Travel is Changing - and We Can Decide How
I’ve had lots of conversations with women in travel over the past few weeks about what’s happening; and the main takeaway is that the majority doesn’t want to go back to where we were before the crisis.
Yes, we want the economy to recover; yes, we want safe and secure jobs for our many friends in the industry!
BUT we want those jobs to be sustainable; not based on loans and promises.
In my opinion, it’s time we took travel less for granted. Stop hunting the cheapest deals, or jet off every month to a new destination because flights are so cheap (and hotels follow suit).
Travel is precious, after all!
It’s a wonderful experience and definitely worth saving up for.
I remember when I was about 12 years old. In February we planned our holidays for the summer. I wanted to go with a church group to Sweden AND I also wanted to go to Spain to visit my grandparents.
My parents said I had to choose one over the other, they couldn’t afford to pay for two trips. So, instead, I started saving my pocket money.
Everything I had went in little tins marked ‘Sweden’ and ‘Spain’ - and when it was time (with a little extra help from the grandparents) - I was able to do both trips.
The memories have stayed with me ever since.
On the flip side: there are countless business trips that all blend into one. Too many meetings that were fun and lovely, but not necessarily needed or productive.
So, how can vision change the Travel Industry?
Let’s look at some examples of where vision has had an impact already:
Richard Branson, founder of Virgin Atlantic, yes, I know we had him last week already, but he does some really good things. He started the airline to challenge the in-flight experience. Together with a group of people they listed everything that they thought was wrong when getting on an airplane - and changed it for Virgin.
Another example that’s completely the other end of the scale is RyanAir. I was lucky to hear Michael O’Leary talk at the GBTA conference in Berlin some years back.
During the interview he explained that he wanted to provide flights at low prices. He was only interested in the transportation of people - not their bags, nor whether they could get food.
Airport charges for counters and ancillary services, like baggage and catering, are high. And RyanAir didn’t want to pay those. That’s why he introduced extra charges for everything that’s not the bare bones of transport: one person and a small carry-on.
As much as Virgin Atlantic changed the long-haul flight experience for the industry; as much did RyanAir change traveler behaviour for the short-haul flights.
Both had a vision of where they wanted to go - and they got there.
And in the process they changed the industry.
Another example, that I hope is going to catch on, is Serena Hotels; quite possibly less known than the others. The Aga Khan Development Foundation offers, among many other things, support for communities to encourage sustainable tourism in areas that have breathtaking landscapes - but not much else to live from.
Serena Hotels are a 5 star hotel chain mainly around the Middle East and Africa. They’re providing a fantastic experience, are nestled into the landscape and the communities they serve - and are serviced by the people who live there.
I don’t know about you, but my experience with sustainable tourism has often had the underlying tones of DIY, helping a community project or camping - all wonderful experiences, but maybe not the holiday I’m after.
Serena has changed my view and I hope that projects like this will influence our vision for Travel moving forward.
A Vision for Travel
This is about a better travel experience for all who travel, for all who work in travel, and for the world to breathe again and keep breathing.
Needless to say this is a HUGE task.
Let’s look at Business Travel for starters. While sustainability has been on the agenda for many years, it’s always taken a back seat over savings.
What if, post Covid, the savings are achieved from more mindful travel? Going on a true need base and using virtual meetings to stay on track?
That would not only decrease travel spend, it would increase the well-being of travelers who, in the past, have been traveling so much it’s had a negative impact on their mental and physical health; it would also decrease carbon emissions.
In this vision, travelers would stay longer in the destination to get more out of their trip; travel will be about trade and business - and that is grounded in relationships and building trust. It’s unlikely you can do that after a red-eye from New York to London when the return is booked for the following morning.
Now what about leisure travel?
There are so many niches in travel that it’s quite tricky to have an overall vision that’s mindful of all those involved - including the planet.
My thoughts here are hoping we’ll see more local travel and more active holidays, like hiking, walking, cycling or water based activities like canoeing or sailing. All of those will bring people closer together and closer to nature; fostering their interest in sustainable travel and doing their bit for the planet.
It’ll also encourage saving up to see our spectacular planet and experience different cultures.
I think it’s such exciting times for the industry!
Yes, there’s a lot of anxiety and stress caused by furloughs and redundancies; on top of that those who are in work are fearing for their jobs as travel won’t be able to make a quick recovery as countries keep borders closed.
It’s incredibly tough to stay positive and keep searching for that silver lining and I want you to know I’m here to support you!
What do you want to see?
What does your Travel Vision look like? I’d love to know!
Let’s paint the most beautiful and amazing picture of our industry and then do everything we can - together - to make it reality.
Be Clear. Do your Magic. Spell your Life.