New report entitled To Recovery& Beyond: The Future of Travel & Tourism in the Wake of COVID-19 by the World Travel & Tourism Council (WTTC) in collaboration with management consultants Oliver Wyman finds 4 emerging, intertwined trends in travel and tourism following the initial 2020 surge in COVID-19:
- Demand evolution: Preferences and behaviors shifting toward the familiar, predictable and trusted
- Health and hygiene: Travelers seek health, safety and trust. Fear of crowds or being stranded in a foreign country needs to be addressed.
- Innovation and digitization: Consumers are adopting digital technologies, seeking contactless transactions for buying travel.
- Sustainability: Unemployment, anti-racism movements, the destruction and restoration of natural wildlife habitats, awareness of animal poaching and mistreatment all play parts.
- 74% of Americans plan to take domestic trips only for the rest of 2020.
- 40% of Americans are re-thinking destinations, often in favor of beaches and rural areas.
- However: with mean 9% share of acute-care hospitals, most rural areas are lacking in readiness for sudden virus surges.
- 80% of potential travelers fear quarantine as much as they fear COVID-19.
- 69% consider cleanliness and health as critical components of travel brands' response to COVID-19.
- 66% are paying in cash less.
- 58% say they are more aware of the environment since the onset of COVID-19.
- Travelers are opting for longer vacations: mean short-term-rental stay has increased from 3.5-5 days pre-COVID-19 to 8.5-9 days now.
- 89% of travel businesses say skill gap in local labor markets is a barrier to technology adoption.
Implications for the tourism industry:
- Travel businesses need to work with local communities to develop human assets.
- Businesses need to collaborate with all partners in their value chain to ensure the adoption of health and safety protocols.
- Client-facing staff need to be well trained in and comfortable with the new protocols.
- Employees and local communities must be kept up to speed on digitization, contactless transactions, biometrics, and other emerging technologies being increasingly demanded by consumers.
- Consumers are watching your environmental track record as well as your support for diversity and inclusion. Now is the time to accelerate meaningful changes in these areas.
- Travel businesses and destinations require significant support from governments in areas including maintaining liquidity, easing travel restrictions, protecting workers, promotion and investment.
- Communication - marketing and positioning - will be critical, particularly with regard to sanitation and safety.
- Development of partnerships with local communities for the delivery of authentic experiences will be key in the early phases of recovery.
- Prioritize young travelers who are less risk-averse and thus most likely to jumpstart a travel recovery.
- Eco-friendly destinations will have an advantage.
Insights from WTTC and Oliver Wyman:
- Greater cooperation among governments, businesses and local communities is essential.
- Individual competitive advantage should be secondary to restoring travelers' sense of safety and comfort in travel.
- Agility - accelerating from concept to product launch in record time - will be needed for businesses to sustain revenues.
- It will be vital in the near term to stimulate the revival of international travel.
- Once again, researchers have found that domestic trips, beaches and rural destinations will dominate for the rest of 2020, and likely into 2021 at least.
- Also once again, researchers conclude that health and safety are key selling points for businesses and destinations. We continue to see marketing collateral that's silent on these issues.
- Destinations with quarantine requirements - which people say is no more fun than getting infected - need to work on finding alternatives.
- Best use of public money could be in supporting - and updating the skills- of those temporarily unemployed because of the collapse of tourism.