Re-Connecting People To Life

I’d say it’s been a little while since I’ve written on this little blog. I can’t say that I’ve worried about it, but I would say I’ve missed it. A lot.

What I’ve missed most about it is how simple blogging can be. Think about something you want to say and just write about it. Right?

Oh no.

Purse_Life

I mean. It used to be that way for me but then people actually paid attention to what I was writing and they did that thing called COMMENTING!!! They responded and I suddenly felt to pressure to actually use punctuation and grammar sort of and use spell check. Oh the pressure.

SO I wrote and I wrote and I wrote some more. I wrote so much that I became somewhat known for being a blogger! Kind of cool right?

It is.

But then I wanted more. I wanted a more focused blog. I mean why wouldn’t I? I was starting to consult and teach people about all things blogging and social media. That was fun. (still is actually).

But today… I’m done thinking about blogging and ready to get back at it. Not ready to go to the next level. Not ready to focus on any one subject. Just ready to get back at it.

A while back my blog tag line was Connecting People To Life. I changed that line a few times to make it more focused on different subjects. But the reality is, that was too much for me.

So I’m going back to the basics. I’m re-connecting people to life again. Re-connecting me to my life again and writing about it. I’m going back to the basics when blogging was simply just about writing what I experienced in life and hopefully… hopefully, I might be able to encourage a reader to get off the couch and run their first 5K or attempt their first triathlon or buy some new music they hadn’t heard or find an easier way to travel. Heck, I hope they even learn that having a life in social media can be really fun if all they do is play by their own rules.

So… here’s to the future of blogging in my life. Hope you enjoy the read and I enjoy the process again of just writing and re-connecting to life.

The New American Airlines And Their Merger With US Airways

Most of you who keep up with me on twitter know at least two things are certain about me.

I love traveling and I love flying American Airlines.

Something you won’t pick up from me very often at all is my dislike for other airlines or even bad customer experience from products I use. I think the days of complaining on twitter are not as productive as they once were (there are some exceptions to this) and it does make the complainer look like… a complainer.

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Before I go any further I need to say this. No matter who you like to fly… ALL AIRLINES HAVE THEIR SHARE OF PROBLEMS and American certainly has their fair share of them. So there is really no perfect airline, but there are airlines who minimize the negatives well and handle customer service well. @AmericanAir has mastered handling customer service through social media better than any I have seen. Bravo!

Now… all that to say, the thought of my favorite airline merging with my least favorite airline scared the mess out of me. But now my view has completely changed for the positive.

It all started when American Airlines rolled out their new branding and their new planes equipped with updated cabins.

Over the past twelve years I’ve racked up almost 2.5 million flown miles with American with a portion of that internationally. One major area they have been way behind in is their cabins in economy, business and first class for international travel where not what they could be. Don’t get me wrong, flying business class to Europe or Asia is pretty amazing, but still behind the competition.

This is in the process of all being updated. I’ve seen the new look of the cabins and I’m impressed. They have finally stepped up to the international plate and firmly made their place at the table. Domestically, this means upgrades as well which is always a good thing.

I’m also impressed with the new look of the American Airlines brand. The new livery on the planes look awesome and the logo is slick. It feels very contemporary and competitive.

So here’s the part I was really concerned with – The merger with US Airways.

The few times I’ve flown US Airways, the experience was less than impressive. From the checking in process all the way through the flight I never felt like this airline was really trying to win friends and influence travelers. However, I’ve always made it to my destination.

The truth is I’ve never been a fan. Ever. So when I heard they are going to merge… I got a little shaky. “What’s going to happen to my American Airlines!!!”

In the past couple of weeks I found out that US Airways has been operating in a profit. WHAT??? Yep… it’s true. That right there told me that no matter what I don’t like about them, they are doing something right.

Then as recently as yesterday when the merger came through, all the reports I heard and read had these things to say. The labor unions at American are extremely happy with the merger which hopefully means no more sabotaged delays by pilots, mechanics and flight attendants for us! YEAH!

Also this new company merger will retain all the brand of the New American Airlines and the Advantage frequent flyer program stay the same. My guess is the US Airways frequent flyer program will get merged into Americans frequent flyer program. Home office will still be in Dallas and here is the great part for employees of both companies. Because there is minimal overlap of routes, there aren’t expected to be any major layoff’s. At least that is what’s being reported in the news so far.

So, it sounds like a win/win for everyone. Us as travelers and them as a company trying to stay alive and in the game giving us all a big and better travel experience.

I have to say the way this all rolled out in the recent weeks did nothing short of increase my loyalty to American Airlines. Rolling out impressive new branding followed by a very promising merger exceeded every expectation I had for this situation.

Why I’m Switching Hotel Brands

For the past 12 years, I’ve been traveling like a mad man. Flying about 25 – 30 round trip flights a year on American Airlines and staying in Hilton brand (Hilton, Hilton Garden Inn, Hampton Inn, Homewood Suites) hotels almost every night of those trips. About 40 – 50 nights a year, sometimes more. But it’s time for a change.

I really like what Hilton has done over the years. They are a great brand but I find my personal tastes changing. So I’m switching to Marriott. I’m needing more from a hotel brand that makes travel just a tad easier and honestly… I like seeing big brands who are updating their look to keep up with travel trends.

I saw this when I walked into a Courtyard Marriott. I felt like I found a hotel that looks as cool as Aloft but with a lot more comfort.

I was very impressed.

One of the reasons I’m switching is this. Over the years, I’ve paid close attention to how loyalty and points programs have changed. What seems to be happening is some big brands tend to make it harder and harder to get to a higher level of status and to accumulate points. Thus making it harder to book a free night stay or a free flight.

When I looked into Marriott rewards a little closer I noticed not only is can you accumulate points and status a little faster, Marriott also has a very competitive structure for redeeming rewards for a free night stay.

Example: I booked our family a free night with Courtyard Marriott for our Thanksgiving trip. It cost 10,000 points. The Hampton Inn down the street costs 25,000 points. Both hotels are in the same area.

Here was something of a surprise for me as well. I went to re-activate my Marriott rewards number, which I haven’t used in YEARS! I was shocked to see I still had 17,000 unused points with Marriott. Yep… so I used them:)

Marriott also has a very intuitive app. I just booked a weekend of hotels for a run in Texas using the app and it was just as fast, if not faster than going online to book the rooms.

Now… let’s say most things in the travel world are equal. Many large hotel brands are close in comparison. Nice rooms, good prices etc.

But here was the one deciding factor that put me over the edge. I decided to tweet out that I was thinking of switching from @HiltonHHonors to @Marriott.

I immediately got a response from @Marriott and @CourtyardHotels. I had a short conversation with both of them. Brought @AmericanAir into the conversation… they responded as well… and made my decision.

Any brand willing to engage the conversation people are having about them is worth taking my business there. It’s one of the main reasons I fly American Airlines and rent cars from National.

As a side note… @HiltonHHonors was silent the whole time.

Am I mad at Hilton? Not at all. Do I feel like I deserve something from them? Not at all. I’ve given them 12 years of loyal business and they have served me well. But times are changing and becoming more updated with the needs of this new travel world.

Big travel brands need to remember. There are a lot of business travelers like me wanting to engage with them online to better the experience all the way around from talking favorably about their brand online to getting some faster customer service.

Marriott gets it. So does American Airlines.

If you are loyal to certain brands… Why? What is it that makes you proud to be their customer?

The Wonder Of Pikes Peak At Sunset

Standing at 14,115 feet, Pikes Peak is a wonder to look at. It’s one Colorado’s 54 fourteeners.

One of my favorite parts of living in Colorado Springs is watching the weather change daily over this beautiful mountain.

It can change in minutes or it can sit with the same look all day long.

But there’s one thing for sure… no two sunsets are the same over this peak and when weather is involved, it’s the best show of nature and light that I’ve ever seen.

Yesterday, I was outside right as the sun was making its way down. There were breaks in the clouds over the peak that let the sunshine through like the opening seen of a national geographic documentary.
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Where Does Your Inspiration To Dream Come From?

This week I’ve been in California and today I went for a run around Disneyland and Downtown Disney. Yes… I’m a Disney fan but our hotel happened to be next door to the park and I needed a run. So I did…

As I’m running, I’m watching families head toward the park and noticing all the happy faces of kids who are getting ready to be wow’d by Mickey Mouse while their parents have this somewhat stressed look on their faces… It’s a fun site.

But here’s what happens to me when I’m out and about in my travels. The weather, the sites, the sounds, the smells…Palm trees and sunsets over the ocean… they all play into the experience I have at the moment. Today I ran, listening to Coldplay, enjoying the weather and the smelling the fresh flowers along the sidewalks. It was perfect.

Those simple elements send my mind racing with ideas, filling my mind with inspiration to dream big dreams and work out in my head the likely hood of those dreams actually being fulfilled.

The crazy thing is… those moments of inspiration are so valuable to me because they really do help me get from point “a” to point “b” as I work through different ideas in my head.

I’m always amazed at how much my senses play into my day… my life… how I process life and gain inspiration for my dreams in life.

How does this work for you?

How does inspiration usher it’s way into your dreams?

Is it through certain music?

Certain places you go?

People you are around?

A drive in the car?

What is it?