My prediction is that 2014 is going to be a great year for travel with better customer service, integration of technology and more overall convenience. I was thrilled to appear on the new NBC San Diego weekend 7:00am broadcast this morning to present my thoughts on the subject.
There’s always so much to say and so little time that I’ll dive a little deeper into my top 5 travel trends for 2014 here.
1. Multigenerational Travel
Grandparents are on the move with their kids and grandkids. Cruises are absolutely perfect for a multigenerational trip because they address two major issues: budget and boredom. Upfront pricing covers a number of activities, meals and lodging to eliminate a significant amount of cost uncertainty. The ability to still customize a trip to one’s tastes is still there while allowing for plenty of family time. Bigger spenders in the family can splurge on upgraded rooms or spa treatments while others stick with the basics. Plus, a cruise ship also provides something that is a necessity for all family trips–plenty of space.
Amenities on certain cruise ships keep getting better and better, too. All ages are certain to be entertained between sports bars, water slides, teen dance clubs, putting greens, spas and much more on board aside from excursions off the ship.
2. Trips Start Before You Leave, Thanks To Social Media
Frequent travelers should definitely follow their favorite hotels, cruise lines and airlines on social media as in the coming year they will continue to deliver more personalized experiences.
In-house blogs are designed to deliver assistance with travel planning, of course, but they are increasingly helpful in daily life. Looking for a new pasta recipe? Check out Taste by Four Seasons, for example.
Speaking of Four Seasons Hotels and Resorts, their Pin.Pack.Go. initiative is quite popular with guests. Invite the hotel you’re staying at to pin to a dedicated board in order to build a customized itinerary. The hotel will pin everything from packing tips to restaurant recommendations. You can also pin ideas of interest and ask them what they think. Visual travel planning is very in.
If you’re not already on Twitter, join for fast travel help. For example, American Airlines monitors its Twitter channel 24 hours per day. Their social media team has helped me unravel a reservation I really botched within minutes of me noticing my error and has saved me tons of time by answering general questions about award travel, routes and whatever else. I see them assisting passengers with cancelled flights, gate changes and even more issues while travelers are on the go. The response time is impressive.
3. Family Travel Is Far Flung
No destination is too far. Instead of visiting Disneyland in Anaheim, consider Tokyo where Tokyo Disneyland and Tokyo DisneySea are now a direct flight away from San Diego on Japan Airlines (see why we love this route). Digital devices like iPads make flying with kids much easier than it used to be. Plus, hotels in every price range are catering more and more to kids overall both domestically and overseas. We’ve had everything from fun bunk beds at the Beverly Garland Hotel in Los Angeles to pop-up tents in our room at the Four Seasons Hotel Singapore. Kids menus are the norm. When the kids are happy, it’s easier to take the leap and families will be headed overseas more in 2014.
4. Look For A Less Stressful Airport Experience
Expect airport lines to shrink as travelers enroll in trusted traveler programs. TSA Pre-check allows expedited security screening, basically, allowing you to keep your shoes on, laptop in bag and more in a dedicated line. As I mentioned last week, my family just enrolled in Global Entry, which provides TSA Pre-check privileges as well as bypassing the normal customs line upon landing from an international destination (including Mexico and Canada). You just scan your passport and fingerprints at a kiosk and fill out the customs form digitally there.
Plus, airports are becoming a pleasure to spend time in (really). San Diego International Airport’s new Terminal 2 is a prime example with some of the city’s best shopping and restaurants opening small outlets inside. There’s a Stone Brewery, Phil’s BBQ, Warwick’s book store, bar areas, a quick spa and more.
5. Hot Destinations
Travelers are eyeing South America due to the 2014 World Cup and 2016 Summer Olympics both happening in Brazil. China, Africa and some spots in the Middle East like Dubai and Oman are players in 2014, even for families, based on what travel experts and publications are saying. Alaska is topping lists of domestic travelers as are less thought of spots like Myrtle Beach, who are now able to be reached by more people because of increasing flight options. Yosemite celebrates 150 years as a protected park in 2014 and will be celebrating all year long with a variety of events, if this National Park is on your bucket list.
Our list of scheduled trips, so far, includes Keystone, Miami, Kauai and China (Shanghai, Beijing, Hangzhou) through April and, frankly, I haven’t planned beyond these. I’d like to do a few staycations at some San Diego luxury hotels.
The truth is there are so many places to go and so little time. Where are you headed in 2014?