Folks, this is the Captain speaking. It's been a fairly turbulent year in airline, hotel and travel news and we're gunna take a look at the radar for what could be ahead. The news really has been all over the place and while some has been painful, there have been many positive, consumer friendly developments. Up, down, left, right, indifferent, I do have some thoughts on what's to come...
More Flash Sales + Lower Fares
Airlines aren't stupid. If you combine the readership of top blogs like mine, you have millions and millions of engaged travelers hunting for deals and opportunity. It's a major reason why you read. Rather than fight off the intelligent, airlines will increasingly offer "48 hour" style flash sales in all cabins, allowing them to sell out all of their lowest fares quickly, and promptly bump the remaining fares available in every cabin up for those less plugged in. In the end, even when selling people like us $686 business class fares occasionally, they will come out ahead when stragglers pay north of $6,000. Same for economy.
Skyrocketing Hotel Prices
Know what the fastest growing industry is? It's travel. What do travelers need? A place to sleep. As desire for travel increases, airline prices will remain competitive, yet hotel prices will skyrocket to handle increased demand, cashing in on the trend. Couple the demand with an almost monopolistic new Marriott International, who will own Starwood, creating over 1,100,000 hotel rooms world wide and you can just about set your price and control the market. We will see the largest increases in Asia, South America and West Coast USA.
More Revenue Based Airline loyalty
Revenue based is the way forward and on the earnings side, I hate to say for many of you, that it's pretty fair, even if it sucks. As such, I'll eat my foot if airlines like British Airways and Iberia haven't announced that they'll be going revenue based by the end of 2016. They wont be the only ones ramping up activity with those two dirty words. I fully expect for Delta to begin its pre announced shift to "dynamic" award pricing, making "free" flights a step closer to being based off of the market value and not a set chart with which we can find value.
The A380's Dreaded 11th Seat Across Economy...
Someone will do it. I mean for f**k sake, Emirates just announced they will squeeze 615 passengers into the airbus jet! Some airline will take up the A380 as a true passenger carrier and not a luxurious way to reinvent the flying experience, as carriers like Etihad have with products like the Residence and First Class Apartment. Can you imagine how many economy seats you could cram into those cabins?! Mark my words, an airline will release plans for the worst seat in the world. Middle seat on a row with five across anyone?!
GPS Smart Luggage Tags
Qantas has already started an awesome initiative, offering flyers the purchase of digital bag tags, which can be tracked and synched to your itinerary, replacing the current paper ones (slowly) issued at the airport. It's smart, it makes things better and I'd imagine it earns the airlines a few bucks. There will be more! I fully believe more airlines will introduce the tags in 2016. Not only will you be able to track your luggage and make sure it's on the plane, if your plans or flights change, it will still synch to your new changes automatically, plus it's far more secure than a piece of dirty sticky paper.
ICELAND WILL BECOME THE HOT NEW VACATION SPOT
Don't think for a second that I didn't enjoy writing that title, I absolutely did. Iceland has an amazing string of occurrences working in its favor. It's home to WOW Air and IcelandAir, who have been undercutting prices to and from the US to Europe. Unlike Europe or the US, which almost constantly grabs over $500 per ticket, you can get to Iceland for $99. Seriously. Couple that with the naturally occurring phenomena such as the Northern Lights, weak currency and natural beauty around and you have a hit spot. Iceland, so hot right now...
This is almost purely for bragging rights in the event that my predictions come true. There is however no doubt that changes are coming, and recognizing trends is an important part of staying ahead of the curb. I really think that although loyalty programs are tending to take a dive, that there will be new innovative ways to engage travelers like us who are ready for flash deals and opportunities. If I can ensure my luggage will get to where I'm going with a homing beacon, I'm all for it!
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