So much that has happened in 2020 has been imposed on us. But whilst there will continue to be things that we can’t control, we can make and change our future. As part of our Luxperience 2020 we heard from renowned travel futurist Carolyn Childs of MyTravelResearch.com as she delved into her trends treasure chest to identify the trends and opportunities for the future of luxury travel beyond 2020.
If you missed the session or would like a recap of the session check out our 5 takeaways below!
1. Make Trends Work For You
This year is certainly different and as recovery approaches, it’s time to act, but according to Carolyn Childs, Travel Futurist at MyTravelResearch.com, understanding the current trends, how they apply to your business and to your customers is the most important factor.
Addressing the many trends that have risen or accelerated due to COVID-19, Childs primarily stressed the necessity of understanding those trends before acting on them, stating that a roadmap is about “knowing the trends, then narrowing in, and then working out how you’ll apply them”. These trends (whether brought on by a global pandemic or not) seldom walk alone, as an industry we must “look at what are the human needs that sit behind a trend, and the broader environment around that” before acting on them, continued Childs.
But what trends should we be worrying about, you might ask? Well, that’s an integral part. It’s not just about knowing trends but getting an understanding of your brand and the offering when applying them. “There is opportunities to make money in every space, but not every space is for everyone, just know what is for you, take the right amount of risks.” said Childs, as she shared a framework for making these decisions, which can be found here in her presentation.
Applying trends to your business is about looking at the relevance, the emotion and uniqueness – “think about what the benefits in the long term and short term are, it’s a great way to brainstorm with your team”, explained Childs. But she also stressed, to make sure you sit down and document the framework that works – consult your staff and customers and set up a structure for what works for you and why.
2. Safety – A Multifaceted Thing
Of course, in the post-pandemic luxury travel space, safety will be top of mind. But there’s so many layers to how this should be applied and considered. Rather than simply considering the basics of hygiene and beyond.
Childs suggested looking at “strategy around security and security in a way that is wholistic. Think about staff training and empowering staff to communicate this, talk outwardly to customers about protocols, how safety is actioned and think about how it is communicated on your website and in-person to customers”.
In our industry, safety is as much about reassurance as it is about logistics, “for example, flexibility in booking arrangements is also an assurance that you’re taking safety seriously and is considered a measure in itself. People will [therefore] book with confidence” said Childs.
3. Focus on The Customers Wants and Needs
The focus of the luxury travel customer in the face of COVID-19 has been on two things, Self-Actualisation, and Safety and Security. Childs is clear on the idea that “in one sense, COVID-19 is an enormous interruption, but otherwise its simply accelerating and escalating tensions that were going on anyway”. These tensions include things like safety around climate change, a sense of belonging and isolation that was present long before the pandemic.
The question is, how can we as an industry help luxury traveller feel good about travel in this world? The answer is to “show leadership and commitment to a larger goal”. The essence of luxury travel is always what is rare and unique, so there is an opportunity for ‘safety’ and ‘bespoke’ to dovetail perfectly – the idea of “high-end luxury’ for me’ now works even more”, said Childs.
4. Don’t Forget Counter Trends
“For every trend where most people are going in that direction, there are often great opportunities if you are going in the other direction – counter-trends” leads Childs.
COVID-19 has created two reactions according to Carolyn, “the sense of looking for higher purpose and growth in a counter-trend to hedonistic travel”. Things like luxury beach escape with an opportunity to relax. It’s as important as ever to consider these counter-trends in planning moving forward.
5. Just Do It – The Time to Act Is Now
The thing about this pandemic is that the “only new normal we are going to see from now is the one we are about to create…we need to use frameworks like this to create the new normal, from now” said Childs.
Thinking about a post-COVID industry, we should consider three things – be helpful, be engaging, and have purpose. Find trends that have longevity and capitalise on them because “now is the perfect time to be planning for recovery, because you’ve got the time. Travellers have shown that when the borders are open, they are desperate and ready to travel. Now is the perfect time to invest your time into knowing the right trends for you”, concluded Childs.
Carolyn Childs, CEO & Futurist, MyTravelResearch.com