Rebuilding tours & activities back better: ITB Berlin NOW day one
Manuel Hilty, CEO and Co-Founder of Nezasa, opened a keynote titled The Rise of Multi-Day Tours by outlining three of the current consumer trends within the tours sector: experience, personalisation and all-in-one. He went on to explain how customers value experiences over material items, seek out possibilities to personalise their activities and favour a single app or website to co-ordinate the planning of their travel experience.
Manuel was joined in a subsequent panel discussion by Travis Pittman, CEO and Co-Founder of TourRadar and Brian Young, Managing Director of G Adventures. The panel, moderated by Charlotte Lamp Davies, Founder of A Bright Approach, discussed predictions for the future of tours and the changes in consumer behaviour brought about by the pandemic.
(L-R) Charlotte Lamp Davies, Founder of A Bright Approach, Travis Pittman, CEO and Co-Founder of TourRadar, Brian Young, Managing Director of G Adventures and Manuel Hilty, CEO and Co-Founder of Nezasa.
Growth in multi-day tours
Factors such as constantly changing travel restrictions or health requirements mean that travellers will go on less trips but spend more time in a single destination. This will give rise to an increase in popularity of multi-day tours, as people look for unique experiences and once-in-a-lifetime activities.
More personalisation, more automation
Consumers now expect their bookings to include a higher degree of flexibility and the option of adapting their travel plans if need be. “Operators have had to realise that customers want to be able to make changes,” said Travis. “Flexibility for free means that bookings go up.”
As concerns regarding health and safety are likely to linger, personalised or private experiences will also not be going anywhere. Experiences such as the ‘Book your Bubble’ tours launched by G Adventures allow families or small groups to reconnect and explore something new together, without having to worry about being in a large crowd.
Multi-day tours will become more modular and tailored to respond to the individual demands of the traveller, meaning that technology will be key in making operations efficient both for operators and customers. “People love planning travel,” said Manuel. “Tech should take away the parts that travellers don’t enjoy.”
Douglas Quinby, Co-founder and CEO at Arival, reiterated the use of tech in the future of the tours sector in a keynote later on in the day: “The tours, activities and attractions sector trailed the rest of the travel industry in terms of using technology for booking experiences online. We’re seeing an acceleration as it catches up, as capacity has to be managed and thus reservations are made online.”
Traveller behaviour: what to expect
After an isolating year, the pandemic has shone a light on what people value the most: connection and getting back into nature. Re-connecting with friends and family and being outdoors have never felt so important and this is reflected in consumer searches. “We’ve seen an increase in bucket list type tours,” said Brian. “Hiking and active tours have been high on the search agenda.”
Sustainability and making a positive impact on communities will be part of travellers’ non-negotiables. Over the last year with flights grounded and tourist hotspots deserted, we saw how nature thrived. Travis highlighted how tour operators must make it easier for customers to understand which experiences contribute to the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) or have a positive social and economic impact on local communities so an informed choice can be made.
If there is one positive to take from the pandemic, it is the opportunity to build back the industry in a more positive and conscious way.
To read more about the recovery of the youth travel industry, take a look at the latest article from WYSE Travel Confederation’s Business Travel Impact Series.
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