Included in my 72 travel predictions for 2019 was my prediction that some hotels would add Amazon’s Alexa in hotel rooms in 2019. These “smart” artificial intelligence/voice recognition devices could replace the TV remote, room thermostat, clock, and even the light switches in rooms. Parallel to the 2019 predictions we surveyed 241 travelers and asked how they would like this new technology application. The one-question survey asked known travelers, “Do you like the idea of having an ‘Alexa’ in your hotel room?” 85% responded NO! On the surface, it sounds cool not to have to mess with dirty TV remotes, thermostats that don’t work and alarm clocks that are impossible to program and replace that with a simple voice response system like Alexa. But the survey is telling us that people have a big distrust of “Big Brother” listening to them in their hotel room. It looks like there will need to be a lot more security safeguards in place before Alexas will be a common sight in hotel rooms.
Unlimited Economy Plus annual subscriptions may be the best deal of the year for United flyers –
The United Airlines subscription program has a great feature that allows an annual subscription for you to receive upgrades to Economy Plus seating. Economy Plus provides up to 5 inches of extra legroom and can be a lifesaver on long flights and especially international flights. The best deal is for an annual global subscription for $799 for one traveler and for $200 more you can add a companion upgrade. You can save a lot of money compared to purchasing the upgrades on each leg of the trip. The domestic subscription is also reasonable for only $599. CLICK HEREto find out more.
United Airlines to stop charging for watching Direct TV on seatback screens –
This is good news for travelers as over 200 United aircraft offer seat-back TV monitors that previously you had to pay a fee to watch. If you have the United app on your mobile phone you also have free access to TV and movies for free as well. I am predicting that in a few years there will be no seat-back TV monitors on all domestic flights as airlines will remove all seat-back TV monitors and if you want to watch movies you will have to bring your own IPad or iPhone.
Where can business travelers find the best hotel rates? –
Executive Travel took on the myth that Expedia offers the lowest hotel rates to see if Executive Travel’s negotiated hotel rates were competitive. Executive Travel compared hotel rates in 106 random cities and discovered that Executive Travel’s negotiated rates were lower than Expedia rates in 94 of the 106 cities by an average of $47.02. Finding the best prices for hotels for your next business trip is easy. Simply book your hotels with Executive Travel, the very best at negotiating hotel rates. CLICK HERE to see a short 60-second video with the results.
Cheers on the Huskers!
We are excited to bring you the latest and greatest travel offer. Join us as we take off to Denver to cheer on the Huskers! Denver, a melting pot of food culture, local breweries and gastro pubs offer something for every taste. Shopping is terrific and the art scene and galleries numerous. Come along for three days of fun, September 6-8, 2019. Call Beth today to secure your spot, (402) 435 8888, or email GroupDepartment@executiv
#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
#1 – It will be cheaper to cruise than to stay in assisted living –
You do the math. A seven-day cruise costs as low as about $75 a day. Living in an assisted living center is over $100 a day. What a way to retire!
#2 – Southwest Airlines’ credit card will offer free companion tickets when you fly in 2019 and 2020-
One of the best values in 2019 will continue to be the Companion Pass offered by Southwest Airlines Rapid Rewards Premier credit card. This program is the best thing since apple pie. This program works only for those who earn at least 110,000 on their credit card in one year or fly 100 one-way flights on Southwest. So if you travel a lot or charge a lot for your business this card may provide you with two-for-one tickets as you fly into the sunset. CLICK HERE for a great article explaining how to earn.
#3 – Airlines will charge a $10 service fee for using a credit card (Forgive me for sounding like a broken record) –
For six straight years, I have been predicting this will happen and I have been way ahead of my time (A nice way of saying I was wrong). But this year is different as there is too much money on the table for the airlines to keep ignoring this golden egg. Airlines pay anywhere from 2-3% of the cost of your airline ticket to credit card companies when you charge your airline ticket to a credit card. Charging a small fee to use your credit card is actually being done now in Europe by some airlines. Credit card fees are the next big pot of gold the airlines can attack and capture Billions in additional profits.
#4 – The Euro to US Dollar (USD) exchange rate will fall under parity in 2019 –
The experiment of a single currency called the Euro for the European Union was launched in 1999. Just after launch the currency dropped below parity with the USD but then rose for almost a decade to a high of $1.49 in 2008. The last 10 years have been a bummer for the Euro as it has fallen like a rock to around $1.13 today. In 2019 I am predicting that the Euro will be worth less than the dollar. The European economy is so on the rocks the dollar will benefit big time.
#5 – Greece is the hot European destination in 2019 –
Travel to Greece has been on many bucket lists. For the last 10 years, the Greeks have lived through some of the toughest times in their history as their economy entered a depression. The Greek economy has now stabilized and many in Europe and the U.S. are flocking there.
#6 – Cold is the new Hot –
To get around all the heavy crowds of all the major cities suffering from too many tourists (overtourism) during the busy summer months, travelers will start moving their vacations to the shoulder months (March, April, Sept, October) and even the winter months to avoid the crowds. This also saves on airfare, and hotel costs also as prices for the off-season can be as much as 40% lower.
#7 – 2019 is a G’day to head to Australia and New Zealand –
United Airlines is going full speed by expanding service to both Australia and New Zealand in 2019. This means great pricing and availability to travel down under.
#8 – People will start sending their luggage by FedEx instead of checking it with the airlines –
Every major airline (except Southwest) now charges as much as $120 roundtrip to check your luggage. While travelers hate these fees the airlines have figured out they can charge these fees without suffering the wrath of their customers. After five years of predicting I anticipate that in 2019 we will finally see UPS and FedEx start to promote a “door to door” luggage service at a cost equal to or less than the cost of taking your luggage to the airport and paying those fees.
#9 – Expect airlines to offer travel sales for discounted miles –
Airlines know when and where they have empty seats. Plus they have billions of frequent flyer miles on the books that they need to provide redemption incentives to get those off the books and stimulate sales of seats. In 2019 they will offer special sales so instead of it taking 35,000 miles to redeem for a free seat to Mexico they will have sales that lower that redemption level to 25,000 miles or less. The airlines know many people only have enough miles for one free ticket and that usually, 2 to 4 people in a family will travel to Mexico. So if they have one free ticket they also get to sell one ticket and fill two empty seats.
#10 – Get ready for an even bigger avalanche of mail and emails from the airlines, hotels and cruise lines in 2019 –
Airlines are going to bomb you with email marketing in 2019. The minute you make your reservation you will receive offers for everything from seat upgrades to prepaid baggage fees and a host of ancillary products prior to your upcoming flights. Many of you who have cruised in the last 5 years already probably receive at least one cruise brochure a week in the mail. Hotels are the next big email to hit us. All I need is more email in my inbox!
#11 – Americans will stampede to Hawaii this year as the airlines lower prices and fare wars erupt from the west coast –
This is the year that Southwest Airlines starts service to Hawaii. Other airlines will want to make it painful for Southwest to enter the market so I expect some great airfare sales for the west coast of the U.S. Expect hotel prices in Hawaii to stay high however as more demand brings higher prices.
#12 – Tahiti will be the hot South Pacific destination in 2019 –
United Airlines is starting service three times a week to Tahiti from San Francisco and this will make a great new option for many travelers. Papeete, the capital of Tahiti, is the South Pacific’s gateway to more than 118 islands in French Polynesia including Bora Bora, Moorea, the Marquesas, and Raiatea. United is the only U.S. carrier offering nonstop service to Tahiti from the mainland United States.
#13 – Luxury cruise lines with “all-inclusive” prices may be cheaper than mass market cruise lines in 2019 –
There is an old joke in the travel industry that the majority of heart attacks in America happen when cruise passengers read their cruise billing statement on the last day of their cruise. The cruise industry has found that they often can generate more revenue from drinks and tours than the price they charge for the cruise. This is all starting to change as the high-end luxury cruise lines have initiated “all-inclusive” cruise pricing that includes the cruise, all drinks, food, tours and even tips in one easy to understand price. The mass market cruise lines like Carnival and Royal Caribbean are now being forced to offer something to compete with “all-inclusive” luxury cruises and land-based competition.
#14 – Iceland will be hot hot hot again in 2019 –
With $200 round trip airfares on WOW Airlines leading the way, Americans by the thousands are discovering Iceland and its unique features. Having just traveled there this past spring I am ready to go back again soon.
#15 – Americans will travel the globe in record numbers in 2019 –
With fuel prices at rock bottom, international airlines’ ticket prices will be the lowest in years. Add to that a strong dollar and weak Euro and you have set the table for a record-breaking year to travel the globe by Americans. Expect most Americans to set their sights on Europe in 2019.
#16 – Bucket lists will boomerang in 2019 –
Bucket lists were always a list of places around the world that you wanted to visit during your lifetime. Once you visited you check the destination off your list. In 2019, travelers will want to return to those bucket list destinations multiple times (thus the boomerang).
#17 – Travelers will move from being tourists (passive) to being explorers (active) in 2019 –
Travelers in 2019 want to explore destinations not just see them. They want to feel and participate in the local culture. They will also want to get off the beaten path and blaze a new trail in destinations not well known.
#18 – Ireland is my Blue Light Special in 2019 –
Years ago I remember K-mart having a blue light special for the best deals in the store. In 2019, the Euro will fall and some of the best travel bargains of the year will be found in Europe. Added to the great prices in Europe is the fact that Ireland is adding a bunch of new airline service in 2019. Travel to Ireland is my blue light special in 2019.
#19 – Airlines will start offering deeper discounts for business and first class international tickets –
A small percentage of travelers you see in those big seats at the front of the airplanes actually pay the full price for those tickets. A business class ticket from the U.S. to Europe can cost a whopping $6,000 -$7,000. A first-class ticket from the U.S. to Australia or Southeast Asia can cost a whopping $15,000. Some of the major airlines are now trying to provide discounts for those seats to try to get more people to actually pay for them rather than give them away as upgrades. Look for airlines in 2019 in certain markets to offer premium seats that are non-refundable and require a 30 or 60-day advance purchase in hopes of getting more leisure travelers to upgrade from coach. Also look for foreign-flagged airlines to offer the best business class deals as they don’t have the connecting lift that the U.S. flagged carriers have.
Here it comes… The second of four travel industry predictions for 2019. This week we focus on hotel predictions. This year I simplified by having four sections of predictions. Here is my predictions calendar and when my crystal ball predictions will arrive in your inbox:
#1 – Expect to pay a $25 a night “destination” fee at many hotels is 2019 –
This phenomenon started as a $25 to $75 a night “resort fee” that resorts started charging years ago. Basically, it was just an easy way to hide the real cost of the room. The resort fee is prevalent in cities like Las Vegas and destination resorts around the world. Now big cities have all figured out how to add more fees to your room by adding “destination fees”. Let’s face it, it would be hard to stay in New York City and call it a “resort fee” so they simply renamed it a “destination fee”. The bottom line is your hotel costs will go up dramatically as more and more hotels stab you in the back with these hidden fees.
#2 – Hotels will all require a 72-hour notice to avoid a cancellation fee –
The hotel industry is struggling with how to deal with last minute hotel deals that have offered a deep discount for travelers to fill empty rooms. So when hotels have empty rooms they lower the prices and try to fill them. The problem is that savvy travelers were booking hotels in advance and canceling at the last minute to take advantage of lower prices. (sometimes even at the same hotel they were booked in). Hotels launched a 48-hour cancellation window in 2017 and will try to move that to 72 hours in 2019 with the hope it will drastically reduce last-minute re-bookings.
#3 – 2019 is finally the year for FREE Wi-Fi at most hotels –
2019 will be the year that the hotel industry finally stops beating the dead horse by charging for in-room Wi-Fi. Ironically many 3-star and below hotels for years have not been charging for Wi-Fi. Just by signing up for a hotel’s frequent guest program today allows for free Wi-Fi at most hotels. I think Marriott is trying to build a positive vibe with all the new members they acquired from Starwood Hotels and will be one of the dominoes to fall and offer free Wi-Fi.
#4 – Your phone will be your hotel key in 2019 –
Plastic Hotel key cards will soon go the way of the paper airline ticket as many hotel chains have started offering keyless entry using your smartphone. Now what started as a trickle is turning into a full tsunami. Using your smartphone to unlock your hotel room is the next big thing in the hotel industry. The reason that all the hotels want to move rapidly to replace the old plastic key cards with wireless Bluetooth using your smartphone is that this forces the travelers to download the hotel app on to their smartphone. Once you have downloaded their app they have many more ways to “touch” you in 2019.
#5 – Starwood Hotel’s SPG Members will start jumping ship in 2019 as Marriott makes free nights harder to earn –
The merger of Starwood (Westin, St. Regis, Sheraton, etc) and Marriott hits full swing in 2019. A new reward program will be launched later this year. However, the SPG credit card points have been watered down so that members don’t earn as many points and the points they earn are worthless. The new program does offer more options. However, former SPG members are starting to see the bloom fall from the rose.
#6 – Hotels will add Alexa to the hotel rooms in 2019 –
These artificial intelligence/voice recognition devices will replace the TV remote, the room thermostat, the clock, and even the light switch. The only problem is that our survey shows people hate the idea of Alexa snooping on them in their hotel room. Over 85% in our recent survey said they would refuse to stay in a hotel room that had Alexa as they worry what the device does to their privacy.
#7 – The number 1 item left behind at the hotel lost and found will be your cell phone charger –
I think we need to petition the phone companies to build a universal charger so we could use all the lost chargers at the hotels and we would never have to buy another charger again.
#8 – Three out of ten hotel rooms will go empty in 2019 –
Despite the hotel industry’s claim that the recession is over and that prices are rebounding the fact remains that about 34% of hotel rooms will be empty in 2019. Obviously, some markets like New York City, Chicago and other metropolitan areas will continue to see steep increases in hotel rates because of limited hotel room supply. However, many areas of world travel have not rebounded much and hotels will continue to offer very attractive rates.
#9 – 2019 is the year showers replace bathtubs in hotels –
Let’s face it, the biggest upgrade most hotels have done to their bathrooms in the last decade has been to add a curved rod for the plastic shower curtain so it does not stick to you when showering. In 2019 many hotels will get rid of those disgusting bathtubs and replace them with glass front showers. They will add rainfall showerheads and also really nice shower wands. The real nice showers will have a place to sit down or at a minimum a place to put your feet up on.
#10 – New hotels will have names you never heard of in 2019 –
Thousands of new hotels will be built in the United States. Many of these hotels will be new brands that you have never heard of like Sadie Hotel, Aiden Hotel, Hyatt Centric, Unbound, Tru by Hilton, Tribute, Motto by Hilton, Tavinos, Curio and Canopy by Hilton, Tryp by Wyndham, Even Hotels, 1 Hotels,Citizen M Hotel, Restoration Hardware Hotel, NoMad Hotel, Hotel ZaZa and many more. The movement in hotels is away from the chains and toward a more personalized and boutique experience. Ironically many of the mega hotel chains are branding these new boutique hotel names.
#11 – Luxury hotels are now for the middle class –
The difference of staying at a 4 or 5-star luxury hotel/resort versus a 3-star run-of-the-mill hotel is now only about a $100 – $200 a night. Most vacation travelers take only
one major vacation a year. People are now realizing that if they are going to travel they are going to do it up right and go first class. This is one area that will set the whole tone of how much you enjoy your vacation. Don’t be penny wise and pound foolish. Move up to a luxury hotel on your next vacation.
#12 – All-Inclusive resorts will be launched and grow rapidly in the U.S. in 2019 –
Twenty five years ago resorts in Jamaica, the Caribbean and Mexico were struggling to stay alive and compete with Hawaii as the tropical destination of choice so they launched the concept of an all-inclusive resort where people could leave their wallets in the room safe and enjoy food, drink, and fun that was included in their hotel tariff. Now more and more resorts are jumping on the all-inclusive rage. Even luxury 5-star resorts are now offering this preferred service. For the last 8 years, I have been predicting that some hotels in the U.S. and specifically Hawaii will break the mold and offer all-inclusive pricing. A hand full of resorts quietly offered all-inclusive options In the U.S. but in 2019 we will finally see an avalanche of offerings.
#13 – Hotels now make up the largest cost of a business trip –
Airfares now make up less than 30% of the cost of a business trip. Just a few years ago a business traveler used the price of the airline ticket as the gauge for the largest travel expense for a trip. Today a traveler going on a 3-night business trip can pay up to $300 for a car rental, $600 for a hotel, $300 for meals. Add these three things up and you are spending $1200 for car, hotel, and meals compared to $500 for an airline ticket. What used to be over 50% of a business trip’s expense is now less than 30%.
#14 – Business travelers will stay in better (4-star) hotels in 2019 as employers have less focus on cost-cutting in a strong economy –
It has been over 10 years since the last recession that caused business travelers to move down a tier (from 4-star to 3-star) of hotels. Moving that one tier down saved about $50 – $70 a night. Many businesses today see a booming economy and allow their travelers the added benefit of moving up one tier of hotel (from 3-star to a 4-star) and staying in a little nicer hotel as part of travel policy.
#15 – Major hotel brands will offer Airbnb type offerings –
The business traveler has been slow to utilize Airbnb as a business travel housing option. Many companies are very concerned about the security aspects of Airbnb. In 2019 several of the major hotel chains will expand their offerings to include more Airbnb type offerings. These will have very tight security and quality considerations that will make company travelers more comfortable staying there.
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