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In Case You Missed It – Travel News This Week for 10 September

There is so much that happens in the travel industry every week, and only a portion of it makes it to TravelLatte or other travel blogs. We’ll capture some of the highlights with this recurring feature, Travel News This Week. Please let us know you like it with a comment!

Travel News This Week via @TravelLatte.net

Summer came, but Americans didn’t go.

Where did you go this summer? If you’re an American, chances are good that you went nowhere. That’s according to a new study that says, once again, half of all Americans took little to no vacation time over the summer. Surprise, surprise.

Travel media company Skift asked more than 2000 American adults, “Now that summer is almost over, how many days of vacation did you take this summer?” 11% said they took up to three days off. (No word if that included three day holiday weekends.) A bit more than 37% asked what a vacation day was. So basically, nearly half of America’s working stiffs kept working all.summer.long.

The good news is that the number is lower than it was two years ago. In a similar 2014 survey, almost 53% of Americans took zero to three days off over the summer. We’re improving, but we’re not out of the woods yet. More to the point, we’re not into the woods, either, but there may be hope among our young.

A demographic breakdown of the survey runs contrary to what you might expect: 47.5% of those 65+ took no vacation, while the 18-25 age group had the highest percentage taking two weeks or more (23.5%). Millennials are always tough to figure out; some people think they never work, others think they never stop working. Truth is, they may be best at balancing work and life, as they had the lowest percentage of respondents taking no time off (31.1%).

What does this tell us? It could mean the American work ethic is alive and well. It could mean wages are not where they should be. It could be a clear result of the USA being the only industrial nation other than China with no legally mandated minimum time off. Most likely, the answer is “All of the Above.”

Blame it on the Brexit

While the official Brexit – or even a plan for it – is yet to come, the effects are already rumbling through the British aviation market. Recently, British Airways parent IAG and easyJet revised earnings forecasts, pointing largely to instability in the market and lower fares blamed, for the most part, on the Brexit vote. Ryanair CEO has Michael O’Leary been openly critical of the move, warning of slowing growth and outright evacuation of airlines from the UK.

Travel News This Week - London City Airport - via @TravelLatte.net

Photo: London City Airport

This week, more immediate impacts were felt. Boutique airline La Compagnie suspended its all-business service between London and New York. Pointing a finger squarely at the Brexit, the company said it will launch a second daily transatlantic from Paris, instead, ceasing operations in London on 25 September. Without mentioning Brexit, British Airways also scaled back its all-business Club World London City service, which flies direct between London City and JFK. The airline will be dropping one of two daily departures at the end of October.

Not everyone is convinced the Brexit is completely to blame, though. All-business premium services have been hard to maintain. In the past decade, at least three airlines attempting to serve the niche market have failed.

Slow Growth beats No Growth!

In a story slightly related to the last two (Americans not taking vacations, and blaming everything on the Brexit), domestic travel in the U.S. put on the brakes. According to July’s Travel Trends Index from the U.S. Travel Association, domestic travel growth is at its lowest since 2012. Making matters worse, a strong dollar has slowed international travel in the U.S. while prompting many Americans to travel abroad.

Domestic business travel was up for a second month, stoking hopes of reversing a long decline. Based on forward-looking travel searches, though, the U.S. travel industry can look forward to slower growth, but growth none the less. As a result, American travelers may find more bargains at home, as well as Brexit Bargains and a strong dollar abroad.

Siri, can I get dim sum?

Don’t you hate it when you crawl into your hotel bed, and within minutes feel like the thermostat must be on the Sahara setting? Then, after getting up to fiddle with a thermostat you don’t understand (and suspect doesn’t work), you get settled back in bed and realize the bathroom light is still on.

Now, what if you could use some futuristic voice control application to take care of those things, without getting out of bed? Something like Siri for your hotel room?

Travel News This Week - aloft hotels - via @TravelLatte.net

Photo: Starwood Hotels

That’s exactly what’s happening at Starwood. This week, the company took the Top Secret label off of Project Jetson at Aloft hotels in Boston Seaport and Santa Clara, California. (Personally, we were more hoping for the Jetson’s flying cars.) Global Brand Manager Eric Marlo says these are the world’s first voice-activated guest rooms. It’s just the latest innovation from the company that is already using Bluetooth keyless entry, and robot butlers named Botlr.

The technology uses Apple’s voice-activation programming (Siri) to integrate a guest’s iPhone with a room’s thermostat, sound system, and lighting. It also uses GPS, so you could find the closest coffee shop or restaurant by voice.

The company sees further versions integrating with room service, and allowing guests to have automated programs – sort of playlists – with pre-set preferences that could vary based on time of day, day of week, or activity. For example, you could program your room turn on the local news at 10pm, then gradually dim the lights and play soothing music starting at 11-o’clock. By 6am, the lights are coming on, the thermostat adjusts, and Botlr is bringing you breakfast.

It’s not a bad scenario and, judging from the levels of technology and integration today, entirely possible. We only have two questions: What about the millions of guests who shun iPhones for Android and, more importantly, where is our flying car?

Coming Up: Dallas-Fort Worth

Travel News This Week - Grapevine GrapeFest - via @TravelLatte.net

Photo: Grapevine Convention & Visitors Bureau

  • 30th Annual GrapeFest – September 15 to 18 in Grapevine, Texas.
    • Not many know that north-central Texas was blanketed with grapevines when settlers arrived in the 1800s. Today, Grapevine is the epicenter of the Texas wine industry, and celebrates everything grape! In addition to four days of wine, arts, and crafts in downtown Grapevine, you can participate in the GrapeFest Golf Classic, and the GrapeFest Tennis Classic. Events include the ItalianCarFest, the Champagne Cork Shoot-Off, People’s Choice Wine Tasting, and the classic Grape Stomp.
    • See our experience as a Vinophone at Grapefest
  • Addison Oktoberfest – September 16 to 18 in Addison, Texas.
    • Claiming the title of the Most Authentic Oktoberfest outside of Munich, Addison has been hosting Oktoberfest for nearly thirty years. Celebrate German food and culture, polka and, of course, Paulaner Bier. A family favorite is DACHSunday, featuring the Pretzel Run agility showcase, Dachshund Dash, and Dachshund Parade.
  • Travel News This Week - Plano Balloon Fest - via @TravelLatte.net

    Photo: VisitPlano

  • The 2016 Plano Balloon Festival & Run – September 23, 24, 25 in Plano, Texas.
    • Featuring more than 30 hot air balloons from around the country, the RE/MAX Sky Divers parachute team, live entertainment, and fireworks. There will be both morning and evening balloon launches, a fly-in competition, tethered rides, and a balloon glow on Saturday night. Runs include 1k, 5k, half-marathon, and a two-person half-marathon relay. (Race schedules and entry information.)

The Weekly Win

Are you the Flying Kind? Whether you’re in the air more than on the ground, or cherish your rare opportunity to fly, chances are you have some travel tips to share. And if you do, you just might fly off with 250,000 AAdvantage Miles in the Flying Kind sweepstakes from American Airlines.