How Luxury Travel Will Change After The Covid-19 Pandemic
A global pandemic is something nobody could have predicted when coming into 2020. In the early throes of the year, when news reports of the novel coronavirus were surfacing, individuals across the world could never have foreseen the state of the world today, less than six months later.
As a result of the continued spread of the virus, boarders worldwide have been closed, quarantine measures put in place and daily flights drastically reduced—resulting in travel plans being put on pause for the foreseeable future.
With summer approaching—a time when the masses would normally be jetting off on trips both near and far—stay home orders are still largely limiting many from leaving their homes, making the idea of jetting off on a two-week break seem like a distant reality.
As it becomes more likely that travel will be off the cards for the remainder of the year, we’re turning our attention to how the luxury travel industry will come out of the pandemic. Will we think twice about the way we travel and the impact it has, or will we simply revert back to our old ways as soon as we can hop on a flight? These luxury travel experts shared their thoughts.
Focus on hygiene
An unsurprising result of the pandemic is a continued focus on hygiene and cleanliness. We’ve all become accustomed to carrying hand sanitiser with us wherever we go, washing our hands frequently and being careful of the surfaces we touch, and this trend will definitely be sticking around for some time and affecting the way we travel.
Dean Winter, Group Director of Operations at Swire Hotels predicts "that people’s attention to and demand for hygiene and cleanliness will increase.” Continuing, Dean explains that “people won’t change how they travel but will expect hotels and airlines to be increasing sanitisation measures.”
Lucy Jackson, Co-Founder and Director of Lightfoot Travel echoes this, saying "the increased sanitisation of flights and hotels will understandably be very important. Many luxury hotel brands are already rolling out new initiatives to increase cleanliness standards including a contactless service, guest service apps and new hygiene technology, which is very reassuring."
Search for sanctuary
In the modern world we live in, it's increasingly hard to truly get away from it all, switch off and enjoy a much-needed break. But as a result of the pandemic, the experts predict that many more travellers will actively seek out less crowded trips, searching for privacy and a greater sense of calm and peacefulness. Off-the-beaten track and natural destinations are sure to become even more in demand.
Roland Fasel, Chief Operating Officer of Aman shares his view that in the future “people will want to get away from the crowds and find a peaceful sanctuary more than ever.” Learning from the increased interest in villas and private dining opportunities at Aman, Roland says that “privacy is the overarching trend as a result of this pandemic”—with the outcome being that luxury hotels and resorts will have to adapt to this demand.
Agreeing with this, Andrea Oschetti Founder of luxury travel company Blueflower states that “security and privacy will become an even more important consideration when planning trips in the post-Covid world.” Though he is sure in his belief that “the luxury segment is perfectly positioned to satisfy these needs.”
Roger also believes that travellers will likely appreciate the importance of good health more than before, looking to travel to places “where they can fully rejuvenate”.
Continuing, he predicts that “we will see a rise in wellness travel with people realising, during this pandemic, how important and valuable good health is. There will be a demand in travellers wanting to stay in places where you can improve your mental and physical wellbeing.”
(Related: Wellness Experts from Como Hotels and Resorts, Aman Resorts and More Share Their Tips for Holistic Health)
Uptake in staycations
Although long-haul travel will most likely have a resurgence in 2021, for now, staycations are key for those looking to get away and enjoy some rest and relaxation.
Lucy explains that as people slowly get back to travelling, we will initially "see an uptick in domestic travel and exploring local areas—this is something that is happening in each of our markets, so staycations will be very popular. People want to experience a feeling of nurture after this difficult time and lockdowns."
Staycations may already be a mainstay in Singapore, with so many luxury properties at our fingertips, but for those in countries across the globe, the pandemic may make them explore their own backyard a little more once restrictions are lifted.
"After being stuck at home for the past few months, people will want to get out for a change of scenery," says Dean. "Whether it’s for a weekend getaway in the next city or a road trip cross country, staycations at hotels will and are starting to become very popular."
(Related: Your Guide To Armchair Travelling During The Coronavirus Pandemic)
Travel, but with purpose
It is likely that as a result of the pandemic, people will look for travel experiences to go a little deeper. Fewer trips will be booked on the fly "just because", and more meaning will be put into the where, when and how of travel.
Andrea believes that those looking to book holidays “will favour trips that mean something to them.” Explaining that, “in the past, some travellers would say ‘it’s summer, I guess I should book a trip!’ Now, I think they will approach the possibilities and opportunities to travel with purpose, renewed curiosity, and that they will want to get more out of their time away. Travellers will not take an intercontinental flight simply because of the lure of a beautiful hotel, the travel trend will be to travel for meaning.”
Simply put, "The new luxury is finding the answer to the question: what are you searching for when you travel?"
Connecting with communities
In line with travelling with a greater sense of purpose and meaning, those looking to explore the world of luxury travel will also want to engage and connect with local communities.
Lucy explains that she "anticipates an emphasis on travel that gives back and brings a connection with the local communities. Everyone in the travel industry has been affected by Covid-19 and the repercussions from lack of tourism to areas who are wholly depend on visitors is devastating. People will be keen to travel to these destinations to get involved in bringing a community back to life, and contributing to education, sustainability projects and local initiatives."
Connecting with communities is also at the forefront of Aman's model moving forward, with Roland saying that it is their "desire, now more than ever, to source more from local suppliers and in turn create more business for the community. Guests will desire fresh locally produced food and hotels with their own organic kitchen gardens. In addition, people will choose to stay in places that are shaped by the community and co-exist together happily."
A positive outlook
Although it may take a little time, the luxury travel industry will bounce back post-pandemic, with the experts believing that if anything, it will benefit us all.
As people look to travel once more, whether it’s domestically or internationally, Dean explains that it is up to the hotels to offer guests the same sense of luxury as before. “Hotels will have to become more creative in terms of working around any restrictions that become the norm as travellers will still expect to receive the same level of service and high-quality experience from before Covid-19. They will need to adapt and find different ways to surprise and delight guests.”
In line with this, Andrea touches on how the pandemic will affect his role in the travel industry, stating “travel agents will need to become more ambitious in how they design experiences. A new paradigm of luxury travel that is life-enriching and values-based is emerging. The good news is that it will contribute to the better world we have been imagining during this pandemic.”
Echoing this sentiment, Dean concludes “it will indeed make the industry that much stronger and equipped to tackle any situation, raising travel standards and expectations globally.”
(Related: Cleaner Hands, Bluer Skies: Looking on the Bright Side Amidst the Covid-19 Outbreak)