The World is Reopening. Can Travel be Fun Again?

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After more than one year of the pandemic, lockdowns and travel restrictions, one could bet booking the next vacation is top of mind for most people across the globe.

With just a few alternatives for so many months, and most of us limiting our vacation plans to browsing online travel sites with the hope to book later, there is plenty of desire to pack the suitcases and go somewhere – some people would even say go anywhere. According to a Booking.com survey of more than 28,000 travelers across 28 markets, most would rather go on a vacation in 2021 than find true love, and 68% would rather have a vacation than a promotion – well, no doubt the repeated and long lockdowns increased an appetite of some people for going on vacation.

On the other hand, there is still a big uncertainty when booking the next trip. Travelers are very cautious and will be seeking assurance from governments and travel companies across the globe on new and ongoing travel rules and guidelines.

How will our travel habits change?

Traveling anywhere outside one’s home country can be confusing and frustrating nowadays, considering all the rules and regulations around the globe dependent on a traveler’s origin or destination. Some countries have restrictions in place for countries classified as higher risk, requiring hours filling out paperwork, screening procedures, a negative PCR test taken 72 hours before departure, a new test upon arrival, etc. It can be a dizzying and frustrating experience for most travelers.

In Europe, most countries reliant on tourism are adapting their own rules to the new-normal reopening borders to help revive the economy decimated by the pandemic – if only these rules would be understandable and transparent to most travelers. Recently, some UK travelers found out, the hard way, what it means when a country is removed from the “safe to travel” list. As it became clear that the UK would be moving Portugal from the green to the amber travel list, British holidaymakers were rushed back home – at great expense for several travelers, before the deadline to beat the 10-day quarantine period.

To avoid this type of negative experience and evaluate the level of risk associated with each destination most travelers (44% in the UK) have admitted to postponing their international summer holiday or are looking for more flexibility in the booking process. According to research conducted by Trip.com and Google, 80% of bookings are within a fortnight of departure, as opposed to 36 days before departure in pre-Covid-19 times.

Staycations will continue as the new vacation-normal

Despite the near-normal levels of demand expected in the next couple of months, the travel industry is still in recovery mode and for many staycations will continue to be a popular choice for those who prefer to get away but want to avoid the hassle of travel restrictions or any quarantine rules. According to the previously mentioned Booking.com research, 24% of Americans plan to choose less frequented destinations and 20% are looking for destinations in or near their hometown.

Not an alternative to a beach holiday, but a holiday in balconia is still a valid option for some consumers

The world is moving towards a new normal and while more travelers are getting vaccinated and can enjoy the freedom of a summer holiday in one of the Greek Islands or a cruise in the Caribbean, others are still waiting to get their shot, or are afraid, or restricted to embark in a new vacation adventure. Recent Braze research found that 41% of those who don’t plan on getting vaccinated are not sure if they will ever be comfortable traveling again versus only 19% of those who plan on getting vaccinated and/or are vaccinated.

For those not feeling comfortable traveling yet but wishing to be at the beach of Copacabana, I’d recommend trying to enjoy a great caipirinha while sitting on the balcony or go for a pisco sour if wishing to be hiking the Peruvian Andes.

Final thoughts

With many consumers still hesitant about traveling, travel will remain fundamental to people’s lives being a business trip or family vacation. Therefore, for travel brands, developing proper customer engagement strategies is now more important than ever. The opportunity is there—you just need to know how to reach your consumers effectively.

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