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10 Travel And Tourism Predictions For 2014

10 Travel And Tourism Predictions For 2014

Dominic Ellis, editor of Business Traveller Middle East, gazes into the travel crystal ball for 2014.

New Gulf hub with Hamad International Airport opening
Doha’s sparkling new hub is expected to open imminently after being plagued by fit-out delays and litigation. The word from the concourse, from those who have managed to have a sneak peek, has been favourable but how will it be received by transit and origin/destination passengers? In the mid-to-long-term, can the Gulf support two major global hubs 45 minutes apart?

Fast or gradual take-off for Dubai World Central?
Since passengers operations were launched in October 2013, we’ve seen a handful of operators serving Dubai’s new airport – low-cost Wizz Air, Jazeera Airways and Gulf Air, and from March, Qatar Airways will start double-daily flights, which will give DWC added momentum. How will the next year pan out – are the schedules going to mount quickly, or will DWC’s evolution be gradual as airlines wait for infrastructure projects to materialise and overall connectivity to improve? Let’s see how the relationship evolves with Dubai International – which itself is undertaking new developments, with Concourse D set to open by 2015.

All aboard for the States
It promises to be a key year for Gulf airlines in the US, as they each seek to capitalise on east-west travel flows, with Emirates launching Boston (March), Qatar adding Philadelphia (April), Miami (June) and Dallas (July), and Etihad introducing Los Angeles (June) and Dallas too (December).

Qatar’s entry into the oneworld alliance strengthens its hand, in tandem with American and British Airways, while Emirates and JetBlue passengers are able to travel on each other’s flights and earn reciprocal miles. It’s relatively early days for Etihad in the US – one wonders what other codeshares and/or equity investments it may have up its sleeve – as it concentrates on maximising opportunities in India following its 24 per cent stake in Jet Airways. By extension, increased competition from the ‘Gulf big three’ will make it a key year for US carriers too.

Wifi all around
More carriers are going to be offering on-board internet, and rolling out faster upgrades – and by and large, passengers will be prepared to pay for it. But on the ground we’ve already reached the tipping point; like a bed and breakfast, wifi is seen as an amenity these days and hoteliers charge for it at their peril. Will 2014 go down as the ‘year of free internet’? We live in hope.

Brazil World Cup
Will the stadia be finished? Will Brazil’s travel and tourism scene be up to speed and security fears allayed? Will England escape the ‘Group of Geoff’ and make the second phase? All these questions and more will be resolved as the World Cup puts the South American country firmly in the spotlight for four weeks over the summer. If you can’t stand football, book your holiday to a remote resort now . . .

Big to small
Hilton Worldwide is planning to launch a boutique hotel brand in 2014, to compete with Starwood’s W Hotels and Edition by Marriott – the latter is also working on a new economy lifestyle brand, Moxy, in partnership with Inter Hospitality, part of the Inter Ikea Group, and the first hotel is due to open in Milan this year. Other newcomers include Dusit Devarana – a premium brand earmarked for ‘one-of-a-kind’ resorts.

Lively lobbies
No longer places you walk through to get to your room, more of the big brands see the lobby as the social-come-business focal point, and it’s a trend that’s here to stay. Expect more colour, events and general activity coming to a lobby near you.

Fuller flavours
Signature restaurants, high-profile chefs, novel menus, endless round-the-clock promotions – hotels go to great lengths to secure food and beverage revenues. Ten years ago, we all had to make do with ‘Italian’, now it isn’t hard to find venues specialising in specific regions – eg ‘North Italian’ – as we all travel more and our palates become more discerning. Expect more imaginative concepts as operators seek to stand out from the culinary crowd.

Google Glass
Google has not confirmed when the sci-fi-like devices will go on sale in the mainstream market – if indeed, they do at all – but given the amount of hype, we should expect to see them rolled out at some point in 2014. Directions, flights, meeting reminders . . . you name it, Glass will know it (probably before you do). The price tag is expected to be around $1,000 (read more on Google in the January issue of Business Traveller Middle East).

Online check in
Online check in is a way of life for many terminal-hopping frequent flyers, but when you arrive at the hotel front desk, you can feel not much has changed since the 1980s. Will this be the year that the smartphone/iPad era finally takes hold and entering and leaving hotels becomes universally faster and easier? Let’s hope so.

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