Airbnb First Impressions

Is Airbnb an alternative to hotels?

Is Airbnb a good alternative for business travel?

After searching for hotels near the Dreamforce event and finding them quite expensive, Moe and I decided to search for an available location on Airbnb.  It was our first experience using the service.    

In case you’re not familiar with it, Airbnb was started in 2008, and is a community marketplace where you can book spaces from people who have rooms or houses to spare.  There are places available in 34,000 cities in 192 countries.  Pretty amazing!

Moe ended up finding a nice place about 30 minutes from the convention center.

Described as a “Lovely Historic Italianate House, ” we had a bedroom, family room, and bathroom to use for $99 p/night.  You can see it here along with more pictures.

We entered through a door with a security code, and basically lived in the house with the owners for the 3 nights of our trip.

Our hosts were very kind and friendly.  I ended up getting a stomach bug the first night of our trip, and the lady of the house happened to be an ER nurse.  She was very kind in helping me feel better, which obviously isn’t part of the Airbnb service, but goes a long way in establishing the value of the brand (at least in my mind).

After this experience, I think we’ll definitely consider using Airbnb for certain business trips as opposed to the traditional hotel.  It may save money and help make new friends.

What else?  What are your thoughts on using Airbnb as opposed to hotels for business travel? 

 

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Israel Diary Day 7: Nazareth and the Sea of Galilee (+photos)

israel_day_7This is the seventh day in my Israel diary, where I’m attending the HP Indigo VIP Event in Tel Aviv.  See Day 1 in Tel Aviv hereDay 2 in Jerusalem and Bethlehem hereDay 3 at the HP Indigo offices in Nes-Ziona hereDay 4 at Pageflex and Caesarea here, Day 5 at the HP Indigo Plant in Kiryat Gat here, and Day 6 here.

Today, HP has arranged for two tour options: Jerusalem, or Nazareth and the Sea of Galilee.  Since I’ve already visited Jerusalem, and given that President Obama is said to be tying up significant amounts of the city and corresponding traffic, I decide to head to Nazareth and Galilee.

A fantastic tour guide leads our bus, and two Vision staff members join us for the day.  Vision is the company that HP used to facilitate the HP Indigo event.

Yonatan is our 24-year old security detail, and is tall (probably 6’3″), and armed with a pistol stuck in his Read more of this post

Israel Diary Day 6: HP Indigo VIP Event, Tel Aviv (+photos)

cover_shot_joffa_goodThis is the sixth day in my Israel diary, where I’m attending the HP Indigo VIP Event in Tel Aviv.  See Day 1 in Tel Aviv hereDay 2 in Jerusalem and Bethlehem here, Day 3 at the HP Indigo offices in Nes-Ziona here, Day 4 at Pageflex and Caesarea here, and Day 5 at the HP Indigo Plant in Kiryat Gat here.

Today, HP has arranged another full day of events.  In the morning, I take part in a session conducted by Vivian Cohen-Leisorek, who is Strategic Marketing Product Manager for HP, where she discusses various creative applications of digital printing powered by the Indigo.  It’s exciting to see how Clients have utilized the technology — and many of them are MindFire Clients.  Love seeing that!

Next, Lior Krasnovsky reviews SmartStream Production Center, which is a product we’ve integrated with, and describes how it helps to improve the processing of a large volume of short-run jobs. Read more of this post

Israel Diary Day 5: HP Indigo Plant in Kiryat Gat (+photos)

day_5_coverToday’s agenda is scheduled from start to finish by HP, and is focused on events at the Kiryat Gat Indigo plant.  At 7:45, a bus picks us up to take us on an hour’s journey.

On the bus, I meet Frank Hood, who runs InfoVine in Houston, Texas.  We have a great conversation, and end up seeing quite a bit of each other over the next few days.  Frank is working on his second company, having built and sold the first a few years back.

At the plant, we are scheduled to see various parts of the facility, demonstrating the enormous amount of innovation and engineering that goes into supporting the Indigo.  We start by hearing from Alon Bar-Shany, who runs the entire Indigo Division.  After Alon, we hear from various parts of the organization, and I pick up a lot of interesting ideas.

For example, I learn that HP has a support mechanism called “shared support,” which Frank explains to me is devised to motivate clients like him to invest in training their press operators to a designated level of competency.  When the operator reaches that level, the support fees charged by HP drop considerably (something like 60%).  The idea resonates with me, and I immediately think about how we might be able to apply that to our multichannel marketing automation.

In the evening, HP arranges for dinner at Reading 3, which is at the Tel Aviv port.  We have an enjoyable dinner, and are treated to a show by a local group of entertainers.  Plenty of laughs ensue!

We arrive home around 11:30, and although I’m a bit wound up, sleep is necessary, as tomorrow is filled with more HP activities.

Here are some photos from the day; click to enjoy!

Israel Diary Day 3: HP Indigo and Nes-Ziona (+photos)

israel_day_3_coverThe third day in my Israel diary, where I’m attending the HP Indigo VIP Event in Tel Aviv.  See Day 1 in Tel Aviv here, Day 2 in Jerusalem and Bethlehem here.

Finally, I slept a complete night, and awoke feeling rested.  I can’t recall how long it took my body to adjust last time I traveled to this part of the world, but I’m starting to feel a bit more alive.

After a wonderful breakfast, I retreated to my room to write, respond to emails, and check on my wife and baby.   All seems OK at home, except that Abby has been a bit more difficult that usual.  I hope she doesn’t drive mommy crazy!

On my agenda today is a visit to the HP Indigo offices in Nes-Ziona, to meet with Gershon Alon (he oversees the Workflow Solutions at HP Indigo) and further our integration with SmartStream (which we unveiled in Nashville a month ago), and discuss other cooperative goals.

I struggle to find a Read more of this post

Israel Diary Day 2: Jerusalem & Bethlehem (+photos)

Israel Diary day 2

The second day in my Israel diary, where I’m attending the HP Indigo VIP Event in Tel Aviv.  See Day 1 in Tel Aviv here.

I awoke at 3:30 AM, fully aware that it was too early to get up, but unable to coax myself back to sleep.  So around 4:30 I gave up, and resorted to responding to emails and checking the news.

At 6:30, the hotel’s breakfast opened, which provided a wonderful array of options.  The display reminded me of being on a cruise — so many yummy things to try!

After eating and pounding a few cups of coffee, I made my way to the front of the hotel to wait for a tour bus (which I arranged the night before).  I choose a tour of Jerusalem and Bethlehem, which cost around $90.  Compared to what I’ve paid in other countries, it wasn’t too expensive.

Promptly at 7:20, our tour guide (Absalom) appeared, requesting that I follow him to boarded his tour bus.  He was a friendly and very helpful guide, and when I return to Israel, I’ll definitely look him up again.  After picking up a few more tourists, we made our way for about 45 minutes to Jerusalem.  I made friends with a number of my fellow passengers, including an attorney from Ohio, and an auditor for Shell.

For the next 8 hours, he led us on a journey of Jerusalem, Bethlehem, a kibbutz, and back to the old city of Jerusalem.  Here are some (but certainly not all!) of the highlights: Read more of this post

Israel Diary Day 1: Tel Aviv (+photos)

israel_covershot2Leaving my wife and baby was harder than usual.  I’m headed to the HP Indigo VIP Event in Tel Aviv, Israel.

As we stood outside LAX’s Bradley Terminal, Abby seemed to know something was up.  Usually, she seems oblivious to what’s going on, but this time she held on to me, and even seemed hesitant to go back to mom.

She gave me a bunch of little hugs and squeezes.

Dave, Abby, and Sarah

One last picture before flying to Israel. Going to miss these sweet girls of mine!

We took our usual family picture, and I watched as they pulled away.  I said a prayer for their safety and protection.

Arriving at the El Al check-in, there were at least a dozen people ahead of me.  I wasn’t in line for more than one minute, when an El Al official came up to me.

“Sir, may I see your passport?” he asked.  I handed it to him.  “Sir, I’m going to need to ask you some questions,” he said, leading me towards the front of the line.  He asked me where I was going, and what my plans were.  After a few minutes he left, but returned with a young lady.  She introduced herself, apologized, and said that she would need to learn more about my trip.

I nodded and smiled.  In these types of situations, I enjoy experiencing the rush of adrenaline that comes from new situations.  I know I’m weird, but I like practicing remaining calm while my brain goes into overdrive.

“Sir, who are you visiting?” she asked, watching my face as I collected my thoughts.  I told her about the HP VIP event, my plans with Pageflex, and other objectives for the trip.  She continued asking about where I was going, and what I planned to do each day.  She asked who I would be with, and how I knew them.

After a few minutes, she excused herself.  I lost sight of her as she mixed with a sea of El Al reps behind the counter.  A moment later, she returned.  “Did you buy your own ticket? Who made your travel arrangements?” she asked, peppering me with questions about how I arrived at LAX.

Then, to my surprise, she said Read more of this post

Someone Please Create This Company: Travel Freely

I hate packing!

I hate packing!

Every time I travel, I think of a service I’d like to have.

In a nutshell, I really dislike packing.  I’m not sure exactly why, but I think part of it is that I used to be so dirt poor, that I’d stress about forgetting something that I wouldn’t be able to afford at my destination.  I’d worry that I’d forgotten something that would render the trip useless.

Of course, I can’t recall one time these fears actually came true, but nonetheless, the packing process wreaks havoc on my OCD-impacted psyche.

To ease my concerns, I’ve made a checklist of the items I usually need, along with a “best-practices” section so that I can remember lessons learned (example: waking up at 4 when a taxi is arriving at 4:30 isn’t good; wake up at 3:45 instead).  Yah, I know I’m weird — but having a list seems to shave a bit of the mental anguish from the experience.

Though I’ve done it dozens of times p/year and nothing really bad ever happens, I still find myself disliking the process.  Ask my wife; she’ll tell you what I go through.

So here’s the idea: What if you could pack the ideal suitcase, and ship it to a company.  Let’s call them “Travel Freely”.  When you make your travel arrangements, you simply send your reservation to Travel Freely, and magically, upon arriving at the hotel, your luggage is waiting with everything you need.  No waiting around at the airport.  No need to pack.  Just click-and-go.

Opening your suitcase, you see all your favorite clothes have been cleaned, pressed, and are ready to rock.

When you’re done with your trip, you check out of the hotel and they ship it back to Travel Freely, where everything gets cleaned and replenished, awaiting your next trip.

Of course you’d have some options when you make your request, like the # of days you’ll be gone (so that the right number of shirts are available), or if you need any additional items packed (like extra Advil).  These items would pull from a list of your favorite necessities and would be added with a few clicks or swipes on your iPhone.

What do you think?  Am I the only one that hates packing?  Is there a service like this?  Would anyone use this?

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