Research firm notes hot trends for 2007

During 2006, travel suppliers such as airlines and hotels found little need to offer discounts as consumer demand continued to outstrip supply, a trend that shows few signs of abating next year, according to the research firm of Yesawich, Pepperdine, Brown and Russell.

Identifying several hot trends for 2007, YPB&R said it expects travel suppliers to continue passing on higher rates in the New Year, thanks in part to the continued growth of leisure travel.

YPB&R said the industry should be on the lookout for a spike in Internet bookings, "but at a significantly lower rate than we have observed during the past three years."

The firm added, "The incidence of Internet usage by both business and leisure travelers to plan some aspect of travel will remain flat."

YPB&R also is projecting that travel suppliers will increasingly lean towards bundled, "inclusive pricing". Already a popular pricing scheme for resorts, YPB&R believes it will become a popular pricing option for commercial hotels "seeking to provide road warriors with good value."

The strong leisure travel trend, which has been in place for several years, is expected to continue to outpace that of business travel, YPB&R said, where technology, such as video conferencing, will continue to be used as a "surrogate" to business travel.

Spas, already popular with travelers due to a larger trend toward "wellness," should see a boost in interest next year as more consumers seek ways "to manage the mounting stress in their lives," YPB&R said.

The arrival of new ships and the aging U.S. population will keep the cruise industry sailing smoothly next year, YPB&R said. The firm anticipates cruising will become "an even more formidable competitor to land-based resorts and hotels.

On the opposite end of the age spectrum, YPB&R said, so called "lifestyle" hotel brands such as NYLO and aloft, Starwood’s W Hotels offshoot, will gain in popularity as generation X, now referred to as "Millennials" continue to be a larger portion of the travel market.

That said, according to YPB&R, another trend to watch is family travel, which became particularly noticeable after 9/11.

YPB&R forecasts that it "will continue to grow at a faster rate than all other forms of leisure travel," as part of a larger trend, in which families — parents, children and grandparents — are increasingly attempting to reconnect with each other.

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