Summer is almost here! With Memorial Day weekend just days away, the summer travel season is about to kick off. Here are five trends to bear in mind to keep your clients happy while they’re on the road this summer:
- It Will Be Busy: This summer will kick off with the busiest Memorial Day weekend since 2005, according to AAA’s latest forecast. For the rest of the season, a record 234.1 million passengers are set to take to the skies, airline trade association Airlines for America (A4A) reports. That’s 4 percent higher than last summer, a bump A4A attributes to a growing economy and low airfares. And while airlines are adding capacity to try to keep up with demand, allow extra time to handle crowded airports and security lines.
- Caribbean, Mexico Lead the Way: In terms of where travelers are headed, Mexico and the Caribbean continue to be perennial powerhouses. In travel insurance provider Allianz Global Assistance’s summer travel forecast, eight of the top 10 international destinations were in Mexico and the Caribbean. These include Cancun; Punta Cana, Dominican Republic; Los Cabos; Montego Bay, Jamaica; San Juan, Puerto Rico; Aruba Island, Aurba; St. Thomas, U.S. Virgin Islands; and Nassau, Bahamas.
- Europe Is Tops in Luxury: At the same time, Europe continues to be a favorite among luxury clients. At its recent Symposium Virtuoso forecast a strong summer for Europe this year, with Europe accounting for eight of the top 10 countries on its list of top summer travel destinations. Italy came in at number one, followed by the United Kingdom, France, Spain, Germany, Ireland, the Netherlands and Denmark.
- But Keep an Eye on Domestic Travel: Other clients, however, could be sticking close to home this year. A recent report from CheapOair had travel within the United States up nearly 50 percent since 2013, with the most significant jump – of 15 percent – occurring just within the past year. Additionally, popular U.S. destinations like Alaska continue to post strong travel numbers (the state just set another tourism record in 2016).
- Instability, Laptop Ban Could Act as Headwinds: While the fundamental numbers for this summer travel season seem strong, there are a few pitfalls to watch out for. Inbound travel to the United States is one trouble spot, with the Global Business Travel Association (GBTA) forecasting that the United States could lose $1.3 billion in travel-related expenditures over the course of this year due to political instability, such as Brexit and the Trump administration’s travel ban. The laptop ban is another question mark. While the laptop ban currently applies to 10 countries in the Middle East and North Africa, last week’s meeting between U.S. and European Union (EU) security officials ended with multiple conflicting reports on the ban’s future. Some media outlets said plans to expand the ban were “off the table” for now, while others indicated an expansion was imminent. Security officials are due for another meeting in Washington, DC, this week, so stay tuned.