With 2017 tracking along at 5G speeds, it's a good time to look at what key trends will shape the year ahead in travel. From the savings implications of the global economic environment, to new airport openings and exciting developments in air travel, hotels and next-gen technologies - it's going to be another interesting year in travel!
Global uncertainty to keep travel prices in check
Insights from Campus Travel’s leading preferred air and hotel partners and global organisations such as PwC and the International Monetary Fund reveal an underlying theme of global uncertainty in 2017. However, this will benefit academic travellers with little to no change in air, hotel and ground transport demand levels and prices. Global influencing factors include:
- The current ‘unknowns’ around future policy directions in the US, where major hotel chains such as Hyatt, Hilton and Marriott anticipate only a moderate increase in demand and supply
- The fallout from Brexit including economic instability and a weaker British Pound, which point to London hotel rates remaining relatively stagnant or increasing by only 0.4% in 2017 as reported by PwC
- Low oil prices, which will keep demand for air travel high and should see fares staying well-priced and competitive across the world
- Subdued economic growth and performance in key economies such as the US, UK, Europe, Russia, China and Latin America, which will see travel rates stay flat until global business confidence experiences an upturn.
Key airport developments
2017 and the first half of 2018 will see new airport and terminal openings and continued development on major airport expansion projects including the following:
- Opening of the new Terminal 4 at Changi Airport in Singapore, which will feature a 300m Central Galleria and offer more do-it-yourself options for check-in and boarding
- Ongoing revitalisation of Gatwick Airport (London) including expansion of the North Terminal and South Terminal departure lounges and upgrades to shopping facilities
- Continued expansion of Chicago-O’Hare Airport (US) including a new runway and Terminal 5 expansion with more than 9 new international gates
- Ongoing expansion works at Amsterdam-Schiphol Airport in the Netherlands, including a new terminal and pier and a state-of-the-art baggage sorting and transport system
- The completion of the Berlin Brandenburg Airport in Germany, which will replace Berlin’s existing Tegel Airport
- Opening of the first phase of the Istanbul New Airport in Turkey, which will boast the world’s largest terminal complex and a tulip shaped tower
- Opening of Abu Dhabi Airport in United Arab Emirates and Muscat Airport in Oman
- Opening of Ramon Airport in Israel, which has been dubbed one of the most beautiful airports in the world
- Completion of expansions at Bergen and Oslo airports in Norway
- Completion of a new south wing passenger terminal at Helsinki Airport in Finland.
Improved airport experiences
Air travellers can look forward to new services and innovations within airports, designed to enhance their experience from the curb to boarding with solutions such as:
- Better baggage tracking and security, with enhancements in digital/electronic luggage tags, touchless and biometric bag drop, home-based virtual bag drop, new approaches to loading and unloading luggage from the aircraft, door-to-door baggage delivery services, and instant compensation for mishandling
- Ongoing improvements in airport security systems and ‘lane flow’, including growing use of advanced screening technologies and biometrics, improved lane layouts and process innovations to streamline security clearance processes for passengers
- Enhanced ‘brand experiences’ in airline lounges, such as those created by Qantas in partnership with Rockpool, Emirates with Costa Coffee and Moet Hennessy, Etihad with Six Senses, and Air France with Clarins
- Branded pop-up concepts, including everything from retail outlets to living rooms and waiting spaces in which retailers can showcase their wares and furnishings while creating more pleasant and engaging environments for travellers
- Digital and interactive art installations, such as those recently unveiled at Singapore’s Changi Airport, designed to give passengers on-demand services to help them manage their journey, provide entertainment while they wait, and profile the local city.
New directions in the air
The new year will see exciting developments in the airline industry, both in technology and aircraft design, with highlights including:
- More in-flight entertainment options, from low cost carriers’ portable and scalable onboard networks enabling passengers to stream content to their own devices, to pre-flight content download services, and options to download content to smartphones or tablets while waiting in a lounge or at the gate
- Service entry for the new Airbus A350-1000, the latest member of the A350 XWB widebody family that is shaping the future of long-haul airline operations. The A350-1000 offers best-in-class comfort with its ‘Airspace by Airbus’ cabin, and provides a larger premium area to accommodate first and business class travellers
- Service entry for Boeing’s new 737 MAX airliners, with flight testing of these aircraft currently under way. The 737 MAX will keep passengers constantly connected with easy access to high bandwidth and features the most efficient winglet design on any airplane
- Ongoing prototype development of the ‘Boom’ supersonic speed plane, which will travel 2.6 times faster than any other aircraft and allow passengers to travel from London to New York in under 3.5 hours. The development team is aiming to fly a test aircraft in Colorado in late 2017.
Movements on the ground
Marriott International and Starwood Hotels & Resorts have announced they will keep all of their 30 existing brands as they are, following the most significant recent merger in the hotel industry. The blended group will establish two categories of luxury hotels: ‘classic’ luxury (traditional), including Ritz-Carlton, St. Regis, and JW Marriott properties; and ‘distinctive’ luxury (modern and boutique), including Ritz-Carlton Reserve, Bvlgari, Edition, the Luxury Collection, and W properties.
In response to the growth of online travel agencies, hotels are expected to increasingly target business and academic travellers directly, and will focus on growing the size of their loyalty programs. This will benefit travellers with more competitive member offers and rates, value adds and loyalty program benefits, which will also be available to academic organisations that book through Campus Travel.
Openings to watch out for
The hotel industry will open doors to stunning and unique properties worldwide, with particular growth in smaller, boutique properties that are culturally connected with the millennial traveller and engage with guests on a more emotional level. Key openings include the following:
UK and Europe
- The Great Scotland Yard Hotel – a £50M transformation of London’s original Scotland Yard police station into a luxury five-star property
- The Ned Hotel, Soho (London) – the glorious restoration of a former bank building with a strong retro vibe
- Nobu Hotel, Shoreditch (UK) – with menus created by renowned chef Nobu Matsuhisa
- Hotel Indigo Milan – InterContinental Hotels Group’s second Indigo branded property in Italy
- La Bagnaia Gold & Spa Resort in Tuscany – bringing Hilton’s Curio brand to Italy for the first time
- Choice Hotels – set to establish a portfolio of 5 hotels in Greece
US and Canada
- The dual-branded Hilton Garden Inn Calgary Downtown and Homewood Suites by Hilton Calgary Downtown – just opened
- The Bryant – a residential tower in Manhattan providing extraordinary views over Bryant Park
- Restoration Hardware Hotel – a boutique property in New York City’s meatpacking district.
- St Regis Shanghai Jingan – a flagship property that promises to “redefine luxury”
- Hotel Jen Beijing – occupying the first 22 floors of the China World Trade Centre
- Park Hyatt Hangzhou in East China – just opened
- Capella Shanghai Jian Ye Li – Shanghai’s only all-villa urban resort.
- The Duxton Club – comprising The Duxton House and The Duxton Terrace in two colonial heritage buildings restored by architect and designer Jacques Garcia
- The Patina Capitol – the restored 1930s Capitol Building featuring retro and cutting edge design.
- MACQ 01 Hotel – situated on the Hobart waterfront, Tasmania
- Four Points by Sheraton – located on the waterfront at Melbourne Docklands
- Aloft Perth – the first Australian hotel to open under Starwood’s millennial band
- Sofitel Darling Harbour – Sydney’s first major new 5-star hotel in 15 years
- Pullman Brisbane Airport – with 130 rooms, 2 presidential suites and poolside pergolas.
• Sofitel So Auckland – a designer property near the harbour, featuring a rooftop restaurant.
Next gen mobile technologies
Mobile technologies and apps will continue to shape the way travel suppliers interact with their corporate clients. In 2017, more hotels and travel management providers are likely to adopt innovative chatbot technologies – computer programs that replicate human interaction by using artificial intelligence techniques – to digitally transform the way they engage with customers at every touchpoint. In London, Edwardian Hotels now offers their ‘Edward’ virtual hotel host chatbot to give guests immediate and easy access to self-service concierge via their smartphones or tablets, while in the US, Campus Travel’s sister corporate brand, has launched the corporate travel management industry’s first chatbot, ‘Sam’, to give travellers 24/7 live assistance with their travel planning, booking and journey.
Greater focus on service learning
Campus Travel expects the academic sector will focus more on ‘service learning’ to expand the cultural immersion possibilities for their travelling students in 2017. Based on the philosophies of travelling to ‘learn’ rather than ‘do’, valuing ‘people’ rather than ‘things’, and re-balancing the power between western and third world communities, service learning travel will give students deeper cultural insights and new perspectives and aspirations for life. Campus Travel will work closely with schools and travel suppliers to manage all aspects of travel planning and logistics to ensure successful service learning trips.
For further information on key travel trends and how you can maximise the effectiveness of your travel management in 2017, please contact your Campus Travel team.