When you picture a business traveler racking up loyalty points from airlines and hotels, you probably think of the two main characters in the movie Up in the Air. They’re middle-aged, seldom at home, working most of the time they’re awake.
Today’s millennial business travelers don’t look much like that. When they’re getting something back from their travels, they’re not hoarding points for a grand trip “someday.” They want to use those points as soon as possible for something fun: a weekend getaway, a night out with friends, or a free hotel stay to extend their business trip and go to a concert.
That’s one of the conclusions of a Travel Weekly article on the new state of loyalty programs. According to a J.D. Power and Associates study, “32% of millennials prefer to redeem their points for a quick reward instead of saving up for a bigger reward, versus 17% of other age groups.” They’re also not very loyal in the real sense of the word. They’re more than twice as likely two switch loyalty programs within a year than other age groups. They typically choose the programs with the quickest payoff.
Jennifer Corwin, associate practice lead for travel and hospitality at J.D. Power, said, “Millennials definitely redeem rewards more quickly. There’s a sense of having something top of mind when you get something recently, and it allows you to also have higher satisfaction.”
Many traditional programs are losing these younger frequent travelers because their retail and event payouts are typically valued far below the travel benefits on a redemption basis. You frequently get half the value or less with your points with a product purchase as you would redeeming them for Marriott stays (with Marriott points) or a United flight (with United points). This stands in stark contrast to what younger travelers really want from their points. “Among the most appealing rewards for millennials, the study found, were access to special events, dining and retail purchases.”
While traditional programs are scrambling to offer more of the first option, for the other two, millennial business travelers are probably better off booking with Bonwi. This booking service doesn’t require real loyalty since you can often parley one stay of a few nights into something worthwhile to redeem points for.
Just 10,000 points is enough for another hotel night, a one-way cheap flight, or a retail gift card for $100. With a simple penny-per-point redemption scheme that doesn’t require complicated charts, you always know what your points are worth.
Unlike with traditional airline programs, there are no blackout dates on flights and you don’t have to hit a certain point level to redeem. You just need 30,000 points for a $300 flight. For a hotel, you pull up the city and dates and see what you can afford—and for that amount of points you can afford a hotel night anywhere. Just try pulling that off with Hyatt or Hilton. Or if you’re a millennial wanting that shiny new object NOW, you can get a gift card to Amazon, Best Buy, or dozens of clothing outlets.
Ah, the glamorous life of jetting off to Paris or Tokyo. If only we all had unlimited travel funds, right? Visiting the world’s most expensive–and popular–cities can mean blowing through cash at an alarming rate.
There are ways to have a great time without draining your life savings though, thankfully. You just have to make some adjustments on your transportation and sightseeing.
First, there are some obvious moves that will ease the pain in any city. Seek out the free museum days. Use public transportation instead of taxis. Spend some time scouting out the best hotel deals. Pick up the local tourist magazines and flyers for coupons and cheap entertainment tips.
Here is some insider advice for each location, however, with tips to keep the budget in line and one unique experience that won’t cost you a thing.
Tokyo on the Cheap?
When it comes to expensive destinations, Tokyo is quite the role model. You know you’re in trouble when half the “affordable tips” section of a city’s website is made up of ways to get from the airport to the city for under $50. If you search “free” on the official Japan Tourism website, it says “0 Results.”
To find an affordable meal, eat at noodle stalls for under $10 or explore the unique Japanese culinary stop: the department store basement. Seibu Department Store in the Ikebukuro area is a destination in itself, with two giant underground floors of food stalls extending several city blocks. The prim uniformed greeters will even bow as you enter.
There are 44 things listed to do for free at the Go Tokyo site, but this may be the strangest collection you ever see. Fancy a visit to the Sewage Museum? How about the Gas Science Museum or the National Diet Laboratory?
Thankfully, there are better options. You can Book a free walking tour of the Shinjuku commercial avenue through the Toyko tourist office and you can get the lay of the land with volunteers who speak English. You can also ride to the top of the Tokyo Metropolitan Government Office Building skyscraper and visit the observation room at no charge. There’s no admission for Sensoji Temple, the oldest in Tokyo. Get up early to stroll through the Tokyo Central Wholesale Market, otherwise known as the Tsukiji Fish Market. By either name it’s the world’s largest, with active auctions going on from 5 to 10 a.m. and 1,700 active stalls selling everything that moves in the ocean.
Elusive Bargains in London
Traveling in England has gotten a bit less expensive for travelers since the Brexit vote hammered down their currency, which still hasn’t fully recovered. London is a popular destination for business travelers and well-heeled vacationers though, so you’ll pay dearly for those theater tickets and hot restaurants.
On the plus side London has a better choice of hotels in all price ranges than most other European capitals and most of its fantastic museums are always free.
To find other bargains, go to the free attractions section of the Visit London website for an exhaustive rundown on free attractions, museums, and performances. Be sure to get a refillable Oyster Card if you’ll be using the Tube regularly. It cuts the ticket price down by half for your rides.
France is the most popular tourist destination on Earth, so restaurants and hotels in Paris don’t have to try very hard to stay full. Thankfully there are plenty of ways to save a euro besides sitting by the Seine eating baguettes and cheese.
Marie Curie’s laboratory? The home of Victor Hugo? Eau de toilette? Visiting the Louvre will cost you (unless you’re under 26), but plenty of less famous museums in Paris are free. Three of the municipal museums in the pedestrian-friendly Marais neighborhood are free: an art museum, a photography museum, and a Paris history museum. The Fragonard Perfume Museum doesn’t charge admission and it won’t cost you anything to visit the Cathedral of Notre Dame on your own, posed hunchback photos optional.
See a full listing of free attractions, museums, and show at the dedicated page on the Paris Tourism site.
Finding Travel Deals in New York City
New York City edges out San Francisco as the most expensive place to travel or live in the USA, partly because it has the highest-priced real estate. That impacts everything from New York City hotels to prices at that hole-in-the-wall restaurant. You can save a bit with a CityPass or other discount book for attractions, but finding the freebies will help even more.
There are a good number of free museums in New York City every day of the week, some all of the time and some on specific days. If you time it right, you can even check out the Museum of Modern Art (MOMA) as well as most of the zoos and botanical gardens. Central Park is free, of course, and the long-running insider tip is to hop the free Staten Island Ferry to get a view of the Statue of Liberty and Lower Manhattan from the water. There are regular free concerts going on around the city, especially in the summer.
Oslo on a Budget
The whole of Scandinavia rivals Japan for eye-popping prices and it’s not easy to find a cheap place to sleep or eat in Oslo. With some advance planning and some time to enjoy nature, however, you can avoid spending your life savings on a visit.
For €41 a day or less, you can use the Oslo Pass to control costs. It gives you free entry to 30 museums and attractions, free travel on all public transport, free entry to outdoor swimming pools, free walking tours, and lots of discounts.
The city’s Oslo on a Budget website provides tips on free attractions and events, cheaper accommodation, and places to eat well for less.
Oslo has plenty of free outdoor concerts and cultural performances from June through September. Any month of the year you can keep your wallet tucked away for the popular Vigeland Sculpture Park. You don’t have to go very far to find good public hiking and biking trails around Oslo, no fees required. There are an incredible 40 islands and 343 lakes within the city limits.
So if you find a good flight deal to one of the expensive cities, don’t assume you can’t do it on a budget. Get a nice points payback when you book your hotel on Bonwi, then use the links above to keep the costs in check upon arrival.
Bonwi is a standout OTA for one very special reason. It offers ridiculously high returns on…
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Dan also does a nice job calling out our sometimes slower search speed, too. Truth is, it’s seconds – less than 15 on a really exciting deal-packed day. It takes those extra 7-10 seconds on top of the other, lesser OTAs because we are pulling in Every Single Deal out there. Just for you.
“You’re not going to beat the best deals on Bonwi even if you have top-tier Platinum status with another hotel loyalty program.”
That’s why we’re Number One!
Now, if you’re new to the world of online travel booking site, deals, incentives, points, rewards, loyalty and redemption, Dan’s article is a go-to read. Yes, we also love it because we’re Number One, but it’s a comprehensive and definitive guide to who’s who, what’s what, all the choices out there and how you benefit from the major deals sites. Read the full story here.
Planning that family vacation? Looking for a resort that is both relaxing and kid-friendly? Check out some of our top picks of resorts that makes time off with the kids as good as it gets.
Beaches Resort Villages & Spa
Turks & Caicos Islands
This family favorite (voted a T+L World’s Best Hotel for Families) has a Scratch DJ Academy, a 45,000-square-foot water park, a surfing simulator, and 12 miles of white-sand beach.
Coconut Bay Beach Resort & Spa
St. Lucia’s largest water park, with slides, waterfalls, and a lazy river. The resort hosts a kids’ club, family karaoke, zip lining, tree house, mini rock wall, and movie nights.
Tyler Place Family Resort
The property hosts up to 70 families weekly, but what sets it apart is that there are nine age-specific camps designed for infants and kids up to 15 years old.
Amenities include: seven days of lift tickets, four meals a day, fitness center, pool, yoga classes, a kids’ game room, climbing wall and movies. Free childcare is available for kids ages 4-7.
Paradisus La Perla
Milk & cookies at turndown, mini-bathrobes, a kid-friendly mini-bar, and complimentary walkie-talkie or local cell phone are just some of the thoughtful touches you can expect.
You can zip line through the Tree Top Adventure Course, play laser tag or paintball, set off on a GPS-guided nature hike, or, in the winter, go dogsledding with the resort’s own team of huskies.
By using these tips as a guideline, you can better organize and prepare for your trip. Stay tuned to Travel Tip Tuesdays for more in-depth information about the best way to travel. And don’t forget to start planning your kid-friendly vacation with Bonwi.com.
An experienced gambler can tell you how to avoid getting fleeced at the Las Vegas casino tables, but there are also ways the cards are stacked against you as a visitor spending vacation money. Whether you’re betting or not, you have to play the Vegas visitor game correctly to keep the odds in your favor. Here are some of the best ways to shave hundreds or even thousands of dollars off your tab.
Avoid the Weekends
You may think a weekend trip to Las Vegas is a good idea, but so does everyone else. The city is driving distance to Los Angeles and a short direct flight from many other markets. That means huge crowds converge on Friday nights and leave on Sunday. Bachelor parties, bachelorette parties, anniversaries, birthdays, guys/gals weekends away, and on it goes. If there’s a reason to celebrate, this is a natural destination for the occasion.
That means prices double or triple most weekends. If you can come on a Sunday instead or leave on a Friday, you can still find unbelievably low rates in these massive hotels. Just remember to factor in the extra “resort fee” that gets you what’s normally included in the rates elsewhere: this hated practice is a common one at area hotels.
Avoid Major Convention Periods
The USA’s biggest convention city can absorb a lot of visitors at once: MGM Grand Hotel alone has more than 5,000 rooms. When a massive conference is in town though, even the biggest properties can fill up and rates rise accordingly. If the Society of Medical Diagnostic Sonography is town (1,700 attendees), no big deal. But when the Consumer Electronics Show brings in 165,000 people, you probably want to change your plans. See this Vegas convention calendar for details.
Widen Your Hotel Horizons
Sure, it’s fun to be at a famous hotel on the Las Vegas Strip and you can find some legendary choices there, but there are literally more than 100 places to choose from. Prices in the prestige hotels are inflated for nearly everything, so browse around to find the best value. You may want to spend at least part of your time downtown. There you’ll find a revitalized area that’s walkable, filled with fun bars, restaurants, and the Container Park. Hotels such as the Golden Nugget, Plaza Hotel, and California Hotel have poured millions into renovations and their pool complexes in recent years.
Watch for Promotional Deals
The days when Vegas was a bargain-hunters paradise started fading when the corporations started gobbling up all the hotels and casinos. There are still plenty of great values around though if you keep your eye out for coupon books, loyalty sign-up bonuses, and off-peak buffets. Casinos still want to get you in the door and any restaurant that’s not full regularly will do what they can to pull in the crowds. If you’re flexible with your plans, you can score free bets and great meals at a discount. (And hey, it’s okay to just hang out by a beautiful pool all day.)
Use Public Transportation, Uber, and Lyft
Las Vegas taxi drivers have seen it all, but unless you want to pay for a good story there are better ways to get around the city. The overtaxed (and quick route-challenged) drivers aren’t usually the best option anymore to get from A to B. A bus runs from downtown through the strip, a monorail is a block off the strip, and the usual rideshare services are always on the move.
Get the best rates on Las Vegas hotels and get the most points back by booking with Bonwi.
Sarah never had time for the rewards points game…until she met Bonwi. We love to change hearts and minds with travel, so we offered to send Sarah on a trip.
“Since I’m a skeptic of rewards programs, the team at Bonwi invited me to try out their site by booking hotels in Bruges, Berlin, Barcelona, and Cannes. From only these four trips, I got enough rewards to cover a FREE 7 night trip to Athens and Santorini in May! Keep reading to learn more about Bonwi, why you should use them, and exactly how I got a free flight and hotel stay in Greece.”