Who is the post-COVID traveller?

Travellers of the past are not those of the future. To have a successful tourism business in 2022, we must understand and pre-empt their ever-changing needs within a COVID-19 world.

It may be 2022, but it’s still a COVID-19 world where we’re continuing to adjust to new ways of living and travelling. As operators and suppliers, the needs and desires of travellers we’re catering to will be a lot different to pre-COVID times. In fact, it’s even going to be somewhat different to what they needed last year.

While there is consensus that safety will remain a top priority, overall, travellers in 2022 are going to follow diverging behaviour patterns, making decisions based on current and emerging factors.

There is a lot to look forward to as we look ahead. If you’re ready to get acquainted with COVID-world travellers, Team Wetu recently unpacked the phenomenon to provide insights into how you can best attract and serve them.

Understanding the post-COVID traveller

The truth is tourism will not have a quick and complete recovery over the next 12 months. However, the good news is that the appetite for travel is there. Albeit cautious, local and international travellers who have remained grounded for so long are now ready to get out and explore the world once again.

What’s most important to understand about COVID travellers is their mindset. After being grounded for so long, they have taken on a new appreciation for travel, but with new expectations. Right now, they want:

  • to use companies that align with their personal values
  • to have updated information and feel well prepared
  • to feel cared for and safe throughout their travels
  • to travel with purpose while doing so responsibly
  • to actively engage in the world (and the future) rather than feeling stuck in the present

From our research on recovery travel trends in 2022, here’s what we’ve pinpointed as being valuable to the decision-making processes of COVID-world travellers:

Health and safety protocols

The simplification and relaxation of requirements for vaccinated travellers has helped people feel more positive about travel. That said, COVID-19 is still here and continues to present itself as a challenge to our health, which still makes some people fearful. Human lives are still a major focus, and companies cannot disregard health and safety protocols going forward.

Value-add affordable pricing

Everyone has suffered financially during COVID-19, and we need to be aware of overpricing this year. Increasing prices without providing real value will push people away rather than attract them. There are also multiple factors expected to cause a substantial increase in air travel costs, including:

  • compliance with climate-change regulations
  • variations in vaccine passports
  • rising fuel prices and staff wages

Home and heart

Since the start of the pandemic, we’ve all missed important family milestones and special moments with close friends and partners. After being separated from loved ones for so long, one of the primary motivators for pandemic travellers will be home and heart — to re-connect with those they love once again, and have meaningful experiences rather than simply just going on holiday.

Looking ahead, what’s important to note is that the emotional investment of travel now will far outweigh the financial investment, because travelling again means people can live again.

Cultural immersion and connectedness

Pandemic travellers will want to immerse themselves in a new destination or culture. In a recent survey commissioned by Google, 86% of US travellers will actively seek out travel information and experiences specific to their cultural and ethnic backgrounds. They want to visit lesser-known destinations and try food they’ve never eaten before. They also want to learn and celebrate the world we live in, along with the ability to connect with other people once again.

Sustainability and responsible travel

We need to recognise that COVID-19 has accelerated a greater consciousness towards how we consume, and the behaviour of travellers has become more responsible. ‘Solo’, ‘sustainable’, ‘ethical’, and ‘wellness’ will become even bigger priorities for pandemic travellers who care more about waste reduction and sustainability, the protection of wildlife and local communities.

What we need to do and know

When it comes to the general sentiment around COVID in 2022, some people have remained fearful, some flippant, while others are entirely comfortable and fearless. What’s most important is that all travellers are human and should always be treated as such.

Travellers of the past are not those of the future. We all need to keep an even keel and a good ear to the ground to understand their needs, and do what we can to meet (and exceed!) their expectations.

Sharing is caring...