CIMTIG Question Time predictions for 2015

30 January 2015

There was some interesting discussion last night about the latest travel industry trends at the CIMTIG Question Time in London with a good line up including Fergus Boyd, Group Director of Digital & IT, Yotel , Mitchell Hawes, Market Development Manager UK & Ireland, Norwegian Airlines, Gary Lewis, Group Managing Director, The Travel Network Group and Jo Rzymowska, Managing Director UK & Ireland, Celebrity Cruises. 
Year of the Cruise
There was some lively discussion about key predictions for 2015 as the "Year of Cruise" with 29 new ships on order and the launch of the Britannia on March 10th, 2015.  Several panel members agreed that there is plenty of money sploshing around but that New York was flat and likely growth would be more on the West Coast and some in Brazil.  Some panel members predicted that the low oil price would be temporary but could still endanger the green alternative energy industry.  

Will Airbnb take more share from hotels?
Those new operators in the sharing economy such as Airbnb were predicted to "eat the pie of the lazy operators".  Several boutique hotels were now offering 24/7 concierge services and innovating with new services.  

Will Ryanair enter the long haul low cost market?
Trends in both the airline and cruise sectors were reviewed aswell as debate as to whether Ryanair would move into the long haul low cost market. Mitchell Hawes of  Norwegian talked about the positive customer response to their new Dreamliner aircraft over the Atlantic.
Untapped Cruise Market
The fear of terrorism which dents travel demand from US travellers more than UK travellers was also mentioned. Jo Ryzmowska talked about the huge untapped markets for cruising and the fact that it's still a young industry. She admitted that one of the biggest challenges for the industry is getting the right person on the right cruise ship. The cruise virgins in the audience then shared their reasons why they had not yet tried it. The river cruise market was still perceived to be very untapped.
Lack of London airport capacity
There was a general lament about the lack of capacity at London airports and how successive bungling by UK governments who do not plan long term has meant that the UK travel industry and the UK economy have suffered significant damage as a result. It was recognised that the changes to Air Passenger Duty had benefited the travel industry but not before the UK had lost signficant business to customers booking long haul flights via Germany to avoid paying APD. Several argued in favour of Heathrow as the logical best choice for an extra runway and commented on the fast speed of service through Gatwick. Discussion continued on exemplary customer service, honesty and authenticity as key success factors in travel and the surprising survival of players such as Trailfinders that have not embraced the internet but continue to succeed on these principles.
Role of agents in selling cruise - will it change?
The cruise industry's high dependence on travel agents for business was challenged in light of the high repeat purchase in this market. The online players questioned why relationships with loyal cruise customers could not be cultivated online.  Jo Rzymowska admitted that commission on customers signed up on board for future trips was paid to the customer's travel agent which drew some looks of amazement from the audience. Lively discussion ensued on all the predictions for the demise of the travel agent which has not happened as agents continue to reinvent themselves.
How will the Internet of Things add value to the travel customer experience?
The panel were asked for their views on how the Internet of Things such as wearable and interconnected devices with wifi would affect the travel industry and add value to the customer experience. Fergus Boyd mentioned those hotels in Switzerland who are monitoring usage of water and electricity and rewarding customers for careful usage.
Hottest destinations for UK outbound in 2015?
The panel's predicted hottest destinations for UK outbound travel in 2015 were Asia and Hong Kong, West Coast of the USA, Berlin and New York. So what's your view?

We wish you a very prosperous 2015.  We look forward to hearing from you and please contact us if you need help with your marketing plans.
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