Navigating the Future of Travel
Ahead of the season that many of us have been eagerly anticipating, hotels, restaurants and businesses in the travel industry are about to open their doors to an entirely new travel landscape. At the same time, quarantines, testing, and regional travel restrictions continue to present a risk for tourism’s revival. As a recent article in the New York Times noted, “planning for the unpredictable, more than ever, is part of the itinerary”.
For a number of people, travelling in 2021 is less viable than during the same period of 2019. This is due to a combination of factors, including an increase of travel costs associated with the pandemic and a decrease of household purchasing power. And yet, while travelling this summer remains a test-run, a number of key studies over the past few months paint an encouraging picture.
One such study was conducted in March by Tripadvisor and Accenture, and revealed that 61% of people who opted out of travel in 2020 are eager to get back on the road and up in the sky. Whether it’s a domestic or international flight, young travelers are going the distance and heading to beaches, cities and even on cruises.
Source: Tripadvisor and Accenture Survey (March, 2021)
Source: Tripadvisor and Accenture Survey (March, 2021)
With many expecting 2021 to be the year of travel rebound, what does the future of travel look like and what strategic imperatives should be at the forefront of the tourism industry?
The digital transformation that the hospitality industry is undergoing is eminent as digital technologies now penetrate every aspect of the smart hoteliers’ operations, from revenue management, CRM, and distribution, to digital marketing.
Providing a digital customer experience even before travel has started, by seamlessly engaging potential customers across multiple channels and stages of their customer journey, is tantamount to attracting new customers, increasing efficiencies, and ensuring a quality customer experience at every stage.
With safety protocols and social distancing measures at the front of travelers’ minds, incorporating technology to ensure a safer journey and quell travelers’ fears should be a key priority of future interactions.
- Reduce queues and congestion in public spaces (38%)
- Minimize face-to-face or physical contact with others (31%)
- Protect financial data and information (31%)
- Notify them in advance when there is a delay/change, etc. (29%)
- Ensure the accuracy and effectiveness of national testing and Covid-19 track and trace programs (28%)
According to a study by Amadeus and Censuswide, the top technologies expected to increase travel confidence in the next 12 months are: 1) mobile applications that provide on-trip notifications and alerts, 2) contactless mobile payments and 3) mobile boarding (.e.g. having your boarding pass on your mobile phone).
Source: Amadeus and Censuswide (2021)
As a result of the pandemic, businesses across the world have had to adopt a flexible mindset. In a recent study by Censuswide, 39% of respondents said they would feel more confident if they had access to flexible change and cancellation policies and payment terms to avoid potential risks or losses. ‘Locking’ potential guests into a situation could harm brand image and reinforce the lack of confidence some travelers still feel about booking their next vacation. Together with ensuring rate parity for your brand, prioritizing flexibility for travelers is a must.
Now more than ever travelers want to plan every detail of their vacations. The D.I.Y. journey is increasing in popularity, as travelers strive to personalize their itineraries, and tailor them to their individual requirements and attitudes towards Covid-19 risk factors. The rise of new mobility alternatives is just one example of the growing interest in custom-designed journeys, as more travelers make their own way to and from their destinations and opt out of package tours.
In addition to the accelerating pace of contactless travel technology, transport preferences have significantly changed this year. From a mobility point of view, people’s shifting behaviors will inevitable have an impact on the travel industry, as more travelers choose to move around on their own this summer.
With some travelers still reluctant to use public transport, micromobility options, such as rental bicycles, scouters and more, offer a viable alternative to the packed bus tours and popular ride-sharing services of pre-pandemic life. Moreover, a growing interest in outdoor activities and sustainable travel options are reshaping the way travel companies communicate their bottom line.
Together with the rise of D.I.Y. holidays, the rise of mobility customization should be a key focus of business offerings this summer.
Identifying and researching key indicators and data that provide fresh levels of insight can help businesses stay ahead of the fluctuating travel landscape. By embracing the rise of digitally-enabled travel, from the very initial stage of traveler research, you can simplify and facilitate travelers and boost traveler confidence. Matching the momentum of this summer’s travel resurgence, with a variety of compelling and customizable alternatives, can help communicate the transparency, creativity and flexibility that travelers are looking for right now.
While many predict that travel will not return to pre-pandemic levels until 2024, recent travel data and surveys are encouraging. As the rise of vaccine passports and hybrid travel models kick in, positive traveler sentiments will help spur a rise in tourism and a stress-free enjoyment of it. That said, businesses in the travel industry and vacation-goers alike should let go of expectations regarding a return to pre-pandemic travel norms. As mindsets become entrenched, and technology accelerates disruption in the travel industry, we are bound to see a new face of travel emerge.
Relevance Best-In Class Travel Services
Travel brands have a tremendous opportunity to get in front of this high-spending leisure momentum, as travelers look to make their first trip back their best yet. At Relevance, our best-in-class travel services are all about growing your business in a progressive manner. We monitor and talk to leaders in the travel industry to gain a deep understanding of untapped opportunities before we bring them to you.
- We speak the same language: Even though data is our source of truth, having a deep understanding the travel industry's specific needs as well the ever-evolving competition with OTAs, Metas and more, is what differentiates us.
- Google and Facebook have our backs: We are proud to work so closely with Google and Facebook, leveraging their support and beta tools to build a track record of award-winning case studies that speak for the quality of work we produce.
- Travel Partners: Looking for the right travel partner is a challenging task, especially if you are not leveraging audience data. We work with companies with an expertise in travel and 1st party data providers to bring you the most qualified audience and help you invest wisely on growing users' lifetime value.
- Continuous Development: We host trainings and speak to leaders to get a strong grasp on the opportunities that are out there.
- True Business Thinking: We make sure to raise red flags when best practices are not being followed or when competition is outsmarting you. We look beyond ‘seasonality’ to strategically maximize business growth.
Get in touch with us to discuss how you can leverage our expertise and maximize your digital growth opportunities.