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.
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.
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.