Travel Forecast in 2021: What We Expect Will Be Different
Our travel forecast for next year spans the rise of faceless tech, the demand of consumers and the businesses struggling to hold on.
We’ve only begun to get used to the changes in travel nearly 20 years ago after a coordinated terrorist attack on the United States wreaked unprecedented levels of havoc. The new threat to seize not just the country, but the world, has no ideology. However, it is no less politicized and no less discriminating. The virus in question has threatened travel since its discovery on an ocean cruise liner near Asia in February.
Just over six months later, the unthinkable idea of quarantining citizens has become an everyday accepted reality. Even now, as the pandemic continues, we’re looking toward a possible end and wondering how different 2021 will be. Our travel forecast for next year spans the rise of faceless tech, the demand of consumers, and the businesses struggling to hold on.Photo Credit: Powered by Mom
Early 2021 Travel Surge
There is a big difference in what people say they want and what actually happens. We need only to turn to Disney for a microcosm of travel as a whole. Execs were convinced of enough pent up demand to get Walt Disney World up and running again. When they did, few showed up. While the company claims a narrow margin of profit, even they can’t sugarcoat the situation very well. That said, there are many travellers stuck at home who say they are actively planning multiple trips. Reasons range from livelihood to vacation vouchers, but it all adds up to making up for lost travel in 2020.Epcot in DisneyWorld Photo Credit: Powered by Mom
One of the trends among potential travellers is that they say they’ll be sticking to domestic travel. Among those travellers, the trend will be in state-to-state road trips, mostly to national parks and other natural settings where less crowding generally occurs.
There is no guarantee that the pandemic will recede prior to 2021, but that magic number has travel hopefuls champing at the bit to hit the road as early as possible. What has gotten into so many would-be travellers is a mix of things. Some travellers had to cancel trips in 2020 and have a deadline for their replacement vouchers. Others have been holed up for too long and they’re vowing not to miss another opportunity to get out. Even if the threat of COVID-19 doesn’t fully die down, more people are likely to attempt to travel whenever they feel like the risk is at appropriate levels.
Rise in Tech
We’ve seen the travel industry turn upside down as the result of COVID-19. Businesses investing in big changes to reduce risk and earn public confidence won’t go back to their old ways easily. No matter what happens many changes are probably here to stay, especially where it comes to investments already made in technology and their cost-cutting benefits.
In the near future, we are likely to see more, not less, automated, touchless technology that keeps us separate and requires a smaller workforce. Advanced screening technology will work its way into not just airports, but hotels and other facilities. Touchless transactions in commercial spaces, more controlled environments, and less convenience for travellers will be increasing even if COVID numbers drop to nothing.
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The Hospitality Dilemma
Travellers are used to getting worked over by airlines and government agencies. But hotels and restaurants will have to toe the line to meet requirements and earn the trust of their guests. At the same time, they must make their guests comfortable, a catch-22 that will take time to resolve. Maybe too long. Right now, travellers are already trending toward vacation rentals and away from hotels.
The people who are actually travelling are setting trends in the midst of the pandemic that is unlikely to change if the virus suddenly disappears. Travel is already changing on the consumer end just as it is on the industry side. But beyond that, there are still those refusing to go out and don’t see travelling in the near future. Even a large some of those with lofty travel ideas will not follow through on those goals.
The hit to the status quo has the potential to redefine the travel landscape in unforeseen ways. For 2021 at least, we can expect a rise in loyalty rewards to help drive guests back to the hotel chains and keep them using the struggling airlines. If you decide to travel on conventional flights, you may find more empty seats in 2021 than you expect.