Post-Coronavirus Travel and Tourism: Some Predictions
March 28, 2020 – So how will post-coronavirus travel and tourism look like? Some predictions from Zoran Pejovic of Paradox Hospitality.
The good news is that coronavirus pandemic will be over one day. The bad news is that we don’t know when that day will come. The neutral news is that we have no clue how life in general, but particularly travel and tourism, will look like after the pandemic is over. What we know for certain is that it will not look as it did back in 2019.
I have already written on the needs for scenario planning. It helps you look at different scenarios based on the matrix of the optimistic and pessimistic versions of the aspects that define your business and the industry. It will also bring you out of the bubble that you might be in, by opening your eyes to different directions that the world might be heading in. Scenario planning is a proper tool, and if there was ever a time to use, it is now. It is not prophesizing or predicting.
However, we can’t fully refrain from predictions. As far as I can see there are several things that are speeding to change. We don’t know for example if social distancing will become the “new normal” in years to come, and that is one of the aspects we can use in our scenario planning matrixes. But there are other processes that were already on the way, that might just happen sooner than expected. For example, it does seem that cash is running its historic course. Online shopping will continue to flourish. Online schooling will become the new frontier and remote work will become the standard way of doing business. Mentor-mentee counseling will become the new form of high-end education, while mental health jobs will be in high demand.
There are many negative predictions as well, from climate actions losing its potency, green energy making way back to the fossil fuels, and the developing world entering numerous wars, with rising antagonism between the United States and China.
Some of these will happen as predicted, some will not, or will go into a completely different direction.
On top of these global predictions I would like to share some industry-specific thoughts.
The part of the travel and tourism industry that will recover first is leisure. Free individual travelers will want to travel as soon as it feels safe again. Some might want to travel even before that, but this is the regular 5% of the early adopters. On the other hand, parts of the industry that will suffer the most are those in the MICE segment. Meetings, incentives and conferences take a long time to plan, and there is a significant reputational risk involved for the companies that organize them, so I think it will take a long while before we see it back to the pre-corona numbers, if ever. On top of that Zoom conferences are taking place daily now, so it is not crazy to assume that portion of the industry that goes online now will never come back.
In terms of price sensitivity, it is likely to expect that the upper-middle and entry-luxury segments to come back first. A lot of the affluent travelers that belong in the category of “high income, not rich yet”, in their late thirties, forties and early fifties, will be leading the rediscovery of traveling. When it comes to mass tourism, I expect there to be a price war across the globe.
Expect 2021 top be a complete mess as well, considering that so many travel arrangement and large events have been postponed to next year.
When it comes to privacy, villas and small boutique hotels will go in high demand, and it is not unlikely that some of the over-touristic, overcrowded destinations will take a longer time to recover compared to the more remote, yet accessible destinations.
We also might see a return of longterm stays, as opposed to many shorter travels that we have seen trending over the past years, motivated by reduced travelling and exposure to the large airport hubs and airplanes.
Most of these predictions are based on something that we call prevention emotions, emotions of safety and security. Let me elaborate quickly. When choosing their holiday and travel destinations, people are driven by promotion emotions, as well prevention emotions, and this is the basis of many marketing strategies put out there. This practice is called “designing emotions”. For example, self-elevation, pleasure and recognition are promotion emotions that lead to thrill, excitement and delight. On the other hand, risk reduction, absence of problem and discomfort are examples of prevention emotions that lead to security, confidence, and satisfaction. It doesn’t take much understanding of the human psychology to assume that in the times ahead travelers might be very much motivated by prevention emotions, still probably keeping an eye on promotion emotions, so destinations that are safe and secure and that properly craft their message to the world will come back earlier than those that keep the same old campaigns as before the crisis.
Finally, where does Croatia fit into this? Croatia is one of the safest countries in the world, andit is regularly revered as one of the safest countries not only in Europe, but the world. Based on 23 different indicators, including ongoing international and domestic conflict, societal safety and security, and militarization, a 2019 study by the Global Peace Index ranked Croatia the 27th safest country in the world out of 163 countries. The United States and the United Kingdom give Croatia the lowest travel advisory level, indicating that travelers should exercise normal precautions when traveling. Croatia is easily accessible from all European capitals, and with its long and in many places still undiscovered coastline is in the perfect position to make a quick recovery, given that our economy doesn’t collapse beyond the point of no return in the meantime and given that the new, appropriate storytelling is devised as soon as possible.
We need to tell the world again stories like the one of Hvar Island literally being a health sanitarium, where with the founding of the Hvar Health Society on May 15, 1868, the first organized tourism in Europe came into being, with tourism based on health and recuperation, rather than historical sites. Or the story of more than 600 wild medicinal, aromatic and honey plant species in Croatia, 120 of which are traditionally used in folk medicine, food, oils, spirits, and more. These are perfect stories to tell, they encompass both promotion and prevention emotions dealing in health aspects, well-being and safety simultaneously.
Let’s see what gets done on a national level. In the meantime, we need to be staying visible and sending messages of well-being to the world.
You can read more on this subject of post-coronavirus travel from Zoran here:
Travel Industry: Keep Communicating and Visibility
Build Scenarios! Be Present! Take Time to Think!
You can connect with Zoran Pejovic via LinkedIn.