In 2022, four travel trends will have shaped the hospitality industry.
This year’s World Tourism Day (WTD) theme is ‘Rethinking Tourism,’ and it encourages the industry to re-imagine hospitality and what it means today. It takes place on September 27.
What does rethinking tourism look like in practise? “Tourism has the potential to change people’s lives in a variety of ways, but we must ensure that it does not come at the expense of people or the planet,” says Shaun Lamont, Managing Director of First Group Hotels and Resorts. “Rethinking what we do and how we do it is critical to unlocking sector growth and relevance, and we must begin by asking, what do our guests want?”
Shaun claims that nearly ten months into 2022, guests have let their actions speak for themselves, and he shares what First Group has learned:
Go local: While the wanderlust is strong, the Rand is not. Inflation and rising living costs are influencing travel decisions. According to a recent survey by consultancy group Travel Lifestyle Network, 43% of South Africans said that value for money would influence their choice of destination. While only 9% planned to travel abroad, at least a quarter of South Africans polled planned a domestic vacation. Why shouldn’t they? After all, eating locally is delicious! Real-world results back up the survey findings: First Group enjoyed full capacity at almost all of their local resorts during the peak seasons of 2022, and they anticipate a successful festive season as well.
Self-catering: Keeping with the value-for-money theme, travellers on a tight budget weigh their options. Historically, hotels may have had higher occupancy rates than self-catering, but surveys show that self-catering now has nearly double the occupancy rate of hotels. Again, First Group’s real-world experience backs this up, with self-catering accommodation almost always being the first to sell out.
Self-drive: With the recent closure of some domestic airlines and an increase in flight costs, self-drive vacations have grown in popularity. Our parking lots are fuller than ever before, and requests for airport shuttles have decreased. However, self-drive makes the journey as much a part of the holiday as the destination, and allows families to create lasting, magical memories together without having to worry about things like arrival and departure times.
Hygiene-conscious hospitality: Even though life has returned to normal, guests are still wary of germs, and clean, sanitised environments are still unavoidable. We at First Group are committed to more than just disinfection to reduce risk; we have implemented a holistic approach to ensure the health of both guests and employees.
While guest behaviour and travel trends are constantly changing, there is no doubt that we need to rethink tourism if the hospitality sector is to remain relevant, says Shaun. “As South African holidaymakers navigate the new travel norms, it is our responsibility to provide them with the peace of mind they seek as they seek to create lasting, magical memories,” Lamont concludes.
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