2019 Travel Industry Predictions (Part 4/4)

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Here are my 20 car rental, Uber, travel technology and miscellaneous predictions for 2019

#1 – Get ready for paying $10 a day to walk the major cities of the world –

Too many tourists, not enough space. Overtourism is a big issue in many of the major tourist cities around the world during the heavy months of travel. Cities like Venice, Rome, and Florence, Italy have started the idea of charging a $5 to $10 tourist fee for those people visiting the city for the day (and not staying there). This will be a really big mess but the cities argue it will help them pay for more police and trash removal, etc. I think it is just one more way to get money out of tourists.

#2 – Five cities will be designated as “taxi or Uber only” cities for business travelers –

Corporate travel departments are getting smart and encouraging travelers to consider taking a taxi or Uber instead of renting a car in some large US cities. The cost of renting a car including tax and fees and parking and gas can often run as much as $100 a day in major metropolitan cities. Renting a car in Boston, New York City, Washington D.C., San Francisco, and Newark, N.J. is often a big mistake and corporate travel departments will now start flagging travelers to avoid renting cars in these cities.

#3 – IRS will increase vehicle reimbursement rate to 58 cents – 

The Internal Revenue Service has increased the allowable vehicle reimbursement rate for business travel to 58 cents in 2019 from 54.5 cents in 2018 and 53.5 cents in 2017.

#4 – Hertz and Avis Car Rentals will start offering “non-refundable” and “No-show” fees –

For the last 7 years, I have been predicting that car rental companies will start charging a “no-show” fee if you did not show up for your car rental. Avis and Hertz once again are foaming at the mouth to kick this idea off by charging this fee to vacation renters. Enterprise/National which is the largest car rental company has put the brakes on the idea for the last 7 years but their competitors see so much revenue with these new fees that they will go ahead and launch these new fees in 2019 regardless if National says “No”.

#5 – Uber prices will increase dramatically in 2019 –

I am a big supporter and user of Uber, however, if you look under the hood of their business model they are hemorrhaging in billions of dollars of losses and will be forced to fine-tune their pricing structure to address the large losses. My best guess is they will have to dramatically increase their prices by 10% to 20% in 2019 to slow the hemorrhaging.

#6 – Lyft will pass Uber as the most popular rideshare program by business travelers in 2019 –

Uber does too much bait and switch with customers as they say a ride is only 5 minutes away when in reality it takes 15-20 minutes to arrive. Business travelers won’t put up with that and will switch from Uber to Lyft in droves in 2019.

#7 – Car rental taxes can add up to 60% to the cost of renting a car –

I know when you read this many of you will shake your heads in disgust. Local city governments are becoming addicted to taxing the new traveler coming to town.

#8 – Drones, drones, and more drones –

Forget selfie sticks. The award for most irritating (yet irresistible) traveler accessory now goes to drones, which, shrinking in size and price, will soon be seen buzzing around a site near you in view-blocking, photo-spoiling droves. However many travelers will take new smaller drones on their trips to provide amazing photos and landscape perspective. Each and every selfie-loving tech nerd and narcissist will be pursued by a drone as they traverse dramatic landscapes on a mission to capture the most worthy photos and videos. If Instagram already encroaches upon your precious travel time, prepare for a shiny new – and newly affordable – distraction.

#9 – Counterfeit websites will cost travelers millions as they unsuspectingly sign up for bogus services –

Bogus websites are already popping up all over the place in 2019 as unsuspecting travelers try to sign up for services like “Global Entry” and for “international drivers licenses”. Turns out crafty bad guys are building bogus sites that are confusing people to register and pay extra fees that are not required. The sites look official but are built so that people assume they lead to legitimate services. Be careful to always use the official sites.

#10 – Lost luggage will turn into delayed luggage in 2019 –

Delta and American both have baggage tracking buttons on their apps and websites that allow you to follow your bags as you fly. All the airlines are rapidly improving the ways they track luggage. Granted there will always be luggage that is lost, but with all the new airline technology most of the time in 2019 it will just be delayed and reach you the next day.

#11 – Pilot shortage will cause people to avoid regional jets as flight cancellations skyrocket in 2019 –

There is a major shortage of pilots to fly small regional jets as the largest airlines are gulping up all the pilots of those regional jets as they expand their fleets around the world.

#12 – In 2019 there will be two classes of travelers, the haves and the have nots –

Airlines are rapidly building their marketing efforts around their best customers in order to coax them back. They will give all the perks like free baggage and seat upgrades and express check-in to these frequent travelers. The rest of us schmucks will be forced to wait in long lines, get stuck in middle seats by the bathroom and pay for our luggage and a long list of services.

#13 – Cruise Lines will finally offer fast Wi-Fi in 2019 –

If you have ever tried to use internet service on a cruise ship you know that it is slower than molasses in January in Nebraska. The good news is that in 2019 all the major cruise lines are improving the internet experience when at sea. It still will cost an arm and a leg to purchase an hour of access time but at least you will not feel like you are waiting 10 minutes for an email to download.

#14 – Losing your iPhone will be more painful than losing your wallet when traveling in 2019 –

I have pledged that in 2019 I will take a two-day business trip and leave my wallet at home. The dramatic adoption of apps like Apple Pay and PayPal now allows you to prepay for your hotel and airline tickets with your friendly travel agent and then pay for almost everything when traveling without pulling out a credit card from your wallet. Using Apple Pay and your iPhone you can buy your food at Subway and McDonalds, personal care items at Walgreens, and clothing at JCPenney. The only thing you will need to bring with you when you travel in 2019 is your iPhone and a driver’s license to clear security at the airport. So if anyone tries to rob you in 2019 first offer them your wallet and keep your iPhone.

#15 – People will ask for longer layovers as some international airports become great shopping and entertainment centers and are actually fun to hang out in 2019 –

International airports around the globe were the first to realize that travelers often have several hours to kill waiting for flights in airports. Some of my favorite shopping ironically is found in many airports throughout Europe and the globe. Often I am too busy with business to go shopping and all the new airports and stores make it a fun experience when traveling. Airport spas will invade U.S. hub airports this year offering easy massages and facials. Expect more companies to step in with movie theaters, pools, upscale shopping, karaoke, and even amusement parks to keep the delayed masses from rioting. One of my favorite airports/shopping malls is Copenhagen.

#16 – Throw away your boarding pass in 2019 as biometric will be the future of security check-in –

The airlines and government have already implemented the use of biometrics (fingerprint, eye scan, etc) as a more secure way to get you through security lines and onto the planes. I think the Global Entry pass and TSA PreCheck will quickly move from fingerprint scans to biometric eye scans.

#17 – Travel agents are back in vogue –

Having a great travel agent makes a trip easy and fun, plus saves time and money. Travelers are returning in droves to travel agents as they want someone to coach them to make sure their travels are worry-free. Thanks so much for your business these past years.

#18 – Americans continue to be the best travelers in the world –

Don’t let anyone tell you that people hate American travelers. Everywhere I go people tell me that Americans are the best travelers in the world. They are friendly, easy going, law-abiding, good spenders and great tippers.  Even on a recent trip to Paris, I found that the French love Americans.

#19 – Executive Travel will celebrate its 33rd year anniversary in 2019 –

Thanks to all our customers, employees and friends who have helped make this happen.

#20 – Nebraska’s football team will win the Big 10 football Championship in 2019