The 2017 travel forecast: Reduced demand could result in vacation bargains

Many Americans will choose to not go on a vacation in 2017, which means more deals for the savvy traveler. The Post’s Christopher Elliott shares three tips on how to save money and plan the perfect vacation in 2017. (Erin Patrick O’Connor, Julio Negron/The Washington Post)

Where will you go in 2017? If you said “nowhere,” then get in line behind the rest of America. But there’s still time to change your answer — and you might want to.

Nearly half of U.S. travelers surveyed by digital marketing firm Fluent say they don’t intend to take any vacation trips next year. Of the respondents with plans, 45 percent say that they will travel only domestically.

They’re people like Meera Sundram, who is lukewarm to the idea of going anywhere next year. “I’m expecting prices to go up as I plan the few trips I have in 2017,” Sundram wrote in an email. She recently moved from Houston to New York, where she works for a health-care company. “Since moving to the Northeast, I feel lucky that I can avail myself of train service some of the time,” she says. “It gives me some alternatives to air travel.”

[The best time to buy airline tickets and other travel advice for 2017]

Fluent’s latest numbers don’t paint as grim a picture as did its Thanksgiving travel survey, which suggested that 78 percent of Americans were grounding themselves for the holidays because of a variety of fears and uncertainties, including worries about the Zika virus, terrorism and the results of the presidential election.

“Until there’s greater confidence in the economy and state of affairs in the country in general, I wouldn’t expect to see large numbers of consumers saying that they will be taking exotic and expensive vacations in 2017,” says Jordan Cohen, Fluent’s chief marketing officer.

That’s normal for a post-election year, says Mark Noennig, executive vice president and general manager at Mark Travel, which owns the brands and handles tours for Funjet Vacations, United Vacations, and Southwest Vacations among others.

“Historical data shows that shifting travel patterns should be anticipated as political and economic climates settle,” he says. “Overall, we’re expecting a slight weakening in leisure travel over the next few months as a result of the election. That should result in pent-up demand for travel in 2017.”

So why are we talking about not traveling — in, of all places, a travel column? Because in light of some promising industry trends, there may be more travel opportunities in 2017 than you think.

Let’s review a few more 2017 numbers. The largest agency consortium in America says travel will remain affordable next year.

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“We see modest price increases for 2017,” says John Lovell, president of Travel Leaders Network and Leisure Group. “It is really a function of the specific time in which you’re traveling and to where.” For example, he says, overall airfares are expected to rise between 3 and 5 percent in 2017. About the same increase is predicted for hotels, but cruise prices should only rise “slightly” in the new year.

“Some of the price increases are mitigated by consumers seeing lower than typical pricing in some European destinations, especially in cities like Paris and London,” Lovell says.

If you look for bargains, you’ll probably find them. Reduced travel demand, lower energy prices and a strong dollar could set the stage for some real steals. “It makes next year a great year for international travel,” says Adam Cooper, senior vice president for North America at STA Travel.

What are the trends that will shape next year? In email interviews with travel industry insiders, I found that most reflect a more conservative, less-is-more approach.

  • Alternative accommodations:  One of the big trends of the past decade has been toward vacation rentals and apartments, and away from traditional hotels. As travelers stay closer to home, that trend should continue to accelerate. But a contrarian booking strategy might be helpful, says Henrik Kjellberg, president of Hotwire, an online travel site. “There’s a greater supply of available hotel rooms, and the rates for travelers to secure great lodging will be lower in 2017 than 2016,” he says.
  • The need for authenticity:  When people travel in 2017, they’ll be picky about where they go, according to Jay Schwartz, founder of IdeaWork Studios, a branding agency that specializes in the hospitality industry. “People are craving authentic experiences,” he says. Think unique neighborhoods, boutique hotels and other only in experiences. On the flip side, this may mean more competitive pricing on vacation experiences deemed less authentic, such as theme parks.

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  • Instant gratification: Another theme for 2017 is the increase in short-term bookings. “I’m anticipating a noticeable shift in consumer behavior toward on-demand bookings,” says Sam Shank, chief executive of HotelTonight, a discount reservation agency. “I believe that we’re migrating towards shorter lead times in accordance with more accessible and mobile booking options that open things up and don’t require extensive lead times,” he says. In other words, more people are waiting until the last minute to book. The contrarian strategy? Plan now for your 2017 vacation. You could be rewarded with a better rate.

Taken together, these trends suggest that defying conventional wisdom may yield the best results. Travelers are setting the bar high — perhaps too high. They’re spending so much time looking for something different that they might miss the bargains in front of them.

AS REPORTED IN THE WASHINGTON POST by: Christopher Elliott on December 29, 2016

Chef Bocchia discusses Mistral Ristorante’s One Michelin Star for the 11th Consecutive year!

Click here to learn more about the Grand Hotel Villa Serbelloni

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Lake Como out of season: chic hotels and sleepy towns (The Times)

ghvs

While Lake Como and the Grand Hotel Villa Serbelloni are popular with tourists during the warm summer months, those in the know choose to enjoy the quiet and luxury of autumn “when there’s a nip in the air, mist on the water, free tables in the restaurants and space to breathe.”

Read The Times article, Lake Como out of season: chic hotels and sleepy towns, by Amanda Linfoot and picture yourself amongst the lavish beauty of Italy’s finest, where “the stunning views of the little towns that dot the lake’s edge and an early dusting of snow on the Alps complete a pretty magnificent location.”

Vistas and Values: Experience Fall at the Grand Hotel Villa Serbelloni in Bellagio, Lake Como

ghvs-6-exterior-aerial-with-townThinking of Lake Como this Fall?  The Grand Hotel Villa Serbelloni in Bellagio – Italy’s standard bearer of old world elegance and style, continues to provide timely value for its clientele.

The Grand Hotel Villa Serbelloni and the Bucher Family invite you to share the spectacle of autumn on the Lake. With legendary accommodations to both relax and stimulate the senses. During the period of September 18 – October 30th, 2016 the Villa offers its most competitive rates.

From stretching out at poolside,  sipping a drink, to playing tennis or golf, to taking excursions on foot or by boat along the Lake, or shopping in the charming center of Bellagio with its elegant boutiques and local craft shops —  a stay at the Grand Hotel Villa Serbelloni is unforgettable!

After completing a perfect day guests can also experience a visit to the Fitness Center, the Spa or have a swim at the hotel’s indoor pool or outdoor pools before dinner at Ristorante La Goletta (the  hotel’s casual dining alternative). For a Romantic evening, enjoy cocktails on the Veranda overlooking the foothills of the Alps and Lake Como, dine at the hotel’s Michelin starred “Mistral Restaurant”,  followed by dancing under stars.

All in all, Fall is the perfect time to visit the Grand Hotel Villa Serbelloni,  the only 5- Star luxury hotel in the charming Town of Bellagio, as well as one of the most elegant properties in Lake Como. www.villaserbelloni.com

 

Minneapolis- A Business and Pleasure Surprise at Any Time of Year!

Business travel generally carries certain expectations about what a city has to offer. Traveling as much as I do for business I found theses expectations are typically spot on, but on some rare occasions i’m pleasantly surprised. This is the case with Minneapolis.

At the beginning of my hospitality sales career when representing European Luxury Hotels, I would often travel to the MidWest during the winter months (especially January when there would be GTD snow storms) in order to impress our clients.

Looking back more than 25 years, cities like Minneapolis/St. Paul did not offer direct flights, and the of hotels options were to say the least wanting and slim. This followed wlimited choices of quality restaurants or recreational activities.

Minneapolis fast foward

Fast forward to 2016, I’m scheduling a business trip for a industry conference and imagine my surprise, when I learned of a new regional Airline named Sun Country Airlines, based out of Minneapolis with a number of direct flights from major US cities.

As I continued the Minneapolis trip planning research I learned the following:

  • Next to Chicago, Minneapolis-St Paul is now considered the Midwest’s cultural capital
  • It has sixty museums
  • Thirty theater venues
  • Culinary prowess of top chiefs and home of the famous Andrew Zimmern
  • The city is also surrounded by thousands of acres of parks and miles and miles of trails no surprise there as the state of Minnesota is land of lakes with 10,000

Minneapolis and sister city St Paul are two for the price of one…the best of both worlds.

Try a Segway or walking tour of the Mill District and dine on the Mississippi Riverfront patio. Stroll through Rice Park and catch a show at the Ordway Center for Performing Arts.  Go downtown and stop at one of  the tax free shops or  change it up  a bit with a paddle boarding lesson on the Chain of Lakes.  Then refuel with award winning cuisine at one of the 100+new restaurants that opened in the past two years alone.

No matter what your interests, the Twin Cities’ ability to blend natural beauty with urban culture is second to none.

Whether traveling for business or family great getaway vacation in Winter…yes winter!  Not something most would consider.

Mall of America

o take advantage of the many attractions try following this simple itinerary: after arriving at the Airport, I recommend ground transportation to the Radisson Blu a spectacular hotel which is connected to the Mall of America, the Nation’s largest retail and entertainment complex.

The Mall of America is a 4.87 million square foot mall and home to more than 520+ shops.

It’s enormous at four stories offering something for everyone. Ride a roller coaster, shop ‘til you drop and enjoy gourmet meals all without stepping outside. Kids go wild for Nickelodeon Universe, the nation’s largest year round indoor family theme park;

EMS Entertainment Exhibit Center; SEA LIFE Minnesota aquarium, a 1.2 million gallon walkthrough aquarium;  Beyond the rides, Dutchman’s Deck Adventure Course and Moose Mountain Adventure Golf. Refresh your wardrobe at any of the, dine at CRAVE or the Hard Rock Café, or stop by LEGO land, SEA LIFE Minnesota Aquarium or the brand new FlyOver America for boundless entertainment.

Just a word on FlyOver America, a fully immersive flight experience and the hottest attraction to ever hit Minnesota!  A gentle thrilling action suitable for ages 4-104, this $20 million attraction opened on April 06, 2016 and is a flight simulation ride like no other.

 

 

During the main event, guests strap in and are suspended in air ten to twenty-five feet above ground, in specialized in vehicles facing a 40-foot half-spherical dome screen.

The fully immersive experience is enhanced by ride vehicles that move in concert with the ride film and the use of special effects – Wind, mist and scents. Guests will truly feel the thrilling sensation of flight will make you feel like you are truly flying. More info: www.flyover-america.com

Minneapolis was a BIG surprise and is certainly a SECRET!!