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What Does the Future of Travel Hold?

While the pandemic has been a tumultuous time for many, one silver lining has emerged: the opportunities to learn and grow along the way.

The new Skift Research Global Travel Outlook for 2021 offers insight into the future of travel as we know it—from the return of leisure travel, to what is expected to change and more.

We break down some of the key takeaways from the report below:

The report uses 9/11 as an example of an event that changed travel forever, but didn't stop it. Authors of the report expect COVID-19 to transform, but not stop, the travel industry in a similar way.

With vaccinations underway, the report predicts that travel in 2021 could look more normal than many expect, with Americans beginning to travel again, despite ongoing challenges to contain the virus. When it comes to the types of travel we might see, the report indicates that business travel is more volatile and slower to recover than leisure travel.

The Future Travel Experience will be Contactless

According to the report, the pandemic has accelerated the adoption of new technologies in the travel industry, with contactless tech offerings at the forefront. The post-pandemic travel industry will be more touchless than ever. When it comes to hotels, contactless payments, guest engagement tools, online or kiosk-based self-check-in, and keyless entry have been particularly popular.

In order for travel companies to continue to grow post-pandemic, the report offers four key suggestions:

1. Listen to your customers. Unlock microsegment-level insight into changing behaviors and preferences, to power personalized experiences.

2. Make it better, not just safer. Design thoughtful customer-experience interventions that solve both preexisting and COVID-19-induced pain points.

3. Expand your horizons. Build partnerships that restore traveler confidence and build a stronger travel ecosystem.

4. Stay nimble beyond the crisis. Preserve your crisis-induced agility by rewiring key functions, decision making, day-to-day execution and talent allocation.

The good news? Travel will return.

When it comes to cruise travel, the report indicates cruise customers have demonstrated intense brand loyalty and have shown every intention of returning to cruising once the pandemic is under control. Across Carnival, Royal Caribbean, and Norwegian, the cruise lines have received ~$1.5B in new customer bookings for future travel.

Written by Sarah Suydam, Managing Editor for Groups Today.


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