Here are my final ten travel industry predictions for 2021 (plus 5 bonus predictions for free)
Let’s see how many of my 45 travel industry predictions I get right this year. I hope you enjoy reading them.
#31 – You will carry two passports when you travel internationally in 2021 and beyond– The first will be your normal passport issued by the federal government. The second will be a digital health passport on your mobile phone that will verify you have met all the COVID testing requirements. It appears the digital health passport generating the most momentum is called CommonPass. With this app, travelers take a Covid-19 test at a certified lab and the results are uploaded to the CommonPass app on your mobile phone. Additional health-screening questions required by an airline or destination will also be on the app. CommonPass then verifies the traveler has met all requirements to travel and generates a QR code that airlines and border officials can scan. Welcome to the new world of travel!
#32 – 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 have you 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 seven years of predicting, I anticipate that in 2021 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.
#33 – The Summer Olympics in Tokyo will be delayed again– COVID keeps coming back in waves and even with a vaccine, I think you are going to have some outbreaks that the World Health Organization will make the Olympics delay by two more months.
#34 – You will fly on larger airplanes this year– COVID is causing the airlines to cut down the number of flights and replace them with fewer flights but larger aircraft. Also, international travel has been almost nonexistent this past year so the airlines are moving those bigger aircraft into the domestic marketplace. Sun and fun destinations are coming back the fastest and these larger airplanes that used to fly internationally are now flying domestically. I really like to fly on big airplanes. The small ones make me feel claustrophobic.
#35 – Here comes Cuba again!– New President. New rules will open up travel again this year to Cuba. You recall Obama gave the green light to travel to Cuba. Trump gave the red light. I see a green light for travel to Cuba in the coming months. I was able to travel twice to Cuba several years ago and I would love to go back.
#36 – Luxury cruise lines with “all-inclusive” prices may be cheaper than mass-market cruise lines- 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 the price. The mass-market cruise lines like Carnival and RCI are now being forced to offer something to compete with “all-inclusive” cruises and land-based competition
#37 – It will be cheaper to cruise than to stay in assisted living– You do the math. A seven-day cruise can costs as low as about $75 a day. Living in an assisted living center is over $100 a day. I can’t wait to retire!
#38 – Airlines will start offering deep discounts for business class international tickets– Business travel has been dead for the last year because of COVID. The majority of international business class seats in the past were paid for by companies for their business travelers. Since business travel is expected to grow at a snail’s pace this year I expect the airlines to offer some amazing prices to try to get leisure (vacation) travelers to upgrade from coach to business class. How about buy one get one free? This might make a couple take the splurge on business class. There are a lot of empty business class seats this year when I checked flights to Europe in April and May this week and the airlines will soon have to figure out how to fill them with vacation travelers if business travelers are sitting on the sidelines.
#39 – Airfares now make up less than 30% of the cost of a business trip- Can you believe it? 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, $500 for a hotel, and $200 for meals. Add these three things up and you are spending $1000 for car, hotel, and meals compared to $400 for an airline ticket. What used to be over 50% of a business trip’s expense is now less than 30%.
#40 – 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.
Bonus #41 – Airlines will continue to charge a fuel surcharge fee and wonder why they are trusted less than a used car salesman- It is hard for me to even comprehend how the airlines can continue to charge a fuel surcharge on every ticket when the cost of fuel has come down over 50% in the last 3 years. It really makes you wonder about the ethics of the people running the airlines today. If the airlines want the revenue please just increase your prices instead of treating your customers as dummies.
Bonus #42 – Greece is my Blue Light Special in 2021- Years ago I remember K-mart having a blue light special for the best deals in the store. Greece has been trying to climb out of an economic recession since 2008. Just as it was building momentum in 2019 COVID shut them down in 2020. Greece has very low COVID rates and many expect it to be one of the fastest countries to bounce back in Europe.
Bonus #43 – Forget selfie sticks this year its Drones, drones, drones- The coolest pix this year during your vacation will come from your hand-launched mini-drone. Drones are shrinking in size and price, and will soon be seen buzzing around a site near you in view-blocking, photo-spoiling droves.
Bonus #44 – Travel advisors are the new rock stars of travel– COVID has taken a confusing travel industry and made it even more complex with all the rules and regulations now being implemented by airlines, airports, hotels, cities, counties, and countries. The value proposition of travel agents has grown exponentially in the last year and they make it “easy” to travel. One call does it all as travel advisors have fixed millions of unused tickets and basically bring tremendous value of saving people time, money and provide advice to make your travel go smoothly.
Bonus #45 – The Nebraska football team will win the BIG 10 West Division this year- This is our breakout season. Hope springs eternal!