Last updated: 05:00 PM ET, Fri December 04 2015

What Does 2016 Hold For Travel? One Expert Weighs In.

Business Travel | Gabe Zaldivar | December 04, 2015

What Does 2016 Hold For Travel? One Expert Weighs In.

Photo courtesy of Thinkstock

As one year dissolves into memory, another will step forward and command our attention. When considering travel, 2016 is going to be one remarkable year.

At least, that’s what we got with some insight from Jay Rein, who is the VP of Travel & Hospitality Industry Solutions Practice at EPAM Systems.

For the uninitiated, EPAM is “a global team of strategists, designers, architects, and engineers,” according to its website.

One intriguing aspect of EPAM’s research is its 8-Step Travel Journey, which you will hear about in Rein’s thoughts on the upcoming year in travel.

For those who might not be familiar, a graphic follows that outlays what EPAM considers the eight steps every traveler takes from the moment of trip consideration to coming back home and opening that wonderfully familiar door.

As for the upcoming year, it’s going to be a rather glorious one for those of you who might consider traveling by air.

Gas prices are just part of what Rein believes will be a price war that leaves the consumers as the big winners: “In the U.S. Air Travel Market, many forces will drive airfare wars unlike anything we have seen in years.”

Now that we undoubtedly have your attention, we will let Rein continue: “The consolidation of the largest airlines is complete, and cheaper oil prices will likely linger into much of next year. This means the competition for market share between the big four carriers (American, United, Delta and Southwest), along with competition from Spirit, Frontier, Alaska, Hawaiian, and Allegiant will only increase. Additionally, we may see sales pricing on ancillary services bundles, like onboard Wi-Fi, sandwich and drink bundles and premium seat sales, driving travelers from one airline to another. We might see these bundles better defined to be easily understood by travelers, sort of like adding a drink and fries to the burger you’ve already committed to.”

Amenities like Wi-Fi continue to find their way into hotels and airlines in varying capacities.

While some see it as a basic right, other companies see it as an opportunity to raise fares. If a price war can somehow bundle this affordably, then 2016 might be the year accessibility steps in the right direction for the consumer.

Now Rein does add that this has implications higher up in the boardroom: “The historically slower growth in available seats for sale, relative to the growth of the traveling population, may give way to the competitive exuberance of airline industry executives. This will have them seeking to grow their share of the traveling public, possibly more than their earnings for stakeholders.”

As pertains to worldwide travel, the predictions are just as rosy: “Internationally, I expect even more competitive offerings for airfare to/from the US. The competition for travelers to/from Europe and Asia (Middle East / India / Southeast Asia) is heating up with more and more carriers competing for the same passenger.”

The biggest takeaway heading into the new year is undoubtedly airfare prices. However, Rein did have thoughts on other crucial parts of the industry, namely those devices you are all so mad about: “Mobile device technology, in the form of smartphones, tablet and watches, is going to be more integrated into the entire 8-Step Travel Journey.”

EPAM’s VP elaborates, “In addition to price, travelers are appreciative of thoughtful, well-curated communication of information and offers.”

Rein continues stating that many outlets will have to play some catch-up as pertains to consumer engagement.

Rein maintains: “In 2016, I expect to see more in airport way-finding capabilities customized to each and every individual’s wants and needs. I also expect a more seamless integration and use of data on each travel journey. This use of customer information will begin from the point in time the traveler thinks about traveling, to the time that traveler returns home.”

Now that above 8-Step Travel Journey is important, because as Rein explains it’s exactly the moments of opportunity that mobile outlets will try to engage with consumers. This will only become a more heated battle for time and space on your smartphone as the months tick off the calendar.


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