Embracing the new age of travel

Technology and technology driven practices will witness an emphasised role and increased dependence on, by both the industry at large and the travellers

As we move further into 2022, the year has quickly garnered a growing reputation as one of recovery due to its optimistic start. This is in contrast to the expectations that this was going to be yet another year that was poised to remain under the imposition of the coronavirus. As the virus is gradually being brought under control and with vaccination and booster programmes becoming more prevalent, we can expect a renewed resurgence and interest in travel.

Following months, and in some cases, years of border closures, prolonged lockdowns and restrictions, we are now witnessing an influx of countries that are readying for full scale re-openings, many of which are looking to relax the lengthy checklist of testing requirements and long, mandatory quarantine periods that have dissuaded people from travelling in the past and left many to defer all travel plans. By encouraging an easier and less cumbersome travel process, countries are looking to incentivise travel for potential tourists through an array of customer centric promotions, which include:

a. Offering insurance policies for those who contract COVID while in the country

b. Waiving visa processing fees and extending visas for those who were unable to travel to the country due to COVID restrictions 

c. Partnering with the tourism industry to drive demand and support distribution and aviation recovery

Technology and technology driven practices will witness an emphasised role and increased dependence on, by both the industry at large and travellers. From an industry perspective, the use of Augmented Reality (AR) and Virtual Reality (VR) has seen an exponential growth in use to effectively market destinations and provide travellers with interactive experiences at a time when travel was relegated to emergencies only. While already having existed as a technology trend in the field of destination marketing, AR and VR have proven to be an accessible and unique means to showcase and promote destinations to potential travellers. 

In light of the growing need for convenience, travellers will readily opt for cashless payments that can alleviate the hassle of interchanging physical money and with social distancing norms taking priority, these forms of payment will also increasingly become contactless. Furthermore, we can expect to see a decline in people driven tasks from introducing self-check-in services at airports to deploying the use of biometric identification technology at hotels that only requires facial or fingerprint recognition for check-in requirements. This will enable a more seamless and independent experience for travellers.

Among the many habits cultivated due to the coronavirus pandemic is the need to make reservations for pre-bookings and backup plans that can serve as safety measures or a stopgap to avoid unforeseen circumstances while in transit. As we move towards a relatively restriction free future, the same guarantees cannot be made applicable to other independent services, as such travellers will also be more cognizant of the reduced working or operational hours of restaurants, amusement parks, museums and other attractions. In addition to this, there may also be lowered capacity or guest intake at hotels, which travellers will also need to be wary about. Therefore, there will be a greater emphasis on the planning stage as spontaneity in travel may cease to exist and ‘spur of the moment’ plans may no longer be feasible. This will also encourage travellers to invest in refund and reimbursement policies to help offset any losses incurred due to the unpredictability of travel, as the industry navigates a new path towards normalcy.

The year ahead is anticipated to be an exciting benchmark for the industry and will not be without its challenges, however, the pandemic has conditioned us to be flexible and adaptable to ever changing scenarios and subsequent circumstances that may arise. And this has allowed us to embrace the much awaited new age of travel that can lead the industry to new and even greener pastures.

The author is Country Manager - India & Gulf, Tourism Australia


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