As 2012 begins, the travel and tourism industry is still recovering from a tough recession. But forecasters say demand for business and vacation accommodations will begin to climb this year.
In fact, a recent survey of 2,300 U.S. consumers reveals that 44% plan on taking more leisure trips this year than in 2011. The survey, conducted by the website Travel-Ticker.com, also indicates that 96% of respondents will travel more in 2012 if they can “find good deals.”
That may be more difficult than ever, as hotels and airlines will be taking advantage of the uptick in travel to raise rates and fares, in hopes of making up for several years’ of sluggish profits.
Vacation Demand and Prices Expected to Rise in 2012
Airlines are already enjoying an increase in demand and, due to mergers and cutbacks on the number of available flights, have created a limited supply of seats. This scenario, along with fluctuating fuel prices, means that 2012 fares will likely be on the rise – continuing a trend from last year. In 2011, major airlines attempted to raise fares on 22 occasions – and succeeded nine times, according to FareCompare.com. That trend is expected to continue. And once you reach your destination, you can expect your room to cost more, too.
Hotel chains are expected to initiate rate increases ranging from 6 – 12%, and travelers will see fewer amenities, as well. Hotels are expected to focus on overall revenue, rather than occupancy rates – the traditional indicator of healthy business. For travelers, this could translate into more expensive stays, since getting more revenue out of each room will become more important than just filling the hotel.
Even frequent business travelers, who are accustomed to upgrades and freebies, will see their hotel bills climb, with fees for amenities they’re used to getting for free, such as WiFi and breakfast.
So, how can the average person have a great vacation without breaking the bank this year? Savvy travelers know that great deals can still be found. It pays to know what’s trending in travel, so you can leverage it for yourself. Then, it’s all about what you ask for, and how well you negotiate.
Travel Trends for 2012
Travel forecasters have made their predictions for 2012’s top trends. Here are some to watch, and ideas on how to use them to your advantage:
Flexible Travel – Once upon a time, travelers made vacation plans and booked tickets far in advance, leaving plenty of deals for those who wait on sites such as Priceline.com, Hotels.com and Kayak.com. 2011 saw the rise of the spontaneous traveler, taking advantage of insider deals and “flash sales” for subscribers. So sign up for the private travel deal sites, airline and hotel loyalty programs, and Groupon and Living Social travel deals, and you’ll soon have exclusive offers delivered to your mobile device or inbox. Once you find a deal you like, don’t hesitate to call the hotel, inn, spa or B&B to ask for a room upgrade, or discounts on breakfast, dinner or spa treatments. Or, ask what they’ll do if you extend your stay. You could turn a two-night bargain into a week-long vacation at a great price.
Emerging Markets – If you’ve been hearing more about China, India, Indonesia and Vietnam lately, it is most likely because these countries are seeing a lot more visitors these days. It might make you think about checking out one of these more exotic locales – but higher demand can mean higher prices. Instead, look to less-traveled countries like Ukraine, Nicaragua, Argentina, Paraguay or the Philippines. In tourist-hungry destinations, you will have a better chance of negotiating a deal on a room or tours, and discounts on dining, museums and local activities.
Luxury Travel – High-end travelers seeking once-in-a-lifetime experiences are fueling the active and adventure travel sector. As more luxury travelers shell out big money to climb mountains in Chile or swim with the turtles in Mexico, adventure travel companies are keeping busy – and keeping prices high. If you want in on the action, find out which season is the slowest for your destination. With a little effort, you can find out when innkeepers and tour operators are most anxious for business. Ask for a special rate on your room, a two-for-one deal on a scuba lesson, or a discount on a winery tour. When you know how to negotiate, you can enjoy luxury travel – even if you’re far from wealthy.
Family Travel – Increasingly, multiple generations of families are traveling together, and travel agents, tour operators and specialty travel companies are popping up to meet their needs. These groups want activities that make everyone from three-year-olds to octogenarians happy – and are more than willing to pay for them. If you’re traveling alone or as a couple, you can easily seek out bargains in less-family-friendly destinations, which may be seeing a dip in business. No matter what you prefer in vacations – exciting, fun-filled and adventurous, or quiet, relaxing and restorative – it can be yours at a great price, if you watch trends, look for bargains and negotiate for what you want.
Negotiate a Travel Bargain - If you don’t ask for what you want, you may never get it. That’s true in life, and especially true in travel. But most people are uncomfortable with negotiations, and are held back by discomfort, fear of conflict or the word “no.” Negotiation skills can come in handy at vacation planning time. Learning effective conflict resolution can turn a “no” into a “maybe.” And counteroffer techniques can turn it into a “yes.” Disarming tough hotel or airline staff with proven negotiation techniques can make your next trip a win-win for both sides.
This year, brush up on your negotiation skills and use them to plan your next vacation. You could find yourself having more fun for less money than ever before.