By now, there is no question that the COVID-19 global pandemic will forever change many things about the way we live.
Travel and tourism, and industry which employs 1 in 10 people around the world, has been one of the hardest hit. Travel businesses went from what was shaping up to be of the best years on record to literally zero overnight.
One day we will wake up and this nightmare will be behind us. We will travel again, but the way we travel will likely look a bit different. Here are 5 ways we expect to see travel change in a post-COVID world.
Greater Transparency Throughout the Travel Supply Chain
Like other hard goods, travel services have a supply chain. On any given itinerary, there are several different businesses involved. It is the job of companies like Videre Travel to select the best travel suppliers and aggregate them into one complete, seamless itinerary.
One of the most important decisions sellers of travel make is with whom we do business. As we've been saying on social media, over the past several weeks our in-country partners have emerged as the true heros during this horrible time.
We've taken the opportunity to educate our clients about the various travel suppliers involved and have enjoyed highlighting these companies who are often "hidden" in the background of a trip.
Moving forward, we look forward to shining a spotlight on our travel suppliers, and expect savvy travelers to take a more active role in understanding how all the pieces work together.
More Flexible Cancellation and Change Policies (but at a Price)
Over the past few weeks we scrambled to cancel and reschedule travel for our clients; working around the clock to support our clients while at the same time losing any planned income to the travel agent.
Together with our clients, we've had conversations about terms, conditions, and cancellation policies from the airlines, hotels, and international operators. While these policies have always been in place, this unprecedented global pandemic was the first time many travelers took time to read them.
In response, most tour operators have been extremely accommodating in allowing travelers to reschedule travel and retain the full amount paid which in "normal" times generally would not have been an option. We all are in this together and are dedicated to serve and support our clients, you the traveler.
Moving forward, we expect to see more flexible terms and more cancellation options emerge based on traveler demand, though this will come at a premium price. While travelers have become accustomed to lower pricing on hotel rooms in exchange for a non-refundable booking, we'll see this same pricing policy extend to travel services throughout the supply chain.
Families Abandon Mass Market Booking for the Big Trips
The value of working with a high-touch travel company was on full display during the hectic few weeks of trip cancellation and rebooking as the COVID crisis escalated. Clients of Videre Travel and other full service travel companies were able to send a quick email with when they wanted to reschedule their trip, and these companies went to work behind the scenes to make it happen.
A lot of these decisions and itinerary changes were made on a case by case basis, reflecting the strong, enduring relationships we have in place with our suppliers all around the world.
This was in stark contrast to those who had booked travel on Booking.com or Costco. Both companies we generally unavailable to offer any immediate assistance during this time.
Family travelers will increasingly value specialized service over mass market travel booking, particularly when it comes to a big, bucket list trip.
Small Businesses Have Their Day in the Sun
As cities rapidly shut down, the impact on local, small businesses was devastating. Restaurants and gyms shuttered. Music lesson studios, pet care facilites, dental offices and countless other small businesses were forced to close and let go of employees.
However, the resulting support from communities for these small businesses has been heartening. By purchasing gift certificates, take out meals, even spending time leaving reviews online, we've all been able to help keep these valued small businesses operating in our community.
We expect this appreciation of and support for small business to continue when this crisis is behind us. Travel and tourism is made up of a global network of literally millions of small businesses who are eager for this same support.
Evolution of the Bucket List Trip
Expect the best travel companies to emerge from COVID-19 with revamped product and innovative new experiences. However, it's a bit early to tell exactly what this will look like.
There has been a lot of chatter in the travel industry about more "off the beaten path" experiences away from crowds with a focus on what seems "safe" and "easy" to travelers. Of course, these terms can mean very different things to different people.
When it comes to family travel, we predict that the desire for "safe" and "easy" will manifest in the form of amazing local guides delivering flawless experiences, nothing left to chance no matter how remote the location. Perhaps we'll see more detailed itineraries or greater use of video during the planning process, so travelers can feel completely confident and know exactly what to expect ahead of travel.
In summary, while it’s impossible to predict the future industry analysts expect traveler sentiment to rebound around 45 days after the peak infection of this global pandemic. So come July 1st - you know where to find us. Until then, stay home, stay healthy, and wash your hands!