Industry Focus: Travel & Tourism Post-Covid

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So much of the work we do, at e-PA, requires us to to have an in-depth, detailed, and up-to-date knowledge of each of our clients’ industries, in which we closely cooperate. Whether it’s answering their customer enquiries, managing appointments and scheduling, providing detailed reports or legal paperwork, or integrating with industry-specific software platforms, it is vital to the work we do, that we keep our finger on the pulse.

That said, ‘knowledge is power’ as they say and, at e-PA, we think that power should be shared with the world. It, therefore, gives us great pleasure to introduce you to our new blog feature, entitled e-PA: Industry Focus, your one-stop-shop for industry-specific news, updates, and developments. This inaugural entry takes a look at the travel, tourism and hospitality industries, and their reopening/recovery post-Covid, with particular focus on how ‘virtual’ assistance and remote working is staging a revolution and reshaping these industries. Travel Agents, Hoteliers, Events Management companies, all of whom we have as clients, may find this particularly interesting but, those of you who are looking to get away, plan an event, or who work alongside these industries, might find insight here, too.

We don’t have to tell you that 2020 saw the travel, tourism and hospitality industries brought to their knees, due to the global travel community coming to a standstill, thanks to the Covid-19 pandemic. We all lived it, together. Coronavirus not only had a significant impact on public health, it also severely affected one of the linchpins of the global economy – the tourism industry. As many countries introduced curfews and travel restrictions to contain the spread of the virus, travel across the world significantly declined from early 2020 onwards.

The financial repercussions of the coronavirus have already begun to manifest themselves within the tourism industry. In 2020, global revenue from the travel and tourism industry was estimated to have dropped over 20 percent, with Europe being the region to see the highest decline. It will be many years before tourism-dependent countries will feel anything close to full recovery from the pandemic’s initial impact, not to mention the ongoing issues. March 2020 saw many countries close their borders without proper notice, resulting in worldwide chaos among travelers, who had become stranded in places, scattered over the globe, some of whom didn’t get home for months.

Fast forward to 2021 and, with the help of reduced case numbers, relaxed restrictions, fewer hospitalisations, and the success of various vaccine programs, confidence is back on the rise, reopening these destinations for both the business and recreational traveler. That said, this is not without significant changes to the way the industries operate. In a May 20 call with analysts, Royal Caribbean Cruises chief executive, Richard Fain, recalled how drastically travel changed after the 9/11 terrorist attacks — and how the ‘new normal’ eventually just became normal. He expects to see a similar phenomenon in the post-coronavirus world.

“Travel and tourism will grow,” he said. “Not by reverting to what it was, but by adjusting to a world where all activities, everything we do in the world will have changed.”

Solutions will differ from country to country, and the pace and scope of recovery will of course depend on global developments. But there is an important opportunity to be harnessed. Beyond the immediate priority of mitigating the impact of the pandemic, countries will need to create a “new normal” for the tourism industry. Diversifying and shifting to more sustainable tourism models and investing in new technologies could help to shape the recovery.

So what exactly is the future of travel looking like, right now?

Despite the turbulence, experts are seeing blue skies. Bruce Poon Tip, author of ‘Unlearn: The Year the Earth Stood Still’ and the founder of travel company G Adventures, says not only will we travel again, we’ll do it better. “I still believe travel can be the biggest distributor of wealth the world has ever seen,” he says. “This pause gives us the gift of time to consider how we can travel more consciously.”

In Great Britain, during the peak of the pandemic, it was revealed that over 33% of British consumers believe that health and well-being are a key part of their lives, compared to 23 % prior to the pandemic. Almost half of the respondents say they want breaks to deal with the mental health stress of the pandemic. For many of them (42 %), the priority for post-Covid-19 holidays is “recharging batteries”. Another study by the Wellness Tourism Association revealed that nearly 78% of people in 48 countries have wellness travel on their itinerary now restrictions are being lifted. Most respondents indicated that escaping the stresses of everyday life in the context of a pandemic, connecting with nature and feeling rejuvenated were the main reasons why they would book a wellness trip. Generally, it must be said that the pandemic made many people aware that they must act preventively and invest in their health and well-being. This is why wellness will most definitely be an important part of post-pandemic tourism.

The appetite for recreational travel is currently proven to be weighted towards the ‘visiting friends and family’ and ‘free independent travel’ segments, where lower density venues are popular. Experienced travelers with an affluent wallet and fearless travelers will constitute the highest potential segment, according to industry specialists. Consumers will focus more on their health and well-being, value for money and avoid crowded places, while planning their trip carefully.

In the post-pandemic tourism world, it is highly likely that the trend towards self-contained digital distribution and booking will accelerate. Domestic corporate travel can be expected to recover relatively early, while conventions and exhibitions will be among the last ones to recover.

Domestic tourism will initially be targeted at local experiences, particularly day trips and weekend programs, as well as business trips to key customers and suppliers. Visitors’ attractions and experiences will play a key role in this early phase, contributing to building trust. Customers who previously chose to vacation abroad will instead choose to vacation at home and this will be an opportunity to win new domestic demand in the tourism sector after the pandemic.

“Are You Traveling for Business or Pleasure?” – Why not both?

This question has been a staple in travel-related small-talk for decades. Thankfully, one that is seeing its extinction as, much like today’s home lifestyles, our travel lives are also seeing an unprecedented blend of both work and pleasure.

The rising ‘remote work revolution’ sees work becoming as mobile as we are. Just look at the power we hold in our pockets – our iPhones and laptops contain more processing power and versatility than it took to put men on the moon. This means that daily commutes are now only seconds long (or however many coffee sips it takes for your computer to boot-up, long), regardless of how far you are away from the head office. As a result, we see more professionals working from where they are, such as home offices or ‘communal working’ spaces. The freedom to work from anywhere can literally mean anywhere, too. So, if you had the choice or either clocking in from your spare room in the suburbs or a B&B in the Italian countryside, which one would you choose?

It’s not surprising that a rising population of the global workforce is choosing the latter. Planning a ‘business trip’ without a single client to visit or meeting is a growing reality, thanks to the increasing accessibility of remote work. And this consumer trend is not going unnoticed by the travel industry. Travel giants like Booking.com, AirBnb, Expedia, and American Express are starting to notice remote workers as a new, high-value consumer profile in their sales teams, and more competitors are sure to follow.

It’s great to see this new way of remote working being embraced by some of the world’s most desirable ‘paradise’ locations, also, by inviting travelers to trade their home offices for the opportunity to live and work abroad during the pandemic. Countries like Barbados have introduced a ‘Welcome Stamp’ visa – a one-year residency permit that allows remote employees to live and work from the country. A press release issued by the Anguilla Tourist Board on Aug. 19 quoted Kenroy Herbert, the board’s chairman, as saying the territory is “Targeting a new clientele we call digital nomads, who will come and work remotely from Anguilla on extended-stay visas.” Other destinations, such as Bermuda. Georgia, Estonia and Croatia are also working to entice this new batch of ‘digital nomads’ with their low Covid-19 rates, decreased costs of living and a slower, more relaxed pace of life – a clear hint at where the working world is shifting.

At e-PA, we have spent over 20 years working with our clients in the travel, tourism and hospitality industries. We have answered over ONE MILLION enquiries from travel agents, hotels and events management clients, who understand just how vital our service is to their business. Especially now the world is opening, once again, it’s more vital than ever to ensure you are not missing a single enquiry. The pandemic has offered the world a clean-slate, so take the opportunity to shift your hospitality to the next level, and welcome your business to the future of customer services, with e-PA.

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#travel #tourism #hospitality #remoteworking

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