Hotel and Airline Prices in 2015: What to Expect

With war, disease, and terrorism grabbing recent headlines, travelers need to be thoughtful when booking their international flights. Last week Carlson Wagonlit Travel (CWT) released a new joint 2015 Global Travel Price Outlook report with the GBTA Foundation, the education and research arm of the Global Business Travel Association (GBTA). The report gives an early indication of what businesses and consumers can expect in 2015 with regard to hotel and airline prices.

Joel Wartgow, senior director of CWT Solutions Group talks about current events and the danger of travel, the rising price of air travel, and whether there are any deals to be found when booking a flight for a last-minute summer vacation. Following are excerpts from our email conversation.

With recent frightening headlines, such as the Ebola outbreak, the downing of Malaysian Airlines Flight 17, and the war in Gaza, what advice do you give travelers right now as they make their plans? Is it safe?

Specific types of travel risks are more prevalent in some parts of the world than others. For example, health related risks might be greater in parts of South America or Africa, while civil unrest in more of an issue in the Middle East. While larger emergencies are possible, it’s more common for travelers to encounter smaller scale trip disruptions, if they encounter a disruption at all. Travelers visiting more remote areas of the globe may encounter higher levels of risk.

It’s important that travelers are aware of potential risks associated with their destination and take appropriate precautions prior to travel to ensure they are prepared to deal with an unforeseen circumstance.

  • State department guidelines provide broad based intelligence for general use, and many companies provide additional information for their travelers that blends destination intelligence with company policies and procedures. It’s important to understand the local culture and customs as well.
  • Be sure passports and visas are up-to-date. Some countries will not grant access if documents are due to expire within six months of the trip.
  • Keep copies of passports and visas and share a copy with your company travel manager and/or a family member in case the original is stolen or misplaced during travel.
  • Understand what local resources are available, and carry contact information. This may be for a U.S. consulate, or local company representatives if traveling for business.
  • All required vaccinations should be updated prior to travel and travelers should carry their medical cards with them in case medical attention is needed.
  • Travel itineraries should be shared with employers (if traveling for business) and/or with loved ones if traveling for leisure so travelers can be located in case of an emergency.
  • Contact mobile phone providers to ensure devices will work in-country. Be sure to carry both a car and wall charger in case of power outage.

Corporations across the world are, in one way or another, obligated to look after traveling employees. If traveling for business, be sure to liaise with the corporate travel department and/or corporate security, and take time to prepare. Emergencies can happen anywhere, not just in high risk locations.

Domestic airfare continues to outpace inflation, and the average price of a round-trip ticket is up $14 from this time last year. What does that mean for travelers? Will airlines begin to offer more “supply” to meet demand?

Carlson Wagonlit Travel’s (CWT) 2015 Global Travel Price Outlook, which was completed in partnership with the Global Business Travel Association (GBTA), predicts that airfares in the United States for corporate travel will rise by three percent in 2015. This will be primarily driven by lower capacity (less seats available) and healthy growth in business travel volume. 

Airlines may add capacity on an as-needed basis on specific routes where there is demand, but will continue to be cautious about adding too much supply in order to protect their bottom line.

I read that the House of Representatives recently voted to end the Transparent Airfares Act, which required airlines to advertise the full price of tickets, including taxes and fees. Any chance of this actually becoming law? What effect would it have if it did?

CWT believes that transparency in travel pricing is important to provide consumers with total cost of trip.

Are there any deals out there? Is it too late to find good tickets for Labor Day? 

It can be challenging to find deals on airfare, especially over holiday weekends. That said, demand for air travel in the Midwest over Labor Day weekend is relatively low for leisure travel compared to other holidays like Thanksgiving or even MEA weekend in October, as most Labor Day travelers seek local resorts that are accessible by car.

There is still availability for those who wish to get away for the weekend. Orlando is accessible for less than $500 for a non-stop round-trip flight out of MSP, and New York City and San Francisco fall just under $700. Keep in mind that pricing can fluctuate frequently, so be sure to book as soon as possible in order to get the best deal!