CNN recently published this interesting article, which outlines some of the biggest travel trends throughout this past year. Over the past 12 months, there have been some major shifts within the travel and tourism industry. Here are some of the biggest changes that we saw in 2015:
Revenue-based Frequent Flyer Programs
For years, airlines granted frequent flyer mile rewards based on the number of miles that a traveler flew. This year, a number of major airlines — including United Airlines, Delta, and American Airlines — changed up their strategy. They are now rewarding miles based on the dollar amount of a ticket. This shift means that airlines will be handing out more rewards to the big spenders, as opposed to the frequent fliers.
According to Randy Petersen, CEO of Frequent Flier Services, “in 33 years of frequent flier programs, this is the year of the biggest changes ever.”
This new flyer program is beginning to spread throughout the industry. Earlier this year, British Airways tweaked its loyalty program: they reduced the amount of miles an economy ticket can accrue. Cathay Pacific made the move to a revenue-based model a few months ago as well.
Jason Clampet, co-founder of Skift.com, “it is kind of a ripple effect going back and forth in both directions. We are also going to see more creative loyalty programs pop up.”
Lufthansa began charging a fee of $17 for bookings made outside of its website earlier this year, angering the travel agent community. The additional fee basically increases the cost for anyone using a Global Distribution System (GDS) to book their flight. GDS are the man computers for reservations, and airlines are charged fees for every booking process through a GDS.
Therefore, there has been a financial incentive for the airline industry to discourage these types of bookings. But the change in policy has provided a great deal of backlash amongst travel bookers.
“It’s not a huge amount of money, but it’s a little bit more the concept,” states John Snyder, CEO of BCD Travel, a corporate travel management provider. “Some of the customers in Germany are very unhappy with Lufthansa for making that move and we have customers that have booked away from Lufthansa.”
When the fees were introduced, many thought that other airlines would follow suit. However, Lufthansa is the only one to have added on the GDS fee thus far. It looks like we will have to wait for 2016 to find out whether or not this will become a trend or if Lufthansa will end up removing the fee.
New Seat Concepts
Zodiac Aerospace, a premier supplier of aircraft equipment, came up with a new concept for the air cabin seat. Their design features a layout in which passengers face each other. the HD-31, also known as the knee-to-knee, may not appear to give passengers more legroom, however, Tommy Dean, Zodiac’s head of Advanced Concepts, argues that the design allows for greater efficiency and, ultimately, increased comfort.
“Airlines always come to us and ask to think outside the box, to challenge what’s done traditionally. Today, everything face forward, everything’s very conformist, but to really create more space, you have to start to redistribute people, actually change their orientation,” he says.
The new design shows that airlines and designers alike are interested in improving the flying experience for passengers.
Uber For Business Travelers
This past year, the private-car-booking app, Uber, set themselves up as a handy tool for corporations with their new Uber for Business platform. In addition to letting companies set up corporate accounts through which employees can expense rides, Uber now lets companies set limits and monitor the rides so they can sort out which claims are genuine.
“You can have business rules, which means you can only take an Uber during this time or for these purposes,” describes Emil Michael, Uber’s senior vice president of business. “[Companies] do want to know that the expenses are legitimate. What we provide is a beginning and end trip. You don’t get that in a taxi receipt.”
Airbnb For Business Travelers
Airbnb is another technology company looking to expand their offerings for business travelers. The website allows people to find, list, and rent lodging in over 34,000 cities around the world. Their growing worldwide presence has allowed them to become a reliable and affordable option for business travelers.
As Clampet describes, “[companies] are like, oh, we can put five workers in a condo and we can save $3,000 on a meeting. They don’t think twice about it. Airbnb is making it easier for them to make that decision.”