Changes in travel for 2023
By Patrick Robertson
We know that the only constant in the world is change. As we come out of the world pandemic, I am starting to see changes in the travel industry based on what they learned during those 12-18 months. Business exists to create a profit for the shareholders by creating system efficiencies and we are seeing the groundwork being laid for new efficiencies throughout the travel industry.
The number of airline seats on sale worldwide at this time are at 94% of pre-pandemic. One of the new changes for airlines are changes in selling seats. I just received an email from the AirAsia loyalty club. We fly exclusively with Air Asia in Southeast Asia as they have the highest safety rating that airlines can receive. Air Asia is trying out a subscription model that costs $300 for unlimited flights for a year throughout Southeast Asia including Singapore, Thailand, Vietnam, Cambodia, Philippines and more.
For an additional $500 a year, you can also go to Australia, India, Maldives, Japan and Korea. For budget slow travellers like us, it is a great deal. For AirAsia it is filling all its seats and selling the brand to its guests resulting in future sales.
We are seeing changes in accommodator human resources that will result in an increase of room sales.
The Nuevo Vallarta Vidanta Resort where we stayed for a week in April 2022, kept all of its staff employed during the shutdown and the subsequent massive drop in guests for the pandemic year of 2020-2021. As a result, the staff are the best ambassadors the company could hope for in selling their brand to guests.
The resulting high calibre guest care has people booking into the resort for their next holiday. As a direct result of the fantastic treatment we experienced at the resort, we have booked for three weeks starting on January 14.
Airbnb did a complete pivot in the summer of 2022 on their rental offerings after they found out that over 50% of their bookings are for 28 days or more. Long term sales are highlighted offering substantial discounts to nightly and weekly rentals. They created new categories where you can search for long term stays, outstanding pools, outstanding designed homes and a huge variety of other categories.
I for one have found this refreshing as it signals a change for the better in vacation rentals. I have been saying for a long time that with the explosion of the short-term rental market there are many who are acting out of greed and trying to make a quick buck without any background in hospitality or interest in offering a superb or at least a reasonable rental experience.
In some cases, people are paying five-star prices for one-star accommodations and experience. Unfortunately, there are many new travellers that fall for the promises on the page and pay the exorbitant prices only to be disappointed and feeling cheated and have a subpar experience. I am hoping that the vacation rental market matures quickly and prices settle at a fair and reasonable price for budget slow travellers like myself.
This winter we saw first-hand how the prices of rental accommodations has changed over the past 10 years. Ten years ago, our monthly accommodation cost was $1,500 a month when we travelled, in 2023 it has more than doubled to $3,500 a month for the same accommodation.
We were all set to go to Panama for two months this year but at the last minute our house rental fell through and we were scrambling to find a place to rent. As we were already booked for a week at the Nuevo Vallarta Vidanta in Puerto Vallarta, we decided to stay an extra two months in Puerto Vallarta. Unfortunately, as it was within three months of going which is last minute for booking, all the ideal places were rented. What was left were the units that no one wanted, last minute cancellations and new units just coming on stream. It took me a month of hard looking to find suitable accommodations for two months. We ended up with four weeks in two resorts and a month split between two condos.
Puerto Vallarta has exploded with building the last five years. It has been identified as the second best place in the world to retire in several magazines and people are flocking there, especially from the U.S. In my next column, I will give you an update on Puerto Vallarta.
– Patrick Robertson is a travel writer and long-time resident of Fernie. He is an expert in planning independent travel and finding budget travel deals. Go to his website for more information and pictures of this trip to Vidanta Nuevo Vallarta.