countries in total so it is safe to say I have had my share of flights. Most of my flights, however, occurred on one airline in particular which brought up the thought of airline brand loyalty. In my opinion, brand loyalty for airlines far exceeds brand loyalty in other fields. I, therefore, reasoned that social media and digital marketing play a massive role for airlines as social media and digital marketing help build customer relationships and allow for easy communication. I, as a result, thought it would be interesting to investigate different airlines social media platforms.

1st airline up: Delta Airlines

Places I have flown to with Delta: Boston, Florida, New York, Louisiana, Bahamas, France, New Zealand, and England

First platform: Facebook-

Knowing that Delta is the huge global corporate entity that is caused me to be uncertain in terms of what to expect when first visiting their Facebook page. A big part of me was expecting traditional corporate posts, however, those ended up only accounting for a very small portion of their Facebook. A majority of the posts were filled with content such as GIFs, emojis, and images capturing the beauty of travel (Delta’s images of planes at night and in the clouds REALLY inspire me to travel and want to buy a ticket from Delta). They have done a great job of knowing their audience on this particular platform and keeping up with what is grabbing the millennials attention in my opinion by using emojis, GIFs, etc. I personally spent a lot of time browsing their page because of how young and current their posts feel. It gave me great insight to their values and beliefs which made me as a customer want to use this airline. Also, the content in their posts such as the pictures of the planes flying struck a chord with me and in all honestly made me start planning my next trip. If their posts got me to do that, their marketing techniques are working and I did not even realize what their posts made me do until I was asking my friends if they would want to come on a trip with me. Their posts did not directly say buy a ticket and were not advertising prices but rather subtly sent the message to travel and made me think of all the places I have been which pushed me to plan. In my opinion their Facebook is working to their advantage and is very effective.

Second platform: Twitter-

Delta Airlines Twitter is OFF THE CHARTS AMAZING! Delta surprised me with how much they engage with their customers on Twitter! For example, they had polls for what movies they should add to their inflight media (which is smart because the people who voted are going to want to fly Delta in order to watch that movie), polls for how you would spend an afternoon in another country, featured their customers through posting selfies taken on Delta planes and dedicating a post to a story about a customer who flew all around the country in order to propose (I highly recommend reading the proposal story if you haven’t already – great story, very touching.) Delta’s engagement caught my attention and showed me again who Delta is as a company. It showed that they want customer input and value every single person who uses Delta. They do a great job of becoming relatable and making followers feel their voice can be heard which is a HUGE deal for a company of Deltas size. That in turn will lead to loyalty and more people to fly Delta. I did not follow Delta on Twitter before but now I will simply because of how welcoming and active their page is! Twitter is such a huge social media avenue so it is important to maintain and find something that makes your page unique and Delta definitely found theirs. Good job Delta!!!


Be sure to check back next week when I take a look at another airline!

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SPARKsouthSeptember 28, 2018
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