After being severely hit by the Covid-19 pandemic, the travel industry globally continues to recover slowly from 2022 on. Travelers are warming up to the idea of traveling again as economies have eased travel restrictions, thus as per data cited in the new yStats.com publication, “Global Online Travel Market 2022”, it is expected that the travel industry will see a full recovery and return to the pre Covid-19 levels in the year 2025. With the travel market gradually coming back to normalcy, certain consumer trends are shaking up the travel landscape. A rise in demand for ecotourism and sustainability in tourism also had an impact on business travel, which did not show signs of recovery even with the end of the pandemic. Sustainability awareness increased among business leaders even before the pandemic started but received a push during and after the pandemic. Remote working and virtual meetings were the new normal during the lockdown and proved to be an effective and cost efficient substitute of personal meetings. Thus corporate travel policies adapted to this trend and it is expected that the demand of business travel will dip further.
Use of technology while booking travel along with seamless, contactless communication with travel agents is what travelers expect today. At the same time, consumers also increasingly appreciate receiving all information related to their trip, including on travel insurance and safety, from one source. As of 2021, most of gross travel bookings in China and other countries came via online travel agencies (OTA), as referenced in our new report, “Global Online Travel Market 2022”. As travelers continue to use online booking channels, it has also become necessary for travel agents to make their online presence. Travel agents have been proactive in creating a social media presence as well as developing contactless payment and communications tools.
Yet another trend that is disrupting the travel market is the increased use of mobile devices for searching travel related information as well as for booking travel. In 2021, travel and hospitality websites witnessed 60% of internet traffic in form of website visits coming via mobile as compared tablets and desktops. With the advent of mobile bookings, there has also been a rise in the use and development of travel apps not only for receiving the latest travel updates but also for showing vaccination or negative Covid-19 test directly via the app, especially during international travel.
Despite the rise of online bookings and bookings directly via websites, the role of travel agents post pandemic has not yet declined. When the travel industry started recovering from the aftermath of the pandemic, more and more travelers were also seen turning towards travel agents to choose and book their trips. However, the role of agents after Covid-19 is not just limited to travel advisors but they now have to an expert of the Covid-19 rules and restrictions, airline issues, booking issues and so on.
To sum up, the travel industry after the pandemic is set to see an advancement in the use of technology to simplify the travel booking process. Furthermore, the upcoming consumer trends are likely to change the nature and role of travel agents and encourage OTAs to provide solutions well suited to the needs of the consumers.