Skift celebrated its one-year anniversary yesterday and we celebrated by looking back at the 12 biggest travel stories of the year. But Skift is about more than breaking news. We are connecting the dots across all global trends and using the knowledge about where travel has been to highlight where it is headed.

Each week we show our readers how smaller stories fit into the bigger picture and now we’re looking beyond a year of headlines to show you the trends at play in our first year of covering travel news.

If you prefer or need these trends in a presentation format, we’ve made one for you, on Slideshare. Or the full story below that:

Airline Profits Improve, Best Dividends in 10 Years

Airlines have suddenly become an attractive investment after more than a decade of being considered a risky and foolish bet. Planes are flying fuller (83 percent average in 2012), fares are increasing, and industry consolidation has weeded out the most unprofitable routes. Airlines are also introducing new ancillary fees to create a direct source of unprecedented revenue and they show no signs of stopping the fee frenzy.

Top 4 posts to read more on this trend:


Tourism Boards Get Savvier Marketing Schemes

Let’s start this off by saying that tourism marketing organizations, as a whole, have yet to embrace the power of social media, digital advertising, and custom content in ways that will rocket their reach and influence. We have, however, seen smart campaigns, Twitter accounts, and content tie-ups start to peek through and are looking forward to what the next year will bring.  Social media will be paramount in their evolution and checking out our competitive intelligence platform SkiftSocial is good place to start.

Tourism Australia, Visit Philly, NYC & Company, and Discover Los Angeles are a few of the notable DMOs already exercising initiatives that will bring the industry’s outdated marketing model into the 21st century.

Top 4 posts to read more on this trend:


The Relaxation of Visa Regulations

Nations around the world recognized visa fees and processes as a major blockade to tourism and economic growth. This led to the introduction of visa-on-arrivals, largely in Asia and Europe, in an effort to attract Chinese travelers. It has since become a global movement that is making travel easier and cheaper than ever before. There are several anomalies such as the UK, which plans on adding visa fees to curb immigration, and Indonesia, which revoked visa-on-arrivals for Iranians to stop drug smuggling.

Top 3 posts to read more on this trend:


Collaborative Consumption Struggles to Become Mainstream

Airbnb, Lyft, RelayRides, Spinlister, and their peers in the sharing economy are the hottest topic in the travel world right now. That, however, does not make them legal. Several startups are using brute force to push into new markets while others are treading more carefully in the footsteps of those before them. While founders are hoping peer-to-peer rentals and shared car networks will soon be commonplace, legislators and legacy players are working very hard to make sure that’s not so.

Top 3 posts to read more on this trend:


The Decline of Printed Guidebooks

The future of printed guidebooks and their transition to a digital platform is an evolution with no clear end in sight. Google has been collecting travel content via Zagat and Frommer’s acquisitions and transcribing it onto the Google Plus platform. Another storied guidebook publisher, Lonely Planet, was sold by BCC to a small Tennessee media company. That said, there are smaller publishers that continue to reap profits on travel content — something that’s needed even if it’s being read on a smartphone.

Top 4 posts to read more on this trend:


Substandard Travel Startups Abound

There is an abundance of travel startups introduced daily, but their struggles are plenty and many end up hitting obstacles on the road to growth and scale. Travel inspiration is still difficult to monetize, Facebook is already the ‘Facebook of travel,’ and hotel search is becoming a crowded field as founders realize that’s where the money lies. In addition to following the successes and missteps of travel startup superstars, Skift profiles five early-stage travel startups each week in search of the next big thing.

Top 4 posts to read more on this trend:


The Rise of Smart Hotel Design

Hotels are not only becoming prettier; they are becoming healthier places to stay and more efficient spaces to work. The healthy hotel trend is encapsulated in IHG’s new EVEN Hotels and seen on a smaller scale with in-room exercise equipment and healthier food options at other major brands. Free Wi-Fi is still difficult to come, but new initiatives are making it easier to get work done in dedicated hotel spaces.

Top 4 posts to read more on this trend:


People Just Love Showing the TSA Their Handguns

The TSA hit a new record at the end of 2012 when a final tally revealed that its screeners had discovered 1,527 guns in carry-on luggage over the previous 12 months — a new all-time record. The reasons for the increase weren’t clear, but they correspond to the rise in gun ownership in the U.S. Also, a map of the most popular airports for gun discoveries looks nearly identical to the map of states where concealed-carry laws are in effect. Despite last year’s bonanza, this year looks even stronger.

Top 3 posts to read on this trend


Violence Erupts in the Middle East, Tourism Suffers

The once nascent tourism industries of northern Africa and the Middle East quickly lost their luster as flareups of violence and protests persisted throughout the region. Travel warnings from the U.S. and UK were quickly copied by other countries and Dubai got a healthy boost of business from travelers looking for a regional, though safe, destination. Unfortunately, despite the efforts of individuals in many of these locations, there are few signs of short-term tourism or economic revival.

Top 3 posts to read more on this trend:


Cruise Industry Under Siege

The now infamous capsizing of the Costa Concordia in Italy set off what seems to be one of the worst periods in the history of the cruising industry. After a relatively quiet year in wake of the European disaster, the Carnival Triumph kept passengers at sea for five days without electricity and working toilets followed by a series of unfortunate events including Silversea’s failed health inspections, power lost onboard the Carnival Splendor, and a fire onboard Royal Caribbean Grandeur of the Seas.

Top 3 posts to read more on this trend:


U.S. Tourism Finally Gets Some Attention (Enter Brand USA)

Tourism had a shot at climbing up the U.S. political agenda in 1995 when President Clinton delivered a rousing speech on the future of tourism; however, little happened in the six years leading up to 2001 when travel plummeted to unprecedented lows. The effort was resurrected with the launch of Brand USA in 2011. Brand USA sought out partnerships with city and state DMOs to further its international reach; however, its future funding is now in the midst of a political tussle.

Top 4 posts to read more on this trend:


Tech Power Players Are Battling Over Maps

When Apple dropped Google’s Maps app upon the release of iOS 6 last September, it signaled that the iPhone and iPad maker was willing to take a short-term hit to its reputation in order to start beefing up its knowledge of the physical world. While it had a few fun tricks, the accuracy of its maps was widely criticized. When Google resubmitted its Maps app to Apple we only half jokingly wrote “Our long national nightmare is over: Google Maps app for iPhone is now live.”

Everyone is playing catch up with Google. It’s release earlier this month of similar user experiences across desktop, Android, and iOS devices cements its role as the way far-out front-runner in the field. Integrated features like turn-by-turn maps, live traffic data (for Android only), and live transit info in major markets. It has Waze now to further track user movements, and points-of-interest reviews culled from Zagat, Frommer’s, and its Google + social network. Still, Apple is acquiring companies to keep up. And there’s still the matter of AOL’s silent giant MapQuest, which doesn’t get press, but it does have tens of millions of users.

Top 4 posts to read more on this trend:

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Tags: airbnb, carnival, frommers, google, lonely planet, sharing, Travel Trends, visas

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