It is once again that time to experience the prescient clairvoyance of Biz Brief to look out into the future. Below are just a few of the topics that we see coming into clearer view in next year’s Biz Brief offerings.
Expect both truck and automobile traffic to increase in 2015. As airline travel becomes more difficult, people will revert to using automobiles even for longer trips. As the economy continues to improve truck miles will also increase. Expect the average miles per trip to decrease as the use of intermodal options will expand.
As in 2014, travel will be slow going as a result of several repeating factors. Forecasts for harsh winter weather, a shortage of salt and depleted state budgets suggest that snow removal will likely be different than in normal years.
Expect crude imports to continue to decrease, refined exports to increase and the world oil pricing to be driven more than ever by the U.S. New states, including Maryland, Virginia, North Carolina and possibly New York, will approve fracking within their boundaries, increasing domestic supply even more.
Expect OPEC to attempt to reduce supply levels in an effort to increase pricing. Likewise, Russia needs higher pricing to sustain its economy and would withhold crude to cause that effect. Neither action will have a long-term impact as more non-OPEC oil comes online every day. As always, two factors will affect pricing – global political disruptions and supply/demand dynamics. Expect to see some upward moves, but the overall trend will result in lower product pricing.
2015 will see continuing changes to our customers’ driver profiles. Younger drivers, women drivers and individuals trying out the profession as a second career will be a growing percentage of our customer base. The challenge for NATSO members will be identifying the different needs of these new industry members and developing opportunities to effectively market to them.
As always, technology will continue to involve and make our industry more efficient. Two areas that are likely to receive a good deal of our industry’s attention include credit card processing and food service operations. As banks move closer to chip and pin technology with their credit card offerings, travel plazas will need to make significant equipment changes to deal with the new technology. In order to improve efficiency in food service operations, technology changes will likely be seen in all areas from customer ordering to kitchen operation.
In 2015, expect NATSO’s staff to continue to fight the ever growing threat of the use of tolls to pay for highway infrastructure spending. You will see more NATSO staff visits to member locations. Additionally, it is likely that new services will be available to members in areas such as technology assistance as the association becomes more of a tool to its members.
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