Industry Leaders Share Their Insights on the Future of Travel

Towards the end of last year, Skift and McKinsey & Company teamed up on a report targeted at travel executives to help them understand the state of the travel market. Through interviews with travel leaders from around the globe, the researchers found insights that will help hoteliers plan for recovery. The report discussed five main themes that hoteliers should know about the future of travel:

1. There is latent demand for travel.

“Customers are interested in traveling again when restrictions lift, even willing to do so before a vaccine is available at scale. China—which, as of the time of writing, has effectively controlled the spread of the virus—is seeing both the leisure and business travel segments recover domestically. And led by Germany, Europe shows encouraging first signs of recovering travel demand. Other geographies, including the United States, have not yet effectively controlled the spread of the virus; even so, we see a considerable increase in searches and advance bookings.”

What we recommend:

With the vaccine program now in full swing, hoteliers need to kick up their marketing efforts to reach consumers who are planning their first pandemic trip. There is going to be incredible competition for bookings as all hotels look to recoup losses from 2020. Focus on past guests and create highly personalized email campaigns that speak to your different segments and highlight why they should return to your hotel when they start traveling again. Looking for some inspiration? Check out these emails, created by Revinate Marketing customers.

2. Travelers want to travel but feel restrained. 

“Indeed, due to necessary public-health measures and safety precautions—such as quarantines, closures, and other restrictions—the leisure space may be curbed by the inability to do anything meaningful at a destination. Similarly, many business travelers who are ready to fly again may be limited by corporate travel policies and companies’ understandable focus on duty-of-care obligations to employees.”

What we recommend:

With safety considerations closing outlets and activities, for the future of travel, it’s time to reimagine your offerings to drive bookings. We have seen great examples of hotels partnering with local chefs to offer delicious brown-bag lunches or fresh-baked pastries, that can be ordered and delivered to guests’ doors. Spa closed? Consider printing up a walking or running map for guests and include a favorite playlist to download. The opportunities are endless but they require some creativity and thoughtful consideration, based on your property. Most importantly, for these new offerings to drive bookings, they must be targeted to the right guest. Segmentation is critical here! 

3. Telecommuting might permanently blur the lines between leisure and business travel. 

“Digital nomads and “bleisure” travel predate COVID-19. However, the pandemic and the rise of remote work seem to accelerate growth of these travel segments. Players across the travel value chain—including destinations, corporate travel managers and hotels —need to think through key implications.”

What we recommend:

If you haven’t already taken a close look at your offerings for guests who will be working remotely during their time with you, now is the time. In addition to ensuring reliable Wi-Fi from all areas of the property, we have seen great examples of hotels rethinking their meeting space to offer guests quiet, safe places to work, outside of the room. Brasada Ranch takes it one step further, with offerings for both workers and their children, to keep them occupied when the school day over but before the work day ends. It’s a great example of rethinking the guest experience to meet customers where they are.

4. Travelers are looking beyond price. 

“The industry needs to cover other terrain before “demand stimulating” its way out of the crisis and instead restore traveler confidence. The travel industry is only as strong as its weakest link, so customers need to be comfortable with all touchpoints in their journeys.”

What is important for the future of travel

What we recommend:

We have been sounding the alarm since the pandemic started around cutting prices and will say it one more time. People are not traveling due to safety concerns. All the rate-cutting in the world won’t bring them in so don’t cut rates. If you do, it will be a race to the bottom as your competitors respond. In fact, the report highlights ‘distance’ as the most important factor in a booking decision, which makes sense since the drive-to market has been the first to return. Hotels can capitalize on this segment by using the geo-targeting feature in Revinate Marketing to isolate local guests and send them highly targeted campaigns around your local offerings. Here are some great ‘staycation’ promotions you can leverage. 

5. Hotel companies need to listen to customers.

“Self-reported sentiments may not accurately reflect preferences or behavior, despite being easy to gather, and especially in the depth of a crisis. For this reason, travel companies cannot rely only on stated preferences; they need to improve the way they keep a pulse on travelers’ actions through leading indicators.”

What we recommend:

The report strongly recommends that hotels move from broad segments like business or leisure and instead focus on microsegments to not only create highly personalized campaigns but also to understand and meet the needs of these travelers. Surveys are a great way to capture data around guests’ needs and when you use a Hotel CRM, you can see survey results in individual guest profiles and in pre-arrival reports, making it easy to ensure that when the guest is on-property, you’re providing the best experience possible. 

The report, The travel industry turned upside down: Insights, analysis, and actions for travel executives, does a great job shedding light on what travel will look like in 2021 and beyond. Recovery will not be immediate and it won’t come easy, but changing attitudes toward travel presents a great opportunity for hoteliers to rethink their offerings and marketing approach. Be sure to check out our Covid-19 Recovery Guide for more insights, examples and best practices for rebounding from the pandemic.

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