Article | February 28, 2020
According to the latest Bond Brand Loyalty Report, memberships across industries continue to rise and now average 14.8 per person. But - considering total global spend on loyalty programs is estimated to be $323 billion in 2019 – a more critical statistic is: on average people are active in less than half (6.7) of the programs they belong too. More often than not, loyalty programs do not drive loyal behavior. The travel sector has some of the lowest satisfaction rates, according to Bond’s survey of 55,000 consumers in more than 20 markets around the world. Only 37% of hotel loyalty members and 38% of car rental members say they are satisfied with their programs; airlines, meanwhile, fare slightly better at 42%.
Article | February 28, 2020
With the travel and tourism sector having taken a gut punch this year amid coronavirus concerns, many business groups and professionals are seeking new and innovative ways to enjoy memorable team events, proffer inspiring staff incentives and have some impactful one-on-one with customers and clients particularly those activities that inherently facilitate large crowd avoidance. With that, I’ve found a fabulous option in the BMW Performance Center West. This permanent performance driver training facility, located in Thermal, California near Palm Springs, offers one-of-a-kind experiences for both business groups and individuals that are taught by BMW professional driving instructors on a private course.
With up to 5.1 miles of expansive track layouts, the facility offers various driving programs and schools allowing participants to get behind the wheel of “the Ultimate Driving Machine” and learn key skills. Things like proper vision, basic car control, panic braking, handling, last-minute emergency lane changing, distracted driving, high-speed control and precision driving are all taught. Plus, it’s just plain old adrenaline-inducing fun.
The facility, which opened in 2015, offers various driving solutions for people of all ages and capabilities, and they also have special programs and meeting space for private and corporate groups. So, your entire department or company at large can get in on the action! There are multiple one- and two-day driving schools and experiences, private instruction, customizable events and the opportunity to experience the expansive, luxurious facility in either BMW or MINI vehicles.
Here are my top five reasons why this facility is a must-visit vacation destination, with the finer details courtesy of the BMW Performance Center West:
1. Private Instruction in the latest and greatest models
Instruction at the facility encompasses the full line of the newest BMW and MINI vehicles. In fact, there are reportedly over 100 new models available for activities at the BMW Performance Center West.
Also notable is the fact that all BMW driving experiences and schools are taught by professional BMW Driving Instructors, many of whom are professional race car drivers with dozens of wins. They even hold two world records: Longest Drift in eight hours (232.5 miles) and Longest Tandem Drift (39.25 miles).
These BMW Professional Driving instructors teach you how to handle your vehicle in challenging situations and conditions including accident avoidance, cornering, drifting, car control, braking and more. A skidpad allows drivers to feel oversteer and understeer, simulating hydroplaning or driving on black ice and providing the opportunity to learn how to handle those situations. The skidpad also provides advanced drivers with the thrilling experience of drifting. The tight performance track offers plenty of opportunity to learn how to control a vehicle at various speeds and cornering situations. Drivers can definitely satisfy their need for speed and excitement on one of the four tracks and experience driving scenarios they’ve only ever seen in the movies.
2. A variety of track experiences are available
In addition to BMW-dedicated tracks and a polished wet skidpad, some classes take advantage of the FIA certified race tracks of The Thermal Club. There are three tracks there with a combined length of 5.1 miles. The North Palm track is 1.2 miles long, the Desert Palm track is 1.8 miles long, and the South Palm track is also 1.8 miles long. Their newly-opened Off-Road Track allows drivers to experience extreme angles in the BMW X-series vehicles, splashing through water obstacles, driving over bumpy off-road trails and more. The vertical angles are literally steeper than any street in San Francisco and the visual sensation is amazing. Drivers often say, “I didn’t know a car could do that!”
3. A range of performance driving experiences are offered
Each BMW Performance Center West’s fun and action-packed driving programs delivers a robust experience that you’re sure not to forget. These include:
-- BMW Performance Center Drive: This option packs a real punch with two intense and exhilarating driving sessions capped off with a Hot Lap by a Certified BMW instructor.
-- M Track Drive: This is the perfect combination of machine and track with six hard-charging laps on one of the tracks of The Thermal Club pushing a BMW M3 or M4 to its limits. Featuring the facility’s most powerful and responsive vehicles, the M Track Drive will put you behind the wheel of an M car for six exhilarating laps on an FIA Certified racetrack. You’ll follow an instructor’s car for a warm-up lap and also learn the proper line for achieving the best time. Then, try to keep their car in your sights as speeds and g-forces increase, pushing your M car to its considerable limits.
-- The Ultimate BMW Mixer / The Track Meet: This is a unique driving and dining experience that elevates gift-giving, business networking and client entertaining to a whole new level. It’s a great way to get a taste of what the group events can offer. The mixer is a half-day experience that includes a delicious chef-prepared lunch, three exhilarating driving sessions in a fleet of brand-new BMWs and a Hot Lap around the track with a BMW pro at the wheel. The afternoon is capped off at a private reception with hors d’oeuvres and beverages at the BMW Performance Center. If you do have business needs, the facility has meeting spaces with multimedia capabilities, site-wide Wi-Fi and both indoor and outdoor dining with a delicious catering menu.
4. Both one- and two-day car control schools are available
Engage your senses and push through your comfort zone by learning vehicle handling, quick judgment and accident avoidance skills—all developed in a controlled environment with a BMW-certified instructor observing and coaching via radio. These include real-world driving conditions and scenarios—wet pavement, emergency braking and lane changes, distracted driving and more.
For the two-day options, participants will build on and reinforce the skills and techniques learned on day one. More seat time and real-time feedback takes driving abilities to the next level. Day two is when things really “click” and safe driving instincts kick in. This is also the day participants will experience an Instructor Hot Lap.
There are a wide range of driving school options at the BMW Performance Driving Center that are available to individuals and groups, alike. Below is a brief synopsis of each:
-- Car Control School: Take the wheel of a BMW and head out to the track, where professional instructors will hone your driving skills. Understanding stability control, knowing what to do when a vehicle starts to slide on the wet skid-pad and practicing proper vision through the lane-change course will allow you to anticipate situations on a real road. Available as a one-day, or for even more in-depth instruction, two-day course.
-- M School: Take the wheel of a high-performance BMW M vehicle and experience the power of M firsthand. Accelerate, corner and brake faster than you ever have before, then learn to maintain control in low traction conditions on the facility’s wet skidpad and keep 400 horsepower under control. End the day with a hot lap in an instructor-driven M vehicle. Available as a one-day, or for even more pulse-pounding excitement, a full two-day course.
-- One-Day M School: Learn the theory, physics and mechanics of performance driving. M School builds confidence and consistency while perfecting control, handling, acceleration and braking techniques.
-- Two-Day M School: Take everything you learned on day one and push “GO.” Slaloms, drifting, braking, cornering at optimum slip, full- and modified-time laps at speeds you’ve only dreamed of.
-- Advanced M School: Game on. M School graduates are an elite class of driver. They’ve proven that they’ve got what it takes to handle the ultimate challenge: BMW’s Advanced M School, held for two full days at road course tracks with pro Instructors, is the closest you can get to a racing experience.
-- MINI Motoring School: Take a John Cooper Works MINI Cooper and run it through an autocross course, lead/follow session and some stunt driving techniques, all under the watchful eye of a professional instructor. The mighty MINI will have you grinning from ear to ear all day long.
-- MINI Tricks and Stunts School - The first half of the day gets you intimately familiar with the MINI’s handling and capabilities, but the fun meter gets cranked to 11 in the afternoon. They’ll cover silky smooth reverse donuts on the skidpad, J-turns and reverse turns.
-- Teen School: There’s a lot for brand-new drivers to keep in mind and the BMW Teen School will allow them to experience how a vehicle feels at the limit in the safety of a closed environment. From wet skidpad exercises and panic braking to performing a double lane change, teens will leave with a solid foundation of vehicle control and a big smile. This option is available as either a one or two-day curriculum.
5. Amenities abound
Set against a backdrop of breathtaking mountain views, the BMW Performance Center not only boasts a private course where only you can experience the Ultimate Driving Machine, but also a luxurious modern building, gourmet café, coffee bar and gift shop with exclusive merchandise that you cannot buy anywhere else.
Customized corporate retreats and group events held at the BMW Performance Center are a refreshing change from the cliché team-building sessions. All programs are designed to improve dynamics, build trust and facilitate group communication. They have meeting spaces with Multimedia capabilities, site-wide Wi-Fi and indoor and outdoor dining space.
In all, this is an unforgettable experience that also makes a great gift idea. With stay at home orders having been lifted, getting behind the wheel of a new BMW at the BMW Performance Center West is a “bucket list” excursion sure to leave you longing for more.
Article | February 28, 2020
The internet is littered with the bodies of companies unable to adapt when Big Tech moved to offer a service for free. Possibly the most famous example in tech history remains Microsoft’s decision in 1996 to give away its browser Internet Explorer bringing Netscape’s skyrocketing share price to an abrupt halt. The rest is history. Although Google’s recent decision to stop charging for leads to airlines and OTAs in Google Flights might look insignificant in comparison, it is sending shockwaves across the travel industry. To understand why, it is important to understand Google Flights’ weight in the airline distribution ecosystem.
FEATURES AND ADVICE
Article | February 28, 2020
It would be an understatement to say that the coronavirus pandemic has throttled the travel industry, but the luxury sector is resilient and coming back strong! As you plan safety-minded meanderings into and throughout the New Year, here are a few great options for perennial favorite modes of jet set travel.
Travel to the Bottom of the Earth
Premium private jet company Magellan Jets is working to keep its guests as safe as they are satisfied. The company has compiled a toolkit to help travelers stay healthy while navigating flu season and the continuing coronavirus crisis. Magellan Jets' curated collection of guides and expert tips outlines best practices and safety measures people should remember before taking their next flight. The healthy travel toolkit covers topics such as what travelers can do to prevent contracting the coronavirus, steps professional pilots take to ensure they don’t get sick while flying, as well as other helpful resources. Additionally, readers can learn how booking private jet travel for leisure or business can significantly decrease the risk of exposure to the coronavirus and other illnesses.
Should this inspire you to get out of Dodge, consider a trip to the bottom of the Earth! Magellan Jets is now working in partnership with the industry-leading International Yacht Company (IYC) and White Desert to offer guests the trip of a lifetime to the South Pole, by way of Antarctica, to see the Emperor Penguins. This luxury 8-night adventure takes 12 guests at a time into the heart of Antarctica before venturing off to the South Pole.
IYC and Magellan Jets are working diligently to ensure the safest, most purely private way to travel. Magellan Jets will fly guests to Cape Town, where they will spend the night at One & Only prior to departing for Antarctica with White Desert on a plane equipped with the latest avionics and ski-equipped for landing on snow.
In Antarctica, guests will stay in state-of-the-art sleeping pods at Whichaway Camp where their experienced team of chefs, hosts and guides will take care of every detail, allowing you to relax and enjoy your surroundings. At the beginning of the adventure, guests fly 2 hours along the coast to an emperor penguin colony of over 14,000 breeding pairs and their newly hatched chicks. Tourists only rarely visit this colony and, as a consequence, witnessing these birds in their natural habitat is one of the most surreal experiences on earth.
As you fly from Antarctica to the South Pole, you will experience a true sense of remoteness, for as far as the eye can see, the white horizon meets the pure blue sky. The South Pole, the bottom of the earth and the holy grail of early explorers. At the designated marker there is no more east, south or west on the planet, only north, and you will be able to walk around the world in just a few paces!
Then you will fly back to their wilderness camp at 83ºS to overnight and join the select few who have ever spent a night in the beauty of the high polar plateau. You will be well looked after as you experience camping in one of the wildest places on earth.
After a night spent as a true explorer, you will fly back to the main camp and celebrate your momentous journey. With up to only 12 clients on each adventure and professional polar explorers as your guides, the day’s itineraries are tailored to each individual. Make your choice from gentle treks and picnics overlooking the ice waves, to more adrenaline-fueled activities.
After the trials and confinement of Covid-19, there is perhaps be no better place than Antarctica to escape, reflect and reignite your passion to explore. With limited group size, strict bio-security measures and the naturally inert landscape, Antarctica is one of the safest places to visit in 2020 and beyond.
Travel Back in Time
Oenophiles rejoice! Despite the pandemic and recent wildfires, Napa Valley is open and welcome visitors. While in this revered region, do yourself a favor and book a ride on the Napa Valley Wine Train. This isn’t so much a mode of transportation but rather a time machine transporting passengers back to an era when the journey was as scintillating as the destination, itself. Particularly well-suited for couples seeking quality together time, this excursion offers an elegant sojourn through the heart of Napa Valley in a refined, history-rich atmosphere befitting the lush countryside through which it passes.
Duly complementing the drop-dead gorgeous vistas are gourmet victuals and varietals-a-plenty. The train itself is a wonder to behold. The expertly restored and maintained antique Pullman cars gleam with brass and Honduran mahogany while etched original glass and swanky armchairs evoke the early 20th century spirit of luxury travel.
One of the few active historic passenger railroads remaining in the United States, the Napa Valley Wine Train offers a tempting variety of tours, events and packages, including gourmet dining experiences for both lunch and dinner. As goes without saying, the wine offerings on the Napa Valley Wine Train are ample, and impressive given the space restraints. Or, passengers can bring their own bottle on board.
The Napa Valley Wine Train isn’t just a train ride—it’s an institution that echoes the glory days of train travel, with fine dining service, multiple course meals cooked to order, Napa Valley scenery and ultimate relaxation aboard an exquisitely restored vintage rail car.
Of course, as a result of the newly released travel restrictions, the closure of its winery partners and in the interest of the health of its passengers and staff, Napa Valley Wine Train journeys were temporarily canceled but will be back on track as pandemic conditions improve—and poised to show you a spectacular time.
Luxe Chauffeur Service Everywhere You Jet Set
Luxury, convenience and safety-minded travelers are loving Blacklane’s global chauffeur service, which brings travelers peace of mind across 50 countries. The crew’s health, safety, reliability, and technology gives guests door-to-door stress-free travel.
Blacklane chauffeurs clean vehicles and disinfect all points of contact before and after rides. They offer guests hand sanitizer, wear masks, and provide masks to guests who need them. Their chauffeurs also check their temperature daily and air out vehicles between rides. Blacklane travelers receive fair, fixed and all-inclusive rates and all rides are carbon-neutral.
Plus, all Blacklane chauffeurs are commercially licensed and insured. Airport pickups include flight tracking, meet-and-greet service, and up to one hour of free chauffeur waiting time.
Intercity rides give guests a private door-to-door alternative to short-haul flights and trains. Upgrade your travels at Blacklane.com or on the free Blacklane app.
Gift an Extraordinary Custom Car
For those road warriors who revere the open highway with the wind in their hair, there’s a much better way to bestow a vehicle on your beloved this season. Don’t just buy a car and put a bow on it, let your loved one build their dream car from start to finish and drive away with a truly customized vehicle down to the smallest detail!
E.C.D. Automotive Design (E.C.D.), the country’s leading specialist for custom restored Defenders and classic Land Rovers, has released a limited number of exclusive Ultimate Platinum Cards for the upcoming holiday season. These black stainless-steel cards are valued at $200,000, so you can gift the opportunity to build a vehicle that is one-of-one, meaning no one else in the world will have a car like the one your lucky recipient designs.