Pete Comeau, The Managing Director at PhocusWright, during his talk ‘Shifts in Digital Behaviour’, discussed the travel market post-pandemic.
Pete Comeau discussed the travel market post-pandemic with particular attention to:
Pete Comeau, The Managing Director at PhocusWright, during his talk ‘Shifts in Digital Behaviour’, discussed the travel market post-pandemic with particular attention to:
He reiterated that digitalisation is imperative. In his talk, he compared the travel market across different segments before the pandemic and during the recovery period. He also presents projections of travel market growth for incoming years as the industry responds to the changes resulting from the global pandemic. As Pete mentioned, the pandemic paused a travel market, but it also gave the industry the chance to reassess initiatives and build resilience.
As Pete mentioned, the growth of the market was slow even in 2019, around 2%. However, in 2020 as the pandemic hit, this figure dropped. Although, it is projected that by 2024 market growth will recover enough to reach figures as it was in 2019. The pandemic caused a shift from in-person travelling to global online travel. As in-person travel became impossible, online travel bookings offered a necessity and comfort in response to the pandemic. However, online travel is seeing a substantial 5% rapid growth rate due to digitalisation. In the UK, other factors influence recovery from the pandemic. For instance, the vaccination programme meant that travel resumed in the summer of 2021. The US travel market crashed in 2020. However, it is estimated that it will recover by 2024.
The pandemic also manipulated travel behaviour. The desire to travel post-pandemic is different compared to pre-pandemic. For instance, Leisure travel recovery is faster than corporate travel recovery. Work-related travels changed in essence as a result of remote working and online procedures. However, leisure travel remains an important part of people’s identities and lives. From the demographics point of view, the older generation compared to the younger generation travelled less. The high risk of exposure to Covid justifies less travel among the older generation. Generally, the US saw a drop of 17% for leisure travels after March of 2020. The question is will travellers go back to their pre-pandemic habits? Outdoor destinations benefited from Covid. Open and fresh-air destinations are safer. They govern a variety of tourism sectors and thus appeal to the interests of different demographic groups. Sense of being ready to travel, desire to travel, Covid-related concerns, health & safety and financial consideration collectively affect travel behaviour and the market. Vaccination programmes and lower infection rates provide safer travel options and help the market growth.
Flexibility in travel is vital during the pandemic recovery period and post-pandemic. Travel insurance, free cancellation fees, free changing of itineraries are now more important to travellers than before. Travellers now also show a willingness to pay for travel flexibility through loyalty programmes or in cash. Other aspects such as contactless facilities are gaining the market. Less interaction brings more comfort. Biometric implementations such as CLEAR airport kiosks allow faster movement of travellers through airport securities, venues and beyond.
The rate of recovery varies among different segments of the industry. It should be noted that for some sectors, recovery means returning to the market with reduced capacity. In the case of the lodging sector, many corporate hotels and big city locations closed down during the pandemic. As a result, we saw a major shift from hotel bookings to short term hotel rentals. Short term rentals are surpassing pre-pandemic figures. In transportation, road trips are taking over air travel where possible. However, travellers still have some reservations whilst car rental companies saw a surge, some travellers prefer ownership and using their cars. Although, compared to air, rail and bus travel, car rentals are more appealing to travellers. Cruise and activities suffered the most during the pandemic. Whilst they were the fastest-growing sector for a decade, the pandemic abruptly halted them. They are, however, very resilient and are showing signs of recovery with future bookings for 2022 and beyond. During the pandemic, activators focused on two matters. Firstly, managing cancellations and secondly, going online and virtual. Through digital presence, they manage to keep their audience. The question is, what happens to the online activities market when real-life activities come back in full capacity. Activities also saw a change in travellers’ behaviour with increased interest in self-guided and small group visits compared to pre-pandemic.
1. The pandemic has driven many shifts in travel and tourism. The trends in the tourism and travel market are changing as the consumers are being influenced by the pandemic.
2. The industry has shown resilience and is tackling challenges caused by the pandemic with innovative solutions.
3. The tourism and travel market experienced a shock, but signs of recovery can be seen across sectors as travels resume worldwide.
4. The speed of recovery varies from one sector to another. The industry has shown resilience and will need to adapt to changes and offer flexibility.
5. Digital presence and experiences had many benefits to engage consumers when physical activities were not possible. However, the industry needs to consider the future of the online market when real-life activities return in full capacity.
Mr. Comeau is responsible for overall strategic and operational leadership at Phocuswright. Pete oversees all aspects of Phocuswright's commercial activities including product, sales and service, and marketing.