Will things go ‘back to normal’? Probably not, but they could be even better…
Despite the pandemic testing the travel industry like never before, historical events have proven that travel is one of the world’s most resilient industries in the world.
Despite the Global recession, Swine Flu, SARS, 9/11, it always bounces back.
Will things go “back to normal?” Probably not, but they could be even better. This wake-up call from Mother Nature gives an opportunity to do things better in the future.
This is a chance to reinvent travel.
Pre-COVID, the travel industry contributed approximately US$8.9 trillion to the world’s GDP – that’s roughly 1 in 10 jobs.
The human desire to explore the world, to see new places, and take time out to refuel won’t just disappear into thin air.
In 2021, this desire remains – some argue it’s more powerful than it’s ever been before – and this will be a key driver to pushing the industry forward.
With vaccines beginning to be rolled across the globe, a return to travel will soon be on the horizon.
As we continue to rethink travel for the better, here are 8 trends shaping travel in 2021.
Trend No. 1 – Bigger & Longer Holidays
Almost a year of lockdown and restricted travel means people have had time to dream, plan and save more than ever before for their next big holiday or adventure trip.
2021 is the year many will want to bring that all to life. The travel freedoms we all took for granted, which were taken away with no prior warning, are shaping the way people are choosing to travel.
If people fly, they’ll probably stay longer, go further, and invest more to make sure the trip really counts.
To make up for lost time, the predictions are towards ‘big ideas’ or ticking off bucket list trips.
Whether it’s visiting Vegas, going on a Safari, climbing Kilimanjaro, sailing on an Antarctic cruise, or a road trip across the UK, people will finally book that trip of a lifetime they’ve been talking about for years.
This trend is great news for personal travel consultants, as this could mean bigger travel budgets to work with, which brings higher commissions. It looks like there could be a rise in more interesting and complex holiday briefs, which makes the planning more fun. Since more complex trips require expertise and knowledge, this is also a chance to really prove the value of a travel agent.
Trend No. 2 – The Rise Of The Digital Nomads
Even before COVID-19, there were trends toward remote working, not just for freelancers, but among those permanently employed within an organisation. The pandemic has simply accelerated this.
In 2021 and beyond, it’s predicted that we’ll see a rise in people swapping home offices for those more exotic ocean offices. We even have our very own digital nomads here, a couple who work within The Travel Franchise who move from place to place.
An employee perk that many people are now seeking is the ability to work from anywhere. After all, a lot of people only need Wi-Fi and a webcam to do their work.
Why not swap up your city flat for a beach or mountain view?
Barbados was the first country to strike on this opportunity: their “digital nomad visa” means you can work from paradise for a year. Bermuda, Anguilla, Georgia, Dubai, Estonia swiftly followed, and Aruba and Croatia are next.
In Portugal, some resorts are offering a reduced rate for long-term stays aimed at families who want to relocate and Airbnb have already shifted their entire model to long-term stays.
As more and more hospitality companies change their focus to longer holidays – 2021 will be the year that redefines what it means to travel for work.
This trend is great news for travel consultants as it brings opportunity. There is a whole new target market and audience out there who’ll need help to navigate this new lifestyle, to find resorts or villas which are offering longer-term stays, to seek advice on how to make it happen.
Trend number 3 – The Future Is Travel Agents
The rise of booking engines from the mid-90s has had an impact on the industry, particularly for travel agents.
With a more DIY approach to holidays some people thought it was best to book their holidays themselves. But the challenges many people have had getting these self-booked plans refunded or rescheduled amid the pandemic have brought around a change in the way most people perceive travel agents.
If you’ve ever had to change a trip or cancel a holiday, you probably understand why having a personal travel agent by your side is so much better.
The pandemic highlighted the role that a travel agent can play – anyone who didn’t have one in 2020 probably lived to regret it.
“If anyone booked without a travel advisor during this period, they learned they should have.
Trying to call the airlines — because the phones were just so jam-packed — could take 16 hours, could take two to three days.”Scully at McCabe World Travel. Source: CNBC
The role of the travel agent or personal travel consultant has come a long way and is fast becoming the go-to for people wanting to getaway.
On This Morning, Television presenter Eamonn Holmes has said the fallout from the Covid-19 pandemic has made him appreciate the value of travel agents.
Holmes said the need for accurate advice “strengthened the hand of travel agents”, adding that booking through an agent was “seen as the past, but now it’s the future”.
Read 12 reasons people book with travel agents here>
This trend is great news as travel agents are the new buzz word, they’re trending and people are sitting up and paying attention to their value. The DIY holiday booking approach had its PROS but the CONS are even more visible now.
Trend number 4 – Responsible Sustainable Travel
In 2021, travelers will be more conscious about how they travel and more considerate about their footprint with each journey. Not just their carbon footprint, but also their impact on the destination they visit, the local community and its fragile ecosystems.
Pre-COVID, responsible travel, carbon offsetting, and slow travel were all gaining pace.
But with a unique pause created by the pandemic, this time and space have given travellers the opportunity to think about how travel impacts the planet.
In Venice – with an estimated 25 million foreign visitors a year – officials are using the pause to rethink “an entire Venice system”, with sustainability and quality tourism at its core.
City authorities in Amsterdam – which was struggling to cope with an estimated 18.3 million overnight tourist stays in 2019 – are also hopeful that the pandemic will be a catalyst for change.
One of the holiday suppliers you’ll have the opportunity to work with when you join The Travel Franchise is G Adventures, whose strapline is: “Change the world just by having the time of your life.”
Our corporate team travelled with G Adventures when embarking on the Lost City Trek in Colombia in 2019 to raise money for Mind, a mental health charity. You can read more about it here>
Bruce, founder of G Adventures, believes the industry can emerge as a stronger force for good following the pandemic.
“This pandemic sent a warning that we need to change the way we live, travel and see the world…”Mark Radka, Chief, Energy and Climate Branch of the UN Environment Programme (UNEP). Source Un Environment
This trend brings hope for a better world, one in which the travel industry can become part of the solution as opposed to the problem. It is a chance to differentiate your travel business, as we see more people joining looking to become Green travel specialists. Did you know we have a Not Just Travel Eco Travel initiative which you’ll have access to when you join?
Trend number 5 – Spontaneous Bookings
Despite many travel companies offering flexible booking policies, booking patterns suggest that some travellers feel more comfortable with making last-minute reservations and jetting off a few days after making a booking.
As lockdowns come and go travellers look to become more responsive to windows of opportunity to go abroad.
This could bring a more spontaneous holiday booking trend our way.
This trend shows that businesses which are able to give that fast, reliable service will win the race. Personal Travel Consultants offer more of a personalised, always at the end of the phone experience, which enables these spontaneous bookings to take place, with all the benefits of having a personal travel consultant, should anything go wrong.
Trend number 6 – Wilderness Seeking
With social distancing now part of our everyday conversations, nature breaks and wilderness trips are becoming more and more popular.
Travellers are looking for wide-open spaces, tranquil settings, they’re longing for the great outdoors after multiple lockdowns, and are looking to immerse themselves in nature.
Discover Wildlife reported that a third of adults are more interested in nature since the pandemic. Read more here.
This trend gives travel agents the chance to offer advice and tips to those looking for a nature break or wilderness holiday. When you join the travel franchise you’ll have the ability to work with thousands of holiday suppliers, with plenty of choice, much of which is not available online. This new and growing audience is an opportunity to carve a niche.
Trend number 7 – Flexible travel
With a constant change in rules and regulations for travel, and a mind-boggling amount of new information on a daily basis, the only way to give confidence to people who want to book their next trip is by giving flexibility to change dates.
Before the pandemic, having a fully flexible hotel to change dates close to the departure would have been nice to have, an extra expenditure that would have been considered unnecessary to some. These days it’s seen as a must.
When you buy a Not Just Travel franchise, you get constant support. That includes travel training, business development, marketing, and new initiatives, such as our “Book & Relax” guarantee, which helps our franchisees give their customers the confidence they need.
This trend is great news for travel agents who can offer flexible booking terms, as it will help differentiate them even more. Did you know? When you join you’ll be able to offer your customers the Not Just Travel Book & Relax guarantee, which enables customers to book their holiday and change it free of charge up to 6 weeks before departure – no catches.