From remote working, luxury staycations, pod travel to the concept of ‘bleisure’ combining business and leisure travel as an emerging segment, we think there are many emerging trends.
Holding out hope for a better year on a cautious note of optimism, the curtains on 2021 have lifted and thus begun. From a travel and hospitality perspective, a question emerges: are there some notable trends that are likely to scale up this year? From remote working, luxury staycations, pod travel to the concept of ‘bleisure’ combining business and leisure travel as an emerging segment, we think there are many emerging trends. Few leading players in the hospitality ecosystem shared their insights with Financial Express Online as follows.
Nibhrant Shah, Co-Founder & CEO, Isprava & Lohono Stays outlined the following five key trends for the year as follows:
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Remote working: Virtual meetings and online classes have made it easier for people to work from any nook of the world without any hassles.
Luxury staycations: Domestic travel with preference to staycation: With international travel restrictions and quarantine rules, there is going to be a rise in domestic travel with extra push for luxurious staycation options. They now prefer villas over hotels and restaurants with more spaces including manicured gardens, villas with a backyard, pool with a deck and more.
Pod travel: This pandemic has brought a change in the perspective of a traveller. They have realised the importance of being with loved ones. Our guests also mostly include a family of more than four, with pets or a close knitted group.
Traveling closer to cities: Locations preferred by travellers are close to the city they reside in so that they can experience a slower pace of life yet still be close to their reality.
Regenerative travel: After the lockdown, people are wanting to travel to the interiors or any place which is closer to Nature to refresh themselves from a completely indoor lifestyle.
According to Kamesh Shukla, EVP and Head for APMEA-RateGain, there are few notable trends during the unprecedented times which are likely to gain momentum this year. In his words, “The priorities of traveller behavior continues to evolve, and this will never be the same again.” He further elaborated on few niche travel trends that are emerging as follows:
New micro-segments with hybrids within traditional travel segments
This trend prevailed during pre covid within domestic, regional and international landscapes; like the staycationers ,drive-cationers, workations that evolved from the “bleisure” segment (hybrid of Business + Leisure). In fact, the micro sub-segmentation will continue to evolve and get a lot more complex with changing priorities, preferences and patterns of the guest behavior together with the new market changes.
Resorts and Vacation Rentals witness strong demand
As travelers emerge from the pandemic and explore options for staycations or a change of scenery in a safe and sanitized manner, seeking larger spaces that are better equipped for longer leisure stays and social isolation, suburban destinations, resorts and VacationRental (VR) industry continues to witness strong demand, outpacing hotels on the pandemic recovery front.
Hotels & airports may witness 4x increase in questions related to safety protocols
Guests/Travelers are putting health and safety first and this shall continue to be the prime ask. At the same time they are also turning to social media to learn more about destinations, airlines and hotel’s safety protocols and re-openings. Hotels and Airlines can expect to see a 4x increase in questions around property restrictions and safety procedures on social as we trend upwards on the recovery side.
Digital experience emerges key gamechanger for hospitality segment
Before the pandemic, travelers or guests interacted with a hotel brand primarily through the physical experience (e.g., how comfortable was the bed) and the service experience (e.g., how easy was the check-in process?). Now, there is the digital experience and hotels are currently least equipped to capitalize on the digital experience which ensures that all guest needs are met virtually – before, during as well as after their stay.
Across India’s hospitality segment, the digital metamorphosis has been nothing else than transformational for leisure and business travelers.
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Highlighting digitisation efforts, Bhagwan Balani – General Manager, ITC Grand Goa Resort & Spa told Financial Express Online, “A number of operation related activities have been digitised thereby enabling contact light services. We have rolled out QR friendly in-room menu for dining, guest service directory, digitalised restaurant menus and Check-in & Check-out processes empower the guest to stay safely distant. In fact, the advanced sanitisation methods deployed in guest limousine services and baggage are duly tagged as ‘Sanitagged’ to provide guests with an added reassurance. Each room has its own private balcony ensuring that a guest can relax in the comfort of the room itself. Guest safety is prioritised above all, and the rooms are serviced only when a guest is away from the room, after soliciting a time.”
The thing is that at the end of a trip or a vacation, travellers want to feel good about themselves and the choices they made about every aspect of their travel and accommodation. Even when the happy and leisurely moments are few and far between, the sense of fulfilment of having it is unmatched when you have travelled and made choices for yourself and your family or friends.
These travel trends spark a new beginning in 2021. One step at a time, travellers can take up and opt for what suits them best while adhering to the safety protocols and social distancing norm.