The travel industry is always in flux, but never more so than with the pandemic. Thankfully, brighter skies are on the horizon. Travel is picking up with more and more people seeking relief from the trauma we’ve all experienced due to COVID-19.
Escaping the Lockdown
The substitution of technology for business travel is unavoidable, but the desire for leisure activities is leading the charge. People now want to get out and about and enjoy the adventures and relaxation found in traveling to fun destinations.
And it’s showing in the numbers. In the US, air travel has hit two million daily passengers, not too far from the pre-pandemic level of around 2.5 million, according to a recent McKinsey & Company report.
This is great news for those working in the hospitality and travel industries. But with the travel industry on the uptick, businesses are going to need to be prepared to handle the surge. This preparation won’t be like the days of old though. Today’s travel customers will be expecting an experience that will relieve their fears and calm their anxieties.
Prepare to Wow!
Travelers today are looking for respite from pandemic woes, confusion in government, instability in employment, and just all-round negative vibes. You can prepare your staff for the boom in the travel industry by focusing on the following six areas:
Bring Back Your Workforce
One of the most challenging tasks for almost all businesses today is staffing. Government relief checks and unemployment payments are keeping many workers at home content with the money they’re receiving. Others have found work elsewhere after being furloughed or laid off from their jobs in 2020.
Another challenge, according to a Bloomberg report, is that one half of former hospitality workers said they weren’t even considering reentering the hospitality industry because of what they consider low pay and a lack of benefits. But the industry is listening. The Washington Post reports that the pay rate for hospitality workers is increasing from an average of $15.84 per hour in May, 2021 to $16.21 in June.
To prepare for the increase in travel, get creative finding ways to entice workers. Offering sign-on bonuses, fitness memberships, iPads and other gifts are helpful in luring the talent you will need for providing for your guests.
Keep Hygiene and Safety in the Forefront
Depending on the time you are reading this and the development of new Covid variants, keeping things like hand sanitizer, available face masks, and a promise that everything has been sanitized is a must. Even though people want to travel, many are still expecting restaurants, hotels and attractions to do their part in keeping them safe.
Focus on Leisure
The hospitality and travel indsutry may want to switch their focus from business clients to leisure customers. Although travel is opening up again, business travel is reported to remain at just 30 percent of 2019 levels. That is partly because businesses have found that they can continue using Zoom and other technology to conduct business rather than meeting in person.
Today’s traveler is seeking a get-a-way that will help them to relax and forget their troubles. By training your staff to go above and beyond in providing the best experience possible, you will ensure repeat business.
Place Emphasis on the Locals
People are traveling now, but making shorter trips. In other words, they are more interested n staycations where they can spend more on luxury and less on gas and travel expenses. With this knowledge, your staff will do well to highlight perks such as in-house gyms, wi-fi, on premises restaurants, and local hotspots.
Be Flexible with Pricing and Booking
Don’t make it difficult for your customers to make reservations and then have to amend them. Some of the long-standing rules and policies for hotels, air travel, restaurants, and attractions will need to be replaced with flexible booking.
According to the McKinsey & Company report, flexible pricing models can ease customer discomfort with today’s heightened levels of unpredictability. As an example, EasyJet now offers a Protection Promise program giving fliers free changes up to two hours before the flight.
Be Technology Savvy
Many of today’s travelers are expecting to experience more advanced technological amenities. These may include digital or contactless paying systems, artificial intelligence (IA) experiences, and voice control technologies. Most are touch-free and reduce the risks associated with Covid. Others are just neat novelties the leisure traveler appreciates.
Travel is on the upswing, but attracting guests to your place of business requires change. Consider incorporating these six areas into your planning procedures. The whole point is to make sure your guests are treated in such a way that they will not only come back again, but will let others know about the experience as well.