THE TOURIST’S NEWEST PROFILE
2022 HAS BEEN A CASE STUDY TO DELVE INTO HOW MUCH THE PANDEMIC CHANGED THE KIND OF TRAVELER THAT HAD BEEN VISITING OUR DESTINATIONS OVER THE PAST TWO YEARS
BY: YRM PHOTOS: EXCELENCIAS ARCHIVES
At last, after two seemingly endless years, the world has discovered the path to the new post-pandemic normal. COVID-19 remains, but the high vaccination rates in many countries and the diversity of vaccines and treatments available to downplay the effects of the disease have restored hope to the global citizenry. In mid-september, the World Health Organization confirmed what was already suspected: "the end of the pandemic is in sight", although it remains "a global emergency in most countries". In the first week of that month, some 11,000 deaths had been recorded worldwide due to the disease, the lowest figure since March 2020. In tourism, the new year marked the take-off of the restart of the sector and the world's main pollsters began their studies to decipher the new tourist profile after the previous restrictions and isolation. IMF Business School explained that, so far, we had several types of tourists: deluxe, gastronomic (foodie), attentive to the cheapest offers (low cost), single, volunteer, adventurous, women only, zen, eco-friendly, adults only and fabs (over 50s). They are also more independent travelers, no longer travel in groups and choose their own destinations, hotels and flights. The World Tourism Organization has described them, based on their behavior, as technology-dependent tourists, who aspire to personalized experiences, are more aware of their ecological impact, want innovative destinations, and tend to be more sophisticated. But how much could the pandemic have changed them - did the immobility, the distance from family and friends, the strict quarantines, the losses... impact the way we aspire to enjoy leisure time while traveling? The travel industry wasted no time and began to study the new trends. Here are some samples of what has been found. REBOLD: DOMESTIC, SHORT-HAUL AND BEACH TRIPS The data-driven marketing and communication company, Rebold, in its study inside Spain detected as the most important conclusions that the domestic traveler is between 35 - 54 years old, has a medium-high socioeconomic level and family nuclei with children who plan to go on vacation within their country of residence; while the international traveler is between 25 - 54 years old, has a high socioeconomic level and their families with children plan vacations in other parts of the world. Both consume mainly digital media, for an average of 2.5 hours a day, through cell phones connected to the internet (98%). The web remains the preferred space for booking, a process in which timescales have shortened. Rebold points to the emergence of trends such as immersive experiences, outdoor microadventures, or a greater weight on children deciding where to spend their vacations. In addition, safety as a selection criterion has overtaken economic investment; international travel is being replaced by domestic travel and they prefer short, beach-based vacations. BOOKING: NO WORK ON VACATIONS The results of the Booking survey, published by Hosteltur, indicate that 66% of Argentine travelers do not wish to work while on vacation, which at some point was a trend known as "workations" due to the expansion of teleworking with the pandemic. Other results show that 63% are willing to accept the unpredictability of the context in order to travel again (up from 42% in 2020), 73% are willing to say yes to any travel opportunity if their funds allow it, 62% don't care about the destination if they find the "type of trip they are looking for" and 69% are more open than before the pandemic to other modes of travel. They are concerned about the predictability and flexibility of reservations, so that they have the lowest possible financial risk. OBS BUSINESS SCHOOL: UNPOPULATED SITES ON THE RISE The first 100% online business school in Spain, OBS Business School, also published the results of its study "OBS Report: Tourism in Latin America, an analysis after the pandemic". Regarding the Latin American context, OBS points out that at the end of the pandemic, the inclination towards the European route intensified: cities such as London and Paris, Barcelona and Madrid; the latter, of course, due to the "regular flights with most Latin American and Caribbean countries, family ties with travelers and multiple air connections with the rest of Europe". He adds that "unpopulated sites, those that combine the experience of the natural and the cultural, but that from the glamorous or rustic avoid mass contact" will continue to rise in price. He considers that the region should take more advantage of the jungles, the punas, the pampas, as well as the deserts and their plains. IDITUR-OSTELEA: LIVE LIKE A LOCAL At the end of 2021, the IDITUR-OSTELEA research center pointed out that, after the pandemic, the option "live like a local" (contact with the local) could become more prominent. It analyzes the Peer to Peer phenomenon (contact with individuals through specialized websites in order to agree on a price for a given service) and the potential of family tourism, business and events tourism (MICE), urban and rural tourism through short breaks, and health tourism, along with other more traditional categories in the sector. AMADEUS: THE TRIP OF A LIFETIME On the blog of Amadeus, the large provider of technology solutions for the travel industry, its vice president Daniel Batchelor published six trends that would revitalize the travel space in 2022. Chief among them is "Savoring the now," as never before has the old adage of "the trip of a lifetime" come so close to becoming a reality. The company observed in its monitoring a significant increase in searches for travel to epic destinations or experiences. A second trend is “friendcations”, exemplified by the United Kingdom, where there was an explosion in bookings for large groups. In third place, they place active ecotourism, followed by business travel as their data supports that 72% of business travelers were looking forward to travel in 2022. In fifth place, they position Wanderlust Streaming, or what for them is travel to unexpected places or destinations related to well-known series and movies. They argue that "almost half of tourists spend more time looking for a vacation than the length of the trip itself," something that technology could do for them through the use of "smart speakers, AI, sensory perception and biometric technology," with travel companies having the opportunity to anticipate consumer aspirations. Sixth place goes to the trend of futuristic and fast, with "more time to explore the world," which is why travel companies are innovating: Virgin Hyperloop sent two people down a 500-meter track in 15 seconds, reaching 172 km per hour; while United Airlines announced its intention to buy 15 new supersonic planes.