Future of Travel Industry

Keynote on future travel industry trends for American Express / TAP in Moscow, by Patrick Dixon, conference speaker.

Future of hotels, airlines and travel agents -- innovation in the travel industry. Future of business travel and leisure travel. Travel industry continues to be vulnerable to major shocks -- politically, global economy, environment or other factors ranging from volcanic eruptions to the Arab Spring. Strategies of travel companies and global corporations are being overtaken by events.

 

Impact of energy prices on future of aviation and global travel. Expect spectacular growth of aviation and rail travel in emerging economies such as China and India. The irresistible human desire to travel, explore, and gain new experiences will underpin consistent global growth in travel and tourism, despite new carbon and aviation taxes. Globalisation will also continue to force executives to sacrifice home life for travel, despite growth of teleworking and virtual teams.

 

Business travel will grow every year over the next 20-30 years, powered by growth in emerging markets, while travel within the EU and the US will remain relatively static. Russia internal and international air travel will also grow rapidly.

 

Asia will represent more than 40% of the global economy in Purchasing Power Parity by 2015. China travel bookings are already worth more than $100bn a year of which $15bn was booked online in 2012 -- up 500% on 2008 figures. Expect huge changes in how people are organizing their own travel.

 

It is true that videoconferencing is growing 20% a year but not enough to curtail business travel. Most people do not enjoy video conferencing and prefer to talk on the phone -- unless video is between family members. In the workplace, most people are relatively uncomfortable to perform in front of a camera. Expect that to change, but the fundamental need for human relationships will drive travel.

 

Virtual travel assistants are a big growth industry in the personal retail travel market, but in the workplace very few companies are operating with the same sophistication. But business and leisure worlds are fusing Russian online travel bookings are growing 20% a year -- already $90bn of business a year in 2012. Old style travel agents will struggle in Russia in future. Hotels that fail to give instant online prices and online bookings will soon find they are losing significant business to truly online competitors. Most travel call centres are stuck in the last century -- with operators unable to understand the multichannel world of the customer on the end of the phone, who may have 15 web pages open, with ipad, iphone and portable PC all active.

 

Price comparison websites are already transforming the entire travel industry with impact not only on airlines but also charter holidays, cruise holidays and so on.

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