Industry Perspectives

How travel will change: seven industry experts share their predictions

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Coronavirus has disrupted the travel industry as we know it. As 2021 fast approaches, we asked industry experts how they think travel will change as a result of the pandemic

From an increased desire for exclusive experiences to a surge in contactless technology adoption, industry experts give their opinion on how travel will change post-pandemic. 

Casper Overbeek, Director of CS & Digital at citizenM, says: At the start of the pandemic, we - along with the rest of the industry - thought people would eventually pick up their routines like they always have. But as the situation developed, we noticed something else. Business travel will take more time than expected to recover, and it will look different than before. We believe there will be a strong connection to a new, remote way of working - a need that citizenM already fulfilled, and with our new developments, will do even more so now.

Simon Lehmann, Co-founder and CEO of AJL Atelier says: The vacation rental vertical has been the first travel vertical to recover, however 'post-pandemic' is a way off as the situation will only change on a large scale once a vaccine is widely available. As the sector adapts, we will see a surge in the adoption of contactless tech and services related to safety and security. In order to grow, property management companies will need to focus resolutely on profitability and sustainability, being smart about cost allocation, as businesses have understood they are vulnerable when demand stops and the income is turned off. As a result, these companies will remain hyper-local and hyper-fragmented for a while to come - the big consolidation play is over for now.

Jeremy Gall, Founder and CEO of Breezeway, says: 2020 has accelerated the trend towards ‘quality accommodations’, and the operational challenges that come with it. We see this directly during the pandemic as safety and cleanliness have become the most important booking considerations for guests. Heightened traveller sensitivity to the preparation and care of the accommodations will be sustained, particularly in categories like vacation rentals and independent hospitality providers. These elevated expectations present an opportunity for hospitality providers to refocus on operations and guest services, and ensure they meet the rising demands of travellers. 

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Steve Parlin, Vice President of Global Partnerships at Amadeus, says: The future of travel will center on the hotelier’s ability to deliver quality experiences that are both safe and unique. Ensuring that your technology partners and distribution channels provide the tools and flexibility required to demonstrate the safety, cleanliness and unique offerings of your property will be vital in addressing the new concerns of "Generation Clean".

And with reduced demand and bandwidth, hoteliers also need to ensure their technology partners can easily ensure an omnichannel approach to distribution so that no potential booking is left behind. They'll need to put their best foot forward across Brand.com, OTAs, metasearch and travel agency channels to target demand wherever it may exist while still preparing for travel markets to rebound.

Marloes de Vries, Senior Travel Analyst at Mintel, says: Although the path to recovery will be slow, the long-term outlook remains positive; once the COVID-19 threat clears, consumers will prioritise experiences again, with holidays amongst the most desired activities. When overseas travel bounces back, so will consumers’ concerns about the impact of travel on the environment; travellers will want options to travel in a more responsible way. The outbreak has also accelerated the demand to avoid crowded areas and will lead to higher appreciation of lesser-known destinations, exclusive and ‘intimate’ experiences. As employers show greater flexibility on working locations, combining holidays with work will become more common, particularly among the younger generation.

Brian Quinn, Chief Development Officer at Domio, says: Travellers now have a heightened desire for flexibility, privacy, cleanliness and more personal space. Due to those factors, aparthotels and long-term stay hotels are poised to remain ahead of the curve and stand out to travellers as an attractive way to have a home-like experience coupled with professional guest support while away. In addition, as more and more companies put remote working policies into place, we will see business travellers looking for places to ‘work and play’ comfortably from, seeking out convenient amenities - such as fully equipped kitchens, living areas, and laundry services - as a result. 

Erwin van der Graaf, Vice President of Operations at Accor, says: It’s too soon to determine what is going to be the final result, but I think it’s going to be a paradigm shift - first of all for our world, but definitely also for tourism and hospitality. Within this shift, I wouldn’t be surprised if there is a giant leap towards demands for more sustainable ways of doing business. Where we are today may be the catalyst for that change. 

 

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Topics
Takeaway
  • Industry experts predict that remote working is here to stay, with an increased focus on convenient amenities - such as fully equipped kitchens and laundry services - expected as a result
  • It’s forecast that as the sector adapts, there will be a surge in the adoption of contactless tech and services related to safety and security
  • There is expected to be heightened demand for more sustainable ways of doing business, with consumers becoming more concerned about the impact of travel on the environment