We have started to make our way out of the house and further afield as we begin to travel after the pandemic. But travel is not going to be the same as before.
As we emerge from lockdown we’re getting quite excited about getting out – at least to those parts of the world that are safe enough to visit.
So what are these new trends to emerge to satiate the travel bug?
“In the short term, travel has become more complex,” said Christina Pedroni, senior VP of Liberty Travel (a retail travel company). “It’s not as easy as just booking a flight and grabbing your passport, given various Covid-19 testing requirements in place for almost every destination.”
We generally carry out some research when we’re planning our holiday. But now we’re digging deeper and doing a fair more amount of research.
“There is a lot to know and understand about travel in the current environment,” added Christina. “The value of a travel agent has never been more obvious as navigating entry, testing, quarantine and government requirements are still very fluid.”
Beyond leisurely travel, business travel is also making a comeback. “As Covid slows, a significant number of people are returning to business travel,” said Mike Putman, CEO of Custom Travel Solutions. “While Zoom has been an exceptional substitute, it doesn’t provide the level of relationship [an in-person] face-to-face meeting does.”
Big demand and new concerns
With so much demand pent up over the year, the overspill is going to affect the availability of everything travel-related: things such as flights, car rentals, hotels, hostels, etc.
“Of course, there is a tremendous pent-up demand,” said Mike. “Still, some services are limited due to capital restraints (not enough rental cars) and service restraints (restaurants haven’t been able to rehire employees, causing limited dining capacity).”
For Christina, “In the medium term, there will be tremendous demand for travel and the most popular hotels, resorts and destinations will have limited availability, and, as a result, prices will rise with this demand.”
And with the pandemic very much still with us, we still have concerns when it comes to health and safety. “First and foremost,” added Christina, “health and safety protocols are important to all travelers and have become a must-have for travel providers rather than a nice-to-have.
“People are willing to pay more for that peace of mind. Travelers are looking to escape beyond their four walls, and although destination is important, it’s likely not as important as it was pre-Covid. It really is the journey, not the destination – the ‘act of travel’ – whether for relaxation, for a new experience, or for an adventure.”
Travelers have also been looking for different types of utilities and services. “There is a growing demand for privacy and exclusivity,” added Juan Vela Ruiz, VP of Velas Resorts, “as well as longer vacations and remote working scenarios.”
As a response, the company released a program that features privacy aspects like extra space, office space, personalized classes, and luxury dining experiences.
Speaking of personalization, it’s time to mention how important it is for travel companies to tailor their digital experiences depending on the person. Today there are powerful online solutions that are capable of providing companies with personalized functionality to better cater to their global customers, helping to communicate more clearly in their customer’s language, showing products in their local currency, etc.
Among these online solutions is the digital experience platform Adobe Experience Manager (AEM). Trusted by many of the world’s largest and most famous brands, AEM is at the forefront of simplifying the powers of personalization and enhancing agility.
“Prior to the pandemic, program members were looking for greater convenience and ease of use when it comes to booking travel, more redemption options with reasonable rates of redemption, and an overall more personalized experience,” said Len Covello, CTO for Engage People.
“These all remain a top priority,” added Len. “But as travel restrictions begin to ease, program members also are seeking ways to retain their hotel and airline statuses, despite a significant decrease in use – just as many airlines and hotels lower their qualifying thresholds for particular loyalty levels.”
These concerns are also true within emerging markets. “The travel industry is one of the industries most impacted by the Covid-19 pandemic,” Sue Ann Seet, head of Asia for dLocal. “It is also one of the first to respond to the changes that the situation demanded. At dLocal, they have seen an increase in domestic flights versus international flights.
“When it comes to payments in emerging markets,” added Sue, “we see an unprecedented move into the digitalization of payments. While this might be no surprise in more mature countries, emerging markets are still very cash-based and are still in the middle of their digital transformation. The pandemic accelerated the process.”
Luxury and responsibility
Because it’s been such a long time since most of us have been out and about on our holidays, there is the expectation that travelers are going to spend bigger on what they buy on holiday. This means bringing home more luxury items.
“Tourists want to buy wine and get it home to enjoy the memories of their travels,” said Ron Scharman, CEO of FlyWithWine. “We are in the fourth generation of VinGardeValise wine suitcases, as we have added features to improve the product and consumer experience while traveling to make sure their wines travel safely, regardless of the deteriorating baggage handling situation in today’s airports.”
As well as higher-priced goods, holidaymakers are also more conscious about their environmental impact and are seeking out more sustainable ways of travel.
“Ongoing, there is a new focus on sustainability in travel, both for travelers and for destinations,” added Christina. “There are incredible initiatives happening throughout the travel industry that showcase exactly how we can travel responsibly throughout the world, and this will become the norm and the expectation as the next generation becomes the dominant travelers.”
Travel companies need to be prepared for the travel rush that is incoming. And this means leveraging the right technological solutions – i.e. the ones that can help to personalize the digital experience of wannabe holidaymakers searching for their long-awaited holiday spots. Solutions such as AEM.