Travel Trends :: 2011 Predictions

2011 travel predictionsWhat travel trends do you think will push ahead in 2011? Will you take advantage or get left on the runway?

Around this time last year, we published a similar trend piece for 2010, and I'm happy to say that most---if not all---our travel predictions came true.

Three times a month {on Thursdays} we feature travel trends. Based on this monthly feature and our industry participation and observations, here are our 2011 predictions so you can take advantage and stay ahead of the travel curve.

2011 Travel Trend Predictions Lotsa Loonies Continued high Canadian Dollar will influence Canadians' travels to the US and abroad. Practical Application - Jumping the 49th parallel is back to being an at-par experience: with destinations that are easy on the pocketbook and easy on the eyes.

Eco, Kinda Remember the days when we put bricks in our toilets to conserve water and thought that was a big eco deal? Then an Inconvenient Truth came along and green living hit popular culture again. Since then, everyone from hotels to restaurants have adopted green initiatives and even sub-committees to do their part. But here's the challenge: popular culture appreciates and expects basic green procedures, yet it isn't likely they'll change their hotel loyalty or pay more for it. Ten years from now they will. Practical Application - Green is important and something travelers expect, but don't want to pay more for.

Buyers Market With the advent of multiple ways to make a web-enabled travel booking, the US economic slowdown still present and social media changing the way people communicate, many travelers think it's their market to tinker with and dominate. In other words, they feel it's a buyers travel market. Practical Application - Travel seekers are more selective and price-conscious, yet the tipping point beyond these two search parameters is service and personal connection through social media and face-to-face communication.

Fiercer and Smarter Even though decade-old online travel agencies like Expedia, Travelocity, Priceline and Hotwire are still going strong, travel start-ups boasting new and improved ways of booking travel are constantly flooding the market and taking away share from the vintage travel giants. Regardless of the hook, at the core, all online travel agencies are doing the same thing, they might just go about it differently. To compete, they'll have to be fiercer and smarter. For example, some travel start-ups that have entered popular culture with a bang this year are: TripAlertz, OffandAway, Jetsetter and Kayak Explore offering travel in the form of groupon-like buying, auctions, private sales and visual flight search to only name a few. Practical Application - The online travel booking pie is now divided into miniscule pieces versus visible chunks. Customers will choose the pieces they know best, are the easiest and most competitively priced. If a travel fad site happens to accomplish all three goals in an interesting and/or fun way, the results will be delicious!

Package Me Hotels will offer more packages and included features to lure people away from outside booking channels where part of the revenue is lost, and into direct channels where profit is kept. Practical Application - Perceived value will continue to drive travel choices. Costumers appreciate extras like free wifi, included parking, breakfast, etc... and will book with the hotel direct if they see the value. As hotels know, more direct bookings means more profit and opportunities to create loyalty.

App Attack I remember Apple ads in 2009 singing the praises of the 65,000 apps on the market, but 2010's been the breakout year for apps entering popular culture with an astounding 300,000+ apps in the app store as of October. I predict that 2011 will be the year a) boomers embrace apps, and b) apps will become a greater part of the buying cycle for travel bookings. Practical Application - Current apps will get better, adding more useful features to convert information into action and new apps will come out vastly expanding capabilities.

Fee Festival Airlines will start charging for seat assignments, child-free sections and who knows what else. Irish carrier RyanAir now charges for toilet use. Practical Application - Read-up on all the fees associated with a good fare before you book.

[photo by Ryan Wick]