Trends in travel
2020 was a year like no other the world has ever seen. The question of what will change in the travel industry in the years to come and what will stay the same is intriguing.
This blog looks at likely trends in the future of travel. Like it or hate it – change is often inevitable. We can only find our ‘new normal’ and be happy in it.
- Staycations are here, well, to stay.
'So, we're going on a summer holiday….'
In 2020, more than 70% of Americans did not take a summer vacation, but over 30% took a staycation.
A staycation is just what it says: you stay at home, but you visit destinations within driving distance from home. Internet searches for 'staycation' have increased seven-fold over the last five years.
It appears that millennials prefer not to venture too far from home, and they say it is due to financial constraints. They prefer shorter and closer-to-home vacations to save more. Coronavirus testing and restrictions also mean that people don’t want to travel internationally.
- Traveling alone
A recent Booking.com survey in July 2020 said that just under 30% of travelers were planning to travel alone. Even before the pandemic, people traveling solo made out 42% of all travelers. It is a big thing on social media, too!
- The effect of Covid-19 on travel
Covid-19 is expected to influence how we travel well into 2022 and beyond.
- People don’t want to be unnecessarily exposed to other travelersand getting on a plane is incredibly stressful. People are therefore much more likely to drive to their destination than flying.
- And when they fly, they no longer choose the cheapest airline. Rather, the decision depends on hygiene standards (is masks compulsory? How are the seats spaced?)
- Social distancingis also a factor. People expect social distancing at the localities they visit. Crowded attractions are a definite no-no. This means that travel itineraries will start to focus more on remote locations or niche travel options such as birding – or bicycle tours where people are unlikely to encounter loads of other people.
(The Refreshed Traveler has a Deluxe Travel Kit to make things easier for you. It contains everything Covid-related that you might need on the go!)
- New technology in the travel industry
Because of Covid-19, digitization of customer – and supply-chain interactions have speeded up, and industry experts say that companies are now three to four years further along than where they would have been without the coronavirus.
- People use their smartphones much more for travel arrangements and spend more than those who book elsewhere.
- Room service robots are becoming a way to control costs and safeguard guests.
- Airlines, booking sites, hotels, and other travel-related services are using chatbots like never before. It doesn't even feel like you are talking to a robot, and most of these communications are hassle-free.
- ‘The experience economy’
On- and offline experiences.
People want more authentic experiences and would rather pay for vacations that are once-in-a-lifetime opportunities. They want to ‘make it count!’ Airbnb now even has online experiences for people who want to connect with exotic-location locals without leaving their homes.
Camping and glamping have made a comeback because people can stay safe amidst the pandemic but still experience local culture.
People want to take their time and appreciate more. Writers call it the 'low and slow' trend – cars, trains, feet, and bicycles are making a comeback. It is all about drinking in where you are and dwelling in a location.
- Being location-independent
Working wherever you are
Statistics say that there are more than 5 million ‘online’ nomads in America alone, and it is not the pandemic that started this. It was a thing before, but it has become more popular since 2020.
Hotels and resorts are now starting to provide specifically for digital nomads. For example, Barbados and the Cayman Islands will let you stay for an extended period if you want to take a ‘workation.’ There are now even hotel rooms for people who need a quiet place to work during ‘office hours.’
- Serious about sustainability
What does sustainable travel mean?
People want to minimize the impact they have on a local cultural environment.
For example, they want to buy souvenirs from local merchants or support local businesses. In addition, more than 70% of travelers said in a recent survey that they are more likely to book accommodation if the property is eco-friendly.
In Africa, a lack of visitors to safari locations in 2020 meant that poaching went up because the funding was not there to pay the park rangers. Many travel companies reacted to the problem and now offer itineraries specifically to help local communities and animals.
In India, for example, you can now travel to the Ranthambore National Park to work with the Tiger Watch NGO. The trend is for people to want to ‘travel for the greater good.’
There is sure to be a much more dynamic relationship between consumers and the travel industry in the future. It is a push and pull, and it is likely to continue well into 2022.
Companies that can adapt quickly to travelers' changing needs and wants are the most likely to succeed in this new environment. The future of traveling looks exciting!