The travel industry grew by 3.5% in 2019 and in 2020 it came to a standstill. Travelling, one of favourite hobbies of many, took a back seat in 2020. As the pandemic eased this year, people are beginning to again pack their travelling bags. Although, being very wary of travelling in groups and being very particular about cleanliness. Here are some new trends seen among travellers this year:
- Go local: With the complications related to travelling internationally, new local spots have gained prominence. People are searching for uncommon beaches and destination within the country. This has given a boost to local businesses and small hoteliers. According to Airbnb, people are searching more for destinations that they can travel to in their own car. Travellers prefer an economical budget, easy cancellation and shorter and closer destinations. This has created a boom in domestic travel.
- Cleanliness and Covid safety protocol: Health took main focus during the Covid-19, with masks and sanitising becoming a necessity and social distancing a new found norm. Consumers insisted on high level of cleanliness. According to a survey by Booking.com, 70% tourists expect social distancing at the tourist places of attraction. Hotels adapted to this demand with high level of cleanliness, sanitisation, contactless payments, digital room keys etc. Bloomberg’s Covid-19 Travel Tracker is following 1,538 travel combinations between 40 major business and tourism destinations, taking into account coronavirus travel restrictions, vaccination levels and public health rules. So far, the world is taking it slow: only 25% of destinations can be considered “More accessible”, based on their ratings in Booking.com
- Solo Travel: Solo travelling, travelling in small group has been increased after the pandemic. People are afraid of contacting virus using public transportation. Flexible travel plans, social Distancing and use of personal vehicles has resulted in solo travelling. Travel information is so easily accessible now, that it is very simple for people to plan on their own. Platforms like Airbnb and Booking.com make choosing and making reservations very easy.
- Eco Tourism: The lockdown instilled healthy habits and new emphasis on home cooked meals. Eco-tourism is gaining popularity with travellers becoming aware of how their carbon footprint affects the environment. Since the 1980s, ecotourism has been considered a critical endeavour by environmentalists, so that future generations may experience destinations relatively untouched by human intervention. Ecotourism may focus on educating travellers on local environments and natural surroundings with an eye to ecological conservation. Some include in the definition of ecotourism, the effort to produce economic opportunities that make conservation of natural resources financially possible.
- Travel Tech Adoption Accelerates: As with nearly all businesses, technology is presenting the travel industry with seemingly endless opportunities. The pandemic has boosted the speed of tech adoption in the travel industry further. A McKinsey survey showed that, because of COVID-19, “companies have accelerated the digitisation of their customer and supply-chain interactions and of their internal operations by three to four years
- Consumers Blend Business And Leisure Travel: The latest statistics say there are nearly 5 million digital nomads in America. The concept of being location-independent, traveling and working remotely, has become even more popular since the start of the pandemic. Aruba is opening its beaches up to travellers who would like to work remotely, calling the marketing campaign “One Happy Workation”.
- Electric Air Travel Goes Mainstream :Speaking of sustainability, it looks like flying Teslas are finally here. And they have the potential to make a big impact on at least three large industries: The aircraft manufacturing industry, with over $200 Billion in annual revenue between the top 3 manufacturers alone (Boeing, Airbus and Lockheed), Commercial airlines, with $838 Billion in annual revenue (pre-COVID), and ride-hailing and taxis, which are projected to surpass $70 Billion in revenue in the U.S. by 2024
- The Travel Industry Gets Serious About Sustainability: Stats from March 2020 show that more than half of US travellers believe there aren’t enough options when it comes to sustainable travel. Searches for “sustainable travel” are up 161% over the last 5 years. A poll conducted on behalf of Exodus Travels went even deep into consumers’ attitude
- 91% of travellers see the importance of taking ethical trips
- 56% believe in buying souvenirs from local merchants
- 44% want to support local businesses at their destination.
The face of travel is changing. But it is here to stay. Human beings love travelling, going places, meeting people. For Business, and for leisure. That is just who we are. If you are a traveller, look into safe ways of travelling in the future. If you are a travel service provider, look at how you can adapt your offerings to fulfil the new demands of travellers. The world has moved to a new place. A new future is emerging. Let us keep adapting and keep moving!