During this unprecedented time of self isolation and solitary, static lifestyles, we are seeing an incredibly powerful paradigm shift in the way we have had to behave, interact and think as human beings. Human agility has been at its highest, adapting to temporarily reduced lifestyles that feel somewhat 'smaller,' and we have had to find new ways to enrich and nourish ourselves to motivate us to carry on with daily routines in restricted circumstances.
This combination of a dramatic, unexpected and sudden shift in collective consumer consciousness, inevitably leads to evolution, as we change our game and open up to new possibilities and ways of living and conducting business.
Imagination as part of this process is important - consumers are being pushed far beyond their comfort zones by their current housebound realities, and it takes a leap of faith and imagination to move us forward to each new iteration of this 'new normal.'
So what does this 'new normal' look like, and what does it mean for the travel industry?
Travel companies that would once have activating stunts in their core markets, hosting media at Chef's tables in destination, or running in person training sessions with industry have had to adapt to carry out the same work at a remote, virtual level. It has been incredible to see the connected power of virtual conversations, with tech coming into its own as our continued facilitator and enabler, and companies showing innovation and flair in how they inspire B2B and B2C audiences in new ways.
From movie locations around the world to travel to from your armchair, to upskilling and learning new languages, to virtual cocktail making classes, salsa lessons and art tours, these opportunities to experience elements of travel remotely all feed into a dreaming and inspiration phase which is an essential part of the consumer journey on the path to booking. It's important to be at the table, live in the market during this period in order to be at the forefront of consumers' minds and on the shopping list for future demand.
As one of the UK's national travel journalists, Chris Haslam from The Sunday Times, said ‘We travel 4 weeks out of the year and dream about travel the other 48.’ This is important, as the reality of inspiration and bookings lasts far longer than the physical trips themselves. Consumers have vast appetites currently to consume media, and trade alike are undertaking more training and education sessions than ever before, with the time to invest in self learning, resulting in top level educated sales staff then coming back onto the frontline ready to sell once bookings resume thick and fast.
As consumers will inevitably soon move from the pure inspiration to the bookings phase, travel companies and providers need to be live in the market, ready with tactical, value added offers and solutions. Those that are ready to adapt nimbly to a new type of consumer will be tomorrow's winners.
We will evolve as humans through this experience, building on inner reserves of energy and wells of positivity that we didn't think were previously possible. The exciting thing for our industry is that travel ultimately connects us. It connects cultures, individuals and communities, so through the very fabric of our industry and what it stands for, we will come through this together with travel as a leading light at the end of the tunnel.