I liked this recent 2010 Travel Trends piece from Laura Bly at USA Today. Instead of the gushathon silliness we usually get on these things from travel magazines and the “no s&#% Sherlock” useless filler most newspapers publish now, her spotlighted trends are believable and for real people.
Here are some of the key ones and my thoughts on them.
Let’s Make a Deal
For hotels, “The probable upshot: stable or lower prices, increased willingness to negotiate, and more online auctions from companies trying to unload unused inventory.”
From what I’m seeing so far, it’s surely a buyer’s market except when there are outlying events going on, like a big convention overloading a city’s downtown lodging stock (I’m talking to you Salt Lake City). But even Spring Break deals are easy to find right now. Some international locations never really saw a drop during this recession though, so there are few hotel bargains in Cusco or Prague, for instance.
Wi-Fi breaks free
“McDonald’s offer of gratis wireless in more than 11,000 of its U.S. restaurants starting this month is the latest example of making Internet access ‘part of the plumbing of our lives,’ says tech columnist Larry Magid. Expect more upscale hotels to join their economy and midpriced brethren in letting guests surf for free. Amtrak, meanwhile, will launch free Wi-Fi this spring on Acela Express trains.
Great, but when will business hotels and luxury resorts figure out that “plumbing of our lives” part? It’s like hot water now folks—stop charging extra for it.
A la Carte Airlines
Yes, it’s a trend, but which way will it go? On one hand, RyanAir and Spirit do fine charging extra for everything because their fares are far lower. When USAir charges for everything, however, their fares aren’t any lower than Southwest’s, which offers a more pleasant experience on top of it. With Southwest’s “Bags Fly Free” marketing getting lots of traction and that airline gaining customers at the expense of the fee-addicted ones, I’m predicting this to be the year of the backlash on baggage fees.
Other trends: Vegas will be a bargain, medical tourism will keep rising, and more people will be tapping away at a smart phone when they walk out of their hotel instead of discovering new places with their five senses instead. Sigh…
I also like this Five Crucial Travel Strategies for 2010 article from SmarterTravel, a consistently good resource for getting the most for your travel budget. They’ve got some good advice on avoiding fees, traveling to cheap destinations, and navigating the new security hassles.