Travel specialists highlight top trends in 2013

Published: Saturday, March 9, 2013 1:15 a.m. CDT

If you’re planning to take a vacation in 2013, here are some trends travel specialists say are expected to be popular this year.

Peter Friedman, a luxury travel specialist at Unique Travel of Palm Beach, Inc. in Delray Beach, Fla., says river cruising and multigenerational travel are among the top trends he’s seeing for 2013 based on customer demand,

“River cruising is still growing at a huge rate, it’s definitely become a big market,” said Friedman.

More travel companies are tailoring their vacations to appeal to multigenerational groups – parents, grandparents and grandchildren traveling together – and new packages designed to enhance the experience of children, whether on cruises or on land are emerging, Friedman said.

Experiential travel will also be popular in 2013, especially with retiring baby boomers with disposable income, added Friedman. “They (boomers) want to be immersed in something … they want specialization … and are looking for that quintessential experience.”

Here’s a look at some other trends:

Airlines: Airfarewatchdog.com founder George Hobica expects to see roomier overhead luggage bins on more planes this year as several carriers, including American Airlines, retrofit older aircraft or purchase new ones with this feature.

He’s also predicting a major airline will start charging for carry-on bags – probably United – following the lead of low-cost carriers Spirit and Allegiant.

More airline mergers could also be on tap. An American-US Airways merger is a strong candidate as both have been discussing the feasibility of a combination for several months.

“I’d be shocked if the American-US Airways merger doesn’t happen this year. Will someone also gobble up Frontier? Alaska?” Hobica asked.

Travelers can also expect to shell out a little bit more for airfare in 2013 due in part to airline capacity cuts, he added.

Mobile booking: Mobile is going to continue to change the way travelers book their trips, according to online travel company Orbitz. “Nearly two-thirds of our mobile hotel bookings are made for a stay within 24 hours, and 21 percent of all Orbitz hotel bookings are now made via mobile devices,” said Orbitz President Chris Orton, in a statement.

Travel suppliers – hotels, tour companies, airlines, etc. – will use social media more to woo customers and build loyalty in 2013, which means customers will have more options for scoring deals as brands get competitive with offers, an Orbitz official noted.

Top, popular destinations: Colombia, where major airlines are adding new routes and hotel chains, new properties, will be one of the “wow deal” destinations in 2013, according to Travelzoo.

JetBlue Airways, for example, plans to start new service between Fort Lauderdale and Medellin in June, which will complement its existing service to Bogota, which launched in 2012.

“The added competition out of Fort Lauderdale makes it a more affordable proposition than Miami” for South Floridians heading to Colombia, Travelzoo Senior Editor Gabe Saglie said.

Round-trip airfare to Bogota within the next few months starts at $300 from Fort Lauderdale and $510 to $522 from Miami, according to Travelzoo.

Travel companies also are predicting more Americans will head overseas this year, and Europe is a top international destination.

Orbitz has flagged New Orleans as one of the hottest domestic destinations in 2013, and “sure bets” for great deals include Orlando and the Dominican Republic, both easily accessible from South Florida.

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