Before travel restrictions caused the globe to stand still, we saw how brands were finding ways to future-proof their customer relationships beyond travel, providing services that elevated the Before & After Travel experience.
In a survey, travel providers were falling short of travellers’ expectations and failing to deliver on their priorities, according to a survey by Expedia Partner Solutions. The survey found that more than a quarter of travellers wish providers would place more emphasis on customer service. Upgrading that level of customer service, Rosewood’s Las Ventanas al Paraiso in Los Cabos arranged butlers to greet customers at their front door and drive them to the airport, with a variety of personalised gifts along the way.
Meanwhile, Charleston hotel Zero George found a way to encourage visitors to continue positive habits after returning home. The hotel joined forces with meal delivery service Sakara to offer a meal plan that aims to establish healthy eating routines in the days following a holiday. ‘It alleviates the post-vacation blues and gives travellers something to look forward to when they get back,' says Vinson Petrillo, executive chef at Zero George.
The Big Idea: Imagination Travel
Jacqui Kennedy Google Street View, @streetview.portraits
The clunky headsets associated with virtual tourism were swapped for the power of the human mind in 2020, as the rise of Imagination Travel offered new opportunities to explore countries from home.
Some travel agencies repositioned entire destinations – such as Chile – as direct-to-consumer subscription brands. In April, the country's tourism board launched Musical Tourism, with music clips for consumers to listen to at home; Couch Tourism, a marathon of 10 films about Chile that paint a portrait of Chilean landscapes and people; and Wine Tourism, in which travellers’ can receive local wines and learn about the country’s agricultural heritage.
As consumers mourned the death of shopping holidays, we saw brands such as Brother Vellies launch Something Special, a home goods programme in which subscribers receive one ethically made item per month hand-crafted by global artisans from countries such as South Africa to Mexico. In a similar vein, the Splitcha app pointed to a future in which consumers can shop like a local anywhere.
The Campaign: Wild Detectives’ bookshop tourism
Book a Trip by The Wild Detectives
While travel operators faced uncertainty in planning their communications, one of the most innovative campaigns we saw this year wasn't from a travel brand at all – it was from Wild Detectives bookstore.
When the Dallas-based bookstore and café closed due to lockdown measures, it turned to agency partner Dieste to launch Book a Trip, an interactive platform that masquerades as a travel booking website. Visitors to the site were offered deals such as ‘Barcelona for $14’. Other destinations available included Rio, Alaska and Havana.
When a customer ‘booked’ one of these trips, they could explore different books for sale that offer an immersive glimpse into their chosen destination. With the slogan ‘worldwide destinations delivered to your door’, the brand demonstrated how the act of travelling is not necessarily a physical movement and can be achieved from the comfort of our homes.
The Interview: The Human Hotel’s post-pandemic shared stays
With Covid-19 driving a push towards hyper-local and eco-friendly travel, Rosengaard noted how this attitude has been manifesting for years. 'Seventy-five percent of Europeans live in cities, and it's exciting to think that I can have a bigger experience in my own city if I'm simply placed into a different environment,' he says. 'There’s something to be said for understanding why was it that we travelled, and what reaction we were looking for.
What's more, the sharing economy could provide new opportunities for the travel market, even in a world newly wary of sharing. 'If you look at our lives in lockdown right now, this is the real home-sharing,' Rosengaard explains. 'This [during Covid-19] is the perfect time to rethink the potential of the home. Could we start changing apartments every other week with our neighbours?'
The Space: Hygge Circles Ugakei
Arriving at the Center House by Third Nature, Structured Environment and Henrik Innovation
In summer 2020, it was announced that outdoor brand Nordisk is planning to bring a slice of Danish hygge to Japan, imagining a future in which foreign destinations are accessible on our home turf.
In a collaboration with the Danish embassy in Japan, the luxury Hygge Circles Ugakei site is due to open in 2021, located among the Uga Valley's dense forests and natural waterfalls. The site will offer a variety of accommodation options, including permanent tents and cabins, alongside communal outdoor facilities.
Appealing to Japanese interest in hygge – the Danish concept of feeling cosy and content – as well as Denmark's sustainability and design credentials, the site will provide education on eco-conscious and positive living. ‘At Nordisk, we believe that nature is a luxury that is free for all, and that spending time outside simply improves your life,’ says Erik J Møller, the brand's CEO.
Download the Future Forecast 2021 report
Now that you know what shaped 2020, discover what’s on the horizon. Download our Future Forecast 2021 reportcomprising 50 new behavioural patterns across 10 key consumer sectors, expert opinion pieces and interviews with global innovators.