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Finally, online trip planning is getting (a little) easier

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Finally, Online Trip Planning Is Getting (A Little) Easier
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While the internet has made it easier to plan a trip yourself – and see how much you save – it also forces you to wade through hundreds of destination search pages, hotel and home rental options, and a myriad flight route alternatives, becoming an amateur travel agent along the way.

But this summer, a few travel platforms rolled out or announced fixes to make travel planning easier, refining searches, creating more informative maps and streamlining loyalty programs.

Now, if you want to find a vacation home on an island, a hotel within a 15-minute walk of your nephew’s local bar mitzvah, or an electric car, Airbnb, Google, and Skyscanner, respectively, make it easy for you.

Analysts say these and other platforms aren’t done yet. “Travel information, pricing and reservations are still so fragmented and disjointed that I expect we’ll continue to see more brands develop and upgrade these types of features in the future,” Madeline said. List, senior research analyst at Phocuswright, a travel market research company.

Finding the right vacation rental can feel like looking for a needle in a haystack when it comes to sifting through search results. Among the measures that Airbnb has adopted this summer to facilitate the rental: the creation of 56 categories of accommodation which aim to help you find rentals identified as, for example, mini-houses, castles, “ski-in ski-out ”, close to national parks, residences with “incredible swimming pools” and even an “OMG!” category for unusual architectural options.

Additionally, the new “split stay” feature aims to help renters who want to split their time between two locations. The tool suggests nearby rentals available for part of the trip, making it easy to pair two rentals on longer stays and simplify the booking process for both.

“People are much more location independent than they were before the pandemic,” said Jamie Lane, vice president of research at Airdna, a market research firm specializing in short-term rentals. term, noting the growth of extended travel related to remote work. . “Airbnb makes it easy to build a longer-term trip by helping you find listings that meet your criteria and are open for the duration of that trip.”

Also new, a free policy known as AirCover, automatically included with every rental, protects consumers by guaranteeing a similar stay or a refund if a host cancels within 30 days of your trip.

“I see it as wanting to compete better with hotels,” Mr. Lane said. “Guests can feel comfortable knowing they will get what they booked or get their money back.”

Expedia Group wants your loyalty. Named after its flagship online travel agency, Expedia, the travel agency collection includes online agencies Travelocity and Orbitz, vacation rental platform Vrbo, discount hotel booking site Hotwire. com, car rental site CarRentals.com and more. In early 2023, it plans to bring them together under One Key, a loyalty program spanning its 12 brands, meaning points earned by booking a flight on Expedia could be applied to the cost of a future rental on Vrbo.

“It’s so hard for people to keep track of programs and rewards,” said Jon Gieselman, president of Expedia Brands, the group’s consumer division, who added that the idea of ​​an integrated loyalty program made him came when he opened his own travel wallet filled with dozens of membership programs and credit cards.

“It struck me that our superpower opportunity was to create connections between all of our brands in the minds of customers and at the same time make it easier to understand disparate agendas,” he added.

A few of the brands, including Expedia, Orbitz and Hotels.com, already have loyalty programs – with a collective enrollment of 154 million members – and the company has not yet disclosed conversion formulas or One’s pricing. Key to earn and use points.

While most loyalty programs encourage members to stick with one brand, One Key will allow users to apply points across categories in a program Mr. Gieselman called the “non-loyalty program,” what sets it apart from competitors.

“Expedia’s expanded loyalty offering can attract more people to the umbrella brand with flexible options for earning and burning points on which Expedia brand offers the most appropriate options for a given trip,” Ms List said. of Phocuswright, adding that the loyalty program facilitates “friction” between Expedia’s often overlapping brands.

New Google Travel features, announced in May, map things like driving directions and restaurant-rich neighborhoods, providing a visual sense of geography in areas visitors might not know about before booking.

When searching for hotels on the platform, a Google map already showed the hotels with the associated prices. New icons representing transport, restaurants, attractions and shops – what Google calls “layers of interest” – allow users, for example, to overlay a map of public transport to see where the lines are. public transport compared to hotels. Attractive shopping or dining icons shade the map in neighborhoods with many stores or restaurants. Clicking on the attractions icon adds things like museums to the hotel map.

At the bottom of the map, users can drag the bar next to a walking figure to see the radius an average person can walk from a given location in up to 30 minutes (there is also an option to map driving radius). The feature could be useful for identifying hotels near a wedding or meeting venue, the company suggested.

“There was always the ability to figure this out in Google Maps using addresses, but that takes a lot of the guesswork out of it,” Google spokesman Craig Ewer said.

Its new Explore tool identifies destinations a few hours away. Clicking on a road trip destination brings up attractions, hotels, and routes.

“We saw during Covid an increased preference for road trips and trips that didn’t involve the airport,” Mr Ewer said. “With the Explore tool, we tried to provide inspiration.”

For bargain-hunters, Google Flights now lets you track prices between a pair of cities – departure and destination – and click “all dates” to have the platform watch fares for the lowest prices over the next six months.

Using tracking, like most other Google features, requires you to sign in or create a free account with Google. For travel purchases, such as flights and hotels, the platform connects users to these companies or online travel agencies.

Two other platforms help consumers refine their searches by providing more targeted results.

The Skyscanner travel search engine has added a new filter in electric vehicle rental cars. After entering the dates and location, users can check the electric box – along with other search filters like unlimited mileage or 4×4 – to see all available electric vehicles.

The initiative grew out of a similar green filter launched by Skyscanner in flight searches a few years ago, showing choices with less carbon emissions than average for each search.

The car rental filter helps travelers “understand the environmental impact of travel and how to reduce it,” said Martin Nolan, the sustainable travel expert at Skyscanner.

Online travel agency Booking.com aims to make it easier for LGBTQ travelers to find welcoming accommodations. It has set up a partner training program for hotels on its platform on the challenges faced by LGBTQ travelers.

Since last August, the free program, known as Proud Hospitality, has certified more than 10,000 properties in 95 countries and territories. The certification includes a digital Travel Proud badge on its list.

“As a global travel leader, we have a responsibility to take action and help pave the way for a more inclusive industry, with the ultimate goal of enabling everyone to experience the world as themselves,” said Arjan Dijk, Marketing Director. officer and senior vice president of Booking.com, in a written statement.

Elaine Glusac writes the Frugal Traveler column. Follow her on Instagram @eglusac.

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Ex-Vikings star humbled by Diane & Alan Page Community Cheer Challenge at marathon

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Ex-Vikings Star Humbled By Diane &Amp; Alan Page Community Cheer Challenge At Marathon
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Former Vikings star Alan Page will be at his usual spot at the corner of Knox and Douglas in Minneapolis playing the sousaphone when the 2022 Medtronic Twin Cities Marathon gets underway at 8 a.m. Sunday. But this race will be a bit different.

Page is humbled by marathon organizers having unveiled The Diane & Alan Page Community Cheer Challenge. The challenge honors Page along with Diane Page, his late wife, for having been dedicated fans cheering along the marathon route.

“The neat thing is they’re doing it in Diane’s and my name,’’ Page said Saturday. “That’s kind of special.”

The defensive tackle played in the NFL from 1967-81, including 1967-78 with the Vikings, and was named to the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1988. He later served as an associate justice for the Minnesota Supreme Court from 1993-2015.

Page and his wife, who died in 2018, were longtime runners who began in the late 1980s to stand along the marathon route each year to cheer on the runners. Page, who had run about 10 marathons up until the late 1980s, got plenty of publicity for playing sousaphone, a large tuba-like instrument.

For this year’s event, marathon organizers decided to honor the family by inviting local groups to join The Diane & Alan Page Community Cheer Challenge. There were 46 groups that signed up, and $3,000 will be donated to charities chosen by groups that emerge as winners.

“I was quite moved that they wanted to do that, but most importantly that they wanted to include Diane,’’ Page said. “It’s really kind of neat the organizations that will be out there that will be cheering on the runners. Hopefully, this will become an annual event.”

More than 9,000 participants will take part in the marathon and nearly 11,000 in the 10-mile race, which gets underway at 6:54 a.m. More than 300,000 are expected along the route, which runs from U.S. Bank Stadium to the State Capitol, and cheer zones will be at various spots along the route.

“(Page is) so recognizable and respected and inspiring in the community that we thought he was the natural person to connect to our event,’’ said Dean Orton, president of Twin Cities in Motion. “Really rooted in it is the amazing dedication that both him and his late wife have had with the marathon. … They would go out and rally the community and cheer on everybody. He generally understands the importance of community coming together and the beauty of the human spirit.”

There will be five divisions of cheer groups, which are neighborhood association or on-course resident, run club or run store, non-profit organization, community group and sponsors or corporations. Judges have been assigned to vote on the best cheering groups, and race participants also will be able to vote. The overall winning group will receive $1,000 for charity, and four other category winning groups will each get $500.

The marathon is in it’s 40th year. One difference is that a Vikings game for the first time will be going on at the same time. The Vikings will face the New Orleans Saints in London in a game that kicks off at 8:30 a.m., but Page doesn’t expect that will take away many race fans.

“They can enjoy the marathon and get home and catch some of the game or they can just dial the game up on their phones,’’ he said.

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Chicago Bears sign kicker Michael Badgley with Cairo Santos still questionable for the Week 4 road game

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Chicago Bears Sign Kicker Michael Badgley With Cairo Santos Still Questionable For The Week 4 Road Game
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The Chicago Bears will have a new kicker for Sunday’s Week 4 road game against the New York Giants.

The team announced it signed Michael Badgley to the practice squad Saturday morning and he will be elevated to the gameday roster as Cairo Santos did not travel with the team.

Santos missed practices Thursday and Friday for personal reasons and the team designated him as questionable for the game. He was ruled out before the team’s early-afternoon flight to New Jersey.

The Bears were prepared for the possibility, holding a tryout Friday afternoon at Halas Hall that Badgley won. He beat out Brian Johnson and Josh Lambo.

The team announced more roster moves as well. Running back Darrynton Evans has been elevated from the practice squad to the active roster, while defensive end Andre Anthony goes on practice squad reserve/injured.

Santos made field goals from 47 and 50 yards before hitting the 30-yarder on the final play of a 23-20 win over the Houston Texans last Sunday at Soldier Field. He’s 4-for-4 on field goals for the season and rebounded from two missed extra points during a driving rainstorm in the Week 1 victory over the San Francisco 49ers.

He set a franchise record in 2020 when he made 30-of-32 field goal attempts (93.8%), earning a $9 million, three-year contract. Santos followed it up by going 26-of-30 on field goals in 2021, and has connected on 89.7% of his field goals since taking over for Eddy Pineiro at the start of 2020.

Badgley, 27, was most recently with the Jacksonville Jaguars in August. He had a tryout earlier this week for the Kansas City Chiefs. He made 18 of 22 field goals in 12 games with the Indianapolis Colts and one with the Tennessee Titans last season.

He spent the first three years of his career with the Los Angeles Chargers but left after the 2020 season when he made 24 of 33 field goals.

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Heat’s Erik Spoelstra on so many wanting to start, ‘You need ambition’

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Heat’s Erik Spoelstra On So Many Wanting To Start, ‘You Need Ambition’
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Ask Miami Heat coach Erik Spoelstra about more than half his roster believing they should be starters and he smiles the wryest of smiles.

“I don’t mind it in terms of players’ ambition,” he said, with the Heat breaking camp Saturday after five days at the Baha Mar resort. “We should have a lot of players that feel like they can start. And we probably do have eight to 12 starters.

“Either they can start on this team right now or they can start on another team or at some point they’ve been starters. Or could start with a little bit more development a year or two or three years down the line.”

The givens in the first five are Jimmy Butler, Bam Adebayo and Kyle Lowry. The contenders for the other two berths are Caleb Martin, Max Strus, Tyler Herro, Victor Oladipo and perhaps even Duncan Robinson, Omer Yurtseven or Haywood Highsmith. About the only members of the 14-player standard roster not directly in the conversation are Gabe Vincent, Dewayne Dedmon, 42-year-old mentor Udonis Haslem and 19-year-old neophyte Nikola Jovic.

“I think you need talent in this league, you need ambition,” Spoelstra said. “I want to leverage all of that.

“At some point, to be a part of something special, you have to embrace that concept of sacrificing and sharing in the game.”

So, yes, sacrifice is back as a core tenet.

“It’ll be really important for this team to understand that each guy will have to sacrifice a little bit to be able to unlock the talent that we have,” Spoelstra said. “Once you embrace that, all of this is bigger than each one of us, and you can really connect the dots on the concept, you can find more purpose and gratification out of great team basketball. So we’re laying that foundation right now.

“The magic happens when everybody can get to a place where you’re vulnerable and giving up something for the betterment of the team. We have a lot of firepower, have a lot of talent, have a lot of defensive versatility. There’s a lot of encouraging things about our roster makeup and our depth. And we fully intend on using all of that. How that’s going to play out right now? I don’t know, but I do like the possibilities.”

Closing time

With the Heat wrapping up their stay in New Providence, with Saturday including a youth clinic at the makeshift courts at the resort’s convention center, Haslem summed up the experience.

“A great way to finish my last training camp, in paradise,” said the veteran power forward who is retiring after this 20th Heat season. “Well loved, always much love when I come here in the Bahamas. Just like being in Miami for me. The love is unmatched and I appreciate it a lot.”

Haslem said camp had a different feel, with 14 players returning from last season.

“We’re ahead of the game, because we had so much time last year. We didn’t lose very much,” he said, with only P.J. Tucker and Markieff Morris departing. “We pretty much know everybody. Health is always a major concern, but we’re bonding, we’re enjoying it, we’re here in the Bahamas, paradise, so it’s been a great trip.”

Haslem said he made an effort to leave the resort to sample local fare, and appreciated that teammates were able to take their minds off the game.

“Great week,” he said. “A little bit of rain, but it held on pretty good. So the young guys were able to go on the water slides, some of the older guys able to get some golf. It was a good balance of hard work and a mental break and getting away.”

But that doesn’t mean there also wasn’t a physical toll.

“This week was a crash course for the body,” he said. “Next week, I’ll be better.”

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Mets bats need to wake up in order to clinch NL East crown

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Mets Bats Need To Wake Up In Order To Clinch Nl East Crown
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ATLANTA — The Mets bats have gone cold and they’re running out of time to heat them up.

They failed to capitalize on a late rally Friday night in a 5-2 loss to the Atlanta Braves. They needed a late rally to beat the Miami Marlins on Wednesday and they got no rallies in the first game of that series.

But this trend goes back even further. A shutout in Milwaukee last week. A sweep at the hands of the Chicago Cubs earlier in September and only five runs over three games against the Washington Nationals.

Overall, the numbers haven’t been terrible. The Mets actually own the second-highest OPS in the league over the month of September (.770). But there have been some key losses in which the offense didn’t really show up, much like the one Friday night at Truist Park.

The question is whether or not this is indicative of what’s to come in the last five games of the season and in the postseason. Will it cost them the NL East and force them into a Wild Card round?

The problems started when Starling Marte was injured earlier this month. The All-Star outfielder was hitting .292 this season with an .814 OPS and 16 home runs before he got hurt. But Marte is not exactly the engine that makes the Mets offense go. Missing one player like that shouldn’t crater the rest of the offense.

“Without Starling here, we have to force some things we might not normally have to,” manager Buck Showalter said.

The lack of production at the DH position doesn’t help either. With the Mets facing two right-handers this weekend we can probably expect to see Daniel Vogelbach back in the lineup, but he’s had some questionable at-bats as of late. Darin Ruf was placed on the injured list with a neck strain Friday and his struggles have been magnified as the team’s offensive woes have continued.

The Mets don’t seem to have an answer as to why Ruf, who was brought in to hit against left-handed pitching, has been so bad in New York (.152 with a .413 OPS).

“Could be a number of variables,” general manager Billy Eppler said Friday at Truist Park. “Could be timing, could be something material in the swing. Could be a small sample, could be a number of things. So it’s up to us to uncover and that’s some of the questions that we are asking.”

Francisco Alvarez was called up to take Ruf’s spot on the roster. The 20-year-old catcher is one of the top prospects in baseball, even ranked No. 1 overall by MLB Pipeline, and has been absolutely crushing left-handed pitching in Triple-A. He wasn’t the hero the Mets needed Friday night, but they needed much more than a rookie making his debut to come through with so much on the line.

Alvarez faced Kenley Jansen in a key moment in the ninth, with the bases loaded and one out. He struck out on three pitches — all cutters — fouling one off and swinging through two of them. This might not be the same Jansen as five years ago, but that cutter still cuts.

Eppler and Showalter talked about not overwhelming him in his major league debut, but they kept him in because they liked the matchup against Jansen. Showalter called Jansen a “neutral split,” meaning the right-hander has similar results against right- and left-handed hitters, but lefties have had a better results against him this season (left-handed hitters have a .725 OPS against Jansen, while right-handers have a .550 OPS).

“He’s getting close, we thought, on some balls and he’ll learn from it,” Showalter said. “He’s an impressive young man we’re glad he’s on our side.”

So, the Mets need a hero. Who will it be?

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Zack Britton can’t make it all the way back to help Yankees in the playoffs

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Zack Britton Can’t Make It All The Way Back To Help Yankees In The Playoffs
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Zack Britton’s comeback has fallen short. The left-hander who exited Friday night’s game with “arm fatigue” was placed on the injured list Saturday and likely will not pitch for the Yankees again. The 34-year-old had hoped to come back from 2021 Tommy John surgery to pitch in the postseason.

“I think basically it’s just something that we’re kind of running out of time here,” Yankees manager Aaron Boone said, “and having a little bit of fatigue last night, it’s like one of those things you don’t want to power through and reach for more and then do some damage as you’re coming back.

“But he’s in a good spot heading into the offseason.”

Britton had the updated version of Tommy John surgery, which places a protective brace or sleeve around the ulnar collateral ligament. That had him and the Yankees hoping he could make a faster comeback. He made his big league debut this season on Sept. 24, just 12 and a half months after the surgery.

‘I’m just appreciative of how hard he’s worked to get to this point and to give himself a chance,” Boone said. “The rehab is going really well. I feel like a lot of things are  lined up. It’s just that final sharpness and at this point in the season just got up against it there. But, yeah, he worked his tail off to put himself in this position and give himself an opportunity and certainly admire that.”

Britton is in the final year of his four-year, $53 million deal with the Yankees. An elite closer with the Orioles, the Yankees acquired him at the trade deadline in 2018. Britton made 136 appearances for the Bombers, mostly setting up for Aroldis Chapman, and pitched to a 2.75 ERA with 15 saves.

Britton made it very clear when he returned that he was not worried about pitching to prove he was healthy for another contract.

“I mean it doesn’t impact my future. I’m healthy. I know if I’m healthy, the future for me will be fine. The reason why I kind of push things is because I want to pitch this year for this team to help them win and for no other reason,” Britton said when he returned. “So there’s no benefit for me personally, other than the fact that maybe I can have an impact on a World Series championship team. That’s really the only goal for me at this stage of my career. I’ve gotten my contract. I am 34 years old. My reasons are much different now than when I was younger. I want [a] ring, that’s why I pushed this hard to come back and be an option for the team.”

With Clay Holmes down because of rotator cuff inflammation, a doubleheader on Tuesday and rain putting the Yankees final two games of the regular season at Yankee Stadium in doubt, the Bombers just needed an arm. They called up Jacob Barnes, a veteran of parts of seven seasons in the big leagues with the Brewers, Royals, Mets, Angels and Tigers and a 6.10 ERA this season.

“He’s got good stuff. Good arm,” Boone said. “We  just wanted that coverage today, with what we’re entering into as far as doubleheaders coming up and some roster situations.”

MONTAS MOVES

Frankie Montas was on the field throwing for the first time since he was shut down earlier this month. The right-hander played a very limited catch at about 25 to 40 feet, another indication that he will not be pitching at least in the first round of the playoffs.

And when he does pitch in the playoffs, it very well could be out of the bullpen, Boone confirmed Saturday.

“I don’t know about the Division Series. I don’t know if that’s gonna be in play,” Boone said when asked if there was enough time to ramp him back up.  “We feel like there’s time to where he could get to a point where he could be an option for us. Maybe not in the Division Series, but more likely beyond.”

Montas is on the injured list with right shoulder inflammation, the same issue that had him miss time in Oakland before the Yankees traded for him. The Bombers targeted Montas specifically for the playoff with his past success against potential playoff foes the Astros and Rays. He struggled once he got here, however. Montas has a 6.35 ERA in eight starts with the Bombers.

The Yankees dealt minor league pitching prospects Luis Medina and Ken Waldichuk along with J.P. Sears, who had already contributed to the big league club, for Montas and reliever Lou Trivino (who coincidentally is the only one of the Yankees’ deadline acquisitions who has not been injured).

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Gophers star tailback Mo Ibrahim out vs. Purdue

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Gophers Star Tailback Mo Ibrahim Out Vs. Purdue
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The Gophers had a big, surprise absence during its Homecoming game against Purdue on Saturday.

Star running back Mo Ibrahim was dressed in uniform and participated in some of pregame warmups but did not play against the Boilermakers at Huntington Bank Stadium. Instead, Trey Potts and Bryce Williams stepped into bigger roles.

Ibrahim appeared to injure his left ankle during the 34-7 win over Michigan State last week, but returned to the game in East Lansing, Mich. He also practiced during the week, head coach P.J. Fleck said on KFXN-FM show Tuesday.

Ibrahim had 89 carries for 567 yards and eight touchdowns in four games this season.

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