Let’s think together. For those of you who follow my articles, you will find some points I mentioned in my previous articles, simply because of their importance. Today I will try to throw out some logical facts that may assist you in planning for the future.
There is apparent fear, fear of the unknown, fear of the infection, fear of being infected, and infecting loved ones. But the world cannot just pause. We cannot stay still waiting for things to end, and I’m afraid that we will have to keep on wearing our masks, avoiding crowded areas for some time.
I enjoy numbers, logical analysis, graphs, figures, reading, and educating myself on the latest in the tourism industry trends, measures, marketing strategies, and actions. As a freelancer, I sit in my home office every evening, looking at numbers and the ever-changing trends resulting from this pandemic.
Like you, I have been observing different markets ever since this all started back on Dec 19, and for sure, it’s something we cannot simplify for the significant impact it had on the world. From my observations, I can see some positive signs emerging out of this whole situation. It’s not necessary to be positive today, but for the future.
Covid-19 did teach us many lessons we should keep in our minds and educate generations to follow on its impact and changes it did. It taught us that our world is a small village connected. What affects me will affect you. It taught us that when significant incidents happen in tourism, it would have a domino effect on all markets. It did show how fragile tourism is, yet at the same time, resilient. It taught us how much the trust of travelers is essential in our destinations and us as professionals. It taught us that we have to act swiftly in times of crisis. It taught us the importance of proper communication and delivering the right message to the right audience at the right time.
Covid-19 changed a lot of traveler’s behaviors and requirements. Eventually, it did improve the demanded services requested by tour operators where local DMCs should adapt to, change their offerings, and be creative…
DMOs, Tour Operators, Travel Agencies, Hotels, and the tourism sector, in general, have to be proactive instead of being reactive, and this applies to almost all destinations.
The world did not face such an event in the magnitude before. Each country is trying to learn and cope with its problems, whether economic, health, labor, etc.…
Governments will never be able to support, subsidize your businesses to the level you wish. There will be for sure losses. But instead of just waiting for things to happen, it’s crucial to start planning from yesterday.
The latest studies conducted in Asia, China in particular, and Europe and a report from IATA, showed that people are still hesitant to travel. However, many destinations are opening up, offering attractive packages, and even paying for your vacation in one way. Yet people are concerned. At the same time, studies show an increase in searches for up-coming holidays from specific feeder markets, mainly in China and some EU countries. Searches are being focused on the upcoming period of September 2020 onward, being optimistic.
Now for some destinations, this might sound a bit early either because of the pandemic status they have at the moment or because of Government measures. No matter what the challenges are, you have to act now.
Knowing your target markets: Which countries are allowing their clients to travel, which markets are you open to, what safety protocols are in place, who are the travelers, and what are they looking for?
This information is not that easy to access, yet DMOs can and some Tourism Experts. This should be an exercise done jointly with your DMO or experts involving your stakeholders where efforts are joined, setting down the appropriate approach and strategy on how, when and why you should do what you planned for taking into consideration the following:
* Travelers behaviors will change for the coming 12 – 24 months
* Cleanliness is of utmost importance now more than ever before even with a vaccine
* Hotels will need to make guests feel comfortable
* Digital is vital
* There will be a shift to touchless travel
Destination Marketing Organizations have to evaluate their marketing targets, strategies, marketing channels, and offered products. What worked yesterday does not mean it will work tomorrow.
* many destinations in the world offer one specific product to a particular type of client. Other destinations are rich in their offerings, yet they might have been focusing on one area more than the other, and this is normal according to demand. This has to be re-evaluated.
* While some used only to offer beach and sun holidays, they might have to look into what other offerings they have. Diversity is king these days. Travelers are now more sensitive towards crowded areas. They might prefer to enjoy their holiday in rural areas, countrysides and less visited places.
* If you only depend on few markets, it’s time to spread out and attract others, yet, do not cover yourself to thing. Do it while focusing and after proper logical analysis.
* Young, single, and experienced travelers expect to travel first. Many tourists may choose some soft adventure and wellness experiences that involve getting active and healthy. This includes cycling and trekking tours as well as yoga retreats. There is an increase in searches for rural accommodation, such as camps and some soft adventure activities. These types of holiday combine the ability to ensure physical distance
* Luxury Travel again might be something you should consider. People who can afford it will spare no effort in getting it—flying in their private Jets, exclusive villas, and or resorts that ensure physical distancing and to relax.
* In addition to family travel, FITs, among others.
Some products will need more time to make a comeback; examples:
* Faith Tourism, because of its nature involving large gatherings, like masses and pilgrimage
* City Breaks, people will tend to avoid crowded areas, while the famous Fly & Drive may be popular
* Charters and large groups, unless isolated in resorts or the group, are monitored in a strict path where they know where they went, who they met, etc.
DMCs will need to quickly iterate offerings to coupe to the shifting of traveler’s needs:
* Information says that a shift is going points towards smaller groups, as well as younger travelers
* Mature travelers will be most impacted.
* In a different study, it showed that travelers are seeking luxury or upscale hotel options.
* At the same time, air travel will be more expensive
* Probably hotels will be offering good deals
* Consumer searches are more focused on short trips and smaller groups which are likely to be the trend in the early stages of recovery
* Planning a trip will be far more detailed now. People will search every move they will take for their next journey making sure of the regulations, health and safety measures
* Consumers tend to trust more brands and hospitality chains
* Shopping will witness a decrease due to the effects of the crisis on the purchasing power
* All-inclusive attractive packages may be popular, this does not necessarily mean mass tourism, but rather a super saver deal
* Consumers will for sure have many more choices at attractive rates; the competition will be fierce
* As to the type of trip likely to be taken, there is a definite leaning towards outdoors destinations closer to home
* Going somewhere to relax is a priority to many after this stress and mainly in some remote areas away from crowds
* Consumers say they are more likely to travel with family or with just one or two friends.
Another segment that should be thought of properly, and I insist here on correctly is the domestic market. Staycations it’s not a picnic type trip. It has to be a full package involving all stakeholders so that all can benefit from it. Staycations, if appropriately done and promoted well, can secure a certain percentage of occupancy at hotels, restaurants, etc.
I think that business travel will decrease significantly. Already Zoom meetings have become the norm. Large exhibitions, travel fairs, motor shows, sports events, etc., will have a big question mark.
MICE business will also be affected for a while. Destination weddings, school trips as well.
But for sure nature and outdoor will be the winners. So once you market your destination, look at what you have to offer. Take all that we have said and, most importantly, act fast and be prepared with the right information and the right plan.
The takeaway from this article is:
Be prepared to act fast. Be united to be reliable and creative.
Safety, Health, Hygiene, Brands, Value for Money
Too much change in a short period, but we have to adapt, and as the motto of Radisson Hotels says (Yes, We Can!)
”Adel M. AminTravel & Tourism Expert // Former Deputy Managing Director - Jordan Tourism Board