How Facebook Is Changing Travel for the Better

Randi Zuckerberg, Facebook's former Director of Market Development
••• Courtesy of Hyatt

Randi Zuckerberg, former Director of Market Development at Facebook (and big sister to Mark) is used to being on the road. Since leaving her post as the face of Facebook in 2011, Zuckerberg has done a little bit of everything— she launched her own media company, Zuckerberg Media; sat at the helm of lifestyle site Dot Complicated; and even appeared in a two-week run of Rock of Ages on Broadway. One thing all roles have in common?

Plenty of travel. As part of her partnership with Hyatt’s “It’s Good to Not Be Home” initiative, we sat down with Randi to steal some of her best travel secrets, settle the age old East Coast vs. West Coast debate and find the commonalities between down home destinations like rural Tennessee and far off places like Kuwait.

Your career has been all about connections—how does that play into the way you travel?
“My biggest passion when I travel is to connect with female entrepreneurs in those cities. I’m on the road probably 100 days a year—this year alone I went to both Kuwait and rural Tennessee. Everywhere that I go I try to sit down with at least one or two female entrepreneurs who are doing something awesome. When you talk to people and you meet people, you see that everyone is kind of the same no matter where in the world you are.”

What’s the number one thing you’ve learned from connections you’ve made in different corners of the globe?
“Meeting with people gives you more of a personal feel for the place you’re in.

In Kuwait, I had this group of six female entrepreneurs who took me all over the city. We were chatting and I just thought ‘I feel so familiar with you.’ Here I’d been gearing up for this big trip and wondering how different the culture would be, and I felt like I could have gone to high school with these girls.”

How do your travels feed into what inspires you as an entrepreneur?
“What I’ve been inspired by is that all over the world people are really trying to solve big problems, and they’re trying to solve things that they’re personally passionate about. There’s no good reason on paper to be an entrepreneur—when you think of all the things associated with having a stable career versus giving it all up to be an entrepreneur, there’s no reason to do that unless you’re so passionate about what you’re building that you couldn’t possibly wake up in the morning and do anything else. You really can sense that passion no matter where in the world you are.”

How do you think Facebook has changed the way we travel?
“I love the new feature they just launched where you can ask for recommendations from your friends. Every time that I travel I would just say something like ‘hey friends, I’m going to this city what do you think?’ and now you can actually curate these awesome lists of recommendations. For me it’s opened up a whole world of connections and people. Sometimes I’ll go to a city and realize I already know someone there. I think social media is completely changing not only the way we travel but also who we get travel advice from.”

How do you leverage those connections when you’re on the road?
“I definitely read travel blogs and I love review sites, but my first stop will be Facebook and social media. Then I’ll try to vet those suggestions against another trusted source.”

Where is the travel industry still lacking in innovation?
“When most people think about a business traveler they think about a man in a suit, they don’t think about me. But here I am on the road 100 days a year. I think before we even think about new travel innovations, we have to think about how brands can be embracing female business travelers and understanding that their needs are slightly different than the men who are traveling. That’s why I’m so excited about what we’re doing here [with Hyatt]. I don’t need crazy tech innovation, I just need a brand to be excited about embracing female business travelers and that’s what’s been so cool about working on this.”

As a female business traveler, what’s your advice to other women on the road?
“If you’re a frequent traveler you should always try to avoid checking a suitcase. I’ll go so far as to vacuum seal my stuff so that it fits in a carryon. Stick with one hotel chain or brand if you can to get loyalty points, and always try to book through the hotel website directly rather than going through a third part—if God forbid you have to change or cancel your plans, it’s always much easier dealing with the hotel directly.”

As a New Yorker with a pretty serious Silicon Valley tie, we have to ask: West Coast or East Coast?
“You know what, I love them both, but it totally depends when in the year you ask me. Ask me in February and I’m going to say Palo Alto all the way. But there’s nothing quite like a warm summer night in New York. Let’s just say I love being a citizen of the world and traveling between both.”