Ritu Mehrotra of Booking.com shares five ways the travel industry will be redefined in 2022
Travel was one of the first industries to get impacted by COVID-19. Since the start of the pandemic, the industry has been on a rollercoaster ride with waves of new variants, leading to much uncertainty on when we would travel like we used to again.
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However, despite the challenges of the past two years, our love for travel has never waned. In fact, the desire to explore our world - where we can, when we can - has possibly gotten stronger. As an industry, we need to continue being resilient and agile, adaptable to changes that come our way. As we enter 2022, here are five ways travel will be redefined:
We will strongly embrace technology
Recent research by Booking.com reveals that 76% of Indian travellers state that technology helps alleviate the anxiety around travelling, as predictive technologies continue helping travellers make informed decisions. In the year ahead, travellers will not only seek technology’s support to ease travel-related complexities, but use it to further enhance their experience. Use of predictive technologies can add an element of ‘surprise’ to enable a completely new travel experience that’s suggested based on travellers’ past preferences or budget. This can help them embrace unpredictability in a safe and exciting manner.
We will make the most of unpredictability
With all of us having lived through a pandemic for almost two years, travellers will increasingly become familiar, and possibly embrace, unpredictability. Rather than ‘hold off’ travelling entirely, people will seek ways to explore the world safely.
Vacation time itself will be strictly work-free
People worldwide have been locked up for months - months of stress, uncertainty, mental health issues, and months of adjusting to change. It’s no surprise that now many are trying to reclaim what is rightfully theirs - freedom of movement, peace, satisfaction and a sense of normalcy. In 2021, we witnessed how the workation was top of mind as ‘work from home’ meant ‘work from anywhere’. However, in the coming year, we will see a significant increase in the number of people wanting to regain control so they can re-balance work and life. As a testament to this, 77% of Indian travellers in the recent survey revealed that they will absolutely not mention work while on vacation in the future.
Appreciation for local experiences and community connect
Whether it’s a road trip to nearby hills or a family vacation to the national park in a neighbouring state, the change in consumer preferences from international to domestic destinations has brought a rebound in the travel industry over the last few months as and when restrictions eased. As many take advantage of being closer to home, they have become more connected to the community and supported local businesses. The enthusiasm for supporting local communities and appreciation of local experiences will continue to gain momentum in 2022, as travellers increasingly realise the value of leaving a positive impact on people, communities and the planet.
‘Marketing for good’ is the way forward
Data-driven marketing tactics are becoming more common in a fast-changing marketplace as technology becomes increasingly interwoven into personal travel experiences. Marketers, now more than ever, need to reinstate positive brand values and thoughtful narratives - not only to inspire people to dream about travel - but do so in a meaningful way. Inspiring unique ways to explore our world that is beneficial and sustainable in the long term, engaging local communities with positive social impact and going off the beaten path to less-known, less touristy destinations are some of the ways marketers can leverage the ‘marketing for good’ approach in the years to come.
Will 2022 be a better year? That’s certainly anyone’s guess and remains to be seen. But what is important is our growing resilience as a country and as an industry, as we all learn to coexist with a pandemic, ride the waves of change as they come and safely enjoy the new, more meaningful and more treasured experiences our world has to offer.
-The author Ritu Mehrotra is the regional manager, South Asia at Booking.com. Views expressed are personal.
(Edited by : Priyanka Deshpande)
First Published: Jan 10, 2022 7:06 PM IST
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