2012 Travel Prediction #1
Americans once again make annual vacations a priority in 2012. The economic recovery, albeit too slow, has provided a sense the worst is over. Barring any unforeseen craziness or natural disaster, the pent up desire for travel will increase the number of holiday seekers by 10-15% over 2011. However, look for Americans to be frugal, take shorter vacations and stay closer to home.
2012 Travel Prediction #2
Look for smart Travel Agents and tour packagers catering specifically to retiring baby boomers. The effect of baby boomers retiring will make an even larger impact on travel now that the recession is giving way to recovery. Baby boomers will begin planning the trips they dreamed about during their working years. Boomers are lifelong learners and want genuine travel experiences. Travel agents will create soft adventure trips and custom travel experiences that are genuine and challenge their perspective of the world and its people.
2012 Travel Prediction #3
In 2012 Google will make the transition from strictly a search engine to a merchandiser selling goods and services. With the Google search results skewed in favor of its own commerce sites, independent marketers will rethink search engine marketing. Look for SEO and Google pay-per-click efforts to be reduced substantially. New Internet shopping portals and search engines arise to fill the void. Bing and Yahoo search engines find they are getting substantially more traffic than before. Travel marketers will embrace other online opportunities to tell the world about the custom travel experiences they offer.
2012 Travel Prediction #4
By the end of 2012 Google Travel will have changed how people book commodity travel such as air & hotel packages. Google Travel is a commodity exchange for travel products and services. Google Travel will strip profits and pricing power from suppliers and sellers. Travel suppliers will react to pricing pressure brought by Google Travel with higher ancillary fees such as ticketing, flight check-in, baggage, seating, resort fees, room features and any other amenity above the base product.
2012 Travel Prediction #5
Cruise Lines will take a lesson from the airlines by reducing travel agent commissions. Cruise lines also embrace Google Travel to list their sailings in the online commodity exchange. They will think they are smart cutting travel agents out…until they find they are unable to raise their fares because of the pricing pressure brought on by the online commodity exchange known as Google Travel. The result will be passengers finding onboard fees and extras that are equal or higher than their original cruise fare.
2012 Travel Prediction #6
In order to compete, Travel Agents continue further into niche marketing by creating and featuring Custom Travel Experiences not found elsewhere. The good news is that most vacationers are looking for custom travel experiences that make their holiday unique and genuine. This is a market professional travel agents can win…if they specialize.
2012 Travel Prediction #7
Travel Agents expand their efforts to fully embrace the Internet for all the free marketing opportunities available to them. Agents will continue to market their custom travel experiences by branding themselves as niche travel experts through social media, blogging and web posting. For more information about Online Marketing here is a link to a FREE step-by-step e-book I wrote: Travel Agents Attack Online Marketing.
2012 Travel Prediction #8
Travelers will demand value due to economic uncertainty and lingering high unemployment. In 2012, if travel marketers don’t provide value, they won’t get the sale. Travelers will be watching their spending very closely in 2012. Travel agents may not like it, but their customers will have no urgency to book a trip unless they clearly see they are getting a deal. Value may be either tangible or intangible. Securing space in sold out conditions, upgrades or having access to better prices are examples of tangible value. While these are clearly significant, intangible value can be just as important such as how your inside knowledge allows you to create custom itineraries, book more convenient hotels or recommend things to do that will enhance their vacation experience. In the above tangible and intangible examples there is no debate they are both clearly valuable to your clients and will help you close the sale.
2012 Travel Prediction #9
Too many travel agents will be chasing the 1% who book luxury travel. There are more travel agents chasing luxury travelers than there is demand. Some will succeed but more will fail and come back to earth booking nice, but not luxury travel.
2012 Travel Prediction #10
International Travel Rebounds. There will be more travel to Europe as the falling Euro lures more Americans who are looking for value. 2012 will see the best currency exchange rates in years for travelers purchasing with dollars. This will provide a nice boost for international bookings.
2012 Travel Prediction #11
Hawaii will have a great 2012. There is a new energy around Hawaii because of renovated hotels, new tourist attractions and more air flights. Many Americans want to vacation on American soil. Japanese travelers are rebounding from the earthquake disaster and will return to Hawaii. The new Disney Aulani is a game changing new resort that will set the standard for which new developments will be planned. Oahu will attract new interest because of the new Disney Aulani and the renovated Waikiki beach walk area. The outer-islands will also see a bump due to a number of refurbished deluxe resorts providing exciting new guest experiences as an incentive for travelers to make Hawaiian vacation plans.
2012 Travel Prediction #12
2012 will see Cruise Lines continue on a path toward “sameness” with mega-ships all providing roughly the same on-board experience. Look for the cruise lines to come up with pricing schemes to get passengers to pay for any differentiation through increased on-board ancillary fees. The increased on-board fee begin to reduce the popularity of cruising as it won’t be perceived as such a good value by the traveling public. The cruise lines that differentiate themselves without “nickle and diming” their passengers at every opportunity will win a loyal following.
2012 Travel Prediction #13
Mexico Tourism rebounds exponentially if crime stays out of the headlines. If the crime headlines subside, travelers will become aware how many beautiful new resorts have been built and how many of their favorite hotels have been renovated. The popularity of the all-inclusive resorts will increase because value conscious vacationers respond to the one-price for everything concept. We have noticed that Mexico all-inclusive resort reviews on our sister site www.ReviewResorts.com are consistent in complaining about the “sameness” of the food throughout the week. Look for upgraded food offerings at all-inclusive resorts as a point of differentiation. Cancun will remain the most popular international destination for North Americans.
2012 Travel Prediction #14
Vacation Rentals will increase in popularity as vacationers look for a deal and owners try to recoup some of the money lost in the value of their real estate. Another reason for the new awareness and popularity of vacation rentals is the fact that Wall Street provided the capital for the new Trip Advisor and Home Away travel portals to build this market. This injection of Wall Street capital provides the marketing dollars needed to create buzz and excitement around vacation rentals.
2012 Travel Prediction #15
Resort Day Spas will rebound and take on a much bigger part of the host hotel’s marketing and brand affinity. Pampering is now an expected component of a deluxe resort. Day Spas will take on a much larger marketing role as they become the face of the overall resort identity and guest experience. Look for luxury day spa chains to expand and develop an entire brand experience both online and at the resort spas they manage.
2012 Travel Prediction #16
Foodies Rejoice! Unique Culinary Travel Experiences will be an increasingly popular component of mainstream vacation packages. This will be especially true when booked through professional travel agents who seek to provide custom travel experiences in order to compete with the big online travel portals.
2012 Travel Prediction #17
Wellness Travel experiences will become increasingly a part of mainstream vacations as retiring boomers search for meaning and purpose at this new stage in life. Components that engage the mind, body and soul such as morning Yoga, healthy culinary events, stress-reduction, therapies, meditation, holistic practices and physical exercise will be offered “ala carte” within mainstream vacation packages.
2012 Travel Prediction #18
RV Camping will make a strong rebound after two years of high gas prices and a relentless recession. Low interest rates have provides the capital for large RV rental outfits to expand so campers can enjoy the experience without the cost of owning and storage. RV Camping provides quality family time with the conveniences and electronics we have come to expect as a society. Look for RV campgrounds to improve their facilities and the services provided that the public demands.
2012 Travel Prediction #19
Clothing Optional Resorts and vacations will become more socially acceptable due to societal changes and retiring baby boomers searching for different experiences. A research study found that a “clothing optional component” was rated as a highly desired feature for vacation travelers with an average age of 40+ (YPartnership, 2010). The travel industry will respond to this trend with more resorts creating special pool areas for European style sunbathing and look for more clothing optional hotels in warm and tropical zones.
2012 Travel Prediction #20
Adventure Travel companies will find new activities to reinvigorate their industry. Thrill seekers will always have a desire for adrenalin, but look for the adventure travel industry to target mainstream travelers with new activities and soft adventures for less than totally physically fit travelers. Soft adventure travel makes the largest gain with retiring baby boomers responding because of a desire to experience thrills before they get to old to participate.
A final 2012 Prediction:
Professional Travel Agents rebound with a new respect for their knowledge, advice and experience. The reason for this rebound will be that professional travel agents figured out how to use the Internet to get their message out. Travel Agents bring value to the vacation planning process and the traveling public that desires custom travel experiences will once again look to travel agents for their help. If your are a travel agent and wondering how to use the Internet to market your services, here’s a link to my FREE e-book again: Travel Agents Attack Online Marketing.
Enjoy the Journey & Enjoy 2012