A few months ago I was honored to be invited to become a member of Travel Insights 100, a panel of 100 travel experts that included activists, traditional media, independent travelers, and airline and hotel experts who have banded together to monitor travel insights and trends and share that information across the travel industry. Participants, who were hand selected by the folks at UpTake.com (the travel search engine that helps travelers decide where to go, where to stay, or what to do) were recently surveyed about their travel predictions for the upcoming year.
Responses covered a wide range of issues, but several trends were evident. The following were the most oft repeated predictions; it will be interesting to track the insights to see if they come to pass in 2010:
- Travel will begin to recover in 2010, driven in part by a pent-up demand from those who have put off traveling due to economic concerns, but travelers will continue to focus on discounts and promotional pricing. Most believe that discount airlines, hostels, and budget hotel chains will be the big beneficiary of this trend.
- Several panel members believe that travelers will drive rather than fly whenever possible, as the airlines increase security measures and add-on fees. Many predict that airlines will continue to introduce new add-on fees in an attempt to squeeze the last penny out of the traveler, and one respondent predicts this will result in the government stepping in to regulate the practice.
- Social media (Twitter in particular) will continue to reshape how destinations are promoted and companies will increase their participation in and creative use of social media.
- With the world becoming an ever smaller place, there are no longer any “undiscovered” destinations, yet travelers increasingly desire authentic travel experiences. Most panel members believe this will result in an increase in cultural based tourism, home stays, eco tourism, and volunteer travel.
An in a more humorous vein, participants gave us their dumbest moments in travel during the past year:
- “The trend of airlines charging for checking bags. Passengers feel nickel and dimed and Southwest, who has openly advertised that bags fly for free, has picked up about $800m in business because of their policy.” Gary Arndt, Everything-Everywhere.com
- “My personal pet-hate is this new lexicon of staycation and petcation and other equally horrible marketing words. Can’t we just go back to travelling?” Mark, Travel-Wonders.com
- “Hands down, the dumbest moment in travel in 2009 was when the pair of Northwest pilots overshot MSP (Minneapolis/St. Paul) by 150 miles.” Willy Volk
- “It’s hard to narrow down but I’d include any of the arguments about ‘the best way to travel’ – to each his or her own. Every method and type of travel has its benefits and its followers.” Anil, foXnoMad.com
- “The dumbest moment in travel during 2009 was when Pamela Root and her 2-year-old son were kicked off a Southwest Airline flight because he was yelling immediately prior to take off. She was stuck in Amarillo (she lives in San Jose) without her luggage and had to buy supplies including a portable crib and diapers to spend the night before she could get another flight home. The mother in question was well prepared with games, activities, and food, and was simply waiting for take off to unbuckle and feed her child. I’m no fan of screaming children – my own or anyone else’s. But given the wide range of human behavior to be seen on airplanes, much of it beyond the pale, I find it ridiculous that this mother and child were singled out so dramatically.” Mara Gorman, The Mother of All Trips
- “Cathay Pacific randomly increasing fares for lapbabies by 15%. Crying fee?” Kim Orlando, TravelingMom.com
I found it interesting but not surprising that the preponderance of “dumbest moments” were attributed to the airline industry.