Industry Insiders: Farryn Weiner, Fly Girl
Farryn Weiner really loves her job. As the associate editor of Jetsetter, the flash-sales travel site allied with Gilt Groupe, the Miami native gets to peak around the four corners of the world in search of premier hotels, properties, and adventures for members of the site. Launched in September ’09 by Drew Patterson, formerly of Kayak, Jetsetter makes the decision to travel easy with incredible steals on hotel stays and members-only experiences. More after the jump on Farryn’s must-have travel tips and the story behind Jetsetter.
On catching the travel bug: I was an NYU undergrad and went on a semester at sea. We circumnavigated from Puerto Rico and ended up in San Diego. It really opened my eyes to all these amazing stories that you can tell through travel and the art of storytelling that was happening through my photography and my writing. I came back and totally changed my career path and started working as an assistant for Zac Posen. I ended up back in grad school doing a masters degree in travel content. I started freelancing and worked for National Geographic and Daily Candy.
On fitting in at Jetsetter: The moment I heard about Jetsetter, I was like, that has to be my job. When I came in to interview, we all just clicked. They’ve built a team of people who are passionate about what we do. We sit around and talk travel, we breathe travel. That’s what I was doing on my own, so I finally found a place where I wasn’t the odd man out. It was the norm to die over a new hotel or a new article.
What is Jetsetter, exactly? Our CEO, Drew Patterson, has two questions: where do I want to go next and where do I want to stay when I get there? He’d met with the founders of Gilt and thought that their flash sale model would be really well-suited to travel. We ended up working with them to develop Jetsetter, which is an online private sale site for people to come and find the world’s best experiences, best hotels, and even things like safaris and luxury cruises for a really great value.
On securing good deals: We have a really wonderful marketing model and the places that we pick are places that we’d actually go. We work with the properties to find a way to offer something exclusive to our members. The sales normally last 5-7 days, and gives members the opportunity to get in and get a great value that they can’t get anywhere else. People want to know how we pick our places, but it’s really just places we love. We want to send our members to places that they’re going to come home and brag about to their friends.
On loving the gig: When I’m in a bar and someone asks me what I do, I’m like, You do not want to ask me this right now. I might go on for an hour. It’s really exciting to be somewhere that’s growing and where people are passionate and really just love what we do. We’re crazy.
A typical day: On a normal day, I’m working with the writers. I’m working with the correspondents. I’m finding new properties. I have a writer right now in China who is just hearing about this new property that she thinks is perfect for us. I spent yesterday speaking with the people from that property, trying to see if they were interested, and developing these relationships. We want to work with people for the long run. If we put our stamp of approval on you, you’re a part of the family. A lot of what I do is putting together the bits and pieces of the writing, the photography, and, of course, the property. When I’m not in the office and I’m out in the field, I’m shooting for Jetsetter and I’m covering events. I was at Coachella and did a whole big spread. People were in Palm Springs for the first time. “Where do I go? What do I do? Where do I eat?” A perk of the job is being able to have those kinds of experiences and share those with our members.
Favorite destinations: I think everyone should go to Tokyo. It’s like New York in 20 years, or at least what you hope New York will be like in 20 years. I was just in Barcelona and then Turks and Caicos visiting Zanzibar Hotel which is such a perfect escape, especially for city goers, who really will feel comfortable hopping on flight and relaxing for a weekend. I’m dying to go to Napa Valley.
On the concierge aspect of Jetsetter: All of us are travelers and we want to share that information. Sometimes Drew will answer an e-mail at midnight because he wants to make sure that our member who’s out in St. Lucia knows exactly where to go. We all race to be the first person to answer! We also get tons of feedback and we listen to all of it. We’re very hands on.
Summer travel trends: The dollar’s getting stronger, the recession is subsiding slightly: people are starting to realize that they can do things that maybe in the last two years they haven’t been able to do. People are really looking for value. When they have one week off in the summer to take or they’re going to go on one big trip in the year, they want to get the best value. We’re seeing a lot of interesting bucket list trips like visiting the pyramids in Egypt. We sold an amazing Experience Galapagos cruise and we’ve seen such a peaked interest in things like this. We sold safaris in Africa and we did a trek up Kilimanjaro. They’re more than adventure trips, they’re those once-in-a -lifetime opportunities things that haven’t been all that financially accessible the last few years.
Tips on packing light: Pack half of what you think you should pack, and pack a duffle bag. On the way back, you can always take it out. You’re going to buy things. You’re going to have dirty laundry. Go there with a carry on. Don’t worry about coming back. I’m a big fan of versatile clothing—anything you can wear twice. If you can’t wear something out at night and during the day, then you probably don’t want to bring it.
Travel as a learning experience: You really need to be open to new experiences and you need to be ready for everything. Being prepared and cautious is important, but it’s more about being open-minded. For me, traveling with the right group of people is so important. It really can make or break a trip. When I was younger, I’d travel with friends. When I got older and started to have a really good sense of what I wanted to see and do, it became even more important to pick the right group of people that are on the same level .
Other favorite travel websites: TripIt is an amazing tool! It’s an online itinerary builder. You can forward them your flight information and they put that right into your itinerary. They give you a map of your itinerary. They give you the weather. They tell you when your flights are delayed. I get a TripIt update on my flight delays before I find out from the airline. You can import articles you find directly into your itinerary. You can also connect to other people. So, when I’m away, my friends, my sisters, and my parents can look online and see exactly where I am and where I’m staying and the phone number of the hotel. Kayak is great to book flights. I’m a fan of this woman who writes this blog called Eating Asia.
Go-to’s: Locanda Verde. One of the best meals I ever eaten. I couldn’t speak. Café Habana is one of my favorite restaurants. I love SL. Abe & Arthurs is a wonderful restaurant and it’s really fun to hang out downstairs. They always have really good music. The Jane Hotel. Morandi is the best lunch. Balthazar is a staple. I think Balthazar at 8 a.m. is secretly one of the best things to do in the city.