Travel Industry Forecast: It’s Cold Outside but Is a Storm Coming?

I am hearing conflicting forecasts for travel demand moving forward. With so many opinions, how do you figure it all out? How do you know which indicators are accurate and if you can trust the source?

John McMahon

One scenario is if a slowdown hits the big cities and corporate travel. If you start to see occupancies and rates dropping, a storm may be brewing. This is a sign that corporations are tightening their belts and paychecks will be affected. This will have an impact on high-end leisure travel, as well. I am hearing that major cities are starting to see this. So, is a storm coming? Should you batten down the hatches? My answer is “No,” and I have two reasons — one you may debate and the second I am sure you will agree with. 

If the new proposed tax laws come into effect for 2018, corporations will see a significant lower corporate tax, which will restart business travel and put more money in paychecks going forward. It will be sunny and clear for 2018.

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My second reason, if I am wrong with the first, is that luxury travel advisors are in a safe harbor. You have planted yourself in the luxury travel sector, which has more disposable income to ride out the storm. Currently, high-end agencies are reporting double-digit growth, which exceeds travel suppliers’ overall growth for the year. That tells you that the luxury travel agency sector is seeing significant growth compared to corporate, meetings and consumer-direct travel.

What a great place to be! Suppliers should increase their focus on your safe harbor channel, which will continue to drive business to those who embrace you. 

Pictured here are Greg Nacco of Food & Wine Trails, Alex Sharpe of Signature Travel Network, Kimberly Wilson Wetty of Valerie Wilson Travel, myself and Gary Murphy of AmaWaterways in New York as we weathered the cold over the holidays. These industry stars are all-in and very optimistic for clear sailing ahead for 2018.

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