Travellers daunted by the complex planning of a holiday, especially in a post-Covid world with ever-changing regulations, are increasingly turning back to professional help to navigate their trips, said Barry Mowszowski, associate strategy & foresight analyst at The Future Laboratory while speaking at Channel Nine’s 2022 State of the Nation travel event.
Nearly half of US travellers who rarely or sometimes used travel agents in the past said they were now more likely to use one post-pandemic, according to the American Society of Travel Advisors.
The annual State of the Nation thought leadership series, which was held last week, saw Mowszowski delivering the keynote, which was followed by an expert panel featuring Stephanie Tully, Qantas Group’s CCO; Michelle Mickan, head of marketing of Abercrombie & Kent Australia; Fiona Dalton, GM ANZ, Virtuoso Travel; and Ryan Taibel, VP sales and marketing P&O Cruises and Cunard, discussing the key issues facing an industry that has suffered through a crippling pandemic with moderator 2GB Breakfast presenter Ben Fordham.
“We’re seeing people spend a lot of time online planning and finding inspiration, and then coming to a trusted travel advisor and working with them to curate not just one trip, but the next three or four trips because if you are solely focused on what you’re doing next, you will probably miss out on that experience,” Dalton said.
Some of the other trends that we can see emerging in travel was sustainability, innovation and ever-emerging micro-categories – such as wellness retreats for different life phases and polyamorous travel.
Another key development in travel is remote working, which has broadened the role of travel to create a new mode of traveller who desires a slower pace of life with a longer-term stay that combines work, leisure and travel.
Speaking to how people are travelling now, panellist Stephanie Tully said post-pandemic, Qantas is seeing really strong demand for point-to-point travel with travellers wanting to avoid connections.
Mickan added, “People are really wanting to treat themselves and we’re seeing transactions up by 25-30% by each traveller who wants to do each destination well.
“They’re spending longer in destinations and we’re seeing much smaller lead times, with people not booking as far in advance as they were pre-pandemic. And in terms of what people are booking, they’re looking for new frontiers and anything that’s new and exciting; the Middle East has made the biggest comeback we’ve ever seen.”
The insights also revealed that consumers will pay a premium for trips which have a positive impact on both people and the planet, with this trend seeing pressure on brands and travel companies to offer tangible evidence that shows their commitment to purposeful travel.