HOT TRAVEL DESTINATIONS IN 2014:
1. Brazil -- Brazil has always allured travelers near and far, and as the host for the 2014 FIFA World Cup and the 2016 Summer Olympics, it's gaining popularity. The FIFA World Cup (June 12-July 13) is considered the "biggest single-event sporting competition in the world" and will energize the South American continent with athletic matchups for a month. Visitors can also experience the pinnacle of Brazilian culture during the Carnaval of Brazil (March 1-4), and Sao Paolo plays host to the world's largest Pride Parade in early summer and Grand Prix Formula 1 on Nov. 9.
2. U.S. Ski Resorts -- With the 2014 Winter Games rapidly approaching, travelers are looking to experience Olympic excellence right here at home. For far less than the cost of traveling to Sochi, Russia, hitting the slopes at North American ski resorts where U.S. Olympic athletes spend the winter training will be a big draw as excitement for the Winter Games builds.
3. New York City -- New York will be the focus of football fans everywhere as Super Bowl XLVII is played at MetLife Stadium this February. Leading up to the "Big Game," New York's famed Broadway (between 34th and 47th Streets) will transform into "Super Bowl Boulevard" - a free, interactive football-themed experience where visitors can score autographs, take themed photos, and ride down a wintery slide in honor of the first, cold-weather open-air Super Bowl. 2014 also marks the historic opening of the Western Hemisphere's tallest building, One World Trade Center, commemorating the 9/11 tragedy and symbolizing the perseverance of America's largest city. New York is prepared to welcome more than 54.3 million visitors this year.
SURE BETS FOR A GREAT DEAL IN 2014:
1. Las Vegas: A familiar favorite, Las Vegas continues its downtown expansion with the opening of the Downtown Grand Hotel & Casino, boasting more than 150,000 rooms. The new destination with a bevy of new trend-focused rooms will create more competition at attractive rates for jet-setters. A variety of top entertainers will make headlines in 2014 as Vegas welcomes new performers including Brittany Spears. Her two-year residency at Planet Hollywood Resort & Casino for Brittany: A Piece of Me opened late December 2013.
2. Nassau, Bahamas: A well-known and close Caribbean hot-spot, the Bahamas attract travelers for weekend and long-stay vacations. The islands continue to flourish and attract travelers with new property openings driving competitive prices including the 3,000 room Baha Mar Casino & Hotel opening December 2014. Additionally, Nassau's $409 million airport expansion is now capable of welcoming 50 percent more visitors into its new domestic and international departure terminals.
3. Orlando: Ideal for families looking to escape the cold, Orlando offers hotel discounts up to 60 percent off and temps hover around 72 degrees through February. Early 2014 is the perfect time to experience the theme parks with less wait times.
COMEBACK KID IN 2014:
Colorado Rockies: After facing a tough year in 2013 riddled with flooding and wildfires, Colorado is projected to make a resurging comeback in 2014. While Colorado's pristine ski areas and downtown businesses were largely left untouched, offering a variety of winter and springtime activities for travelers looking to experience some of America's most scenic vistas. 2014 will mark the 100th anniversary of Rocky Mountain National Park, one of the U.S.'s top natural destinations. Those travelers looking to give back will be proud to know many lodging properties, stores and businesses have pledged to provide a portion of their proceeds directly to the flood recovery fund in the first half of the year.
TRAVEL INDUSTRY TRENDS:
1. Luxury Travel : Airlines are revamping WiFi systems, and even renting tablets onboard to keep travelers connected while in-flight. But airlines are going beyond technology to offer: BirchBox packages on-board; Porsche concierge service to flights; and extravagant accouterments including first-class suites with sliding doors and 32-inch TV monitors or the ability to book a "skycouch," three seats that open into a sofa.
On the lodging front, Orbitz has tracked an increase in 4 and 5-star hotel bookings in the past two years - a trend poised to continue in 2014. Taking it a step further, a new 7-star award for best in-class hotels has emerged. Many hotels are striving to surpass a 5-star experience. Consumers can truly expect perfection with boutique and major hoteliers upping their games accordingly.
2. Frictionless Mobile Booking: Booking travel via mobile devices will continue to soar for travelers in 2014 and travel companies will be challenged with making it a "frictionless" booking experience. Travel companies are investing heavily to create the easiest experience on a mobile device - from payment, price and data entry.
3. Targeting Niche Travel Markets: Targeting segments of travelers such as families or seniors is nothing new, but 2014 will see a large focus on marketing to two distinct segments: "PANKs" or professional aunts (and uncles) with no kids; and same-sex couples.
A recent Orbitz survey found nearly 50 percent of aunts and uncles have travelled with nieces and nephews. "PANKs" spend an estimated $9 billion annually on toys and gifts for children1 and travel companies are looking to target this audience in 2014.
We can expect an increase in destination weddings and honeymoons among same-sex couples with the expansion of legalized marriage in a number of states.
4. More Personalized Vacation Experiences: Gone are the days of choosing standard day-long bus tours as the only source of activity on a vacation. While we will continue to see a steady drumbeat of traditional theme park and show tickets bought, many travelers expect personalized experiences while on vacation. Now people are seeking tailored, customized tour experiences with the recent uptick in tour companies offering these types of choices for discerning travelers who've seen it all.
Today's traveler craves variety, from adrenaline-pumping active adventures, to zen-like spa visits. Orbitz editors analyzed top attractions and services based on bookings data and found Helicopter Tours, Cirque de Soleil shows in Las Vegas and ziplining are among the new fan favorites.