Tourism’s Sustainable Recovery: What’s Your Next Move?

Nicole Copestake   ● 11 min read
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The peak summer season has arrived, and what a difference a year makes. While there is still a long way to go in terms of a stable recovery, we’re all focused on building back better than before. More lucrative, more adaptable, and most of all more resilient for the next time we’re challenged (hopefully not to this extent again, though).

I wanted to take this opportunity to consider the ways in which we can focus on not only a profitable recovery but a sustainable recovery.

 

On that note, let’s get started. 

Here's this week's roundup:

Dear Travel Industry, Here Are the 3 Ways You can Address Vaccine Equity Now

Source: Skift

“Anyone in a position of influence that can influence the vaccination process, and does not use their position of influence is actually perpetuating vaccine inequalities,” – Judy Kepher-Gona, founder of Kenya-based Sustainable Travel & Tourism Agenda.

A tale of two tourism industries.

As it stands, the percentage of people in low-income countries who have received one dose of Covid vaccines is at 1.1 percent according to the World Health Organization (WHO). Since vaccines were introduced to the world, Skift along with Intrepid Travel and others have been advocating for the industry to push forward on vaccine equity.

Dubbed ‘quarantine tourism’, a darker side of the industry has reared its head, as we see an ever-growing divide between vaccine-rich countries and the urgent need for vaccines in less developed countries.

But, what can the tourism industry do to address the global inequity of vaccine distribution?

For a start, influential organizations such as the World Travel and Tourism Council, United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO), and other large stakeholders have to be more vocal on the subject and put forward a stronger message. The tourism industry has an opportunity at this moment to not only recover those profits lost, but to ensure that health is put before wealth in that recovery.

“We call for unprecedented levels of cooperation and solidarity and stress the importance of public and private sectors working effectively together,” – UNWTO

2 examples of that solidarity

 

  • Intrepid Travel sets a good example through their recently launched ‘Global vaccine equity’ campaign. Taking a 2 pronged approach targeting vaccine education, as well as addressing the barriers communities where Intrepid Travel operates are up against for accessing the vaccine.

 

  • Expedia Group announced their ‘Give the world a shot’ campaign, in collaboration with UNICEF. The focus is to drive consumers to book through Expedia in order to raise donations to UNICEF’s global vaccine efforts.

 

Are donations enough?

Sure, it’s a good start. However, the problem of getting vaccines to low to middle-income countries hasn’t arisen through lack of funding. It’s mainly a lack of availability, often due to hoarding by high-income countries.

So, what can the larger players in our industry do to address the issue of vaccine equity?

 

Here are 3 recommendations according to Skift;

 

1. Remove barriers to vaccine access

 

While the power to share resources ultimately lies in the hands of the governments involved, there are certain steps that overseas travel stakeholders can take. For instance, by leveraging their local business networks to create ways for vaccine access to be opened up in areas governments might not be focusing on.

Bringing it back to Intrepid Travel again. In July, they arranged for trekking porters and their families to reach vaccination sites from Cusco. Even further than this, Peru-based Intrepid deputy operations manager Maritza Chacanta worked with the local government to set up a vaccination centre closer to the porter’s community in Calca.

What difference did this make? To give you an idea, vaccination rates of trekking porters rose from 0 in July 2021 to 80% by August 1st. Amazing!

2. Educate the traveler pre-trip

 

This point doesn’t have to lie on the shoulders of large tourism players, any tourism business can help raise awareness of vaccine inequity. In all industries, transparency should be one of the most important attributes. Making your audience aware through a carefully crafted social media post or blog article (like this) may seem like a small token. Yet, when done by enough businesses could help sway public influence and aid in pressure being put on governments to act.

 

3. Support vaccine education efforts

 

This action could include partnering with a local travel association to introduce guest medical speakers in one-on-one sessions, with the aim of educating employees and hopefully getting them vaccinated in the process.

Of course there’s a huge government role in all of this, but if you are in a position of influence, then why not use it?

The industry needs a robust and strong recovery, but that doesn’t mean we have to contribute to a deepening divide in the process.

“By remaining silent on vaccine equity, the travel industry’s big players are as accountable as vaccine-hoarding governments for a deepening tourism divide. Intrepid Travel is setting an example — will others follow?” – Lebawit Lily Girma

Booking.com’s 2021 Sustainable Travel Report Affirms Potential Watershed Moment

Source: Booking.com

No greenwashing in this article, just hard-hitting statistics showing how much travellers attitudes have changed towards sustainable travel since the pandemic. Of which, 81% of global travellers think sustainability to the tourism industry is vital, compared to 62% in 2016.

Think actions speak louder than words?

You’d be right. In fact, these well-intentioned ideas are indeed coming into fruition as I write this to you. 

 

Here are 4 statistics that show travellers are serious about climate change

 

  • In the past 12 months (Aug 20 – Aug 21) 45% of travellers surveyed made a conscious decision to turn off their air conditioning to conserve energy.
  • 33% also took part in activities that contributed to the local community.
  • 43% of travellers take their own reusable water bottle on trips.
  • 53% of travellers admitted that they get annoyed when somewhere they are staying stops them from making sustainable choices.

 

Another key statistic relevant to your tourism business is that 49% of travelers still believe that in 2021, there simply aren’t enough sustainable travel options available.

Even more promising is that of the 40% of global travellers who said in the last year they haven’t stayed in a sustainable property, 36% of them said they didn’t even know they existed.

Question: If you are a sustainable business, are you communicating your sustainable efforts effectively?

Want to know how?

This article provides detailed guidelines on how to make a sustainable recovery going forward into the autumn season.

Google Joins The European Travel Commission to Foster Skills and Strengthen The Recovery of European Tourism

If your tourism business serves European destinations, watch this space. 

The European Travel Commission (ETC) works to improve the sustainability of the tourism industry as it develops. Raising awareness of local travel options and encouraging off-season travel within Europe. This new partnership between Google and the ETC aims to strengthen the industry’s recovery plan, through working on sustainability and fostering the digitalisation of tourism.

Google helps the tourism industry through insights and tools that help destination marketing organisations (DMOs), and the rest of us to reach potential visitors. The recent membership announcement also relies on the Google DMO Partnership Programme that was launched in 2017 at the Destination International Annual Conference to encourage DMOs in utilising their data.

All of the above makes for a powerful collaboration that could help build the digital capacity of tourism businesses in Europe. This will be achieved through customised training events for members of ETC, qualifying them for digital transformation.

It is hoped that this collaboration will also aid in efforts to promote a sustainable recovery for tourism and provide an economic boost to Europe.

“The travel landscape changes quickly, and we are committed to continue to provide digital skills training, data insights, and tools to help travel and tourism organisations adapt their offerings to meet new travel demands.” – Diego Ciulli, Google’s Government Affairs & Public Policy Senior Manager.

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A Travel Boom is Looming, But is The Industry Ready?

I’ve mentioned ‘revenge travel’ quite frequently within the Facebook community, and it now seems the trend is a reality for many tourism businesses – Are you one of them?

 

3 key findings from McKinsey to consider;

 

  • Traveling was the second-most-desired activity among respondents (in first place: dining out).
  • In the United States, air travel has hit two million daily passengers, closer to the pre-pandemic level of around 2.5 million than to the low of around 90,000, in April 2020.
  • Hotel reservations and car rental bookings continue to surge.

 

Sounds promising right?

 

It is excellent news to hear after a hard year, but if your tourism business isn’t prepared for the forthcoming influx then you could be missing out on crucial sales opportunities, as well as sterling reviews.

McKinsey notes that if the industry doesn’t work to increase capacity, this will have a negative effect on the ecosystem. If it buckles under pressure, this will result in hefty waiting times for travellers, as well as surges in pricing. We can already see that supply chains are under pressure while waiting at checkpoints in some airports have turned into hours at a time.

How can you prevent this from happening to your business?

The best prevention is preparation.

 

Here are the 4 key areas tourism businesses should focus on;

 

#1 Building capacity

 

If you had to streamline your operations during the last year by letting go of employees be prepared to invest back into hiring. The leisure and hospitality sector is facing a staffing crisis. In the UK alone 1 in 10 hospitality workers has left the industry altogether. Whilst hiring and training new staff may not be at the top of your agenda, the alternative is turning down bookings or lowering standards due to low capacity.

 

#2 Investing in digital innovation 

 

An area worth considering overinvestment in is digital operations. In the new age of travel, where digital Covid passports and health certificates are becoming part and parcel of safety measures, travellers now need more, not less assistance. Your guests’ experience needs to be as flawless as possible, from booking to catching their flight home.

One bump in the road can alter their perception of your tourism business.

 

#3 Revisiting commercial approaches

 

Tourism businesses can no longer rely on old ideal guest models. Attitudes towards travel have changed, there are later booking windows and more demand for flexible booking policies. See here for the Covid booking policy template that’s helped hundreds of tourism businesses since the crisis began in 2020.

 

#4 Learning from critical moments.

 

If you haven’t already invested in digital analytics, maybe you should consider it moving forward. Measuring your metrics effectively will enable you to capitalise on opportunity gaps in the market and maximise sales. Digital analytics will also allow you to differentiate from your competitors, by identifying emerging trends and spot problems before they arise.

 

But don’t take it from me, take it from Raza Akhtar, owner of The Wander Adventures.

Goodbye Email Open Rates: Prepare for Apple’s Privacy Update

Source: Think Shout

Prepare to say ‘adios’ to email open rates, as Apple’s recently announced new feature ‘Mail Privacy Protection’ aims to help users control the visibility of their data. 

This means you’ll no longer be able to track the open rates of your lead’s emails when measuring your metrics. However, it is still unclear whether Apple will pre-select this option, or offer it as a manual option for the user.

 

What will change?

 

The change will affect emails opened from the Apple Mail app regardless of the email provider. The good news is it won’t affect other apps – The Gmail and Yahoo app for instance. This is a substantial move though, and not to be taken lightly.

 

How will this affect your email marketing strategy?

 

It looks like in time measuring the metric of open rates will become more obsolete to marketers. For now, it means no more A/B subject line testing, making it harder to monitor how your audience is reacting to your educational email marketing content.

 

On the flip-side…

 

Open rate data serves a powerful purpose for re-engagement campaigns, email sequences, and monitoring deliverability. However, it isn’t a perfect means of measuring your success. It requires image downloads for the tracking pixels to work, and some email strategists have deemed it a vanity metric.

 

What can your tourism business do now to prepare?

 

  • Test before the privacy change rolls out. Make the most of the time left to test on Apple devices.

 

  • Clean up your list. This will protect your sender reputation going forward.

 

  • Adjust your audience segments and dynamic filters to not use email open data. Any segment or targeting set up in your CRM based on the last email open date will soon be obsolete. Audit your segmentation and talk with your team about how you want to define “inactives” moving forward.

 

  • Review your automated email user journeys.  If you have an automated email workflow based on someone opening an email, adjust the triggers to use a different metric— such as a conversion, or a click.

 

This update due in Autumn shouldn’t be seen as a total negative for us as tourism marketers though. It merely opens up a long-overdue conversation regarding how we gather information more ethically going forward. Making a sustainable recovery in more than one way.

Why Wellness Travel is Now So Important in a Post-Covid World

“Reconnecting with nature and adopting a more proactive approach towards both our physical and mental wellbeing has become a key focus for many travellers, particularly for those who have been confined to cities with little access to natural green spaces during the pandemic.” – Paul Joseph, Health and Fitness Travel’s founder

This year has been a wake-up call to put mental and physical health at the forefront of our minds. In response to this, wellness travel is demanded more now than ever before.

However…

Wellness travel in the future could be in danger of losing its niche status, as health becomes the focus for the majority of holiday-goers in pursuit of happier, healthier lifestyles.

Post pandemic, travellers attitudes have changed. It’s not only industries that are attempting to make a sustainable recovery, people are too. For many travellers the pandemic presented them with an opportunity to reassess their work-life balance, their goals, and most importantly their health.

Travellers are eager to replenish both body and mind with comprehensive wellness retreats that support healthy immune systems and help them to overcome mental health exhaustion.

Remember, your health is your wealth, and so is theirs. If you’re not already within the niche of health and fitness travel, think about how you can take inspiration from these types of tourism businesses to tap into this trend.

How can you help your guests shed the baggage of daily life?

Learn how Nick Hathaway and Anna Anderson from 45 Degrees Sailing achieve this, by soothing their potential guests’ anxieties from the offset. Read the article here.

After a surge in digital-nomads and travellers seeking ‘workcation’ getaways, Health and Fitness Travel saw an increase in enquiries and bookings for their Wellness Workcations. These trips provide travellers with the benefit of a wellness program in a much-needed change of scenery whilst also fitting around their working schedule.

As highlighted in this article detailing 2021 travel trends, our relationship with travel has changed. People may take fewer trips, but those trips will be longer and geared towards addressing the mental and physical health needs of not just the individual, but the whole family.


A statistic I found interesting:

A new AmEx survey has uncovered that 63% of travellers say they want to be more intentional with their time off. In particular, they’ve got their eyes on domestic and outdoor getaways. A trend that continues to surge.

(Condé Nast Traveller)


A question for you:

Are you implementing efforts to make a sustainable recovery for your tourism business?

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