One month from the probable reopening of the ski season, scheduled for 7 January 2021, and with the certainty that going "back to normal" is not and will not be possible, we'll conclude this analysis of tourism trends of 2021 with four different ways of seeing a holiday.
If you haven't read my previous article, I invite you to do so
We've seen that the ways of enjoying holidays are changing: slow travel, statutory regulation, experience tourism, staycations, social travel, workations, social destinations, wellness hospitality, sustainable tourism.
Without getting into a discussion of the specific terminology,
we can identify the following trends:
Travellers who do everything, but EVERYTHING from their phones.
From searching for a hotel to evaluating it by reading the reviews and reviewing it themselves, from paying for coffee with an app to researching the best way of enjoying the wellness facilities, paying for a train ticket or using the best weather app for the area.
It goes without saying that we have to be ready, prepared and present on all channels (social media, portals, apps) which our potential customers might use, while remaining up to date
and perfectly integrated in the main systems (Apple-Google) and circuits (Visa-Mastercard) for both enjoyment of the service itself and payments.
In some cases these social travellers aspire to become travel bloggers or influencers, and before it becomes their main job, they create an up-to-date network of information by sharing and reviewing everything about their journey and their stay on various channels and platforms.
They themselves may not be our target audience, but they can help us reach it if our strategy is to tap into it using their work. This strategy is similar to what some places do when they sponsor the athlete of the moment.
Staycations (proximity tourism)
Restrictions on movement during this period have motivated many tourists to rethink their holidays and choose destinations closer to home, with considerably lower cost and less environmental impact, yet without sacrificing the desire for something different.
There are plenty of hidden places to visit near to home, and many initiatives ongoing in major cities to offer tourist experiences to citizens.
So we can explore places, activities, customs and traditions, for a real holiday that's closer to home.
This applies to cities as well as tourist destinations.
It's no accident that for some years tourism operators are in the habit of staying in tourist destinations to seek inspiration and immerse themselves in a place that's seemingly identical to their own town or hotel.
Workations and remote working (from home or on holiday)
This is currently one of the trendiest terms, and it's definitely changing our way of seeing work.
Many jobs allow working from home, and a range of market surveys confirm that companies which adopted this practice will continue with it even after the pandemic.
This too is a niche in the market that's worth considering, and we can offer some amenities that go beyond good wifi.
Dedicated meeting rooms in underused or refurbished spaces, with individual stations for use during the working day. These should be clean, tidy, quiet and well-lit places with an atmosphere favourable for concentration. They should be available for extensive periods, from early morning to late evening, without restrictions on bar and restaurant services.
Subscriptions to company services for video conferencing, to guarantee a unique, high quality service for the world of work.
Already trialled by some business owners, offers that target a niche audience are an opportunity to bring it closer to our company's identity and core business.
If we have animals, we could take our business in that direction by sharing
our love and providing everything pets need.
If we enjoy the tranquility of a house without interruptions by technology, we could offer a stay that's free of connections.
There are no set categories, and it works both ways: some places focus on families with small children, while others accept only couples without kids.
Some target single parents with children and some are for women only, shopping or museum visits.
In short, there are countless variables we can use to gear our offer to a carefully defined target audience.
This differentiation between competitors will become an important part of the process of change, so that things don't get back to normal, but better than before.
And here's the reason why we should reflect not only on our business, but also on the destination itself.
Tourist destinations that have focused only on growth in recent years, without taking into account the ongoing climate crisis or the limitations inherent in the area (which do not allow endless growth) need to think differently, starting right now.
This has already been done in places that have embraced gated tourism to limit numbers (for example Venice or Machu Picchu).
Stakeholders have the possibility of taking their destination in this direction and ultimately creating a systemised shift towards tourism that's less seasonal, more profitable and less stressful for operators, guests and the environment.