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Travel industry experts weigh in on post-COVID trends

Blog inspired by a McKinsey Publication

There has never been a year in which grasping the future of travel has been more critical. Which countries are you currently able to visit? Will I be required to take a COVID-19 test while on the road? On the plane, how many times will I have to replace my face mask? We talked to insiders in the travel industry about these issues, as well as the future of travel in 2021 and beyond.

It's been an obviously bumpy path, but with new air corridors opening up and improved testing methods, it's anticipated that flights overseas will begin to become simpler again.

Of course, travel will not be the same as it once was, but that may not be a terrible thing. Cities will be calmer, UNESCO World Heritage Sites will be less congested, and the atmosphere will be cleaner. The world has taken a breather, and while the tourist sector has suffered greatly as a result of the epidemic, it has taught us an important lesson: travel is a privilege, not a right.

All of these developments should be beneficial to the business, but organizations that are unprepared may face the fury of a group of leisure-oriented tourists who are already trying to keep up with changing travel standards. If the business does not act to boost capacity immediately, the ecosystem may collapse under the strain, causing tourists to suffer lengthy lines and high pricing.

What is the definition of mindful travel?

I recently overheard a young woman in the hair salon say, "I calculated out that I must have spent over €22,000 on vacations to Las Vegas over the last several years." “I went six times and had to pay for plane tickets, new clothing, hotels, drinks, partying, and everything else each time. When I think about it, it makes me sick.” “In the future, I will travel far less and think more about where I want to go - not just go with all my pals to the same spot every year,” she said.

The tale of two travel recovery paths

Wherever in the world you look, you’ll see people itching to travel. Most high-income earners have not lost their jobs. In the United States, the savings rate among this demographic is 10 to 20 percent higher now than before the pandemic, and such people are eager to spend their money on travel. Leisure trips are expected to lead the rebound, with corporate travel trailing behind.

What will our travel patterns be like in the future?

There will be a common desire for wide-open places after months of cabin fever. State and national parks in the United States, for example, have had massive influxes of tourists since the shutdown, and the trend is expected to continue this year as time spent in the environment is seen as an antidote to modern metropolitan life. The point-to-point vacation, in which travllers fly to a single destination and then return home, will be challenged by a growing trend for vacations that visit many destinations, are slower-paced, and are as much about the journey as the final destination.

There are three actions that travellers must consider

1. Restore capacity

The most immediate need for all firms in the travel supply chain is to restore capacity or, at the absolute least, ensure that they can do so. Many restaurant contract and temporary employees who were laid off during the epidemic have found other positions and are hesitant to return to their old ones, resulting in a labor shortage. Last year, more than one in ten workers in the hotel industry in the United Kingdom departed. In April, there was still a shortage of about two million leisure and hospitality employment in the United States, which was considerably worse than before the epidemic.

2. Invest innovatively to improve the entire customer journey

While cash might continue to be in short supply, an area still worth considering for overinvestment is digital operations. Remember that the customer experience is shaped across the entire end-to-end journey, from booking to travel to the return home. Even seasoned travellers will have to adapt to new protocols, such as digital health certificates and safety measures. Travellers now need more, not less, assistance. Furthermore, certain critical journeys and moments—such as a family vacation, an important business trip, or a last-minute emergency—carry a disproportionate weight in consumers’ minds when they plan their next trip.

3. Reimagine commercial approaches

Travel companies may rethink their commercial approaches. The profiles of airline passengers and hotel guests will be different: more leisure guests, later booking windows, and higher demand for flexible tickets. Historical booking curves are no longer a good indicator of current behaviour. Travel companies need to use every source of insight they can to anticipate demand and optimise pricing. Flexible pricing models can also ease customer discomfort with today’s heightened levels of unpredictability. For example, EasyJet now offers a Protection Promise program that gives fliers free changes up to two hours before the flight.


It's taken a long time, but numerous variables are coming together that might result in a short-term travel boom, but not all nations and client categories will benefit at the same time. Travel businesses can assure that travel is not only back, but better, with constant persistence.


Written & Illustrated by, Keshav Porwal

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