Most of us can’t remember a time quite like it, and those who can have to reach back to darker days, more than seventy years ago: in June 1948, thirty-five passengers clambered on board Air India’s first international flight from Mumbai to London, stopping off in Cairo and Geneva along the way, and landing two days later. It lived up to its publicity, “Time to Spare…Go by Air” (the selling point at the time), and flights were sold almost exclusively to the privileged few: virtually everyone flew first class, and even a “bargain fare” cost $3,600 in today’s money, which meant almost nobody flew at all. They stayed at home, made their own fun, and those who ventured out at all rarely strayed far from friends and family: locked down with their loved ones.
Sounds familiar, doesn’t it?
Over the past two years of living with COVID imposed lockdown restrictions, international and domestic travel ground to a halt for months on end, and Asian markets experienced a startling fall of 94 percent on pre-pandemic travel numbers. Most destinations were closed for non-essential travel. So history was repeating itself in shades of grey and beige: we stayed at home, made our own fun, never straying far from friends and family…and, for all the joys of watching teenage children playing with their iPhones, life was never so dull.
Back into the Light
Happily that’s all changing now, as restrictions are progressively eased and we all benefit from the unprecedented success of vaccine programmes, 2022 is set to be even busier for travellers than the heady days of 2019: a time when COVID was just another acronym, and the world was still spangled with all the bright colours of the rainbow.
We’re moving back into the light…
Brandon Berkson, founder of New York based Hotels Above Par(www.hotelsabovepar.com), predicts that the instinctive desire to travel this year will be greater than ever before, because “people want to make up for lost time” …and he couldn’t be more right. Then there’s Ben Drew, President of Trip Advisor owned Viator (www.viator.com), who expects this year’s demand trajectory in the hospitality sector to be, in a word,” extraordinary” … and he’s right too.
Locked and Ready
The sector is also locked and ready to welcome travellers back, particularly through the deployment of new technologies, which have been developing at breakneck speed while we were all locked away: AI and Machine Technologiesare ready to customise room service delivery to the most exacting standards now demanded by hotel guests, elevators are going touchless to enhance personal safety levels, and you’ll be able to check in and check out digitally, without having to wait around with your bags for half an hour in the lobby. In short, as the world gets brighter, the guest experience will get brighter too.
And talking of the world, that spangled planet we’ve seen so little of for too long, will also see travellers embracing issues of sustainability and climate protection like never before. When it comes to just where and how we’ll travel in 2022, eco engagement is still top of most of our agendas: just as it was back in 2019, before the pandemic locked us down.
In a recent survey 61% of travellers responded by saying they’re more receptive than ever to taking a different type of vacation: one that helps meet the pressing challenges faced by our precious planet.
Ever since it was founded, more than a decade ago, Eco Hotels(www.ecohotelsglobal.com), has also been alert to that crucial demographic shift: consistently placing sustainability front and centre of its business model: nurturing energy efficiency and sustainable waste management from the ground up, sourcing supplies locally to support local communities, and managing operations with a clarity of vision that’s capable of supporting a circular economy.
Things will certainly be different when the world opens up again… we’re ready to step back into the light