One of the most severely affected sectors in the past two years has been travel and hospitality, and all experts agree that the recovery will not happen overnight. After almost two years of uncertainty during the pandemic, we still can't have 100% predictions, but precisely due to the drastic external impact, certain directions and trends are already starting to appear and light is shining again on the horizon.
Nowadays, it has become natural that travellers have to meet special requirements during a trip, also health and cleaning protocols have become commonplace for our travels. After a long period of confinement, many people long for distant destinations, but there has been a general increase in the need for time spent outdoors and when it comes to travelling people want to have a more meaningful and enjoyable time. In this article we’ll show 6 trends that will possibly characterize our travels next year.
We’ve been experiencing increasing global vaccination rates in 2021, however international travel remains uncertain. Countries can issue new travel restrictions at any time, not to mention testing requirements and compulsory quarantine which are discouraging foreign inbound travelers. Airline companies are also cautious in reestablishing flights to long-haul destinations, which is another obstacle for overseas travel.
Traveling will continue on a regional scale in 2022, generating domestic travel demand for accommodation providers. This primarily favors countryside, seaside resorts and vacation rentals in remote locations where guests can escape from cities and unwind. On the other hand, urban hotels will have a tough time due to the lack of foreign travellers, business trips on hold, cultural and sport events postponed.
Travelling to places within relative close proximity, travelers will be looking for ways to make their trips more sustainable, preserving popular tourist destinations in their original beauty for future generations to come. This is already showing in online search trends and Google has just recently introduced eco attributes, allowing hotels to highlight the eco-friendly practices available at their property on the Google Business Profile.
The Covid-19 pandemic has shown us just how quickly travel restrictions can change day to day. This makes planning holidays in advance a lot more difficult than before. Following the summer travel surge in 2021, our hotel partners are experiencing shortening travel windows to 72, 48 or in some cases only 24 hours prior to arrival. This makes forecasting and revenue optimisation almost impossible for hoteliers.
While this extremely short booking window is a temporary trend, in this current environment travelers will look for flexibility when choosing a hotel even if that means paying a higher price. A flexible cancellation and payment policy will put the guest at ease of mind that even if they need to cancel the trip at the last minute, there is only a limited penalty fee required by the hotel. Sharing the risk of cancellation is appealing for guests.
Insurance companies will see a rising demand as countries gradually reopen their borders. Some countries even require inbound travelers to have an insurance covering a minimum amount for crossing the border. For example for Thailand to accept a travel application, the traveler needs to contract an insurance with a health coverage of $50,000 for Covid medical and quarantine costs.
Managers at both new and reopening hotels faced the daunting task of recruiting new team members in the middle of the labor shortage within the hospitality industry. As an effect of the Covid-19 pandemic, hotels were forced to cut operational costs or temporarily shut down the entire operation and lay off their employees. Since then, people have transferred over to other industries and now with their perception of the hospitality industry being unstable, they have no desire in returning.
Hoteliers need to make a career in hospitality attractive again, with higher salaries, more incentives, professional and personal development plans. Human interactions remain at the center of true hospitality and to achieve an outstanding guest experience you need talented and passionate people working at your hotel. As multiple studies define hospitality as a low-income industry, as far as attracting new talents go there is a lot of work to be done here.
Technology will step into the spotlight carrying out administrative tasks, such as updating OTA extranets or managing online payments, and reducing operational costs. Hotel tech will allow hotel staff to reduce time spent with administration and focus on making the guests truly feel at home.
With over 82% global market share, Google is undoubtedly the most popular search engine in the world. Their goal with expanding their travel ecosystem, is to drive more direct traffic for hotels with millions of travelers searching online for accommodation. Google Hotel Search provides a free booking link for hotels, while Google Hotel Ads let hotels bid for better ranking and exposure.
Though traditional online travel agencies like Booking.com or Expedia will remain dominant in 2022, their marketing costs reaching up to 15-20% from booking value, hotels will look into new ways to attract more direct bookings to bring down acquisition costs. With the right internet booking engine available on the hotel’s website, Google will become an important player in the online travel market.
We have been in lockdown for so long, that we value the freedom to travel more than ever before. As humans, we crave social interaction, so discovering new places, meeting new people and learning about new cultures is the best way to socialise with others. Sitting at home with lots of time on their hands to plan and the extra budget to spend, people will take their one-in-a-lifetime trips in 2022 rather than later. It’s been enough time waiting. Amadeus GDS is also seeing a substantial increase in searches for epic destinations and experiences such as going on safari tours in Tanzania or visiting the Machu Picchu in Peru.
The popularity of sharing content on social media, especially among the young, is creating demand for more authentic and unique travel experiences. This trend favors boutique hotels being promoted as one-of-a-kind accommodation and a truly local experience. Boutique hotels also use technology to their advantage in creating an automated digital experience for their guests. Some of the world’s biggest hotel chains are also opening towards this market segment. For example Moxy by Marriott or the Curio Collection by Hilton Hotels.
We’ve been at home for months and tried to meet the strict standards. Now that we can travel a little more freely again with the help of vaccines, many of us have realized that we can’t wait any longer for our dreams to come true. Whatever our desire is, in 2022 more and more people will implement these plans. In addition, travel restrictions will be eased, as many countries have reopened their borders and abandoned mandatory quarantine periods.
The virus has also had an impact on the technology side, as “touchless” services are becoming an increasingly active trend and travel companies need to find ways to provide more guidance and personalized support to their customers when traveling through digital and innovative experiences. Business travel is also slowly returning in 2022, but the road to full recovery is still a long way off - and we may not even experience it - as telecommuting and virtual meetings are becoming more popular day by day.
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