Twelve months ago, I was looking forward to 2020, dreaming and planning many trips.
Twelve months ago, the idea of a health retreat was focused on aspects of body image or spiritual retreats in dreamy exotic destinations – primarily across Asia, including India, Thailand, and Indonesia.
Long ago, about April 1, 2020, and as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, we reassessed our priorities and lifestyle.
Checking in with travel sentiment
Emotional fatigue and the desire to reconnect with our inner spirit and the people important to us are the key decision-making drivers to travel and push away our 2020 exhaustion.
When asked, “who feels cabin fever?” (i.e., irritability and restlessness from living in isolation or a confined area for a prolonged time), generational results indicated Gen X 38.2% followed by millennials 37.7% and significantly less were boomers 24.4%. (Destination Analysts report 020921)
More interestingly, Destination Analysts posed the question on a weekly basis starting January 2020, “On these leisure trips, in which of the following are you expecting to stay overnight?” and the responses indicated an increased interest in staying at a luxury property of 5 stars or more while 3–4-star hotels and private homes had declining levels of interest.
This data, combined with increasing lifestyle priorities focused on wellbeing, health and readiness to travel are vital for luxury properties looking for future bookings.
Wellbeing trends surface
We evaluated important trends collected from the Global Wellness Summit’s report around the new drivers for wellness and travel.
Wellness and self care will play a key role in upcoming bookings. However, the change of wellness’ core offerings is evolving from beauty towards wellbeing and taking care of our immune system. It is shifting from indoors to outdoors; from high density areas to open outdoors and overall reconnecting with family and friends.
Pre-Covid business travelers would extend their stay for leisure, rather known as bleisure (now gone for some time). Today the reality is that business travel is virtually nonexistent. However, 2021 offers a new opportunity within certain destinations, where “you can work and live” at resorts like Montserrat Island, taking advantage of their extended stay Visa programs, and turn a bleisure trip into a workation.
The 2021 GWS report also explores wellness and wellbeing trends embraced by other industries like entertainment, tv, media platforms and music. You just have to look at the increase in Spotify or Calm playlist numbers to see how attractive these platforms are to followers.
In addition, the GWS report also identifies trends that are a great opportunity for luxury properties, like shifting from immunity boosting towards immune balancing offerings, and expanding into a guests’ education concerning related well-being activities and personalized nutrition.
As we look to the future, how the space’s architectural design reflects the balance in nature, is becoming an interesting aspect to consider for future developments and existing properties.
Anxiety is fading and optimism is in the air
The immediate changes, the medium- and long-term strategies to recover bookings must be on the wellbeing of the guests and to support the community where the property is based rather than volume. The overall experience, when positive, will generate the positive digital word of mouth to bring new customers.
2021 is the year to rebuild trust with the travel and hospitality industry. Guests will seek wellness, spirit nurturing, and well-being offers.
There is also a strong need to reset and experience holistic retreats for the body and soul. This psychographic change may prove a long-term demand driver, not a near term vogue, and may impact future generations, i.e., consider the impact on our children who have been impacted by the fear of COVID-19. Over the coming decade, this generation will become our future guests.
The changes apply in types of destination. High-density areas are not and won’t be popular for months/years. Instead, the need to escape to open spaces is on the rise as part of a wellbeing goal more interested in low density types of destinations, preferably outdoors.
The necessity to reunite with loved ones after a year of separation is deeply felt.
In closing, quoting David Leventhal, founder of Regenerative Travel, who said “the new luxury for guests is based on authenticity, natural immersions, impeccable service.”
What is our call to action?
The need to satisfy our guests’ immediate Covid concerns and support their travel journey while offering a well-being experience is the luxury for 2021.