Travel Trends for 2011

After reflecting and sharing with you my top ten experiences in 2010 I started looking ahead to 2011. I have decided not to make a resolution rather I’ve pulled from news stories from the past year and read through my travel subscriptions to see what others had to say about what’s to come in 2011. From all the materials I’ve reviewed and agreed with here’s my pick for Travel Trends in 2011.

Old favorites are reemerging like Italy, Spain & Turkey; I chose these destinations because a lot of my clients are asking for them. They actually started asking in 2010 but for travel in 2011. I’ve also noticed a lot of activity from the tourist boards promoting to the US market. While these destinations have been favorites for the US market for a very long time, I’m noticing even those who’ve been before want to go again. For Italy, Tuscany is at the top of the list along with the Amalfi Coast and of course the food and wine. This may have to do with the movie Eat, Pray, Love. For Spain, Barcelona is still at the top of the list for its nightlife but Bilbao is getting some attention. I visited Bilbao a couple of years ago and fell in love with the city. It’s small, easy to navigate and has a lot of local charm. The only down side is the limited selections of hotels in Bilbao. The plus is the food, shopping and the Guggenheim Museum! Turkey was also one of my favorite experiences for 2010 so if you read my earlier post you’ll see what it’s being talked about for 2011.

Another trend I’m seeing is small towns. Vacationers are looking for small town charm and local favorites as opposed to big cities.

Major airlines have already implemented a fare increase for domestic and international flights. With concern of rising fuel costs, limited inventory and the need for profit don’t expect to see heavy discounts across the board. In my search for airfares for groups to the Caribbean & Europe I’m noticing significant increases over 2010 for the same destinations. For example from the US to Aruba over the same period last year is $100 – $400 more.

Don’t expect them to go away. I also don’t expect to too many new ones. The government is looking into the matter of taxing fees as revenue and with the exception of pay toilets and overhead bins what’s left, oh wait Spirit Airlines IS charging for overhead bins. LOL

Travel Currency (I learned this phrase from Travel & Leisure)
While the concept and knowledge of this is not new to me, the term is. If I’m late on this please excuse me. Airlines, hotels, car rental companies, credit card companies, etc. are all weighing in. These are points, bonuses and loyalty programs but it’s not just for your the program you’re a member of. You could literally earn and use points for added value on your vacation or travels. They’re not just for upgrades anymore.

Group Coupon Programs
Last year I became a member of Groupon, Social Living and KGBdeals and have taken advantage of some fabulous deals in my home town of Chicago. I’ve also used them when I’ve traveled home to DC. These are great to use when you travel, especially for spa services and restaurants.

Overall, I am finding that Americans are more confident in traveling and are loosening the purse strings. The corporate contracts that were canceled or put on hold for me in 2009 & 2010 are planning for incentive trips in 2011 and promotional tours & festivals are showing early interest.
I hope you too look to travel in 2011! But before you do, check baggage fees as part of your fare comparison, take an assessment of your travel programs and loyalties for extra benefits, clip coupons and visit a small town to rub elbows with the locals, you’ll find them more engaging.

Listen to Friday, January 7, 2011 from 11am – Noon Central time for more information.

“Remember the world is a book and those who do not travel read only a page” St. Augustine
Ja’Vonne Harley
Host, The Traveling Eye,
Owner, Advantage International, LLC