The travel and tourism industry has been one of the most affected by the current global health crisis, with international tourism falling by over 70% in 2020.
The year 2021 saw an uptick in May, though between January and May of this year, tourist arrivals were 85% below 2019 levels — this despite major strides made in vaccination and current health improvements in many parts of the world. As stated by UNWTO Secretary-General Zurab Pololikashvili, key steps need to be taken to rebuild trust in travel – including accelerating the pace of vaccinations, improved coordination and communication with respect to travel restrictions, and the use of advanced digital tools. A recent Accenture report, meanwhile, defines six key steps the industry needs to take if it is to survive.
Surviving the Slump: Current Trends
The Accenture report, entitled Travel industry recovery: Business or leisure? indicates that travel companies need to create and capture demand for leisure travel. The most powerful overall trend in current times is undoubtedly that of safe travel. The authors state that there are four key trends to take note of integrated personal wellness, a focus on domestic/local travel, sustainable travel, and travelling to see loved ones face-to-face. Companies will also need to reframe their strategies to prioritize leisure. Today, approximately 14% of companies have remote workers and this phenomenon is predicted to grow in upcoming years thanks to the success of telecommuting and continual advances in digital work and communications.
Key Areas of Focus
The report recommends six key areas of focus the industry needs to take: glocal brand or marketing strategies (focusing on travel ‘close to home’), loyalty programs and the identification of ‘lookalike’ members, personalizing connections with clients across all channels, data-driven segmentation and targeting to boost local engagement, and delivering safe, seamless experiences that will boost further travel. The report warns that these changes should be effected immediately because quick adaptation can bring big gains to savvy airlines and travel companies.
Future Travel Trends: Space and Underwater Travel
Events such as SUTUS (The Space & Underwater Tourism Universal Summit), taking place between September 22 and 24 in Europe, is a sign of how the travel industry plans to inspire intrepid travellers in future years. Events like Jeff Bezos’ short flight aboard the New Shepard, broadcast across traditional and social media channels, have made extreme adventure/luxe travel more appealing than ever and it is predicted that the space travel industry alone will be worth $3 billion by 2030. Decades may pass until you can bring your kids to space on your holidays, but big strides are definitely being made in that direction. Predicted trends include working and vacationing in space, deep space exploration, and space ecology and sustainability.
Leveraging Data Capabilities
New efforts will require technical support, with digital transformation continuing to be key in the sector. Mobile, for instance, will become an increasingly important means for operators to reach potential customers. Also leading the way is smart hotel tech that permits travellers to access their room, adjust the temperature, and check out all via their phones. The Starwood chain is one step ahead, as it offers guests automated check-ins and digital keys. Finally, travel companies will be more focused than ever on big data, which will help them improve customer experiences and cement customer loyalty via personalized offers and programs.
The travel industry has experienced dramatic setbacks in recent times. However, innovation is the key to survival. Top trends to be adopted include digitization, domestic travel, and sustainability. In the short-term safety will be prime, as will seamless travel thanks to coordinated communications of relevant health and safety rules and regulations.
Author: Briana Hilton