The experience of living through COVID-19 and the concern over climate is changing the world we live in, and it is changing travel patterns and consumer behaviours. It is also changing some responses by the travel and tourism industry.
We don’t know yet how this will all play out. However, we know that there will continue to be some winners and losers and that some destinations, sectors, and individual businesses will fare better than others.
The business environment is a difficult one, but we are on the road to recovery. We may encounter some bumps along the way like the Omicron variant, but 2022 will be better than 2021 and Glance will be working to play our part in winning business for our clients.
Here are some winner/loser shifts. Some shifts will be short term; others are likely to be long-term.
Domestic travel wins, international travel loses. Different businesses will have different levels of dependency on domestic and international business. As international travel is set to recover last, those with a high dependence on international travellers will struggle most – unless they can reshape their offering to appeal to the domestic market.
‘Near’ wins over far. Cars win over coach and group transport. People are taking breaks nearer to home and prefer cars over coaches or trains as their means of transportation right now. This will rebalance over time, but right now, businesses depending on individuals and groups arriving by coach or train will lose out. On the other hand, more trip-takers travelling by car puts every visitor experience in Ireland within easy reach.
Rural/open country/resorts win over cities and large urban areas. For perceived safety, consumers favour ‘open space’ destinations ahead of cities and large urban centres. This will impact businesses for better or worse, depending on their location. Destinations and businesses perceived to be safest are winners: Most intending travellers will make judgements on the ‘Covid safety’ of the destinations they are considering, as well as their choice of accommodation, activities and events. Safe wins business!
Outdoor wins, indoor loses. Outdoor is perceived as safest and indoors less safe. This will impact every business to a significant degree – accommodation, dining, activities, attractions, events and transport. Some businesses will win, some will lose.
Last-minute wins over forward bookings. Uncertainty means people are booking closer to their planned arrival dates. This will make forecasting and planning more difficult for businesses.
Short and longer-term rentals win, larger hotels lose. Short and longer-term rentals, including holiday homes, apartments, and B&Bs, have become more appealing – with their contained amenities and detached spaces. Some hotels may lose relatively, particularly larger hotels.
Leisure travel wins, business travel loses. This will impact destinations and individual businesses. In addition, it will have significant consequences for hotels and the MICE sector (meetings, incentive, conference and events).
Small groups win; large groups lose. Smaller groups will be less impacted than larger groups.
Weekends win, mid-week loses. This is particularly the case in urban areas – primarily driven by the decline in business travel, the ‘stay at home’ directives and remote working.
Age matters. Millennials (age 25 to 40) and Gen X (age 41 to 56) are likely to be the primary source of demand during the pandemic – they have the confidence to travel and the means to do so. Businesses with a higher dependency on the seniors market will lose out more. Gen Z (under 25) has been the hardest hit financially which will have some impact.
Fear often wins over desire or intent. This is why destinations, products, and experiences perceived as safe will fare best. It is also why sentiment surveys have been less reliable. People want and intend to travel, but fear continues to influence the choices of many – and across all demographics.
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