• Travel Retail Market

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Travel Retail Market Size, Share & COVID-19 Impact Analysis, By Product Type (Cosmetic & Fragrances, Wines & Spirit, Confectionery & Fine Foods, Tobacco Products, Fashion & Accessories, and Others), Sector (Duty Free and Duty Paid), Sales Channel (Airport & Airline Shops, Seaport & Cruise line Shops, Border Downtown Hotel Shops, and Others) and Regional Forecasts, 2023-2030

Region : Global | Format: PDF | Report ID: FBI104620

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KEY MARKET INSIGHTS

The global travel retail market size was valued at USD 55.74 billion in 2022 and is projected to grow from USD 60.72 billion in 2023 to USD 117.18 billion by 2030, exhibiting a CAGR of 9.85% during the forecast period.  

A growing number of millennial and middle-income traveler groups are offering immense opportunities to grow international retailing businesses. Nowadays, retail businesses keep food stations, bookshops, bars, and conference spaces decorated to maintain their shops attractive. Additionally, they maintain high-quality merchandising displays to capture travelers' attention towards buying their products. In November 2021, Bentley Leathers Inc., a Canada-based travel accessories manufacturer, launched a travel-focused retail store concept targeting airports and other travel platforms to offer a wide range of travel items, including travel bags, luggage etc. The store was initially opened in Montreal-Pierre Elliot Trudeau International Airport and aimed to expand in Canada and beyond. In this respect, key retail store innovation concepts will increase the global travel retail market share in the forthcoming years.

LATEST TRENDS of TRAVEL RETAIL MARKET 

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Sustainable Duty-Free Shopping Trend  to Boost Market Development

Nowadays, travelers prefer buying sustainably made duty free products to avoid the environmental impacts due to the usage of non-biodegradable items. This key trend has pushed airport retailers to adopt sustainable business practices such as waste recycling & reduction, biodegradable packaging, and ethical raw material sourcing activities. This factor will create newer avenues for market growth. As per the recent study by the Tax-Free World Association (TFWA) in July 2020, 70 % of the 2,456 consumer participants worldwide were influenced by sustainability practices while purchasing a product during travel. 

In addition to the factors mentioned earlier, retailers are implementing a customer-driven approach to sell their products and services online and increase their sales revenues. For instance, In July 2021, 3Sixty Digital Ltd. partnered with Virgin Atlantic Airways Ltd. to rollout Omneveo, an Omni-Channel retail platform that helps retailers uplift their customers' online shopping experience. Through such a digital shopping portal, passengers can better shop for products as per their requirements while doing in-flight and onboard activities, positively influencing market trends.

DRIVING FACTORS

Rising Number of International Travelers  to Drive Market Growth

The increasing number of domestic and international travelers will increase the product demand, driving the market growth over the forecast period. As per the report 'Indian Tourism and Hospitality Industry Analysis, ' published by the Indian Brand Equity Foundation (IBEF), in 2019, there were 10.89 million foreign tourist arrivals in India, a 3.2% up over the previous year. Nowadays, retailers offer personalized loyalty programs & deals to meet changing shopping habits of air passengers. This factor helps retailers build their revenues from Duty Free products thus fueling market growth.

Besides, rising millennial populations' spending on travel and tourism will upsurge the product revenues. Besides, rising millennial populations' spending on travel and tourism will upsurge the product revenues. For instance, as per the World Travel and Tourism Council (WTTC) data in November 2021, the French travel and tourism sector has surged by 34.9 % in 2021.

Continual Provision of Duty-Free Campaigns by Retailers  to Upsurge Product Demand

Nowadays, key companies launch promotional campaigns to encourage consumers to buy Duty Free products. Additionally, they continuously offer high-quality, privately labeled products and services to delight higher-income airport traveler groups. These factors will support the airport retail shops' product revenues. For instance, in November 2021, Mumbai Duty Free partnered with Flemingo and Adani Airport Holdings to unveil a fully digitalized flagship campaign, 'Mumbai Duty Free is Now Free Campaign.' India. This campaign was re-launched to make use of a new digital approach of barcode scanning for vouchers and ensure customers with safe and contactless access to products.

RESTRAINING FACTORS

High Product Pricing to Hinder Market Augmentation 

The majority of the products sold by retailers are high-quality & branded. This factor enables retailers to sell travel goods at higher prices, thereby limiting the product demand among lower disposable income level traveler groups. Additionally, limited customer awareness regarding new product launches and upgrades create a barrier in purchasing commodities, restricting the travel retail industry growth.

TRAVEL RETAIL MARKET SEGMENTATION

By product type analysis.

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Cosmetic & Fragrances Segment to Hold a Dominant Share Due to Surging Demand from Females

By product type, the global market is segmented into cosmetic & fragrances, wines & spirits, confectionery & fine foods, tobacco products, fashion & accessories, and others. The cosmetics segment holds a major market share due to the growing interest of females and millennials in internationally acclaimed brands that are difficult to find in their native locations. Also, the tax-free pricing of perfumes and high fashioned apparel ensures their purchase as a gifting accessory without import prices, thus surging the segment expansion.

The retailers showcase multiple collections and brands under one roof, making it easy to purchase for travelers. The branded cosmetics and fragrances companies appeal to a broader consumer base with their customer-friendly business policies. Also, retailers offer customer-friendly policies for all kinds of products merchandised in their shops.

In the case of wines & spirits, the industry has an estimated progressive growth as travelers passionate about international liquor brands. They usually purchase luxurious Duty-Free liquor brands from wine retailers to kill waiting time in airports. Nowadays, international liquor brands such as 'Macallan (The Macallan Global Boutiques), Dalmore (Dalmore Store), etc. mainly focus on selling their products through airport shops and cruise lines to increase travelers' accessibility. Such a factor is further supporting the product revenues from the wines & spirits segment.

Fashion & accessories segment is likely to achieve substantial growth during the forecast timeline, as fashion products are notably popular among celebrities and sportspersons. Fashion retailers focus on specializing in the niche marketing approach to attract an array of customers with similarities in purchasing behavior related to sports kits, musical equipment, and beauty cosmetics.

The growing popularity of innovative e-cigarettes of different sizes and shapes will increase consumer demand for such products at airports and cruises, driving segmental revenues for tobacco products. However, airlines and maritime stores' smoking-related prohibitory rules will limit the tobacco product demand among travelers, thereby declining the tobacco products' segmental growth.

Confectionery & fine food products are among the fastest-selling categories of food products that have gained transaction among youngsters and millennials. The bright and attractive displays of cartoon characters are a great way to cater to customers at the door. The stickers and fun displays with customizable wall arts create lucrative demand from youngsters. Chocolates and other confectionery retailers try to raise their presentation and create innovative ways to enlighten the mindsets of youngsters, bringing new growth opportunities for the segment.

The others segment includes watches, jewelry , fine arts, electronic items, and gift items, which are also expected to witness noticeable demand during the forecast period. These items are purchased by travelers through unique online applications to earn rewards and points, which raises the customers' thirst to acquire more products from such deals.

By Sector Analysis

Duty Free Shopping to Gain Significant Momentum Due to VAT Benefits

By sector, the global market is segmented into duty free and duty paid. The Duty Free segment holds a major share due to its value-added tax benefits over its counterpart. Nowadays, cosmetic companies such as L'Oréal, Estee Lauder Inc., and others increasingly focus on selling their products through Duty Free shops to boost sales. Such a factor will fuel the Duty Free segmental growth. Additionally, the rising number of international travelers and their demand for Duty Free products will accelerate segmental revenues. As per the data presented by the Centre for Asia-Pacific Aviation (CAPA), in 2021, the total gross Duty Free spending at Indian airports will reach USD 1.6 million by 2021.

The duty paid sector is also likely to witness growth in demand as the duty-paid retailers are taking multi-channel strategies and customer-driven solutions to sell their products. The retailers are focused on catering to a wider consumer base by launching apps to gather online information to create a curated shopping experience based on specific interests. Through expansions and tie-ups with domestic airports, selling high-quality and high-priced products will allow the retailers to upgrade their services and establish a competitive edge in the global industry.

By Sales Channel Analysis

Rising Number of Airport & Airline Shops to Augment Segment Growth

According to sales channel, the market is arrayed into airport & airline shops, seaport & cruise line shops, border downtown hotel shops, and others.

The airport & airline shops' segment holds a major share owing to the continual provision of customer-centric cosmetic and beverage products by airport retailers. This factor results in significant revenue generation from the airport segment. Furthermore, the in-flight Wi-Fi experience offers a seamless online shopping experience to the air passengers, thereby surging the segmental revenues. According to the International Civil Aviation organization data, the number of departures internationally rose by 1.7% from 2018 and reached 38.3 million in 2019.

Recently, worldwide train transportation services witnessed a considerable surge in passenger bookings. This factor will increase the train passengers' demand for such products, thereby resulting in others' segments generating considerable product revenues. As per the statistics from Indian Railways, there is an increase of 113% in earnings from passenger segments during the second quarter of 2021 compared to the first quarter. Thus, greater passenger bookings across railway stations provide potential growth opportunities for train retail services to boost passenger traffic, favoring the global travel retail market growth.

Border downtown hotel shops are gaining neutral demand as these shops create revenue for small businesses to sustain in a competitive environment and create jobs for the locals. These retailers don't charge high taxes, and customers can access various products. However, these retail channels are key for the global market forecast as they typically witness a steady flow of shoppers yearly.

Seaports & cruise line ships have steadily witnessed footfall in retail and duty free outlets and are anticipated to grow considerably during the 2023-2030 period. The growing number of workers involved in shipping cargo through the marine routes has boosted the demand among seaport retailers. Also, the surging number of travelers following the sea routes is estimated to create opportunities for cruise line shops. As per the data from Cruise Lines International (CLIA), 28 million people traveled through the ships and cruises in 2018 and will likely cross the 30 million mark in 2019.

REGIONAL ANALYSIS of TRAVEL RETAIL MARKET

Asia Pacific Travel Retail Market Size, 2022 (USD Billion)

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The worldwide tourism retail sector is segregated into the North America, Europe, Asia Pacific, South America, and Middle East & Africa regions.

Asia Pacific market was valued at USD 28.32 billion in 2022. A significant number of domestic and international travelers spend on duty Free products in China, India, and South Korea, resulting in the Asia Pacific region dominating the global industry in Duty Free retail. The adoption of cheap travel tours by companies in the Asia Pacific region, including MakeMyTrip, Yatra, and others, has facilitated customer traffic rates in booking, generating new growth opportunities for the travel operators to expand their businesses. 

Nowadays, duty Free retailers establish partnerships with Asian domestic and international airports to expand their businesses in Asia. This factor will further increase the Asia Pacific region's market growth rate. For instance, in May 2019, King Power International Group signed an agreement with Suvarnabhumi Airport (Bangkok Airport) to increase its Duty Free retailing business in Thailand.

The Europe market will grow considerably due to growing travel & tourism-related infrastructural settings such as hotels & restaurants, amusement parks, etc. As per the estimated data published by the CBI Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the total European tourism comprising air, land, and sea travel out of Europe accounted for 496 million trips in 2019. Also, the region's tourism and travel trips generated 35% of the international tourism expenditure in a similar period. Additionally, the robust presence of luxury goods brands such as 'Dufry AG, Aer Rianta International, and Lagardere Group result in considerable product revenues in the region.

Increasing U.S. and Canadian spending on travel & tourism is mainly supporting the North America industry's growth. According to the statistical data presented by U.S. Travel Organisation, in 2019, U.S. domestic and international travelers' spending reached USD 1,127 million. Also, the increase in the purchasing capacity of individuals has boosted regional growth.

Saudi Arabia and UAE's rising middle-income population groups mainly support the Middle East & Africa retail sector. Nowadays, Brazilians prefer buying high-quality apparel and cosmetic goods at domestic duty-paid shops. Such a factor will provide an increase in the product demand among Brazilians. Furthermore, the growing number of airport retailers in Brazil and Chile will increase the number of air passengers driving regional growth.

COVID-19 IMPACT

Rising Popularity of Anxiety-Reducing Products Boosted Market Growth Amid COVID-19

To minimize coronavirus infection spread, governments worldwide imposed lockdown and other travel restrictions, most notably in 2020. This factor has significantly lowered the number of air and marine travelers, threatening the overall travel & tourism industry. As per the data published by International Airport Transport Association (IATA), from 2009 to 2019, international travels had fallen below the yearly rate of 5.5%.

Nowadays, passengers prefer wellness-related products to maintain their health during the pandemic. This factor will offer duty free retailers newer opportunities to offer personalized products. Rising consumer demand for personal protection equipment (PPE) and products such as sanitizers, face masks, gloves, and others amid the pandemic will create newer avenues for Duty Free retailers' business growth. Furthermore, the growing popularity of anxiety-reducing items among air passengers will accelerate the industry growth amid the COVID-19 pandemic. For instance, in 2020, Essence Corp, a Miami U.S.-based retail distributor for Bath & Body Works (BBW), reported a 41% jump in its retail sales from the bath and body works.

KEY INDUSTRY PLAYERS

Business Expansion through E-commerce is Key Strategy Fueling the Industry

Major key players such as Dufry AG, Shilla Duty Free shop, and others focus on capturing consumer buying behavior and offering personalized retailing goods to the customers to gain a competitive edge globally. Additionally, they continuously introduce sales promotional offers to attract buyers towards their products. For instance, in September 2020, Malaysia Airports Holdings Berhad introduced an e-commerce platform, 'shopMYaiports,' to facilitate revenue amid the disruptions caused due to the pandemic. The e-commerce platform also offers free delivery with a minimum order amount of USD 71.65 to elevate the digital purchase experience.

LIST OF KEY COMPANIES PROFILED:

  • Lagardere Travel Retail (Lagardere Group) (France)
  • DFS Group Ltd. (Hong Kong)
  • Dufry AG (Switzerland)
  • King Power International Group (Thailand)
  • Aer Rianta International (Ireland)
  • The Nuance Group AG (Switzerland)
  • Lotte Duty Free (Lotte Hotel) (South Korea)
  • Gebr. Heinemann SE & Co. KG (U.S.)
  • Duty Free China Group Co. Ltd. (CDFG) (China)
  • Samsung Group (South Korea)

KEY INDUSTRY DEVELOPMENTS:

  • January 2023: Ritter Sport, a German chocolate bar brand, announced plans to expand its vegan product range with the launch of its Travel Retail Edition Vegan Tower 5x 100g set worldwide in March 2023. The new product is available in three ranges of non-dairy chocolate in a five-pack. The travel edition assortment flavors include Smooth Chocolate, Salted Caramel and the new Roasted Peanut.
  • January 2023:  Lotte Duty Free, a South Korean company, opened a store for NONFICTION, a South Korea-based beauty brand. Marking the launch, the company offered consumers free goods offline and online when purchasing NONFICTION products.
  • January 2023: Lagardère Travel Retail Belgium and Atos (a French IT service and consulting company) partnered to launch an automated Duty Free point of sales at Brussels Airport. The companies launched the automated POS to offer travelers a new and unique travelling experience.
  • February 2021: Hudson Group, a Dufry AG-owned retailing company, launched Amazon One, a technology-enabled store at Dallas Love Field Airport (DAL), to offer users an enhanced in-store shopping experience.
  • December 2021: Servy, a hospitality platform, partnered with Inflyter, a retail tech company, to develop an e-commerce platform that provides a digital shopping experience to airport travelers.

TRAVEL RETAIL MARKET REPORT COVERAGE

An Infographic Representation of Travel Retail Market

Travel Retail Market

To get information on various segments, share your queries with us

The travel retail industry research report analyzes the market in-depth and highlights crucial aspects such as prominent companies, product types, sectors, sales channels, and regional areas. Besides this, the report provides market outlooks and insights into the latest trends and highlights significant industry developments. In addition to the aspects mentioned above, the report encompasses several factors contributing to the industry's growth over recent years.

TRAVEL RETAIL MARKET Report Scope & Segmentation

Frequently asked questions.

Fortune Business Insights says that the industry size was USD 55.74 billion in 2022 and is anticipated to reach USD 117.18 billion by 2030.

In 2022, the industry was valued at USD 55.74 billion.

Ascending at a CAGR of 9.85%, the market will exhibit steady growth over the forecast period (2023-2030).

The cosmetic & fragrances segment will dominate the market during the forecast period (2023-2030).

The rising number of international travelers accelerates the market growth.

Lagardere Travel Retail (Lagardere Group), DFS Group Ltd., Dufry AG are leading companies worldwide.

Asia Pacific dominated the market in 2022.

Rising adoption of eco-friendly business practices is one of the prominent industry trends.

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  • PUBLISHED ON: Apr, 2023
  • BASE YEAR: 2022
  • HISTORICAL DATA: 2019-2021
  • NO OF PAGES: 175

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The State of the Travel Industry in 2023: Current Trends and Future Outlook

Kentucky chamber ceo: we must protect the free enterprise system, how franchising can help fuel the american dream, microsoft president: responsible ai development can drive innovation, suzanne clark's 2024 state of american business remarks, rhythms of success: the free enterprise tune of a small business.

January 12, 2023

Featured Guest

Tony Capuano CEO, Marriott International, Inc.

Chip Rogers President & CEO, American Hotel & Lodging Association (AHLA)

As COVID-19 restrictions have continued to ease, the travel and hospitality industries have seen a resurgence in customers. Companies like Marriott have seen percentage increases in revenue and rate, even topping pre-pandemic levels.

During the U.S. Chamber of Commerce’s 2023 State of American Business event, Chip Rogers, President and CEO of the American Hotel and Lodging Association , and Tony Capuano, CEO of Marriott International, Inc. , sat down for a fireside chat. Read on for their insights on the post-COVID state of the travel industry, a shifting customer base, and the outlook for 2023 and beyond.

2022 Demonstrated the Power and Resilience of Travel

After declines amid the pandemic, 2022 brought about a positive recovery for the travel industry.

“[2022] reminded us of the power and resilience of travel,” said Capuano. “If you look at the forward bookings through the holiday season, [you’ll see] really strong and compelling numbers … so we’re really encouraged.”

“The only caveat I would give you about that optimism is, as you know, the booking windows are much shorter than we’ve seen them in a pre-pandemic world,” he added. “So those trends can change more quickly than we’re accustomed to."

The ‘Regular’ Customer Segments Are Shifting

At the start of pandemic recovery, industry leaders believed leisure travel would lead travel recovery, with business travel closely behind and group travel at a distant third, according to Capuano. While some of those predictions have held, others have shifted.

“Leisure [travel] continues to be exceedingly strong, and group [travel] has surprised to the upside,” he explained. “Business travel is perhaps the tortoise in this ‘Tortoise and the Hare,’ slow-and-steady recovery.”

However, Capuano noted customer segments are becoming less and less strictly defined.

“[There’s] this trend we've seen emerge over the pandemic of blended trip purpose … [where] more and more folks are combining leisure and business travel,” he said. “If this has staying power, I think it’s absolutely a game changer, as we get back to normal business travel and hopefully maintain that leisure travel.”

To accommodate this shifting demand, Marriott has focused on expanding offerings to accommodate both the business and leisure sides of travelers’ trips.

“[We’ve had] a very big focus on [expanding bandwidth], so that if [we’ve] got 300 rooms full of guests on Zoom calls simultaneously, we’ve got the bandwidth to cover it,” Capuano added. “[We’re also] being more thoughtful about fitness, leisure, and food and beverage offerings — and having the flexibility to pivot those offerings as somebody sheds their business suit on Thursday and changes into shorts and flip flops for the weekend.”

2023 Offers Hope for Continued Growth in the Travel and Hospitality Sectors

As the travel and hospitality sectors continue to grow and shift in the post-pandemic era, Capuano shared reasons for optimism in 2023.

“Number one, it's our people,” he emphasized. “When you see their passion, their enthusiasm, their resilience, their creativity, and just how joyful they are to have their hotels full again … it's hard not to be filled with optimism.”

“If you look at how far the industry has come over the last few years,” Capuano continued, “any lingering doubts folks may have had about the resilience of travel — and about the passion that the general public has to explore cities and countries — it's hard not to be excited about the future of our industry.”

  • Post-Pandemic Work

From the Series

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What AI means for travel—now and in the future

“Revenge travel.” It’s what a lot of people are doing these days—hitting the runways in big numbers to make up for travel time lost during the pandemic. On this episode of The McKinsey Podcast , McKinsey partners Alex Cosmas and Vik Krishnan join global editorial director Lucia Rahilly to discuss a new report on travel in the age of AI : what the technology’s promise and pitfalls are and what it may mean for the travel industry overall.

This transcript has been edited for clarity and length.

The McKinsey Podcast is cohosted by Roberta Fusaro and Lucia Rahilly.

The promise of AI

Lucia Rahilly: Much of the research for the report drew from interviews with executives at 17 companies across five types of travel businesses. One of those executives is Luca Zambello, CEO of Jurny—an AI-fueled hospitality platform. He says AI will be the new normal.

Luca Zambello: We’re at the very beginning of the hockey stick. Economically, we are at the start of what is potentially the biggest technology disruption that humanity has ever seen.

Lucia Rahilly: So everyone is talking about the disruptive juggernaut that is AI, and particularly gen AI [generative AI]. At a super-high level, and acknowledging that we’re still in early days, what do we expect this to mean for the travel industry in particular?

Vik Krishnan: The travel industry is unquestionably going to be significantly disrupted by AI. Whether it’s gen AI or other forms of AI that have been around for some time remains to be seen. It’s quite clear that if you work through the customer journey and the process of trying to understand where you want to go, where you want to stay, what are the things you want to see, how you want to plan your day-by-day itinerary, gen AI significantly eases the process of travel discovery.

If you then step into what this means for travel suppliers, which includes airlines and hotels and cruises and car rentals and rideshare providers, the promise of AI is very much to help them deliver on the promises, both explicit and implicit, that they make to their customers.

Gen AI significantly eases the process of travel discovery.

What I mean by that is, very often, the expectations of travel are that your flight is on time, your bags get delivered to you safely, you then get to your hotel, your hotel room is available to check into when you get there, and you have a room that provides exactly what you asked for. That baseline expectation is one that many travel companies have historically struggled to meet.

What AI can do is help airlines ensure that planes are on time. It can help hotels ensure that what they deliver in terms of staffing and the product promise is consistent with what they advertise in their marketing and branding strategies.

Alex Cosmas: Not only is travel and hospitality the world’s largest sector, but it’s actually the most intimate sector. That means the answer for each of us to what a good experience looks like—whether I’m traveling for leisure or for business—is, by definition, fundamentally different. And the promise of AI has been to take the pattern of history, take the pattern of millions, and boil that down to the individual response that is relevant to me as a segment of one.

Nowhere is that promise needed more than in travel, where the experience should be a segment of one. That’s what makes it magical. To be clear, AI is already being applied in the travel sector in spades—specifically, in the operation of schedule assets and the optimized allocation of rooms and crews. That’s been true for decades, and it’s only getting better.

But the customer-facing applications of AI are only now really becoming next-generation. And for the most part, in travel, the best AI applications will largely be opaque to customers, because they’ll still be delivered through the mediums that customers prefer: often through humans, through the front line, through desk agents, through guest agents.

AI is already being applied in the travel sector in spades—specifically, in the operation of schedule assets and the optimized allocation of rooms and crews.

That’s ideally the promise. But the starting point is to say we can’t suddenly expect that customers will prefer to interact through more digital channels than they have in the past. Travel is a very human-centric business. And so the best AI, the best models, will be delivered through traditional channels.

How AI can change travel—for the better

Lucia Rahilly: What kind of value might come from using gen AI in the travel industry?

Alex Cosmas: Our latest estimates suggest that gen AI alone, across sectors, is bound to unlock $2 trillion to $4 trillion of incremental value.

Lucia Rahilly: Wow.

Alex Cosmas: Therefore, not surprisingly, capital is chasing the disruptive sector of AI.

Lucia Rahilly: What are some good examples of products that customers might expect to be using or that might be in the background enhancing customers’ experiences in the future?

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Vik Krishnan: Imagine the last time any of you tried to book a trip. You probably started on a search engine such as Google, or you started at an online travel agent such as Expedia, or you started at an actual supplier website if you had some certainty on what airline you wanted to fly or which hotel you wanted to stay at. You probably started with a little box where you put in your destination, you put in your approximate dates, and then you had the search engine present to you a series of results that may or may not have met your needs.

What we’re imagining in a future with gen AI or AI in general is that you start with something much more free-form and say, for example, “I’m looking to plan a trip with my family to New Orleans for a week in October. Can you help me find a hotel that has a pool for my seven-year-old and is within walking distance of the French Quarter?”

Wouldn’t that experience be much easier in terms of trying to figure out where you want to stay and what you want to do, as opposed to getting a list of a thousand hotels in an order that may or may not meet your specific preferences and what you actually want out of that trip? It is one of the most obvious examples wherein customers can see a real difference in what gen AI can do to help them with the travel discovery process.

Alex Cosmas: The other application of AI that I’m excited about is this: every customer gives tells. They drop digital breadcrumbs of things they like and don’t like when they bounce off of the page of a dot-com when they’re shopping; when they abandon a cart; when they return less frequently to search; when they arrive on a page only to check a single itinerary on a single day, on a single fare, rather than browsing for 20 minutes.

All of these are small tells that we as consumers provide travel brands. And so the ability to record, “I actually know what Alex is keen on in general and frankly less keen on and less likely to convert on,” and turn that into relevant offers is really important.

AI is only part of the answer

Lucia Rahilly: Where are we in terms of companies really embracing the use of this next-gen AI and other related technologies?

Alex Cosmas: We’re pretty far down the path of companies both embracing traditional AI and experimenting with gen AI. Very few of the airlines, hotels, cruise lines, and suppliers that I’ve interacted with are not already embracing deployment and actively experimenting with advanced tech. It’s only going to grow.

But there is risk. More is not always better. Faster is not always better. There’s a bit of, let’s say, a cautionary tale that we’ve learned from other sectors, which is that first off, AI is only part of the answer.

I like to say it doesn’t matter if you got the answer right if you got the delivery wrong.

The digital-delivery mechanism is how I go about delivering the answer: a mobile app, a push notification, an e-commerce experience, a kiosk, digital signage, or data just given to the front line. Those mechanisms are as equally important as or, I’d argue, even more important than the predictive and gen AI models behind them.

Vik Krishnan: To build on Alex’s point about getting the delivery wrong, many of you listening have probably been on an airplane in the last year. How many times have you experienced the outcome of landing, pulling toward the gate, stopping short on the tarmac somewhere, and it turns out the gate’s not available yet. Therefore, you have to wait for the other aircraft to taxi out, so your plane can then pull into the gate.

The reality is that putting together an operational execution plan involves data from so many different sources that aren’t necessarily pulled together in a large model. So it doesn’t necessarily enable or unlock this type of orchestration. And this is where AI can be enormously helpful.

There are companies out there that try to understand turning an aircraft, which is the process of essentially getting it from arrival to departure for the next flight. That involves actions both above the wing—for example, getting passengers off and onto the plane, getting the aircraft catered—and below the wing—for example, getting bags on and off the plane.

It involves refueling aircraft. It involves a number of other maintenance-related and ground-handling-related activities that many consumers don’t see. All of that is an extremely delicately orchestrated ballet that happens at an airport every single day, while involving multiple third parties and several different suppliers. It involves a fuel provider. It involves a ground handler. In some instances, it involves a different gate agent than the airline itself. That orchestration requires data and communication of very, very large volumes of information.

There are companies out there that are now saying, “We can actually identify when, during an aircraft turn, something didn’t happen according to schedule.” In other words, that catering truck didn’t pull in three minutes after arrival as it was expected to, which induced a delay. And that delay then allowed for a replanning of the entire turn process, so as to deliver an on-time departure. AI has an extremely large role to play in helping deliver on that promise in a way that suppliers have historically struggled to.

Don’t be AI stranger

Lucia Rahilly: In order to deliver on that process, understanding the data is critical. Here’s Ella Alkalay Schreiber, the GM of fintech at Hopper.

Ella Alkalay Schreiber: Machine learning is important, gen AI is important, predictive AI is important—but the actual challenge is to understand the data, ask the right questions, read prediction versus actual, and do this in a timely manner. The actual challenge is the human thinking, the common sense.

Lucia Rahilly: “Know your customer” is really a business axiom at this point. What does understanding your customers mean specifically for the travel industry?

Alex Cosmas: It means a few things. AI models learn the same way humans learn. It’s a test-and-learn process. I ask a question. I observe a behavior. That reinforces either my false or positive conception of who you are and what makes you tick. If you can’t measure cause and effect precisely, then avoid running an experiment entirely.

This is what our general advice is to our clients. I’d rather they experiment correctly on something small than swing for the fences and have no idea where the ball lands. That’s particularly true in microexperiments, where I have individual customers, where I provide individual treatments, but I have to be able to measure the response. If you can’t measure it, don’t bother. Focus your energy and resources on a different experiment.

This is what our general advice is to our clients. I’d rather they experiment correctly on something small than swing for the fences and have no idea where the ball lands.

If a brand, for example, doesn’t have the digital tech to be able to send a tailored offer to me as an individual, then you don’t really need to know my personal willingness to pay. In that case, stick to the microsegment or the macrosegment and take action that way. If you can’t send a personalized message without making it feel generic, then don’t.

Vik Krishnan: The experience of hyper-personalization has to feel authentic. So in other words, a flight attendant coming up to you and saying, “Hey, I know you normally like a Diet Coke with a slice of lime. Is that what you’d like this time?” is different from presuming what your preferred drink might be. That might be an example of how AI actually delivers on hyper-personalization, but with a bit of a human touch so it doesn’t appear creepy.

Lucia Rahilly: Both of you are deep in this industry. Any examples that come to mind of companies that are really doing AI right? And if so, how?

Vik Krishnan: Hotels that actually understand or acknowledge your past history of staying at that specific property—that’s quite a personal touch I really appreciate. But the reality is many hotels struggle to even understand basic facts such as the frequency, duration, and purpose of a recent stay. Many hotels don’t easily make that type of information available to their frontline staff. And so empowering those employees to use that information to deliver a hyper-personalized greeting or experience is a good example of companies using AI well.

Alex Cosmas: If done right, the frontline workforce should look and feel like superheroes powered by AI. There’s a luxury fashion retailer that arms its sales associates with iPads to link shoppers to the styles and the sizes they searched for online. That’s pretty cool. Now, augment that with the propensity models in the background that give the agent a steer to what a customer wants, and suddenly they appear clairvoyant. Think about that application in travel. There are far more interactions on average in a travel journey.

So as consumers, how do we preserve the magic of travel, which is more about heads-up time and being immersed in our surroundings, rather than about heads-down time and researching on a device? It means more agents who surprise and delight; say, “Welcome back”; say, “Happy birthday”; know you arrived earlier than planned; and swap the room preemptively so you could get in and get on your way. And that’s what we call knowing your customers like you know your friends.

I’ll share one example. When I check into a hotel, I really don’t like the kiosk and the app check-in. But I love it for checking out. For other customers, the complete inverse is true. My hotel can know that. It certainly knows how I check in and check out. It should act on that or understand the why, just as you understand your friends. This is the test-and-learn experiment that we talked about earlier and that most suppliers can begin right now.

AI and talent: What’s next?

Lucia Rahilly: Alex, that makes a very nice segue to Christiaan Hen, chief customer officer at Assaia, talking about frontline talent using AI as an assistant.

Christiaan Hen: Sometimes, people say automation might be a risk to people’s jobs, but that’s not the case here, because there are not going to be enough people to do these jobs in the first place. I like to see it as we’re equipping people with the right tools to do their jobs in a better way to accommodate for the additional workload that is coming.

Lucia Rahilly: This clip invokes the palpable fear that AI and automation will eliminate people’s jobs. We hear that time and again. How do you see these advanced technologies changing things for the front line in the travel industry?

Vik Krishnan: I see technology helping frontline employees do a better job more than I see it eliminating those jobs. We don’t necessarily see, for example, AI reducing flight attendant staffing any time soon, because those flight attendants are on the airplane to provide primarily for your safety, followed by the guest experience.

We see AI in many instances allowing those flight attendants to deliver a better customer experience, because they know that passenger in seat number 17C better as a result of the information provided to them. But it’s not replacing their jobs.

In certain pockets of the economy, technology and AI will end up replacing people. The reality in travel, though, is that the quality of the guest or passenger experience for so many people is tied to human interaction. Consequently, we don’t necessarily see a large-scale replacement of people here by technology and AI.

Alex Cosmas: Let’s look at the facts for a moment. Post-COVID-19, the travel sector employs 12 percent fewer staff than pre-COVID-19. And that’s not necessarily by choice. It is hard to find folks with the hospitality gene who genuinely want to deliver for guests, engage with them, and serve at the highest level day in and day out.

That’s part of the reason we see a smaller workforce in travel today than we have in the past. It takes twice as long, an average of five to six weeks, to fill roles as it did before the pandemic. Those with that hospitality gene would love nothing more than spending less time fixing broken itineraries, fixing issues that frankly could be automated. They’d rather spend their energy serving, which is what travel and hospitality is all about.

It should be a net-positive growth. The travel sector itself should grow as a result, creating jobs. We estimate the travel sector to grow at roughly 6 percent over the next decade, which is twice the rate of the overall economy.

Lucia Rahilly: Could AI and related technologies help with training folks who don’t come by that gene naturally but could be trained to fill those roles more efficiently?

Alex Cosmas: Absolutely. We’re already seeing applications of virtual reality, augmented reality, and AI coming together to offer more efficient ways to enhance and accelerate employee training, because you can throw live, immersive scenarios in front of employees at a higher clip than they would get organically on the job.

Oftentimes, the same is true not just of the front line but also of training corporate and call center employees. AI can learn from the patterns of thousands upon thousands of call-ins and transcripts—which no single human can ever be expected to go through—boil them down to the top ten core issues and suggest outcomes that seem to resolve 70 percent of situations. That’s the power of AI in training.

Lucia Rahilly: Alex, you mentioned virtual reality. Would travel drop if you could experience Bhutan from your sofa rather than actually having to take an arduous flight?

Alex Cosmas: Here’s my honest read on it. We’ve been able to visit Bhutan virtually for over a decade through YouTube and through National Geographic . And yet, travel is at an all-time high. And it’s because we all, as social animals, continue to enjoy experiencing new things, meeting new people, hearing new stories, and being inspired by a new site’s history and cuisine.

The numbers also suggest that we are in an unprecedented growth phase for travel. We are also in a phase where, over the past 15 years, customer satisfaction has steadily grown, despite how much we all like to beat up on our travel suppliers.

Consumers are admitting that the area they want to splurge on in the next year is travel and hospitality, such as experiences and restaurants. So they’re giving us that gift of their wallets and their trust. We have to deliver on that expectation as a sector. Gen AI, traditional AI, augmented reality, virtual reality, and digital technologies are going to help us deliver on the promise.

Alex Cosmas is a partner in McKinsey’s New York office. Vik Krishnan is a partner in the Bay Area office. Lucia Rahilly is the global editorial director and deputy publisher of McKinsey Global Publishing and is based in the New York office.

Comments and opinions expressed by interviewees are their own and do not represent or reflect the opinions, policies, or positions of McKinsey & Company or have its endorsement.

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The promise of travel in the age of AI

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The future of tourism: Bridging the labor gap, enhancing customer experience

travel shopping industry

Retailers in travel: the power of shopping tourism

  • February 26, 2020

The experience economy has driven changes across all economic sectors in recent years, and retail has experienced some of the most radical, yet interesting ones, opening new paths for business by interacting with other industries such as travel. Shopping tourism is showing its power as a business driver and, at the same time, it is pushing a deep transformation of the industry that will guarantee growth and development in the short and long run.

By Otto Ambagtsheer

As experienced retailers, there is a clear trend we are observing worldwide, aligned with the social changes that technology has brought: the increasing demand for unique and personalized experiences–a movement that has been called “the experience economy”. In the midst of it, e-commerce, with its competitive prices and fast delivery, is rewriting the rules of consumption; industries and sectors interact in a competitive race to be original and relevant in a market full of stimulant proposals, and this requires more collaborative initiatives to ensure traditional business models are able to successfully transition to an ultra-connected economy. A good example of these synergies is amalgamation of shopping and tourism, a segment that is growing exponentially around the world.

According to the World Tourism Organization (UNWTO), shopping is among the top deciding factors when travellers choose a destination, showing its relevance beyond that of a mere ancillary service. As 2019 data from UNWTO shows, more than 1.5 billion people traveled around the world in 2019, four percent more than in 2018 despite the travel industry turmoil following the collapse of Thomas Cook and several other low-cost airlines in Europe, and this entity foresees an increase between three and four percent in international tourist arrivals worldwide. Moreover, tourism spending in 2019 has remained strong against a backdrop of global economic slowdown. It continued to grow most notably amongst the world’s top ten spending markets surpassing the previous year’s staggering 1,500,000,000,000 dollars (one trillion five hundred billion dollars).

travel shopping industry

Range of special activities

These figures paint an interesting picture for travel retail, as the number of travellers grows every year, as does the total spend. Tax-free shopping helps to quantify the dimension of shopping tourism from markets outside Europe, especially when it comes to outlets, as the price factor is particularly appealing. Shopping is of course not confined to airports or malls and has become a key part of the travel experience.

VIA Outlets is in a good position to capitalize on this dynamic and expanding market segment with its eleven outlet centers, which are strategically located at the gateway of many of Europe’s most exciting destinations. Apart from getting the basics of a great shopping experience right–offering a wide range of high-quality brands, an extensive food and beverage offering, leisure areas for children and adults and aesthetics that inspire as well as encourage exploration of the retail offer–VIA Outlets undertakes a range of activities specifically targeted at tourists. For example, we continuously add facilities that purposely cater to tourists’ needs, such as shuttle bus services from and to city centers, as well as added-value services such as tax refund facitlies for guests from overseas and lounges for VIPs.

Shopping, like travel, is all about creating an experience that is unique and unrepeatable from place to place. Real integration of shopping in the travel experience means making retail accessible, locally relevant and convenient. To this end, our vision is to recreate, in an appealing way, each center’s regional architecture, decor, culture and history to differentiate our shopping destinations from our competitors’, and make it available, vivid and present throughout the travel journey–all with the aim of capturing the experience economy. We call this a “beautifully local” experience.

Beyond the mere act of buying

Broadly speaking, shopping tourism is undoubtedly an economic engine that drives direct and indirect employment, revenue and benefits for destinations. The mere concept is a combination of two global industries able to mobilize billions of euros. As we see it, shopping tourism is a transversal segment that interacts with other sectors, products and services, both in travel and retail as well as a number of other industries.

Fashion, just like travel, resonates with consumers’ aspirations and lifestyles, and this is the quintessence of the experience economy. The travel industry has experienced this transformation, from location to experience, long before retail; in fact, travellers’ choices have a deep, relevant, aspirational element, tied to emotions, that shopping also provides. That is why we see shopping tourism as a powerful combination, able to increase revenue for retailers, as well as boost longer stays, higher spending and loyalty ratios for destinations.

Moreover, shopping tourism goes beyond the mere act of buying: it starts at the very moment a traveller picks a certain destination, continues throughout their trip in different contexts, and even evokes that experience once they return home. Interestingly, according to the latest Duty Free World Council (DFWC) KPI Monitor, 75 percent of shoppers plan their purchases prior to their travels, and while the majority–52 percent–of shoppers who plan their purchases do so with a general idea of what they will buy, the remaining 23 percent plan their purchases with a specific product or brand in mind. So, being in the forefront of the traveller’s mind right from the inspiration and planning process is vital for all parties involved in this segment.

A diversification engine

What these figures demonstrate is that to really harness shopping tourism potential, travel and retail should work together. Shopping tourism is the result of the development, growth and evolution of the travel industry and travellers, who are eager to enjoy destinations from a local perspective. It is a global economic driver for both emerging and well-established destinations, that involves and requires the collaboration of players in both the travel and retail industry, as well as other economic sectors and public entities. Working together, we can create a compelling concept that truly reflects what makes a destination unique and appealing to travellers around the world.

travel shopping industry

Besides becoming one of the key motivators for travellers when choosing a place to visit, shopping tourism is also a strong, sustainable development force for destinations, which is able to contribute to local employment, businesses and the wider economy. It is a diversification engine for both retail or travel. For retail players, travellers revitalize demand and their visits to malls, urban shopping areas and outlets force innovation in products and services to really make a difference in our value proposition, helping to align our shopping experience with the idiosyncrasies of each location and providing a wide range of guest services, adapted to both locals’ and travellers’ needs and expectations.

Boosting the local economy

For destinations, hotels and travel agents, it poses an opportunity to recreate new experiences that are able to drive business and stays, attract alternative and more profitable inbound markets and ensure recurring visitations; but also to reorganize saturated urban destinations and boost the local economy from a long-term perspective. The stronger the shopping destination appeal of a location, region or country, the more visitors will come, and the less the area will be exposed to seasonality.

The most important challenge we face as travel and retail players, is that we have to ensure that travellers and their experiences are at the center of any strategy. Shopping tourism involves a wide range of companies, institutions and public bodies that need to understand each other’s goals, needs and dynamics to really develop shopping tourism to its full potential.

At VIA Outlets, we assumed such a commitment implies working hand-in-hand with the travel industry to develop shopping tourism destinations–as we are currently doing from Mallorca to Gothenburg, from Lisbon to Prague, from Zweibrücken to Landquart–and create industry standards that contribute to achieving this goal. We foster collaborative agreements with hotel companies as well as national and local accommodation associations through our tourism department to leverage natural synergies between travel and retail sectors, right across the travel value chain that have proven successful for all parties. In 2019, we further enhanced our capabilities in this field by hiring dedicated sales representatives in some of our largest non-European customer markets, notably China, the Middle East and Brazil. Our efforts proved successful as we saw a significant increase in tax free sales, amounting to a total increase of 17 percent. The figures were even stronger in especially strong tourist destinations such as Amsterdam and Lisbon, with figures at Batavia Stad Fashion Outlet and Freeport Lisboa Fashion Outlet seeing increases in this metric by 21 and 29 percent respectively.

One thing is certain: shopping is definitively becoming more important in travel spends, a trend that, combined with the outlet sector’s highly commercial force, offers a myriad of opportunities for destinations, investors, retailers, tourists and local guests alike.

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Kaufland is now also launching its marketplaces in Poland and Austria. The launch is planned for late summer. /// credit: Kaufland

Kaufland Marketplace Expands To Poland And Austria

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International Conference On Shopping Center & Mall Management, Antalya, Türkiye /// Nov 12-13, 2024

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Fixing Travel

Travel's back, baby.

Borders are opening. Bags are packed. Planes are full of excited travelers and hotels are bustling. It’s official: travel is recovering.

By the end of 2021, the global travel industry recovered more than 50% of its gross activity compared to pre-pandemic levels. And, if recovery continues along the same trajectory, it could reach 85% by the end of 2022. Compare that to things just two years ago, when travel went from an all-time high to an all-time low of only 5% of expected volumes overnight. Not bad.

But as travel returns, the way it’s sold is also back under the microscope. Because after two years of doing almost everything online, consumers expect better. We asked 2,000 people from around the world how buying travel compares to buying goods, services, and experiences in other industries. This is what they told us.

People want to travel more than anything

Travel is the most eagerly anticipated thing to do in 2022. More than getting fresh kicks. More than going for pizza with friends. More than rocking out at Glastonbury.

People will do almost anything it takes to get away. You’d be surprised at what they’re willing to sacrifice for a holiday.

But buying travel is not so fun

There’s a word for someone who doesn’t like going on vacation. No, not that word (it’s “homebody”). They’re pretty rare though because our research shows that 93% of travelers find traveling either enjoyable or very enjoyable.

Although almost everyone likes being on holiday, the travel shopping experience itself is not sparking joy. And when you hone in on the US — the world’s biggest travel region — the data paints a stark picture. Almost half (43%) of US travelers do not enjoy booking travel. If 43% of the world’s largest travel region are unhappy, the industry has a major problem.

There's a wide experience gap

The experience gap between shopping for travel and actually traveling is noticeably wide. Elsewhere, consumers find the buying experience closer to the joy of what they’re actually getting, like physical goods, electronics, and clothing.

And don't just blame the boomers

It’s easy to assume only tech-wary generations fear booking travel. Unfortunately not. Lots of different age brackets and traveler types aren’t enjoying it. Even digital natives Gen Z, who are the most tech-savvy and comfortable buying everything and anything online.

Shopping should be easier

People aren’t enjoying travel shopping because it’s too complicated. Especially when compared to other items they book or buy every day.

Travel isn’t making it into the top three easiest buying experiences:

  • Booking a restaurant online
  • Buying clothes online
  • Browsing and buying electronic/physical goods online

Can’t build trip

Overcomplicated, too many ads and too much info for each search. Too much hassle to build a trip — instead of asking when you want to go, from where, where you want to stay, for how long, you almost need to book the flights in order to go to the next step.

No combined deals

Why are there no combined (Hotel+flight) deals showing on the new app. I can only click on them separately.

Makes an already stressful operation even more so. The forms do not remember information as you traverse back and forth through the journey. Constantly bombarded about seat selection, along with vague wording on the final screen suggestion you need to select a seat to take a cabin bag. UX is a joke.

Don’t follow their predictions

I was very happy at first and thought this app suggested will save me money! But prices of tickets increased and I lost money!!! Plus. The current prices are always way overpriced compared to other travel apps!

Even travel agencies agree

Our travel agency customers agree that selling travel should be a lot simpler, and that modernizing travel retailing will help them sell more.

Three-quarters (74%) of agents we surveyed agree that buying and selling could be simplified. And 86% of agents agree that modernizing will help them sell more.

It has become so time-consuming that I am having to turn new business away. Right now, I’m their doctor, therapist, attorney and insurance agent along with their travel advisor.

travel shopping industry

Holly Lombardo, of Holly Lombardo Travel in Atlanta on selling travel in a pandemic

Source: travelweekly.com

Comparison is complex

The lack of transparency when comparing offers is driving complexity in travel. Sure, travel has price comparison sites just like any other industry. But choosing the right deal is about so much more than price, and that’s what makes it harder.

Families (the largest cohort of respondents, at 42%) find comparing offers especially complex. And let’s face it, they have enough on their hands.

One-third of families find it difficult and time-consuming to compare offers when searching and booking flights and hotels. So it’s no wonder that a quarter (23%) of families don’t enjoy looking for and booking trips.

Of families find comparing offers difficult and time consuming

Other industries make it easier.

Retailing greats like Amazon help customers make decisions by showing products in a like-for-like way. They aren’t afraid to give them all the information, and let them choose.

Comparing travel products is unfortunately seen more akin to evaluating mortgage or car insurance options. And who wants to be known for being time-consuming, stressful, and bamboozling consumers? That’s why, on average, travelers visit a whopping 38 sites before booking a trip.

The verdict is: nontransparent = more complicated = less fun. Poor comparison options also add to the feeling of ‘hidden costs’, which erodes trust — and 60% of customers think travel isn’t up front enough.

Fashion proves one size doesn't fit all

People think the travel industry is poor at remembering their preferences and sending personalized offers based on their booking history.

Some retailers know their customers inside out. And they know how to target them too. Major fashion retailers like Shein, Zara, or ASOS reject the one-size-fits-all approach, and instead tailor ads and use hyper-personalization to capture customers by preferences, buying history, and individual style. But travel isn’t measuring up to that standard.

The digital experience needs an update

Other industries have steamed ahead of travel in terms of simplicity and innovation. Customer expectations have changed, and they’re getting more sophisticated every day. The travel industry, on the other hand, has even slipped behind banking in how people perceive its innovation. Yep, even less innovative than banking.

Customers are putting up with bad retailing experiences, because they love being on vacation. That’s a risky situation. All it takes is one disruptor to move in on travel’s blind spot to pose a real threat to the industry. Just look at how banking and finance have had to scramble to react to new competitors like Revolut and Venmo.

Booking business travel is behind leisure

Business travelers are still travelers. They expect the same experience when booking corporate travel as booking a vacation. But they aren’t getting it. 87% say booking business travel should be as easy as booking a holiday. But 42% say it’s actually more difficult.

Our travel agency customers recognize that change is needed, and agree that retailing standards should be similar across both leisure and corporate travel. 82% of corporate travel agents say modern digital retailing and customer experience applies to business travel as well as leisure travel.

(*Emphasis on the ‘should be’. 42% say it’s actually more difficult)

Only Agencies Can Fix Retailing

Travel retailing needs an upgrade, but who’s going to do it? Our view is: travel agencies are the only players in the market that are truly capable of delivering the modern retailing standards that other industries thrive on. And here’s why.

Convenience is crucial

People want a travel shopping experience where they can search and book everything in one place. That’s why agencies are best placed to be the drivers of innovation in our industry, and become truly modern travel retailers.

45% of respondents would prefer to book an entire trip through one website, one that offers choice of airlines, hotels, car hire companies, and extras. In particular, the youngest generation of travelers want agencies to step up their retailing game. 50% of Gen Z would prefer to book an entire trip through one website.

Choice beats price

Customers don’t want the cheapest option. Their main concern is seeing everything on offer. And the truth is, only travel agencies have the breadth of choice to deliver real retailing. They can offer more than any one airline or hotel website can.

Ready to retail

Travel agencies know their unique value in the retailing challenge. And they’re ready to build on that value by modernizing the way they sell.

Three building blocks for modern retailing

Wider breadth of choice.

Travelers fear not seeing everything on offer. They want options, lots of options. The way to reassure them they’re not being duped is to have the breadth of content needed to build trust.

That’s not just the cheapest fares, it’s the best fares, the most suitable fares, the most convenient fares, and the ones people will actually buy, all in one place. In travel retailing, choice is everything.

Modernized merchandising

Matching the right product to the right consumer quickly, easily, and transparently means redesigning merchandising. Travel must move beyond tweaking every screen to earn an extra cent, and sell at the right time with booking tools that are simpler than the standard, confusing series of forms and tables.

The most successful retailers sell the sizzle, not the steak. Travel can drive an emotional lift with visuals like reuniting with family, meeting colleagues face-to-face, or sipping a piña colada by the pool.

Customer centricity

Repeat business depends on making customers happy. But travel brands tend to specialize in one step of the journey, rather than delivering across the full trip. That means missed opportunities to improve the experience pre-trip, in-trip, and post-trip.

You don’t need a points-based loyalty program — it’s about finding ways to connect, inspire, and impress. Optimizing and automating with self-service, data, and insights can both reduce costs and improve customer experience — but avoid trade-offs between those goals.

The reward for retailing

The benchmark of successful modern retailing is true loyalty and repeat business. By restoring clarity, confidence, and fun to travel shopping, we can grow trust and improve the way travel is perceived compared to other industries.

Whether looking at better content, modern merchandising, or more customer centricity, the focus must be on delivering lifetime value. This is the path to better, longer-term relationships with customers and breaking the cycle of re-acquisition which plagues the entire travel industry.

The industry was once seen as a retailing pioneer — in fact, flight tickets were the first items to be sold online. And travel can be a leader once again. But we need to learn from outside our comfort zone and take lessons from retailing greats in other industries. And we need to sell to customers in the way they want and expect.

Retailing elsewhere is constantly advancing. If travel businesses that don’t follow suit, we’ll be left behind for good. We’ve got a unique opportunity in having the dream product to sell, and people who are desperate to buy it. So, let’s get out of our own way, and sell it right.

travel shopping industry

Methodology

This research was undertaken in conjunction with Toluna Corporate Insights, to investigate traveler sentiment around the ease of travel shopping compared to other industries. We surveyed over 2000 people from different demographics across seven different countries including the US, UK, Australia, Hong Kong, India, Singapore, and the United Arab Emirates.

Travel agency sentiment was also measured through Travelport’s Customer Voice portal. Travel recovery data and predictions are based on MIDT data.

App store reviews are taken from various travel brands’ apps on the iOS App Store and anonymized for this report.

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Ask a Travel Nerd: Why Is Comparing Travel Prices Still So Hard?

Sam Kemmis

Many or all of the products featured here are from our partners who compensate us. This influences which products we write about and where and how the product appears on a page. However, this does not influence our evaluations. Our opinions are our own. Here is a list of our partners and here's how we make money .

Traveling means confronting dozens of problems that our seemingly advanced civilization should have solved by now.

Are those overhead bins really the best way to store carry-ons? Are lockboxes the safest way to transfer Airbnb keys? And do we still have to take off our shoes at U.S. airports in the interests of national security?

Yet one frustration is so persistent it has even caught the attention of the Biden administration: Comparing real prices between travel products remains nearly impossible. The buzzword surrounding this is called “junk fees,” yet the fees themselves are only part of the problem. The real issue is this: No third-party booking service has devised a way to compare the real price of a flight, hotel room or rental car to show you which one is actually the cheapest.

It makes sense that travel providers themselves are reluctant to disclose the total cost of their products. In 2023, airlines collected $117.9 billion in “ancillary fees” according to a report from CarTrawler and IdeaWorksCompany. That’s roughly the annual gross domestic product of Ecuador, according to World Bank estimates. Airlines aren’t about to give up an Ecuador’s worth of revenue to make your life easier.

What makes less sense is why third-party search engines like Google Flights , Expedia and Kayak haven’t solved this problem yet. They could display the total cost of a flight or other travel booking yet, for some reason, they don’t.

What gives?

Not rocket science or even advanced aeronautics

When shopping for airfare, I want to know the total price given my preferences. These include:

Checked bags. 

Seat assignments. 

Refundability. 

Mileage earning. 

For example, I might want to search flights between Los Angeles and San Francisco, given that I expect to bring one carry-on and one checked bag, and select an aisle seat. I also want to be able to cancel my ticket for a full refund and to earn full frequent flyer miles . Oh, and I’ll drink a Diet Coke in-flight.

But on most third-party search tools, I am presented with results that mean almost nothing. The lowest fare is usually offered by a budget airline that will tack on huge fees for everything listed above. For example, Frontier Airlines typically adds $157 in fees each way, according to a recent analysis by NerdWallet , while Alaska Airlines adds $30 each way. The exact number will depend on my preferences and which fees I’m willing to stomach.

(Frontier currently charges $4.39 for a Diet Coke, if you were curious).

This isn’t a difficult problem to solve. Surely Google has the engineering to customize its Google Flights search results. Yet it won’t even let you filter by basic economy fares, nevermind search for total prices, including add-on fees.

An enormous opportunity

Third-party booking platforms aren’t exactly small potatoes. The global online travel agency market was valued at $519.1 billion in 2021, according to a report by Grand View Research. That’s more than four Ecuadors.

If just one of these platforms could solve the price opacity problem, it would cause a seismic shift in the industry. Imagine if you could go somewhere that actually told you how much your flight, hotel and car rental were going to cost while you were searching, instead of after a lengthy checkout process.

The weirdest part of this problem is that greed can’t explain it all. Sure, travel platforms are incentivized to show the lowest price during shopping and tack on more fees later. But booking platforms’ interests should be aligned with us, the shoppers.

For example, when looking for rooms on Hotels.com, the search results page shows the “base” cost of the booking before add-ons like resort fees . Yes, it also displays the total cost, but it doesn't let users filter or order results by this more meaningful result. If a hotel costs $100 yet adds a mandatory $50 resort fee, it will appear before a hotel that costs $125 with no resort fee when ordered by price. That’s ludicrous.

Nobody cares about the base price. It doesn’t mean anything. Why are we still seeing it in search results?

Here’s what to do (for now)

All the bellyaching in the world won’t make things better. So what can we budget-minded travelers do in a world of meaningless prices?

The best thing to do is determine which airlines and fare classes match your travel preferences. For example, if you travel light and don’t care about refunds, seat assignments or Diet Cokes, you’re probably fine using the base price listed on search pages like Google Flights’.

However, if you tend to travel with bags or care about these other features, you need to do a little homework. Compare the “total cost” of a fare given everything you would want to the “base fare” on the airlines you most often consider. The only way to do this is to follow through to checkout on several fares. You want to see what your own personal markup is for each airline. For example, maybe you add $80 each way when flying Spirit Airlines but only $20 on Delta Air Lines.

If you’re a nerd like me, you’ll create a spreadsheet with these markups for each airline. Then, when comparing prices on a search result page, you’ll want to add those markups to the base price. That way you can see the total cost (given your preferences) on each airline. And you won’t have to go through the entire checkout process each time you compare prices.

Does that sound like a pain? Well, it is. And until the big online travel booking platforms get their act together, it’s a pain we have to accept.

How to maximize your rewards

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Flexibility, point transfers and a large bonus: Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card

No annual fee: Bank of America® Travel Rewards credit card

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Business travelers: Ink Business Preferred® Credit Card

On a similar note...

travel shopping industry

UN Tourism | Bringing the world closer

Shopping Tourism

Product Development

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Shopping Tourism

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Shopping Tourism is becoming an increasingly relevant component of the tourism value chain. Shopping has converted into a determinant factor affecting destination choice, an important component of the overall travel experience and, in some cases the prime travel motivation. Destinations have thus an immense opportunity to leverage this new market trend by developing authentic and unique shopping experiences that add value to their touristic offer while reinforcing, and even, defining their tourism brand and positioning.

More importantly, shopping is one of the major categories of tourists’ expenditure, representing a significant source of income for national economies both directly and through the many linkages to other sectors in the economy. 

Shopping Tourism

  2nd UNWTO Conference on Shopping Tourism   1st UNWTO Conference on Shopping Tourism

Affiliate Members Global Report, Volume 8 – Global Report on Shopping Tourism

Affiliate Members Global Report, Volume 8 – Global Report on Shopping Tourism

UNWTO’s Global Report on Shopping Tourism offers a series of practical guidelines and principles for all destinations interested in developing shopping tourism. The report includes a wide range of case studies by UNWTO Affiliate Members and other tourism stakeholders from around the world.

PRODUCT DEVELOPMENT PROJECTS

  • Shopping Tourism Product Development Project in León, Guanajuato, Mexico The pilot Shopping Tourism Product Development Project in León is carried out with support from the Ministry of Tourism of the State of Guanajuato. The initiative aims to maximize the benefits of tourist activity in the city of León and promote it as a shopping destination, both within Mexico and around the world. The project focuses on several key areas, namely: attracting visitors, the creation of tourism products, the efficient use of tourism attractions and the quality of infrastructure. Alongside these, attention is also given to community involvement in tourism as well as local socio-economic wellbeing and the promotion of employment. With this project and the support of the UNWTO, León aims to position itself as a destination for value-added shopping tourism through innovative experiences in shopping tourism. At the same time, it aims to promote the integration of companies and individuals from different areas in the value chain of tourism and commerce in León and its surroundings (artisans, agriculture, leather, footwear, design, automotive, among others), while stimulating the creation of employment and new opportunities based on the promotion of high value-added shopping tourism and local development.  
  • Madrid Precious Time The pilot project was conducted in the city of Madrid in 2014 in collaboration with the Madrid City Council and the support of the Ministry of Industry, Energy and Tourism of Spain. Major partners included: InnovaTaxfree, Joyerías Suárez, MasterTour Alliance, Microsoft, Meliá, Museo Thyssen, NH Hotels, Roberto Verino, Saborea España, Segittur and the University of Valencia.

Travel Health Index: Asia Pacific Leads as Industry Growth Stabilizes

Saniya Zanpure , Skift

April 4th, 2024 at 11:05 AM EDT

In February 2024, the travel industry maintained positive momentum with 7% year-on-year growth. Transitioning from double-digit growth to single-digits indicates a trend towards stability.

Saniya Zanpure

The travel industry continued to strengthen in February: The Skift Travel Health Index stood at 107, 7% growth over February 2023.

Growth had been in the double-digits and the new levels point to stabilization in the industry.

travel shopping industry

Asia Pacific’s Growth Levels are Normalizing

According to the latest Skift Travel Health Index: February 2024 Highlights , Asia Pacific, which has been on an upward trajectory since early 2023, leads the index.

A key driver of Asia Pacific’s growth is China reopening its borders for travel after three long years. The country started  easing travel restrictions in January 2023 and  fully opened tourism for foreigners  by March 2023. With the full impact of open borders now realized, we’re witnessing a significant uptick in the region’s performance compared to last year.

However, while February 2024 marks a 13% growth for the Asia Pacific region, growth numbers are slightly reducing compared to the previous months, suggesting a stabilizing trend in the region. 

Skift Travel Health Index Score by Region

Vacation Rental Boom is Stabilizing

There is a noticeable softening trend in the performance of vacation rentals. Demand for vacation rentals soared through the pandemic with double-digit growth. However, recent data suggests a deceleration in this growth trajectory, indicating a shift towards moderation in demand levels.

While the sector’s performance remains above pre-pandemic levels, the softening trend aligns with the evolving market dynamics that suggest stabilized growth levels in the post-pandemic travel landscape.

travel shopping industry

For further insights, read the February 2024 Highlights and the Travel Health Index dashboard .

Skift Travel Health Index: February 2024 Highlights

Skift Travel Health Index: February 2024 Highlights

For the first time since the pandemic, we are benchmarking travel performance year-on-year (YoY) in 2024. February 2024 highlights the continued strength of the travel industry this year, with the Skift Travel Health Index at 107, reflecting a 7% growth compared to February 2023.

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Tags: asia pacific , normalization , skift research , skift travel health index , stabilization , vacation rentals

The Professional Hobo

How to Get 50% off Airfare With Travel Mystery Shopping

Last Updated: February 29, 2024

Get 50% off Airfare With TRAVEL MYSTERY SHOPPING

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Want to fly for half price? Or perhaps get a free upgrade to business class ? How about staying in a hotel or resort for free? You might even get paid to visit the buffet! Travel mystery shopping is real, and can be a way to subsidize your travel expenses and travel in Style (which…I like to do).

In this article I will cover the following:

Mystery Shopping Basics

  • Travel Mystery Shopping Details
  • My Experience as an Airline Mystery Shopper / Airline Secret Shopper

How to Qualify and do a Good Job as a Mystery Shopper

Travel secret shopper downsides, mystery shopping tips, mystery shopping scams, mystery shopping for more than travel.

  • Resources for More Information

This one’s another doozy! Sit back, and learn everything you need to know about becoming a mystery shopper.

With travel mystery shopping, you can subsidize travel with free hotels, discounted flights, and much more. Enjoy these mystery shopping tips from personal experience. #FullTimeTravel #TravelPlanning #BudgetTravel #TravelTips #TravelMoneyAdvice #SaveMoneyTraveling #MakingMoneyWhileTraveling #TravelWebsites #TravelTools #FlightSearch #TravelTip #TravelHacks #MysteryShoppingAirfare #MysteryShopping #DiscountAirfare #MysteryShopper

Check out my Travel Lifestyle Guides for more ways to earn money remotely, spend it wisely, and balance the two so you can travel as long as you wish, in a financially sustainable way. 

Companies will use mystery shoppers (also known as secret shoppers, or in “the biz” they’re known as “inspectors”) when they want to perform quality control on their daily operations or understand how employees are behaving under normal circumstances (because of course if the boss is watching, the wheels have extra grease and everybody is in peak performance mode).

So they hire mystery shopping sites and companies who conduct studies to aggregate and report data collected by mystery shoppers.

Cue in you and me.

We go into these places of business on a secret assignment on behalf of the mystery shopping company. Sometimes we need to ask specific questions of employees, or go at a certain time of day, or buy/order a particular item.

We observe everything and fill in a detailed report which we submit to the mystery shopping company. In exchange for our efforts, we receive compensation; compensation can come in the form of a (partial or full) reimbursement, or pay, or both.

Travel Mystery Shopping

I remember meeting a fellow in Amsterdam who was an airline secret shopper for KLM. He flew around the world regularly, in exchange for providing feedback on the experience.

I was mesmerized. I wanted his job! I decided that mystery shopping airlines would be my next career .

So I asked him how to become a mystery flyer. Turns out, of course, it’s not that simple.

His gig was special, as he was employed directly by KLM for his expertise, given that he was also a hotelier and his name and status carried some weight. Even so, he wasn’t making money with this gig; it was just a way to subsidize his flights.

Even though I wouldn’t be able to follow exactly in his footsteps, as luck would have it the following year, I was contacted by a travel mystery shopping company called EvaluateIt by SQM (SQM stands for Sensors Quality Management). They invited me to apply to be a travel mystery shopper for them, and, well…..keep reading.

EvaluateIt by SQM Application to be a mystery shopper

My Experience As an Airline Mystery Shopper / Airline Secret Shopper

In 2014 I flew return from Toronto to Lima (Peru) for a 50% discount, as an SQM secret shopper. Here is my SQM mystery shopping review and experience.

When I signed up as a mystery shopper with EvaluateIt by SQM, I gained access to view available travel mystery shopping assignments, which included airfare around the world, hotels and resorts, long-distance train and bus fares, and more.

To be honest I was a bit ambivalent about becoming a travel mystery shopper; my particular brand of lifestyle travel at the time wasn’t a great fit for the sorts of gigs they had available. And to be honest, even after my friend’s KLM testimony, I still wasn’t entirely sure that it was legit. It almost seemed too good to be true.

See also: Here are the Most Common Travel Scams, and How to Avoid Them

I received email notifications when new assignments or categories of assignments became available, so I didn’t have to lurk the site all the time. (Although if you are serious about mystery shopper travel, then check the site regularly since they tend to send email blasts only when they have special deals or are having trouble filling all the mystery shopper jobs. Many of their opportunities sell out fast from being in-demand and/or high-season.)

Finally, a flight shopper assignment came up that was perfect for me given my planned trip to Peru , so I applied for it.

Once approved, I paid EvaluateIt by SQM directly for the tickets (which is not always the case; in many other instances you book the travel directly with the airline/hotel/transportation provider/etc and get reimbursed).

I had to pay full price for the tickets; you receive the 50% reimbursement only after the mystery shopping assignment is complete and the report has been submitted and accepted.

You might also be interested in: 46 Hidden Travel Costs You Can Avoid

Mystery Shopping Airfare: What I Had to Do

Although not totally onerous, I did earn my airfare reimbursement.

Prior to flying, I printed out a 5-page detailed questionnaire. I also saved an electronic copy of my boarding pass, which would eventually be submitted with the report/questionnaire.

Although the actual report was submitted online after the fact, I found it necessary to work off the printed sheets during the flight due to the level of detailed observation required. (And of course, none of the airline staff can see the questionnaire or know that you’re a mystery shopper, so I had to work as discreetly as possible).

Within three days of taking the flight, I went online and submitted the questionnaire and my boarding pass.

Had I booked a one-way flight, I’d have received the 50% reimbursement from EvaluateIt by SQM after submitting the report. But because I booked a return flight, I didn’t receive reimbursement until I had completed the last leg of the trip and submitted the corresponding report.

What’s Covered in the Mystery Shopping Questionnaire

The mystery shopping questionnaire required me to evaluate all aspects of my flight experience, including boarding and pre-departure, cabin service, duty free service, cabin crew grooming, food and beverage, cabin environment, irregular situations (like delays), pre landing, and after landing.

Each category had 10-20 yes/no questions, and space for a (required) overall rating and detailed explanation of notes pertaining to that category.

It’s a pretty serious undertaking to be honest! Though rumour has it that the more you mystery shop, the easier it gets because you know what to look for.

Would I Fly as a Mystery Shopper Again?

Yes. EvaluateIt by SQM has offered lots of long-haul mystery shopping airfares around the world over the years. To get a 50% discount off these flights is huge value, and even the requirements of a detailed report represent great value when you consider the savings.

While it has been quite a few years since my initial airline mystery shopping experience, I’ve remained on the lookout for opportunities. Again because of the nature of my travel lifestyle, compatibility has been an issue. But now that I have a home base in Toronto , there are more opportunities for me to jump on.

In addition to flights, EvaluateIt by SQM currently has lots of bus rides, train journeys, and some big hotel chains that require mystery shoppers. Within the next year alone I hope to mystery shop some epic train trips and stay in a few swanky hotels – all heavily discounted (or even free, and sometimes with pay as well).

(For other free or subsidized travel gigs, see: The Creative Guide to Free or Cheap Accommodation )

Flying over downtown Toronto, with Mystery Shopping Airfare

You need to be a detail-oriented person for mystery shopping. The report I filled out was quite involved, and required me to observe and evaluate every single aspect of the flight.

In some ways it was a hassle; for example instead of just enjoying my meal, I had to note every aspect of what I was served, the temperature, quality, etc. And I’m no Instagrammer, but I had to pretend to be one and take pictures of everything too!

Although the value received from mystery shopping airfare is huge, there’s no doubt about the fact that mystery shopping is work, and it’s important to take it seriously.

And it all starts with the application process. Not everybody is accepted to be a mystery shopper, and applications are scrutinized. It’s important to use full sentences, and scour the instructions to ensure you are answering the interview questions exactly as directed.

As stated on the SQM website:

“SQM seeks mature, reliable, detail-oriented people to take advantage of these opportunities. Successful applicants will have a critical eye for detail, an excellent memory, and a proven ability to follow instructions.”

Even if your application is accepted, you may not qualify for some of the mystery shopping jobs, which require a further comprehension test to illustrate that you understand everything about that particular mystery shopping assignment and can complete it to a satisfactory level.

Every rose has a few thorns, and below are some of the thorny details of travel mystery shopping.

Mystery Shopping Is Best Done Solo

Most mystery shopper airlines only allow one mystery shopper per flight. The same applies to most transportation gigs as well (eg: buses and trains). So if you are traveling with a partner, you can both apply for the mystery shopping assignment and travel on separate days; otherwise one partner will pay full price for their ticket to be on the same flight/bus/train as you, and you may or may not be able to sit together.

It’s also worth noting that when you’re “on the clock”, it requires an immense amount of concentration and observation, and traveling with somebody by your side may distract you from doing the best possible job.

The same isn’t necessarily true for hotels or restaurant mystery shopping gigs though; it’s important to see what is required before applying for the job, so you can determine how best to arrange your travel.

No Frequent Flyer Miles

As a frequent flyer mile junkie, I take pride in accumulating miles whenever I have to pay for a flight. So it was slightly painful to fly and not be allowed to use my frequent flyer memberships.

But of course, my pain was assuaged with the 50% discount, so I can’t complain (too much).

(See also: A Beginner’s Guide to Frequent Flyer Miles )

Mystery Shopper, woman wearing sunglasses with shopping bags

From evaluating gigs, to making your job easy, these mystery shopping tips will graduate you from amateur to pro in no time:

Only Accept Jobs You’d Normally Do (Without Pay/Reimbursement)

Remember: mystery shopping is work. It’s not a free ride! So while I’m all for applying for mystery shopping gigs that perhaps aren’t in the budget if I had to pay full-price, they need to be for experiences or products that I would like to be a legitimate customer for to begin with. Otherwise, in my opinion, it’s just not worth it.

Let’s take a non-travel-related mystery shopping experience, like eating at a certain restaurant. If you would never want to eat there in the first place, why on earth would you waste your time and energy in exchange for $X towards a meal (and maybe an extra few dollars)?

You can’t make a living with mystery shopping; at best it’s a side hustle. (At best.)

Join a Mystery Shopping Company that Resonates for You

When I was in Japan , I was encouraged by a colleague of mine to sign up as a shopper for a mystery shopping company she worked for. I didn’t even take the time to see what sorts of gigs they offered, nor was the pre-application information particularly helpful.

Once I got into the system, I realized that all of the gigs were for stores I’d never shop at and to purchase items I’d never buy if left to my own devices. Even with full reimbursement, it wasn’t worthwhile for me.

Mystery shopping needs to be for something that interests you. Why? (Hopefully you’re following the theme I’m leaning into here)…. because it’s work .

Once You Do Join, be Patient

Opportunities come and go with mystery shopping companies. It depends on who their clients are at any given time. So even if you don’t see something you like right away, don’t rule them out.

In my years with EvaluateIt by SQM, I’ve seen a variety of travel secret shopper gigs with a few different airline mystery shopper jobs, bus rides, train journeys , car rental companies, hotel chains, and more. Sometimes they won’t have any gigs of interest for years, and other times there will be so many compatible opportunities you’ll have to prioritize among them.

Book in Advance

Only one mystery shopper is allowed per flight, so it pays to book mystery shopping airfare as far in advance as possible.

If you’re so on the ball that the website is not showing opportunities for dates that far out, they may just not have it up on the site yet, but will need shoppers. You can reach out directly to them to see what’s possible.

Get a Discounted Discount, or a Free Upgrade

When I flew with EvaluateIt by SQM, the particular gig I selected was a flight that offered a 50% discount off the retail cost of the flight. The airline at that time also happened to be offering a seat sale, which meant I got a 50% discount off a sale rate, which added up to a pretty spectacular deal overall.

Also, I have noticed that sometimes, EvaluateIt by SQM has offered a free upgrade to business class in addition to or instead of the 50% reimbursement. This is why it’s important to read the periodic emails they send out; you never know what’s on offer!

Calculate the Monetary Value in Relation to the Work Required

Higher priced items (like business class flights) require a more detailed report, but they also tend to yield a higher financial reward, even if that reward is in the form of reimbursement. For example, saving 50% on an $800 flight is well worth filling in a detailed mystery shopping questionnaire (in my opinion).

In order to properly evaluate and calculate the value of a mystery shopping assignment, it is important to scour the instructions and information about the assignment. Sometimes, you can find an example report so you can see the scope and detail of questions that will be asked. This will help you decide if it’s worth your time and energy.

Screenshot/Save Your Questionnaire

If you’re filling in your mystery shopping report online from chicken-scratched notes such that the online submission is your only full copy, take a screenshot of each page as you complete it, or better yet, copy and paste each written answer into a separate document.

It’s better to be safe than sorry, trust me ! Because of a poor internet connection when I arrived in Peru, I lost everything I had painstakingly transcribed and entered into the system and had to redo it from scratch.

Use an Online Fax Service

You may be required to fax your receipts or other documents to the mystery shopping company. I know right? Who even has fax machines any more?!

The good news is there are free programs (like Fax Zero ) that allow you to send faxes from an email address. Alternately, you may be able to find an app that does the same thing. (See also: Best Travel Apps )

Fancy Hotel Bathroom, which you can get for free with mystery shopping

If a mystery shopping assignment or company seems too good to be true, that’s because sometimes, it is. Mystery shopping scams exist. Here’s what you need to know.

See also: 24 Classic Travel Scams

Mystery Shopping Fee Scams

There should never be a fee to join a mystery shopping company, or apply for a specific assignment.

In many cases, you may have to purchase your item/tickets up front, since you may be evaluating all aspects of the customer experience, starting with the purchase. That’s (usually) legit. And yes, it can be a leap of faith that you’ll be reimbursed you when the time comes. That’s another reason why it’s important to only do mystery shopping gigs that you would normally do anyway (as explained above in the mystery shopping tips).

In other cases, you may be purchasing the tickets directly from the mystery shopping company. This is what happened when I was an airline mystery shopper for EvaluateIt by SQM; I paid them directly for my flights, and I paid full price. But if that makes you nervous, consider that when you pay with a credit card , you are protected by the credit card issuer and if it turns out to be a scam (which it won’t with EvaluateIt by SQM), you will have recourse.

Cheque Cashing Scam

There has recently been a mystery shopping scam going around for cheque cashing. The “mystery shopping company” sends you a cheque (for example $800) that you deposit to your account using a service like Western Union. Then you are instructed to wire only a portion of those funds (eg.: $500) back to the mystery shopping company; you are allowed to keep the rest as your “mystery shopping fee”.

Trouble is, you have to wire them the funds immediately, before the initial cheque clears. And of course, the cheque is bogus so it never clears. You’ve just been scammed for all that money.

Email scams are everywhere. Whether an email looks like it is coming from your bank, or your mystery shopping company, or any other institution, if you have to click on something within the email and provide any personal information, treat it with great suspicion.

Better to open up your browser and log directly into your profile and find out the scoop. In general, don’t click on (unsolicited) email links.

The MSPA (Mystery Shopper Provider’s Association keeps a running tally of scams that have been reported to them. Check it out here .

Mystery Shoppers with Shopping Bags in Quebec Chateau Frontenac boardwalk

EvaluateIt by SQM offers solely travel-related mystery shopping opportunities such as flights, transportation, hotels, and resorts. And all their gigs are solely discount opportunities.

But EvaluateIt is a subsidiary of a larger parent company: SQM , which has a much broader selection of mystery shopping opportunities, including everything EvaluateIt offers, plus restaurants, oil changes, massages, haircuts, gym memberships, banking, clothing, attractions, parking, and more.

Some of these opportunities work on a reimbursement basis (like EvaluateIt) and/or might include a shopper fee – which means you’re actually paid (anything from $5-$100) for performing the mystery shopping assignment in addition to being reimbursed for your related purchases/expenses. The more complicated the assignment, the more you’re paid.

SQM also has a couple of travel-related mystery shopping hotel gigs that provide a free stay plus a shopper fee. Because there is pay involved, you won’t find them on the EvaluateIt site.

Thus, if you are only interested in travel mystery shopping, sign up for EvaluateIt by SQM .

If you want to see the above gigs, plus other non-travel-related opportunities (and the odd paid travel assignment), then sign up for SQM.

But just to be clear, you will never get rich with mystery shopping alone.

Check out the resources below to find other providers.

Mystery Shopping Resources

Coyle Hospitality – While there are many mystery shopping companies, I mention Coyle specifically because they offer some great hotel gigs, as well as cruises, some airlines, and upscale restaurants. All assignments pay a fee plus reimbursable expenses as directed by the client. I don’t know what is required of the mystery shopper to understand how good a deal it is (or isn’t).

Mystery Shopper Providers Association – You can search for mystery shopper companies in your area (though not all will be listed, because the association requires a fee for listing). They also aggregate some specific mystery shopping listings on their job board, keep a tally of scams, and provide some tools and tips.

Here's how to get free and discounted travel with mystery shopping! #freetravel #cheaptravel #mysteryshopping #freeflights #freehotels #TheProfessionalHobo #traveltips #travelhacks

46 thoughts on “How to Get 50% off Airfare With Travel Mystery Shopping”

How did Air Canada fare? I hear that their international flights are ok, but that’s hard to believe considering the horror that many of their domestic flights can be sometimes!

Frank – It was a pretty nice experience! But I’ll also admit I was in business class, which is rarely a bad thing… 😉

Sounds like a good deal for a little bit of work, comparatively and some trip strategy. Thanks for sharing.

Hey Shawn – For the amount saved on long-haul airfare, it’s definitely worth the effort!

I do a fair bit of mystery shopping myself but I’ve never seen one for flights, especially international – although I live in Australia which may reduce the opportunities. I got to drive a Porsche recently as a mystery shopper and I was well paid for that one : )

Hi Angus, Living in Australia, you can take advantage of flights to Canada I believe, with EvaluateIt by SQM. Check it out! And you drove a Porsche…and got paid? Poor you! 😉

Thanks Nora. Yes, poor me. Actually I got to drive two porsches in one day and got paid $350 for my trouble. I’ll definitely look into the flights

Thanks for this article! I signed up and started looking through assignments. I’m based in Seattle, which complicates things, but Vancouver is close enough. I actually do want round trip tickets, but I don’t see anywhere that has the option, or maybe I’m just not noticing something. I’m sure it takes a while to figure out the site. 🙂 Anyway, thanks again!

Hi Tracie, The flights as they’re listed on the site are one-way, but chances are you’ll find another listing for the return trip if you look. It does take a wee bit to get used to. Happy (discounted) traveling! 🙂

Nora, i have been waiting for your opinion/response to your adventure….this is perfect for the travel i do and next is a min rtw ….thanks to you i shall try for an assignment…thank you so much.

Awesome, Lee – enjoy your trip and mystery shopping experiences!

i wanted to ask, if the company assigns you a coach seat will they allow you to pay the cost of an upgrade to prem economy or even business class?

Hello Nora Going to indulge myself this evening and read about your experiences in Peru. Had a superb time myself last year together with Bolivia. Do you have any experience with travel in Uruguay – two months for me later in the year? Must look into mystery shopping sites in the UK, sounds a good idea. Love your site. Pamela x

Hi Pamela, Happy reading! I haven’t been to Bolivia or Uruguay, but I hear amazing things about both places. Soon enough….enjoy Uruguay!

Hi Nora, Would you have any advice for a mystery shopping company who is looking for International shoppers – namely Lima, Peru, right now…?

Jamie Giles Project & Social Media Coordinator Mercantile Systems, Inc. jamieg[at]mercsystems[dot]com

Hi Jamie, To clarify, are you looking for mystery shoppers IN Lima? Are they travel-related opportunities, or standard mystery shopping gigs?

Hi Nora. I’m looking for someone IN Lima or someone already planning on traveling there in June/July. We have an overnight hotel stay/shop that we need a shopper for. 🙂

Hello Nora Would you please delete my details from your database? Many thanks for all your past blogs which I have found so interesting. Best wishes and happy travelling. Pamela

Hi Pamela, I’m assuming you’re referring to my monthly newsletter…..to which I’ve unsubscribed you. Thanks for reading!

I think this is fantastic! Now I just have to figure out how I can get back to Canada to take advantage of one of these flights. Air Canada flies a lot out of Seoul, so maybe I can find a return from Seoul to Canada, on their parent website. I’ll be checking it out.

Hi Nancie – Indeed, not all flights need to originate from Canada….you can fly TO Canada using Evaluate It by SQM as well! Happy Mystery Shopping….

I’m so happy to have discovered you!

I’ve been wondering more about your financial picture. You’ve described yourself as having worked in the financial planning world prior to you becoming a “hobo.” Do you have a back-up chunk of change that you dip into periodically when things don’t unfold as hoped? Or are you rather living on whatever you generate via this great site? I know such questions are considered socially inappropriate by many, but such questions burn in the minds of everyone.

Much interest, Lesley

Hi Lesley, Quite the contrary! On my site I divulge all things financial, including how much money I earn (and how I earn it), and also how much money it costs me to travel full-time. You’ll find the last few years’ stats on this page: https://www.theprofessionalhobo.com/travel-tips-resources/

And to answer your question about savings, yes – I do have a modest savings, but no, I haven’t needed to touch it in my travels. I travel full-time in a financially sustainable way, and you can learn more about how I do that here: https://www.theprofessionalhobo.com/how-to-travel-full-time-in-a-financially-sustainable-way/

Hi Nora/All,

Does anyone know of an equivalent to Evaluate It by SQM for airlines based in Australasia/Middle East?

Cheers, Benson

Hi Benson, Here’s a listing of a bunch of worldwide mystery shopping companies – many of which feature travel opportunities. Maybe you can find something here:

Hi Guys, I am based in Europe, do you know of something similar for Airlines based here? Or even US Airlines flying to Europe?

Hi Simka, If you’re looking to get from the US to Europe and you’re in L.A, I believe you can get mystery shopping flights through EvaluateIt from L.A. to Canada where you can then connect to Europe. Or if you’re near the border (especially somewhere near Toronto), it might make sense to hop up to Canada to catch a mystery-shopping long-haul flight to Europe.

Hello Nora! I am looking into doing an airline evaluation for SQM and found your site during my research. Do you have to shop duty free and purchase food/beverages if you normally do not? How long does your evaluation have to be (estimated word count?)

Do you provide them your credit card information to get reimbursed? Or do they pay you through something like Paypal?

Thanks for your help!

Hi Jojo, Great questions! I’ll answer them in order: 1) Do you have to shop duty free and purchase food/beverages if you normally do not? – NO (you can simply skip those questions) 2) How long does your evaluation have to be (estimated word count?) – The evaluation is in the form of a questionnaire…and a pretty lengthy one at that. I believe for my long-haul business class itinerary (which is arguably the most intricate to complete) it was 7 pages of multiple choice questions as well as answers that needed to be filled in. It’s work….but if you calculate your “hourly wage” in terms of your savings on the flight, it’s well worth it! 3) Do you provide them your credit card information to get reimbursed? Or do they pay you through something like Paypal? – You pay for the flights in full first, via credit card. Once you’ve submitted your report, you’ll be reimbursed through the same credit card. Hope this helps!

Hi Nora! I was just recently contacted by the SQM, and I arrived here after some research. I deeply thank you for this post because it clarified my questions regarding the website. I would love to be a part of this website and try to become a mystery shopper + traveller. Again, thank you!

That’s great, Joe! I’m currently looking at doing some more mystery shopping flights with SQM myself. 🙂

Hi Nora, Any idea if they provide the same thing in India also. I am looking out for the same thing but not finding anything in india?

Hi Juba, I don’t know about India. But if you check out the list of mystery shopping companies on this page, you might find something:

Good morning Nora from Montreal! I love receiving your newsletters, because there is always something unique and inspiring in them, even motivational. Like you, I love to travel and work in different places too, so this mystery shopping is something I will pursue. One question – are these companies looking for mystery shoppers of all ages, or are they interested in engaging people from a certain demographic for target marketing? Thank you in advance for your response and for your superb newsletters. Happy trails – Bonne route! All the best, Frederic in Montréal

Hi Frederic, I believe all walks of life are welcome to mystery shop. Certain gigs won’t resonate for certain people; for example I don’t own a car so an oil change mystery shopping job isn’t for me! The same might apply to certain stores/products/services that are targeted in their offerings. But on the whole, I think there’s something for everybody given my experience.

This is fascinating! I had no idea mystery shopping for flights even existed! I will definitely be checking it out… thanks for all the great tips.

Hi Danielle, It’s awesome, isn’t it? Hope you get to enjoy some mystery shopping travel opportunities soon!

Wow! What a great opportunity! It’s crazy to think of how many creative ways there are nowadays to travel cheaper. I will definitely do more research into this. Thank you for the article!

Glad you enjoyed the article, Czarina! Happy Mystery Shopping…

I really like your blog! I’ve been jokingly referring to myself as an international hobo for years, the term fits me better than digital nomad. So I already feel like I’ve found a long-lost family member. 😀

Thank you for this super detailed post. I’ve just filled out the application for Evaluatelt by SQM. I hope I didn’t shoot myself in the foot when it asked for my home location. There wasn’t a place to indicate that I’m available all over the globe!

Hi Lauren, I’m sure it will be fine! If not, please do reach out to the folks there and mention that you were referred from my site.

Hi…I currently do shops with SQM…awesome company. However, when I log in the have shops for only one airline, do you find that to be the case also?

Hi Denise, It might be that they only have one airline as their “client” at the moment. Over the years I’ve seen them work with four or five different airlines.

Hi Nora, never hear of this before, quite interesting.

I hope I didn’t shoot myself in the foot when it asked for my home location. I will definitely be checking it out. verry good..

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Buses and minibuses in a parking lot. The sky is dark blue, and a few stars are visible.

Aurora Tourism in Iceland: You Can Seek, but You May Not Find

The country markets itself as a destination to see the northern lights — especially this year, which is a peak time for solar activity. But they can be elusive, as one writer recently found.

In Reykjavík, Iceland, aurora borealis tourism is a booming business. Hopeful tourists board buses to head out into the night in search of the northern lights. Credit... Sigga Ella for The New York Times

Supported by

Amelia Nierenberg

By Amelia Nierenberg

Amelia Nierenberg spent four nights searching for the northern lights in Iceland.

  • March 25, 2024

From the outside, it may seem like the northern lights dance across Iceland’s skies each night. On Icelandair ads, planes fly across shimmering curtains in the sky. On social media, travelers gaze at the green bands above them . The lights are even on some recycling bins in Reykjavík, the capital: “Keep Iceland Clean.”

In the past decade or so, an aurora borealis industrial complex has boomed in Iceland. Many rent a car and go out on their own, but there are northern lights big bus tours and northern lights minibus tours and northern lights Super Jeep tours . There are private guides and boat cruises . There’s an observatory base camp . There’s even a museum .

Tourists line up outside a red minibus in the twilight. Behind them, there is a light green statue that is illuminated.

But the lights can be elusive.

“Tourists sometimes expect, like, ‘At what time do you turn them on?’” said Björn Saevar Einarsson, a forecaster at Iceland’s meteorological office , chuckling. “Like we have a switch in the back room.”

This year, the letdowns are especially intense.

The northern lights, which are also called the aurora borealis, are most visible when there are solar flares, which are big eruptions on the sun that send charged particles toward Earth. This year, the sun is approaching the peak of its 11-year cycle of activity , which some assume means that the displays could peak, too.

But the enhanced solar activity doesn’t necessarily mean the northern lights will be brighter or more frequent, scientists wearily explain. Instead, they mostly mean that the lights can be seen farther south than usual: In recent months, they have been visible in Arizona , Missouri and southern England .

That doesn’t mean much for Iceland.

In fact, Icelanders and scientists said, this winter is nothing special. Sometimes, the lights are there. Sometimes, they aren’t. Just like always.

Hunting the lights

But nothing special, with the northern lights, is still very special. And so tourists keep coming .

Last month, I joined the fray. For four nights, I looked for telltale sky shimmers in and around Reykjavík.

I booked my tickets riding high — this was the best year yet, right? But as I learned more, and as my flight neared, my hopes ebbed. Scientists and tour leaders gently told me that the skies were cloudy and the solar activity seemed quiet.

“Just to let you know the forecast doesn’t look too good” Inga Dís Richter, the chief commercial officer at Icelandia , a tourism agency, wrote in an email two days before I planned to take a minibus trip with Reykjavik Excursions , one of its tour operators.

“But,” she added, “this can change.”

To find the lights, guides and travelers often rely on aurora forecasts, which overlay cloud cover and solar activity. They check them constantly, like a bride with an outdoor wedding in mid-April.

Some of the forecasts are free, like the aurora forecast run by Iceland’s meteorological office or Iceland at Night , which includes space weather. (Some are not — Aurora Forecast , which costs $12.99 a year, sends alerts.) Many people also turn to Facebook pages , where enthusiasts hungrily swap sightings.

Luck, though, is everything.

“There’s only one thing less predictable with the northern lights, and that’s the Arctic weather,” said John Mason, a global expert on the northern lights. “An aurora forecast is barely worth the paper that it’s written on.”

The guides work hard to explain the science, and set expectations. Most companies offer a free rebooking option if the lights do not show.

On my first night of aurora stalking, despite Ms. Richter’s warnings, I joined an expectant group on the Reykjavík Excursions minibus. For $88, I got a seat on the 19-person bus, which left the city’s central bus station at 9:30 p.m.

Over the next three to four hours, we would drive through the Icelandic night together. I’d either see something astonishing with these strangers — the sky, banded with light — or shiver with them shoulder-to-shoulder, awkward in the cold.

As we pulled onto the road, Gudjon Gunnarsson, the guide, set the mood early. “We are going hunting for the lights,” he said, emphasizing the word “hunting,” “similar to going out fishing in a lake.”

He drove for about 45 minutes, letting Reykjavík’s glow fade behind us. The city has about 140,000 people, and no real skyscrapers, so there’s limited light pollution. Although the northern lights can appear over the city, it’s best to see them in total darkness.

Then he paused and consulted with another guide.

“It is too cloudy here,” he told his flock. “So we will keep driving.”

But as we kept driving, clouds turned to a dense fog, so thick that the moon all but disappeared.

Mr. Gunnarsson turned off the main highway about an hour after we left Reykjavík. He parked in a parking lot. Or maybe it was a side street? The darkness was so deep that I could only make out the moonlight on the ocean, and only then after my eyes adjusted.

We disembarked and stood dutifully beside him, staring up at the sky. Then, one woman pointed toward Reykjavík. Were those the lights? (No. That was light pollution.)

Christof Reinhard, 65, who owns a medical laser company and was visiting with his family from Paris, mused that our search was a little bit like a safari. Sure, the desert is amazing, but it’s much better with lions. Or, maybe, was this more like a whale watch?

“Instead of a boat,” he said, “you have a bus.”

Mr. Gunnarsson watched the group stomp their feet and bend into the wind. Fifteen minutes. Then, half an hour. The clouds hung thick above. “There’s nothing happening here, as you can see,” he finally said to relieved chuckles. “It’s one of those nights where you just have to give up.”

Tourists can get mad, Mr. Gunnarsson and other guides said. It’s rare, but it does happen.

“It’s the trip that has our worst reviews,” said Eric Larimer, the digital marketing manager for Gray Line Iceland , a day tour and airport transport company.

A wake-up call for the aurora

For some, the joy is in the search, even if there is no find. A few focus on astronomy, often opting to stay at Hotel Rangá , which is just off the main ring road (Route 1) near Iceland’s south coast.

The hotel looks unassuming — low-slung and wooden — but it’s one of the most famous in Iceland. (The Kardashians stayed there . So did the Real Housewives of Orange County .) A standard room costs more than $300, depending on the season.

But Rangá doesn’t just cater to celebrities. It also draws astronomy buffs, enticed by its “aurora wake-up call” service and its observatory, which has state-of-the-art telescopes.

“One thing is to sell them,” said Fridrik Pálsson, the hotel’s owner, speaking of the northern lights. “Another thing is to deliver them.”

About 20 years ago, before the northern lights industry took off, he delegated the night security guard to monitor the sky. The guard pokes his head out every few minutes to look for the telltale flicker. If he sees the lights, he alerts the guests.

The service aims to address one of the main issues with hunting for the northern lights: They are usually only visible on winter nights, when it is very cold, very windy and very late.

“To be a good northern lights observer, you need the constitution of an insomniac polar bear,” Dr. Mason said.

My room phone, alas, stayed silent. But I did dream about the lights — great Wonka colors swirling, strangely, behind the Chrysler Building.

Mr. Pálsson built the observatory, too. Even if the lights didn’t show up, he figured, the stars are still magnificent — and, for city dwellers, also rare. The hotel contracts astronomers to work the telescopes and explain the stars to guests.On my second night in Iceland, as twilight slipped below happy-hour skies, I crunched across the snow to the observatory with Saevar Helgi Bragason, an Icelandic science communicator who leads the astronomy program.

He bent into a toddler-size telescope, focusing it on the moon’s craters. They looked clearer than the hotel, just a short walk away. It was too early for the lights, he said. And that evening seemed too cloudy (on Earth) and too quiet (on the sun).

Mr. Bragason joked that the lights can get in his way — they create a mist over the stars he really wants to see. But tourists often come specifically to see them. And sometimes, he said, as they wait impatiently, they can miss the real wonder.

“You’re left with these beautiful skies above you,” he said. “Basically, literally, another universe opens up.”

Creating a lights season

Hotel Rangá was a pioneer in Iceland’s northern lights tourism industry: About two decades ago, people came to Iceland for the long summer days, and left as daylight slipped farther south.

“I found it rather stupid in the beginning,” admitted Mr. Pálsson, the owner of Rangá, speaking of northern lights tourism.

But spreading tourism throughout the year made sense. Partly, that was an environmental concern. The tourists would crowd the country’s extraordinary natural sites over just a few months. It was also economic. When the visitors left Iceland, tourism jobs would ebb with the sunlight.

So the northern lights, which are reliably visible from September to March, became the backbone of the country’s winter branding, said Sveinn Birkir Björnsson, the marketing and communications director at Business Iceland , which promotes the country.

“To be able to sell this product of cold and darkness, you have to have something to offer,” he said.

Now, even though June, July and August are the busiest months, tourism has evened out over the seasons. In 2023, there were about 1.1 million international visitors to Iceland during the aurora months, based on departures from Keflavík Airport, according to data from Iceland’s tourist board . From April to August, there were about 1.1 million, too.

About a decade earlier , when tourism overall to Iceland was lower, there were about 336,000 departures from the main airport in colder months, and about 446,000 in the spring and summer.

The winter travelers are drawn by the lights — and the hot springs, glaciers and icy waterfalls. It’s also cheaper than the summer season.

Some try to visit volcanoes , but the country recently warned tourists to avoid the lava flows — Iceland is living in an unusually active period of seismic activity . In January, lava flowed into a small town and last week a volcano erupted with just 40 minutes’ notice near the Blue Lagoon thermal springs, one of the country’s biggest attractions.

The final attempts

Near midnight on my last night, a Sunday, I drove to the Grótta Lighthouse , a popular spot on the outskirts of Reykjavík.

A few die-hard experts had warned me off — many tourists go there because it’s darker than most of Reykjavík, but then don’t think to turn off their headlights. It was also raining, greatly diminishing my chances of seeing the lights.

But I only had three hours before I had to leave to make my predawn flight. I felt a little desperate, a little dazed. I parked, and approached two people who were sitting in the rain on a wet wall, looking at the water in the darkness. I climbed over seaweed, and introduced myself. What would it mean to them, I asked, if the lights suddenly appeared?

“It’d be a little bit like the cherry on top,” said Catherine Norburn, 29, who was visiting from England.

She and her husband were set to fly out the next morning. They had not yet seen the lights.

“We don’t have high hopes,” said her husband, Reece Norburn, 29, “but it’s now or never.”

We didn’t see the lights. And I didn’t see them later, even after pulling off the highway halfway between Reykjavík and the airport at 3:30 a.m., half convinced by a shimmery cloud.

But I did spend more time looking up at the sky. And it’s a marvel.

In New York City, where I live, the night sky blooms orange-mauve. In Iceland, the nighttime darkness is just that — darkness. Clouds roll, breaking the deep blue. Stars actually shine. Northern lights or no northern lights, it was still cosmically beautiful.

Amelia Nierenberg writes the Asia Pacific Morning Briefing , a global newsletter. More about Amelia Nierenberg

Open Up Your World

Considering a trip, or just some armchair traveling here are some ideas..

52 Places:  Why do we travel? For food, culture, adventure, natural beauty? Our 2024 list has all those elements, and more .

Mumbai:  Spend 36 hours in this fast-changing Indian city  by exploring ancient caves, catching a concert in a former textile mill and feasting on mangoes.

Kyoto:  The Japanese city’s dry gardens offer spots for quiet contemplation  in an increasingly overtouristed destination.

Iceland:  The country markets itself as a destination to see the northern lights. But they can be elusive, as one writer recently found .

Texas:  Canoeing the Rio Grande near Big Bend National Park can be magical. But as the river dries, it’s getting harder to find where a boat will actually float .

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Spanx Launched a Storefront Filled With Comfy Travel Outfits — These Are Our 11 Top Picks

Don’t miss out on this rare occasion to score plenty of Spanx’s best-selling travel pants, tops, and more before they’re sold out again.

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Travel + Leisure / Madison Woiten

At Travel + Leisure , time and time again, we’ve looked to Spanx for its next-level comfortable travel clothes . Recently, I finally got my hands on a pair of the Spanx AirEssentials Wide-Leg Pants and was left nearly speechless after I tried them on (and felt their Oprah-loved buttery soft material ). Spanx is well aware of just how popular its clothes are with travelers, so it curated the ultimate one-stop shop: The Travel Edit , complete with top-rated loungewear for travel days and comfy yet stylish garments to wear throughout your vacation.  

After one scroll through the secret storefront, I’m ready to fill my entire wardrobe with Spanx apparel. Between shaping bathing suits for a cruise, breezy shorts that offer unparalleled comfort, and flattering dresses for a tropical getaway, this shop has everything that you need for your next vacation. For those who are just as interested in revamping your closet like I am, keep reading for my top picks and more from this travel-friendly storefront.

Spanx AirEssentials Crewneck

Offering some of the comfiest travel clothes on the market, Spanx has proven itself as a retailer with some of the most luxurious and top-quality products. One of its standout collections is the AirEssentials line that, according to the brand, offers “super-soft, throw-on-and-go styles that keep your comfort in mind — no matter the destination.​” This is because it is made with four-way stretch and an incredibly lightweight fabric for optimal airflow, allowing for all-day coziness. Everyone needs a great throw-on crewneck in their wardrobe, and if you want one that's equal parts sleek and comfy, you can’t go wrong with this one.  

Spanx AirEssentials Wide-leg Pants

This was my first Spanx garment that began my enduring devotion to the brand, and if there’s one item that I believe that every traveler should have, it's these incredibly flattering pants that offer a type of comfort that I didn’t know was possible. Fortunately, they’re available in sizes XS to 3XL and in petite, regular, and tall inseams, so there’s a fit for everyone. Thanks to the “lighter than air” material and four-way stretch, these pants almost feel like a second skin and that you’ll never want to go on a trip without.

Spanx AirEssentials 4-inch Shorts

And to transition my wardrobe to accommodate the warmer weather, I’m eyeing these shorts that feature the same lightweight and plush material as my favorite pair of Spanx pants, and you should too. With a smoothing waistband and four-way stretch, these are the shorts that you'll want in your wardrobe before you embark on any outdoor activities this year. Available in light gray, navy blue, and coral orange, these shorts will get your suitcase in that spring spirit. 

Spanx AirEssentials Cap-sleeve Tee

I’ll admit it, I have a problem: I only prioritize comfort when it comes to my loungewear, but this storefront is proving that you don’t have to give up garments that feel good for ones that look good, because this trendy tee has both. With its cap-sleeve crewneck design, it can be worn with jeans, shorts, trousers, and more — all while ensuring that you look and feel your best. While I am a huge fan of the stripes, if you want something to seamlessly fit right into a capsule wardrobe, I recommend checking out the all-black version. 

Spanx AirEssentials Boatneck Top

Boatneck tops have been on my trend radar since January , and I'm happy to report that Spanx is recognizing the back-in-style shirts as must-haves for travel as well. The slightly wider neckline boasts an effortlessly flattering look, and reviewers also dubbed Spanx's take on the trendy garment as the “ most comfortable and stylish tops ever. ” If you want to get your hands on one of these tops, you’ll have to act fast because sizes and colors are already selling out. 

Spanx AirEssentials Tie-waist Tank Dress

Spanx is well known for designing clothes that offer unparalleled comfort and a flattering fit, and this tie-waist dress is no exception. According to one shopper , they “will be living in this dress for spring,” and this is their “new favorite dress to grab for everyday wear.” They even went on to gush over how “luxurious and soft” the fabric feels, and how it's the ideal versatile dress for any occasion (it can be dressed down with a pair of stylish kicks just as easily as it can be elevated with a pair of heels). Sounds like the perfect vacation dress, right?

Spanx Pique Shaping Plunge One-piece Swimsuit

As a girl on the curvier side, I feel comfortable complaining about how hard it can be to find a swimsuit that not only feels good, but looks good, too. Some brands just don’t understand how to design a suit for those of us with hips, but if there’s one that I’m confident is up for the job, it's Spanx. In fact, one especially happy buyer wrote that this swimsuit “feels heavenly on and makes me feel so wonderful; the fabric is amazing, [and] feels nice and secure.” I’m considering adding this suit to my cart to wear to the beach and as a quick-drying bodysuit option for hot summer days. 

Spanx Pique Shaping Plunge Swim Dress

If you’re looking for a swimsuit with a bit more coverage, then you need this swim dress that features a flounce skirt for extra protection and a textured fabric that sits beautifully on the skin. As if that wasn’t enough, Spanx’s intentional design philosophy really shines through this dress, as it's equipped with a hidden tie feature to secure the skirt while you’re in the water so it doesn’t ride up. It’s also just as cute of a dress beyond the beach or pool; I’d personally wear it to the pickleball courts, out to lunch, and beyond. 

Spanx Booty Boost Active 7/8 Leggings

Spanx has a ton of iconic, best-selling products in its catalog, but few are as adored as these Booty Boost leggings. Made with the brand’s signature contouring and high-compressive fabric, these celeb-loved workout leggings feature a supportive, high-rise, smoothing waistband that’ll flatter your figure while offering unbeatable coverage. Due to their high demand, they’re often sold out, so as a word of advice, I’d score a pair now while they’re in stock. 

Spanx AirEssentials Half-zip Sweatshirt

Shoppers praise this sweatshirt for its “ soft as a cloud ” comfort that’ll lend itself well to extra chilly flights and breezy early morning walks. This half-zip top is so popular that it’s routinely out of stock, and the brand has even expanded the line to include 10 stunning hues from bright reds to neutral tans. Although it's a bit on the pricier side, it's a high-quality top that’ll last you for seasons to come. And, it pairs well with the Spanx AirEssentials Wide- Leg Pants and Spanx AirEssentials 4-inch Shorts mentioned above, which means that you can build the perfect matching travel outfit. 

Spanx AirEssentials Jumpsuit

We’re huge fans of jumpsuits at T+L — and well, really any ensemble that makes getting out of the door easier. They’re fabulous one-and-done options that take up hardly any room in your suitcase and keep you looking incredibly put together, so it's no surprise that buyers are saying that this wrinkle-free jumpsuit is “ great for travel .”

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Sights of Elektrostal: the history of the city, what to see, photos and reviews

Table of contents:, history of the city, attractions, engineering plant, church of the righteous john of kronstadt, city recreation and culture park, cinema gallery, avangard paintball club.

Sights of Elektrostal: the history of the city, what to see, photos and reviews

2024 Author : Harold Hamphrey | [email protected] . Last modified: 2023-12-17 10:06

Elektrostal is a fairly large industrial city, which is located near the Vokhonka River and almost 40-50 km from the eastern part of Moscow. There are a lot of powerful factories here, where many residents of Elektrostal work. They are perfectly combined with the most beautiful green boulevards, streets and parks, bright lawns and flower beds that adorn almost the entire town. It is picturesque due to amazing reservoirs and forests. It is worth learning more about the main attractions of Elektrostal, photos of which are in the article.

sights g elektrostal

The city was founded in 1916 thanks to the construction of a metallurgical plant. Previously, this place was the natural boundary of Calm. To start construction, the labor of local peasants was used. In the middle of 1925 herebuilt the first railway line that connected Elektrostal with Moscow. After the onset of 1938, the village turned into a separate city.

It is noteworthy that during the Great Patriotic War, the Electrostal plants produced ammunition that was needed for victory. In particular, it is worth noting the production of the legendary Katyushas.

A new stage for the factories of the city began after the invention of atomic weapons. The local plant was on the list of the main production facilities of the nuclear industry. This led to the fact that in 1954 the production of fuel was launched, which was used for the operation of nuclear power plants.

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In 1963, the cultural center "October" was built, and this was done by the masters of the Novo-Kramatorsky plant, named after Stalin. It featured a spacious auditorium that could seat more than 850 people, as well as a unique revolving stage for actors to change scenery in seconds.

At different times, eminent creative groups performed in this cultural center, as well as the Beryozka ensemble, famous at that time. It is noteworthy that even in our time the cultural center is actively functioning, and the square in front of it is considered the most beautiful place in Elektrostal with fountains operating in the summer. In mid-2013, it received the status of a city of labor and military glory.

There are many numerous monuments in the city that tell about the history of this amazing place: a monument to Nikolai Vtorov -the founder of the famous plant "Elektrostal" near the House of Culture, a monument to Tevosyan - the chief engineer, monuments to M. Gorky and K. Marx, a sculpture "Steelworker", a monument to Korneev - Hero of the Soviet Union, as well as a memorial and a monument to soldiers who died in Afghanistan and on North Caucasus.

elektrostal photo city sights

This is a fairly large and old factory in the city that specializes in the production of fuel for local gas stations. The plant is part of the structure of the company FC "TVEL" of the state corporation "Rosatom". The General Director of the enterprise is O. L. Sedelnikov.

This plant produces nuclear fuel, which is used by many nuclear power plants, transport power plants and research reactors, not only in Russia, but also in other European countries. The company has quality certificates OHSAS 18001, ISO 14001, ISO 9001.

The museum of the plant presents its history, shows old photographs of the streets of the city, there are achievements of workers, as well as photos of significant people, there are many of the most interesting models produced at the machine-building plant. It also stores presentations showing the principles of the enterprise.

sights g elektrostal photo

This temple - a landmark of Elektrostal - is a single-dome centric church, which is made in the style of Byzantine times. It was erected in the 20th century, in the immediate vicinity of St. Andrew's Church. The temple was designed by T. V. Trubnikov and V. A. Drozdov, according to the developments of which the iconostasis and interior were exactly designed.

The church plays the role of a baptismal church and belongs to the Moscow diocese. The main shrines of the church are the most ancient and valuable icons of Nikandor Gorodnoyezersky and the Great Martyr Panteleimon. In addition, particles of the relics of saints are kept here. Divine services are held in the temple only during religious holidays.

the main attractions of the electric steel

The local park - a landmark of Elektrostal is an ideal place where everyone can stay alone with nature, ride numerous attractions, and also spend time playing slot machines. The park is especially popular in the summer - it is full of families, youth companies and couples in love.

Especially for the summer in 2013, the park was re-planned, which made it possible to accommodate more modern entertainment and interesting playgrounds for young visitors. Swimmers will love the dragon and swans, and trampolines have been installed for more active children.

It is noteworthy that the prices in the local park are quite affordable: the cost of a ticket for various attractions ranges from 30-100 rubles. Today it is called "Wonder Park", and it is divided into a quieter "Quiet Alley" and "Entertainment Alley", where there is an inexpensive cafe, a summer stage, and also quite a lot ofattractions.

sights of electrostal

This cinema is very popular, so it can be called a landmark of Elektrostal. It is located in the shopping center "Elgrad" and consists of 5 spacious halls that can accommodate more than 800 people. To show 2D and 3D films, only modern equipment is used: Dolby Digital Surround EX and MasterImage acoustics, as well as huge screens with a special coating. In all cinema halls, very comfortable conditions for visitors were created: climate control and soft chairs.

In the foyer of the Cinema Gallery there is a play area, a fairly spacious cafe, fast food establishments (Suneki, Tashir-pizza, Rostiks, Kebab-tun, etc.) and popcorn- bar. This is an attractive local leisure center, where the residents of Elektrostal are shown all the latest cinema.

This is a whole complex where you can spend your free time pleasantly and profitably. In addition to the playgrounds, which are fully equipped for playing laser tag and paintball, guests are invited to visit a local cafe where delicious home-cooked dishes are prepared, a banquet menu, karaoke, as well as a relaxing sauna with a warm font.

What do tourists who have visited the city say? It is not tourist, but industrial. Attractions are quite specific, but overall interesting. Tourists were pleased with low prices.

Looking at the photo of the sights of the city of Elektrostal, you may want to go there and spendunforgettable weekend.

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Watch CBS News

Attention, Walmart shoppers: Retailer may owe you up to $500. Here's how to file a claim.

By Kate Gibson

Edited By Alain Sherter

Updated on: April 5, 2024 / 2:35 PM EDT / CBS News

Walmart shoppers who bought certain weighted groceries or bagged fruit have two months left to claim part of a $45 million settlement resolving allegations the retailer overcharged for the items.

Customers of the retailing giant may be entitled to as much as $500 as part of the class-action settlement over the claims Walmart overcharged for packaged meat, poultry, pork and seafood, as well as bagged citrus. 

Consumers eligible to file a claim include anyone who made an in-store purchase of weighted goods or bagged citrus at any of Walmart's 4,615 U.S. stores between Oct. 19, 2018, and Jan. 19, 2024, according to the settlement administrator. Those who bought an eligible product and have a receipt are entitled to get 2% of the total cost of their purchase, capped at $500, according to the settlement  site . 

Walmart customers without a receipt for their purchases during the designated time period can still  submit a claim for between $10 and $25, depending upon how much they attest to buying. 

The class-action, filed in October 2022, alleged the prices stated on the sold-by-weight goods exceeded the a their actual per unit costs, resulting in Walmart shoppers paying more than the lowest in-store advertised price for the food items.

Walmart denied any liability or wrongdoing in the case, according to the settlement  agreement filed with a federal court in Tampa, Fla., in November.

"We will continue providing our customers everyday low prices to help them save money on the products they want and need," a spokesperson for the company stated . "We still deny the allegations, however we believe a settlement is in the best interest of both parties."

Customers have until June 5 to submit a claim to participate in the settlement, which still needs to receive final approval at a hearing scheduled for June 12. Those who want to be excluded from the settlement have until May 22 to opt out.

—The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Kate Gibson is a reporter for CBS MoneyWatch in New York.

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Nate Raymond reports on the federal judiciary and litigation. He can be reached at [email protected].

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  28. Sights of Elektrostal: the history of the city, what to see, photos and

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