Tuesday, December 24th, 2013

Forecasting Where, Why and How Americans Will Travel Next Year

BOSTON, MA -- (Marketwired) -- Dec 23, 2013 -- As 2013 wraps up, the travel experts at Cheapflights.com, the online leader in finding and publishing travel deals, are gazing into their crystal ball for a peek at what's in store for travel in 2014. While many of Cheapflights' 2013 travel trends are still in play for next year -- such as multi-generational travel, social media travel planning and digital detox -- our Hot Destinations and Top US Travel Trends for 2014 takes a look at new emerging destinations, changes in the air travel landscape and the impact major industry events will have on travel consumers in 2014.

Here are some highlights from Cheapflights.com's top travel predictions for 2014:

The Rise of the Super Airline - For travelers in the U.S., one of the biggest stories of the past year is the rise of the super airline. With the merger of American Airlines and US Airways, United Airlines' rule as the largest airline ended less than a year into its new life. Last March, Continental Airlines was fully integrated into United -- the fruit of two years' worth of work to blend the airlines. It will take American and US Airways time to combine their resources as well, but consumers can expect changes to start happening early in the New Year.

With United, Delta and the new American all truly super sized, these large airlines are going to be very busy competing with one another with a lot of focus on international travel and amenities like lay flat beds in first class, even on domestic flights. For the price-conscious traveler, there may be less to love on those major airlines as nickel and diming for basics, like a few more inches of leg room, becomes even more prevalent.

However, this battle among the power airlines will likely leave room for newer and smaller players competing on base price to emerge, for established "budget" airlines like Southwest and JetBlue to gain even more ground and for regional airlines like Hawaiian Airlines and Alaska Airlines to expand the number of markets they serve.

Emerging and re-emerging travel hot spots - In 2013, a number of new travel hot spots began to emerge (or re-emerge). While domestic travel is still by far the most popular in the United States, we did find that people are increasingly including the US territories in their vacation plans. Searches to St. Croix, US Virgin Islands, jumped 40% while those to St. Thomas, US Virgin Islands, were up 34%. Puerto Rico also saw a 10% spike in popularity.

Good budget airline service can also spike the popularity of a destination. Two prime examples: Denver, Colo., and Myrtle Beach, S.C. Denver is not only a great city and jumping off point for a mountain getaway but also a strategic low-cost carrier hub. Southwest, Frontier, JetBlue and Spirit all serve Denver International and the competition works in the traveler's favor. So it's not a surprise that Denver saw an 17% increase in travel searches for the year. Likewise, Myrtle Beach's small but growing airport now offers non-stop flights to 25 different cities -- the majority offered by low-cost carriers Spirit Airlines and Allegiant Airlines. That serves as pricing pressure the flights US Airways, United and Delta offer into Myrtle Beach too, leading to a 20% increase in travelers looking to visit this southern beach town.

For 2014, we see signs U.S. travelers will continue to chase warm weather and sunshine, look for new bargain destinations and travel for events. Here are some destination trends to watch for:

Caribbean distinction - Images of crystal blue water and white sandy beaches are the ubiquitous day dream of the Caribbean. However the islands have a mix of cultures, climates and currencies that make it worthwhile to do your homework before you book. Some recent changes, especially in the Dutch Antilles, mean some key island countries have new-found autonomy. As a result, they have -- and will -- continue to ramp up how they market themselves. Be prepared to see an increase in other parts of the Caribbean pushing what makes them stand out. Price will be one point but so will ease of access (for example; Puerto Rico and the US Virgin Islands with no passport), travel style (night life versus beach views, family versus adventure, chic versus laid back) and activities (diving and bare boating -- or cruise ships and shops).

The year of Brazil - With the Olympics on the horizon and the World Cup coming this summer (June 12 to July 13), Brazil is working hard to be a welcoming host country to sports fans and tourists in general. Already a popular destination, especially during Carnival, Brazil is building out infrastructure for its major upcoming events. Even so, capacity is tight. If you are planning to visit during the World Cup, act now. Even during the offseason, it's advisable to book four months in advance.

Paying homage in Europe - 2014 is the 100th anniversary of the start of World War I so this may be a year for history buffs and family members to visit the battlefields to reconnect with and remember loved ones who sacrificed across Europe in the "war to end all wars."

Staying ahead of the crowds - As deal destinations get popular, they lose their unique appeal-of-the-new charm -- and their bargain status. The challenge is to spot the next wave of alternatives and beat the growing crowds and climbing prices. This year's list: instead of Costa Rica, try Nicaragua. Skip Malta and head for Albania. Swap Bulgaria for Estonia. Opt for Laos over Vietnam.

The Connected Passenger - As we flip the calendar from 2013 to 2014, we are in the heyday of a major transition in terms of the individual flier's travel experience. Gone are the days of simply reading a book or flipping through a magazine to pass the time on a flight. Whether you are watching satellite TV or playing trivia against your cabin mates on the airplane's infotainment system or, more likely, glued to your tablet, laptop or phone for videos, games or news from the outside world, you are now a "connected passenger." The rules and technology will push this trend even further over the next 12 to 36 months.

To read the full details of the top travel trends that Cheapflights.com's experts predict will define next year's travel landscape, visit www.cheapflights.com/news/hot-destinations-and-top-us-travel-trends-for-2014.

About Cheapflights.com, part of the Momondo Group
Momondo Group is an online travel media and technology company that is driven by the belief that an open world is a better world. The group now serves travel search and inspiration to over 13 million visitors a month -- plus 7 million travel newsletter subscribers -- via its Cheapflights (www.cheapflights.com) and momondo (www.momondo.com) brands.

Skygate began the sourcing of complex air-travel data in 1992, while Cheapflights pioneered the online comparison of flight deals for users in 1996 and momondo launched meta-search in the Nordic countries in 2006.

The Group has offices in London, Copenhagen, Boston and Toronto, with a consumer base across more than 25 core international markets but users all over the world.


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