Work/Life: Is It a Gold Rush or a Roller-Coaster Ride?




Whether the recession
has just ended or we are sliding back into a double dip, no one seems to really
know. but that hasn’t stopped the recent surge in stories about how the airline
industry is recovering
, or that the
recovery is slowing
. The roller-coaster ride that the travel business has
been on the past few years shows no sign of leveling out. In fact, more radical
change may lie in store.

That’s the word
from one new study of the
factors that are set to reshape the travel sector over the next decade.
“The Travel Gold Rush 2020,” developed by Oxford Economics, a
prominent economic forecasting consultancy, and, incidentally, commissioned by
my company, predicts the death of traditional air travel cabin classes, decine
of business class, rise of face-to-face agents, dominance of Asia, and growing
importance of delivering a “total travel experience.”

What interests me is
evidence of where the airlines’ new revenue opportunities are going to be. What
will be the drivers of profitability? What models will work for delivering
services? How will travelers’ taste change in a way that will influence the
future of the industry?


One recent USA Today story (“If
An Airline CEO Were Your Seatmate, He’d Give You An Earful”
) deals
directly with that issue, focusing on the misunderstanding generated by the
carriers’ move to offer fliers greater choice in the form of cut-rate fares
with the option to select from a growing menu of pay-for-play services, also
knownin the travel industry as ancillary revenue sources. As the mythical CEO
says in the article, “And please don’t call these fees ‘hidden.’ They’re
all spelled out in black-and-white on our website, under ‘fees.’ You just have
to read, all right?”

Of course, if you believe
the International Air Transport Association (IATA), global
airlines will earn a combined profit of $8.9 billion this year
, which is
triple what the IATA predicted just this June. One of the most interesting
findings in this report is that more business travelers are buying premium
seats. This is good news for the travel industry and those road warriors who
are getting more comfortable air travel. But in just which corporate travel
department are they finding the money?
I wonder.

What it all means to me is
that there is some good news mixed in with all of this extreme change that is
coming down on the travel business. I suspect that one year from now we may not
recognize a lot of the things that we take for granted in business travel.


What is your




Road Warrior • Miami •
Madrid •



About the author

I travel a lot, like many of us. And I work for Amadeus, the largest transaction processing and IT company in the world serving the travel industry