Like the new car smell, I love the feel of a fresh new year. It is a chance to put your mistakes and missteps behind you. It is a chance to create new goals for yourself; and it is a chance to press that giant reset button and affect change in your personal and business life. Certainly 2018 will see some changes in the travel industry. What they will be is anyone’s guess—but if you asked me, here’s where I think we will see some change.
Cruising has long been a staple of families and the nearly dead. If you wanted a sanitized vacation, you took a cruise. The cruise lines understood that and the addition of the on-board amenities is the way they address that. But in a sense, it is still the same ole homogenized experience. This year, I bet that will change. It may not be with the mass market cruises yet; but look to Virgin Voyages and the new U product from Uniworld to shake things up. A lot!
Travel technology is always on the move and it moves fast. If you are not quick enough, you will be left behind. Agent have always said a computer cannot do what a human can do in travel—but I bet they take a step forward this year. Look at the new-ish app called Lola. Designed by the founder of Kayak, (and currently marketed to business travelers) the app takes all that aggregated data about you (you know the stuff your phone has) and tailors a trip to your specific likes, needs, and desires. It is only a matter of time for the leisure product to come online. Also look for AR, or Augmented Reality, to make strides in travel. Way back when, we showed clients marketing videos or personal photographs of destinations. With AR, I suspect you will be able to see a family frolicking in waters off Maui virtually. As we know, travel is a sensory purchase…so why not immerse your clients in the picture rather than showing it to them?
Unfortunately, I think moving about the globe will become more difficult due to the political climate in Washington. As our policies tighten up, expect to see other countries tighten theirs on Americans traveling. Remember when the Trump administration tried to require visas from some EU nations and the EU then required (but never implemented) Americans to obtain their own visas? When you add the additional cost and the general adversarial climate we are seeing across the globe, I just expect the world to get a little less free than it used to be.
Again, it is anyone’s guess if we will see another bad hurricane year or not. But as the Caribbean recovers from the devastation of 2017, I think that many land-based travelers may avoid the area. Remember when Katrina struck New Orleans? Despite it being open for business in 5 months, it took nearly 3 years to fully recover. While the Caribbean will need our help, we also must look to the desires of our clients. Make sure you have alternate fun and sun destinations in mind for your market.
I have heard other predictions. And let’s face it, they are only guesses. For if there is any industry that is rife with surprises, it is the travel industry. What could be a great year for agencies could be (and has been) thwarted by anthrax/avian flu/ebola/war/labor strikes/commission cuts (pick one or two) so it really is anyone’s guess. What do you think? Got any predictions yourself? Leave a comment!