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Lowe’s teams up with Petco to add pet services, supplies

Lowe’s teams up with Petco to add pet services, supplies

Lowe’s + Petco will offer Petco’s pet services, such as mobile grooming and vet clinics for vaccinations, microchipping and pest prevention.

Lowe’s + Petco will offer Petco’s pet services, such as mobile grooming and vet clinics for vaccinations, microchipping and pest prevention.

Lowe’s Companies Inc.

Lowe’s is embracing pets as part of its home improvement retail plan.

The Mooresville-based retail chain is partnering with Petco to pilot the first “store-in-store” concept adding pet food and supplies, the company announced Thursday.

Lowe’s + Petco locations will also offer Petco services, such as mobile grooming and vet clinics for vaccinations, microchipping and pest prevention. The first location will open early next month at Alamo Ranch, Texas, and expand to 14 other stores in Texas, North Carolina and South Carolina by the end of March.

Half of the Lowe’s + Petco locations will be in the Carolinas within the Charlotte region. But the companies have not selected which stores yet, Bill Boltz, executive vice president of merchandising for Lowe’s, told the Observer on Wednesday.

Boltz would not disclose how much either company is investing in the new in-store concept.

The store-in-store will cover about 1,100 square feet in the seasonal zone in the front of the store, according to Lowe’s.

Pilot locations will staff Petco employees during peak hours for pet-focused needs alongside Lowe’s workers offering advice on home improvement projects, according to Lowe’s.

“It’s really the first type of this type of relationship that Lowe’s has entered into,” Boltz said.

Lowe’s has expanded its pet products through the years to to meet customer demand, he said, and this new partnership also meets the home improvement company’s strategy to increase market share by becoming a “total home solution.”

Lowe’s + Petco adds “taking care of the other member of your family inside your home, which is your pet,” Boltz said.

Pets and the home

A recent survey commissioned by Lowe’s found that 58% of respondents said they’d be more likely to shop at a home improvement retailer if they could also purchase all their pet needs in the same place.

The survey also found 69% of pet owners saying their pet was a factor in their decision-making when searching for their current home. And 90% of pet owners want their pet to be comfortable in their home.

Lowe’s, which already welcomes dogs in its stores, has added pet-friendly products like Stainmaster carpet, dog beds, dog doors and cleaning supplies.

As more people, including millennial and Gen-Z pet owners, factor in their pet when choosing a home, company spokeswoman Amy Allison said Lowe’s saw an opportunity to create a convenient shopping experience to meet this rising need.

The pet products will be available for purchase in store and online to be picked up curbside, in contactless pickup lockers or at the customer service desk at Lowe’s + Petco pilot locations.

Capturing more customers

Lowe’s has been expanding its focus to capture more customers in other ways, too, from top competitor The Home Depot.

Last spring, Lowe’s added its “Pro Zone” near the store entrance with products for grab-and-go convenience, trailer parking with extended parking spots and free phone charging stations.

Lowe’s Tool Rental launched two years ago in Charlotte, offering professional-grade tools and equipment for pro and do-it-yourself customers.

In November, Lowe’s launched Livable Home for aging-in-place and life-change solutions, partnering with AARP to offer online and in-store collaboration in customer education. It rolled out at nearly 500 stores in about 50 metro areas and will continue expanding throughout this year, according to Lowe’s.

Lowe’s also expanded its touchless lockers for online order pickups during the pandemic and said it would open 50 delivery terminals, seven distribution centers and four e-commerce fulfillment centers nationwide for faster home delivery.

More changes for Lowe’s, Home Depot

Lowe’s employees are expected to begin moving into the new tech hub center in South End between May and July, the Observer previously reported.

Lowe’s is spending $153 million on the project to modernize its digital business as part of its growth strategy. That includes creating technology like “Measure Your Space,” launching this year.

Lowe’s has more than 2,200 stores and about 300,000 employees.

Meanwhile last week, Lowe’s rival The Home Depot confirmed as part of the Atlanta-based company’s growth strategy, it will open a warehouse in Steele Creek focused on same-day and next-day delivery. The company also offers some pet products such as dog beds, crates and houses, and food bowls, according to the website.

This story was originally published January 27, 2022 6:00 AM.

Related stories from Raleigh News & Observer

Catherine Muccigrosso is the retail business reporter for The Charlotte Observer. An award-winning journalist, she has worked for multiple newspapers and McClatchy for more than a decade.


Home Depot Is Taking a Different Approach to Curb Labor Shortage

Home Depot Is Taking a Different Approach to Curb Labor Shortage

The company is hiring more than 100,000 associates in anticipation of a busy spring season.

Artur Widak/NurPhoto | Getty Images

As a nationwide labor shortage continues to put pressure on some of the U.S.’s biggest companies, hiring managers have had to get creative when it comes to acquiring and retaining talent, whether it’s Arkansas’s $10,000 relocation offer or an Arizona CEO’s quit-incentivizing payout. Now, The Home Depot is mixing up its hiring strategy too; per the company’s website, applicants can look forward to an accelerated hiring process — and might even receive an offer within one day of applying. 

In anticipation of a busy spring season, the world’s largest home-improvement retailer is hiring more than 100,000 flexible, full-time and part-time positions, including customer service and sales, store support, freight, merchandising and warehouse associates. The company will host a Virtual Spring Career Day on Wednesday, Feb. 16, where prospective applicants can learn about the various available roles and growth opportunities. Attendees will also have access to panel sessions featuring company leadership on topics like a “day-in-the-life-view” of open roles, career planning and benefits.

Related: Beware the Rebound in Home Depot 

“In today’s climate, jobseekers are shopping for the best opportunity,” said Eric Schelling, vice president of global talent acquisition at The Home Depot in a statement. “At The Home Depot, they’ll find a company that offers much more than a job and a paycheck.”

In addition to providing employees with health and personal benefits, Home Depot is offering tuition reimbursement, a performance-based cash-bonus program, paid family leave, back-up dependent care, a 401(k) savings plan with company match and a discounted company-stock purchase program. 

In response to the challenges imposed by the pandemic, companies across a range of industries have bulked up their benefits packages and even experimented with so-called “digital perks,” or incentives that, to some extent, serve as replacements for those nice-to-haves many employees had gotten used to in the office. Momentive (formerly known as SurveyMonkey) employees were treated to kitchen-themed care packages and $500 stipends for home-office improvements, and staff at insurance comparison marketplace startup The Zebra were even reimbursed for pet-adoption fees. 

According to MarketWatch, Home Depot shares climbed 0.12% higher to $366.98 on Monday, but have continued to underperform the market. 

Related: Labor Shortage? Depends on Who You Ask.

Copyright 2022 Entrepreneur.com Inc., All rights reserved

This article originally appeared on entrepreneur.com


Great Big Home + Garden Show returns to I-X Center with plenty of ideas for your next home improvement project

Great Big Home + Garden Show returns to I-X Center with plenty of ideas for your next home improvement project

CLEVELAND, Ohio — The Great Big Home + Garden Show is back in Cleveland this weekend, more than two years since it last rolled through town. The annual showcase of the latest home and garden trends runs Feb. 4-13 at the I-X Center.

The return comes after its longtime home faced an uncertain future when its previous operator shut down the venue in September 2020. A year later, a new management team, Industrial Realty Group, announced it would reopen the building, a former tank plant.

“It’s like a little miracle, we’re so excited to be back,” show manager Rosanna Hrabnicky said. “It’s like they haven’t missed a beat. Things are right back to where they were. The show looks amazing.”

For consumers, the expo couldn’t have come at a better time. Home improvement spending has surged during the pandemic. Still, at the same time, health and safety concerns have often made connecting with the right designers and contractors a challenge.

“Not being able to sell face-to-face has been hard on some of our exhibitors,” Hrabnicky said. “Building relationships with the visitors that come to the show is so meaningful because that’s where you feel that trust in a person to turn your home into a better home.”

She has high hopes about attendance. Advanced ticket sales are on pace with 2020, though the ongoing Omicron wave combined with wintry weather could put a wrinkle in those expectations. Homeowners who do come will find more than 400 exhibits designed to inspire them for their next project. The show also features appearances by home improvement celebrities “Trading Spaces” star Ty Pennington and Matt Fox from HGTV’s “Room by Room.”

Among the returning exhibits is Showcase Gardens, a popular walkthrough attraction consisting of eight professionally landscaped gardens that revolve around a theme. This year’s theme is “staycation.”

“People have been staying home and redoing their backyards,” Hrabnicky explained. “So, we’re showing pools and waterfalls. There’s even one garden by CK Stonescapes with an Ohio State theme.”

The show typically features an Idea Home, a full-size home inside the I-X Center that visitors can actually go inside and explore. This year is no exception as JDM Custom Homes has built a two-story, two-bedroom, two-bath modular home to showcase an emerging method of construction that offers both flexibility and value.

“Modular homes are a little bit smaller, but they’re definitely coming of age,” Hrabnicky said. “The quality is amazing. It’s gorgeous.”

Some other show highlights include:

Main Stage: Get home and garden tips from national and local home improvement experts like Ty Pennington, Matt Fox, Laura Mineff, John Hall and more, plus cooking demonstrations by the Loretta Paganini School of Cooking

Weaver Barns Backyard Oasis: Turn any outdoor space into a personal sanctuary with a shed, pavilion, garage or cabin

Quint Living Experience: Looking to downsize? Tour two tiny homes including a 20-foot house on wheels and learn about a new, holistic approach to living

Doggie Drive: Bid on custom doghouses built by juniors and seniors at the Cuyahoga Valley Career Center

Tickets for the Great Big Home + Garden Show can be purchased at the door for $15 or ahead of time at a local Petitti Garden Center or online at greatbighomeandgarden.com for $13. Discounts for seniors, groups and children are available, too. The show is following the latest public health regulations and, thus, no mask or vaccine mandates are in effect.


Home Improvement Market Still Going Strong

Home Improvement Market Still Going Strong

One difference the pandemic has made to our lives is that everyone realizes how much can be achieved even when you aren’t taking long drives to the office. Over the last couple of years, this has been driving people to buy or rent larger accommodations.

And it isn’t just the family that’s driving this demand either. Many younger people who had been sharing accommodation, no longer found it as convenient when they were spending so much time at home. When new for-sale homes proved too expensive, they started looking further away, especially since distance from the office didn’t matter.

But suburban prices weren’t much better. So many looked for rental accommodation instead. And the sudden surge in demand meant a lack of availability followed by higher rates on rental properties as well.

So while some people found what they were looking for, a large number had to settle for redoing what they already had. And this phenomenon is continuing this year as well. Even if over the next few months, more properties become available, we have to come to terms with the fact that demand is so much higher that we have people choosing mobile homes and alternative accommodation until things normalize.

And this is very good news for companies offering home improvement products, as we can see in the selection below-

Ethan Allen Interiors Inc. ETD

Ethan Allen, which is an interior design company that manufactures and sells home furnishings in the U.S., Mexico, Honduras and Canada reported strong earnings results last Friday.

Farooq Kathwari, Ethan Allen’s chairman, president and CEO said, “Our differentiation of relevant offerings, strong and talented associates, and control over our manufacturing and logistics, provided us an opportunity to show strong growth despite many continuing challenges, including supply chain issues and inflation.”

And so, despite these challenges, Ethen Allen was able to grow its revenue and earnings by a respective 16% and 38%. What’s more, these results blew past the Zacks Consensus Estimates (earnings beat by 25% on revenue that beat by 11%). Analysts too have raised their estimates (by 18 cents or 6% for the year ending in Jun 2022 and by 4% for the following year).

Ethan Allen shares are, however, rather undervalued. The P/E based on forward 12 months earnings is just 7.91X, well below the median level of 9.64X over the past year, as well as the S&P 500’s 20.03X. They’re also undervalued on a P/S basis.

The Zacks Rank #1 (Strong Buy) stock has a Value Score of A. So investors looking to keep their risk low may want to park their money here.

Tempur Sealy International TPX

Tempur Sealy focuses on bedding products that are sold in the U.S. and Canada, as well as other markets.

Tempur Sealy will report later this month. In the last-reported quarter, it grew revenue by 20% and earnings by 19%, excluding a slight negative impact from currency. On that occasion, its chairman and CEO Scott Thompson attributed the strong sales to “growth across all brands, products, channels and segments.” This was despite the fact that there were difficult comps and supply chain constraints that didn’t allow it to service all demand.

The company remains focused on long-term growth by expansion of the total global addressable market, international expansion, industry-leading innovation capabilities and balanced capital allocation. Most encouragingly, he assured that “In 2022 and beyond, we expect to leverage these complementary building blocks to deliver double-digit sales and EPS growth.”

There haven’t been any estimate revisions of late, which means that the Zacks earnings expected surprise prediction (ESP) is 0%. That still translates to a fair chance of an earnings beat since the shares carry a Zacks Rank #2 (Buy). Both value and growth scores are A, indicating that this is a way to buy growth at relatively low prices.

Which brings us to the question of valuation. Tempur Sealy shares trade at 10.30X P/E, which is below their median value of 13.06X over the past year and of course the S&P 500. On a P/S basis, the shares are trading at 1.36X, which is not cheap in absolute terms (P/S should ideally be less than 1 to indicate undervaluation). But a comparison with what they have been over the past year and also the S&P 500 is encouraging.

Beacon Roofing Supply BECN

Beacon Roofing Supply is a distributor of residential and non-residential roofing materials, as well as a whole range of other building products to contractors, home builders, building owners, lumberyards and retailers.

Beacon Roofing is expected to report this week. In its last-reported quarter, the company grew its revenue by 7% and earnings by 47%. While all segments of the business grew, building products other than roofing was the strongest, followed by non-residential roofing and then residential roofing. For the fiscal year ending September however, residential roofing was almost as strong as other building materials, with non-residential roofing growth being slower.

Julian Francis, Beacon Roofing’s president and CEO attributed the results to “focused market and price execution” and the success of its “high-value solutions” which together allowed it to grow despite a “supply-challenged environment.”

In the last 30 days, analysts have taken their 2022 estimates up an average 23 cents (around 5%). 2023 estimates also edged higher. The company’s Zacks Rank #2 and ESP of 0.94% indicates a good chance of its beating estimates this quarter.

Beacon Roofing shares have an A for value and B for growth, meaning that this is also a way to buy growth at reasonable prices. On a P/S basis, the shares trade at 0.55X, which is cheap both in absolute terms and with respect to the S&P 500, and are at its median value over the past year. On a P/E basis, the shares trade at 10.69X, well below their median value of 12.90X and the S&P 500.

One-Month Price Performance

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These 3 big-impact home improvements will transform your home in 2022

These 3 big-impact home improvements will transform your home in 2022

(BPT) – Are you ready for a home refresh? The new year is an ideal time to set goals and optimize your home, whether you’re tackling important maintenance tasks, adding comforting elements to cozy up your space, or getting organized.

This year, home improvements that provide long-term benefits are top of mind for homeowners. Here are a few ways to keep your home in tip-top shape and bring you peace of mind.

Minimize clutter and increase safety

People are multitasking at home more than ever, which can often lead to increased clutter. Disorganization can be more than just unsightly mess; it can be a safety hazard. Thoughtful organization improves functionality, saves space and keeps areas clutter-free to reduce the chance of injury. Spaces where organization can have a huge impact include closets, mudrooms, the garage, the home office, pantry and laundry room.

“Having a dedicated space to store and contain your items will help you stay organized and improve order and efficiency,” said Andrew Hall, Home Depot Interiors Program Merchant.

By utilizing high-quality installed organization systems, you can reclaim control of your office, keep things tidy and efficient in your laundry room, and easily spot missing ingredients in your new kitchen pantry. According to the National Association of Home Builders, a walk-in pantry is the most-wanted kitchen feature, with 81% of home buyers identifying a walk-in pantry as an essential/must-have (34%) or desirable item (47%).

Decluttering and organizing your home can also help to reduce stress and allow you to streamline daily tasks. For a custom solution that meets all your storage needs and maintains your design aesthetic, consider professional organization. The Home Depot Home Services is available to help you design and build your own custom closet or storage solution with ease and convenience.

Cut energy costs and your carbon footprint

The foundation of home comfort starts with proper heating and cooling. HVAC services include anything related to heating, ventilation and air conditioning, and are key to feeling comfortable at home year-round, no matter the temperature outside.

“Crossing routine maintenance tasks off your to-do list sooner rather than later not only enhances comfort, safety and functionality of your home, but it can also increase the value of your home, reduce your energy consumption and save you money,” said Viviane Essex, HVAC Install Merchant with The Home Depot’s Home Services team.

Each spring and fall before you start using your air conditioner, furnace or other heating and cooling systems, you should get a tune-up to prepare your HVAC system for the seasons. By investing in a spring AC tune up and fall furnace tune-up each year, you can save a lot in energy bills by keeping your system operating at peak efficiency. You also can avoid costly repairs by identifying and fixing minor problems before they turn into big ones. While some homes might be due for a new replacement high efficiency furnace or air conditioner, others may simply need maintenance to keep everything operating as it should.

Consult a HVAC service provider from The Home Depot Home Services who can evaluate and take measurements on critical system components, check the performance and safety of the system cleanings, and make necessary repairs. Air circulation is also important to prevent temperature fluctuations throughout a home and save money while reducing energy costs. Your tune-up technician can check for duct leakage which can cause hot/cold spots and waste energy — duct sealing can help with this. In addition, installing ceiling fans and mounting a programmable thermostat in place of an older model can all help reduce your utility bills and keep you feeling more comfortable at home.

Get prepared to stay ahead of unexpected expenses

For most people, their home is their biggest investment. A proactive approach to maintenance and repairs helps protect this investment and provides peace of mind. Consider keeping a monthly and annual checklist of maintenance to-do’s and schedule any necessary repairs as soon as possible.

Common monthly home maintenance to-do’s include checking pipes for leaks, verifying air flow and temperature accuracy, changing furnace filters, checking fire alarms and carbon monoxide detectors, and cleaning gutters and walkways of debris. Annual maintenance should include HVAC maintenance, checking window and door seals, verifying fence and deck integrity, updating lighting indoors and out, and landscape maintenance such as trimming trees.

If you want help to reach your 2022 home improvement goals, start with the professionals at The Home Depot Home Services. The Home Depot Home Services provides homeowners with free in-person or virtual consultations depending on project type and client needs for 400 home improvement projects, partnering with top professionals in your community to help you make your upgrades and repairs a reality. If you decide to move forward with your project, you can feel confident that all certified service providers are local, licensed, insured and background checked. Learn more at homedepot.com/licensenumbers.


Airline Execs Now See Accelerated Full Business Travel Recovery

Airline Execs Now See Accelerated Full Business Travel Recovery

“By far the biggest and most impactful question being debated is the question about business travel returning,” said United CEO Scott Kirby. “Put me firmly in the camp it is going to return in full.”

Kirby made the comments as part of a panel of executives that included bosses at British Airways and Easyjet on a CarTrawler webinar Wednesday. They echoed comments Kirby has made on recent investor calls.

The optimism impacts United’s thinking about its fleet.

“A number of our competitors in the U.S. and internationally, as the pandemic deepened, particularly as the second wave hit, decided to retire a bunch of their airplanes,” Kirby said. “We didn’t retire any airplanes, and we viewed it as an opportunity to actually double down and turn right when everyone else was turning left.”

The carrier even made a historic order for more. It has net added “more than 500 aircraft” to its fleet, including the orders, Kirby said.

“That’s the right call,” Kirby said. “Demand is going to be robust, and we’re going to be able to grow. If we can do it at the same time everyone else is constrained and unable to grow, it just creates a unique opportunity for United Airlines. So we’re really quite bullish.”

CEO of British Airways Sean Doyle echoed Kirby’s optimism. Doyle said the airline saw a bump once the UK reopened its borders recently.

“It was quicker than we expected,” Doyle said. “We saw a massive recovery, and week by week, the corporate segment grew by about eight [percentage] points.”

“Small-to-medium enterprises were quicker out of the traps, and they were pacing ahead of what we would call the corporates that we don’t have a relationship with,” Doyle said. “The big managed corporates were a little bit slower and that was driven, I think, by office policies.”

Sophie Dekkers, the chief commercial officer of Easyjet, also echoed the optimism.

“Last week, 21 percent of our traffic was business,” Dekker said. “Pre-pandemic, about 19 percent was business. Now granted, leisure has dropped slightly. But we are proportionately still seeing business travel on short-haul still at similar levels.”

Premium Versus Non-Premium

Willie Walsh, who is director-general of the International Air Transport Association (IATA) and, until 2020, was CEO of International Airlines Group, echoed Kirby’s optimism.

“We look at it not from a business and leisure perspective but from a premium and non-premium one,” Walsh said. “When we look at premium and non-premium, the pace of recovery of premium has been exactly the same as non-premium in international markets as we’ve gone through 2021 — which has surprised me.”

Toward the end of the year, IATA saw premium travel purchases recovering at a slightly faster pace than non-premium. That pattern coincidentally echos with the reporting in Skift’s 2022 Travel Megatrend, “The Rise of Premium Leisure Air Travel.”

Flyers Willing to Pay More and Buy Upsells

The executives were commenting on a research report published Wednesday by CarTrawler, a Dublin-based tech vendor specializing in car rental cross-selling.

United and other airlines have recently signed deals with CarTrawler to use its technology to help upsell passengers on car rentals and other mobility ancillaries.

For example, under a partnership with United announced in November, the airline will integrate CarTrawler’s technology across its site and app, letting passengers book cars through United’s partner Avis Budget.

The technology analyzes customer and flight data in a promise to provide more relevant offers than what a carrier’s in-house tech might come up with.

Ancillaries have growth potential, the executives said.

“We’re seeing attach rates continue to soar,” said Frederic Lalonde, CEO of Hopper, an online travel agency. “Pre-pandemic, call it 33 percent of all the airfares, hotels, and car rentals we sold would have had a flexibility product attached to it. Now we’re looking at 43 percent to 45 percent.”

Most of Hopper’s consumers are Gen Z or Millennials who are less personally exposed to the health risks of the pandemic and who tend to be more price-conscious, leisure travelers.

Yet despite those caveats, the company is seeing that customers who buy trip-protection, price-protection, and similar products repeat doing so on future trips about 90 percent of the time, and the company claims an 87 percent average repeat rate on these products.

Lalonde said consumers are adding about $40 worth of extra spending for flexibility on domestic U.S. trips averaging about $320 to $340 in cost via Hopper.

Lalonde also said Hopper has been seeing domestic airfares in the U.S. rise about 6 percent a month on average without the inflation deterring demand.

“There’s so much pent-up savings among consumers that we’re entering into a super-cycle for travel demand in the next year or two,” Lalonde said.

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New Travel Company Aims To Ease Pandemic Pains And Disrupt The Industry

New Travel Company Aims To Ease Pandemic Pains And Disrupt The Industry

Planning a trip has always been challenging but never more so than it is right now.

Pandemic-related travel policies and rules, and the confusing booking and cancellation policies associated with them, are in a constant state of flux across the globe. Even savvy travelers aren’t sure where they can travel, when is the best time to go, and what the situation on the ground will be like once they arrive.

To ease these hassles and enhance the travel experience, a new membership company, Origin, is harnessing the power of artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning, and coupling it with personalization by locally-based travel experts.

Co-founded by tech executives Eli Bressert (formerly of Apple) and Tamar van de Paal (of Google and Nextdoor), the Origin “personal travel assistant” app offers members access to personalized information and real-time human support at every juncture of a trip, from planning to execution.

“We created Origin because modern travel has become extremely complicated and we believe that transformational travel allows people to live out their dreams,” said Bressert, a travel enthusiast himself. “The barrier of travel planning, the time it consumes, and [the lack of] insider knowledge are holding people back from maximizing their travel experiences,” he says. 

In mid-January, the company announced over $5 million in seed funding (led by Project A) for this “travel assistant service” that will help users design bespoke trips.

How the Origin app works

Interested travelers sign up for a $3000 annual membership, which entitles them to unlimited trip planning, unlimited trip revisions (before or during a trip), and 24/7 support. 

To maximize its value, the simple-to-use Origin app collects information from members about their preferences, interests, style and values. AI offers data on details such as best flight times, best-rated accommodations, sustainable destinations, etc. And machine learning continually incorporates data from a member’s prior trips to improve the relevance of future recommendations.

Users can choose to communicate electronically, over the app, or with real people if they choose. 

Local expertise is provided by a network of on-site “travel curators” based around the world, currently in Spain, Argentina, the UK, The Netherlands, New York, California, Texas and soon more locations in Asia. Adding to their depth of knowledge, all were once expats at these destinations.

The company establishes preferential rates and benefits with accommodation, dining and experience partners (such as room upgrades and complimentary breakfasts), achieving cost-savings by eliminating middlemen (e.g. resellers and travel agents) and connecting travelers directly with operators.

Members receive a customized itinerary without the hassles of having to coordinate all the various aspects of travel by themselves. All the information related to a trip is organized and accessible on their smartphones or tablets without having to open PDFs or read through long email threads.

The company also tries to make sure that the human elements of serendipity and surprise (in the form of a traveler’s favorite snack, a special event at a destination, or a wellness amenity) are elements of each trip.

Is Origin for you? 

The fixed cost of membership is relatively modest for frequent travelers who travel multiple times a year. The convenience of the app will also appeal to anyone planning a complex trip (e.g. stops in multiple countries, trips to exotic locations, multigenerational trips, etc.).

Of course, Origin and its backers are banking on the growing demographic of millennials and Gen-X travelers who understand the value that adding technology and machine learning brings to the convenience and pleasure of travel.

The Origin travel assistant is currently available in the Apple app store and will soon be launched on Google Play.  A $400 trial option is available to travelers interested in experiencing a curated trip prior to signing up for membership.

Read more about Origin on the company website.


Airlines Offer Travel Waivers, Cancel Flights As Winter Storm Landon Moves Across U.S.

Airlines Offer Travel Waivers, Cancel Flights As Winter Storm Landon Moves Across U.S.

Winston Zhou/Xinhua via Getty Images

Travel is going to be messy in the coming days as airlines prepare for Winter Storm Landon which is expected to drop snow, sleet, and freezing rain across a 2,000-mile swath of the U.S.

More than 3,000 flights have already been canceled throughout the country while hundreds more have been delayed, according to flight-tracking site FlightAware. The site’s “Misery Map” is surging at Chicago O’Hare International Airport where nearly 500 flights have been canceled and a winter storm warning is in effect through at least 6 p.m. Wednesday. Chicagoans can expect up to a foot of snow, NBC Chicago reported.

Flight cancellations and delays also are also piling up in Denver, Dallas-Fort Worth, Detroit, and St. Louis, and many major airlines are issuing waivers for flight changes.

In Denver, some areas have seen almost a foot of snow while nearly two feet has been reported at higher elevations in the state, The Weather Channel reports.

“Travel will become hazardous because of snow, sleet and/or freezing rain on one or multiple days in these regions through the end of the week,” it said.

Southwest Airlines alone has canceled more than 400 flights on Wednesday and another than 500 flights on Thursday. The airline has proactively suspended all operations at Dallas Love Field hub on Thursday, a local CBS affiliate reported.

The National Weather Service is expecting Winter Storm Landon could bring freezing rain, sleet, snow, and ice to Texas, potentially threatening everything from roadways to power supplies.

Fort Worth-based American Airlines has also canceled nearly 180 flights Wednesday and another 200 flights on Thursday. American is issuing flight waivers for passengers scheduled to travel through airports in 25 states and Canada.

Delta Air Lines is expecting disruptions along the East Coast and into Canada as well as in Texas and neighboring states. It is offering waivers to travelers booked on flights through several airports including JFK, LaGuardia, and Boston Logan International Airport.

JetBlue is waiving fees and fare differences on travel through several airports in the midwest and Northeast, including Chicago, Denver, Dallas/Fort Worth, Detroit, and Philadelphia.

United is offering waivers for passengers traveling through several major airports, including Chicago and all three New York-area airports.

Spirit is waiving change fees and fare differences across the Midwest.

Meena Thiruvengadam loves wandering new streets and discovering the world’s stories. Find her on Facebook, Instagram, or at the airport, and subscribe to her newsletter.