Travel Predictions for 2011

It’s that time of year again….time to usher out the old and in the new, to look back on the previous year and look ahead to the future. Here at BootsnAll we’ve been looking back at some of the best of 2010. We rounded up the best “Why I love travel” answers from our How I Travel series, we looked at our best “How-To” articles from 2010, we ranked our top ten travel articles of the year, and we shared the best content from our WhyGo sites.

Now it’s time to turn towards 2011. We’ve already offered up our top ten suggestions for best destinations for independent travelers in 2011, now BootsnAll CEO and Co-founder Sean Keener shares his top travel predictions for the coming year.

I’m adding my hat into the ring for this year’s Travel Predictions.  I’ve already read a ton of prediction blog and article posts for 2011 in areas from finance to homemaking to travel.  Now here’s my take on travel for 2011.

1. Oil prices will rise

They are already at or near 90 bucks a barrel at the time of writing, and they’re just going to go up.  What does this have to do with travel?  Well,  airplanes run on oil. Higher oil prices = higher airfare prices.  I think at some point in 2011, prices will continue to rise to the point that airlines have lots of trouble making money.  They’ve recovered a bit from the 2008 oil spike, but my take is it will be short lived.

2. Priceline’s stock price will go down

PriceLine’s stock price will finally stabilize, and probably go down. This stock and company went from just under 200 bucks per share to over 400 in 2010 – double the value.  If I were a stock market operator, I’d short this mother.  It’s a great company, don’t get me wrong.; they are producing cash and a fair amount of it.  But the momentum players will stop shooting it up in 2011 and the valuations will come back down to earth. (They are around 45 PE now, Expedia is 16; PCLN will revert to historical mean over time is the prediction.)

3. Social and mobile will continue to go bonkers

Every year for the past five or so, we’ve seen social and mobile interactions with travelers and people that are traveling increase.  I suspect the same will happen in 2011.  Am I a genius for this prediction?  No.  Good friend Stephen Joyce says the same thing in this TNooz Piece on Travel Predictions.

4. TripAdvisor will be the ongoing kings of SEO

Our friends at TripAdvisor are the kings of travel SEO and are the undisputed winners in the SEO madness that has taken over the web (hey, we are part of the madness as well, I don’t deny it).  TripAdvisor will continue to win the travel SEO wars.  As Google migrates to more and more brand oriented searches, and expanding their own empire,  TripAdvisor and their 20+ full-time SEOs (I met one of the 20 or so SEO’s from TripAdvisor at Pubcon this year) will lead the pack in all your travel oriented searches.  Last I heard TripAdvisor did 500 million in revenue with 250 million in net profit in the past 12 months.  These folks run a  serious business, much of it, based on SEO/search and they will continue to dominate.

5. Social media and travel will continue to meld

A few years ago, I noticed that most folks in the internet cafe and travelers were logging into Facebook on their trips and sharing information via the Zuck.  That trend has continued bigtime.  Facebook has  600 million users(on their way to a billion),  their attention, and their preferences.  Facebook and/or more start-ups are attempting to leverage this social graph to help plan your trip.  Our pick is Portland-based start-up Second Porch. These folks make it dead easy to find vacation homes as well as rent yours out ,if you have one, through your social graph. My prediction is that they will “kill it” in 2011 and beyond.

6. Twitter and travel will become even more closely tied

In my opinion,  Twitter equals one word: chaos – wonderful and blissful and frustrating chaos.  Travelers that have the time can mine the chaos of it.  There is gold in Twitter, just finding it quickly is the challenge.  We developed a Travel Twitter app in 2009, but never launched it because it just wasn’t ready for prime time. But from what I can see, no one has nailed a travel twitter app as of yet.  2011 will be the year that someone does. (Not saying it’s us – we don’t have the time!)

7. Rail travel will increase

As oil prices surge over 2011 and beyond, rail travel will increase, especially within Europe.   The deregulation of rail in Europe in January 2010 will just start to bear fruits for the consumer in 2011.  There will be more options and better prices on some rail routes.  Early indications of this deregulation are evident on sites like Italia  Check out this booking engine and power that the consumer has by booking tickets for 15 and 30% off and providing an e-ticketing environment.  Bye-bye paper tickets! Glad to see the rail industry finally catch on.

8. Travel blogs will increase exponentially and travel blog niches will increase and become more defined

In the next year we’ll see more and more and more and more of them.  Every year, there are more of them.  Someone is leaving corporate life for an RTW trip or Career Break and bragging about it on Twitter and a custom-designed WordPress Blog nearly every day.  We’ve been watching this trend and been a part of it for over a decade now.  It will continue as more and more folks do this sort of trip, and share it in an online media environment.

We’ll also see continuation of this niche trend with more travel blogs serving smaller and more niches.  There is so much competition for “travel.”  It will lead to more niche travel blogs making good.  This prediction is just a continuation of this ongoing trend.

9. Rolf Potts will keep challenging our ideas about travel

I predict we will do another RTW oriented challenge with Rolf sometime in 2011.  Not the No Baggage Challenge done again,  but a new trip that helps us and other travelers think about indie travel and re-connect with why it is so important.

10. BootsnAll will launch some exciting new products

We’ve been at it for 13 years.  We’ve done some neat things, and we screwed up many times as well.  And the past few years we’ve changed more than perhaps the previous 10 years combined.  We’ve launched the BootsnAll Writers Platform in May 2010, we went to a full virtual office in November 2009, and we’re in the process of launching two new products in Q1 2011.  One is a re-launch of an old brand (stealth), and one is a totally new product that the web and travel has never seen before.  So I’ll predict that on that “totally new product” (also stealth) – that we launch it no later than Q2, and some people will care, some won’t, but the people that need and want it will salivate over it much like we are as we build it.

11. Travel bloggers will keep fighting for attention from advertisers

Gary Arndt of EverythingEverywhere will continue to lead the charge for Travel Bloggers with the “We don’t get any respect” message.  Gary’s site and audience has grown and with it, his opinions about why advertisers should spend more with him and other bloggers.  This trend of travel bloggers wanting more spend will continue.  Large brand advertisers will continue to largely ignore the travel blogger except through Ad Network buys.

12. More travelers will think about turning off technology on the road

I’ve seen this trend start already – so it’s not much of a prediction.  The glamour of being connected all the time everywhere is losing it’s lustre and novelty for many people that are traveling.  More and more travelers will look to disconnect with Twitter, Facebook and their blog while they travel – a digital cleanse of sorts, having an experience that they can be present in, versus reporting every detail through every channel.  I’ve met at least three travelers that I’ve had in depth conversations with in the past month who are using travel as a time to disconnect from social media, versus being constantly connected.

That’s all I have.  Please feel free to disagree or agree/comment in the comments.

Here are a few other 2011 travel prediction round ups that I thought were worthwhile:

SFGate by Chris McGinnis
ZipSetGo– Round up of #TNI Predictions

Sean E Keener is the CEO and a Co-Founder of the BootsnAll Travel Network since 1998.  If you want to learn more about him, please comment on this post, follow him on Twitter, or visit him at his home in Snowden, Washington.

Photos by: Photos by 1 – williamcho, 2- Dean Terry, 3-babyben, 4 – adam hirsh, 5 – qusir, 6 – Mykl Roventine

Filed under: Best Of, featured