What is the Future of the Holiday Industry Going to Look Like in Post-Pandemic Times?
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Hope Is On the Horizon
It has certainly been a tumultuous year for everyone with the Covid-19 pandemic affecting all areas of business, travel and lifestyles. But with hope on the horizon regarding the rollout of vaccines and infection levels beginning to wane, does this mean we can all enjoy a vacation in the not too distant future? Well, hopefully, the answer to that is yes! Having been confined to our homes for most of 2020, the notion of being able to step onto a plane and travel somewhere exotic has never seemed so appealing as it does in 2021.
Expect A Surge In Vacation Bookings This Summer
There has already been a sharp increase in the number of bookings that people are making here in the US. Jeff Hurst, a co-marketing leader at Expedia travel company has certainly noticed a surge of bookings through their online business with many people feeling optimistic about being able to travel this Summer and wanting to secure vacations already. In a March 2021 Survey conducted by The Vacationer at least 25% of people expressed a strong interest in wanting to travel once the pandemic was over. This demonstrates that there is certainly a lot of interest to be able to resume travelling again.
Discounts for Consumers
Though the majority of industries within the travel industry like hotels have seen significant drops in income, their willingness to provide cheaper rates and more flexibility could actually work in their favor now. In order to encourage customers to book they are reducing their rates which is likely to increase interest among people who would like to find a good deal. Chip Rogers who is CEO of American Hotel & Lodging Association, believes that now is the ideal time to book your vacation as many hotels have reduced their prices due to an 85% decline of business bookings in April alone. So room availability is certainly there to be utilized which is why they are able to lower their prices.
The plethora of vacation discounts already being introduced is going to work in favor of the holiday makers. If you are inclined to shop around online to see what great discounts you could find regarding hotel stays and travel, then websites like NetVoucherCodes.co.uk are worth looking at now to see what you can find. Those few minutes browsing online could end up saving you quite a few dollars, which could then be used towards another part of your trip like visiting a certain attraction or opting for a more expensive dinner. If you have been able to save money over the course of 2020 then you would certainly be deserving of a good holiday to make up for such a difficult year.
“Bleisure”, A New Travel Trend?
It is unlikely that the majority of office-type businesses are going to see their entire workforce returning to the office simultaneously this summer. They have realised this past year that many are able to continue proactively doing the same job they would normally do, but remotely instead. Is it possible that a new type of business travel will emerge, known as “Bleisure”. This would enable workers, particularly those with families to merge both aspects of business and pleasure into their schedule. With the ability to work remotely and attend conference calls via zoom, people would be able to book vacations where their children can attend activities during the day and be able to relax in a more scenic atmosphere after completing work tasks.
United Airlines have already anticipated a surge in demand in destinations such as Myrtle Beach, Florida, South Carolina and Maine where this type of holiday would be possible by increasing flights from major cities from other areas of the country. This is going to be beneficial for workers who would otherwise have to book time off to have vacation time with their families, and will also certainly benefit the holiday industry with more bookings being processed.
What About Package Holidays, Will There Still Be a Demand?
With the ability to browse for vacations on your smartphone and laptops, you would think that the need for a travel agent to assist you would be at an all-time low. However, they are beginning to see a resurgence in demand since the Covid-19 Pandemic has begun. At least 55% of Millennials when surveyed said they would hire a travel agent to assist with planning their vacation, compared to only 28% of Baby Boomers.
The ability to provide their professional experience assists in avoiding costly mistakes and they are able to provide some form of compensation or insurance policy in the eventuality that the vacation was affected by cancellations or events out of their control. This can alleviate a great deal of stress for the consumer in the build-up to their vacation and after. The Millennials that were surveyed felt more at ease knowing that they have been protected with holiday insurance in the event that something did not go according to plan.
According to IBISWorld data, travel agencies have seen an increase of 65.1% so far this year, due to people being optimistic about the ability to travel later on this summer, in post-pandemic times. James Ferrara who is President of Intele Travel in Florida believes that consumers have learned to appreciate the work that travel advisors offer, particularly when a lot of people have been unsuccessful in obtaining refunds from postponed vacations in 2020. He has noticed in his 30-year career that demand currently, is at an all-time high, which is certainly looking a bit more optimistic for this sector of the travel industry which previously looked to be on a steady decline.
The benefit of a package vacation is that you are provided with more protection policies covered by travel regulations, compared to if you book this yourself. Travel agents are under obligation to advertise clearly what they are providing you and must adhere to it. They are also able to provide compensation if the booking is canceled due to circumstances out of their control such as extreme weather affecting a flight or it being canceled completely. So you can see why this would be a popular option to go for as a consumer when there was so much disruption last year due to the pandemic and difficulty in obtaining refunds.
Has The Pandemic Enabled the Travel Industry to Implement Positive Changes That Could Remain Permanently?
In order to comply with health and safety regulations and encourage consumers to book vacations again, there has been the necessity to implement certain protocols. Providing a much more sanitized environment and allowing consumers more flexibility with regards to their bookings are most likely changes that would otherwise have not been implemented were it not for the Covid-19 pandemic.
But now that consumers are becoming accustomed to more stringent sanitary environments it would not make much commercial sense to then withdraw these changes all of a sudden with the risk of deterring the consumers. A significant proportion of people will now factor in cleanliness when deciding where to take their next vacation. This has meant that hotels, rentals, airlines and airports have been forced to reevaluate their current cleanliness routines in order to provide the necessary clean and sanitized environments that consumers now expect to receive.
Companies such as AirBnB have also revised their booking and cancellation policies to ensure that consumers are provided with more clarity in which policies relate to their booking. Prior to the pandemic, it was common for hosts to set their own policies which would cause a lot of confusion for consumers not knowing for certain whether their booking was refundable or not. Now the booking company has introduced both refundable and non-refundable options for consumers, with a discount provided if you are not able to receive your money back, which is a similar protocol to how large hotel companies operate.
A Boom for Smaller Businesses
A positive of the pandemic in the travel industry has been a shift in the type of accommodation that many consumers are now opting for. More people prefer the idea of renting an apartment in a quiet rural location or booking a room in a small hotel where they are more secluded, away from large crowds, and have more space to roam around. This has created a buzz for smaller businesses and towns who perhaps during pre Covid-19 times would have been outpriced by large chain hotels in city centers. Christopher Anderson, a professor at the Cornell School of Hotel Administration, believes that smaller independent hotels are likely to thrive in 2021 as people cautiously return to a more normal life, which will create an exciting buzz for these travel industries on the outskirts of city centers and suburbs.