The COVID-19 pandemic has hit the travel industry particularly hard, with businesses being stripped of the better part of their revenue almost overnight. Much of the world still continues to battle the virus, and whilst there are no signs of a return to normal as yet, national vaccination programmes have begun to offer a glimmer of hope.
It’s impossible to predict what the future may hold, but what is clear is that the travel and tourism industry has changed – perhaps forever. Many commentators have waded into the potential options for budget carriers and international hotel chains, but fewer people have made their thoughts known on what may become of luxury travel companies post-pandemic.
With these thoughts in mind, here are some of our predictions for the future of luxury travel.
All change for hotels
Perhaps most obviously, the pandemic and the subsequent development of social distancing guidelines mean that it will no longer be viable for accommodation providers to offer an identical service to the age-old approach taken before COVID. Travellers of all budgets and preferences will undoubtedly be keen to avoid close contact with others during their future international exploits, and so it follows that hotels and other venues will need to adapt.
In many cases, hotels are already starting to make the adjustments needed for trading in a post-pandemic world. Less room is available for guests, and check-in procedures can be conducted entirely electronically.
Beyond this, it seems likely that we’ll see more of the same when it comes to contactless payments and keyless entry technologies. These innovations have been growing in popularity for years, but with fears of COVID-19 transmission now dominating the minds of travellers, cash and key cards suddenly have even less appeal.
Whether you’re a business owner within the travel sector, or simply a high-brow traveller looking forward to their next jaunt away, future travel will undoubtedly be expensive. It might even be that cash flow becomes an issue since travellers may have very small windows to book holidays between national lockdowns. For this reason, taking out a quick loan to cover the costs of luxury travel could become the norm – and with plenty of direct lenders online, it’s certainly a convenient financing option.
The return of the staycation
Given the continued implementation of quarantine restrictions by global governments, it seems that that the luxury travel industry may need to cater to demand with a much broader array of stay-at-home holidays.
As travellers flock to get away, it looks increasingly likely that they will opt for staycation venues in their home countries. This means that we may see a much greater number of small, bespoke accommodation providers springing up in tandem with luxury spas and other such venues that will provide something of a respite to higher end travellers who don’t want to risk a period of isolation.
Luxury social distancing
It’s only natural that some wealthier travellers will want to continue ticking international destinations off their buckets lists, and so there will always be a market for foreign travel. The main difference in this arena is likely to be the types of escapes that are sought out.
As we continue to battle the COVID-19 pandemic, travellers are placing more of an emphasis on privacy, personalisation, and discretion. This has manifested itself in greater demand for private villas, boating holidays, and larger accommodation provision for families who want to travel without the need to interact outside of their ‘bubble’.
As time goes on, this trend looks set to continue and bespoke social distancing may well become a hugely popular alternative to the luxury all-inclusive affairs of the past.
Alternative modes of transport
In a similar vein, private transport is likely to receive a significant boost as a result of virus transmission concerns. As travellers move between countries, cities, and local destinations, there will be an increased need for chauffeur services and other similar more private modes of transport. This is particularly true in cases where travellers would otherwise be forced to travel via public transport – where operators have seen a mass exodus as members of the public seek to keep themselves to themselves.
Looking to the skies, this trend will likely result in higher demand for private jets and helicopters. These luxurious modes of transport guarantee discretion for families travelling as part of the same bubble, and since these vehicles lend themselves to short-haul flights, it may well be that less far-flung trips become the order of the day.
The bottom line
As the effects of the pandemic show no sign of abating, it’s clear that we’re still some way off from returning to anything that even remotely resembles business as usual.
That being said, this shift in the travel industry could present new opportunities as the definition of luxury changes to accommodate a broader set of needs and an increased interest in privacy, security and safety.
Whether the luxury travel industry will ever return to its original roots remains to be seen, but what’s certain is that the world is still out there to be explored – even despite the pandemic.