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The pandemic-led consumer behaviour change in tourism and hospitality and how it likely to reshape the future of the industry

The pandemic-led consumer behavior change in tourism and hospitality

As travel companies eye industry recovery, they are also watching what consumer behaviors, triggered by the pandemic, might stick around in the longer term.

Market research company Euromonitor recently published its Top 10 Global Consumer Trends 2021, which provides some clues for the travel industry.

The report is a general overview of how consumer behavior is evolving but a number of elements are certainly relevant to travel companies as they reach out to encourage consumers back.

Below I go into some of the trends and discuss how they might play out in travel.

Taking a stand

In the past year, brands have been expected to take a position like never before on social issues, environment as well demonstrate wider responsibility.

Consumers are indeed watching and while Euromonitor coins the trend “Restless and rebellious” describing a push back against political systems, travel brands also need to take note.

Consumers are increasingly starting to blame brands or look to brands, in terms of how they’re impacting the environmental conditions. So it’s not just the government that’s in the firing line now.

Shaking the foundations

The pandemic has shone a spotlight on mental health and wellbeing and forced many consumers to examine their work-life balance.

The “shaken and stirred” trend speaks to how consumers proved resilient over the course of the pandemic as well as how their priorities might be different going forward.

The jury is out on whether business travel, for example, will ever recover to pre-pandemic levels with some airline executives expecting a full rebound but the travel management community is already placing more emphasis on the care and wellbeing of travelers. 

Spending patterns

As consumers stayed home over much of 2020, many were able to save money and some believe this will lead to a greater demand for leisure travel.

However, as with past global events, consumers are likely to be value conscious. Euromonitor, which dubs the trend “Thoughtful thrifters” says companies are responding with buy-now-pay-later services.

A number of such services, which were already visible in the travel industry prior to the pandemic, have gained ground.

These sorts of services will be welcomed by consumers just as desperate to travel but without the savings to bolster them.

Hybrid world

The ongoing virtual tours and experiences trend, which many believe is here to stay, will also be kinder to consumer pockets than physical travel.

Companies are entering the field and the growing popularity of live-streaming technologies could also help fuel the trend.

Hotels also have been quick to adapt to the phygital world marrying in-person and digital services.

Further trends taking hold travel
  • Cleanliness and hygiene is a more obvious one in travel and a trend that all segments of the industry addressed early in the pandemic through the introduction of new hygiene protocols, touchless technology solutions, and social distancing measures.
  • Building back better has been on the lips of many for some time. It’s one of the key messages of every travel brand, the sustainable travel initiative launched by Prince Harry in 2019 with many top travel brand names on board. There is wider recognition that the industry has the opportunity to leave environmentally damaging practices behind and even those segments such as airlines most vilified are addressing the challenge.
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