FF Miles - Memorial Day 2022
It has been a few months since I have written about the state of the Hospitality and Travel Industry. A lot has changed both positively and negatively. On this version I would like to focus on the big picture as to how I view the current situation. Hopefully this macro-overview will help each reader to decide what they are willing to spend their dollars on and how to maximize their travel/hospitality experiences. Going forward with “snippet information” on various topics.
Overall travel and hospitality venues are coming back online. Do not assume today’s experience will be the same as pre-covid. One travel industry leader, Ryan Spears, of Spears Travel, NYC, has coined the term especially in the luxury category as consumers are focusing on “Revenge Travel.” To me this is a great way of saying to the industry, I have been locked down for so long I want it all in my next trip! While demand may be pent up, the industry is struggling in many aspects to deliver at this level of expectations. Yes, you will pay higher prices, but remember inflation has taken a hold on travel and inflation.
What are you doing with all those saved miles or points on your affinity cards? This is a great time to spend them BEFORE programs are adjusted for inflation. What will happen as more and more people travel, the number of points needed will be increased. Remember you earned them before inflation, and you now will replace them at a faster rate because of inflation. The industry can not absorb this. Book now with points of mileage. I just booked Australia and New Zealand in Business First round trip from the east coast and today it is 1,150,000 miles which is about 300,000 more than pre covid. Remember that using a travel affinity card for utilization of their product/services provides you the most value for your accrued points. So, Hotel affinity card points use at the Hotel brand. Airline with airline and rental car with rental car. Many of the prior package conversions no longer exist, but packages do exist. Compare both.
Rental cars are at a different stage. Make sure you shop all prices. If you are a loyalty customer with status, you have the best chance of obtaining a rental at a reasonable price and a vehicle in good condition. With the shrinking of the fleets in 2020 and 2021, these companies are struggling to build back up for the current demand. You will find that many new cars at no to low mileage and many cars with 30,000 plus. The high mileage vehicles were the last of the new ones back in Covid early days, while the low mileage cars are slowly coming into the system to meet demand. The industry is about two months behind in obtaining new cars. When you do get a new car it very well may be a Nissan or Hyundai / Kia. These two manufactures tend to produce their own chips for the electronics needed. I have only been able to rent these vehicles in the last 6 months, since I prefer low mileage cars.
The new segment you need to focus on as we emerge from the shutdowns, is various Government Regulations and the hoops you will need to jump through. These can be showstoppers at worse case scenario and annoyance at best. In all cases this will require as much planning and reporting and technology as you might care to muster. First, let me be clear this is an Industry wide problem, but not owned by the industry. Please follow all requirements. Check what they are before you book your other tickets. You simply may want to postpone that destination until regulations are reduced or eliminated. Personally, I have Both vaccinations and Both Boosters along with having Covid Omicron (mild case) over Christmas. I am writing this in Aruba which has a not so friendly and nonintegrated system in place with the Hotels and airlines. My hopes were that this would have been lifted by now, but no. I can not even return home to the US without getting tested 24 hours before travel. Talk about Government Control on both sides! Travelers beware, all this is driving up your costs and frustration.
More to come on another blog. Watch the political mess on Domestic oil and gas and traveling by car is now a financial investment. Yes, travel—where and how? Think through your options. Our industry needs us!
Originally published on Hospitality Net.