NEW YORK : The desire for experiences that consumers can photograph and post on social media is driving spending on leisure, travel and transportation, executives said Monday at the Milken Institute Global Conference on a panel hosted by Bloomberg’s Carol Massar.

Rob Wiesenthal, chief executive officer and co-founder of Blade, a helicopter service that counts Tom Barrack’s Colony Capital Inc. among its investors:

  • “Helicopters are not just for the C-suite," he said. The average age of Blade’s clients is 38, and 45 percent of them are women.
  • “There is nothing like an Instagram from the air," he said, adding that six to 10 photos are typically posted for every flight that lasts more than 30 minutes.
  • “At some point, Uber could pivot and come back to helicopters."

Glenn Fogel, president and CEO of Booking Holdings, the parent company of Kayak, OpenTable, and more:

  • “Without doubt, demand is being driven by people taking photos."
  • Holidays or vacations are among the top three memories for most people, along with weddings and childbirth.

Michael Flaskey, CEO of Diamond Resorts, backed by Apollo Global Management LLC:

  • The younger demographic is interested in a shorter-term product, not the company’s perennial product.
  • Vacation and time-share ownership is a “one-trick-pony," and the younger generation wants different experiences. Diamond started an “Events of a Lifetime" strategy in which clients agree to sit with membership consultants after unique experiences in sports, music, arts and more.
  • Average transaction size is $28,000.

Virgin Hyperloop One co-founder Josh Giegel:

  • Company is focused on creating “frictionless’’ transport so consumers can’t be late, because there’s a pod leaving every two to three minutes.
  • He hopes to move 16,000 to 20,000 people per hour.
  • Refers to Elon Musk’s ambitions to create an intra-city network, says Hyperloop One is an inter-city network and the two can be complementary.

CLEAR chairman and CEO Caryn Seidman Becker:

  • Average demographic of a paying member is a 46-year old-male. “That’s upsetting to me," she said, smiling, and noted that the company is increasingly seeking to broaden its female user base.
  • CLEAR works with Department of Homeland Security and is focused on securing customer data, she says. It recently obtained FISMA compliance (the Federal Information Security Management Act of 2002).
  • CLEAR is launching a healthcare effort soon, currently in a pilot phase, that will improve patient check-in, among other things.

Hardware companies such as Apple Inc. are potential future competitors, she said, noting that existing facial recognition on a device is still not as frictionless as CLEAR’s offerings.

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