Many estimations are being thrown around about the impact of coronavirus on the travel and tourism economy. Tourists had to cancel their trips and were not sure when to go on exploring and traveling the world again.
In terms of economic importance, the tourism industry is one of the most relevant sectors worldwide. According to the UNWTO, it was growing steadily by about 4% over the last eight years. The travel and tourism sector is also responsible for establishing jobs, exports, and wealth. At this point, it is questionable whether the industry proceeds to grow. But as we are used to traveling now, the industry will not just disappear after the pandemic. Businesses that managed to sustain and reopen will face some post-pandemic trends this article will summarize shortly.
1. Length of stay
Airbnb already stated that over the last weeks, they had seen a 20% increase in longer-term stays on bookings compared to the previous year. Therefore, the average duration of stay in several destinations nearly doubled. To provide hosts with the options to increase the length of stay ant their properties and offer discounts, Airbnb already updated new website features.
2. Shoestring Budget
Despegar – a travel agency headquartered in Argentina – announced to make cuts in salary, reduce working hours and renegotiate contracts to maintain a good cash position during this difficult time. This is just one example standing for many businesses in the industry facing the same challenges.
3. Safety & Cleanliness
There will be changes according to safety and cleanliness in hotels and apartments, as guests will now more than ever pay attention to hygiene. As the media raised awareness about how easy it is to get in touch with an infection, there could be new movements in this area, starting from cleaning technology to maintain a certain standard to simple modifications within properties that prevent guests from touching certain things. Some estimate also that voice control could be implemented to avoid the issue of getting in touch with viruses.
Here again, I want to mention the Airbnb guidelines and what they suggest according to the situation. They instantly realized what Covid19 means for tourists and now educate their hosts about what guests will look for in the future. They suggest making it clear if there is a working space provided in the apartment or if it is safe to come with children. They want hosts to highlight cleanliness and describe cleaning methods in detail to avoid guests panicking about this issue.
4. Revenue Management
Another question that arises is related to revenue management. Many systems are now calculating prices and availability on the foundation of formulas based on the last years’ room occupancy, rates, and demand. The room rates need to be calculated differently for the next year, as this year won’t be a realistic reference anymore.
All in all, some things will change in the industry for sure. One of the most certain facts is that businesses will cut their budgets massively, which will have consequences for other sectors, especially in countries that strongly depend on tourism. Easter season has already been canceled, and due to the uncertain situation, it could be that hotels will remain closed during the peak season.
Many questions are left unanswered, for example:
Is over-tourism over now?
Who will carry the costs for canceled hotel bookings, and how will that vary from country to country?
And how will the cut budget affect technological innovation in tourism?