21 Travel Trends

The next decade of busi­ness travel holds evo­lu­tion and in­no­va­tion that will trans­form the way we do things

Business Traveler (USA) - - INSIDE - By Jenny Southan

The next decade of busi­ness travel holds evo­lu­tion and in­no­va­tion that will trans­form the way we do things

1. THE NEW SU­PER­SONIC Con­corde may be dead but su­per­sonic is set to make a come­back. US en­gi­neer­ing firm Spike Aerospace is de­vel­op­ing a 12- to 18-seat jet (the Spike S-512) that could fly be­tween Lon­don and NewYork in four hours. It would have“lux­u­ri­ous mul­ti­plex dig­i­tal cab­ins”with full-length screens along the win­dow­less walls. If all goes to plan, it could be fly­ing by the end of 2018.

Mean­while, Ae­rion Cor­po­ra­tion is work­ing on a pri­vate jet able to reach Mach 1.6 (1,100 mph) for a launch by 2020, and Hyper­mach Aerospace plans to start work on its Son­ic­Star jet at the start of the next decade. It would be able to go twice as fast as Con­corde, reach­ing speeds of Mach 4 (3,045 mph).

And then there is Richard Bran­son’s Vir­gin Galac­tic, which he is push­ing ahead with de­spite a fa­tal crash last year.

Pri­vate jets are en­ter­ing the main­stream thanks to apps en­abling trav­el­ers to book seats on air­craft that would oth­er­wise fly half-full or even empty on re­turn trips.

Pri­vateFly, which launched in 2010, pro­vides ac­cess to more than 7,000 jets around the world and claims it can get pas­sen­gers from the ground to the air in 45 min­utes.

JetS­marter, which en­tered the mar­ket in 2013, of­fers more than 2,500 empty legs a month at a cost of $7,000 per year, plus 3,000 planes avail­able for char­ter.

There’s also Black­jet, which sells seats on jets trav­el­ling be­tween ten US cities (an­nual mem­ber­ship is $2,500 and grants dis­counted empty-leg flights), and Surf Air, which has a $1,750 a month pay­ment plan loft­ing 44 daily flights to eight des­ti­na­tions in the United States.

Fresh Jets doesn’t charge any­thing to sign up, has more than 1,200 air­craft and flights start­ing from $799.

3. ECON­OMY CLASS SLIMS DOWN

Air­lines are cram­ming more seats into econ­omy class.

Emi­rates set the trend when it con­fig­ured its 777s with ten-across in­stead of nine-across seat­ing, and most air­lines plan 3-3-3 lay­outs on the 787 in­stead of Boe­ing’s sug­gested 2-4-2.

Thanks to new slim­line seats, ex­tra rows are be­ing added and legroom is be­ing re­duced. Air Asia X has or­dered a tenacross ver­sion of the new A350, which will en­ter ser­vice in a few years; 11-across seat­ing on the A380 will not be a sur­prise.

4. PRE­MIUM ECON­OMY 2.0

Pre­mium econ­omy is mov­ing from be­ing an “en­hanced” econ­omy seat with ex­tra legroom, amenity kits and bet­ter food to a stand-alone prod­uct in it­self.

Lufthansa and Sin­ga­pore Air­lines re­cently un­veiled new seats, but some air­lines are see­ing value in tak­ing their de­signs fur­ther. Check out what’s hap­pen­ing at the pointy end of the plane in this month’s Pre­mium Cabin Up­date (page 30).

CLASS AIR­LINES

In the noughties, a slew of air­lines tried and failed to launch all-busi­ness class ser­vices. Eos, Maxjet and Sil­ver­jet all went bust by the sum­mer of 2008 af­ter oil prices went over $100 a bar­rel. Other car­ri­ers then tried the more mod­est tac­tic of con­fig­ur­ing some of their air­craft solely with busi­ness class seats on spe­cific routes.

BA’s all-Club World A318 ser­vice from Lon­don City to NewYork JFK has now been run­ning for more than five years, while in Fe­bru­ary last year, Qatar Air­ways launched its first all-busi­ness class A319 from Doha to Heathrow.

How­ever, in 2012, Hong Kong Air­lines had to sus­pend its pre­mium A330 Hong Kong-Gatwick ser­vice.

With the econ­omy pick­ing up and oil prices far lower, there is re­newed de­ter­mi­na­tion for the con­cept to work. French air­line La Com­pag­nie launched on Paris Orly-NewYork Ne­wark last sum­mer, fol­lowed by Lon­don Lu­ton-Ne­wark in Fe­bru­ary.

Next year, UK-based, crowd-funded start-up Odyssey Air­lines is plan­ning to launch busi­ness-class-only flights from Lon­don City to the Big Ap­ple.

6. FIRST CLASS HO­TEL ROOMS

With busi­ness class prod­ucts im­prov­ing all the time, first class has to work harder to dif­fer­en­ti­ate it­self.

While a num­ber of car­ri­ers, such as Sin­ga­pore Air­lines, Asiana Air­lines and Emi­rates, pro­vide per­sonal suites, last year Eti­had took it to the ex­treme with the un­veil­ing of its Res­i­dence on the inau­gu­ral A380 ser­vice from Abu Dhabi to Lon­don Heathrow in De­cem­ber. In ad­di­tion, the air­craft is fit­ted with nine first class Apart­ments in a sin­gle-aisle cabin.

Find more de­tails in our Pre­mium Cabin Up­date (page 30).

HAP­PI­NESS HUBS

As de­mand for air travel in­creases, air­ports are get­ting big­ger – and bet­ter.

Sin­ga­pore Changi is con­sis­tently voted the best in the world, with fa­cil­i­ties such as a but­ter­fly gar­den, rooftop pool and cine­mas – and yet its vi­sion for the fu­ture is even more am­bi­tious.

The 8.7-acre Jewel ex­ten­sion, set for com­ple­tion in 2018, will have a domed glass roof un­der which will sit nearly a quar­ter-mil­lion square feet of gar­dens, a 130-roomYo­tel, and 300 shops and restau­rants. High­lights will in­clude an air-con­di­tioned For­est Val­ley with walk­ing trails, and a 130-foot Rain Vor­tex – the world’s tallest in­door wa­ter­fall.

The im­pres­sive range of fa­cil­i­ties at Am­s­ter­dam Schiphol – which calls it­self an “air­port city”– in­cludes a casino, spa, med­i­ta­tion cen­ter, art gallery and li­brary, while Hong Kong In­ter­na­tional has a nine­hole golf course and an Imax theatre.

Heathrow’s new T2 is home to He­ston Blu­men­thal’s Per­fec­tion­ist’s Café, which comes com­plete with its own ni­tro­gen ice cream par­lor.

8. BIOTECH AND MI­CROCHIPS

With more coun­tries is­su­ing bio­met­ric e-pass­ports, and greater vol­umes of pas­sen­gers fly­ing, in­creas­ing num­bers of air­ports will in­stall au­to­mated immigration gates and use fa­cial and gait recog­ni­tion to mon­i­tor queues and flows through­out the ter­mi­nals.

Fin­ger­print and body scan­ning may also be­come more preva­lent.

Gatwick has in­stalled elec­tronic eyes from Hu­man Recog­ni­tion Sys­tems that track how long it takes in­di­vid­u­als to get through the se­cu­rity process by scan­ning their faces and irises, and then con­vert­ing the in­for­ma­tion into code (to main­tain in­di­vid­ual pri­vacy).

Some­what scarier is the prospect of “em­bed­ded biotech,” where by mi­crochips are sur­gi­cally in­serted un­der the skin – in years to come, trav­el­ers may have per­sonal ID chips im­planted, which they could use in­stead of a pass­port.

9. STA­TUS FOR SALE

Last sum­mer we re­ported on how air­line and ho­tel loy­alty pro­grams were mov­ing to rev­enue-based mod­els that re­ward how much you spend, not how many nights you stay or flights you take.

Fast for­ward sev­eral months, and Bri­tish Air­ways, Malaysia Air­lines, United and Delta are among the car­ri­ers that have al­ready made this change.

10. LOY­ALTY ATHE­ISM

The re­vamp­ing of loy­alty pro­grams may have a counter-ef­fect. As fre­quent fly­ers be­come dis­il­lu­sioned with new mod­els, a grow­ing mi­nor­ity are aban­don­ing them, free­ing them­selves up to choose the air­lines that of­fer the best tim­ings, prices and on­board ex­pe­ri­ences.

Such “loy­alty athe­ists” gain many of the ben­e­fits of hav­ing sta­tus (such as lounge ac­cess) by pay­ing to fly in pre­mium cab­ins, and on shorter flights don’t mind sav­ing money by fly­ing low-cost car­ri­ers.

11. 3D PRINT­ING

If you haven’t yet got your head around 3D print­ing, you need to. It’s the “third in­dus­trial revo­lu­tion” al­low­ing in­di­vid­u­als and man­u­fac­tur­ers to con­vert CGI im­agery into tan­gi­ble ob­jects through the sequential lay­er­ing of ma­te­ri­als, pro­duc­ing ev­ery­thing from re­place­ment hips to air­craft en­gines.

In the fu­ture, we will be see­ing 3D printed ar­chi­tec­ture. In Jan­uary, Chi­nese com­pany Winsun un­veiled a 11,800 square-foot villa it had printed in a month with only eight peo­ple – a third of the time and man­power re­quired for tra­di­tional con­struc­tion, and half the price.

Adam Kush­ner, pres­i­dent of D-Shape En­ter­prises, is print­ing a four-bed­room res­i­dence with a pool in up­state New York; and NASA is ex­per­i­ment­ing with the tech­nol­ogy to quickly build lu­nar mod­ules for moon ex­plo­ration.

It won’t be long un­til hote­liers get in on the 3D print­ing ac­tion – whether for cre­at­ing in­te­ri­ors and fix­tures, or for de­vel­op­ing full-scale build­ings.

For chains, the pos­si­bil­ity of repli­cat­ing their of­fer­ing quickly and pre­cisely will hold great ap­peal. In the mean­time, you may find 3D print­ers ap­pear­ing in busi­ness cen­ters, al­low­ing you to ar­rive at a pre­sen­ta­tion with a freshly-made 3D pro­to­type.

12. SMALL ROOMS, BIG VALUE

Tiny sleep­ing spa­ces have been big in Ja­pan for decades, with salary­men bed­ding down in 32-square-foot“capsule ho­tels” that look more like stacks of wash­ing ma­chines.

Nine Hours re­cently opened a prop­erty at Tokyo Narita air­port with 129 units priced from ¥1,500 ($12) an hour.

The con­cept has also started to take off in the West.Yo­tel of­fers cab­ins from 75 square feet at Heathrow, Gatwick and Am­s­ter­dam Schiphol air­ports; Bloc ar­rived in Gatwick a year ago with rooms from 100 square feet; Mu­nich air­port of­fers 40-square-foot Nap­cab pods; while the new GoSleep cap­sules at Helsinki air­port are even cosier, at three feet high by sixand-a-half feet long.

In Lon­don, the first Hub by Premier Inn prop­erty opened in Novem­ber near Covent Gar­den. Rooms are 124 square feet and cost from £79 ($124), with high-spec, high­tech fix­tures and fit­tings. The com­pany has bought another seven sites in the cap­i­tal, plus three in Ed­in­burgh.

13. LIFESTYLE BRANDS

Thanks to an ob­ses­sion with“Mil­len­ni­als,” big ho­tel groups are launch­ing“lifestyle” brands with a more in­di­vid­ual feel.

At the top end of the scale, Mar­riott In­ter­na­tional de­buted Edi­tion in part­ner­ship with US hote­lier Ian Schrager in Waikiki in 2010. That prop­erty has since left the brand, but Edi­tions are open in Lon­don, Is­tan­bul and Mi­ami, with New York, Abu Dhabi and Bangkok com­ing.

Mar­riott also has the Au­to­graph Col­lec­tion – with a tagline of“ex­actly like noth­ing else”– while at the no-frills end, it un­veiled Moxy last Septem­ber at Mi­lan Malpensa air­port, with sexy dig­i­tal prints and In­sta­gram walls. Another 150 Moxys are set to ar­rive by 2020.

Hil­ton World­wide has two new brands. Cu­rio is a col­lec­tion of four- and five-star ho­tels“hand-picked for [their] dis­tinc­tive char­ac­ter,”which first en­tered the mar­ket last sum­mer. Canopy by Hil­ton is“all about be­ing lo­cal, through de­sign, food and bev­er­age, art and lo­cal know-how,”and is ex­pected to de­but this year.

Lang­ham Ho­tels’Cordis (high-end but with­out the op­u­lence) ar­rives in Hong Kong later this year, while Hy­att Cen­tric –“for mod­ern ex­plor­ers”– has launched in Chicago and Mi­ami. IHG, mean­while, has Even ho­tels – aimed at“trav­el­ers who main­tain a healthy and ac­tive lifestyle.”

There are two open in the US and three more in the pipeline.

14. LUX­URY HOS­TELS

A new breed of “posh­tels” is also pop­ping up. Carl Michel, ex­ec­u­tive chair­man of Gen­er­a­tor hos­tels, which ar­rived in Paris in Fe­bru­ary, says up­take from busi­ness trav­el­ers has been grad­u­ally ris­ing.

Marco Ni­jhof, chief ex­ec­u­tive of­fi­cer of Yoo Ho­tels and Re­sorts, is a fan: “My sec­re­tary told me I had to stay in a Gen­er­a­tor hos­tel and I said:‘ How low do you want me to go?’ But I was blown away. They have cre­ated an ex­pe­ri­ence that is fan­tas­tic – I walked in [to the Lon­don prop­erty] not know­ing what to ex­pect, but it was full. I thought with my gray hair I was go­ing to be the old­est man walk­ing around but that was not the case.”

Safes­tay is another brand to keep an eye out for, along with in­de­pen­dents such as the Kex hos­tel in Reyk­javik.

15. SHAR­ING ECON­OMY

If you haven’t tried rent­ing some­one’s apart­ment through Airbnb yet, there are plenty who have – the com­pany is now worth more than $20 bil­lion, and has more than one mil­lion list­ings in 34,000 cities in 190 coun­tries.

It has also been branch­ing into the cor­po­rate mar­ket with a por­tal for busi­ness trav­el­ers and a deal with ex­pense man­age­ment com­pany Con­cur last year, al­low­ing travel man­agers to keep track of where em­ploy­ees are stay­ing and mak­ing sure prop­er­ties meet re­quire­ments.

One Fine Stay is a sim­i­lar model but ex­clu­sively for the rental of lux­ury homes in Lon­don, Los An­ge­les, New York and Paris, with staff pro­vid­ing ho­tel-like ser­vices. You can also find sites ded­i­cated to shar­ing workspace, cars and park­ing.

Com­pa­nies such as Sixt, Hertz and Zipcar are em­brac­ing mo­bile apps to fa­cil­i­tate in­stant pick-ups and drop-offs in city cen­ters and air­ports.

They have“free float­ing” fleets so driv­ers can rent ve­hi­cles and drive away with­out hav­ing to go to a bricks-and-mor­tar rental of­fice or deal with staff.

Google has been work­ing on de­vel­op­ing ro­bot cars for some time, test­ing them in Cal­i­for­nia, while Abu Dhabi’s fu­tur­is­tic Mas­dar City pro­ject has been us­ing so­lar­pow­ered “au­ton­o­mous peo­ple movers” for the past few years.

In the US, self-driv­ing ve­hi­cles are ex­pected to be on the streets of 30 US cities by the end of next year.

The UK Com­mons trans­port com­mit­tee says that both driver­less and semi­au­tonomous cars will take to the roads in the next ten years, with tri­als al­ready un­der way in Green­wich.

18. IN­TER­NET OF THINGS

Known as the “sec­ond dig­i­tal revo­lu­tion,” the dawn of web-en­abled ev­ery­day ob­jects, and the abil­ity to con­trol them with your per­sonal de­vices, is al­ready upon us.

Whether you are re­motely turn­ing on the heat at home (Nest) or let­ting your fridge make your shop­ping list (LG Smart Thinq), our gad­gets are be­com­ing smart, speak­ing to our phones, tablets and wearable de­vices like the new Ap­ple Watch.

In the travel in­dus­try, Starwood Pre­ferred Guest is test­ing a fea­ture on its app that en­ables guests to open the doors to their rooms with their phone. Air France-KLM is ex­per­i­ment­ing with lug­gage track­ing tags and de­vices, while the new Vir­gin Ho­tel Chicago’s app, called Lucy, can cus­tom­ize the in-room ex­pe­ri­ence, from set­ting the ther­mo­stat to or­der­ing room ser­vice.

19. IN­STANT TRANS­LA­TION

Do­ing busi­ness world­wide will be so much eas­ier with in­stant trans­la­tion tech­nol­ogy.

In De­cem­ber, Skype un­veiled a beta ver­sion of Trans­la­tor, a fea­ture that al­lows two peo­ple speak­ing via video link to hear an ar­ti­fi­cial voice trans­lat­ing what has been said, live. It’s slow right now and does make mis­takes, but in the fu­ture it could be in­te­grated with large-scale video­con­fer­enc­ing suites.

Plat­forms such as Globr of­fer in­stant mes­sag­ing trans­la­tion, while iTrans­late also em­ploys voice recog­ni­tion. Google Trans­late re­cently in­cor­po­rated Word Lens – hold your smart­phone’s cam­era up to a road sign or res­tau­rant menu, for ex­am­ple, and it will con­vert what is writ­ten into your cho­sen lan­guage.

In a world of fluc­tu­at­ing cur­ren­cies, buy­ing and selling across borders can of­ten mean you lose out on ex­change rates.

The use of crypto or dig­i­tal cur­ren­cies such as Bit­coin (BTC) gets around this as they have a real-world value and can be used in­ter­na­tion­ally.

Last sum­mer, Ex­pe­dia be­gan test­ing Bit­coins as pay­ment for ho­tel book­ings in the US. The Hol­i­day Inn Ex­press in Brook­lyn will process Bit­coins at its front desk with BitPay’s pay­ment sys­tem, while Airbnb, Uber and OpenTable are tipped to ac­cept dig­i­tal cur­ren­cies in the fu­ture.

You can buy them at spe­cial ATMs such as in Lon­don’s Shored­itch to keep in a vir­tual wal­let, or through sites like Bit­ty­li­cious. At the time of go­ing to press, one BTC was $278.89 but the value has been much higher in the past.

21. THE END OF PRI­VACY

Google is us­ing the vast amount of data it has about the world – and us – to trans­form the way we travel: As Busi­ness Trav­eler re­ported last Fall, by 2017 fully a third of travel sold will be dig­i­tal and take place on mo­bile de­vices. Cur­rently, 82 per­cent of re­search takes place online. “Mo­bile changed ev­ery­thing,” said Google’s head of travel David Pavelko, speak­ing at a ma­jor travel trade show last July. “It goes with us where we go – it’s where we want it.”

Google is us­ing this in­for­ma­tion to per­son­al­ize your online ex­pe­ri­ence, with the aim of mak­ing life eas­ier for you, but it is at the cost of keep­ing your data pri­vate.

In the fu­ture, most of us will re­al­ize re­sis­tance is fu­tile. Com­pa­nies and busi­ness peo­ple will hire online pri­vacy man­agers to en­sure sen­si­tive in­for­ma­tion is pro­tected – but even then, the gov­ern­ment could well be snoop­ing. BT

From left: Spike S-512 su­per­sonic jet and in­te­rior

Clock­wise from top far left: Eti­had’s Res­i­dence but­lers and liv­ing room; Sin­ga­pore Changi’s Jewel ex­ten­sion; Air France pre­mium econ­omy

From left: 3D print­ing; GoSleep cap­sules; Moxy Mi­lan Malpensa Air­port; Gen­er­a­tor Copenhagen

From left: Driver­less cars in Abu Dhabi’s Mas­dar City; Starwood Pre­ferred Guest Key­less app

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