As many as 67%
of Americans intend to travel this year, setting the stage for a
significant rebound for the tourism
industry. Live events such as festivals, concerts, professional sports are all
coming back. Couples
are planning long awaited weddings, bachelor and bachelorette parties once
arguably one of the top group categories traveling over the next two months,
are booking summer
vacations. In fact, a
recent survey from American Express Travel, states 71% of respondents are planning to
visit loved ones they hadn’t been able to see during the pandemic, and 60% said
that a 2021 family reunion
was in their near future.
thread woven throughout these trends? The emphasis on group travel. People are traveling
together again and, understandably, everyone is eager to get back out into the
world. Yet, the question
remains - Are we equipped to handle widespread reopenings?
within the travel industry has always been a nightmare, and as we stand on the
precipice of a post-pandemic
world, logistics have become even more complicated. It should come as no
surprise then that recreational
travel for groups has been the most impacted category.
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restrictions and regulations are changing almost daily across cities, states
and countries. Additional complications are layering onto necessary evils
associated with planning a trip such as comparing multiple online travel agencies
(OTAs), understanding hidden costs and for groups, chasing invites and
It's hard to
envision how planning a trip might be even more challenging today, but welcome
to 2021. These compounding factors make it near impossible for any hospitality
or travel company to stay abreast of the latest and most accurate information.
A recent survey from Tripadvisor
found that 29% of consumers are waiting for pandemic-related developments to
unfold, and 22% are waiting to be fully vaccinated before traveling. Along the
same lines, vaccination rates in America have plateaued, making it impossible
to know who is actually vaccinated, and how to identify the best path forward:
when to open, when to remove mask mandates and
the impact these decisions will ultimately have on travel. Transparency -
historically absent with
OTAs and other travel companies - is emerging as the key to a clear and
New York has
already launched their own version of a vaccine passport. This is a first step toward
implementing transparent guidelines. The keywords here are: New York. Resources available vary
from state to state, there’s no OTA currently taking stock of vaccine
and passports when facilitating bookings (although, now you can “swipe right”
daters thanks to the White
House’s partnership with top dating apps) and independent hotels are
inconsistent when it comes to regulations.
problems is no easy feat. Fortunately, we’re already beginning to see
disruptions within the travel
sector from innovative new tech that’s supporting a sustained rebound through transparency.
New York’s app is one example of a simple and straightforward solution that
works in-state. Scaling and widespread adoption are the next big hurdles. We’re
already using artificial intelligence and machine learning to better curate
personal experiences and even understand someone’s safety and risk adversity,
specifically in the travel sector. Leveraging this existing technology to find
out what exactly travelers’ priorities are, what works best by region, and
understand our communities will be crucial to a successful, widespread
reopening as technologies, and therefore travel companies, will become smarter
and more relevant with every use.
transparent as possible in this evolving landscape means working hand-in-hand
with key stakeholders -
hotels, restaurants, airlines, to ensure we’re providing the best service to
consumers and delivering
the most accurate information. Today’s consumers, especially in the travel
space, deserve a level
of transparency that helps them determine value above and beyond monetary
would improve their overall experience especially for group trips and in a
world where travel will
only get more complicated, stressful and expensive. Logistics in an industry
like group travel are not easy,
developing a solution for this is quite complex. This is the primary reason why
no one has decided to
take on the problem... yet.
that emerge in a post-pandemic world will focus on bridging the gap between
consumer and destination, and will utilize existing data to rebuild end-to-end
honesty and trust. There is no industry that will come out of the pandemic
unchanged, but together the travel sector will build a stronger way forward.
About the author...
Julian Ing is the founder and CEO of Launchtrip