The landscape of international and domestic travel is changing fast. It doesn’t matter if you’re away on business or pleasure, these new developments will affect everyone. Some of these trends allow for greater convenience, while others are reflective of living in an ever-globalized world. The rise of middle-class demographics in various countries also plays a role, as does rising fuel prices. These changes are a boon not just to tourism economies across the globe, but to the average individual traveler as well, as there are new deals to be found. With that in mind, here are a few of the most exciting and important trends in travel.
Relaxed Security Measures –
According to the Transportation Security Administration (TSA), a pilot program will be implemented in 2012 that expedites travelers who are members of certain airlines’ frequent flier programs. These lucky few will be able to move through security checkpoints without having to remove any clothing items, and they will be able to keep liquids and laptop computers in their carry-on bags as well. Not only that, but the TSA plans to have a foot-scanning mat in place in most airports by 2015. This will allow all fliers to move through security checkpoints without removing their shoes.
A Return to Travel Agents –
After years of searching multiple travel sites for lower fares and favorable customer reviews, travelers are burnt out. As a result, travel agencies are experiencing a surge in business. Because people began spending so much time visiting travel sites (sometimes up to 21 sites in nine online sessions) the simple alternative of having a representative handle all planning started to seem like a much better choice. But this trend won’t last forever. Multiple search engines, including Google, have developed specific algorithms that can tailor a complete vacation itinerary based on a few simple keywords. It will be the next great trend in travel planning.
Fewer Delays –
In 2010 the Department of Transportation (DOT) began fining airlines thousands of dollars for delays over three hours. The result? Delays have been drastically reduced every year since, and will continue to do so in the future. Of course there’s a down side to this new system, as flight cancellations have increased since 2010. This is due to the fact many airlines would rather cancel a flight than risk a hefty fine. But since the cancellations affect less than two percent of all flights, the end result is overwhelmingly positive.
Bundle Travel Packages Will Be Cheaper —
The rising cost of fuel, as well as increased demand, means that travel and hotel prices will go up as much as five percent in 2012 alone. To offset these high prices, many online travel companies, such as Expedia and Travelocity, are offering bundle packages at very attractive rates. This includes everything from luxury cruises to flight, room and car rentals.
More Global Tourism
Despite the global economic downtown, many countries are reporting a thriving middle class. This is especially true of China. With 100 million Chinese expected to travel outside of their country by 2015, hotels are gearing up for the onslaught of new travelers. This boon in tourism will act as a sort-of stimulus for many tourism-based economies, even the U.S.
Savings and Discounts for Using Social Media –
Hotels, airlines and credit cards need to maintain a strong online marketing presence in order to compete. To this end, many businesses are offering discounts, rewards and savings to those who promote their services on social networking sites. For example, Virgin America offers points for geo check-ins, American Express offers discounts to those who link their account to Foursquare, and JetBlue offers points to those who check-in using Facebook.
These are just a few trends people can expect to see this year and beyond. Overall, they serve to move travel and tourism forward, maximizing convenience, helping to improve economies and creating savings for consumers. And since many of these trends are technology based, consumers can expect even more positive changes as future technologies enter the landscape.
Dan Ripoll is the founder and CEO of Without The Stress, a nationwide passport expediter specializing in same day passports and expedited passport renewals. The company is headquartered in Los Angeles, California.