Future of travel: How has Covid-19 affected people’s views on travel and what will change?
By Sonu Shivdasani
This crisis that we are all going through now has allowed many people the opportunity to pause and rethink their values and importantly their priorities. I suspect that travellers will become more health-focused, more aware of nature and more sensitive to the challenges of the planet.
“Imaginative and Engaging SLOWLIFE” is our Core Purpose, that we as Soneva Hosts believe in and follow. It is not a consumer-facing concept. Our brand proposition is “Inspiring a Lifetime of Rare Experiences”. This brand proposition is still important but we will bring more SLOWLIFE imagery and examples into our descriptions of Inspiring a Lifetime of Rare Experiences. I strongly believe that more and more, going forward, our guests will find our core purpose and brand proposition increasingly relevant and important.
I suspect, that even though the second quarter of 2020 may be the period of the greatest economic decline in history, and in spite of the fact that we are going into a recession; I still suspect that consumers will be prepared to spend that little bit extra for a unique experience as they will value the precious time with their families more, now than ever.
They will try and recreate the bonds that they created during this crisis when they were locked down at home together, so families will either enjoy more “Staycations” where they will go to their home in the countryside with their closest. Or, they will travel to unique destinations where they can really enjoy special moments with their families.
Corporate travel will most likely shrink dramatically as we have gotten used to a new normal where business and meetings can be conducted very well through the internet. There is a silver lining to this for some of the great capitals in the world such as London, Paris, New York etc. The drop in corporate travellers will leave room in these cities where space is scarce for the leisure traveller. Leisure travellers contribute so much more to the local economy than the corporate traveller. The corporate traveller tends to visit a city, have meetings, and then returns to his hotel room, orders a very simple room service meal and is then on the next flight or train out of the city the next morning. The leisure traveller engages a lot with the city and the people living there. The leisure traveller will tend to consume much more. They will go out to restaurants, museums, the theatre and also go shopping.
We have already seen this trend start in the cities that I have mentioned above. The growth in leisure travel, and the greater spending in the culture and the experiences that the city has to offer has provided much-needed revenues to finance even greater experiences.
The extra revenues have encouraged entrepreneurs to make big investments in theatres, museums, restaurants, shops etc. It is a virtuous circle where the more that is spent by the visitors in the city, leads to more investment in these experiences, which in turn leads to more tourists coming. So, this trend that has started will actually grow further.
Editor’s Note: This op-ed was originally published on Linkedin by Sonu Shivdasani. Sonu is the founder and CEO of Soneva, which owns luxury resorts Soneva Fushi and Soneva Jani in the Maldives, and Soneva Kiri in Thailand.