Last week I visited NYC for a Mobile Marketing conference as well as other meetings, and decided that I would use the membership benefits and discounts to maximize the savings as well as the overall experience.
The travel to and from New York is very simple, as home for now is in San Francisco, and the lovely red eye flights that go daily overnight from late evening in PST time zone over to early morning EST time zone always are ideal for my preferences. It makes the 3 hour time zone difference a null issue on the way there, and ideal use of the 6 hour flight to rest overnight. The flight I booked was found through American Express travel, where I have a gold card currently with my business.
Arrival was on 9/11 not only Patriot Day in the US, but especially in NY where the tragic event happened years ago. I was using the startup more risky mentality when I decided to fly there and not choose my hotel until I arrived and instead, I was going to use a mobile app to find a last minute hotel deal in Manhattan (most of my friends in NY in finance/banking would never even think to try that move and offered their place as a backup). I had been researching and following things before for HotelTonight, a mobile-only company based in San Francisco that shows last minute deals for hotels in many popular cities around the world. In doing the research and reading on the mobile app, I also learned of competitive alternatives that were similar for last minute options, specifically Hipmunk and Room 77, both based in the SF area as well. The winner on the first day was Room 77, as we had arrived at 530 am and found an available hotel with a great price that would check us in immediately at ~8am, and based on my Hilton HHonors Gold Status and AAA membership, it also helped with the room selection options.
The use of my FoundersCard was frequent during this trip. My initial upgrade to the Gold Status with Hilton HHonors was the first benefit redeemed. That helped with the initial hotel check in and reservation. Then, the incentive to try HotelTonight with a first time credit incentive and ongoing discount was helpful as well. I used the HotelTonight for the last two of the four nights I stayed in NY, when I was a bit more flexible on my schedule and location of stay for the trip. Excellent deals at two great hotels, with the pricing as the best option compared to the other comparison mobile apps both days. I compared it real time to the options on multiple apps and sites.
Last minute deals were also used in the dining and entertainment experience, all via mobile. The Broadway show options were easy to find on the tkts mobile app, so that way the plan to visit the ticket booth and buy them in time for the show (First Date) that day was ideal. Dining was a variety as usual depending on my location, schedule and situation, but I was able to find an excellent last minute option for Sicilian food on the LivingSocial mobile app for one evening, Cacio e Vino. Booking for two of the dinner meetings were also managed on the mobile app for OpenTable.
Finally, the race back to JFK airport from Manhattan to check in , go through security and hopefully the cross country flight is not delayed. Weather in both locations must have worked in our favor, as it worked very smoothly. I used the GroundLink mobile app to schedule my ride back from the hotel to the airport, and had a benefit via FoundersCard to encourage me to try the service. Excellent time, and would highly recommend as the driver was very professional, reliable and only works for GroundLink and private clients in the area. It might be slightly higher, but more reliable, safe and comfortable than many other options to travel to/from JFK airport.
So, hopefully the honest testimonial of my recent cross-country travels might help you look into some of these great apps and loyalty programs, and I hope that they are helpful for your future trips to go mobile!