How does a five day stay at a thoroughly sanitized cabin in the woods in a neighboring state sound to you? Or a day trip to a national park or lake in a different town in the same state? These are a couple of the typical travel scenarios that you can count on being the norm once travel opens up again, say industry experts. When will this happen? That’s still up in the air- it could be as soon as fall or as late as next spring. Travelers are likely to prefer to visit domestic locations reachable by vehicle and private rental properties instead of crowded resorts and hotels.
When travel is available again, we can count on it starting with road trips that aren’t far from home. Our “new normal” in terms of travel may mean a shift to vacation rentals rather than hotels, an increase in the need for personal travel advisors and travel insurance, and driving instead of flying. It is clear at this point that tourism and travel will start slowly and stay closer to home for a while. “Tourism recovery typically begins locally,” says Elizabeth Monahan, spokeswoman for TripAdvisor.com (See CNBC.com). “Travelers tend to first venture out closer to home, and visit their local eateries, stay local for a weekend getaway or travel domestically before a robust demand for international travel returns.”
Managing director for Guesty, Omar Rabin, agreed. (See id.) Guesty is an Israeli-founded property management software that allows members with properties listed on sites such as Booking.com and Airbnb to streamline their operation processes. He says: “There will be a lot of demand for domestic travel.” and “We see a much better recovery and occupancy for drive-to destinations”. He also adds: “People say ‘we don’t know what’s going to happen with flights, but we do know that we’re going to be able to get in the car and drive for three hours and have our own place and stay there for two weeks.’” (See id.)
Many of Guesty’s vacation home owners are installing automatic locks that can only be opened through a cell phone app and many booking agents will offer no- contact food deliveries to guests. Rental periods will also be spaced out substantially, sometimes even for days, to allow for complete unit disinfection. (See id.)
The American Society of Travel Advisors states: “We’re still in that wait-and-see mode, because until the virus is under control and efficient systems are in place to restore confidence in travel, it’s simply too soon to tell when people can expect to start booking again.” (See id.)
In addition to the anticipated uptick on vacation home rentals, experts also predict that the use of travel insurance and travel advisors will evolve along with the likelihood and degree to which travel companies are flexible.
Travel insurance: Golden at InsureMyTrip.com says: “Now more people than ever are aware of travel insurance and how it could possibly help them”. “Every time we’ve had an event like this in the past, there’s been an uptick in travel insurance that sticks.”, she says. (See id.)
Flexibility: Overall, travel companies will be much less stringent when it comes to flight cancellations, accommodations, and other travel elements. The need for revenue stream for vendors is currently high, so an equally high level of flexibility will be offered. Many companies will be under pressure to recover losses from a weak Summer, so they’re making all efforts possible to encourage bookings.
Travel advisors: Richter works for ASTA, a company whose several thousand members make up 80% of all travel sold in America through the travel advisor distribution channel. According to Ms. Richter, travel advisors will faciliate travel more in the future. (See id.)
Advisors also often play a significant role in personal finance and travel. “During this crisis, folks who are concerned about their 401(k) savings and investments, they’re talking to their financial advisors, [who] are helping them reassess and make short-term and long-term adjustments to their financial portfolio,” says Richter. (See id.) Likewise, smart travelers are likely to hire travel advisors for their trips.
Overall, it’s clear that travel will be substantially different once it’s available again. If you want to travel to research your potential new home, you’ll want to keep the aforementioned information in mind. Consider also checking out our Best Places Rankings or Top Lists tools in the meantime since it may be awhile until you can conduct research in person. Times may be uncertain now, but you can fall back on the fact that travel will eventually reopen again- and there will be mechanisms in place to keep it as safe as possible when that does happen.