Written by Leslie Richardson, Travel Expert for inCity Magazine
The travel industry is a forever changing industry, and so far, 2016 doesn’t seem to be any different. Trends continue to change, some for the better and some for the worse. Here are my top 5 travel trends that you can expect over the next year:
Adult-only vacations - While multigenerational travel has been a growing trend in recent years (and continues to grow), there’s also a trend for adults to travel without the kids. Two areas of adult-only vacations will continue to grow in 2016 – European river cruises and Caribbean all-inclusive resorts.
While most river cruises allow children (usually a minimum age of 8 to10), it’s not encouraged to bring the kids on a river cruise unless it’s designated as a family sailing. There’s literally nothing for kids to do on river cruises. And, because the river cruise experience is the complete opposite of big ship cruises – small and low key with an emphasis on history and culture – it’s a travel segment where the adults leave the kids at home.
All-inclusive resorts in the Caribbean, Mexico, and Central America are gaining popularity of adults wanting to have great vacation without kids as well. Several adult-only resorts not catering to couples-only are opening throughout the region. These resorts cater to upscale adult groups, couples, and solo travelers. Considering this is the first time in American history that there are more non-married adults than ever before, this trend of having a child-free vacation experience will no doubt continue to grow.
Technology included – With smartphones and tablets reigning supreme, technology is no longer a luxury, but a necessity. Hotels and cruise lines are starting to compete as to who has the fastest internet and having it be either complimentary or at a low cost. In fact, it’s the budget to mid-range hotels that are setting precedence with free internet. Not all hotels and cruise lines are up to speed just yet, but seeing the changes being implemented is encouraging to say the least. Having to pay for slow internet is no longer acceptable. Some hotel chains are now taking the ‘internet café’ concept to a new level by offering iPads to use during a guests’ hotel stay, and cruise line like Royal Caribbean are now building the ‘smart ships’– the most high-tech ships at sea.
Technology is even being incorporated into luggage and clothing designs. More and more luggage and travel gear is being designed with smart devices in mind making the process of traveling much more comfortable and convenient for everyone.
Utilizing Travel Advisers – There’s a huge misconception by the traveling public that travel agents no longer exist. This is far from the truth. While the ‘do-it-yourself’ phenomenon of the internet has undoubtedly changed the travel agency industry, travel professionals are as strong as ever. No longer referred to as travel agents, today’s Travel Advisers are much more specialized than the traditional travel agent. Gone are the days of the ‘jack-of-all-trades’ agent. Instead, today’s travel advisers focus on very specific segments of the industry such as family reunion cruises, destination weddings, adult-only vacations, and river cruises, just to name few.
With the wealth of information at their fingertips, the average traveler is savvier today compared to 10 years ago. Yet, with the information-overload of the internet, many of today’s travelers are confused. While it’s best to go online to book a simple airline ticket, many people realize now that a vacation found online is not always the best vacation for them – it’s usually not the best overall value for those traveling. As a result, these travelers are turning to Travel Advisors to get the most for their money including potential upgrades, added amenities, and secret sales, all while having an advocate on their behalf before, during, and after the vacation takes place. While many Travel Advisors charge a fee for their services, the fee is typically included with the overall package. As any Travel Adviser will tell you in the words of Warren Buffet, ‘Price is what you pay. Value is what you get.’
Fees are here to stay – Airlines and hotels are notorious for adding fees to their base price.
Globally, airlines are making in excess of $22 billion (yes, billion) for the year by charging fees for luggage, meals, seat assignments, and a host of other items that once were included in the rate. Similarly, many hotels in popular destination such as Hawaii and Las Vegas have implemented resort fees to include items such as the fitness center, internet, and daily newspapers.
What airlines and hotels fail to understand is that most travelers don’t like being nickeled and dimed. But, as long as these companies continue to make billions of dollars, these fees aren’t likely to go away anytime soon if at all.
More-inclusive cruising – Speaking of being nickeled and dimed, big ship cruising is starting to finally come around with this respect. Until recently, sailing on a large cruise ship also meant having a guaranteed bill at the end of the cruise, usually including tabs from the bar, spa, shore excursion desk, specialty restaurants, and gratuities. While many services will still be added once onboard, the large cruise lines are now starting to become more all-inclusive. Cruise lines such as Celebrity and Norwegian have been run promotions that include up to four added amenities that usually cost extra such as gratuities, Wi-Fi, beverage/liquor package, and onboard credit that can be applied toward specialty dining, excursions, or other onboard activities. The original promotion was so successful for Celebrity that they’ve now made these inclusions a permanent pricing strategy. The trend will likely continue with other cruise lines following their lead.
With the travel industry changing so rapidly each year, the only question is this: are you part of these trends or are you missing the boat?
Leslie Richardson is a Master Cruise Counselor with Cruise Planners, an American Express Travel Services Agency. She can be reached at (877) 846-SHIP, (713) 491-4989, or www.jetsetterscruises.com. You can also follow her on Twitter @Jetsetters25 and IG @CPJetsetters