Covid-19 continues to shape travel trends now and into 2022
Not everything goes as you’d expect it to, and that’s particularly true when the world is facing the challenges of a global pandemic. Late last year, we took a look at how 2021 was shaping up in the world of tourism and travel, since we were seeing some of the ‘green shoots’ of tourism recovery.
Yes, we thought 2021 was going to be a significant year in the industry, and maybe it was – just not quite in the way we’d hoped. Instead, everyone who works in tourism faced another year battling Covid-19 – lockdowns, changing border restrictions, Delta and Omicron variants, reduced staff and of course a drop in revenue.
The pandemic is still with us, and looks set to remain so for some time. This means travel on a global scale will look different in 2022, but the good news is we’re better placed to navigate the pandemic than we were a year ago. The question is, how will your business respond to this changing landscape? What does 2022 look like for you?
The World Travel Market (London) conference – a positive sign for travel in 2022
The UK Tourplan team was excited to attend the World Travel Market conference in November, a London-based event that was forced to go virtual last year due to Covid-19. Although this year’s conference was a scaled-down version of what’s arguably the biggest event on the global tourism industry calendar, it was still the real deal. We had a stand there, and enjoyed catching up with colleagues in the industry as well as meeting new ones, and seeing all the latest updates in tour operator technology. And just the fact that the show was actually held this year is a step in the right direction for tourism!
Getting ready for 2022
Here at Tourplan, our clients are talking to us about what they need to do to ramp up, and be well-placed to respond to increasing demand in 2022. There are some key considerations to keep in mind for pandemic-shaped travel in 2022:
- Lack of staff – sadly, many people have lost their jobs or have left the industry due to Covid-19. What this means is that tour operators must now deal with what will be an increase in demand with a reduced workforce. That’s why it’s so important to have the right technology on board – solutions that help streamline processes and boost automation.
- Cancellation policies – these must be well-defined and easy to understand. Because new variants keep popping up, border restrictions are constantly changing. People are only going to book travel now if the cancellation policy is clearly spelt out in black and white and they know exactly what to expect if their plans are disrupted.For tour operators, this means having a very firm grip on your suppliers’ – hotels, transport etc. – cancellation policies, so that you can make them crystal clear to your clients and tailor your own to align with them.
- Vaccine passports – these are a key reason that travel in 2022 looks set to reignite. Fully vaccinated travellers will be able to enter certain countries without restrictions, and it’s important to know what those countries are and what their vaccination policies involve. Providing your clients with accurate information around vaccine passports and where they must be used means they won’t encounter any surprises during their trip.
Because we know a lot more about Covid-19 now than we did when it first struck, and with the advent of vaccines, tourism in 2022 is looking a great deal more positive – in fact, it’s the beginning of a new era in the tourism industry.
Boosting ‘green’ credentials
There is another key consideration to keep in mind for the future of tourism that has nothing to do with the pandemic, and that’s the increasing spotlight on climate change. Tour operators can’t afford to ignore the fact that many people these days are actively seeking to reduce their carbon footprint when they travel. Sustainable travel is set to have a significant impact on the industry, such as:
- Increased demand for alternatives to air travel, e.g. trains
- Increased demand for alternatives to petrol-powered vehicles, e.g. E-bikes
- The option to go with smaller tour groups to reduce nature and environmental damage
- Tourist products manufactured with sustainable methods using recycled material
To stay ahead of what is most definitely a growing trend, tour operators and DMCs need to work with their local suppliers to deliver customised travel experiences that are specifically designed to be environmentally friendly.
Watch this space
At Tourplan, we’re continually innovating, and we have some exciting client-focused developments ready to launch early next year. For the past few months, we’ve been working on a new feature that’s set to lift our customer service to a whole new level, so make sure you check back with us for updates.
And as we farewell 2021 and herald in a new year, we’d like to thank all our valued customers for their continuing support. As you prepare your business for the new challenges of 2022, don’t hesitate to reach out – we’re here to help and partner with you as you look forward to a positive future for travel and tourism.