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Conventional wisdom has always been that an election year is bad for travel — but how bad, exactly? Virtuoso set out to quantify that statement by comparing sales numbers for the last three elections. It found that in the year before each election, sales grew 14.3% on average, while during the election years, growth slowed to only 2.9%.
These stats are significant because 2020 is, of course, an election year, and all indications are that it will be one of the most divisive and contentious contests in modern history. How this will impact travel is just one question facing travel advisors in the coming year.
Yet, despite the election gloom, most agents seem cautiously optimistic. According to the annual How America Travels study from the American Society of Travel Advisors, nearly one-third of respondents believe that the economy will be better in 12 months than it is now, and 50% of advisors predict that business will be better next year (versus just 7% who think it will be worse).
Agents who want to make the most of what could potentially be a tough 2020 are going to have to overcome a range of challenges — and we’re not even talking about the launch of Real ID next October.
A continuing effort to combat overtourism will mean that more clients — as well as more suppliers — will be turning to lesser-known locales. This, in turn, suggests that advisors had better be up to date on their destination knowledge.
When it comes to hospitality, the popularity of Airbnb will continue to test agents as they look for ways to make up for losses in hotel commissions. (This is especially problematic when only 18% of advisors say they charge service fees, according to Travel Weekly’s annual Travel Industry Survey.)
The tour operator industry, still reeling from recent high-profile bankruptcies, will need to regain consumer confidence as it looks to increase boutique and bespoke options.
The cruise industry, however, might see a boost from the addition of newcomer Virgin Voyages, which seems to be focused on making cruising cool for millennials. In the meantime, as river cruising grows on the Nile and other exotic rivers, will 2020 be the year we hear about a major player launching right here at home on the Mississippi?
There are plenty of questions and challenges ahead. Check out our other Spotlight stories where our editors highlight the latest trends in destinations, tour operators, hotels, cruising and airlines for the coming year.