Most business travelers have mixed emotions about summer season.
It is, of course a time when we can relax and revive with friends and family. But it’s also a time during which we have to share our precious space on planes, airports, hotels and rental car queues with the beach ball and Bermuda shorts crowd.
Here are four signs it is going to be especially rough out there this summer and some advice on how to make the best of the situation:
Disney raises ticket prices. Disney does not raise ticket prices when it senses a slow summer ahead. In a clear sign that the leisure giant plans to make hay while the sun shines this summer, Disney quietly raised its ticket prices by 10% this week. A day pass for Disneyland in Anaheim is now $96, up from $92. In Orlando, a day at Disney World now runs $99. Disney also raised prices on its popular multi-day “Park Hopper” passes. TIP: Avoid business trips to Orlando and Anaheim during peak summer months, or at least book hotels well away from park gates. And I hope you are signed up for PreCheck and maybe even Clear if you use Orlando airport frequently.
Europe airfares soaring- We’ll see the busiest summer in six years says Airlines for America, the trade group of major US airlines. The group predicts a record breaking 29.9 million passengers to board international flights. All that demand means fares are skyrocketing. A quick check on ITA today shows mid July nonstop economy fares from the east coast to Europe running in the $1,600 range round-trip. Nonstops from the west coast in July are already running about $1,800 round trip (and it’s not even June yet). TIP: Consider using your miles or pay to upgrade since the difference between coach and business is much less during peak summer months when airlines occasionally discount the front of the plane. Premium economy is also a good option to avoid screaming me-mes on overnight flights. Do you have Global Entry to avoid lines at US customs and immigration? If not, get it now– it’s part of my “No hassle travel trifecta!”
Gasoline prices flat. Remarkably, average gasoline prices should remain about the same or even a bit less than last summer according to the US Energy Information Administration. ($3.63 on average, nationwide) With airfares skyrocketing and hassles increasing, flat gas means that we’ll see a lot more families hit the road instead of the skies this year. TIP- beware of weekend traffic delays on Fridays and Sundays to/from popular beaches and National Parks. Also, be sure to book roadside hotels early in the day.
Hotels filling fast- One of the great things about my gig with Best Western is that since it’s not a public company, it can make “forward looking statements” without having to worry about the SEC clamping down. Last month the chain pulled advance-booking numbers which show an increase of 10% in the US for this summer. Advance bookings are up 18% in Canada where a cheaper Canadian dollar is attracting bargain hunting American families. Another indicator: AAA says that rates at 3-diamond hotels are up 2% to $169 on average compared to a year ago. TIP: If you are traveling on business during between June and August this year, always ask for a room facing AWAY from the screeches and squeals of the hotel pool area.
CALENDAR CHECK. Memorial Day is Monday May 26th this year. The 4th of July falls on a Friday this year, and Labor Day is Monday, September 1.
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