When flights were grounded and the world stopped moving in March 2020, no one could have known how great (or how long-lasting) the impact would be on the hospitality and travel industry. As we progress further in 2021, with the peak time for Spring and Summer holidays just around the corner, now is the time to start considering the long term implications of the pandemic and how both businesses and travellers need to change their holiday habits.
Health and Safety
The first and most important factor that needs addressing is the traveller need for more health and safety measures, with most people likely to travel only when they are given the assurance by hotels and airports alike that they will be able to keep a safe distance from others. People will want to feel like their health is being protected before they step on a plane or into a hotel, and so one of the biggest things that companies need to address is exactly how they will present that guarantee to budding holidaymakers.
Some of the top ideas floating around the industry at the moment include:
- Antibacterial wipes and gels being presented to travellers before they step onto the plane so that they are free to wipe down their area before being seated.
- Increased hygiene and deeper cleaning of planes, airports and other transport hubs (for example bus terminals, trains, train stations, and public facilities).
- Travellers encouraged to wear masks in compacted transport spaces.
This is a concept that was already making waves in the industry before the pandemic, with an increasing number of travellers relying on digital boarding passes to get them onto a plane; email confirmations and online QR codes to gain them access to hotels; even online visas granting them access to new countries. In a post-pandemic world, this is only like to increase further, with more and more travellers looking for ways of storing everything they need on a phone so there is no need to exchange paper tickets and visas by hand – reducing the need for contact.
For things like business trips, touchless travel may even go so far as to eliminate the need for travel at all in many cases – with the pandemic proving that businesses are able to operate through remote meetings and virtual events, rather than encouraging business individuals to travel across the world for conferences and strategy meetings.
This is something that is currently being explored by many countries with regards to allowing visitors; however, the likelihood is that once the pandemic is over, travellers may have to present more than just a visa to gain access to their holiday destination. Proof of vaccinations and negative Covid tests are just a couple of the potential requirements that may go alongside the visa for future travel.
Travellers and hospitality businesses alike will need to be aware of what this could mean for wait times and travel logistics, with queues at customs likely to take much longer for the foreseeable future.
Sustainability or Profitability?
As an industry, the world of hospitality has long been divided over the balance between sustainability and profitability. While concepts like our Adharia floating suites are built on ways of delivering high quality and profitable experiences through sustainable and environmentally friendly models, there are other customer touchpoints that are not so kind to our environment – and unfortunately, there is a chance that as businesses pick themselves back up, sustainability commitments will be thrown out the window in the hunt for profit and more business opportunity.
Some of the impacts we perceive include:
- More call for private travel rather than using public transport, increasing the number of private hire vehicles on the road.
- Hospitality businesses cutting corners to keep costs down, often at the expense of the environment.
Over the last year, travellers have been told to stay local and not travel – and there is a chance that this will extend for at least another season as holidaymakers consider keeping their vacations more local and travelling by car as opposed to flying to another country altogether. What this means for the hospitality industry is that it needs to continue serving and marketing to both a local visitor sector and an international one.
This also means that smaller boutique hotels and holiday homes are likely to farewell, as well as options like our floating suites and individual guest houses that allow travellers to keep their distance from others.
A renewed focus on wellness
Wellness has been a big area of focus throughout the pandemic and will continue to hold a place in the priorities of many – particularly as they grow used to a post-pandemic world. Travellers will be looking for experiences and restorative trips which allow them to re-immerse themselves in the world of travel that they once enjoyed, and it is up to us as an industry to deliver those kinds of experiences that allow them to feel relaxed and at ease, as well as safe.
Don’t be surprised if suitcases become full of hand sanitiser and stylish face masks. This trend is likely to continue for quite some time!
The travel and hospitality industry is finally being given a chance to rebrand itself as safe and ready to welcome customers back – and with almost a year of preparation time behind us, we fully expect to see the industry embracing all manner of different ideas and concepts designed to entice travellers back in.
Travel is going to change, and it’s up to the industry to adapt to the changing attitudes and priorities of its core audience – offering luxury and relaxation alongside safety and social distancing.