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Each year, Business Destinations takes a look at the travel industry to effectively gauge what is driving key trends, and to select those business travel facilitators that have risen to the challenges thrown at them, and even thrived amid an unsteady business climate.

One of the most talked about travel trends of the year was the now-infamous ‘Trump slump’. The proposition that US President Donald Trump’s anti-foreigner rhetoric has put off would-be visitors to the US received a great deal of media attention, with many commentators highlighting the destructive impact of an isolationist economic and social attitude. The extent of the slump is striking: the figures show that the US’ share of global travel dipped from 13.6 percent to 11.9 percent between 2015 and 2017.

Meanwhile, visitors from Mexico, the US’ most important tourism market, dropped by a drastic 6.1 percent. In a desperate attempt to revive some interest in the US as a travel destination, a group of business organisations started a coalition called Visit US, which will work with the Trump administration on traveller-friendly policies.

Currency conscious

Such disappointing numbers coming from the US certainly raise interesting questions for those in the travel industry, but politics is far from being the only determinant of travel trends. In many ways, the Trump slump is simply an extension of the usual trends of an industry that is constantly in flux. Much of the slump, for instance, might reasonably be put down to the continued strength of the dollar in the Trump era.

Travellers from those countries whose currency has dipped against the dollar – notably, those from Mexico – are understandably put off when their money doesn’t stretch as far. Conversely, countries with cheap currencies can expect an increase in travellers. On the list of countries with low or declining currency valuation are Indonesia, Argentina and the UK. Currency fluctuations might also explain why Canada presents a rare exception to the Trump slump, given that the Canadian dollar has stayed relatively strong.

Flying further

One factor we are watching carefully is the recent developments in air travel. The air carrier industry has an enormous impact on how often people travel abroad as well as on the locations they choose to visit. A hugely influential trend is the success of the low-cost, long-haul business model, with carriers like Norwegian Airlines charging rock-bottom prices for transatlantic flights.

The potential for supersonic travel, while an exciting prospect, is a drop in the ocean when compared with the impact that other technological developments.

As more established airlines seek to protect their market share, they are facing increasing pressure to follow suit. As such, low-cost, long-haul flights are becoming the new normal.

The success of this partly comes down to a host of leaner and more fuel-efficient planes, which are likely to continue to play an important role in bringing down flight costs in the years ahead. In another exciting development, the long pause in the commercial offering of supersonic technology could soon be over, with a handful of companies edging closer to offering supersonic flight to business customers. This could bring down travel times by more than half, and will be an important moment for air carriers and business travellers worldwide.

Ready for business

The potential for supersonic travel, while an exciting prospect, is a drop in the ocean when compared with the impact that other technological developments are having on the travel industry. A hugely influential trend is the continued rise of room-sharing platforms such as Airbnb, which are causing significant disruptions in the hospitality industry across the world.

Notably, in another blow to an increasingly weakened hotel industry, 2017 saw the rollout of Airbnb’s business tool. The new function labels certain listings as ‘business travel ready’ when they have the full ensemble of free Wi-Fi, a desk, an iron, a hairdryer and a doorman for check-ins. It also enables businesses to manage their employees’ travel itineraries. Hotels are fighting back by focusing on features that Airbnb lacks, from room service to the convenience of an in-house gym and swimming pool. For travellers, however, it is only good news, as such competition is creating more choice and greater consistency.

Without further ado

Amid this very changeable setting, Business Destinations has assembled a list of the world’s most successful corporate travel facilitators. We have scoured the industry to pick out those players that have successfully adapted and innovated to prepare for the sometimes-erratic trends of modern travel. Take a look at our awards listings for a comprehensive list of everything from the best airport loyalty scheme to the best MICE cruise company. Congratulations to all of our winners.

Global Best In-Room Technology W Hotels US Tel: +1 877 946 8357 starwoodhotels.com/whotels Best Currency Exchange XE Canada Tel: +1 416 214 5606 xe.com Best Travel Management App TripIt US Tel: +1 415 684 7258 tripit.com Best Insurance Provider World Nomads Australia Tel: +1 816 905 3963 worldnomads.com Best Online Booking Company Expedia US Tel: +1 404 728 8787 expedia.com Best International Hotel Group Marriott International US Tel: +1 888 236 2427 marriott.com Best Concierge Service Quintessentially Group UK Tel: +44 203 073 6600 quintessentially.com Best Tour Operator Trailfinders UK Tel: 0207 368 1200 trailfinders.com Best Airport Loyalty Scheme RED by Dufry Switzerland Tel: +41 61 266 4444 dufry.com Best Sustainable Tour Operator Intrepid Travel Australia Tel: +61 38 594 3903 intrepidtravel.com Best Car Rental Company Sixt Germany Tel: +1 888 749 8227 sixt.com Best MICE Cruise Company Royal Caribbean Cruises US Tel: (800) 529 6916 royalcaribbeanincentives.com
Europe Best Destination for MICE Meet in Reykjavik Iceland Tel: +354 527 6666 meetinreykjavik.is Best Business Hotel, Ireland Citywest Hotel Ireland Tel: +353 1401 0500 citywesthotel.com Best Destination for Cultural Tourism Croatian National Tourist Board Croatia Tel: +385 14 699 333 htz.hr Best Business Hotel, Belgium The Hotel Brussels Belgium Tel: +32 2504 1111 thehotel-brussels.be Best Meetings and Conference Centre Alfândega Porto Congress Centre Portugal Tel: +351 22 340 3000 ccalfandegaporto.com Best Business Class Airline Air France France Tel: 0207 660 0337 airfrance.co.uk Best Congress and Convention Centre Luxembourg Congrès Luxembourg Tel: +352 43 025 7751 eccl.lu Best Economy Airline Lufthansa Germany Tel: +49 698 679 9799 lufthansa.com Best Fixed-Base Operator Eccelsa Aviation Italy Tel: +39 078 956 3480 eccelsa.com Best Airport Zürich Airport Switzerland Tel: +41 43 816 2211 zurich-airport.com Best Luxury Hotel Castello di Casole Italy Tel: +39 057 796 1501 castellodicasole.com Best Spa Resort Las Arenas Balneario Resort Spain Tel: +34 96 312 0600 hotelvalencialasarenas.com
North America Best Destination for MICE Greater Boston Convention and Visitors Bureau US Tel: +1 617 536 4100 bostonusa.com Best Business Class Airline Virgin America US Tel: +1 650 762 7005 virginamerica.com Best Meetings and Conference Centre South San Francisco Conference Centre US Tel: +1 65 0877 8787 ssfconf.com Best Boutique Hotel Hotel Ocho Canada Tel: +416 593 0885 hotelocho.com Best Destination for Cultural Tourism Cubanacán Group Cuba Tel: + 537 833 4090 cubanacan.cu Best Economy Airline JetBlue Airways US Tel: +1 80 1449 2525 jetblue.com Best Congress and Convention Centre Banff Alberta Conference Centre US Tel: +1 403 762 2211 fairmont.com/banff-springs Best Airport Vancouver International Airport Canada Tel: +1 604 207 7077 yvr.ca Best Luxury Hotel The Whitby Hotel US Tel: +1 212 586 5656 firmdalehotels.com Best Spa Resort Dreams Punta Cana Resort and Spa Dominican Republic Tel: +1 844 402 4182 dreamsresorts.com Best Business Hotel Sheraton Mexico City Maria Isabel Hotel Mexico Tel: +52 55 5242 5555 sheratonmexicocitymariaisabel.com Best Budget Accommodation Provider Kimpton Carlyle Hotel US Tel: +1 202 234 3200 carlylehoteldc.com
South America Best Destination for MICE Santiago Convention Bureau Chile Tel: +56 223 468 718 scb.cl Best Business Class Airline LATAM Airlines Chile Tel: 0800 026 0728 latam.com Best Destination for Cultural Tourism Convention and Visitors Bureau of Lima Peru Tel: +51 1446 6767 limaconvention.com Best Boutique Hotel The Glu Hotel Argentina Tel: +54 11 4831 4646 thegluhotel.com Best Meetings and Conference Centre Riocentro Convention and Event Centre Brazil Tel: +55 21 2441 9100 riocentro.com.br Best Economy Airline Aerolíneas Argentinas Argentina Tel: 0810 2228 6527 aerolineas.com.ar Best Congress and Convention Centre Quorum Quito Ecuador Tel: +593 2394 2600 quorumquito.com Best Airport Jorge Chávez International Airport Peru Tel: +51 1517 3100 lima-airport.com Best Luxury Hotel Acqua Santa Lofts Hotel Colombia Tel: +57 2485 5331 acquasantahotel.com Best Spa Resort Tivoli Mofarrej São Paulo Brazil Tel: +55 11 3146 6452 minorhotels.com/tivoli Best Business Hotel Fierro Hotel Argentina Tel: +54 11 3220 6800 fierrohotel.com Best Budget Accommodation Provider Ibis Santiago Estacion Central Chile Tel: +56 2989 1600 ibis.com
Middle East Best Destination for MICE Abu Dhabi Tourism & Culture Authority Abu Dhabi Tel: +97 1 2444 0444 tcaabudhabi.ae Best Business Hotel Sheraton Oman Hotel Oman Tel: +968 2237 7777 sheratonoman.com Best Destination for Cultural Tourism Sharjah Commerce and Tourism Development Authority Abu Dhabi Tel: +97 1 6556 6777 sharjah-welcome.com Best Business Class Airline Oman Air Oman Tel: +968 2453 1111 omanair.com Best Meetings and Conference Centre Bahrain International Exhibition & Convention Centre Bahrain Tel: +973 1755 8800 bahrainexhibitions.com Best Economy Airline Qatar Airways Qatar Tel: +974 4022 5336 qatarairways.com Best Congress and Convention Centre Beirut International Exhibition and Leisure Centre Lebanon Tel: +961 199 5555 biel-group.com Best Airport Hamad International Airport Qatar Tel: +974 4010 6666 dohahamadairport.com Best Luxury Hotel, Saudi Arabia Burj Rafal Hotel Kempinski Saudi Arabia Tel: +966 1 1511 7777 kempinski.com/en/riyadh/burj-rafal-hotel Best Spa Resort One&Only The Palm Dubai Tel: +971 4440 1010 oneandonlyresorts.com Best Luxury Hotel, Oman Hormuz Grand Hotel Oman Tel: +968 2435 0500 quorvuscollection.com/hormuz-grand-hotel Best Travel Management Company Alshamel Travel Kuwait Tel: +965 2297 6000 alshamel.com
Africa Best Destination for MICE Rwanda Convention Bureau Rwanda Tel: +250 788 358 454 rcb.rw Best Business Hotel, Senegal Radisson Blu Hotel, Dakar Sea Plaza Senegal Tel: +221 3 3869 3333 www.radissonblu.com/hotel-dakar Best Destination for Cultural Tourism South African National Convention Bureau South Africa Tel: +27 1 1895 3000 southafrica.net Best Business Class Airline Kenya Airways Kenya Tel: +254 02 0327 4747 kenya-airways.com Best Meetings and Conference Centre Cairo International Convention Centre Egypt Tel: +20 2263 3222 eeca.gov.eg Best Economy Airline Ethiopian Airlines Ethiopia Tel: +251 1 1665 6666 ethiopianairlines.com Best Congress and Convention Centre Kigali Convention Centre Rwanda Tel: +250 252 252 252 kigalicc.com Best Airport Cape Town International Airport South Africa Tel: +27 2 1937 1200 capetown-airport.com Best Luxury Hotel, Ghana The Royal Senchi Hotel and Resort Ghana Tel: +233 03 0340 9170 theroyalsenchi.com Best Spa Resort Constance Ephelia Seychelles Tel: +248 439 5000 constancehotels.com Best Luxury Hotel, Senegal Pullman Dakar Teranga Senegal Tel: +221 33 889/2200 pullmanhotels.com Best Budget Accommodation Provider Riad Verus Morocco Tel: +212 5 3574 1941 riadverus.com
Asia Best Destination for MICE Visit Singapore Singapore Tel: +65 6736 2000 visitsingapore.com Best Business Class Airline Japan Airlines Japan Tel: 03 6733 3062 jal.co.jp Best Destination for Cultural Tourism Discover Hong Kong Hong Kong Tel: +852 2508 1234 discoverhongkong.com Best Boutique Hotel Shin Shin Hotel South Korea Tel: +82 51 816 4479 hotelshinshin.com Best Meetings and Conference Centre Pacifico Yokohama Japan Tel: +81 45 221 2121 pacifico.co.jp Best Economy Airline AirAsia Malaysia Tel: 1600 85 8888 airasia.com Best Congress and Convention Centre Tokyo Convention and Visitors Bureau Japan Tel: +81 5579 2680 tcvb.or.jp Best Airport Changi Airport Singapore Tel: +65 6595 6868 changiairport.com Best Luxury Hotel The Leela Palace, New Delhi India Tel: +91 11 3933 1234 theleela.com Best Spa Resort Taj Exotica Resort and Spa, Goa India Tel: +91 83 2668 3333 taj.tajhotels.com Best Business Hotel Hotel Eclát Beijing China Tel: +86 10 8561 2888 eclathotels.com Best Budget Accommodation Provider Red Planet Indonesia Indonesia Tel: +62 21 2949 8800 redplanetindonesia.com
Australasia Best Destination for MICE Melbourne Convention Bureau Australia Tel: +61 3 9002 2222 melbournecb.com.au Best Business Class Airline Air New Zealand New Zealand Tel: 0800 028 4149 airnewzealand.co.nz Best Destination for Cultural Tourism Tourism Australia Australia Tel: +61 2 9360 1111 tourism.australia.com Best Boutique Hotel The Brothers Boutique Hotel New Zealand Tel: +64 3477 0043 brothershotel.co.nz Best Meetings and Conference Centre Auckland Conventions Venues and Events New Zealand Tel: +64 9307 5498 aucklandconventions.co.nz Best Economy Airline Virgin Australia Airlines Australia Tel: +0800 051 1281 virginaustralia.com Best Congress and Convention Centre ICC Sydney Australia Tel: +61 29 215 7100 iccsydney.com.au Best Airport Sydney Airport Australia Tel: +61 29 667 6111 sydneyairport.com.au Best Luxury Hotel Grand Papua Hotel Papua New Guinea Tel: +675 304 0000 grandpapuahotel.com.pg Best Spa Resort Polynesian Spa New Zealand Tel: +64 7348 1328 polynesianspa.co.nz Best Business Hotel The Grace Sydney Australia Tel: +61 29 272 6888 gracehotel.com.au Best Budget Accommodation Provider City Centre Budget Hotel Australia Tel: +61 39 654 5401 citycentrebudgethotel.com.au