Travel Predictions for 2021 – The Expert’s Round-Up

  • TechRound has collected industry expert predictions on what 2021 could look like for the travel industry.

  • The COVID-19 pandemic has affected a number of different industries, with travel in particular being affected.

 

2020 was the year for unpredictability, and it has been hard to imagine what holidays will look like in this coming year, in 2021. However, as the roll-out for the vaccine is in high flow, we hope to see more people travelling in the coming year as the borders reopen, and countries come out of lockdown.

Although we hope this is the case, we predict that travel will look different. There will be new trends and the industry will be reshaped and we asked 27 experts to share exactly how.

As we enter 2021 still amidst stay at home orders and lockdown restrictions, what are experts’ predictions on what the new year will bring?

 

Our Panel of Experts:

  • Alex Kaluzny – SVP and Chief Product and Technology Officer at Egencia
  • Edwina Lonsdale – Managing Director of Mundy Cruising
  • Georgie Bentley-Buckle – Founder of LUXE BB
  • Darryl McGarvey – Director, SAP Concur Channel Sales
  • Nick Caunter – Managing Director of Airport Parking and Hotels (APH.com)
  • Michael Ros – CEO of Bidroom
  • Dan Yates – Founder of Pitchup
  • Rebecca Masri – Founder of Little Emperors
  • Steve Roest – CEO and Founder of PocDoc
  • Joseph Thomson – UK Manager of Yescapa
  • Costas Christ – Brand Leader of Beyond Green and President of Beyond Green Travel
  • Hannah Pearson – Founding Partner of Pear Anderson
  • Alessia Fontanari – Co-Founder of Mapo Tapo
  • Onur Takmak – Founder and Chief Executive Officer of ONEE Luxury Travel
  • Edip Ilkbahar – CEO at Hillside Leisure Group
  • Ivaylo Lefterov – Development Director at Svart
  • Emma Powell – Founder of Scout
  • Dan Acarnley – Chief Marketing Officer of Inspiring Travel Company
  • Aryaman Tandon –  Director and Practice Leader at Praxis Global Alliance
  • Jacob Wedderburn-Day – CEO and Co-Founder Stasher and Treepoints
  • Vicky Smith – Founder of Earth Changers
  • Tom Harding – Co-Founder of Nemo
  • Graham Alderman – Managing Director of Ulterior Events and Founder of FLOCK
  • Phil Salcedo – UK Market Head of HolidayPirates
  • Wendy Yates – Well Fit Human
  • Bayram Annakov – Founder and CEO of App In The Air (AITA)
  • Alexandra Delf, EVP – Managing Director of MMGY Grifco

 

 

For any questions, comments or features, please contact us directly.

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Alex Kaluzny – SVP and Chief Product and Technology Officer at Egencia

 

Alex Kaluzny - SVP and Chief Product and Technology Officer at Egencia

 

“1. A pivot from price to employee experience:  Business travel programs have historically focused controlling costs but in 2021 there will be a major shift towards traveler wellbeing and duty of care. Travel managers will up-level their investments in tools that support their employees while on the road and enable them to dynamically respond to an ever-changing landscape of restrictions and legislation. 

2. Travel managers will become trusted CEO advisors: How and when employees return to travel is a CEO priority in 2021, providing a unique opportunity for travel managers to act as their trusted advisor. A September 2020 survey of Egencia customers revealed that 54% of travel managers now have ‘more engagement with Executive Leadership’ – a jump of 50% as compared to pre-COVID.

3. Virtual cards will surge in popularity: 2020 should have been the breakthrough year for virtual cards with a series of major industry players bringing out offers. Expect to see their popularity surge in 2021 as organizations look to protect travel program spend and reduce fraud, as well as alleviate the financial burden on employees who might be in debt or struggling financially in the wake of the pandemic. 

4. Unmanaged travel will be ‘managed out’: The mass chaos and confusion caused by COVID-19 has strengthened the travel manager’s resolve to significantly reduce if not outlaw unmanaged travel. A recent snap poll conducted in the Egencia Connect Community revealed that where companies do not mandate the use of a TMC or travel booking tool, managers believe there is now more executive support for doing so.  

5. Buyers will choose dynamic caps over negotiated hotel rates: Dynamic hotel rate caps leverage data science and intelligence to determine the maximum price a traveler should pay for a room in a specific city at any specific time. These caps will grow in popularity in 2021 as companies look to drive down costs without the effort required to negotiate a preferential rate directly with a supplier.”

 

Edwina Lonsdale – Managing Director of Mundy Cruising

 

Edwina Lonsdale - Managing Director of Mundy Cruising

 

“After a year of deprivation, the desire to travel, and to travel well, is high. For 2021 the focus is on quality rather than quantity, with our clients looking for exciting once in a lifetime trips.

At Mundy Cruising, high levels of optimism have resulted from the development of at least three successful vaccines, with bookings taken in December 2020 21% up on December 2019. We have seen particularly high levels of interest in our Mundy Adventures website, featuring expedition ships sailing to remote corners of the world.

The site has performed well throughout the year and December saw our highest monthly visitors ever, resulting in year on year enquiries for the month up by an amazing 163%, with Antarctica our number one destination. This reconfirms the results of our  June 2020 survey, which  showed a significant shift amongst luxury cruisers towards smaller ships after the pandemic – 51% would now prefer to travel on a ship carrying between 50 – 500 guests, compared to 37% before the pandemic.

The results of our November survey showed that 81% of respondents plan to cruise this year, with the vast majority waiting until they have been vaccinated first, and we expect this still to be the case with our December performance proving a strong indicator of this.”

 

Georgie Bentley-Buckle – Founder of LUXE BB

 

Georgie Bentley-Buckle

 

“The desire to travel is stronger than ever, but to succeed travel brands will need to ensure they have effectively re-modelled to meet the new demands and expectations of consumers. Resulting in a very different travel landscape, the industry will reflect post-pandemic priorities, revolving around responsible travel and safety-first trips.

Adapting strategically to reflect a post-pandemic world where consumer needs and demands have revolutionised exponentially – during these uncertain times, travel brands need to use their down time wisely, establishing forward-thinking strategies to ensure they are equipped to springboard back. As we have learnt this year, only the strongest of brands will survive.

  • Socially Distanced Travel – Gone are the days for many of spontaneous, last-minute trips for those in search of thrill and adventure. The industry will now see travellers planning ahead with socially distanced trips, especially if they or someone they are close to are high-risk.
  • Slow Travel – There has been a revolution in everyday lifestyles. With the majority of people’s lives moving at a much slower pace and with many now working from home, affluent travellers will want to travel to places for a little bit longer, rush around less and get under the skin of a place.
  • Sustainable Travel – People will continue to experience the world, but in a considerate way. In the coming months and into next year, we can expect an appetite for sustainable and responsible travel, with people consciously wanting to support local communities and economies.
  • Multi-Generational Trips – For many, one of the most challenging aspects of the pandemic was being separated from their nearest and dearest. This is where larger, multi-generational travel groups will come into play.”

 

 

For any questions, comments or features, please contact us directly.

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Darryl McGarvey – Director, SAP Concur Channel Sales

 

Darryl McGarvey

 

“With the latest lockdown restrictions set by the UK government delaying the return to business travel, we can expect the resumption of corporate travel in late 2021. Arguably, the changes brought about by the Covid-19 pandemic may well be permanent shifts instead of temporary adjustments. These changes however, pave the way for more meaningful travel when the industry resumes. 2021 will be the year where a coalition of players across the industry will increase work to regain the trust of customers, showing that travel can be safe and sustainable.

Business travel will likely resume first for those who must travel including members of the C-suite, salespeople, and essential workers. However, health precautions will emerge as being critical for businesses. As border policies change with the rise and fall of regional COVID-19 case numbers, companies will require employees to comply with government guidelines, such as quarantine requirements before and after trips.

Ultimately businesses will be responsible for employee safety to ensure travellers are protected and feel safe. It will be vital for businesses to keep abreast of continual changes and the impact these potential disruptions could have on the traveller undertaking these journeys.

Health and safety aren’t the only form of responsible travel that will lure travelers back, but sustainable travel will also be top of mind in 2021. New environmental research compelled travel companies to use this temporary pause in travel to add new environmentally sustainable practices to their corporate travel programs as travelers become more concerned about their carbon footprint.

Essentially, corporate travel in 2021 will take greater steps to become more meaningful and worthwhile business trips will become the focus to the future of the industry.”

 

Nick Caunter – Managing Director of Airport Parking and Hotels

 

Nick Caunter

 

“The restrictions of the pandemic have lasted for so long now, we think many aspects will live on and remain for quite a while yet. Even with a vaccine roll-out, many travellers will remain more health-conscious throughout their journeys. Self-contained travel will be favoured wherever practical so we think this will lead to a shift away from public transport and will result in an increase in the proportion of passengers using a private car to get to the airport and, indeed, renting a car once they get to their destination airport.

We think there will also be less Kiss & Fly; where a family member or friend drops them at the airport, which is one of the least environmentally sound ground transportation options as vehicle journeys are doubled and rising drop-off fees at virtually all airports make it a more expensive option than it first seems.

Statistics are currently showing 60% of travellers are taking a private car to the airport and of this, 28% is Kiss & Fly which we believe will drop to as low as 15% during the next few years. Also, despite Generation Z being the most ecological and environmentally aware, they are one of the main beneficiaries (culprits) of Kiss & Fly, and there will be a shift towards the more eco-conscious younger generation making their own way to the airport as awareness grows of the environmental issues with Kiss & Fly.”

 

Michael Ros – CEO of Bidroom

 

Michael Ros - Bidroom's CEO

 

“The travel industry has been heavily impacted as we all know. We and other companies in the travel sector were all hoping to have witnessed the first signs of recovery by now. However, as our business has a less traditional business model, running via a subscription service rather than gaining an income on transactions, Bidroom has a recurring income.

Whilst it is going to be a challenging time for us and others, it also opens up new possibilities. For Bidroom, we have to make sure we use this time wisely to increase the number of partnering hotels and improve our website and mobile app, ready for when the recovery starts.

At Bidroom, we have been touched by the 90% of all our members who have maintained their subscription to our online travel membership club throughout the pandemic, supporting the travel sector in these challenging times.

Looking ahead to travel in 2021, our search data tells us that UK travellers are seeking out lesser-known staycation destinations to reconnect with local communities on their home turf as well as interested in getting added value offerings such as hotel perks in addition to strong savings that we offer.”

 

 

For any questions, comments or features, please contact us directly.

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Dan Yates – Founder of Pitchup

 

Dan Yates - Pitchup.com

 

“Outdoor holidays exploded in popularity last year, with one booked up to every 3 seconds on Pitchup.com and 6,500 bookings in a single day (double our previous record). In contrast, the large hotel/apartment online travel agents reported annual declines of around 50%. It looks like this summer will again be domestic and particularly outdoor holidays, and our advance bookings for 2021 are already up 39% on last year.

Lockdown has driven even more of our lives online, so will be the dominant booking method for 2021 – we’re working on a new site to make it even easier to book.

Currently spring and summer are equally popular. Since 4th January, April, May, July and August have been the most popular arrival months, with only a 1% difference between April and August. People seem to be itching to get away as soon as the rules allow and, with many sites offering flexible amendments, feel confident enough to book ahead.

Having rediscovered what’s on their doorstep last year, nearly all are staying close to home. Previous figures suggested less than a third of Brits would opt for a UK holiday given the choice, but 95% of our bookings last year were domestic.

We’re also attracting hundreds of new listings and for 2021 – already 25% more than at this point last year. Farmers and other landowners are diversifying, prompted by a relaxation of ‘permitted development’ rules enabling campsites to open for 56 days each year without planning permission. The sites not only offer city dwellers an entirely new type of holiday – up close and personal with farm animals, for example – but also a boost to local economies from on food, drink and activities.

Glamping continues to grow, though camping and caravanning still dwarfs glamping overall, with around 10x more searches on Google. Motorhomes and campervans rentals have exploded, as have sales of camping kit. We’re confident that the boom in outdoor holidays is set to continue.”

 

Rebecca Masri – Founder of Little Emperors

 

Rebecca Masri

 

“In terms of travel trends, the shift towards wellness and mindful travel was already present, and I think that COVID  has placed more emphasis here. Health and wellbeing has been at the forefront of peoples’ minds coming out of the pandemic and will no doubt continue to be a key factor in people’s holiday and day to day lifestyle choices. At Little Emperors, we’ve seen a 30% increase in bookings for wellness holidays in comparison to this time last year.

Another trend we have identified is experience driven travel . The majority of people cooped up in densely populated cities during lockdown, were left dreaming of escapism, leading to an increase in demand for outdoor experiences along with culinary ones. This is a direct result of the ‘lock down’ most of the world has seen, where people have been confined to their homes, and now seeking adventure and activities.

The traditional holiday where people may want to just sit on a beach, has shifted towards people wanting to experience things and be active. The demand for fresh sea air in coastal destinations has increased along with the demand for mountain holidays to places like Switzerland as travellers seek those wide-open spaces and I believe this trend will continue into 2021.

Pre-Covid, we saw a shift towards new destination discovery, however this trend has not continued post- Covid. Familiar favourites seem to be more popular than ever as people feel safer returning to their childhood favourite hotel hot spots. We have been forced to think about things like hospitals in places that are not home, the proximity to home and local familiarity all of which have impacted this trend to stick to what we know with our familiar favourites. At Little Emperors, 75% of all bookings made since May 2020 have been to familiar favourites hotels, which members have visited before.”

 

Steve Roest – CEO and Founder of PocDoc

 

Steve Roest

 

“PocDoc provides an end-to-end COVID-19 testing solution for airports and travel providers, including rapid tests, staff and technology to manage thousands of tests per day, record results and issue “fit to fly” certificates.

COVID-19 has seen the travel industry brought to its knees, but we believe 2021 will see a much happier year for the sector. PocDoc is working on number of key pilots in this space, most notably around digitally enabled rapid antigen testing for departing passengers at airports, delivering a true “all-in” solution.

Everyone is aware of the extent of the testing problem and we believe we have found a solution. The very quick, reliable, cost effective and safe service will help unlock travel and provide a massive boost to consumers and travel operators alike.

The storing of results and issuing of “fit to fly” certificates in real time via the PocDoc app will ensure a greater amount of safer travel in a post-lockdown world. Further discussions with airports and airlines, as well as live events, about deploying our test and app solution, including the ability to integrate with passenger manifests and to facilitate on arrival testing, are already in place.

The 15-minute COVID-19 testing solution really is the answer to re-opening the travel industry and we predict that this is very much going to be happening sooner rather than later.”

 

 

For any questions, comments or features, please contact us directly.

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Joseph Thomson – UK Manager of Yescapa

 

Joseph Thomson

 

“The Covid-19 pandemic has turned the travel industry on its head with the airline and hotel industry being particularly hit hard in 2020. Despite a turbulent year, the sector for leisure vehicle rentals was able to weather the storm. Hiring a leisure vehicle allowed flexibility for holidaymakers to easily adapt their itinerary at the last minute and avoid the uncertainty of fixed destinations. For this reason motorhome and campervan holidays were widely popular across the UK last year with 90% of Yescapa bookings opting to stay in the UK instead of travelling abroad.

Renters didn’t need to reserve leisure vehicles months in advance thanks to flexible booking conditions and the wide availability of motorhomes and campervans for hire. If holidaymakers needed to cancel due to unforeseen restrictions or a COVID-19 related reason, it was possible to change their dates free of charge or receive a refund. On average holidaymakers at Yescapa reserved 7-10 days in advance in 2020 of their departure date, as opposed to 43 days in advance 2019.

Renters with Yescapa could practice social distancing and travel off the beaten path safely and away from typical tourist hubs. After being confined for months, a need to rediscover the great outdoors and get some fresh air was felt.

Some of the most popular staycation areas visited in 2020 by Yescapa renters were The Scottish Highlands and The Lake district and Snowdonia National Park. At Yescapa, we anticipate a post-lockdown boom in staycation bookings, as was the trend in 2020. It may take well over a year for the airline industry to recover and staycation holidays remain a safe option during these uncertain times. Yescapa expects people to book last minute as was the case last year and we are currently on track with projections to increase bookings by 40% in 2021 compared to 2020.”

 

Costas Christ – Brand Leader of Beyond Green and President of Beyond Green Travel

 

Costas Christ

 

“While there may be a tendency to think of sustainability as just the latest travel buzzword, its roots are long and deep. What we are witnessing is an evolution of travel, not a passing trend. Although 2020 has presented a harsh reset for the world, it has also been a positive catalyst in encouraging people to view sustainability as an essential consideration in their everyday lives.

It has also inspired all businesses, especially in the travel and hospitality space, to place the highest attention on their sustainable ethos. In 2021 and beyond, travellers will embrace those destinations and hotels that prioritise a commitment to protecting the planet – from nature, to culture, to communities.

In November 2020, to welcome in this new era of travel, we announced the launch of a new sustainable travel brand  – Beyond Green – a global portfolio of exceptional, sustainably focused hotels, resorts, and lodges that exemplify sustainable leadership and offer some of the world’s most renowned hospitality including companies such as Wilderness Safaris, &Beyond, and Francis Ford Coppola Hideaways.

Never before has there been a brand or platform in this capacity that is committed to sustainable leadership and the valuable sharing of practices to help other properties remain profitable and sustainable at the same time. As travellers consider plans for 2021 once travel restrictions ease, Beyond Green reminds them that a great luxury holiday and caring for people and the planet can, in fact, go hand-in-hand, and will serve as their trusted guide to future explorations.”

 

Hannah Pearson – Founding Partner of Pear Anderson

 

Hannah Pearson

 

“Whilst 2021 has kicked off with plenty of positive COVID-19 vaccine news, the vaccines still have a long way to go to revive international travel.

There are, largely, three major problems facing international travel right now: safety, border closures/ quarantines and consumer confidence.

COVID-19 vaccines, if we choose to take them, should make it safer for us to travel, and will, no doubt, boost consumer confidence. However, the greatest difficulty lies in the worldwide border closures. To allow quarantine-free travel, countries would likely need to recognise one another’s COVID-19 vaccines, as well as the methods of administering the vaccines, as valid.

An international vaccine certificate would, logically, address this, but even that is fraught with difficulties.

Yellow Fever has a physical certificate, the International Certificate of Vaccination or Prophylaxis (ICVP), which has been around for decades, and works perfectly well. On a global scale like this though, it is easy to imagine that it would be forged, as the stakes for quarantine-free travel have never been higher.

A digital certificate may be less open to forgery, but could struggle to be adopted by remote locations with poor IT infrastructure. It also raises valid concerns over privacy and data storage.

For the EU, which has procured COVID-19 vaccines on a regional level and is closely integrated, a vaccine certificate should (in theory) be more straightforward to implement, and at least EU-wide travel could be rebooted in 2021.

But worldwide, it will take arduous international coordination to unlock borders and get global travel flowing again significantly in 2021.”

 

For any questions, comments or features, please contact us directly.

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Alessia Fontanari – Co-Founder of Mapo Tapo

 

Alessia Fontanari

 

“Towards the start of the pandemic, a lot of Europeans could only leave their houses once a day, either for essential shopping or exercise. It felt as though everyone was suddenly really into exercising.

However, the trend for outdoor travel experiences was already seeing an upturn prior to the impact of COVID-19.

We launched our business early 2020. Not a great time to be a travel start-up. So we re-focused. Mapo Tapo started as a global initiative for extreme sports lovers. We had destinations on all continents. COVID-19 forced us to take a more local approach. But when the second lockdown hit, we decided we weren’t giving in. We created ‘The Climbing Travel Guide’ , a 200- page photo-book which shares off-the-beaten-track areas as well as raising funds for eco-tourism, education, and outdoor sports.

Lockdown has fuelled the outdoor adventure holiday industry. The trend has moved away from mass tourism and towards more authentic, natural, and sustainable travel. We saw this last summer in Italy, for instance: for the first time, mountain holidays were the favourite type of vacation for Italians. In the year ahead, we’re seeing four key travel trends.

  1. Away from the crowds: regulations forced us to avoid crowds, and this will have a psychological impact in the medium term. We expect people to be reluctant to engage in mass tourism, to get to the classic touristic destinations where they expect too many people. We see a trend towards off-the-beaten-track destinations.
  2. Care about local business: the two lockdowns had unfortunately an unprecedented effect on local businesses such as restaurants and small hotel/B&Bs. Since March, we saw strong attention from the general public to this issue and we believe that this greater sensitivity on the difficulties of running a small local business is here to stay. Hence, we see a trend of favouring local businesses wherever you go on holiday, making more conscious decisions for accommodation, food, experiences.
  3. Last-minute booking: we expect that the extreme uncertainty lived in 2020 will make people reluctant to plan well in advance. For the medium-term, we expect a last-minute booking to be an ongoing trend.
  4. Online community: a positive effect of COVID-19 has been the acceleration of adoption of digital habits from a broad part of the population. We expect that this is here to stay, with more and more people taking an active part in online communities and being less shy in asking for recommendations.”

 

Onur Takmak – Founder and Chief Executive Officer of ONEE Luxury Travel

 

Onur Takmak

 

“While travel will likely continue to look different throughout 2021, I am steadfastly optimistic that we will see a re-insurgence of personal travel in the coming months. When looking at where to travel in 2021, a huge factor for many will be considering how to minimise the risks of exposure.

I expect people will opt for more isolated escapes that are lesser-known or populated and can promise comfort, security and safety. Private stand-alone villas, estates and private islands will be popular as they offer tranquillity and peace of mind, all the while guaranteeing high-quality standards, service and safety measures.

I expect more people than ever to seek advisory assistance when planning trips for the year ahead, even those who may have booked and travelled independently before will start to lean on the expertise of industry experts. Travel experts and advisors will be key in helping people navigate new and potentially continually changing regulations and situations, which of course, differ from destination to destination. Tailor-made stays organised by industry experts promise luxurious escapes in high-end accommodation with plenty of amenities, high-quality standards, and safety precautions.

Well-advised travel has never been so important in my opinion and working with an agent or tour operator helps assure that your bases are covered in the event of an emergency on the ground or cancellations that may need to be made. As telecommuting has become the norm, working from abroad has never been so appealing or easy. We have already seen a huge uptick in extended vacations – particularly long-term villa rental holidays and I would expect this to be another key trend continuing throughout the year.”

 

Edip Ilkbahar – CEO at Hillside Leisure Group

 

Edip Ilkbahar

 

“I am optimistic for the travel industry in 2021. After the year we have had I am sure that everyone will be longing to travel once again. Last year, even with regulations such as quarantine, Hillside Beach Club welcomed guests who were willing to overcome these small obstacles to enjoy precious holiday times and I expect to see even more of this, of course done safely, which we help all of our guests do.

The past year has put into focus what is important in life, with more people than ever looking for a healthy work-life balance and opportunity to spend quality time with loved ones. This coupled with the fact that we can easily work from home means many will pack up their laptops and work for extended periods abroad in the year ahead.

This will be a big trend and something that we are prepared for at Hillside, with a dedicated “workation” package, making it easier than ever to continue working schedules whilst also enjoying more pleasant settings and creating amazing holiday memories.

In terms of popular destinations for the year ahead, I expect people will return to trusted favourites or turn to friends and family for their recommendations. Most of the time, the best and safest choice is the one that comes highly recommended by those who have experienced it first-hand.

I am a strong believer of feedback and we conduct guest surveys every week at our resort. Not surprisingly, in summer 2020 more than 75% of our first – time guests indicated that they chose Hillside Beach Club because it was recommended by a friend, especially with its safety and the “feel good” factor. With sustainability a hot topic and ever-more important, environmentally responsible and eco-friendly destinations will also be hugely popular in 2021.”

 

For any questions, comments or features, please contact us directly.

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Ivaylo Lefterov – Development Director at Svart

 

Ivaylo Lefterov

 

“We are all anticipating and looking forward to putting 2020 behind us and have optimistic and positive restart. However, the reality is that it will be a long and slow recovery. Safety and health will be a key focus for 2021 and will dominate any travel decisions.

Given that the travel industry was almost non-existent over the past 12 months, it is hard to pinpoint any particular changes, however I see a need to shift our focus to looking forward; defining and developing the new travel normal. We need to adapt and accept the change and find ways to reconnect with the consumer in a safe, uplifting and productive way. In the past year, people had the time to reflect and gain knowledge and desire for more responsible travel, and we need to respond to that.

With current restrictions still in place and a lot of uncertainty, I believe that short-haul travel and road trips, train trips and short flights will be much more popular. Places like Europe with high diversity in short distances and easily reachable locations with well-developed infrastructure will see faster demand and be more popular.

Trends for 2021:

  • The main trend I see is social reconnection – people want to reconnect and create new memories.
  • Purposeful and wellness travel.
  • Longer, less frequent trips to remote and safe locations.
  • Single flight destinations and getaways with direct connections.

Overall, I believe people will have different priorities and needs when travelling such as safety, mental and physical health, sustainability awareness and social reconnection.”

 

Emma Powell – Founder of Scout

 

Emma Powell - Founder of Scout

 

SUSTAINABLE TRAVEL AS STANDARD

“Sustainable travel will no longer be a buzzword or a niche type of travel, but a key consideration of the consumer. We’ll fly less, but make each trip count more, and put greater importance on travel brands and hotels that place the protection of our environment and local communities front and centre of their operations.

Following the almost overnight disappearance of tourism in many countries, we have an increased awareness of how much local spending helps communities reliant on tourism – perhaps we’ll think more about how we spend our money on holiday and how we can have a positive effect for the local small business owner – the family-run hotel, the local mountain guide, the independent restaurant owners and craftspeople.

RECOGNITION THAT TRAVEL IS A PRIVILEGE

We’ve been struck by the realisation of what a privilege the ability to travel and explore the world really is. The freedom to roam is something many took for granted but what greater luxury is there after being in lockdown? Consumers will place greater importance on their travels, becoming more selective when researching and booking their trips.

There will be a focus on quality over quantity, we’ll travel less but better, and in-the-know travel curators who can lead us to the most amazing one-of-a-kind places to stay, or help create the most memorable authentic experience, stand to be in greater demand to help us make our travels the best they can be.

GREATER CONNECTION TO NATURE

Hiking, camping, remote rural retreats, woodland cabins, cycling and trail-running holidays all look set to grow in popularity as outdoor adventures beckon following months of staying at home, particularly among city dwellers seeking time in green space. Re-wilding projects, rural hotels and home rentals offering the chance to enjoy and reconnect with the natural world will blossom.

DISCOVERING THE WORLD ON OUR DOORSTEP

Domestic travel and an interest in exploring our home country already saw huge growth here in the UK in summer 2020 as restrictions lifted – this is not a temporary shift. Our leisure time will involve more home-turf travel in 2021 as we begin to discover the beauty of our own national parks, our coastlines and towns when domestic travel returns, in between fewer, longer international trips.

SLOWER TRAVEL

That idea of travelling less but better will mean a shift to longer, more immersive trips, more time spent in a destination and exploring your immediate surroundings slowly, by foot, bicycle or by car. House and villa rentals, as well as small hotels offering property buy-outs and self-contained, serviced properties, will see greater demand as typical length of stay grows and we look for self-contained places to stay and destinations to discover for weeks, rather than for days.”

 

Dan Acarnley – Chief Marketing Officer of Inspiring Travel Company

 

Dan Acarnley

 

“We’re optimistic that the travel industry will bounce back strong in 2021 following the mass roll-out of the Covid-19 vaccine – we’ve found news of the vaccine programme is really helping to strengthen consumer confidence.

The changes: Clients are primarily gravitating towards single centre, fly and flop holidays. They want to jet away to a destination where everything they could possibly want is within reach at their resort – fine dining, water activities, spa treatments. We’ve ultimately found demand for multi-centre adventurous holidays has sharply declined during the pandemic.

Destinations: We continue to see high demand for the Caribbean, in particular Antigua, Barbados and St Lucia. This was supported by the results of a recent client survey we conducted, which revealed that almost 40% of clients were interested in visiting the Caribbean during the next 12 months, with Europe the second most popular region in the survey. We also predict that the Maldives and Dubai will continue to be hot-spots for 2021 holidays.

Trends: We expect single centre, fly and flop holidays to remain the go-to choice for the majority of our clients, so we predict beach holidays will be the main trend. We also expect families to be making up for lost time, so expect to see lots of multi-generational trips – we’ve already seen a surge in villa bookings to accommodate for big family groups. We also predict clients will be compensating for missed milestones with extra extravagant trips. The pandemic has also shown how important it is to book with a trusted tour operator. Not only do you need an expert to help you navigate the ever-changing rules and regulations, but reassurance that if your plans need to change, someone will be able to help.

While many travellers will be anxious about travelling with restrictions and regulations, we have seen that news of the vaccine has really bolstered our clients’ spirits. As time goes on, our clients have felt more confident about taking to the skies once more. We expect many travellers to embrace travel with a new appreciation, having been restricted for so long.”

 

For any questions, comments or features, please contact us directly.

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Aryaman Tandon –  Director and Practice Leader at Praxis Global Alliance

 

Aryaman Tandon - Director - Praxis Global Alliance

 

“We see travel picking up in 2021 vs 2020. A wave of revenge travel was already seen in the year-end. The availability of the vaccine will only boost the urge to travel after a year in which people were locked down in their homes. Enterprises across the travel spectrum (OTAs, hotels, homestays, car rentals, etc.) stand to benefit. We see primarily four trends that travel startups should leverage on:

  1. Domestic travel and tourism are expected to substitute foreign tourism demand at least for the time being. People are looking for close-to-home, lower-risk holiday options. This means that staycations are also set for a boom. Therefore, travel startups that expand their bouquet of domestic offerings and allow travelers to explore virgin destinations will be uniquely positioned to win.
  2. As the shadow of the virus remains for much of the first half of 2021, people will travel less frequently but for longer durations. The ongoing quarantine requirements in many popular destinations will only reinforce this trend.
  3. The nature of the holiday is undergoing rapid change as well. As more people have the option to work from home, people are searching for attractive alternatives away from the cities for month-long stays. Travel startups have a unique opportunity here to help users combine work with leisure at competitive price points.
  4. COVID-19 has reflected on the importance of health, cleanliness, and safety in our lives and this trend will shift customer loyalty amongst travelers. Airlines, airports, and hotels with higher health and safety standards will gain customer trust. Therefore, travel startups must provide the right and important information on their platform to users.”

 

Jacob Wedderburn-Day – CEO and Co-Founder Stasher and Treepoints

 

Jacob Wedderburn-Day

 

“Looking ahead at 2021, I see travel following the same trend of 2020, i.e. urban to lag behind rural until we see the vaccine rollout begin to take full effect around spring, mid-spring time. Once the majority of age-groups have received the vaccine, lockdowns and restrictions will naturally start to ease.

And as with summer 2020, once this happens I see rural travel begin to pick up. Vacation rentals should bounce back faster than hotels because hotels will have to make a cost calculation about when to re-open. For example, how many rooms do they need to fill before it is cost-effective to open their doors? Vacation rentals and Airbnbs will not have this problem as we saw in summer 2020.

So as mentioned I expect domestic travel will come back before international travel, because of the co-ordination required to re-open borders. Cruises and airlines will likely continue to suffer badly in 2021.

To end on a positive what I have seen a lot of recently is the term revenge tourism – who isn’t saying “I cannot WAIT to travel once this is over” at the moment. And with the vaccine role out set to take full effect by summertime, we could see a spike in people planning for jet-setting towards the end of the year.”

 

Vicky Smith – Founder of Earth Changers

 

Vicky Smith

 

“2020 had the biggest impact we’ve seen on travel, ever, with 100% destinations closed simultaneously – and likely the biggest tipping point we’ll see for growth in sustainable tourism.

On the supply-side. tourism destinations and organisations have been hit hard by Coronavirus. It has highlighted the fragility of most tourism – high volume, low value and unsustainable – where sustainability has been previously dismissed by many as ‘niche’. An 80% drop in the market is expected to see a 53% drop in worldwide GDP ($4,711 billion) and tourism jobs (174.4 million) (WTTC, 2020) – people who then can’t support their households, even before the impending recession.

Popular destinations are also seeing increasing extreme weather due to the climate crisis (wild fires, floods, droughts) and devastating biodiversity loss.

‘Resilience’ is the buzzword for destinations to protect the assets of tourism: people and environment, which means sustainability.

On the demand-side, consumers’ uncertainty means more responsible tourism – organisations taking responsibility. They want flexible booking arrangements, to know health and safety protocols in place, and more spatial distance: The mass volume market will be impacted.

But consumers, having connected with and prioritised community and outdoors nature during lockdown, and knowing Covid’s devastating impacts, want to support those elsewhere. They will seek out travel with positive impact purpose, and specialists who can advise them what truly is, discerned from an inevitable rise in greenwashing as some companies try to jump on the bandwagon.

‘Regenerative’ is the growing buzzword, literally healing what was and redeveloping better.

So in 2021, Resilience and Regeneration will be the big trends.

At Earth Changers, we help people find and book trips that truly change the world, putting money directly into destinations through their travel for positive impacts.”

 

For any questions, comments or features, please contact us directly.

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Tom Harding – Co-Founder of Nemo

 

Tom Harding

 

“2021 is going to mark the start of a new era for travel. Travellers are going to be more considered when it comes to holiday planning and ‘meaningful travel’ to authentic locations will replace the demand for long-weekends or mass-market destinations. There are several factors behind this and a big one is that travel feels like a bigger deal than ever after so long at home, so people are planning carefully and seeking expert advice.

Boosted by news of the vaccine and a desire to experience the world, the last month has seen a 400% increase in enquiries for safari or adventure trips. This is music to our ears as we have always sought to connect travellers to hotels and destinations that they can truly experience.

In Southern Europe, there’s so much more to see and do than staying at a hotel in the Algarve or Costa del Sol. We recommend destinations like Puglia, where you can stay in wonderful traditional boutique hotels, like Masseria Cervarolo, or driving down to the Mani in Southern Greece where family run hotels, such as Kyrimai, offer a perfect escape.

Tying into the meaningful and slow travel trends, road trips are in demand with 80% of our international bookings since October including a hire car. This is due to travellers looking to avoid public transport, as well as seeking freedom and independence on their adventures. We’ve arranged some spectacular road trips around Namibia, Oman and South Africa’s Garden Route for the second half of 2021 which we cannot wait for our travellers to enjoy.”

 

Graham Alderman – Managing Director of Ulterior Events and Founder of FLOCK

 

Graham Alderman FLOCK founder + Ulterior Events MD

 

“2021 has not exactly got off to a flying start, has it? We’re stuck at home for the foreseeable but there are positives ahead. The vaccination rollout is giving people utterly fed up with their own four walls the confidence to start booking holidays or at least planning them again.

Luxury trips for small groups or ‘travel bubbles’ is where we expect to see demand first. Time spent away from loved ones means there’s a greater desire than ever to make new and lasting memories together, families will be desperate to reconnect on multi-generational escapes. So exclusive use properties will become huge players in the next 24 months – whether that’s safari lodges in Kenya, boutique hotels in Mykonos, or eco-cabins in Cornwall.

The experience across every part of the ‘travel journey’ will become increasingly important as the world starts moving again. Private cars, fast track security, airport lounges, priority boarding, and everything else that we associate with crowd control will be sought by all. Traveling first or business class will be more prevalent in decision making as space and privacy become top priorities. At the top end of the luxury market demand for door-to-door service, the ultimate in safety and hygiene reassurance, will soar.

After a year of restrictions, travel-starved explorers will be keen to get off the beaten track again. The desire for open spaces and fresh air as well as bucket-list experiences bodes particularly well for wilderness and safari holidays which are socially distant in their very nature. In many reserves in Africa, you’re more likely to bump into an elephant than another human, and boutique lodges with six to ten rooms are perfectly set up for safe group travel in a breath-taking setting.

The need to travel, to see new things, and experience new cultures is core to the human experience. Full recovery for the travel industry will take time but it will be better than ever and well worth waiting for.”

 

Phil Salcedo – UK Market Head of HolidayPirates

 

Phil Salcedo

 

A boom in adults-only holidays when lockdown ends 

“When we start travelling again we’re anticipating that parents will jump at the opportunity to have some uninterrupted time together, away from the kids, to regroup and relax. Everyone has been cooped up together for such a long time and couples are going to need some space. Many parents are once again back to the exhausting regime of home-schooling, working and providing round the clock meals and entertainment.

The added bonus is that grandparents, who have not seen their grandchildren for a year, may be very happy to step in as babysitters for a week.

We’ve already seen an increased interest in the adults-only offers on our website. Some of the children-free escapes that have been particularly popular with our users include the Canaries, Middle East and luxury resorts in the Caribbean.”

 

For any questions, comments or features, please contact us directly.

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Wendy Yates – Well Fit Human

 

Wendy Yates

 

“Travel plans of all types came to a screaming halt in 2020 due to the outbreak of COVID-19 and several industries reliant on tourism were severely affected. As a wellness-based humanitarian travel company with international destinations, Well Fit Human Retreats felt the impact and all offerings for the year were cancelled to keep our global community safe.

Along with understanding the most current policies as they relate to test requirements, Well Fit Human is focusing on how to create conscientious and safe travel solutions for everyone involved in future retreats. As a part of doing that they predict clients will be looking for the following attributes when it comes to traveling in 2021.

1. More customised services – Beyond refund policies and clear communication, clients want to know that their intended location provides private housing options, safe practices as they relate to all activities, and medical facilities nearby (just in case). With thorough planning and resources for our clients we provide customized services that help relieve potential stress so that they can focus on positive impact and personal growth.

2. Inclusive multigenerational travel – We design inclusive experiences for families to travel together. Our age appropriate activities help attendees minimize the time it takes to coordinate everyone’s efforts while also giving them more ways to connect on a deeper level.

3. Networking with like-minded people – Well Fit Human integrates work and play for individuals, families, and future impact leaders. Retreats provide guests the opportunity to network with like-minded people in ways that we hope will inspire, motivate, and set them up for future success.

4. Humanitarian opportunities – We focus on incorporating travel with giving back by volunteering with local nonprofits. This enables our guests to immerse themselves in the region’s culture while also having a positive, long-lasting impact on the community. The idea is to create life-changing experiences for everyone involved.”

 

Bayram Annakov – Founder and CEO of App In The Air (AITA)

 

Bayram Annakov, Founder and CEO, App In The Air

 

“I predict that reunion travel is going to be the most significant trend in 2021. In previous years solo travel was the buzzword to watch but, after nearly a year in isolation, I predict a complete 180, as families, friends and loved ones come together again at last. From travelling to visit those that borders have kept apart, to journeying together in multigenerational groups, travel this year is going to be all about reconnections.

The pandemic has been a global experience and acutely demonstrated the connectedness between people wherever they are on the planet. We are in an increasingly positive place in terms of reinstating those connections physically – the combination of an active vaccination roll-out and the trusted health data that digital health passports offer is building confidence and creating the drive to travel, and be together, once again.  

Given the complete transformation in the way that we now work, it seems unlikely that we will return to our office environments in the same way that we did pre-pandemic, and I envisage a deeper blurring of the lines between business and leisure this year.

As companies embrace a more permanent flexible structure, this creates a real opportunity for travellers to combine holidays and work, longer term, and take their remote office set ups on the road. Indeed, many destinations already making provisions for a ‘Work from Abroad’ offering, and for those who can embrace the flexibility, this is an extraordinary opportunity to explore the world.

Undoubtedly, sustainable travel will be even more important than it was in pre-Covid times. Air travel is a necessary part of normal life but, having seen how the world reset during the first shut down in March 2020, consumers and the industry alike are planning past the pandemic to implement greener solutions when we return to a more normal way of life.

From developing more robust carbon offsetting programmes to investing in more sustainable technology, the industry is rallying together to deliver a better travel and aviation offering for the future.” 

 

Alexandra Delf, EVP – Managing Director of MMGY Grifco

 

Alexandra Delf, EVP

 

“As we step into 2021, it’s difficult to comprehend the huge changes we have seen in the travel industry. The pandemic has required us to stop and think, viewing travel as more of a luxury than ever before. When travel is possible, how we travel is now the important question. Here at Grifco PR, we’ve seen the industry in general and more specifically our clients innovate during the pandemic to support guests in this difficult climate. Some of the key trends for 2021 we have seen emerging are:

Safety First

Travel has always brought meaning and purpose to intrepid explorers the world over, but since the pandemic hit globally, those dreaming of travel want their time away to be spent as safely and securely as possible. One example of a company with insight into this trend is Tuscany Now & More, who have reported seeing a shift in requests not only for small group families travelling together but demand for multi-generational villas. This trend for reunion holidays, allows whole families to come together to reunite after a year spent apart in the safety and security of a private villa.

Hastings Hotels in Northern Ireland is also putting luxury, privacy and safety front of mind. Not only have they reported a rise in repeat customers, who, having stayed with them in the past, trust the brand and their focus on enhanced safety and hygiene.

Ski resorts such as Courmayeur Mont Blanc in Italy are having to react to this whilst still ensuring an enriching experience for guests. All of the ski lifts remain closed for skiers until the official opening date which is yet to be announced by the Italian Government. Upon reopening, they will be limited to a smaller capacity to ensure a metre’s distance between each person and everyone will be required to wear a mask and gloves whilst on the slopes.

Post-Pandemic Tech 

Travellers are increasingly requesting a contactless travel experience and we foresee this trend continuing post-pandemic For 2021, MarBella Collection in Greece have launched the MarBella Collection app. This app available, free, throughout their properties including new hotel, MarBella Elix, which is opening in spring. Technology like this combined with social distancing will hopefully allow people seeking to travel, to feel safer doing so.

Blending life and work

Blending work and play through a ‘workation’ is said to have many benefits from a balance and mental health perspective and hotels are responding accordingly. Windjammer Landing Villa Beach Resort in Saint Lucia has reacted to this change in consumer behaviour by offering extended stay packages. The opportunity to  ‘Work from Windjammer’ is particularly relevant for families with working parents or elder siblings.

Meanwhile,Quinta do Lago in Portugal, a resort which prides itself on providing a lifestyle experience through a wide variety of activities and experiences, has seen a big demand for guests that want to learn a new skill or adventure outdoors, though a combination of work and play. The demand for outdoor living and wellness is focused around their unique sports hub, The Campus.”

 

For any questions, comments or features, please contact us directly.

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