In an ever-changing world of restrictions, it is hard to make predictions for the future of the travel industry. However, we have seen some significant changes and growth in certain sectors which bring real optimism and promise for 2022. This article will look at key elements that could have an impact on the travel industry in the coming year and how tour operators can prepare for that. If you’re looking for more information about long-term trends in the tourism industry check out our other article.
Business travel has seen ups and downs in 2021. Many pinned their hopes on the promising return of this big-budget sector to kickstart the return of footfall in the travel industry. However, unforeseen circumstances have affected its comeback. For example, companies became accustomed to virtual meetings and conferences during the pandemic. Although not the ideal way to meet, online platforms offered an alternative to expensive international travel. As Zoom and Google meetings became the norm, many companies reduced their travel budgets. With the emergence of new variants throughout the year, confidence in international travel wavered, with many travellers not wanting to be stuck abroad or have to quarantine in a hotel upon return.
However, as the year progressed, many began to realise that life had to go on and learning to live with COVID regulations was the only way forward. Businesses also realised that there are many occasions when meeting online is not sufficient and meeting face-to-face is the only option. Studies have shown positive predictions(opens in a new tab) for 2022, they have said that business travel’s comeback may not be as quick as we first hoped but there are promising numbers forecasted for 2022.
The Increasing Role of Crypto Currencies in the Tourism Industry
We’ve written about how the travel industry has embraced cryptocurrencies way ahead of many sectors and how both tour operators and guests can benefit from this move. Data shows(opens in a new tab) that growth of the use of cryptocurrency in the tourism market is set to soar in 2022. CNBC(opens in a new tab) predicted that a quarter of travellers willing to spend more money on travel will be using crypto to pay for it. There have been significant changes with Thailand announcing(opens in a new tab) that it plans to team up with local cryptocurrency companies and exchanges to start accepting payment via that method for travel.
Tour operators can take advantage of this growth opportunity by preparing to process payments for cryptocurrencies. Being open to different payment methods and new technology will differentiate you from your competitors, in a saturated market standing out from your competitors is a must.
The Increasing Importance of Tech For the Tourism Industry
Like hospitality, the tourism industry has seen drastic staffing shortages in 2021. Hiring any staff at all, let alone the right kind, has been a nigh-on impossible task for many tour operators. Many in the travel industry have responded to this situation by introducing reliable technology. Hotels introduced keyless doors(opens in a new tab) which you can open by scanning a QR code on your phone and automated check-in became the norm to avoid close social contact and reduce the need for as many front-desk staff.
Tour operators like Triptile(opens in a new tab) are reinventing the client-agent relationship through tech. On their website, guests can use their interactive tools to create their own personalized itinerary. Locations, tours, and additions are all thoroughly researched by their team, but a process that could take days to perfect can now take minutes. What’s more, users now have more autonomy over customising their trips but are still able to take advantage of expert advice.
Longer Stays & Bigger Budgets
Most people have reconsidered what they want from travel. After spending so much time at home, many people are now looking to travel for life-changing experiences. Companies like Original Travel are focusing on encouraging people to travel less(opens in a new tab) but make more of an experience from their trips. They are building longer itineraries and including more meaningful experiences.
For tour operators, this could mean reassessing your tour offerings. If you are used to catering to typical tourist attractions, try diversifying your options. If you can see demand for longer stays in your destination, consider adding a multi-day tour to your repertoire. If most of your guests are from different cultures, be sure to address cultural differences that may interest them. If potential travellers are willing to spend more on their travel plans, you need to ensure you’re giving them the quality they’re looking for.
Diversifying the Tourism Industry
For an industry that focuses on introducing people to new cultures and experiences, tourism has long been lacking in employing a diverse workforce. PwC found(opens in a new tab) in 2021 that travel is a long way behind the 70% par diversity rating for other industries. After the global Black Lives Matter protests in 2020, the tourism industry received a much-needed reality check and finally identified the urgent need to diversify. In 2021, projects aimed at promoting racial and gender diversity were set up and Keith Sproule told Travel Age West (opens in a new tab)that he expected more to emerge in 2022.
Organizations such as the Black Travel Alliance(opens in a new tab) combine their various skills as travel authors, bloggers, broadcasters, journalists, photographers, podcasters, social media influencers, and vloggers, to educate and equip Black travel professionals in education, media, and corporate positions. Women in Travel CIC(opens in a new tab) could be considered an old-timer in the movement having started up in 2014. They focus on raising awareness and combatting gender inequality.
We cannot be sure of what 2022 will bring for the tourism industry. With the help of the vaccine rollout, it certainly seems like the darkest times are behind us. These predictions may help to bring a new stream of revenue to your business or help you to prepare for what the new year has in store. Researching how technology can best suit your business could be the step you’ve needed to take in order to see sustainable growth. The other way we want to see the industry grow is through diversification, by encouraging equality we will likely see new levels of innovation and creativity. Whatever happens, it’s key for tour operators to be monitoring advances in the market and keeping their finger on the pulse to ensure they are standing out from the crowd.
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