We are living in a time where everything changed in a matter of months. It is a historical moment where everyone will describe the incidents in terms of “before” and “after.” From the travel industry standpoint, that moment came when the coronavirus pandemic started overpowering the world with its deadly stance.
Before the pandemic, everything was pretty cheap, plenty, and most of all, pretty straightforward. In fact, many times, “over-tourism” was becoming a problem. On the contrary, after the pandemic, things will be different.
For instance, after COVID-19, people will travel less frequently. Some even think that it might be more difficult or expensive moving forward. The moment everyone is experiencing right now is similar to 9/11, where a shocking system is leading to permanent changes. And eventually, it will become a routine.
This is because the pandemic created an apocalyptic effect for the travel industry. Air travel will be down by 95%. Even the Las Vegas strip went completely dark. And ships are no longer moving in the waters. And the happiest place on earth, Disneyland, is facing uncertain times.
To put it simply, everything will change if you keep “travel” as the center of focus. You must be thinking it’s still early to say all this. But the effects are already causing a lot of commotion around. In this article, we have rounded up the significant changes that you can possibly see moving forward.
Before the pandemic, wellness travel and hospitality was not much exciting concept. Most of it revolved around travelers using their days alongside beachside yoga classes, couple massages, hiking, or surfing. The industry was not at all considerate while adopting a “wellness” component.
While such trips won’t fade away, the days of one-size-fits-all wellness travel trends will no longer be applicable now. As the world is still facing the consequences of the pandemic, people are becoming increasingly conscious about their health. This is especially the case with the travelers who were used to jetting away to new and far-off places.
Also, with many people confined to their homes for months, everyone now understands that travel and outdoor explorations have a significant role to play in maintaining mental and physical well-being. In short, wellness is on everyone’s mind. The dream vacations that everyone was planning for 2020 will be on hold, and wellness destinations will be a priority now.
This is because it will be all about reenergizing and finding love, practicing self-care now. Wellness travels allow you to cleanse your mental and emotional health.
Everyone used to plan vacations during this time. However, with COVID-19 continuing to impact public health, many of us are left wondering whether it is even safe to travel. The pandemic will increase the chances of staying at home more rather than risking the health of loved ones.
However, this goes without saying that traveling won’t lose its charm. People who will fly or drive to the next state will keep in mind the safety precautions more than ever. Security and safety will hold a lot of importance to reduce the risk of infection.
For example, people will be very cautious about health guidelines. Further, people will now prefer to travel in smaller groups, preferably family or friends. And there will be a lot of domestic travel that it was otherwise.
Many surveys confirm that there is a trend towards vacation homes rather than hotels now. People are now more comfortable with staying at short-term rentals like vacation homes. This trend is influencing the hosts of rental units to market their property.
For instance, if you search for Airbnb now, many of the listings will have property markings as “sanitized, highly clean, or COVID-friendly. In fact, if you go by a variety of surveys, there is an increase of 6% in vacation unit rentals since 2019.
Furthermore, since sitting at home makes everyone experience a new way of working, it opens a mindset of working from anywhere now. One can expect services like Airbnb and VRBO to offer extended stay plans. The ease of working using a computer is helping travel-hungry employees to get creative about their work more than ever now.
Moreover, the pandemic heightened consumer awareness a lot more. Surprisingly, the timeshare industry took a hit because of the pandemic. This is why existing timeshare contracts became so common. But things were not that bad before the pandemic. The timeshares were so popular before the pandemic. In fact, more than 80% of owners are not regretting their purchase.
People are now looking to exit their shares directly. This is also because maintaining timeshare was out of the question with the economy hitting so badly. This is what saw a rise in the companies who specialize in exiting timeshare contracts. For instance, many are looking for companies like Resort Exit Group that specialize in timeshares. Let’s not forget timeshares only hold importance when there is travel. Otherwise, it’s a massive burden.
Also, flexibility in canceling flights, accommodations, and other travel components will see a rise. There will also be a change in the prepayment conditions.
It goes without saying that airports are at a higher risk of contracting the virus. It’s because many people from different states are moving, either to their home or for business travel. So, it makes sense that people will avoid this mode to reach their favorite destinations.
Also, the pandemic hit the cruise ship industry since they were unable to dock amidst the pandemic. With the CDC currently restricting cruise travel, people are looking for other ways to visit their favorite destinations. However, one can expect lower-distance cruise ships moving forward once the regulatory body approves sea travels.
This is why road trips are on an all-time high now. In fact, as per a survey, more than 50% of respondents confirmed that they would plan a road trip for their vacation. It won’t be wrong to say that drive-to travel will stay even after the pandemic loses control.
The mode is quite popular amongst Gen Z and others since they can easily explore what’s nearby without potentially risking their health. Many even consider this a sustainable option where one can invest more in local communities and get connected.
The new normal led to a new travel anthem, “travel with a purpose.” There is an interest in sustainable tourism and environmental support now. Some also suggest that smaller communities will play a more significant role when it comes to travel.
Travelers can easily make a difference now by visiting small towns that are already struggling economically. For instance, one could travel to lesser-known areas rather than racing to the top destinations. This will help patronize local businesses and donate to nonprofits.
Many leaders are also suggesting going south or to developing countries since they depend a lot on tourism. The diversification of locations will see a considerable increase in the coming years. Also, there will be a rise in travel at home.
Imagine you were cooped inside homes for almost a year. So, even a meal on a patio at a restaurant down the street will feel like magic now. Isn’t that great?
The pandemic hit the world in many ways. Millions lost their lives, economies took a big hit with GDP declining faster than ever. However, the most affected industry was none other than the travel industry. Everything paused for a while. The lockdowns made it even more challenging for the travel industry to recoup and reinvent its ways for a more extended period.
But things are moving towards happier times (this is what we would like to think). So, the travel industry is also adopting ways to lure travelers from all over the world.
Although most of us are ensuring to stay grounded since the virus is traveling east, with many countries already seeing a peak in the third wave, mental health will take precedence over other things that used to matter before the pandemic.
And since travel improves empathy, energy, attention, and focus, there will be an increase in a “travel with purpose” mentality in the future. Also, there will be a lot of changes in the travel industry itself. Everything will become routine, from hand sanitizers in the lobby, cabin crew in masks, and localized lockdowns. It will never be the same once we enter the post-pandemic world.
Having said that, the industry that virtually became standstill amidst the pandemic implemented a lot of changes to keep the movement going without any fear of contracting viruses. At least, until the virus is there, one can expect these trends to continue in the coming years. And if you go by reports and surveys, when the virus will fade away one can expect these trends to flourish evermore.
So, are you ready to travel on your first vacation after the pandemic? If yes, where will it be?