-4,499 B$. That was the difference in the contribution of travel and tourism to worldwide GDP between 2019 and 2020. One word, pandemic.
The travel industry is no stranger to major setbacks. In fact, name any sector that has been more disrupted than travel?
The first transformation was digital: from search, to booking engines, to apps and influencers, completely changing every aspect of the traveller and holiday experience. Traditional travel giants have gone to the wall (RIP Thomas Cook), whilst relatively young companies (Booking.com, Airbnb) now dominate the market.
Then came the pandemic. The statistics speak for themselves: in October 2020, the International Air Transport Association (a Good Rebels client) said that international traffic had “all but disappeared”, with airlines running at about 10% of normal levels. While vaccination efforts are allowing the world to gradually reopen, IATA predicts that global travel will not return to pre-pandemic levels until 2024.
2022, borders are open, what else has changed?
As the industry slowly recovers, and assesses the long-term impact of the pandemic both on traveller demand, and of ‘super digitalisation’ on expectations of the traveller experience, now is the time to look to the future and understand how travel businesses will flourish in the next chapter of their evolution.
We’ve observed 4 prominent trends in traveller demand:
- Forget wanderlust.. It’s a wandermust
The world has itchy feet, being stuck at home has seen the ‘travel bug’ skyrocket leaving 77% of people with an urgency to explore! The dream to book trips, new adventures to new cities, countries, anything to get far and out of their house.
OTAs (online travel agency), like Booking.com, have seen a massive 65 million+ wishlists created since March 2020.
- Bang for your buck
Spending habits are changing! And this includes how much people are prepared to spend on holidays. Standards are still high so people are getting crafty to guarantee a great trip on a budget.
- Safety and confidence first!
People are wary! With new safety precautions, new technology will have to up its game to accommodate them, and to maintain great customer experience.
Consider that 63% of people will not travel to highly crowded areas and in turn, opt for new destinations. Examples of the new technology will include services that are more efficient and ensure reduced human contact and interactions.
- Think green, think simple
Keep it local, keep it authentic. Less is more – we’ve seen an emphasis placed on a more minimalistic approach to travel. The world has seen an ‘impact awakening’. A staggering 87% of Travellers want to travel sustainably, 69% of travellers expect transparent, environmentally responsible options and 35% want travel points or rewards when booking said trips. Travellers are looking to appreciate trips that involve being outdoors and/or with the family on holidays, think rural and nature.
Designing the traveller’s experience
Let’s just say, traveller behaviour: it’s hard to predict the unpredictable
Marketers often seek to create order out of chaos; to push audiences into ‘segments’, ‘journeys’, ‘funnels’’. To create short term desire, not long term demand.
Designers think differently. Designers create products and experiences that have demand ‘baked in’, where the quality of the product and the experience is, at least in part, also the marketing.
In a post pandemic and super digital world we have to accept that the traveller experience operates in a non-linear way and contains multiple points, many outside our control. When we look into the future, it’s clear that successful travel businesses will be those that focus on the design of the experience points they can influence.
At Good Rebels we’ve been inspired by the changing world of travel and have identified 6 experience points for travel companies to focus on, using a mix of design thinking and marketing expertise, to improve the quality of the traveller experience.
Let’s break it down.
The trip begins when you start daydreaming about it!
The craving for adventure has only multiplied since COVID-19 began. Plant the seed and be there (active) for when they dream of their next adventure!
Use technology and creativity to grab the attention of potential travellers and provide a real sense of the travel experience.
Make research fun
Allow the traveller to engage with your brand! The research of booking a trip is such an undervalued experience opportunity. This is when excitement and anticipation builds ahead of buying decisions on trains, planes and destinations.
Make sure you’re covering your ground online. Make it immersive, how does your experience fit their wants compared to other brands?
The joy of booking
Take care of your traveller’s experience across all digital touch points, one too many traveller booking journeys are abandoned because of UX flaws that interrupt and frustrate the user. Consider how people constantly switch between smartphones and desktops to double-check prices.
Does your booking system add joy and not pain to the traveller experience?ç
There’s a lot of anxiety in the air when it comes to this stage of a trip these days. Let’s bring back the excitement, keep them engaged – there’s nothing better than the build up before a trip!
Thinking about what you’ll pack, where you’ll go, what you’ll do. The very best traveller experiences are enhanced by brands who use digital to build anticipation and excitement before your feet have left the ground.
Consider email automations containing the likes of recommendations for restaurants, excursions or products that are relevant to your business and therefore can enhance the travellers’ experience.
You’ve landed! Now the enjoyment really starts. But does it? Focus on delivering exceptional customer experiences, this will be crucial for the post-pandemic travel rush.
How will your brand make the traveller experience, from landing, to transit, to check in, to activities, as delightful as possible?
From loyalty programmes, to customer reviews and advocacy, you need to make sure the amazing experiences you provide are shared and enjoyed.
Your customer had such a positive experience that they told their friends about you. You now have a brand ambassador to provide you with free word of mouth marketing.
No two journeys are the same and that goes for the customer, traveller in this case, journey. Travel has become focused on quality than quantity, with a high demand for exclusive and personalised services. This new reality we are facing is a great opportunity to challenge our creativity and innovation to meet the new expectations and needs.
Build lasting customer relationships by empowering customization and automating those voluminous and tedious processes where people do not contribute value and ensure the best trip experience ever… even before it’s begun.
Got you interested? We hosted a webinar with 3 industry experts in January and recorded it for those of you who perhaps missed out!
Give it a watch: