Travel styles changes from time to time; this year it is envisaged to be a unique year for tourism. Though no one can tell accurately what will take place, obviously; we would not be able to travel easily devoid of attention to health regulations in the probable future.
Therefore, the role of a tour operator in this rapidly changing industry is as important as the tourism industry on this next phase. Governmental regulations, health awareness and the long-lasting attitude effects of a global pandemic will mean changes for the way your business may operate. However, with this comes an exciting opportunity to adapt and innovate, along with the likelihood of travelers being willing to pay more to reduce their exposure to health risk.
Small and Medium-sized Enterprises (SMEs) who seek to seize the opportunity in the future of tourism would require looking out for the following:
- Position Your Travel Brand:
With an extensive amount of hesitation regarding travel safety and contradictory information predominant online, travelers will continue to look towards the experts when it comes to planning their trips. Especially in the near future, travel will become increasingly complex, and travelers may engage with agents and tour operators simply to help them manage the complicated airline arrangements and health regulations they must adhere to.
Positioning now, to align your travel brand as a trustworthy thought leader will put you in good stead to attract customers when travel starts to resume.
- Create Safer Travel Procedure:
Tour operators and travel agents who specialise in creating group tours may want to start thinking about how to pivot their business to function safely and successfully in this new world. Travelling in a group can be an appealing way for people to meet others, enjoy a unique experience or simply to save money on travel. However, in 2021 this option is likely going to become increasingly unattainable.
One opportunity can be to pivot completely from group travel to 100% FIT travel. Another may involve continuing to offer group travel but only to those groups who already know and trust each other and regularly interact.
- Information Gathering and Availability:
Gone are the days where people can easily go ‘off-the-grid” as there is now a critical need to stay informed and up to date with the latest travel guidelines. Tour operators that can provide their travelers with detailed online and offline itineraries will be top of the mind for travelers concerned about staying informed.
It will be more important than ever for travelers to stay connected as they travel.
- The shift of Travel Expectation:
There is a probability that popular destinations would change, this mentality is also likely to impact how people travel to and within a destination. The choice of the airline may no longer be solely price driven, rather decisions will be influenced by hygiene standards; e.g. if masks are compulsory or not, seat occupation spacing etc. Take time to keep up to speed with your transportation suppliers and their changing regulations as there will undoubtedly be related questions from your future customers that you will need to answer with confidence.
- Socially Distant Travel:
In the new world, travelers will be much more cognisant of the need to travel to destinations that make it easy to maintain social distancing practices.
Tour operators will need to get creative by designing itineraries that avoid public forms of transportation and crowded tourist areas, as their customers will expect this more considered approach to travel design. This may take the form of itineraries focusing on more remote locations or even the increased popularity of niches such as birding tours and biking tours, where travelers are less likely to come into contact with others.
Now is the time to position your travel brand.