Here it comes….part 2 of my travel industry predictions for 2018.

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#16 – Airfares will go down in 2018 but you will actually pay more for traveling. How can it be? –

Travelers in 2016 and 2017 actually saw airfares decline during the year and airfares will actually slowly continue to decline again in 2018. However, airfares today make up only about 75% of the cost of your travel as airlines will “get you” with a litany of new fees for everything from seat assignments to baggage fees. So, in 2018 that $300 airfare you buy will be added to the $100 in fees you pay for your bags, seats, and dozens of other fees. Bottom line is that the total cost you pay to fly will be higher in 2018.

#17 – It will take 2 months to get your passport renewed in 2018 –

In 2008 the U.S. Government started requiring passports for U.S. citizens to travel to Canada, the Caribbean and Mexico. This caused millions of people to get passports. Passports expire in ten years and many countries do not allow you to travel there if you have less than 6 months left until your passport expires. If you do the math this means there will be a massive flood of passport renewals in 2018 and I am not confident that the government can keep up. What today might take 3 weeks for a passport renewal will balloon to 8 or 9 weeks as we move deeper into 2018.

#18 – Drones will be everywhere when you travel –

The selfie stick is so yesterday. 2018 will see a massive number of consumer drones flying around the major travel destinations. Drones are shrinking in size and price and they will be popping up around the globe. I have a new DJI Mavic Pro drone that can fly for 30 minutes and go 2 miles away. It takes amazing pictures. My DJI may be that annoying hum you hear when you arrive at your next tourist trap in 2018.

#19 – Hertz will buy Avis –

There are too many car rental companies. Enterprise/National is eating the cake of the other companies with amazing pricing and outstanding customer service. I think a merger allows Hertz and Avis to try to muscle back some market shares that Enterprise/National has been stealing from them.

#20 – Southwest Airlines will continue to offer “Bags Fly Free”, but their airfares will be higher than any of the four major airlines –

Over the past four years, the former low-cost airline has dramatically raised their fares. They hide this fact from consumers as they do not allow their airfares to be listed on other airfare comparison sites. Every time I compared their airfare prices with those of American, Delta and United, all three offered lower fares than Southwest. In 2018 your “Bags Fly Free” on Southwest, but as a trade-off, you will often pay a much higher price for your airline ticket.

#21 – Marriott will devalue their reward points and upset their SPG members –

Starwood Hotel’s SPG Members are holding their breath to see if Marriott pulls the red carpet out from under them. The mega purchase in 2016 by Marriott of Starwood Hotels (St. Regis, Westin, Sheraton, Four Points, W Hotels, Le Meridian, etc) has gone smoothly so far when Marriott announced that SPG points would be worth 3X every Marriott point. 2018 is when the final details of the merger will be implemented. Many SPG members are worried that the new credit cards that will roll out will only offer the watered down Marriott points. You will hear giant gasps if the new hotel points don’t provide the same bang for the buck.

#22 – Lyft will grow faster than Uber in 2018 as Uber raises prices, Uber prices will increase dramatically in 2018 –

Uber prices will increase dramatically in 2018 – I am a big supporter and user of Uber, however, if you look under the hood of their business model they are hemorrhaging 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 2018 to slow the hemorrhaging. Lyft, on the other hand, is taking a lot of market share from Uber. They were barely a blip on the radar and now they own 1/3 of the business.

#23 – United Airlines will enjoy a tremendous year with dramatic service improvement –

The nightmare of 2017 is behind them and the senior management team seems to be laser-focused on making sure their service is the best in the industry. I think Delta probably has been the industry leader within the U.S. for the last 4 years, however United and American are both committed to making sure they are not left behind.

#24 – 2018 is finally the year for FREE Wi-Fi at most hotels –

2018 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 their new members they acquired from Starwood Hotels and will be one of the dominoes to fall to offer free Wi-Fi.

#25 – IRS will increase vehicle reimbursement rate after a two-year decline –

The Internal Revenue Service has increased the allowable vehicle reimbursement rate for business travel to 54.5 cents in 2018 from 53.5 cents in 2017 and 54 cents in 2016. Even with the increase, this is a drop of 3 cents per mile since 2015.

#26 – Your phone will be your hotel key in 2018 –

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 2018.

#27 – Zika will raise its ugly head again in 2018 –

Many people have been lulled to sleep thinking that the Zika virus has come and gone. Not so fast my friends. This virus still has massive negative effects on anyone who is pregnant or even of childbearing age. I think in 2018 anyone traveling to a Zika infested zone (most all of the Caribbean, Central and South America) will be given a disclosure statement outlining the risk of this mosquito born disease. Keep in mind that this disease can be sexually transmitted, so even a college male on spring break to the Caribbean can infect his girlfriend when he returns. Please learn more about Zika by CLICKING HERE.

#28 – Mystery trips will be the hot new travel product in 2018 –

These are trips designed so that groups of travelers get together and a professional travel company puts on a trip that none of the travelers know where they are going. Basically, they show up at the airport with the bags packed knowing they are in for an exciting journey.

#29 – WI-FI on international flights will allow Skype calls and videos on flights –

In 2018 most international airlines will put the finishing touches to complete installation or upgrading of in-flight internet service on international flights. This will be one of the best service enhancements of the decade for international business travelers as it will allow those on 8-15 hour flights to be able to work and play on their computer using the internet. I think some crafty travelers will also figure out ways to use it to make calls during flight using Skype, WhatsApp and other internet calling Apps.

#30 – Get ready for an even bigger avalanche of emails from the airlines in 2018 –

Airlines are going to bomb you with email marketing in 2018. 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. Soon you will get cruise offers, etc. Great. All I need is more email in my inbox!