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Recovery is now in sight for many destinations and much is being done to improve destinations to make them safe and ready for travellers when they arrive. Whilst the focus has been on the impact to destinations for much of the pandemic, this has now shifted to the potential travellers who are the enablers for recovery. The key question for the recovering industry is what is the appetite for travel? We dedicate our eleventh Tourism Impact call to discussing this question and analysing the travel community’s mindset and behaviours around travel.

Every Tuesday at 14:00 GMT / 15:00 CET, we will hold a weekly 30 minute 'Tourism Impact Call' to give the lay of the land in terms of what's happening, how the industry is responding and we will provide a weekly summary. Open to all, every perspective welcome. Join Call

Week 11 - 26/05/2020

This week we were joined by Jasmeet Gill from the Beautiful Destinations Strategy team, a role where she infuses consumer research into all facets of the business. In an in depth interview with the #DTTT, we dived deep into the latest key insights about the travel community, as tourism boards and travel brands navigate the new world of travel. Here are the key takeaways.

There is cautious Optimism for Future Travel

Destinations need to be aware that the appetite for travel is very much still there. Consumers are cautiously optimistic around travel, with many postponing their plans instead of cancelling. In this instance we are looking at young travellers, those in the Millenial and Gen Z categories who are likely to be the first to travel again. Beautiful Destinations has collected traveller data and analytics to understand their changing needs and sentiment. It has noted that 50% of travellers in key markets say they will travel again once restrictions and issues around travel have been resolved. At the #DTTT, we believe that this need for travel and escapism should be an incentive for DMOs to continue inspiring travellers with virtual content and innovation to keep their destination top of mind.

Safety is the Number One Priority

A destination that is safe is what all travellers are looking for. There’s no doubt that the industry has a lot of work to do in order to regain the trust and confidence of travellers. The main concerns for younger travellers are crowded places, official regulations and getting ill in a destination.

The three key factors that are most important and will bring travellers to destinations are:

  • Safety

  • Accessibility

  • An open destination that is operating as normal.

DMOs need to ensure their offer is adapted for the needs of travellers and goes beyond the usual protocols. Safety is the most important thing to travellers and therefore safety measures must be communicated frequently and transparently. Implementing contactless payments at attractions and more digital initiatives will ensure travellers feel less at risk. People want to know what the experience will be like at a destination and what safety measures are in place. In order to gain trust and confidence, destinations must show that everyone including the locals are following the correct safety measures.

The Style of Travel will Change 

Young travellers are still keen to travel, either with friends or family. Small group travel and road trips are currently appealing to them the most. There is a strong need to avoid crowded spaces and busy destination hubs, with a preference for staying closer to home, although some are keen to explore further afield. The next phase of travel will be focused on the outdoors, exploration, nature, relaxation, peace of mind, knowledge gaining and taking a break from the stress of the pandemic. Domestic travel will be the leading trend with the Staycation and road trips taken through all seasons. At the #DTTT, we feel that now is a good time for destinations to adapt their offer, create new itineraries that encourage discovering local areas safely by road trip or cycling. Create a whole new travel experience that appeals to the domestic and neighbouring markets.

Beautiful Destinations predicts a shift from tourists to travellers, with “Slow Travel” that is immersed in one destination being preferred to a busy multi-centre itinerary. The shift in travel preferences will be followed by a shift in the behaviour and mindset of travellers. There will be a deeper level of appreciation for a destination and sustainable travel will become a more viable market. It has been noted that Generation Z is willing to pay more to travel sustainably, as sustainability becomes a key factor in travel.

Destinations must focus on the Customer Experience

In order to really understand the mindset of travellers, destinations must put themselves in the customer's shoes. By looking at every aspect of the customer’s destination experience, DMOs can add value by listening, empathising and understanding what people are looking for and taking action to make it happen. To completely understand the customer experience, destinations that are analysing data, must take into account the missing human emotional element. By creating a live focus group, destinations can be completely tuned into the mindset of their audience, the travellers. By humanising data, destinations can get a good understanding of what they need to do to appeal to travellers.

Destinations must also shift their messaging from hope and unity, towards something more fun and entertaining, based on what they can offer. They must stay true to their brand and offer something that is actionable to drive visits. This is a huge opportunity for destinations to entertain and inspire people. By shifting the messaging style, destinations can tap into sentiment and build relationships. They can speak to travellers that want to travel differently. At the #DTTT, we believe that destinations need to offer clarity and provide clear information around pre and post travel requirements. DMOs must cater to the destination’s strengths, inspire and entertain and frame that with what’s going on with the pandemic. By practicing what they preach, destinations can stand out from the crowd.

The Industry must be Flexible and Adaptable

The “new normal” for travel will bring many changes which means that the industry must remain flexible and adaptable. It is now an opportunity for the industry to reframe travel and its benefits, to dial into emotions of travellers. There will be more demand for sustainable travel, and a move towards slow travel with the key focus to travel less and appreciate more.

At the #DTTT, we believe that recovery offers destinations an opportunity to really get to know and understand their audience and create an experience that is of value to them. It is a time to be innovative, responsible and inspiring, to offer something new and exciting that responds to the needs of a new generation of travellers.

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