I am writing this as I prepare for my last business trip of the year. This is when I usually take stock of my travels and some of the trends that stand out for me personally and the wider travel landscape.
Here are some takeaways.
This year I have been on 14 business trips, which is relative. I know so many people in the industry who are on the road more than at home. For me, 14 trips in 2023 is a lot less than the annual number I took, say, 10 years ago, but again, it’s relative. Ten years ago I didn’t have the fantastic team at Hotel News Now who are more than capable of handling travel and who deserve to take on exciting journeys. I used to panic about saying yes to every invitation; now I’m thinking if this invitation could be a great opportunity for someone else on the team.
I like to return to certain events each year where I get special invitations to speak and moderate because it means I can build on the stories of those places and organizations I already know well. For example, I love Latin America and the specific stories of hotel development, branding and operations that blossom from this incredibly diverse region. Returning each year to SAHIC and CHICOS is a great way to watch these fields change and grow.
For next year my goal is to try a few events that are new to me, change them up a bit.
My friends and colleagues are used to my text messages from airports exclaiming how annoyingly crowded they are, and I’ve realized that there simply isn’t an off-season for travel anymore. Keep in mind that the data of course shows an ebb and flow, but anyone who regularly visits airport hubs these days knows that they are always busy.
Of course, business travel is largely back to normal, but what I notice is that family travel now happens year-round. We’ve always seen this at the Orlando airport, for example, but now I regularly see families traveling vacation-style every month, every day of the week, and in every corner of the US, from Cleveland to Nashville to Houston.
And they all have Clear and TSA Pre-Check. Grr.
See above for my texts from airports. But really, we can all agree that air travel is bad and only getting worse. My stay this week was in Charlotte and I prepared my running shoes, anti-anxiety meds and protein breakfast. This airport needs mobile B12 injection services and decontamination showers.
Air travel isn’t going to get any better. This is entirely in the realm of the least common denominator while prices go up, especially a la carte prices for so-called amenities.
In years past, you’ve heard me make resolutions about how I plan to embrace calm and Zen when I travel to combat the stress of airports and airplanes. I think I can admit defeat at this point on that front! Get greasy fast food and sprints between terminals. At least I’m in.
Unsurprisingly, transit business travel and group travel are making a comeback and will grow stronger in 2024. I was really pleased to see how this type of travel has changed, even in a subtle way. Event organizers have definitely built more time into schedules for rest and bonding. And at the same time, there’s a lot more focus on creating really valuable content that showcases the many facets and faces of the industry. This is a big win.
I haven’t been to a truly mega-scale event since before the pandemic, so I’ll be interested to see how they go when they fully come back.
I wish I could announce that in 2024 I finally took an extended vacation just for fun and no work, but that didn’t happen. May be next year.
In the meantime, I’m happy with my leisure queen status. We as an industry talk so much about the “authentic experiences” of travel, and leisure travel gives me so much of that. Logging in St Kilda Cafe during a break at the NYU conference; toasting friends-who-are-also-colleagues White lemon on the rooftop of Graduate Nashville; sneaking off to visit my favorite DC bookstore while in town for another event — these are all authentic travel experiences for me. I encourage you all to find these moments because they matter.
What are your travel plans for 2024? Send me an emailor find me at Twitter or LinkedIn.
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