Smithsonian magazine’s Museum Day is coming up on September 21 and we’re celebrating because on that day 1500 museums will be joining in to offer free admission to anyone who downloads a ticket.
Many science centers, aquariums, zoos and gardens will be offering free admission on Museum Day as well.
The free nationwide event presents a great opportunity to stop in and revisit a favorite exhibit at a local cultural institution or visit a museum in a town you’re visiting without worrying about all the admission fees.
Where can you go?
This year, Museum Day is celebrating the Smithsonian Year of Music, with many participating museums offering special music-themed programming.
The Lightner Museum in Saint Augustine, FL, will host a museum-themed scavenger hunt in its galleries. The music will also demonstrate the electric self-playing violin, the Gem Roller Organ and many other early mechanical musical instruments in its collection;
Armenian Museum of America in Watertown, MA will have live Armenian music in
Missoula, the Montana Natural History City will offer demonstrations and
experiments to show and explain how different animals hear;
North Carolina, a high school
Rock Orchestra will play a selection of train related songs at the Wilmington
And in Mumford, NY, the Genesee Country Village and Museum, the state’s largest living history museum will be celebrating early shape-note music with a shape-note sing open to all.
Many all-music-all-the-time museums are participating as well.
Museum Day visitors to MoPOP in Seattle, WA will have full access to galleries and to exhibits dedicated to Jimi Hendrix, Prince, Nirvana, Pearl Jam and more.
Music-fans will also get full access to the music history offered at the Grammy Museum in Los Angeles; to the Birthplace of Country Music Museum in Bristol, VA; and in Memphis, TN, to the Blues Hall of Fame, the Memphis Rock ‘N Soul Museum and the Memphis Music Hall of Fame.
And in Kansas City, MO, the American Jazz Museum
will host a jazz storytelling session that explores the sounds and styles of
jazz and present a screening of “Chasing Trane: The John Coltrane
TThe full list of museums participating in Museum Day, September 21, can be found here. And Museum Day tickets can be downloaded here.
Only one ticket will be issued per email address, but each ticket is good for admission for two people.
(A slightly differen version of my story about Smithsonian magazine’s Museum Day first appeared on CNBC)
Where are upscale Americans spending their travel dollars?
Should you do what they do?
Wealthy or not,
it’s good to know where the well-do-to are vacationing and where the
up-and-coming “it” destinations will be for the next few seasons.
A shortcut to that intel comes from the advisors
who consult with upscale Americans about their vacation goals and bucket lists
and then book those journeys.
So where are well-to-do Americans jetting off to? Here’s a story I put together recently for CNBC.
Global luxury travel network Virtuoso polled
advisors, crunched numbers from $49.5 billion in bookings and transactions for
September through December 2019 and shared a couple of Top 10 lists as well as insights
on some emerging travel trends.
The Top 10 destinations
increasingly choose to travel domestically for the holidays,” notes Virtuoso,
which puts the United States, with its vast array of destinations and
attractions, in the lead spot in the Top 10 list.
As it has in the past, Europe’s appeal as a
summer destination is extending into the fall this year, with destinations such
as Italy, the United Kingdom, France, Germany and Spain in spots 2, 3, 4, 8 and
10, respectively, on the Top 10 list.
South Africa and Israel, in the middle of the
list, at #5 and #6, remain popular destinations for families seeking “trips of
a lifetime” during the holiday season, according to Virtuoso. And Japan, the top
emerging “it” country in Virtuoso’s 2019 Luxe Report, takes its place on the Top
10 list of fall and holiday season destinations at #9.
Luxury leisure travel bookings being made by advisors in the
Ovation Travel Group for 2019 and 2020 seem to be following those trends, said Gina
Gabbard, Ovation’s Senior Vice President of Leisure & Independent Advisors.
“Italy is overwhelmingly the hands-down favorite among
international destinations, with increased interest now in Southern Italy,”
said Gabbard, “Our advisors note its amazing food and wine, culture and
diversity of things to do, including history and art, along with available luxury
accommodations. Direct flights from the U.S. are a plus.”
Despite concerns about Brexit, bookings to the United Kingdom
are holding their own, said Gabbard, “The added benefit to our clients is that
the value of the U.S. dollar is so strong against the pound.”
Virtuoso’s Hot 10 list
Virtuoso also shared its “Hot 10” list, which
is made up of countries experiencing the largest increases by percentage in
year-over-year bookings. In some cases, the increases come from a country and
its offerings being “discovered” or better promoted; in other cases, political
fears may be subsiding.
For September through December 2019, the list
is topped by Uruguay (up 286 percent), which Virtuoso attributes to the
country’s award-winning wineries, pleasant climate and adventure opportunities.
Bookings are also way up for travel to the beach
retreats of the Maldives (up 171 percent) as well as Malta (up 140 percent),
Romania (135 percent) and Egypt (up 122 percent). Puerto Rico, Rwanda, Qatar,
South Korea and the fjords of Norway (up 96 percent) round out the “Hot 10”
Where are upscale Americans staying?
“We’re seeing a rise in exclusive-use travel
as people look for the ultimate in privacy and seclusion while getting away
from it all,” said Misty Belles, Virtuoso’s managing director for Global Public
Relations, “Home rentals, from villas to condos, jumped 56 percent this year,
with millennials and multigenerational trips both contributing to the growing
popularity in residences.”
Belles says private yacht travel is also gathering momentum
as people look to escape crowds and explore smaller, lesser-known ports of
When it comes to hotel
stays, Becky Powell, President of Virtuoso-member Protravel International, says
hyper-personalized stays are in.
are using technology to connect and build relationships with guests and
instantly fix issues,” says Powell. Hotels are also focusing on sustainability
and emphasizing connections to the destination or city they are in with local
partnerships and unique experiences, she said.
Upscale travelers and overtourism
Lots of stories about overtourism have been in then news, “But
now we are seeing it translate into client conversations and influence
decisions,” said Jack Ezon, founder of Virtuoso member Embark, “Our clients
want to feel like travelers, not tourists. And no matter how wealthy they are,
they don’t want to see a Prada or Gucci on every corner,” he said.
Instead, Ezon says upscale travelers are increasingly seeking out charming and “new” secondary destinations, staying in neighborhoods beyond the popular city centers and traveling during the off or shoulder-seasons not to save money, but to have more of the city to themselves.
Have a destination you’d like to tell us about? Please share your tips in the comment section below.
If you travel for business or pleasure, you likely spend a few – or many – nights at hotels. And, like many travelers, no doubt you are more loyal to one brand over others.
Free Wi-Fi, free breakfast and a generous points program towards free night stays may be important to you. But, according to the just-released J.D. Power 2019 North American Hotel Guest Satisfaction Index, what hotels really need to focus on are the quality of the beds.
The study found that while sleep quality is one of the most important components of a hotel guest experience, most hotels don’t deliver better-than-expected sleeping conditions.
“Delivering a superior sleep experience—from the quality of the bed, linens and pillows to the ambient sound and temperature of the room—is a huge opportunity for hotels to differentiate themselves from the pack and earn significant goodwill with guests,” said Jennifer Corwin, Senior Manager of Consumer Insights for Travel & Hospitality Intelligence at J.D. Power.
Here are some key findings of the 2019 study:
More zzzs, please: Overall satisfaction scores increase 114 points (on a 1,000-point scale) when hotel guests experience a better-than-expected quality of sleep.
The anatomy of a good night’s sleep: The top contributors to quality of sleep and, therefore, higher satisfaction scores, are comfort of bed; quietness of room; comfort/quality of pillows; room temperature; and comfort/quality of linens.
Satisfaction is higher when hotels offer extras such as such as white noise/sound machines, earplugs and robe/slippers.
Quality of sleep vs. the price of room: No surprise, really: the highest rate of better-than-expected sleep quality is in the luxury hotel segment.
The hotels guests
These hotel brands rank highest in guest
satisfaction in their respective segments:
Luxury: The Ritz-Carlton (for
a fifth consecutive year)
Upper Upscale: Hard Rock Hotel Upscale: Best Western Premier
Upper Midscale: Drury Hotels (for a 14th consecutive year)
Midscale: Wingate by Wyndham (for a fifth consecutive year)
Economy: Microtel by Wyndham (for a second consecutive year)
Is there a hotel or hotel brand where you sleep like a baby?
Let us know by leaving a comment below. And let us know if you travel with a sleep aid such as ear plugs, a favorite pillow or, perhaps, a stuffed animal.
Each season I do a round-up of unusual hotel perks for CNBC. Here’s the latest.
In-room coffee makers, Wi-Fi, a bottle of water and, sometimes, complimentary nationwide phone calls are now among the standard amenities travelers will find included with most hotel rooms.
But to stand-out and, in many cases, justify, the sometimes
hefty ‘resort’ or ‘convenience’ fees many properties now tag onto bills, more
offbeat and intriguing perks are showing up in the list of amenities
For example, the Fairmont
Southampton in Bermuda offers guests complimentary daily garden and Hamilton
Harbor tours. And the JW Marriott El Convento Cusco offers
built-in oxygen systems in every room and coca leaf tea, to help
guests acclimate to the high altitude in Peru.
From hairdo help and loaner athletic gear to culinary
classes and cuddling chickens, we found a wide variety of unusual amenities
being offered to guests at hotels in the U.S. as well.
sparkling wine and shopping bonuses
Located near Seattle’s famed Pike Place Market and the Puget Sound waterfront, the Thompson Seattle welcomes guests with a complimentary glass of sparkling wine. The perks build from there with complimentary blow outs and bang trims at a nearby salon plus tickets to area attractions and museums (when available. Even better, the Uncovered Seattle program, secures discounts and/or bonus offers for guests at a dozen downtown boutiques, jewelry stores and spas. (Rates start at $279. Daily ‘destination fee’: $25.)
Gear shed with hoverboards, cameras and
(Gear Shed at The Hotel Zags; courtesy Harriet Baskas
In Oregon, The Hotel Zags Portland fits into
the Rose City’s hipster scene with complimentary perks that include a ‘gear
shed’ filled with everything from bicycles and basketballs to hoverboards,
skateboards, guitars, fishing poles and cameras.
Soon-to-launch lobby events include astrology programs, art classes in the hotel’s living wall courtyard and “forest bathing” – walks in the city’s greenery.
Hotel guests also get one $15 mini-bar or hotel sundry shop credit each stay, access to an elaborate game room and passes to a nearby gym. (Rates start at: $199; Guest amenities fee: $24/day.)
Gourmet bagels and bonus
In New York City, the Park Terrace Hotel overlooking
Bryant Park the bonus perks are both tasty and thoughtful.
A community closet on each floor is stocked
with take-what-you-need amenities such as deodorant, Malin + Goetz soap, collar stays, toothbrushes and other
necessities travelers often leave behind. And the hotel’s complimentary daily
breakfast offers a veritable Big Apple food tour with gourmet classics such as Zucker’s
bagels, Murray’s Cheese and Doughnut Plant donuts. (Rates
start at $350/night; No resort fee.)
In addition to nibbling tours and aromatherapy
Wellness Whiff Walks, guests can try to spot the fairies living in tiny houses
made from repurposed gourds.
Additional amenities include local shuttle
service and admission to Billings Farm & Museum, home to
Jersey cows, draft horses, Southdown sheep and heritage chickens. (Summer rates
start at $279; Resort fee: $35/day)
A hotel greeter is stationed at Los Angeles
International Airport to welcome arriving guests who have booked transfers to
the hotel. “Peninsula Time” allows extremely flexible check-in and check-out
times, so guests may, for example, check in at 8 a.m. and out at 10 p.m. A
Rolls-Royce ferries guests to area destinations. And returning guests find personalized
monogrammed pillowcases on their beds.
Frequent guests of the Peninsula Beverly Hills may also
store luggage onsite while they jet off to another city and make use of the
hotel’s complimentary unpacking services when they return. (Rates start at $595: No resort fee)
Culinary classes, creative writing and charming
The resort also offers guests stress-busting
opportunities to hang out with puppies and with the resident flock of fluffy and
friendly Silkie chickens, who have fur-like feathers. (Rates start $265; No resort
and snorkeling gear
Guests at the Fairmont Orchid, a luxury resort along the Kohala Coast of Hawaii Island can use complimentary snorkel equipment to spot fish and Hawaiian sea turtles in Pauoa Bay and take advantage of a complimentary 45-minute photoshoot with a professional photographer. (Photo packages can be purchased). The resort also offers complimentary star gazing sessions and classes in Hawaiian crafts and culture. (Rates start at $269) Daily resort fee: $35).
There’s that ‘in-between’ time – when you arrive in a town before hotel check-in time, or when you checked out of your hotel or Airbnb and want to do some sightseeing – when you need a place to leave your luggage.
Hotels will sometimes store your gear, but in a story for CNBC this week, I found a group of apps that match travelers seeking short-term bag storage with coffee shops, restaurants, gift shops and other businesses with strage room to spare.
When dropped off, security ties are usually attached to bags to prevent tampering. Insurance is included in the fee and, after pick-up, users are invited to rate the experience online.
Storage fees vary and are charged by either the hour or the day:
Both Knock Knock City and LuggageHero charge $1/hour or $10/day with a one-time handling fee of $2/bag. Bounce charges $5.99/day. Nannybag charges $6 per bag for the first day and $4 per bag for each additional day. Stasher’s fees are $6/day/per item and Vertoe’s fees start at $5.95 per day/per item (overnight storage counts as two days) and vary by location.
The storage-app ‘industry’ is still young and most company founders I spoke with said they decided to get into the business after finding themselves lugging their luggage around a city after checking out of an Airbnb.
“We started in New York City and Brooklyn with people offering bag storage in their apartments on Craigslist, like Airbnb for luggage,” Selin Sonmez, co-founder of Knock Knock City, told me, “But we found the business hours posted for some people’s homes weren’t reliable or always accurate and others required users to walk up flights of stairs with their suitcases.”
Knock Knock City now also operates in San Francisco, Boston,
Washington, D.C., Seattle, Philadelphia, Chicago and Miami and only partners with
ground floor venues that have strict business hours. Sonmez said any location with
an average star rating below 3.5 (out of 5) is removed.
Like the other luggage storage app services, the list of Knock
Knock City partner sites is eclectic. Customers can store their bags at bike
shops, clothing stores, restaurants, a massage therapist’s office, an eyebrow
bar, at hotels and in hostels.
In addition to helping businesses put unused or underutilized
space to income-producing use, “We’re helping local economies by getting
travelers to explore neighborhoods and getting foot traffic in the doors,” said
That’s the pitch that convinced ATLAS Workbase, a coworking space by Seattle’s Space Needle,
to sign up as a Knock Knock City site.
“There are a lot of Airbnb rentals in this area and a lot of
tourists, so it solves a real need,” said Kim Burmester, ATLAS Workbase vice
president of sales and marketing, “But our real goal is to get traffic in here as
our key target audience is the traveling professional.”
As convenient as storing a suitcase at a coffee shop for a few hours may be, travelers who don’t want to deal with any baggage hassles have other options.
Travelers can send luggage (and golf bags, ski and snowboard gear or bicycles) ahead with door-to-door shipping services such as Send My Bag, Luggage Free or LugLess (part of the Luggage Forward family) that offers both drop-off and door-to-door luggage shipping services. (Pricing depends on destination, weight and how soon you want your bag to arrive).
Or, for $9.95/month and $99 per
standard U.S. shipment, you can skip worrying about making travel arrangements
for your suitcase altogether.
Dufl sends customers a suitcase to be filled with clothes or accessories
and then picks up the suitcase and stores the items in a “virtual closet.”
Customers can request that the suitcase, filled with any of the stored items, be
waiting for them at a hotel and then, after their trip, return the suitcase and
the clothes back to Dufl for dry cleaning and storage until the next trip comes