Six Travel Trends to Watch in 2016

by Brianne Miers
boats on Lake Titicaca in Peru

Frommer’s is one of the most respected brands in travel, having been in the guidebook business since 1957. I have a very distinct memory of my mom reading a Frommer’s guide during our 1988 family trip to China, and I own a few as well.

So last weekend at the New York Times Travel Show, I was thrilled to have the opportunity to hear Arthur Frommer himself give his predictions for the travel industry in 2016. Still on top of his game at 86, here’s what he had to say:

Top Travel Trends for 2016

1. Motoring is going to make a comeback.

With the price of oil falling, more families will be able to afford to load up the car and hit the road.

2. Flight prices will stay the same.

Airlines are not going to reverse course and cut prices just because oil is cheaper (sorry). Mr. Frommer says the monopolies are to blame – just four airlines control 80% of all routes, and Priceline dominates the online travel agent market (Expedia acquired Orbitz in late 2015, but it is still a far second).

3. The value of the dollar will open up new destinations.

The strength of the U.S. dollar “will have a major impact on our ability to travel,” according to Mr. Frommer. So if you ever wanted to go to an expensive destination like Japan, now is the time.

4. Print guidebooks will make a comeback.

Traditional print guidebooks are still doing extremely well despite the popularity of e-readers. Mr. Frommer says, “I’m working harder than I ever worked in my life when I should be retired.”

5. Cruise ships will continue getting bigger.

Even though 2015 was a bad year for cruises, due to several high-profile virus outbreaks, the industry will continue to grow.

6. Tours will be less expensive.

Even though Mr. Frommer said he’d “rather die than go on a tour,” he grudgingly admitted that tours are convenient. And good news for solo travelers – with prices dropping, you might be able to bargain away the solo supplement. He noted that the river cruise industry, in particular, has become saturated, so you can find deals there. Overall, he recommends looking at tour companies that offer less “pre-fab” options such as Intrepid, G Adventures, Djoser, Friendly Planet, and Road Scholar, and traveling off-season.

Arthur Frommer’s daughter, Pauline, presented her top travel tips for 2016 during the same session.

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Alex January 16, 2016 - 1:35 am

Great recap of Arthur Frommer’s session! I’m disappointed I missed this but I’m so glad you’ve broken it down so well.

Honored to be included in the post as well! It was so much fun and so interesting to share a great Airbnb apt. during the show!

Adventuring The Great Wide Somewhere January 16, 2016 - 6:24 pm

Woohoo! Every single trend here is good news for me! I’m definitely hoping to take a couple of road trips this year: one within my home state of Florida, and maybe a State Park-centered trip to the Grand Canyon and more! I can’t say the steady airline pricing is a surprise, but it’s better than increasing fares, I suppose.

Aileen January 16, 2016 - 10:55 pm

These are great predictions, and quite insightful. I agree the most with number 1, and I think there will also be more tours that focus more on personalized experiences with more interaction and hands-on activities with locals. 🙂

karyn181 January 17, 2016 - 2:38 am

It will be interesting to see if these all come to pass!

Sarah Ebner January 17, 2016 - 5:52 am

All these seem extremely plausible – especially the driving. I grew up going on driving holidays, so I love doing this, just piling everything in the boot of the car and going on an adventure. Bit disappointed by the fact that he would rather “die” than go on a planned tour. You can’t lump them all in together like that, or at least I don’t think so!

John January 17, 2016 - 6:01 am

Interesting stuff – but do you think the entry of more European budget airlines into the US market will encourage other airlines to reduce their prices? WOW air made a big splash this month with their very low prices to European cities and Ryanair have been talking about doing the same for years. I think that could really change things for people wanting to cross the Atlantic.

Amélie January 17, 2016 - 9:56 am

Shame he didn’t make a prediction about the Canadian dollar making a comeback as an actual currency #ImBroke

trevorthorpetravels January 17, 2016 - 12:13 pm

Thanks for sharing Frommer’s comments! They all make sense to me. I’m particularly interested in taking advantage of the strong USD!

Noel Morata January 17, 2016 - 12:59 pm

Well I definitely want to do a road trip through certain parts of the US for 2016, fascinating look at the trends and what’s coming up soon!

wyldfamilytravel January 17, 2016 - 3:21 pm

I agree with Arthur i would rather die that go on a multi day tour. Experience it once and never again so much time spent on a bus and not enough on the ground

Alouise January 17, 2016 - 5:21 pm

Thanks for sharing these insights. I can definitely see how roadtrips will be popular. I live in Canada and gas has just gone down about 20 cents a litre where I live, which is about 80 cents a gallon. It seems like a road trip might be more affordable (at least for some) than flying.

Karla January 17, 2016 - 6:54 pm

These are really interesting predictions. I am quite skeptic with the come back of print guide books though. With the rise of technology, so many people prefer scanning through their gadgets for information they need. There are also quite a handful of apps to help as well.

Love and Road January 17, 2016 - 10:13 pm

Thanks for summing up his thoughts!
It´s always great to hear the opinion of such a important travel expert. Have to agree that there is wave of new possibilities for cruise ships and also tailor made tours. 😉

Mar Pages January 17, 2016 - 10:39 pm

Interesting trends. I see the road tripping part becoming more and more popular. I myself have been taking more and more of those trips in search of a more local experience and seeing the landscapes. Interesting that guide book sales are not going down, I havent bought one in a while although I have literally hundreds at home!

Janna January 18, 2016 - 3:41 am

Love number 3! That prediction is getting me excited because it will definitely open up opportunities for people in the US to travel more abroad.

Holly January 18, 2016 - 11:08 am

Glad you enjoyed your time at the NYTTS. I was supposed to go this year, but I opted to go on a trip instead. Interested to see what pans out on his predictions.

Lindsay January 18, 2016 - 5:39 pm

The Strong US Dollar is sure making it hard for us Canadians to visit the USA. But good for American’s to come visit beautiful Canada!


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