About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community InsideFlyer.com, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

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Startup Launched to Predict Airfare Prices

Hamlet, which asks: “To Buy Or Not To Buy” attempts to uncover algorithms that predict whether airline prices will go up or down and help consumers decide the right time to purchase their tickets. The early-stage company, which recently raised $1.5 million from Madrona Venture Group and WRF Capital, is trying to crack into the multibillion-dollar travel market with a technology that predicts the ever-fluctuating prices of airline tickets. The value of the service should be clear for any airline traveler who has paid $400 for a round-trip ticket, only to discover that the price dropped $100 the following day. If they had only waited, they could have saved some serious money on that trip to Honolulu or Houston. That’s where Hamlet comes in, informing travelers of the best time to buy. I don’t worry…

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Venetian Special in Vegas

The Venetian is running a special $129 room rate which includes a coupon book with some cool stuff like $100 off at Movado, one $25 slot credit or $25 match play per stay, and a 2-for-1 museum admission. If you can’t pick up the Venetian in the $75 range on Priceline, and don’t want to stay at the Orleans for $20, this may be your best bet in Vegas if there’s availability on the dates of your stay.

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Perverse results from rigid travel expense rules

Via Travel Notes, the New York Times carries a story on companies’ increasing use of computer software to flag expense reports that violate corporate travel policies. Computers, of course, can only compare expenses to policy, rather than making a normative judgment about what expenses make sense. In fact, the piece suggests that when companies adopt this kind of software, they tend to tighten up their travel policies to remove existing areas for judgment from employees’ hands. While that can be a cost-saving measure, it can also lead to some perverse results which dampen employee morale. On a business trip to Bismarck, N.D., David Godfrey flew into town two days early to qualify for a cheaper airline ticket. His total savings were $300. He stayed at a friend’s house instead of checking into a hotel, knocking…

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Queen of Sky Update

Cathy Seipp has picked up the story of Queen of Sky, the Delta flight attendant-blogger who has been suspended for her writings and photos. QofS has filed an EEOC complaint against Delta. She tells Cathy’s World:“I have found plenty of pics of MALE Delta employees on the Web in uniform, who actually identify their airline. Therefore, today I filed a discrimination complaint with the EEOC. They thought the whole suspension was ridiculous, too. The man that took my complaint and his supervisor did not find anything inappropriate about these pics. So I think I have a good case.” I agree with Cathy: this isn’t really a free speech issue, Delta is within its rights and should be within its rights in disciplining the flight attendant, but really come on .. it really ought to cut…

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Cycling Goldpoints through PhoneHog for Unlimited Points?

Set up a free PhoneHog account. PhoneHog lets you earn free domestic and international long distance phone calls by clicking on advertising emails and taking advantage of marketing offers. Okay, probably worth it on its own. These points can be exchanged for frequent flyer miles in several programs via Points.com. The ratios are generally poor. However, it looks like there’s a strange glitch in the Points.com conversion ratios. 1000 Goldpoints transfers to 385 PhoneHog points. 385 PhoneHog points transfer to 4620 Goldpoints.In theory you could transfer Goldpoints in and out of PhoneHog for an unlimited amount of Goldpoints. There are two kinks: First, if your Goldpoints account was started via Radisson Hotels then you can’t tranfer points using Points.com. Second, Points.com could well catch onto these ratios at any time and stop the lucrative transfers.…

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A New Loyalty Program Takes a Shot in the Dark

Via Colloquey, Smith & Wesson is launching a loyalty program to enhance the “gun ownership experience.” There’s not much in the way of rewards. It’s pretty heavy on just knowing their customers and marketing to them. But it’s still cool. I suppose the rewards are in part limited by a sense of taste or caution. Any marketers nightmare would stem from offering free bullets or rewards based on frequency of successful shootings of course.

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