I have big news to share with you
I am so excited and I just can’t hide it! (Song by the Pointer sisters) Last week, on January 12 I finally received my new passport back from the State Department after sending it in on September 17. It took almost 4 months. We had 839 readers guess when I would get my passport renewal back with three people actually picking the exact date. The three were put in a hat and the lucky winner Elizabeth Tate won a free airline ticket. I’m so excited to be able to travel the world again as soon as this dastardly virus subsides.
Here are 10 more of my travel industry predictions for 2021. This week I will add predictions 21-30 with my last of 40 – 2021 travel predictions coming next week.
21. Airlines will charge a $25 COVID convenience fee on all tickets– In 2020 the major airlines were forced to eliminate their $200 change fees because of COVID. This cost them billions of dollars. The airlines will argue a $25 COVID convenience fee will allow you to change flights without a penalty in case you test positive and can’t take your flights. I sure hope I am wrong on this prediction. However, the airlines will do anything they can to raise revenue in 2021.
22. You will be able to buy airline tickets using Bitcoin in 2021– Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies have skyrocketed in price since the start of COVID. This is causing many retailers to now start considering Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies to become more and more mainstream and start accepting them for payment. I expect an airline will break from the pack and allow Bitcoin payment in 2021 for airline tickets. I do not think any major hotel chains will accept cryptocurrency for payment. Unfortunately, hotels are 40 years behind the times and sometimes even require a fax form to be filled out for payment. Can you even imagine hotels still using faxes?
23. Your phone will be your hotel key in 2021- Plastic Hotel key cards are quickly going 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 as a contactless way to check-in and 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 onto their smartphone. Once you have downloaded their app they have many more ways to “touch” you in 2021.
24. Is this the year Hertz and Avis Car Rental finally start offering “No-show” fees- For the last 8 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 8 years but their competitors see so much revenue with these new fees that they will go ahead and launch these new fees in 2021 regardless if National says “No”.
25. Travel to Europe will cost almost 20% more in 2021 as the U.S. dollar slides– Europe is on lockdown. However, even when the vaccines are in widespread use and borders start opening up, many American’s will get a sticker shock as the Euro to dollar price has skyrocketed to 1.22 and may head much higher. As little as four years ago the Euro to the dollar was almost parity of 1.04. Now it is almost 20% more expensive this year and if the U.S. government continues to spend like drunken sailors, I could see an almost 25% premium for airline tickets, hotels, and food costs when traveling to Europe later this year.
26. Big-city downtown convention hotels will almost be giving away rooms in 2021– COVID has killed the large convention business and downtown convention hotels are especially being killed as they have thousands of empty rooms every night and no conventions to fill them in 2021. If you are looking for the best hotel deals in 2021 look at the hotels around all the major city convention centers. My guess is that you will find 4-star hotels with rates under $100 in many large cities in 2021.
27. Your airline frequent flyer miles have been devalued and will only be worth 1 penny or less in 2021– The airlines have quietly changed their frequent flyer programs, so your miles are now worth about half of what they were 2 to 3 years ago. What used to take 25,000 miles for an economy RT ticket now can easily take 40,000 to 50,000 miles. Yes, the airlines will argue that they are making more ff seats available. However, it will cost you twice as many miles. The airlines are about to start killing the goose that lays the golden egg as many travelers I know are looking for alternative credit cards other than those offered by the airlines as their redemption value has sunk so low.
28. Hundreds of travel websites will go belly-up in 2021– The COVID travel depression will cause only about 60% of the travel in 2021 that we saw in 2019. Many travel websites bit the dust in 2020 and hundreds more will join in 2021. It is the law of supply and demand. Even the big boys like Expedia and others may teeter financially and have to be rescued by their financial cousins. This is another great reason you should use a company like Executive Travel. We are financially strong and secure.
29. 50% to 60% of hotel rooms will go empty in 2021 as COVID hit hotels like a Tsunami– Hotels will start the year with a large swath of empty rooms. After Memorial Day things will get better as the vacation traveler pent-up demand will drive improvement in the hotel sector. Even with this improvement, almost five out of ten hotel rooms will go empty in 2021. What is bad news for hotels is good news for travelers as the competition for your vacation and business travel dollar will be fierce.
30. New York City will be a ghost town for much of 2021– Few large cities took it on the chin from COVID as much as the Big Apple did in 2020. Unfortunately, that will continue into much of 2021. Broadway is shut down and all the popular restaurants and stores are closed until dramatic improvements take place with the vaccine. This really saddens me as NYC is one of my favorite cities in the world and the economic melee from complete shutdowns has to be in the billions upon billions of dollars.