Tourism and travel have been decimated this year. UNTWO predicts that the world’s tourism sector will lose $1.2 trillion in 2020, 1.5% of the global GDP. Lockdowns, closed borders, social distancing policies, accompanied by paralysing health anxiety, have led to the cancellation of all foreign holiday plans, and much domestic travel too.
At BBDO we have been thinking about how leisure and travel can be re-imagined and kickstarted for 2021.
By understanding the psychological and social needs that leisure travel addresses, we have identified the new priorities emerging from the pandemic. This creates a 2021 Travel Blueprint, from which to redesign travel products and communications, and incorporate digital experiences to complement or replace the physical experience.
The BBDO Asia 2021 Travel Blueprint is based around five opportunity spaces:
1) Our travel deprivation cannot last, but it cannot continue in its current form. Leisure travel has been the activity most missed by most people during the pandemic. Over half of us agree we 'can’t wait to go travelling again'. Our desire to travel runs deep, but so do the risks. The travel industry has to move forward and redesign itself to cater to new regulations, new economic constraints and new environmental concerns.
2) The need to connect. We’ve all been yearning to see family and friends. Covid-19 has reminded us of need to step out of our externalised routines to be more present with our own family. Our desire to safely distance ourselves from strangers aligns with our desire for shared, exclusive experiences with those we love. Travel 'cocooning' already exists in many forms – the road trip, self-catering accommodation, off-the-beaten-path, curated tours. These modes and units of travel will become more popular as we tip-toe our way back into the big wide world.
3) The need to recharge. A change of scene is as good as a break. Suspending routines, commitment and household chores brings huge relief. As we become more health and immunity conscious, we are more alert to the health benefits of sleep, relaxation, physical and digital detox, exertion, and meditation. We want to remain constantly recharged, and desire recharge experiences closer to or at home. The one to two week 'break' will no longer be the default recharge option. The staycation market will evolve to address these needs.
4) The need to explore. Traditionally we have explored through sight-seeing, shopping and eating. The pandemic is ushering in new ways to explore. Heritage and culture are five times more appealing today than it was last year. Learning and knowledge experiences are more popular than ever. Our desire to connect with and explore nature is becoming more sophisticated. Whether it is through virtual, real, curated, or social means, our desire to explore remains insatiable.
5) Significant opportunities for non-travel brands. Automobiles have become protected travel environments. The nutrition and health industry can help us recharge without travelling. Video and media technology can help us share experiences without physical travelling. Peloton cycling tours? Live wildlife safaris via Zoom? 2021 brings us a new travel consumer, desperate to connect, recharge and explore, but cautious about current options. An incredible opportunity for communications to make all the difference.