Travel Trends: What’s Expected for 2017

With 2016 nearly behind us, we take a look at how travel trends have shifted in the last year and what to expect from your customers and the industry next year.

Travelers in the U.S. are expected to continue to spend and take more trips than ever before. A 2.8 percent rise in U.S. travel expenditures is forecast for 2017, along with 29 million more domestic person-trips, according to the U.S. Travel Association. If travelers are spending more, they’ll likely be more interested in protecting their trip costs by purchasing travel insurance.

The U.S. Commerce Department predicts that 2016 will end with about 700,000 fewer international visitors than the year before, but 2017 is looking up, with an expected 2.4% increase year over year. For a longer look at expectations for where international visitors will be originating from, five countries—Mexico, China, Canada, India and South Korea—are projected to account for 64% of visitor growth between now and 2021.

An AARP survey shows that 99% of Baby Boomers plan to travel for leisure in 2017 and about half plan to travel internationally, with an average of five or more trips expected throughout the year. The same report indicates that Millennials plan to take more trips than Generation X or the Baby Boomers.

The importance of travel to Millenials is clear, and though online travel purchasing is on the rise, they aren’t shying away from travel professionals. According to the 2016 Portrait of American Travelers by MMGY Global, 34% of that generation used a travel agent in the last year and 39% expect to use one over the next two years. That’s a good sign for the future of travel professionals, considering the overall use of a travel agent was pegged at 19%.

Travel Insurance

Over the last year, current events have shaped the travel insurance landscape. Here is a brief summary.

  • Illness: The U.S. Travel Insurance Association (UStiA) issued a press release explaining the relationship between the Zika outbreak and travel insurance. As the press release indicates, travelers must do their homework to determine if their travel insurance would provide coverage for a trip cancelled due to the Zika outbreak. We suggest that travelers call CSA with coverage questions of this type.
  • Extreme Weather: Although weather events can range from a winter storm to flooding, Hurricane Matthew was an extreme weather phenomenon that affected travelers in 2016. Weather.com recapped Hurricane Matthew’s destruction toll. Travelers who bought travel insurance well in advance of Hurricane Matthew could have been covered, but those who purchased policies after the storm had been named probably were not.
  • Current Events and Acts of Terrorism: From Brexit to the New York City bombing, there were numerous world events, bombings, shootings, attacks, and acts of terrorism both domestic and abroad in 2016. Frommers.com reported that Brexit meant temporary lower costs for American travelers, which may have encouraged travel to Britain. Travel insurance policies vary in coverages for these types of events. If deemed an “Act of Terrorism,” then an event could be covered. Fear of traveling to an area affected by an event may not ensure travel insurance coverage.

“The outcome is that travelers want to know more about travel insurance and what it covers in situations like these. Travel professionals and travel insurance companies are doing more to educate consumers to help them not only feel better protected while they travel, but better understand the protection they have in place,” said Bob Chambers, vice president of operations at CSA Travel Protection. “This growing awareness may be one reason why travel insurance companies are seeing an uptick in policies sold.”

In 2016, CSA Travel Protection reported an increase in travel insurance bookings up nine percent year over year.

Air

Flight fares are projected to increase 3.7% in North America next year, but only 2.5% worldwide, according to the Global Business Travel Association.

The Advito 2017 Industry Forecast highlights the fact that the number of flights from Canada to the U.S. jumped 10% in the last year and the number of available seats rose 20%. This follows a global trend of “more routes, more frequencies and bigger aircraft.”

Concerning what your customers might experience in 2017, the Advito report says “airlines are expected to test the market with fare hikes to see what customers will accept, and they’ll become less generous with ‘waivers and favors.’”

Consumer complaints to the U.S. Department of Transportation about airlines rose 38% percent year over year, according to the Airline Quality Rating 2016 report. Of the 15,260 complaints, 73% were for flight problems, baggage problems, reservation, ticketing and boarding issues, or customer service problems.

“These results clearly show that the air traveling public is not happy,” report co-researcher Brent Bowen said. “Passengers are reaching out and letting us know exactly that, based on the number of complaints filed with the Department of Transportation. The human element of air travel is obviously deteriorating, and passengers are fed up.”

While that doesn’t sound great, the report goes on to say that the rate of complaints is most likely rising because more people are flying—a good sign for most travel businesses.

In fact, other key airline statistics in the report indicate a better traveler experience. The rate of mishandled baggage saw a 17% drop and on-time performance for flights was about 80 percent, compared to 76 percent the year before.

Cruise

The Cruise Lines International Association’s (CLIA) Travel Agent Cruise Industry Outlook report highlights trends that agents have noticed and expect to see in the near future.

A continuing trend—river cruising is expected to show the most growth among cruise types, with 64% of travel agents saying they expect to sell more river cruise packages.

“In an uncertain world, cruisers seem to be looking for destinations that are closer to home,” the report stated, backed up by statistics that show Alaska as the top growth destination, with 62% of agents anticipating growth there, and California and the Pacific Coast making the top five destinations.

“The trend is also for them to come already informed with what they want, and securing the space more than nine months out,” as an agent that responded to the CLIA survey was quoted.

Tours

The popularity of “in-destination” travel experiences is growing and travelers want more than ever to get a taste of local life at their destination. With the majority of tour and activity operators being small and local businesses, they are perfectly positioned to gain from this trend.

The National Park Service Centennial celebration this year led to more park visits, and TravelAgeWest suggests that factor combined with concern over international terrorism will lead to more domestic tour bookings and road trips in 2017.

Stephen Joyce, a travel and tourism technology consultant, points out that the tourism industry is poised to jump from the manual inefficiencies of paper and pencils that predominate the market to better integrate technology in their reservation, marketing and management systems and flourish as a result.

“Fortunately, times are changing. With new tools and technologies, these predominantly small businesses are increasingly able to take advantage of global distribution through larger firms…” Joyce wrote.

While it’s difficult to foresee the complete travel insurance landscape for the next few years, CSA Travel Protection expects continued interest from consumers and travel industry professionals, and predicts that travel insurance will remain in high demand.

One thing is certain: as long as people travel by air, land or sea and seek the ultimate vacation destinations, they are making a trip investment. Travelers are becoming increasingly aware of unexpected circumstances that can arise during their trip. As a result, you might see more of your customers asking about travel insurance and we encourage you to educate about how a CSA plan could help them on their trip.

Travel insurance plans are administered by Customized Services Administrators, Inc., CA Lic. No. 0821931, located in San Diego, CA and doing business as CSA Travel Protection and Insurance Services.  Plans are available to residents of the U.S. but may not be available in all jurisdictions.  Benefits and services are described on a general basis; certain conditions and exclusions apply.

Travel insurance plans are underwritten by: Generali U.S. Branch, New York, NY; NAIC # 11231. Generali US Branch operates under the following names: Generali Assicurazioni Generali S.P.A. (U.S. Branch) in California, Assicurazioni Generali – U.S. Branch in Colorado, Generali U.S. Branch DBA The General Insurance Company of Trieste & Venice in Oregon, and The General Insurance Company of Trieste and Venice – U.S. Branch in Virginia. Generali US Branch is admitted or licensed to do business in all states and the District of Columbia.

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Best Practices and Tools for Second Chance Travel Insurance Sales

Clients of yours recently booked a trip without a travel protection plan. You mentioned the option of buying travel insurance when they asked what would happen if they needed to cancel their trip, and you reminded them of the cancellation penalties and benefits of travel insurance when you quoted their total trip costs.

The customer may have even said they are certain they won’t cancel, so they don’t need the insurance. In that case we suggest you tell them how the other coverages in the plan can help them: ”Do you know about the additional benefits that come with a travel insurance plan beyond Trip Cancellation coverage? The insurance includes coverages that can reimburse you for certain out-of-pocket costs you might have to pay in case of travel delay, prepaid, nonrefundable trip costs lost due to trip interruption, compensation for lost, stolen or damaged baggage, medical and emergency transportation costs if you get sick or injured on your trip, and more.”

They said they’d think about protecting their trip with travel insurance, but haven’t reached out to you about it.

You know that if you really want to make a sale you have to be proactive. It’s a best practice of our most successful partners to send travelers an email giving them a second chance to purchase a travel protection plan. To make that easy, we have an email ready-made for you to send with a customized button linked directly to your CSA affiliate page.

Second Chance Emails

Click the links below to access a quick form to get your own customized HTML second chance email that you can send to your clients (choose the travel insurance plan types that you offer):

Custom and Custom Luxe

Freestyle and Freestyle Luxe

If you’re not able to send HTML emails to your clients,  you can use the copy below to send them your own text email:

Subject line: There’s still time to insure your trip!

We notice you haven’t added travel protection to your upcoming vacation. There’s still time! We proudly offer coverage through CSA Travel Protection and highly recommend that every traveler purchase an adequate insurance plan for their trip.

[Link to CSA affiliate page and/or phone number to contact your office]

 

Travel Insurance Reminders at Final Payment

If you don’t want to send a separate email devoted just to offering your client another shot at insuring their trip, here is some ready-made copy you can add to follow up emails or final payment reminders:

There’s still time to get travel insurance with coverage that provides reimbursement for unused, non-refundable, pre-paid trip costs if you need to cancel your trip for a covered reason, and more. Call or email us if you’d like to add this to your booking.

 

Protect your trip now. It’s easy to add travel insurance. Just call or email us if you’d like to add this to your reservation.

 

Travel insurance is good to have in case you have to unexpectedly cancel your trip for a covered reason, but that’s not all. What if you become sick or injured on your trip? Emergency Assistance and Transportation and Medical and Dental coverages are part of the insurance, and can reimburse expensive costs you could incur. Call or email us if you’d like to add travel insurance to your booking.

 

* Although travel insurance can be purchased after a trip is booked, some coverages and features may not be included if the insurance is purchased after the initial deposit or final payment.

Travel insurance plans are administered by Customized Services Administrators, Inc., CA Lic. No. 821931, located in San Diego, CA and doing business as Generali Global Assistance and Insurance Services. Plans are available to residents of the U.S. but may not be available in all jurisdictions. Benefits and services are described on a general basis; certain conditions and exclusions apply. Travel Retailers may not be licensed to sell insurance, in all states, and are not authorized to answer technical questions about the benefits, exclusions, and conditions of this insurance and cannot evaluate the adequacy of your existing insurance. This plan provides insurance coverage for your trip that applies only during the covered trip. You may have coverage from other sources that provides you with similar benefits but may be subject to different restrictions depending upon your other coverages. You may wish to compare the terms of this policy with your existing life, health, home and automobile policies. The purchase of this plan is not required in order to purchase any other travel product or service offered to you by your travel retailers. If you have any questions about your current coverage, call your insurer, insurance agent or broker. This notice provides general information on Generali Global Assistance’s products and services only. The information contained herein is not part of an insurance policy and may not be used to modify any insurance policy that might be issued. In the event the actual policy forms are inconsistent with any information provided herein, the language of the policy forms shall govern.

Travel insurance plans are underwritten by: Generali U.S. Branch, New York, NY; NAIC # 11231. Generali US Branch operates under the following names: Generali Assicurazioni Generali S.P.A. (U.S. Branch) in California, Assicurazioni Generali – U.S. Branch in Colorado, Generali U.S. Branch DBA The General Insurance Company of Trieste & Venice in Oregon, and The General Insurance Company of Trieste and Venice – U.S. Branch in Virginia. Generali US Branch is admitted or licensed to do business in all states and the District of Columbia.

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Why Travel Insurance is Important for the Holiday Season

If your travelers haven’t already booked their holiday trips, they will be soon. The bustle around Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year make it one of the busiest travel seasons of the year. Inclement winter weather and the increase in flight delays and cancellations around the holidays can create real travel headaches for your customers.

According to AAA, 2015 was the busiest Thanksgiving travel season since 2007 and the number of year-end holiday travelers topped 100 million for the first time. There’s no sign that that momentum will let up this year. Your clients might rest easier during this busy travel time if they have travel insurance backing them up.

Here are some reasons to offer a CSA plan to your clients when they’re booking their holiday travel:

More Flight Delays and Cancellations

Over the 2015 Winter Holiday travel period 26% of flights were delayed and 2% were canceled, according to the U.S. Department of Transportation. That’s about 50% more delays and cancellations than usual! A travel insurance plan with coverage for Travel Delay and Trip Interruption can really help travelers during the holidays.

Cold and Flu Season

Cold and flu viruses are most common during the fall and winter, with serious infection starting to spread in October—just in time for holiday travel. CSA’s travel protection plans include a number of coverages and services that could help in case of flu or other sickness.

If an insured or one of their family members or travel companions becomes sick and is unable to travel they could be reimbursed for unused, non-refundable pre-paid trip costs under Trip Cancellation coverage. If an insured traveler picks up a bug from a crowded airport while on vacation they could use the Teladoc service included with CSA Travel Protection plans to connect instantly with a network of physicians for information, advice, and treatment, including prescription medication when appropriate. Or, if they need to see a doctor, Medical and Dental coverage is included with our travel protection plans.

Winter Weather

56% of travelers have reported experiencing a trip delay or cancellation due to inclement winter weather, according to TripAdvisor. Storms wreak havoc on travel plans, from flight delays to road closures.

When offering travel insurance to clients we suggest using anecdotes to express what could happen to disrupt a trip and how a CSA Travel Protection plan can help in those situations. With a majority of winter travelers having experienced a delay or cancellation of their trip first-hand, they’re probably already well aware of the potential impact of unexpected winter weather on their vacation. You just need to remind them and let them know how travel insurance can help.

Identity Theft

“The hustle and bustle of the holidays creates the perfect environment for thieves bent on stealing your credit cards or other financial information,” said Loretta Worters, vice president, Insurance Information Institute.

Identity theft is something that travelers should be especially wary of, as they’re usually carrying documents, IDs and credit cards in unfamiliar places. Throughout the year, 20% of travelers report that an item with sensitive information has been lost or stolen while on a trip, and chances that a traveler will be pick-pocketed go up when dealing with extra-crowded airports and tourist spots. Also, it’s more likely that busy travelers will connect to unsecured airport WiFi—well-known hotspots for identity theft scammers.

Travelers who buy a CSA travel insurance plan have access to our Identity Theft Resolution Service* while on vacation and also after their trip, since often times travelers don’t notice the theft until they arrive home. Identity Theft Resolution Service is automatically included for a full 180 days starting on the traveler’s scheduled departure date.

Rental Car Damage

If your client is renting a car, keep in mind that some of CSA’s travel insurance plans include Rental Car Damage coverage, in case the rental car is damaged due to collision, fire, flood, theft, vandalism, windstorm or hail.

If your clients don’t have coverage for an upcoming holiday trip, it’s not too late! Remember to offer your customers CSA Travel Protection.


*ID Theft Resolution does not include assistance for thefts involving non-U.S. bank accounts.

†Teladoc services may not be available in all states, and international services may be limited.

Travel insurance plans are administered by Customized Services Administrators, Inc., CA Lic. No. 821931, located in San Diego, CA and doing business as Generali Global Assistance and Insurance Services. Plans are available to residents of the U.S. but may not be available in all jurisdictions. Benefits and services are described on a general basis; certain conditions and exclusions apply. Travel Retailers may not be licensed to sell insurance, in all states, and are not authorized to answer technical questions about the benefits, exclusions, and conditions of this insurance and cannot evaluate the adequacy of your existing insurance. This plan provides insurance coverage for your trip that applies only during the covered trip. You may have coverage from other sources that provides you with similar benefits but may be subject to different restrictions depending upon your other coverages. You may wish to compare the terms of this policy with your existing life, health, home and automobile policies. The purchase of this plan is not required in order to purchase any other travel product or service offered to you by your travel retailers. If you have any questions about your current coverage, call your insurer, insurance agent or broker. This notice provides general information on Generali Global Assistance’s products and services only. The information contained herein is not part of an insurance policy and may not be used to modify any insurance policy that might be issued. In the event the actual policy forms are inconsistent with any information provided herein, the language of the policy forms shall govern.

Travel insurance plans are underwritten by: Generali U.S. Branch, New York, NY; NAIC # 11231. Generali US Branch operates under the following names: Generali Assicurazioni Generali S.P.A. (U.S. Branch) in California, Assicurazioni Generali – U.S. Branch in Colorado, Generali U.S. Branch DBA The General Insurance Company of Trieste & Venice in Oregon, and The General Insurance Company of Trieste and Venice – U.S. Branch in Virginia. Generali US Branch is admitted or licensed to do business in all states and the District of Columbia.

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Cast Your Vote! CSA Travel Protection Nominated for 2017 Travvy Award

CSA Travel Protection has been nominated for a Travvy Award in the Best Travel Insurance Provider – Overall category.

Known as the Academy Awards of the travel industry, the Travvy Awards recognize the highest standards of excellence in the travel industry and honor travel companies, travel products, travel agencies and destinations for their outstanding achievement.

CSA is a trusted business partner, insurance administrator and advisor. Our partnership philosophy focuses on growing revenue and offering the highest levels of service. Travel agents and suppliers who work with us know that we support them every step of the way and aim to give them the best tools and products they require to succeed.

CSA Travel Protection is best known for:

  • Award-winning, compassionate, knowledgeable customer service
  • Expert claims handling with dedicated representatives for each claim
  • Customized training programs for agents
  • Devoted sales support and useful marketing tools
  • Seamless software integration capabilities
  • Ability to provide customized travel protection solutions for a variety of travel suppliers, such as cruise and tour operators, airlines and online aggregators
  • Being the first in the industry to offer Identity Theft Resolution services with most travel insurance plans
  • Global backing from shareholder Generali Group, one of Europe’s top insurers and 48th on the Fortune Global 500 list of companies

Travel agents and suppliers can vote for CSA at www.vote.travvyawards.com.