• Opinion

Will travel bounce back in 2022? Will travel bounce back in 2022?

As the world began to open its doors in early 2021, after months of lockdown measures, it was clear that the way people shopped, worked and connected with each other had changed.

Some of them were temporary, but others seem more permanent. As we’re set to face more restrictive measures in 2022, one industry is wondering what the future holds. However, according to a new report from customer feedback experts Feefo, which looks at their experts’ predictions from 2021 to see how they weigh up against the current state of the world, there’s hope for global travel yet.

Is a travel boom looming? It cannot be denied that the two sectors that were hit the hardest during the pandemic were the tourism and leisure industries. While every business has been impacted, these sectors faced moving goalposts, changing guidelines and panic cancellations - almost overnight.

In fact, the number of people arriving in the UK in one month fell by 98.3% from February 2020 to April 2020. Not just that but the number of Greater London hotel rooms that were occupied in July 2020 was just 20%, compared to 90% in July 2019. Travel agencies saw the biggest drop in revenue in the first lockdown, with numbers dropping to 9.3% of their rates in February, in May 2020.

After nearly two years of restrictions and having faced one of the toughest years in history, could we have turned a corner though? Ian Crawford, Brand Manager at online travel retailer HolidayHypermarket.co.uk thinks so.

Speaking to Feefo for their latest CX Trends Report, he commented: “People’s desire to travel and get away has never been greater, given the tough year that everyone has endured. However, consumers need to feel safe and ready to travel before booking their next trip.”

The report from Feefo also found that there’s been a change in consumer behaviour when it comes to booking holidays in advance. While Holiday Hypermarket has always been a late booking website, they’re now seeing a different demographic booking last minute deals - most likely down to the high uncertainty that surrounds travel. This is something that Ian believes is going to continue as we look ahead to the next 12 months.

“I think we will continue to see a strong need for a lot of reassurance on all marketing and booking channels, as well as customers waiting to book late so they feel more certain that their holiday will go ahead as planned.”

So, what can travel businesses do? The latest figures show that people have begun to book foreign holidays for 2022 and beyond, and business travel has also picked up. But with many in fear of further lockdown measures, which could leave everyone out of pocket, consumers are looking to the travel industry for reassurance and guidance.

Ian Crawford says this is up to travel businesses themselves, and starts online.

“The challenge in our industry is to instill trust and ensure they have a seamless customer experience from the get-go.”

Customers need up-to-date information about holiday destinations, the key travel requirements and information about their accommodation.

It goes further than just sending a few messages and making announcements via email and social media though. Travel businesses need to offer more assurances and protections and make this clear on their website. Marketing materials, whether printed or online, need to raise consumer confidence and motivate people to get back to booking holidays.

Engagement rates have skyrocketed over the last few months, and this is set to continue. Therefore, businesses need to utilise all communication platforms to ensure they are speaking to more customers, and giving more customers the opportunity to speak to them.

Conclusion As we head into 2022, reassurance and support will be key if the travel industry wants its customers to act. Only time will tell though, and things aren’t going to go back to normal overnight.

Instead, businesses need to stay close to their customers, guide them through the booking journey and continuously work on their reassurance messaging. Another crucial factor if travel businesses want to survive, and thrive, over the next year will be gaining direct feedback from their customers to identify what’s working and what’s not.

Source: TravelDailyNews