With one of the most respected PR & Comms teams operating across travel and hospitality, the Siren senior team have shared their thoughts on the return and likely shape of the new normal in travel and hospitality.
How will we ever travel again?
Cautious re-engagement in travel of any kind
Our consensus is that throughout the UK and in line with recent announcements, people will look at any kind of return to travel cautiously. Their primary concern will be safety, cleanliness and social distancing. Never in our wildest dreams could we have imagined the need to wear disposable rubber gloves and a face covering to go to the supermarket and but that makes it easy to see how travelling with our masks, hand sanitiser and cleaning wipes will become the norm.
Stacey recalled that “whilst we all had a little chuckle when the video of Naomi Campbell’s in-flight routine of disinfecting her plane seat area went viral last year, we’re now all thinking that she may have been ahead of a trend that we’ll all be buying into now, even for short trips exploring the local destinations on our doorstep”. Dimitra believes that there will be a greater focus on “how we place ourselves in airports, public spaces, buses, trains and planes. Masks, gloves and a general heightened sense of self protection from germs will become second nature”.
Balancing technology with person to person communications
For business travel, which has long promoted the importance of embracing seamless technology to improve the travelling for work experience, then the current global impact is debilitating short term. How the sector responds and shapes itself for the future has in some ways been happening for a while, albeit at a much steadier rate of change. COVID-19 brings the issues the sector was already modelling for, to the fore and requires urgent preparation and action.
Rachel thinks that “nothing will ever replace the importance of the face to face meeting” and the handshake and celebratory moment when a new deal or relationship is established. These very human, relational moments, can’t be fully replaced by Zoom, Blue jeans, Skype, WhatsApp, Teams or Yammer.
Whilst borders remain closed and until a vaccine or treatment for COVID-19 is readily available, the duty of care an employer has for its employees must be front and centre as we continue to all work from home. Ensuring people don’t burn out under the intensity of working life in the current environment is key.
And when it comes to a return to leisure holiday travel then the Siren team predicts that it will be baby steps in terms of distance
Sarah, who recently returned from maternity leave - in fact during the first week of lockdown - thinks that when we start to travel internationally again, we are likely to travel with some trepidation, taking the baby steps of train travel and road trips before flying for business or pleasure.
Exploring our home country and uncovering opportunities on our doorsteps
Staycations will be the order for most of our summer holidays, and (keeping everything crossed) we will be able to travel around this wonderful island of ours before the end of this summer.
Sarah, who hails from Cumbria, thinks that the UK has so much to offer and most of us are guilty of not exploring our own country. Developing creative ways to make holiday-time more memorable will be top of the agenda. Great days out, picnics, glamping, camping, farmhouse stays, Airbnb and holiday cottages will be the first to bounce back with social distancing easier to follow in these types of accommodations.
A gradual return to international holiday planning and creating ways to celebrate the importance of travel in making memories and enriching lives will be central
Katie, who has been an avid traveller admitted to dragging herself to Stansted airport at 2am on many occasions in her 20s for a £9.99 flight to spend the weekend exploring a European country, says she is “a little sad to think the bargain prices of these breaks and the sheer ease of travelling we’ve seen over the past 10/20 years may be behind us. We may travel less, but we will travel more thoughtfully and with a closer eye on the environment, which has to be one of the few positives to emerge from this.”
Forces for good
Katie also added that “more of us will likely look beyond price when choosing who to book with and will remember those companies who supported them and did the ‘right thing’ during this challenging period. Fewer, longer and more meaningful holidays will become the norm, with the clichés “trip of a lifetime” and “bucket-list travel’ popping up.”
Growth in rail travel, road trips and campervan use
These modes of travel are sure to satisfy people’s spirit of adventure whilst allowing us to gain an authentic experience of a part of the UK or wherever you can get to on land or sea.
Good clean fun
Active adventures and learning a new skill break will be important. Sailing, horse riding, cooking, and mountain biking, walking, climbing and bush craft operators will be sure to see a surge in interest. Skiing – which some believe was a key cause of the virus spread during Feb half term, will have to present a particularly convincing case for safety and cleanliness and, of course, social distancing.
Multigenerational families and friendship group trips to celebrate freedom and have fun!
Large family and friendship groups are likely to celebrate ‘release’. With more private and bespoke options opening up including private flights, jet charter and bespoke tourism with big houses – expect to see the demand continue to grow in these areas.
And when international travel returns, which we predict at latest will be Spring/Summer 2021, we are unanimous in the view that travel will become more special. Curating our holiday and leisure experience will become an art form. We are likely to spend and pay more but will be looking for value, as well as fulfilling some of our dreams.
Siren team holiday dream time
Sarah added, “at this point I'd feel more nervous getting on a packed commuter train into London than on an international flight - it already feels like there are better measures in place for international travel than commuting”.
Where are we dreaming of?
- Rach – “Cornwall and Northumberland initially and then sitting in a Greek taverna, people watching and drinking a cold beer whilst hearing the sea. It’s the simple things I hanker after most.”
- Al – “My apartment near Barcelona. Lazy days on the beach, evenings with friends on local tapas bar terraces, the smiles and warmth of the Spanish people – I can’t wait to get back to support them after their terrible COVID-19 experiences. Also, Cape Town for winter sunshine – the exchange rate has become even more favourable to the British visitors, and this amazing country, more than many, will need our tourist £ to help them recover. Praying that February 2021 will see me in my favourite vineyard in the Cape Winelands sipping a chilled bottle of rose and tucking into some freshly caught line fish.”
- Katie – “It has to be Sri Lanka. The beaches, the food, the views and the people are all wonderful. There really is no place like it. That coupled with the return of music festivals. Watching incredible live music with thousands of people as the sun sets on Worthy Farm at Glastonbury is an experience we won’t ever take for granted again.”
- Stacey – “long weekends in Europe including Amsterdam and Barcelona are high on my list. And a return to the place my boyfriend and I had our first holiday together – Bikini Hotel in the north of Mallorca.”
- Sarah – “In the UK I want to be able to get to the Lake District to see my family and enjoy fresh air and walks somewhere pretty and away from the crowds. Further afield, I have a friend's wedding on the Athens Riviera in August 2021 (was originally supposed to be September 2020 and has been rescheduled) which I am very much looking forward to.”
- Dimitra ;- “Home, home, home! Cyprus, Greece and Switzerland! The warmth of the Med and the freshness of the Swiss air! Essentially, it's all about reconnecting with family and loved ones.”
- Naomi– “I’m dreaming of New York and the French Polynesia islands – adventure and activity.”
- Maddy “Last year’s goal of visiting 20 countries in 2020, is definitely not going to happen, I find myself wanting to visit those areas that have been hardest hit and supporting them with my tourism dollars – Italy and Spain in particular. Relaxing on a beach on an island is what I am dreaming of!”
- Annie “Experiencing more of our little island! I can’t wait to go and visit friends all over the UK to experience their lives and homes and areas. Also, a local pub in Canterbury where you always bump into everyone you know (I miss un-arranged communication).”
- Tam – “Morocco – It has been on my bucket list for a while.”