Travel will become more luxurious after the Covid-19 pandemic, hotel and aviation experts predict
- The future of travel is likely to be more luxurious and romantic post-coronavirus, according to hotel and aviation experts.
- Hyper-personalisation and social distancing in hotels will mean guests have more privacy, Mr & Mrs Smith's Founder James Lohan said in a webinar.
- The future looks particularly challenging for urban hotels, as people increasingly want to escape cities and stay in remote locations.
- There's going to be a move towards travelling less often, but more lavishly, said PrivateFly CEO Adam Twidell.
- For more stories, go to www.BusinessInsider.co.za.
The future of travel post-coronavirus is going to be all about "hyper-personalisation," hotel and aviation experts say.
As much of the world tentatively begins to emerge from lockdown, many people are thinking about travelling for leisure once again.
And it turns out, vacations in a post-Covid-19 world could be even more luxurious than ever.
Speaking at a webinar on "The Traveller in 2020 and Beyond" hosted by Black Tomato, boutique hotel specialist Mr & Mrs Smith's Founder and Chief Creative Officer James Lohan and UK based private jet charter company PrivateFly CEO Adam Twidell both said they expect travel to become more personal.
Social distancing means more privacy in hotels
As glove-clad porters reopen doors to guests, the hotel experience is likely to come with even more options to design your own stay.
"Customers will be asked how they want to be looked after," Lohan said.
"Do you want your bags carried or would you rather have no contact with the staff? Would you like to have your turn-down every night or not? Do you want your room made up every day or not?"
Lohan also predicts serving hours for lunches and dinners will be longer so there can be fewer people in the restaurant at any one time, and guests may even be able to eat in other parts of a hotel.
"You'll maybe be able to have your dinner or lunch in some more interesting places around the hotel that they used not to do before."
And if you do eat in a hotel restaurant, you're unlikely to be given a menu, according to Lohan: "It'll all be done remotely. You'll be given an iPad to do all your ordering, which some hotels were doing already for their room service."
He predicts there'll be much less face to face contact with staff, which means more privacy - checking in at reception, for example, is likely to be a thing of the past, with guests checking themselves in using screens, an app, or online.
"Social distancing could be a good thing for romantic travel because we'll have to be even further apart from our guests than usual," Lohan said.
In many ways, travel will become more luxurious.
Instead of sitting at a crowded bar, it may become the norm to have a mixologist come directly to your room and whip up drinks just outside for an intimate cocktail evening.
City hotels face a greater challenge to draw guests back
Lohan believes urban hotels will face the biggest challenge in attracting guests back after lockdown because people are usually drawn to cities for the buzz and vibe that's created by people mixing together.
Business travel, in particular, could be in "real trouble" because companies have realised they can get by communicating virtually and thus save lots of money that was previously spent on flights and hotel bills.
"If you are a strictly city hotel that is hugely reliant on business travelers, you need to start rethinking and becoming more leisure-thoughtful," he said.
Urban hotels will no longer be able to rely on their location to attract visitors and instead will need to think of more creative ways to tempt people to come.
"City hotels will have to work a lot harder," Lohan said. "We don't want to be with crowds."
For this reason, tourist hotspots and big attractions in cities may become less popular as travelers looks for quieter areas off the beaten track.
"We tend to go to cities for atmosphere and buzz, and it's got to be done in a different way now," Lohan said.
"[Urban hotels are] going to have to tap into the arts and culture and leisure sides of things more going forward."
The pandemic has also led to more people wanting to escape urban environments for the greater space offered in the countryside, he said, with UK travelers showing much more interest in quaint villages in the Cotswolds than big metropolises.
Remote places, private homes, and secluded properties are all set to become more popular, from rural English cottages and Scottish castles to chalets in the Alps and villas in the Maldives.
People will travel less often, but more lavishly
"Experiences will become more and more private, you won't be in any groups at all," Lohan said.
Needless to say, privacy and personalisation come with a cost.
As private guided tours replace group excursions, Twidell and Lohan said they expect people to take fewer trips going forward, but to spend more on the trips they do take.
"Our clients have accepted that they're going to go on fewer trips a year now," Twidell said, adding that PrivateFly has seen a lot of interest from first-time private jet customers.
Whereas new clients usually make up around 25% of the company's bookings, that has recently risen to 65%.
"They're telling us that they're not going to go on as many holidays as they used to, so the holidays they do go on, they want to enjoy more," Twidell said.
As much as having space on the actual flight, people are attracted by the prospect of going to a private aviation terminal instead of queuing at check-in to fly with a normal airline, Twidell said.
Instead of going on regular mini-breaks, it's likely travelers will want to make the most of the flight they've taken by enjoying longer holidays and exploring a place in more depth than they would have before.
"People might take in two or three different hotels in different parts of Italy or Portugal or wherever you might be going," Lohan said.
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