Travel takes you to the highest heights. The planning? The deepest of all lows.
At the beginning there is the question of where exactly to go, book a flight, look for accommodation and, last but not least, how the flight and accommodation are financed. Now, embrace all the added obstacles that come with traveling in a post-pandemic world: airfares at a premium and a plethora of cancellations and delays, among them. It’s stressful enough that you wonder if all the rest and relaxation on the other end is even worth it.
Enter the VIP traveler. VIP Traveler is a new and free subscription service that uses “proprietary personalization technology to ensure the right trips reach the right people” – similar to Stitch Fix. (For the uninitiated, Stitch Fix is a personal-style service that offers users a fully customized experience based largely on the registration survey. VIP Traveler works more or less the same way.)
To put it to the test, I signed up for the free version of VIP Traveler. The survey consists of 20 questions, which obviously serve to create a traveler profile. Examples are: “If you travel for pleasure, how do you usually fly?” “How much do you want to spend per night at a resort?” “What kind of hotels do you usually stay in?” “How does your work schedule affect your travel? ‘ ‘If you’re traveling for fun, who are you traveling with?’ and a series of ‘Would you rather’. Finally, you will be asked which destinations you would like to visit.
I’ve kept my answers honest: I’m pretty mediocre when it comes to travellers. When I travel for pleasure, I almost always fly Economy. I don’t stay in hostels, but I don’t stay in 5 star resorts either. I use my points to travel, but I’m not exactly The Points Guy. Depending on the occasion, I travel with my partner, family and friends, but sometimes alone. Destinations I wanted to visit include cities in Australia, Italy, Africa and Greece.
I say all this because, in my experience at least, there are a plethora of trip planning tools for the budget traveler and just as many for the luxury traveler, but not nearly as many for just…regular Traveler. Of course, VIP Traveler doesn’t necessarily fit into any of those categories, I just want to say that I didn’t exactly hold my breath at my results.
However, my initial recommendations included two of my absolute favorite cities and two others that I had long wanted to visit that I hadn’t mentioned in the survey, with a full list of accommodations and offers included that firmly fitted those accommodations into my budget. The following week I received – to my pleasant surprise – my new “travel finds” with all new travel destinations, all of which once again felt very much to my liking. I couldn’t believe how good it seemed knows me, although I’ve never booked anything, and subsequently allowed them to mine more data. According to Josh Borenstein, co-founder of VIP Traveler, that’s the point.
“It’s a place you come to when you want that trusted ‘friend-on-travel’ – someone to help you when you need inspiration, advise you when you want to know the facts about a particular destination or hotel, and to help you get the most out of your journey as you decide where to go,” says Borenstein. “By that we not only mean the best prices, but you also benefit from not being an anonymous booker with Kayak or booking cold. When you book with us you will be taken care of.”
For his part, Borenstein is no stranger to the Reiseraum. Aside from being an avid traveler himself, he also co-founded a company specializing in flash sales with a strong focus on travel. However, his ultimate goal has always been to build a company that “makes it easy for people to do more travel and discover parts of the world that might not have been on their radar, but do it in a very different way that’s been around for ages.” .’” This method, he claims, is mostly broken anyway.
“There’s just too much content wasted and too much time wasted looking for options — and it’s difficult to actually decipher the nuanced truth of review sites. We thought there was a way to personalize the travel booking experience through a combination of proprietary technology and the human touch of our connected travel stylists,” says Borenstein.
He also adds: “The situation on the ground is changing weekly, both in terms of regulations and how hotels are coping with the post-pandemic rush. Some hotels have gone down the drain in terms of maintenance and fail to attract good staff while others crush it. It’s handy to know what’s what. In addition, the flexibility of our Buy Now, Travel Later options with free date changes and cancellations offers additional options.”
This option also increases with the VIP Traveler+ option, which gives members access to on-site destination experts for local advice, a personal “Travel Stylist” for customized travel planning, 24/7 support and VIP benefits on all bookings. While it’s certainly not the best option for the sparse traveler, for those who fly to the jet set even a few times a year, it’s worth the (what some might consider) steep price of admission (currently it’s $495). per year). According to Borenstein, your first trip will probably pay for itself with a VIP Traveler+ membership.
“Not only in terms of access to the best fares, but also in terms of the experiences on offer, access to opportunities you never knew existed and the ease with which you can contact us regarding those small details, that you could never find out yourself or through a traditional online travel agency,” he says. “Even members affiliated with Platinum Credit Card Travel Services cannot provide on-site consultation or negotiate customized treatment on your behalf.”
What if you’re not in the market to book a trip? It’s also a great one stop shop for travel inspiration. In addition to your weekly “Travel Finds,” there is a bucket list building feature that allows you to indicate the destinations you are interested in. This is what inspired Borenstein for his upcoming trip to the new Buahan by Banyan Tree in Ubud, Bali. (“There is literally nothing else in the world like it and we have access to an incredible opening offer.”) And, probably because of this, I can’t stop dreaming of a trip to Corfu of my own.
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