Travel Savvy

While I was studying abroad at Oxford University over the summer, I planned a weekend trip to London with some other students. It was our first weekend trip, so we did what any traveling college student on a budget would do on their first week abroad… we looked for the cheapest hostel available to ensure that we had enough money to spend on other trips for the rest of the summer. That first week, we committed the biggest mistake that many travelers make: we didn’t read enough reviews.

Now, thanks to various websites (and that less than positive hostel experience), it is easier than ever to make a study of customer reviews a priority for every vacation planning process. Whether you are checking out a condo to rent at the beach, a boutique hotel in a foreign country, or a rental on AirBnB, there are review sites for all of your accommodation needs. For Millennials like me, Getaroom.com is the place to go. There are numerous reviews of smaller, more budget friendly boutique hotels that appeal to my generation of travelers who aren’t afraid to try a quirky B&Bs or an artsy independent hotel.

Getaroom is capitalizing on the most common behavior of Gen Y individuals, which is sharing information and opinions online. Peer reviews and the opinions of friends and family influence many day-to-day purchases, and they are becoming greater influences on how we choose where to stay and what we do on vacation. The best part: it’s never been easier to share or discover reviews thanks to review sites and Social Media.

Customer reviews are great resources for guests who are looking for potential places to stay, but they can present a challenge to hotel management. When I am planning a trip, I look for reviews that have been acknowledged by the hotel staff. I see this as a sign of hotel management’s dedication to improving guest experiences and it makes my confidence in the hotel increase. Even if a hotel has a negative review, a response from management shows that they value the opinions of their guests and will try to accommodate them.

Millennials are a generation of Social Media loving, content creating, review reading travelers who love to have the inside scoop, so it will be important for hotels, restaurants, and “local” specialty destinations to see customer review sites as another tool to reach their audiences.

The Power of the Selfie to Redefine Beauty

The Sundance Film Festival is well under way in Park City Utah. Sundance, in partnership with Wayin, have integrated social media into the festival like never before, but one short film by Dove is taking the power of social media to the next level.

I was familiar with Dove’s Real Beauty Sketches campaign in 2013 that offered women the chance to describe themselves to a portrait artist who had never seen their face. Then, they were asked to describe another woman who was in the waiting area with them. The portraits were displayed side by side. The portraits in which another woman described the subject were by far everyone’s favorites because they highlighted the noticeably beautiful aspects of the women, whereas their own descriptions of themselves tended to focus on the negative perceptions they have about certain features.  This campaign drew a lot of positive attention to Dove for championing the idea that we are our own worst critics and that beauty products are not what makes real beauty.

Today at the Sundance Film Festival, Dove debuted a short film about the power of the Selfie. The film follows a class of high school girls as they embark on mission impossible… teaching their mothers how to take selfies on their smartphones and upload them. The girls and their mothers then submitted the selfies to an art gallery where they were all displayed. Visitors to the gallery were given sticky notes to write messages to leave on the selfies, much like leaving a comment on an Instagram or Facebook photo. What surprised these women was that the things they disliked most about their appearance in photographs were often the most positively received parts of their selfie. The film goes on to encourage women to harness the power of the selfie to show her true self to the world with pride. Watch the short film on Mashable

The video has already sparked social conversation from the celebrities at the film festival, and now, everyone can join the conversation on Twitter, Facebook or Dove’s Website by answering what beauty means to you using #beautyis. You can even submit your very own selfie!

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Here’s a screenshot that shows you how to post on Dove’s website.

Personally, I’m excited to see the power of social media being used to redefine beauty in a positive way, especially at an event like Sundance where many in the industry feel pressured to fit into the societal mold of beauty that film, television, and magazines impose upon us. I have tremendous respect for Dove, who continues to champion “Real Beauty” in new and engaging ways. I’ll leave you with what my idea of #beautyis: confidence and a big smile!

What’s your idea of beauty?