If we’ve learned anything from the Scouts, it’s to Be Prepared – and that’s the approach Australians should take into planning any kind of travel: Be Prepared. (For Literally Anything). The only constant right now is that travel plans, restrictions and regulations are constantly changing.
Because just as the travel situation looked to be improving as we stormed toward our state vaccination targets, the 15th letter of the Greek Alphabet and a new COVID-19 variant, Omicron, gatecrashed our ‘See ya later, 2021’ party.
However, as we wait for more data to be revealed on Omicron, international borders are open, and restrictions have eased for most interstate travel. We’re tentatively looking to explore further than our own four walls for the first time in a long time. So, while one prediction for the year ahead is that travel in Australia will remain unpredictable, here are some of the emerging trends we are seeing develop as we gallop towards the end of the year.
Having spent almost a year at home, we are chomping at the bit to curate that Spotify playlist and get on the Road to Nowhere. Thus, regional areas are predicted to see a big surge in visitors, especially by families throughout the summer months as people leave the city in droves.
Vast, wide-open spaces and fresh air particularly in rural and regional areas will be highly sought after by tourists who’ve spent much of 2021 within a 5km radius of their own abode. They’ll have itchy feet and even a surplus of cash with travel reduced throughout 2021.
To take advantage of this newfound freedom, travel brands should be looking to provide aspirational content to travellers with wanderlust to convince them of where to spend their money. You want to show people what they’ll be missing if they don’t get out of their dreams, and into their cars.
Research conducted by Skyscanner at the end of 2021 found that 44 per cent of Australians were interested in travelling internationally in the next 12 months, while at the same time, the flight service reported a 128 per cent month-on-month increase in searches for flights from December to February 2022.
However, this new COVID-19 variant is making us jittery and it’s likely that people will remain wary of visiting countries suffering from spikes in cases – a fourth wave is currently sweeping the northern hemisphere. So, it’s fair to say our enthusiasm for departing our fair shores is also mixed with a slight hesitancy.
Expect plenty of travel to be directed to countries that are considered safe, or who are operating as close to normal (within our pandemic-adjusted expectations of normal) as possible. Travellers will likely choose airlines and accommodation with flexible cancellation policies so they can book with confidence that they’re not pouring money down the drain, so ensure that your offers keep customers front of mind.
If there’s one thing people have adapted to over the last couple of years, it’s that a laptop and a WiFi connection means you can work almost anywhere, and by all accounts, the hybrid work model is here to stay.
Devices are now so well equipped with conferencing and productivity software that renting a seaside house or visiting the mountains doesn’t cramp their work style or output. They won’t need to pull up the palm tree stock footage to be their aspirational background whilst on work calls, they’ll be coming in live and direct from a sandy oasis!
As we look toward 2022, it wouldn’t be a surprise to see a rise in the number of people who are working while they’re on holiday, but not because they have too much work to do. Rather, thanks to being able to work from anywhere, people will be able to choose a location that suits their lifestyle, not their work needs.
Reaching customers with an offering that spruiks the joys of a long-term holiday that provides a change of pace will dangle the temptation of a better way of life and a break from familiar surrounds, even when working.
How many of us are guilty of saving our annual leave for a rainy day? Or being so busy at work that we think we’ll get to our vacation when it eventually quietens down? Well, we’re still as busy as ever, but we understand the importance of avoiding burnout and embracing the present, knowing that things may change at any moment.
Australians will be looking to tick things off their bucket lists in terms of travel and experiences - perhaps a family trip to Disney Land, or a spiritual trip in Australia to somewhere meaningful such as Uluru. The last couple of years have reinforced to us the importance of living in the moment and spending time doing things that make us happy with the people we love.
Now’s the time to focus on reinforcing to people the value of experiences, and that it’s the special moments that leave a lasting impression long after the suitcase has been unpacked.
Therefore, in the year ahead expect Australians to splurge a little more than usual on memories to last a lifetime. Because there’s no time like the present, and life is too short.
Having spent a long winter staring wistfully out our windows, unable to really leave our homes let alone travel abroad, it’s no surprise Australians are aching for new adventures.
Travel brands keen to offer Australian’s the chance to get away from it all will need to be aware of the constantly shifting landscape. Flexibility will be the buzzword for travel providers and traveller’s next year, as we collectively make our way to the end of the COVID-19 pandemic.