By Stephanie Leach, CNN • Updated 22nd March 2015
Flights: Always busy. Hotels: Increasingly pricey. Exchanges: Very expensive.
Black Friday may have slipped off the collective American consciousness, but its cultural imprint on some industries remains — as does its residual effect on demand and revenue.
But if Black Friday is the benchmark for retail and airfare, Thanksgiving — combined with the weekend before — takes on added significance for business travelers.
“Both travel and retail are dependent on buzz, who is on trend,” says Adam Brown, CEO of Valueline . “The increase in flight inventory from Thanksgiving to Black Friday is a great driver of pricing. When people are searching for flights and prices rise, they don’t want to wait until the new year and that drives transactions forward.”
Brown says a shift away from the traditional Black Friday shopping experience — which was once off-limits to business travelers, and hence dampened demand for airfare — was a primary contributor to this year’s surge in airfares.
“As was made clear in J.C. Penney, there are still ways to adjust your business,” Brown says. “Of course, there are ways to play offense if you’re still in the black. Best advice to stay away from discounts. These days, once-intimidating or epic pricing signs are also places to make friends with sales associates, who are often just good, honest, hardworking people whose relationships are vital. Good prices still help, but the best discounts are also good jokes.”
According to the Bureau of Transportation Statistics, airfares are projected to rise to a new high of $345 per round-trip seat on the busiest days of the travel season, which this year was expected to be the week of Black Friday and the week following.
And it’s not just business travelers who are impacted — travelers with leisure flights will pay more as well.
“For leisure travelers, they see low airfares these days, even when the person who booked online isn’t a leisure traveler,” Brown says. “They’ll go off and redeem frequent flier miles to get on a first or business-class flight. So it’s actually something they need to pay attention to.”
In terms of hotel prices, Valueline says there has been a trend toward shorter stay periods — rather than traveling for business — with factors such as high hotel occupancy rates leading to a decreased number of available hotel rooms.
“Hotel deals are still available,” Brown says. “But the process is a lot more challenging, and you have to be better at making sales and actually being a part of the dialogue. We’re all having a tough time figuring out what these barriers are.”