Story by Liesel Schmidt
Over the past few decades, third-party Internet travel booking sites have exploded in their numbers, offering all kinds of package deals that include everything from air travel, cruises, and hotel stays to fully-planned experiential vacations that give you a pre-planned itinerary of tickets to everything from museums and concerts to theme parks and guided tours. Need a dinner reservation? They can have it set up by the time you arrive at your destination, all with a few simple clicks of your mouse and some credit card info. It’s amazing to see some of the deals that you can score while you’re using these sites—not to mention the conveniences they afford—so it’s hardly any mystery that so many people would rather use them than having to do it all in pieces, working their way through the websites of car rental agencies, airlines, and hotels to book each individually and wonder if they’ve really gotten the best price.
Undeniably sitting at the top of the food chain is Priceline, a travel site whose legendary deals and steals have made it one of the first sites that people seek when they’re making travel plans. Its competitive pricing adds peace of mind, their customer service is award-winning, and—to top it all off—they’ve even begun doing something that no other third-party booking site has done: working directly with the newly-formed American Forces Travel to offer exclusive rates available to no one else.
According to the AFT site, “American Forces Travel is a new Morale, Welfare and Recreation (MWR) program arising out of a joint service initiative combining the efforts of each of the five branches of service (Army, Marine Corps, Navy, Air Force and Coast Guard) and MWR and Resale Policy. Because the Internet is now the most popular way to research and book travel, the branches of Service chose to evolve their travel offering…[and] have contracted with a world leader in travel, Priceline, to deliver high value travel benefits to the U.S. military community. American Forces Travel will transform the way MWR provides online leisure services to our Service members and families, empowering them to revitalize, reconnect, be well, and most importantly, mission-ready.”
“In addition to dramatically enhancing quality of life for the military community, American Forces Travel will inject critical revenue into MWR programs by providing commissions from every booking made,” the release goes on to say. “Awarding the no-cost contract to Priceline is a major milestone for the Services and a testament to their collaborative and transformative efforts. While there are many for-profit online leisure travel offerings marketing to the military today, American Forces Travel is the only official joint service owned online leisure travel program.”
So just what does that mean? Better rates for both current and retired members of all branches of the military and their families, better sales and service support, and better travel. Period.
According to a recent article on taskandpurpose.com, in fact, more than a million hotel deals will now be available in more than 71,000 destinations around the globe. That gives a whole new meaning to opening up a world of possibilities, doesn’t it?
It’s a win-win for everyone, to be sure, as most military leisure travel has, in the past, typically been handled by travel agents on military bases. According to AFT’s recent press release regarding the partnership with Priceline, “The DoD chose to create a new online platform that was modern, fast, and widely accessible and to populate the site with the broadest and deepest collection of travel deals as a way to thank the military community for their service.”
Deciding on the best partner wasn’t as simple as picking a name out of a hat, however; and Priceline had to edge out its competitors to be selected at the end of a bidding process among many of the largest online travel agencies. Naturally, winning the bid is a huge point of pride and a great honor for Priceline. “American Forces Travel was developed [to give] people who support the United States of America through military service…access to the world’s most exclusive travel deals,” says Priceline CEO Brett Keller. “We were thrilled to be selected by the Department of Defense and have worked closely with them over the past year to bring the site to life.”
Now that the site’s gone live, it’s time to seek out the adventure that awaits. For more information, visit www.americanforcestravel.com.