2021 will be the year of smart travel, safety and hygiene top priorities: Sabina Chopra, Co-Founder and COO, Yatra

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November 30, 2020 10:55 AM

The determining factors related to travel choices hinge on safety, hygiene practices and social distancing, paving the way for new travel trends like pod travel, staycations, among others.

Travellers are opting for various packages with personalized services and activities curated especially according to preferences which provide for a memorable experience.

In 2020, travel has changed forever, so has the world! Leisure destinations are now opening up again and showing signs of increased uptick in terms of demand. The determining factors related to travel choices hinge on safety, hygiene practices and social distancing, paving the way for new travel trends like pod travel, staycations, among others.

Meanwhile, the country’s premium and leisure hotels are now upping their game in terms of rolling out contactless services including developing digital butlers for enhanced guest experience. A traveller’s first dilemma is deciding where to stay.

Speaking exclusively with Financial Express Online’s Swapna Raghu Sanand, Sabina Chopra, Co-Founder and COO, Corporate Travel and Head Industry Relations, Yatra.com says, “Travel and tourism industry went through a major upheaval in 2020 with the entire sector coming to a standstill during the initial months. With the unlock phase, few touchpoints of travel are witnessing a pick-up in demand as more people step out of complete isolation.”

What are the top 5 trends that are likely to see an uptick for India’s domestic tourism next year?

In 2021, we can expect major focus on travel trends which can be explored domestically, until international operations open.

[READ: COVID-19 has given impetus to domestic travel: Harshit Vyas, OYO]

Some of the key trends expected to see a rise in queries are:

Sustainable tourism- Travelers now are more conscious of the impact that their travel has on the environment, and even on the local economy. The well-being of the community, businesses and people will be of utmost importance where economic, social, and environmental impacts will be taken into consideration while travelling.

Smaller groups and privacy- More travellers will opt to spend time with close and loved ones rather than large groups of strangers. People will opt for private tours ensuring that contact with strangers is minimized, a trend that is going to continue over the years.

VR/AR to Sell Travel Experiences- While virtual reality and augmented reality technology has been around for a while, in 2021 the tourism sector looks to make the most of it. One can expect destinations and experiences to be sold through virtual reality tech like virtual walkthroughs of houses, hotels, transportation where tech can give you a taste of the experiences.

Short Getaways- Travellers will continue to look for short getaways with road trips and will visit destinations that are at a drivable distance. They will be keen to explore a slower pace of life for holidays.

Thus, 2021 will be the year of smart travel.

Is there an increased demand for villas and premium cottages than for hotel rooms?

In today’s time, travellers are longing for an immersive experience. They are looking for holiday experiences that allow them to explore their personal interests. As they explore their interests and long for a wholesome experience, alternative holiday accommodations are becoming immensely popular.

Travellers are looking at exclusive cottages and villas for private stays to get away from the hustle bustle of the city. These premium properties provide a secluded and isolated experience especially with their stringent standards of safety and sanitization processes in place.

Travellers are opting for various packages with personalized services and activities curated especially according to preferences which provide for a memorable experience.

How do you view budgeted travel deals and affordable accommodation picking up next year or do you see more and more Indians opting for premium properties only?

With travel no longer being a luxury and so much information available across platforms, consumers have become more aware of what is possible in their budget while planning their trips.

Affordable travel options with discounts and offers have always been ideal for travellers but in these difficult times, safety and sanitization have taken priority.

In terms of accommodation, we have seen a surge in booking enquiries for various options such as homestays, cottages, and premium and luxury hotel properties. In 2021 as well, we can expect these options to continue to be the preference. Travellers now are willing to shell out a little extra cash prioritizing their health and safety.

What is your take on the current trend of staycations and pod travel – do you see it sustaining itself through the next year?

Domestic and local travel will be a popular choice for many who want to get away and avoid the hassle of travel restrictions. Subsequently, changing trends such as staycations and pod travel are here to stay, and we will see the trend continuing in the coming year too.

Many hotels and boutique properties in India, are also now offering staycation packages that would allow people to work from respective properties.

Since most of us continue to work from home, travellers are opting for beautiful locales for staycations to break away from their monotonous lifestyle.

Pod travel, wherein people prefer to travel in close groups will also continue to take precedence. Travellers are opting for travel with their families and close friends rather than venturing out in larger groups.

Hills and beaches are picking up in demand for staycation packages. These locations offer a serene break from the otherwise hectic life.

Do you think Indian travellers would risk traveling to places far from home in 2021?

Safety and hygiene are one of the key priorities while making travel plans today and consumers are expected to be cognizant of these factors at every touchpoint in future as well.

While our world and the way people travel has been changed forever, we can hope that through responsible and sustainable practices, consumer confidence will become stronger and they will be more keen on taking a trip far away from home.

This consumer confidence to curate a plan, add ‘where to go’ to their list, pick up their bags, and head for an experience, will take some time.

We are hoping to reignite this love for travel through our campaigns such as #ResasonToTravel and #TravelManao.

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