Surging travel demand now requires you to reverse the reservation process
As you are undoubtedly aware, the travel industry is surging quickly, and some say it will soon hit pre-pandemic levels this year. While that is good news for the travel industry and economy, it also means that travel planning has been completely turned upside down as airline, hotels, and car rental companies scramble to add capacity. Historically preparing for a trip started with an airline reservation followed by a hotel reservation and finally a car rental reservation. Now my advice is you start the process of making your airline reservation first, as the more flexible you are with travel dates and times, the lower your ticket price will be. The second step in the travel process has historically been to make your hotel reservation next, but I now recommend you reserve your car rental next as car rental companies are running out of cars, and you will need to confirm your car before you move onto your hotel reservation. The final step is now finding a hotel room as the hotel industry prices are increasing modestly, but capacity is still very robust. In summary, the travel tango used to be #1 airline ticket, #2 Hotel, #3 car rental. The new travel reservation dance is #1 airline, #2 car rental, and #3 hotel.
Last week Europe gave Americans the green light to travel there this summer, now it is time for America to do the same with Europe – What a joyful feeling last week when the countries of the European Union all agreed to allow American travelers back into Europe. Each country is setting its own rules for entry, which will undoubtedly cause a lot of confusion, but at least we can start to dream of exciting trips to Italy, Greece, and Portugal again. Now that Europe has opened up, the U.S. needs to do the same for our friends in Europe who are chomping at the bit to visit America this summer. It is time to take down the travel barriers and turn the USA colors of red, white, and blue to green for our friends in Europe. CLICK HERE to read more.
Would you wait on hold 21 hours to talk to an airline agent? – The airlines are so understaffed with the recent surge in travel that it was reported that just 3 weeks ago, one airline (whose name I won’t mention to protect the guilty) recorded a message that the hold/call back times were 21 hours. To put this in perspective, you could have triple heart bypass surgery faster than getting an airline to answer the phone with a real person. Why would anyone call an airline when Executive Travel has an average wait time of 9 seconds? Even on a bad day, we answer our phones in 21 seconds or less. You decide; 21 seconds or 21 hours?
Would you ever rent your personal car to a stranger? – Everyone has heard of Uber and Lyft as ride-sharing has become very popular. Now there are new car-sharing services that let you rent personal cars without the drivers. Last week one of our readers, Susan, suggested I take a look at the www.turo.com website, which claims to be the “World’s largest car-sharing marketplace.” I checked out what was available to rent in Lincoln, NE, and found several options ranging from Tesla’s to Tahoe’s. I guess if people are willing to rent out their homes to strangers with www.airbnb.com, then renting their car is no big deal. This might be an alternative if you can’t find a rental car on your next trip.
Only 35% of business travelers have returned to traveling so far this year – Even though we are seeing strong travel activity this summer, it is hoped that another large group of business travelers will get engaged this fall to add to the 35% of business travelers who are already back in the game. These newly engaged business travelers will help reinforce the travel generated this summer from families with children and vacation travelers who relaunched the travel industry from the depths of the pandemic. Once kids go back to school this fall, the travel industry usually starts a slow decline into the winter months. Having more business travelers enter the travel space this fall could help offset some of the decline. CLICK HERE to read more about business travelers.
I am worried that the pent-up excitement to return to travel will be greeted with bad service – Things are already starting to unravel as airlines are canceling flights because of crew problems. Add to that flight delays and slow response times (mentioned above) combined with understaffed hotels and empty car rental lots, and I worry that the excitement of travel this summer may turn your travel dreams into a nightmare. Here is my recommendation. Hire a travel coach. A traveling handyman so to speak. They are called travel advisors. Our team of travel professionals will coach you on ways to save time and money and help fix your problems before, during, and after your trip. Plus, unlike a call center where you never get the same person twice, at Executive Travel, when you talk to one of our friendly travel advisors when you call, you can also get their email address and their direct phone number for follow-up. If the travel industry continues to have service challenges this summer, let us be your travel concierge along the way.