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Shape of things to come: travel trends to watch

With so much uncertainty still around travel, Mandy Saven, director of consumer lifestyle at Stylus, highlights some dead-cert trends to focus on for post-Covid luxury travel and hospitality

Image: Fabian Moller, Unsplash
Image: Fabian Moller, Unsplash

Despite ongoing challenges, the travel and hospitality industries have rich, diverse and profitable futures. While 2021 doesn’t promise any quick fixes, there is no doubt that pandemic-weary consumers are craving the enrichment, escapism and energy that travel brings to the table.


In order to identify and capitalise on newfound opportunities, we need to tweak our collective lens; it’s time to think on a more emotional frequency.


Here are a range of core areas we think it’s worth being laser-focused on if you’re a luxury travel business.


In search of travel cocoons

The future of travel for wealthy consumers will be one wrapped in high levels of personal service, as well as ironclad health and hygiene protocols.


While exclusivity has always been a marker of prestige when it comes to travel, cleanliness, safety and accuracy will be just as important in 2021. As such, remote destinations and areas experiencing low-viral rates will hold high appeal.


Trends that have been bubbling away for some time, including active travel, thrill induced and nature-filled experiences, will hold new relevancy as we emerge from this hiatus of “normal life”. Consumers will look for immersive ways to soak up pure air, stillness, beauty and positive energy.


For the high-end consumer, members’ clubs and concierge services that offer curated choice and expert management of any elements of risk and spontaneity to their trip will be key.

Image: Bruce Mars, Unsplash
Image: Bruce Mars, Unsplash

World of wellness

In the pandemic landscape of 2021, every brand is in the business of wellbeing. Travel and hospitality brands are perfectly positioned to step into the wellness frame with offers that help deal with trauma, burnout, anxiety, change and uncertainty, as well as restoring confidence and optimism.


While wellness tourism is not a new trend, a number of consumer groups still remain underserved, including men, seniors, children and those from BIPOC [black, indigenous and people of colour] cohorts.


Travel and hospitality businesses should use this time to consider how they can better serve and appeal to these consumers.


On a practical level, mood-lifting spaces and sleep hygiene have a key role to play in the pursuit of wellness. In all instances, accessibility is key. Brands should explore varying and flexible price points in order to make their wellness programmes available to a broader range of income groups, as well as those with physical and cognitive disabilities.

Image: Jeremie Cremer, Unsplash
Image: Jeremie Cremer, Unsplash

Sustainable goals

An enforced pause on our itineraries has led to many consumers reconfiguring their travel goals.


When borders reopen, we will see hesitant consumers question not only their personal safety, but also their environmental impact. After all, we’ve seen first-hand how the planet benefited from reduced air and ground traffic during lockdown.


Continuing this momentum, travel brands must respond with fast-track strategies that prioritise eco alignment. And with toxicity coming under more scrutiny in post-pandemic travel, chemical-free hospitality will also occupy a burgeoning area of sustainable tourism.


We will see this trend manifest across all corners of hospitality, from chemical-free cleaning methods such as antibacterial microshields to dedicated hypoallergenic rooms and hotel toiletries that swap synthetic chemical-laden miniatures for all natural formulas.


What next: Stylus is an expert in trends intelligence. It equips forward-thinking brands and agencies with the creative insights they need to make transformative business decisions. Its experts identify, analyse and decode the most important global trends across more than 20 industries, including travel and hospitality. This insight is delivered to members via digital reports, workshops and events.


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For Smarter, Better, Fairer Travel
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