6 travel trends for the summer of 2016
Wednesday, May 25, 2016
Summer is here. Let's visit some of the summer travel trends for 2016 and get ready to welcome the vacationers. Shall we?
1. Travelers continue to take more short road trips.
I predicted Americans would take more short road trips in 2015, and this trend is going to stay in 2016.
On one hand, with a shortage of TSA staff, busier traffic in the airports, and possibly tighter procedures for security checks, the pain of going through security at major airports is only going to get worse. Last week, about 450 passengers missed their flights at Chicago's O'Hare International Airport and were stuck there overnight because of the long wait. People are now advised to spare two to three hours of extra time just to get through the security line.
On the other hand, even though gas prices are expected to rise a little bit this summer, gas is still much cheaper than it was in 2012, at the time when we were paying an average of $4 a gallon. It is not surprising to see more travelers hitting the road.
2. International destinations become more popular.
The Bloomberg Dollar Index Spot shows the U.S. dollar has become very strong against major foreign currencies since mid 2014. That makes many tourist destinations like Canada, Europe and Japan more affordable and attractive to U.S. vacationers.
3. The demand for long-haul flights remains strong.
While travelers could choose to stay away from the pain of TSA by taking more short road trips, there is no replacement for long-haul flights — few people are willing to sail to Europe or Asia. Plus, air tickets for long-haul flights have become very affordable these days, also a result of low gas prices.
Therefore, with no good alternatives for long-haul flights at a time when international destinations have become more attractive and affordable, more people will travel with airplanes for long-distance trips.
4. More travelers will visit national parks.
2016 marks the 100th year of U.S. national park service. National parks will thus get more attention from vacationers and become the top destinations for road trips.
(Think you know all about U.S. national parks? Try this online quiz.)
5. Hotels will win more travelers this summer than OTAs.
Entering 2016, hotel chains and OTAs (online travel agents such as Expedia.com and Hotels.com) are battling to win bookings from travelers.
More hotels are now rolling out campaigns guaranteeing travelers the best price for their hotel stays if they book directly on the hotel website. At the same time, OTAs like Expedia are also finding ways to reposition the service to travelers.
It will be interesting to see where and how this battle will end, but for the short term, it seems hotels are winning some travelers back from the OTAs.
6. Sustainability will remain a buzzword for the industry.
Sustainability has always been perceived as an important trend in the hospitality and tourism industry, but the question is: What kind of "sacrifices" are consumers willing to take for a sustainable product or service? I expect the industry will respond to the sustainability trend with innovative practices, such as the "farm to plane" concept introduced by JetBlue.
What travel trends do you expect to see in 2016? Let us know your thoughts.
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