Based on what we have seen, and what we have been through, these are some observations we can make about the next chapter of travel:
Forget about it…
Big cruises, tiny aircraft, secondary airports, big cities, and over tourism.
Once it was a thrill to be in a crowded square, or cruise the Greek Islands… but no more. Big is out, as are small planes — and sadly, look for airlines to consolidate service at big airports and drop smaller ones.
Out - big hotels. In - privacy… I want to be alone!
As with crowded flights, big hotels, and big events are out. For the next year, at least, look for small, private and intimate.
Forget the big hotel, look for the luxury villa or boutique hotel with stand-alone residences with private entrances. Think of a villa in a remote town, or near a natural area. That is what people will seek.
Back to the future….
The 50s are back! Look for a boom in drive-in theaters, drive- in eateries with car hop service, and the classic 1950s hotel with outdoor walkways leading to the rooms and stairs. There is increased demand for properties with exterior corridors and doors.
Planes become trains or automobiles…
The CARES Act was a lifeline to the airline industry, but that ends soon. And when it does, look for a massive restructuring as smaller cities come off the route map.
Many international flights require virus tests to a limited number of passengers, but few offer them — the lack of quick US testing will be another barrier…
So, as domestic and car travel is on the rise, look for a boom in overnight rail travel too. After years of decline in Europe, overnight trains with sleeping compartments will be in demand in Europe and Canada. Sadly, Amtrak is scaling back its long-distance service, but that may reverse itself in 2021.
International travel will take some time to bounce back. And when it does, it will not be the same. The ingrained memory of this pandemic, and the rise of nationalism will have an impact. For now, no one is coming to America-not with the explosion of COVID cases, violence and unrest and rampant nationalism. Look for travel to the US to fall, and look for more Americans to look to relocate abroad.
Business Travel-the next buggy whip?
Smart businesses will stay remote, and trade show, conferences, and meetings will go online or just go. That will be harsh, but you gotta play the cards in your hand.
Conference centers, like big malls, may be white elephants — and all those big downtown business hotels may be in real trouble.
Good time to be an agent?
The days of book + fly feel gone. And, this could open a new chapter for a new generation of travel professionals. Countries reopen at different times — and the requirements and testing will be different too. A lack of clarity may dissuade travelers, and they will need the help of travel professionals. Smart agents will be crucial for those who seek to travel.
Nature is in, hiking, open wilderness, and trails. Now there have been issues of crowding at some parks and natural areas, but look for new demand for the remote, wild and green.