045 – Liliana Petrova of JetBlue – Conducting the Customer Experience Orchestra

Liliana Petrova

Designing customer experience in travel…

Liliana PetrovaLiliana Petrova, Director of Customer experience at JetBlue Airways, Visionary, Strategist, Customer Experience Professional and Blogger, joins John Matson, Bess Chapman, and Pavan Bahl in the MouthMedia Network studios powered by Sennheiser.

In this episode:

  • Liliana Petrova on designing for Experience is like a multi-phase cake
  • What is movement,
  • Technology design, how to achieve movement as fast and seamless as possible
  • How people will feel about the brand and interactions
  • Why the experience designer needs to be a vision thinker and can’t design in increments
  • Facial recognition, and why with some brands it is like having a same experience like prison or the subway, and determining that will never happen like that with JetBlue as an experience
  • Delight comes from the elements and when it works to one’s standards
  • Designing experience is like being like a conductor of an orchestraLiliana Petrova
  • Innovation is not building new things, but finding connections that didn’t exists before between existing things
  • Getting a sophisticated program up in just four months
  • Will airports be the player of the future they are today?
  • The quest to eliminate waiting time with bags and taking away levels of friction
  • How airports could transform from being simply a processing center, and therefore offer a chance to give you joy
  • Other brands doing it right, and those doing it wrong — Milan train system can do better
  • Every customer has their own version of an emotional reaction — but engineering things like efficiency can create emotional experiences, creating value
  • Being driven by making the world a different place, making life easier
  • Liking things that stretch when it is implausible
  • Why the Hyperloop is exciting
  • How Petrova moved from financial analyst to design
  • The baseline of customer experience is process and strategy, making connections and seeing all channels of marketing
  • And hard work
  • How enterprise brands can’t preserve everything with scale
  • Innovation is not the end goal, it’s a way to be relevant to the customer
  • The alignment in the interest of the future costumer
  • Credit cards and miles/points/rewards
  • Petrova on being Bulgarian and a view at her work and the American ecosystem, and having perspective
  • Why Abraham Lincoln was amazing
  • An intuitive move and coming to America, having two “homes”, being a citizen of the world
  • Doingcxright.com

044 – Gilad Goren of Raleigh&Drake – Enabling the Generation of Experiences

Gilad Goren

The world’s first influencer-driven discovery platform using social currency for travel…

Gilad GorenGilad Goren, social entrepreneur and Founder of Raleigh&Drake, joins John Matson, Bess Chapman, and guest host Marc Raco in the MouthMedia Network studios powered by Sennheiser.

In this episode:

  • Gilad Goren on the future of content in the travel context, mix of personalization, instead of celebrity culture of past more local authentic voices and people who align with the travel in the way they view travel, ubiquitous and quality content throughout the journeyGilad Goren
  • Millennials rarely plan trips until on their way, dreaming and planning
  • Raleigh&Drake is not setting new paradigm, instead reading the lines on how people plan their trips, helping with the tool for brands in travel space to adapt to how travelers view luxury
  • Many people spend 45 hours on 45 websites when planning travel, but will ask friends on social media what they do and think
  • Less than 25% trust recommendation sites, and
  • Building a quilt of different sources of insight, aggregating trusted content so brands can deploy into their websites, as a discovery ecosystemGilad Goren
  • White label bookable content as a service solution, aggregate great content, make bookable, license to brand who want to increase engagement and increase customer experience
  • Power of Instagram was in the visuals from real individuals sharing experiences with others, timeless power of visuals as we are visual beings
  • Always looked for advice from people close to us, this is another way of doing it
  • Brand can really own an experience, host and facilitate experience, benefit on ancillary revenue, and benefit from enhancing guest experience, all built for personalization which grows as the traveler uses it moreGilad Goren
  • Necessity of CRMs, how Raleigh&Drake can feed data to a brand’s CRM
  • An opportune times to leapfrog
  • A route into travel for brands to connect with consumers
  • Interacting with local travel resources can lower the carbon footprint, have less cultural negative impact, increase spend into local economies
  • Curating and trusting explorersGilad Goren
  • Through their lens, a multiplicity of curated authentic unique voices
    Earliest memories of Saturday morning cartoons like GI Joe as a first glimpse into the American hero and American spirit, as an early brand experience forming who Goren is
  • How Raleigh&Drake started B to C, and leveraged partnerships and turned B to B
  • Goren spending 45 days in Bolivia in an animal refuge in taking care of middle aged pumas

043 – Greg Buzulencia of ViaHero – Experiencing Travel with the Local Hero


Connecting travelers with local trip planners for custom itineraries to Iceland, Cuba, and Japan…

ViaHeroGreg Buzulencia, Co-Founder/CEO of ViaHero (a marketplace for travelers to hire locals to plan their personalized trip), joins John Matson, Bess Chapman of JetBlue Technology Ventures, and Pavan Bahl (President, MouthMedia Network) in the MouthMedia Network studios powered by Sennheiser.

In this episode:

  • Bess Chapman [Episode 003] of JetBlue Technology Ventures (a venture capital spinoff of JetBlue Airways, keeping a pulse on tech innovation and driving deal flow through New York) joins the podcast as a hostViaHero
  • ViaHero works with locals telling people what they should be doing on a trip
  • How, being a marketplace, ratings and reviews keeps people in check, whereas travel agents are beholden to commissions
  • Cuba, Japan, and Colombia as countries in which Via Hero has presence
  • Average user wants local knowledge, people who have tours or Travel Agent plan, they are there for service but want to be independent
  • Algorithm matches with people who have same Interest and are in that area
  • SEO and user acquisition in various geographies
  • Changing needs and expectations of travelers, but there is still a feeling of needing info to help figure it all outViaHero
  • Hanging out with hosts, immersing in local culture, but it is a digital relationship with a “hero”
  • Offline maps with local recommendations and locations
  • Consistent trends in data being collected, database of their recommendations to more easily crate the guide books
  • The economics of the relationships with the  local “heroes”
  • A cross-country trip as a child that made an impression on travel, and the passion of never paying for water

042 – Stuart Butler of Fuel Travel – Marketing Hotels with Empathy

Stuart Butler

Ecommerce and marketing solutions that reduce OTA reliance & increase bookings…

 Stuart ButlerGaining ground in market share isn’t the only goal for hotels and hotel chains. Keeping it  — comes in at a close second. To do that in the current industry climate, many hotels must utilize specialized e-commerce solutions to make sure all online presence and marketing resources are maximizing market share opportunities. Fuel Travel, a premier hotel marketing agency, is offering just that — website design, custom hotel apps, and marketing solutions that reduce OTA reliance & increase bookings. Plus, its COO hosts a podcast which can add some “fuel” to a resort or hotel’s marketing strategy. And the one snack you have to try. Stuart Butler, COO of Fuel Travel and host of Fuel Hotel Marketing Podcast, joins John Matson and Pavan Bahl in the MouthMedia Network studios powered by Sennheiser.

 In this episode:

  •  How hotels can differentiate in the market
  •  Following brand standards and following the flag is more challenging, and in the end hospitality comes down to one thing: hospitality
  •  Why the best marketing is hiring the right people and exceeding the expectations of guests
  •  Exceptional experiences are priority, and the rest takes care of itself Stuart Butler
  •  How Butler wanted to work for NASA, originally from the UK, and how while studying physics he got into computer programming
  •  Why fuel Interactive rebranded as Fuel Travel, adjusting focus to hospitality
  •  The Guest Express mobile app, giving a property the ability to communicate with customers one-on-one
  •  The mistakes independent hotels make when launching, how too many are people chasing the bright and shiny buzz vs. paying attention to the basics that have worked forever
  •  Email marketing is still the #1 thing one can do as a property and destination property
  •  Also, most hotel operators do not have a grasp of the data, or how customer acquisition is happening, or tracking the whole revenue journey
  •  The focus on accessing info via mobile, with micro-periods of access, yet mobile is an afterthought for so many web designers for hotels
  •  More traffic comes from mobile, but bookings are not following that yet (likely because mobile experience is not as good as desktop)
  •  Good profiles are very important to connect with younger generations
  •  It is unnecessary to give away massive discounts to get business if marketing is strong enough
  •  Podcast helping marketing hotels with the Fuel Hotel Marketing Podcast
  •  Aspirations for space travel, and Star Wars
  •  Why marketing should be thought of as a conversation with the guest

041 – Isabel Berney and Truth Oladapo of Vacayo – Vacation Rentals Landlords Love


Leasing long-term rentals and converting them into outstanding vacation homes which provide landlords higher income and eliminate vacancy risk with Vacayo…

VacayoIsabel Berney (COO/Co-Founder) and Truth Oladapo (CEO/Co-Founder) of Vacayo join John Matson and guest host Jenny Silber (VoyagerHQ) in the MouthMedia Network studios powered by Sennheiser.

In this episode:

  • Examining the short term rental market, how much a revenue property can hold, developing a propriety pricing algorithm, scraping websites to see the highest earning potential of homes, and owners can earn at least 40% more at least with short term stays added into the mix instead of long-term leases
  • How this is an arbitrage model, and the risk is potentially in any miscalculation in revenue-generating potential of a home — but with historic data, and the fact that the vacation market is growing, the risk appears to be low
  • How the model is different and not just profit sharing, so some risk is involved
  • Additional risks of a downturn in travel, a major shift in economic conditions, etc.
  • Landlords receive a monthly payment regardless, so what Vacayo does to cover that risk
  • Insuring each home as well in case Vacayo can’t rent properties due to storms etc.Vacayo
  • How Vacayo has started to install smart devices which revealed people are spending less time in the homes than believed, overcoming the landlords’ misconceptions that homes have greater wear and tear and risk with comings and goings in short term rentals
  • How in the future Vacayo will likely be more of a data company,
  • Why Vacayo is banking on a nomadic lifestyle
  • Providing flexible accommodations with more options and sleeping arrangements than hotels, people prefer vacation rentals as a result
  • Vacayo is partnered with Ikea and Wayfair to succeed in getting things ready quickly, with the right team working together can do fast turnarounds in 48 hours
  • How they started off on Craigslist, bootstrapping, and were discovered by a landlord
  • The six markets Vacayo is in
  • “Superhosts” who take care of on-the-ground operations as independent contractors, with easy onboarding, and working on a percentage
  • The matching process with renters to properties
  • The crowd-funding campaign as a way for people to own a part of the company in a sharing economy, but without the complexity of formal shares
  • Why there is little worry about competing with companies like Airbnb, and how there is plenty of room left in the industry, especially for an asset-light business model
  • How Vacayo specializes in large group travel
  • The story of Berney and Oladapo starting out as roommates

040 – Robert Albert of Routehappy – How Was Your Flight?


Merchandising content platform for flight shopping…

RoutehappyRobert Albert, CEO of Routehappy (the industry standard for airline rich content, acquired by ATPCO) joins John Matson and Nick Vivion in the MouthMedia Network studios powered by Sennheiser.

In this episode:

  • The most commonly desired amenity in travel: seat, then WiFi
  • Selling a singular vision when pitching/building Routehappy
  • How it is not actually all about price
  • An entire ecommerce category that’s comeditized, we all about the experience from that moment on
  • Explaining products and services customers are happier, and the industry does better
  • How it was obvious to him that every customer needed this
  • Why Albert feels it has felt like spreading a religion, every meeting is positive, but not necessarily a priority all the timeRoutehappy
  • It is an organic experience, brick by brick building the path forward for the company and the recognition of the need
  • How the pace of building the company has helped them build it right, solving a complex problem, and why the company is ready for prime time now and can solve global differentiation problem in flight shopping
  • Why GDS’s didn’t solve this prior
  • Sales cycles in travel vs. funds for startups
  • Massive network effect, explaining the story and getting airlines and distributers to align on the story and potential impact
  • How hard Albert and team worked building the company, holding twenty five meetings a week while traveling, making good product decisions that got companies interested
  • Originally Routehappy was about consumer flight reviews, then built APIs of data, and operating lean
  • Happy and cheap as a product compass
  • How Routehappy’s solution was now described as being able to enable the industry with better data, and that resulted in the first serious ways people were paying attentionRoutehappy
  • Moving from B to C to B to B as a pivot
  • Pineapple chunks, and why this Australian treat was the snack, and the meaning
  • How Routehappy was recently acquired by ATPCO, software that manages the world’s airfares
  • UTA rich context (universal ticket attribute)
  • Becoming the “Switzerland of rich content”, how Routehappy can now deliver on the thing they said they were doing for seven years
  • Overall vision as the next gen storefront, how it is time to modernize flight shopping, how indirect channels can and should transform, and coming together with the “how”
  • The happy empire and the tip of the iceberg
  • Albert’s parental inspiration for travel














039 – Viktorina Lintsova of SkyGuru – Experience Flying Again


Real-time explanation what and why happens and what to expect during your flight, and a tool for anxious flyers…

SkyGuruOne in three people experience anxiety when flying. Now there is an app that can help. Viktorina Lintsova, Managing Director of SkyGuru joins John Matson and Nick Vivion (tnooz) in the MouthMedia Network studios powered by Sennheiser.

In this episode:

  • The most anxious moments for flyers
  • Pre-boarding, why the anxiety, anticipation and fear of the unknown
  • The inspiration for SkyGuru, with the idea from a pilot and psychologist, who wanted something to be there and support people when he couldn’t be there with them
  • Like having a pilot and psychologist in the seat next to you
  • One in three people experiencing psychological discomfort, many altering plans due to psychological stressesSkyGuru
  • Money left on table for airlines, why airlines haven’t addressed this
  • Is a loss of cognitive function due to anxiety a safety issue?
  • Freemium vs. pro versions, anxious passengers gravitate to the pro version, which supports through the whole flight
  • Looking at how people interact with SkyGuru, whether an anxious flyer or not, and how SkyGuru has been evolving into a travel companion and people curious about aviation
  • SkyGuru soon releasing updated version with some augmented realitySkyGuru
  • Why the app needs to be flat on armrest at time of takeoff
  • Accelerator experience, getting the most out of a 3 ½ month program,
  • A home-baked snack with a secret recipe
  • Who is the anxious flyer – not who you think, and how it can come out of nowhere.
  • Anxiety can cause airlines to lose business travelers, 5% of the highest value flyers are anxious
  • SkyGuru has gotten interest in airline industry in industry events, and can be integrated in seatback screens to enhance passenger experience
  • How the app can help passengers plan their flight experience better, flight crews can know when to serve the food/drinks, and one can see use with OTAs and travel portals to help passengers plan flight better,
  • Bringing the experience back to flying

038 – Tom Cintorino of Northstar – Meeting At The Center of the Travel Industry


Events, publications, education, and technology for the travel industry with Northstar…

NorthstarTom Cintorino, EVP of Digital for Northstar Travel Media (the leading B2B information, business intelligence, commerce and events platform serving the travel industry) joins host John Matson in the MouthMedia Network studios powered by Sennheiser.

In this episode:

  • How Northstar’s team of outstanding editors, ground-breaking journalists, engaging educators and savvy directors is unrivaled in the Travel Industry
  • In-depth articles explore the industry’s most critical issues
  • Education platforms for travel agents and meetings planners about global travel destinations
  • How events play a role in travel industry relationships, because we’re human and we need to meet, and how that concept is right in the center of travel
  • The many publications of Northstar including Travel Weekly, Travel Weekly Asia, Travel Weekly China, TravelAge West
  • Travel technology such as Phocuswright, Inntopia, Web in Travel
  • Meetings & Conventions in the US, China and AsiaNorthstar
  • SportsTravel , Corporate Travel, Business Travel News, The Beat, Travel Procurement
  • Notable events such as The Phocuswright Conference, Phocuswright Europe, WIT Singapore, Mountain Travel Symposium, CruiseWorld, Global Travel Marketplace, Global Travel Marketplace West, The Beat Live, Innovate, etc.
  • How Cintorino became involved with Northstar after the grind of the startup world
  • Why the travel industry supply chain is like a bowl of spaghetti, and everyone is doing business with everyone, even if only impacting one part of a traveler’s experience and you might work with most everything and everyone
  • Impacting the culture of a company, spending a lot of time on destination experience of a work trip, and raising the bar for personal experiences
  • Setting up in China, and early accomplishmentsHow technology plays into vision for Northstar, with acquisitions and how the focus is not just events or media companies but also tech companies
  • Geo-cloning

037 – Rama Poola of SkyHi – For Thirty Five Bucks


Last minute travel subscription service, cheap tickets in exchange for a monthly fee…

SkyHiRama Poola, CEO of SkyHi (the first on-demand service for commercial airline tickets.), joins John Matson and Nick Vivion (tnooz) in the MouthMedia Network studios powered by Sennheiser.

In this episode:

  • About SkyHi’s most interesting recent use case, with people using it to go to Sundance Film festival, one click and they were ready to fly to Salt Lake CitySkyHi
  • How last minute travel is a bit of a business case
  • Looking at how removing all pricing allows free flowing travel action
  • How SkyHi wasn’t originally targeting corporate travelers, and was marketed toward digital nomads, but realized business people were joining
  • How an experience in Lisbon created an idea for the business
  • Why technology has been traditionally stifled in the travel industry
  • The way SkyHi found a strategic partner out of Hungary who had done this beforeSkyHi
  • The business model of SkyHi
  • OTAs seem to want to haggle for the business, they want the customer to buy, but keep it a distance from them
  • How SkyHi is making it easier for customer, but price arbitraging in a seamless, invisible way
  • Booking within a minute is game changing in itself
  • Loving the experience of flying


Hosted by industry leaders and relevant business experts, Travel Is Your Business (TIYB) podcast features discussions inspired by recent news, useful in-depth interviews with thought leaders, innovators and top brands setting the pace and changing the face of travel, announcements by business leaders on initiatives and milestones, and commentary about virtually anything in between — making insights into business and technology within the travel industry entertaining, meaningful and accessible.

036 – Eduardo Cartaya of G Adventures – Changing Lives Though Travel

Eduardo Cartaya

Responsible travel & tourism with a group adventure travel operator…

Eduardo CartayaEduardo Cartaya, Regional Sales Manager of G Adventures (G Adventures is a Toronto-based adventure travel company with a wide selection of small-group tours, safaris and expeditions) joins John Matson and Nick Vivion (tnooz) in the MouthMedia Network studios powered by Sennheiser.

In this episode:

  • Cartaya shares how the way constructing travel was going to a purpose, then G Adventures realized that was why people were traveling with them – because it was both affordable and immersive
  • The impact made from altering the local supply chain, insisting on using locally owned business, immersive attractions, spending money more responsibly than other operators in the field
  • How the company can make more money, make a difference simply by showing people a fantastic vacation
  • Marketing/customer acquisition, going after the immersive travelers who want to do something exceptional and to give back as much as they takeEduardo Cartaya
  • Trying to impact everyone that tourism touches, doing the right thing part of five core values
  • Approaching sales, selling values, selling sustainability, a lot of storytelling of interactions, things they care about can be political, more than 20 offices in 18 countries
  • How for 40 poorest nations in world tourism is primary economic driver, and how incentivized trips work to up tourism
  • Partnerships, and a partnership with National Geographic
  • How G Adventures travelers can maintain their travel independence while traveling with a group
  • When traveling brings surprises