[00:26:54] Brandon Once again, we've maximized our time with our guests. We had a great interview. We covered a lot. It's really interesting the parallels of reducing friction that we heard from both Darren Scott in episode five from United and then Ricardo here today. Both of our last two guests have really drilled into that overall engagement with customers. When you think about the travelers' experience, the flight and the rental car has a major impact on not only their trip, but if they come back as loyal customers. Again, there's so many opportunities for friction and it's great to see airline and car partners alike really investing in that experience. I mean, just look at the ease of picking up the rental car today. You set the wait in a long line and now you can just skip right to it. Sometimes you can select your car in the app and all of these things you can do and book in advance and really feel confident about your experience today of that travel. Because if I know one thing, it's when you're putting the rental car experience in the back of an airline experience, there are a lot of things that can go wrong. But with these companies investing in technology, we've seen a lot of improvements for the traveler experience.
[00:27:55] Sally Absolutely. Brandon, so true. This this traveler-first mindset is coming across from a lot of our interviews and that's just so great to see. But Brandon, I heard that you had a chance to go to the Indy 500, which, if you didn't know, is the largest single-day in-person event in the world. So what were you doing there? First of all, who did you talk to and did you get a chance to drive one of the cars?
[00:28:21] Brandon Great questions. I'll go in reverse order. They would not let me anywhere near any of those cars ever, so. No, but I did have a great time. So I met a driver, Stephan Wilson, a couple of years ago. We've stayed in touch with help each other with business opportunities. And the past two years I've helped that team book their travel for the Indy 500. So I spend all year making sure that their guests and their VIPs have a great time. In exchange for me being able to say, we are trying to win the Indy 500 this year. So I have a very small role in that team. But we did get to meet with two drivers, Stefan Wilson, who drove in this year's 500, and then James Hinchcliffe, who won the pole, which means you start first in the race. Previously for the 500 he has transitioned as the NBC sports analyst now. So he's no longer in the car, he's in the booth. And if that name sounds familiar, that's because he almost won Dancing with the Stars a few years ago. So two great interviews with Stefan Wilson and James Hinchcliffe. All right. We're here at the Annapolis Motor Speedway with Stef Wilson. Stef, tell us what you're doing in Indy this year.
[00:27:12] Stefan We are getting ready to compete in the hundred and six running of the Indianapolis 500.
[00:27:19] Brandon Absolutely. What car will you be driving this year?
[00:27:20] Stefan We'll be driving the Cusick Motorsport Nyjah number 25, Chevrolet.
[00:27:27] Brandon Your manager, Anders Krohn, and you rent two cars. Who wins in a lap around 465 in Indianapolis?
[00:27:35] Stefan I actually think Anders would win that win that lap, you know. Yeah, he's a bit of a demon in a rental car. Whereas I have my name and reputation to think about when I'm driving a rental car.
[00:27:48] Brandon All right, so you drive a lot of rental cars. Tell me a couple of benefits that you enjoy by having a loyalty to a rental car company or a place where you can get rental cars.
[00:27: 55] Stefan Yeah, usually I'll be using Avis. I'm an Avis preferred member, so I love the fact that I can just skip the line and just go straight to the rental car.
[00:28:06] Brandon What's the most common rental car that you've rented and what's the best rental car that you've ever been given?
[00:28:11] Stefan So I think if I was to just pick rental cars, it would be probably the Toyota Camry or the Chevy Malibu, pretty standard sedan. As long as it's got Apple, CarPlay, that is a big win. And one time I was actually in Phoenix for Media Day. They like upgraded me and put me in like a Mustang, a Ford Mustang.
[00:28:38] Brandon The power of an upgrade. Awesome. You're a hotels.com gold member. Thank you. Bucket list trip that you plan on redeeming all those room nights with?
[00:28:47] Stefan We've been to Maui before, and it was just such an incredible experience. You know, really loved scuba diving and just seeing that aspect of the world. So I think I would have to even go back to back to Hawaii somewhere in the off season or maybe even go even further west in the Pacific, maybe hit up the French Polynesia area.
[00:29:10] Brandon Awesome. Last question. After the Indy 500, the first trip you're going to take is?
[00:29:15] Stefan Back to Colorado.
[00:29:18] Brandon A road trip back to Colorado. Alright, Stef, thanks for your time.
[00:29:23] Stefan Thanks, Brandon.
[00:29:27] Brandon Over here at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, the Powering Travel podcast by Expedia Group here with James Hinchcliffe, the Indianapolis 500 Polesitter Indy Car winner, best known for being a pretty good dancer on Dancing with the Stars. What else do you do?
[00:29:41] James No, that's pretty much it. I do, I talk a lot. That's what I do now. They pay me to talk.
[00:29:45] Brandon You also do a little traveling, I hear. So let's talk some rental car experiences. Best rental car that you've ever been given?
[00:29:50] James Oh, that's a that's an interesting question. I was once, so I'm like, I'm pretty cheap. I'm just going to throw that out there. I'm really cheap. So I always like book the cheapest option on there. Every once in a while you kind of get that. So at one time I got like a I don't know if it was an Escalade or maybe it was a Tahoe. It was like some super nice big SUV. What I paid for like a Suzuki Swift. So that was nice. And one time I got a convertible Camaro like SS, which I had a little fun with. I'm not going to lie probably why I haven't gotten one of those again since.
[00:30:23] Brandon You're definitely blacklisted on whatever rental car side that was. You're also the analyst, the honor analyst for NBC Sports who do a lot of traveling yourself from Canada. What's a destination in Canada that’s a little bit off the beaten path that you'd recommend?
[00:30:36] James Man, Lake Louise, going up in Alberta there in northern Alberta. It is so beautiful up there and I've not had enough time. I've not spent enough time up there myself. So I'm planning on getting back up there with the wife as soon as I can in the summer. In the winter, it doesn't matter. You know, if you're a skier, it's obviously great in the winter, but it's beautiful in the summer, just kind of up in the mountains there. So I highly, highly recommend Banff, Lake Louise area for sure.
[00:31:01] Brandon Cool. So you're driving to Lake Louise, you rent the car. What's the best feature around car loyalty program could provide you?
[00:31:07] James Oh, wow. Well, I mean, definitely being able to just kind of walk off the plane straight into the car that I remember when I was younger, kind of first started traveling a lot, first being old enough to rent a car of my own. I landed in Orlando and it wasn't part of a loyalty program. And I stood in a line for two and a half hours. And while I was in the line, I signed up for every rental car loyalty program that existed. So I never had to make that mistake again. So that's pretty good. And you know what? I would really appreciate it if once in a while they just chucked in like free XM Satellite radio. Not going to lie.
[00:31:43] Brandon Especially because you listen to IndyCar. Yeah, there we go. Double plug. All right. Last question for you. You're an Expedia Group loyalty member. Are you Hotels.com or Expedia?
[00:31:53] James Expedia for me.
[00:31:54] Brandon Expedia for you. Alright. So you've obviously racked up some points. Bucket list trip when this crazy month of May is over?
[00:32:02] James Fiji. The wife and I've always wanted to go to Fiji so I feel like I don't know if I've saved up quite enough for the whole trip but like I'm definitely getting, I'm definitely getting some upgrades because of that. So yeah, I think that's where we're going to go.
[00:32:14] Brandon Awesome. Thanks a lot for your time, James. Good luck this month.
[00:32:16] James Thank you so much. Appreciate it.
[00:32:17] Brandon Alright. Two great interviews. Now, Sally, I've got to ask you a question. Knowing that James Hinchcliffe was both an IndyCar driver and on Dancing with the Stars, I'm going to ask you this question. You have to do one of those two things, either dancing on live television or driving a race car at 230, which is 370 kilometers an hour. Which are you choosing?
[00:32:42] Sally That's a great question, Brandon, and maybe you'll be surprised by my answer here. But Dancing with the Stars all the way, I think that would be it. So fine. I don't know if I get eliminated quickly, but I wouldn't care because it just looks amazing.
[00:32:55] Brandon I would not choose that in a million years. But that's why we're different and that's why we're good together.
[00:33:01] Sally Thanks for listening for this whole season. We are lucky to have such loyal listeners and if you know a friend who would love to binge the podcast, make sure to share it with them too. And thanks to all of you who sent feedback and shared the show, it was so great hearing from you and stay tuned for what's to come next. We hope you enjoy this episode of Powering Travel. We want to hear from you. So connect with us at Powering Travel at ExpediaGroup.com. Subscribe to get notified when new episodes are live and be sure to rate and review the show. A huge thank you to everyone Powering Travel. Thanks for listening.