The future of travel is here and in order to stay afloat the industry must adapt by incorporating more technological advancements and changes in client demand.
Although 2020 may be the year that complicated our travel bucket list – it has surely unfolded a new perspective for holidaymakers, hotels and vacation providers.
A National Geographic article revealed how women-focussed tours redefined the travel industry where women influenced the travel segment in most aspects. Similarly, couchsurfing, hostel accommodations and aparthotels catered to a large market which embraced living like a local; for a more personalized experience. While hotels arguably lost their monopoly, new businesses and experiences received an economic boost until the pandemic single-handedly brought a $300 billion dollar industry to its knees.
We might still fancy a trip halfway across the world and fuel our holiday cravings with virtual tours that Google doodles’ previously promoted or live Airbnb experiences virtually. Those who are ardent readers and travellers may be intrigued by how a maintenance staff member spent two months by himself, in sun-kissed Barcelona’s W Hotel.
As the developments in the hospitality industry are still evolving, four travel trends seem to be promising in the (hopefully) not too distant future:
Experts have disputed the idea of staycations as they are portrayed as a familiar weekend getaway with nothing entirely surprising to offer, besides unparalleled hospitality by renowned hotel chains and boutique hotels. Some may remark that staycations are quite niche.
Marketing efforts by hotel brands and their agencies together with government incentives, indicate a level of confidence among citizens and residents. Singapore’s tourism campaign; Singapoliday – encouraging locals and residents to explore the city in a bid to support the tourism-savvy economy, charts a path to supporting a range of co-existing local businesses in the food, retail and entertainment sectors. Further west, the UK and Ireland introduced a staycation tax rebate to encourage domestic tourism and invariably support businesses to restore economic activity in the hospitality industry.
Canada, on the other hand, is taking precautionary measures to reopen its borders within provinces while strongly encouraging groups of less than 10 people to support the lively hospitality industry; with resorts beginning to operate at a 40% capacity.
Artificial Intelligence and Technology
Various industries have demonstrated how artificial intelligence (AI) and technology have proven efficient in meeting operational demands, and its role in the travel industry is ramping up. For instance, Dubai Airport has a smart gate system for around 60 passports – akin to the US’ global entry process. These automatic gates require the traveller to scan their passport or ID to read their details, reducing the need for face to face interactions with customs officers .
The hospitality industry has also incorporated a hassle-free self check-in process that requires a smartphone, and voice recognition to access hotel rooms and amenities, taking a cue from Amazon’s brainchild, Alexa.
Hyatt properties, among other hospitality brands are making a smooth transition to contactless hotel check-in. Interestingly, hotel chains and boutique hotels have begun to introduce QR codes for its food and beverage menu to support its transition to a digital experience whilst upholding its sustainability policies.
Technology is believed to lower operational costs by at least 15% while AI tools are viewed as a relationship building exercise with consumers. Artificial intelligence and technology greatly co-exist and this practice signals a promising growth.
Holidaymakers have closely followed the cruise sector, with a majority citing a cruise experience on their bucket list.
River cruising has piqued the interest of cruise lovers owing to a demand for short-distance cruising – giving cruisers more flexibility to explore coasts and cities, as opposed to a cruise itinerary spread across two to three continents.
Scenic countries like Canada and New Zealand may tap into their resource rich marine life for residents and neighbouring countries to explore their fascinating coastline and provide a cruising experience close to home.
Globalization has opened doors to living the expat life and weekend getaways assuring expats the ability to curb homesickness, owing to interest-based groups and shopping groceries at supermarkets that stock international products.
COVID-19 has re-evaluated pre-existing travel plans – in many cases putting them on hold for the foreseeable future. Lockdowns have led to limited movements among a fair percentage of the world’s population that has contributed to being miles away from family members and loved ones.
The coming months and the next few years presents itself with a good chance to reunite with family members and loved ones for a vacation in order to bridge the gap caused by spending time apart.
The travel and hospitality industry – a volatile yet flourishing industry is bound to undergo rapid changes that constantly redefines its nature in all respects. Customer experience is a constant factor that measures the success of a business as businesses seek to cater to their internal and external stakeholders; with offering unmatched standards of customer experience playing a key role – making customer experience the lifeblood of the travel industry.
As a lifestyle enthusiast, I enjoy exploring new cities, dining at vegan-friendly restaurants and subscribing to publications that trigger my interests. By day I'm either working on a new campaign with a team of industry-savvy colleagues or researching for a new business pitch. I fuel my passion for writing by occasionally contributing to platforms that empower the creative community.