Travel forecast: What the travel industry can expect in 2019
There have been some major upheavals and changes in the travel industry in the last two years. New regulations were implemented; new stricter regulations were proposed, but avoided; and new technology is making life easier in the world of plane and car travel.
As someone who writes about the travel industry for a couple of clients, I try to keep my eye on what the travel industry is doing and figure out the travel forecast for the next six to 12 months. It helps me know what to write about for my clients, but it also helps me better plan my own business trips better, saving me a lot of headaches and hassle.
Top 6 travel trends forecast for 2019
Here are a few thing that travelers and travel industry insiders can expect on the horizon in 2019:
Expect an increase in air travel and ticket prices.
Hotel prices will increase.
Airlines will start increasing other fees.
Airbnb and other shared lodging will increase.
Uber, Lyft will continue to increase market share.
TSA security will continue to tighten.
Now that you know the top six travel trends for 2019, read on to learn more about the overall forecast.
1. Expect an increase in air travel and ticket prices
Thanks to increased air travel in the Asia Pacific region, Carlson Wagonlit (CWT) is expecting a 3.2 percent increase in global air travel in terms of passengers. The air travel forecast for 2019 is predicting a price increase around most of the world, as a result of the increased demand.
The Asia Pacific region is expecting a 3.2 percent price increase, with China expecting a 3.9 percent increase, and nearly double that in India (7.3 percent) and New Zealand (7.5 percent). However, Japan’s prices are expected to drop by 3.9 percent as they increase their capacity in preparation for the 2020 Olympic Games.
Western Europe is expecting a 4.8 percent overall increase, although it will vary from country to country: Norway should see an 11.5 percent increase, Germany is expecting 7.3 percent, and France and Spain will see an increase of 6.9 percent and 6.7 percent respectively. However, Eastern Europe, the Middle East, and African countries can expect a decrease in ticket prices between 2 percent and 2.3 percent..
Finally, we should only see a 1.8 percent price increase here in the United States. According to an article on eTurboNews.com:
“The US aviation market is expected to see capacity compression due to expanded fare fragmentation, with premium economy and basic economy reducing available seats, as carriers target margin improvement.”
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2. Hotel prices will increase
According to STR Global, a hospitality data analysis firm, and their Tourism Economics project, the U.S. hotel industry should see a 0.2 percent increase in occupancy to 66.4 percent in 2019. They expect the average daily rate to also increase to $132.97.
This mirrors a similar increase around the world, with expected increases of 2.6 percent for air fare and 3.7 percent for hotels.
3. Airlines will start increasing other fees
Another travel forecast that will hit travelers’ wallets: Airlines are adding additional fees, and increasing the ones they already have as a way to increase their profitability.
Southwest has increased their early boarding fee from $15 each way to $15, $20 or $25 depending on the length of the flight; JetBlue and United both increased their checked bag fee from $25 to $30 (Canadian airlines Air Canada and WestJet Airlines also followed suit); and United is charging a fee to be able to choose a seat closer to the front of the plane when purchasing a regular economy seat.
United’s new plan is to charge fees for selecting seats behind their Economy Plus section, so if you have to choose between this and the Economy Plus, get the Economy Plus. It’s a better upgrade with more leg room, better seats, and the travelers are among the first to board the plane.
4. Airbnb and other shared lodging will increase
Airbnb has grown so quickly, the company is expecting to earn $3 billion in profits by 2020, and is planning to launch their own IPO in 2019.
Airbnb is already increasing its acceptance and use by business travelers, and that’s only going to continue. And it’s become a viable vacation option as well, as people can take large groups without spending a lot on hotel costs.
Back in 2016, Fast Company predicted a 15.5-percent increase between 2018 and 2019, with 49.9 millions adults using Airbnb next year.
And since Airbnb started allowing guests to earn Delta miles, travelers can get a two-fer when they fly to a different city and stay in an Airbnb house.
5. Uber, Lyft will continue to increase market share
A recent USA Today story showed that Lyft actually increased their market share by 8 percent in Q2 of this year over the same quarter in 2017, even while Uber lost three percent and taxis dropped by five percent of total market share. This trend will no doubt continue as Uber is still trying to recover from several instances of sexual harassment in the workplace that ultimately forced their CEO out of the company back in June 2017 after enduring several months of scandals.
You can also expect to see a price increase in most ground transportation, including rental cars.
This comes on the heels of expected fuel increases, as well as cities — New York, Chicago, Washington, D.C., to name a few — beginning to tax Uber and Lyft.
6. TSA security will continue to tighten
In March 2017, the U.S. government proposed a ban of electronics bigger than a mobile phone in carry-on luggage for flights coming from 10 Middle East cities to the US, but later lifted the ban in July 2017 citing improved airport security in those cities.
At the same time, there had been similar talk of banning those same electronics in carry-on bags on all flights to and from the United States. Luckily, this was only talk, and nothing came of it. Still, it was a little worrisome to think that people would have been forced to either check their laptops or even travel without them.
This year, the TSA started looking more closely at the powders people carry onto the plane, requiring air travelers to remove anything over 350 ml (about the size of a soda can) from a carry-on bag and run through the X-ray machine separately.
While there hasn’t been any talk about any other airline security developments, just be advised that they can always happen at any time. The powder scrutiny came about because of a foiled terrorist attack in Australia last July.
What does this travel forecast mean for you?
For travel professionals booking a vacation or a business trip for a client, you’ll need to be aware of the increased costs and look for savings (and convenience) whenever possible. Since airplane travel costs are going to increase, as are the hotels, there are a few ways to improve the quality of the trip, make things easier, and decrease overall travel costs.
First, remind your clients to never check their bag, and to use a standard size carry-on suitcase. This is a staple for most business travelers, and they rarely check bags. The carry-ons should be no bigger than 21 inches tall, since airlines are also looking to crack down on overly large carry-on bags, too (another travel forecast for 2019).
Also, encourage your travelers to join one airline loyalty and hotel loyalty program. Don’t just let them bounce around from airline to airline and hotel to hotel in pursuit of saving $10 here and there. While this might not save them money or get them the cheapest flight each time, it will help them earn points and privileges which will make their trips more enjoyable, and allow them to take advantage of free upgrades more often — saving money when they can cash in those points for a flight.
The general travel forecast for 2019 is one of optimism based on a solid global economy.
Demand is going up, which means prices will go up. Security might be a little stricter, but it’s nothing too difficult to maneuver. Just remind clients to plan carefully, be flexible, and to travel lightly, making sure they don’t run afoul of any new security procedures that pop up.
Related: Take these 5 online security precautions before you travel