Changes we expect to see for Travel trends through 2021

2020 has been a disruptive year for all, and travel is no different. Inspire has been a growing force in the travel industry for 15 years now, and has gained confidence despite the most challenging year in recent memory – here’s how the world of travel has changed so far, and some changes we’ll expect to see through 2021…

From the onset of the pandemic in March 2020, Travel and Transportation became one of the most severely impacted sectors; both international and domestic bookings were cancelled, resulting in a number of setbacks and decreased confidence amongst travellers across the board. Several months on, passenger safety has become top priority and the industry has undergone a transformation as new policies and procedures are put into place, all but ready to bounce back stronger than ever once vaccines are rolled out globally.

Travel suppliers have quickly adapted to the “new normal” and faced these challenges head-on with strict safety protocols, increased testing, rigorous cleaning and maintenance schedules, and airlines have ensured added protection with HEPA filters which capture particles smaller than those found in COVID-19. Travel agents have introduced new protection measures to ensure their customers’ peace of mind should their plans be affected, Inspire included. The Confidence Guarantee for Inspire gift card holders allows customers a hassle-free (and fee-free) way to choose their next steps, whether changing the date, switching destination, or obtaining a full refund.

For consumers, the ways in which people have booked their breaks also changed throughout the year, as 65% of European stays were being made within 14 days of departure, up 18% on 2019. Comparatively, long haul bookings have been set further out, as suppliers have extended their dates beyond the typical 12 month period, and opened up 2022 bookings several months ahead of schedule. Domestic tourism has increased significantly throughout 2020 and is likely to continue for the shorter term and searches for hotels in key travel weeks are remaining high.

Travel trends are constantly changing, but this year more than ever, here are the changes we expect to see through 2021 as a result of the pandemic:

  • Staycations – Continuing to rise in popularity from 2020, people are exploring the UK before they go further afield, seeking new beaches and national parks.
  • Last-Minute – In the short term the fluctuating lockdown rules are causing people to try and make up for lost time and make a trip when and while they can.
  • Bucket List breaks – Those who have missed out this year are searching for more extravagant and exotic holidays to make unforgettable memories.
  • Workcations – Without the confines of an office, travellers are beginning to extend their holiday experience by working remotely for an extra week or two.

For airlines, the rise of remote working during the past year has seen a significant reduction in business travel overall, and projections suggest that this will be the standard for the foreseeable. This however presents an excellent opportunity for leisure travellers, for luxury seekers the airlines will now tempt them toward former business class routes, with better value than ever before – recent pricing has shown London to New York business class seats for less than £1000. For thrifty travellers, other suppliers are reducing their first-class offerings in favour of increased seating, which will also drive down prices per seat. If nothing else, anticipation for future leisure travel is immense, at both ends of the market the public are ready for a well-earned break after the challenges this pandemic has presented. Since the news of the first vaccine rollout in December 2020 consumers have already begun to plan for a brighter Summer this year, with bookings tripling in the two-week period following the announcement.

2021 will still be a challenging year for some travel companies, however it presents an excellent opportunity for travellers as COVID’s dominance diminishes; particularly for those who take advantage of travel rewards that offer a wide variety of suppliers to hunt for the best bargains as borders open once again!

Inspire is the UK’s largest travel gift card supplier, offering a choice of over 200 trusted travel suppliers for both domestic and international breaks. With a dedicated team on hand, their travel experts can help you find your ideal holiday you deserve, anywhere across the globe. So, swap your Lifestyle Voucher now for an Inspire TravelCard and get booking your break or contact us at Motivates to discuss other travel incentive needs for your business.