It’s clear that the events and restrictions of 2020 have sent shockwaves through the global travel industry. 

Prior to 2020, travel across the globe was booming – in 2018 there were a record 1.4bn international tourist arrivals, with tourism as a whole accounting for approximately 2% of the total global GDP.

Following the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, however, global air travel has decreased 85% from this time last year, and Google searches for phrases such as “can I travel” or “safe to fly” have skyrocketed. At least 27 airlines have filed for bankruptcy, with hundreds of others clinging on to life as restrictions continue to extend.

On a more micro level:

We have all seen the impacts of travel restrictions on our own networks. If not ourselves, we all know someone who has had their travel plans dashed. As a result, we are seeing decreased tourism spend globally, but increases in local travel where would-be travellers are staying closer to home. Google searches worldwide for “staycations” have increased by 100% since 2019, and searches for “beach open” have exploded by over 3,000%.

Road trips have also seen a resurrection in mainstream popularity during the pandemic – the American Automobile Association estimates that 97% of all trips taken over the summer in the U.S. will be via car.

#vanlifeaustralia has over 69,000 posts on Instagram but has a while to catch up to the global hastag, which has over 8.5 million.

Unsurprisingly this has been popular in Australia as well:

There has been a raft of content regarding the resurgence of classic road trips in Australia in recent weeks, timely with borders opening imminently – #vanlife and #vanlifeaustralia are trending terms on social media as well.

So, what does this mean for businesses as we look ahead to the future of travel in a post-pandemic landscape?

As consumer behaviour surrounding travel shifts, businesses must remain agile and adopt innovative measures to continue driving the tourism industry forward. 

With so many travellers stuck at home pondering their wanderlust, there is a natural opportunity within the travel industry for the use of virtual reality to be utilised more often. Not only can VR give a sense of being physically within a destination and allowing you to ‘get away from it all’, it is also a valuable ‘try-before-you-buy’ tool for both travellers and travel agents. 

With less disposable income, travellers will be more selective in their choices for holidaying. To ensure they receive the best value within their budget, demand for ‘try-before-you-buy’ will likely surge. 

Check out an example from Holoscribe – this VR experience of Barnard Castle in the UK. This tool allowed viewers to explore the castle and the surrounding area.

Ben Fogarty, CEO and co-founder of Holoscribe, said:

Using readily-available content like Google Maps Street View, 360-degree imagery and free-for-commercial use imagery, we were able to pull together and publish this 360 interactive experience in a matter of minutes using our XR Publishing software. It means consumers can explore and discover attractions like Barnard Castle and the surrounding area from their home and plan their visit when it is safe to do so again. 

But when will it be safe to do so? Perhaps the most prominent change to travel has been in hygiene expectations from travellers. This presents a unique challenge in that hygiene standards (and what is perceived as ‘safe’) differs largely between countries.

As a result, companies must employ precise data in their customer profiling to understand how each consumer will interpret booking considerations – and tailor the customer experience accordingly. 

 Our 2019 Australian Digital Marketing Maturity survey responses told us that:

3 in 5 travel & leisure industry businesses already use a range of 1st and 3rd party data sources to target their audiences for digital marketing campaigns.

And what’s more:

2 of those 3 are doing so at a high level, and are able to create a complete view of the customer from different data points.

Not only this, but 80% of respondents reported partial linking of online customer data (e.g. ad server, DSP, web analytics), with 20% having significant offline to online linking, meaning they are able to link customer journeys to digital marketing activities.

What else did our 2019 Digital Marketing Maturity Growth Report find out?

This year’s Digital Marketing Maturity survey is still collecting responses (help us out here), but we have already noted some interesting changes in digital marketing strategy for CMOs, such as a 60% increase in demand for digital transformation within businesses, and an overall 30% reduction in marketing budgets. 

While we are still unsure what lies on the horizon for travel in the coming years, we do know that industry contenders can only remain competitive by remaining agile and embracing digital innovation. 

To find out how your travel or leisure brand can make the leap to cloud for marketing technologies, get in touch with Datisan today.