Report: These were 2015’s biggest travel trends

A plane comes in for a landing at Miami International Airport. (Getty Images)
A plane comes in for a landing at Miami International Airport. (Getty Images)

This has been a huge year for travel — in particular for Florida, which is expected to receive a record number of tourists by the year’s end.

CNN has put together a list of some of the top travel trends for 2015. Here are two of the ones we think had the biggest impact:

Frequest flier miles based on dollars spent instead of miles traveled

This year, three airlines switched up their frequent flier programs in a big way: issuing rewards based on the amount of money spent, instead of how many miles were traveled.

And American Airlines, Delta and United Airlines might be leading a bigger charge, CNN reports.

“We saw some of the first hints globally from international carriers,” Skift.com co-founder Jason Clampet told CNN.

The rise of Uber and Airbnb in business travel

With the addition of Uber for Business, the increasingly popular ride-hailing app made it easier for companies and employees to expense trips. Companies now can set up corporate accounts, set rules and monitor rides more closely.

Airbnb also has risen in popularity for corporate travel, CNN reports. Instead of booking costly hotel rooms, for example, a company might book a large condo through Airbnb.

Read more from CNN.

 

October hotel bookings grow in Palm Beach County

The hotel occupancy rate in Palm Beach County grew slightly in October, while the cost of a nightly hotel stay continued to climb.

Travellers dining and shopping at PBIA
Travellers dining and shopping at PBIA

In October, there were 499,255 nightly bookings available in the county’s hotels and motels, according to the Palm Beach County Tourist Development Council. Roughly 345,500 of those nightly bookings were sold to out-of-town visitors and other guests.

The bookings mark a 2.9 percent increase over Oct. 2014, according to the council.

The cost of a nightly hotel stay in October was $132.27, up 5.6 percent from Oct. 2014.

Meanwhile, the countywide hotel occupancy rate stood at 69.2 percent in October, up just under a percent from Oct. 2014.

WestJet starts new service at PBIA

WestJet touched down at Palm Beach International Airport on Friday, offering twice a week service to Toronto. WestJet plane at PBI 2

The low-cost carrier’s inaugural flight between Palm Beach County and Toronto Pearson International Airport arrived at about 10:30 a.m. with 96 passengers on board. The Boeing Next-Generation 737-800 series aircraft was one of WestJet’s two “Magic Planes” which feature custom paint jobs displaying Disney characters.

Canada is the county’s largest international tourism market, with visitors from the north making up about 46 percent of the international tourists who come to Palm Beach County.

This year, airlines are expected to offer roughly 49,500 seats between Canadian cities and PBIA. That number is expected to grow to nearly 60,000 next year, according to Discover The Palm Beaches, the county’s official tourism marketing organization.

WestJet plane at PBIOn a weekly basis, airlines offer more than 3,500 seats into PBIA from Canada. Between Jan. 30 and April, charter flights are expected to offered nearly 6,000 seats from Canada.

“We are hopeful that this will be a successful flight and will generate additional service into the airport from Canada,” Bruce Pelly, the director of Palm Beach County’s Department of Airports, said of WestJet’s new service.

Robert Palmer, WestJet’s manager of public relations, said Florida is a key destination for Canadian snowbirds and tourists. WestJet offers 105 weekly flights from 12 Canadian cities to 6 destinations in Florida.

But Palmer, who flew to PBIA on the inaugural flight,  said the airline hopes the new service will also bring Palm Beach County residents to Canada.

“We are looking forward to not only bringing Canadians back home, but to bringing some of you to Toronto and beyond,” Palmer said Friday.

WestJet will operate twice weekly — Monday and Friday — between PBIA and Toronto  The seasonal service runs through April 29. Palmer said bookings on the flights “look strong.”

Palm Beach County tourism leaders heralded the new flight.

“We’re thrilled that WestJet is providing another easy and convenient direct flight option for our Canadian visitors,” said Jorge Pesquera, president and CEO of Discover The Palm Beaches. “The highest percentage of our destination’s international tourists are traveling from Canada, because we truly offer what Canadians are specifically seeking in a vacation. We’re confident that with our significantly increased marketing and sales investment in the Toronto market, this additional direct flight option will result in increased Canadian visitation. This WestJet route will encourage even more Canadians to discover what makes The Palm Beaches the best way to experience Florida.”