The tourism industry is one of the industries that have been hardest hit by the coronavirus crisis worldwide. After the crisis, the industry will have to contend with an increased need for security and trust. Whether it is a vacation or a business trip, the future of tourism will revolve around a question of quality and the parameters will be different.
The peak was reached before coronavirus
The challenges facing tourism were enormous in the run-up to the coronavirus crisis. The travel industry suffered from a loss of trust and a loss of image, which began with bankruptcies and fed by geopolitical uncertainties. In addition, the debate about the impact of the climate and over tourism had significantly changed individual travel behavior. The business travel volume also started to change significantly due to the increasing amalgamation of "work" and "life" and trend phenomena such as "workation." For some time and until coronavirus, the tourism industry fluctuated between seemingly unchecked growth and an abundance of fundamental challenges that would make a profound rethinking and redirection indispensable in the long term.
The reset caused by the coronavirus crisis forced this rethinking all at once - and at the same time paved the way for a new tourism perception. Painful as the pandemic for the industry, it can, and must, be understood as the beginning of a new, more sustainable era for tourism, both globally and locally.
The communication goal is becoming more important again
Before the pandemic, customers would receive an immense abundance of offers and options. The almost infinite possibilities often left travelers in a nirvana of indecision. The choice of travel location was often made spontaneously, at short notice, and in a way that was not predictable. The collective experience of the coronavirus crisis will ensure a new, more conscious selection in the future as travel options in the post-coronavirus world will initially be reduced.
For the tourism industry, there is an opportunity - and at the same time the challenge - to restore the relationship of trust with travelers. In the future, the choice of travel destinations and means of transport will increasingly depend on the guarantees and securities guaranteed by tourism providers. Guests with prolonged stays in hotels, deaths on cruise ships, and guests stranded abroad have left their mark not only on those directly affected. Against this background, regional tourism immediately became attractive: short distances and local recreation convey a feeling of security just as familiar cultures promise emotional security. Nevertheless, it will be a must for usual destinations to guarantee high standards, such as reliable conditions in terms of health care and transport.
The takeaway from the ever-growing coronavirus crisis? Transparency.
It became clear during the crisis that the quality of interaction with travelers will be even more decisive in the future (look at how Turkey decided to report the number of coronavirus cases for over three months). What will count after the crisis is the art of communicating personally, emotionally, authentically, maybe also with humor. Instead of playing interchangeable video clips, the aim will be to convey the lifestyle of a country, place, or accommodation in a tangible way. All tourist actors, from hosts to CEOs, have to train communication skills.
Moving away from mass tourism
The new travel culture due to coronavirus will change mass tourism in particular, and even destroy it in parts. Disillusionment already set it after a short period of post-shutdown euphoria and the celebration of fun and adventure in Summer 2019. Service providers chose their goals more consciously and carefully yet they cannot avoid the economic consequences of mass tourism markets. Former successful models, on which the cruise ship industry relied, will have to reorganize in a leaner version to repair the damaged image.
Of course, people will also choose the concept of the run-of-the-mill, all-inclusive vacation because they find a well-tried form of safety and comfort in it. But qualities with lasting impressions will be sought more than the dull repetition of the beach and buffet. Mass tourism cannot make a promise of delivering new experiences, human encounters, and positive emotions in various places. Therefore it will increasingly appear to travelers as an empty shell as their needs and expectations changed during the coronavirus crisis.
The acceleration of resonance tourism
The fundamental principle of resonance, the desire for lasting relationship experiences, is given enormous impetus and strength by the experiences each and every individual had in the context of the crisis. Post-Coronavirus tourism will be relationship-focused.
The foundations for this could already be laid during the crisis. The way in which tourism providers interacted with travelers in a time of crisis will also be decisive for subsequent feedback. For this, tourism needs specific content that provides travelers with recognizable and tangible benefits in the long term.
A particularly important characteristic in determining the expectations of travelers is ecological concepts, a holistic health view, and the idea of glocalization as a fusion of local and global perspectives. Above all, customers will opt for companies deciding to take a sustainable and social stance, to treat customers, employees, and business partners fairly, or to campaign for global issues.
The big drivers of tourism: trust and relationships
Travel is and will remain an elementary human need, and the coronavirus crisis will not change that. But the coronavirus updates continue to set the clock to "zero" for the tourism industry. This temporary vacuum cannot be filled with a concept that was crumbling before the crisis. Different rules will apply rendering everyone dependent on local, global, and social factors, but the ever-increasing weight of travelers themselves. The guiding principle will be the basic need for a relationship.
Unlike after wars or natural disasters, the tourism industry will quickly start operating again after the restrictions are lifted. But the future challenges include more than just economic re-stabilization: In the post-crisis period, it will be a matter of making offers to travelers that offer them both security, resonance, and transformation experiences, based on ecological and community values.
Click here for a German reference source dealing with the tourism angle of coronavirus (its English translation did not exist as this article was published).
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