We’ve seen how COVID-19 triggered the rise in domestic road trips, motivated people to opt for vacation rentals in remote locations, and renewed reliance on travel agents and advisors. Are there other habits travelers will adopt when it comes to the future of travel after the pandemic? Will they be short-term or long-lasting changes?
[Related Reading: The Next Big Thing in Travel Safety]
We asked our Safe Travel Partners and Global Rescue’s travel specialists — people who have kept their finger on the pulse of pandemic travel — to weigh in with their expert projections, professional insights, and data-driven theories.
Travelers Vetting Tour Operators More Than Ever“From the outfitter side, I can already see that travelers are putting more emphasis on communication with an operator prior to booking — they are really doing their research, asking questions and getting the full picture in regards to safety measures in place, what the experience is going to be like and more.
“What used to take three-to-four back-and-forth emails to book a client on one of our charters is now more like five to six. When a potential client calls to learn about us, sometimes those calls last 20 to 40 minutes. Travelers really want to know they can trust who they are booking with, and I don’t see that going away once the pandemic ends. We’re already a high-touch company, but it will be important that other operators meet client expectations around increased communications.”
—Rick Lee, captain of Bonefish Hawaii and Fish Christmas Island who has been guiding fly-fishermen in the world’s top destinations for more than 30 years
Bleisure Becoming Bigger Than Ever
“Bleisure [a travel trend that refers to business travelers tacking leisure days onto a work-related trip] was popular prior to the pandemic. But now, as travel returns, I see it coming back even stronger as a major boon to the employer and employee.
“From the company side of things, it’s a way to incentivize and get your top employees back on the road and in the air again when permitted to add in some personal time; for the employee, it’s an opportunity to make up for some long-overdue leisure travel. It’s a win-win.”
—Stephanie Diamond, Global Rescue’s VP of Human Capital Manager and veteran international human resources expert
No More Excuses Putting Off Epic Trips
“After the unfortunate events of the last year-and-a-half grounded travel, I foresee more people finally ditching the excuses and making those big, experiential trips — the ones they’ve talked about for years — actually happen. I think the usual crutches, like that they’re too busy with work or kids or life, will subside — and they should, because there will never be a day where you have all your ducks in a row.
“As for the types of trips being taken, I don’t mean ‘big’ as in distance from home, but trips where they experience something epic, like summiting a major mountain or accomplishing or trying something they never thought possible. The pandemic showed us that life is very precious; now is the time to do these things.”
—Allison Fleece, co-founder of WHOA Travel and a Global Rescue Safe Travel Partner
Disease Detection Tech Continuing to Flourish in Travel“We’ll likely see devices to detect disease spring up in high-volume transportation areas the same way we saw backscatter X-ray and similar devices become commonplace following the 9/11 attacks in the U.S. The faster disease detection capabilities are deployed at strategic international terminals without impeding travel, the better.
“By leveraging emerging technologies and acting strategically, and collaboratively, we can make the future of business travel less speculative and more certain. Doing so would also stop the next pandemic.”
—Dan Richards, CEO of Global Rescue
Off-the-Grid Vacations for Digital Detox
“When leisure travel first started to rebound, there was a spike in people opting for vacations in remote and off-the-grid destinations because they were naturally conducive to social distancing.
“Now, even as vaccinations increase and there’s less need for distancing measures, I think off-the-grid travel will still be as popular — just, this time, it’s more for the lack of internet and cell service. I think people are looking for digital detoxes after being so tied to our devices, computer screens, and streaming services during the pandemic. Remote getaways force a digital disconnection.”
—Jeff Weinstein, a Global Rescue medical operations supervisor, paramedic, and wilderness safety expert
Whatever Trends Evolve, Travel Protection Services Are a MustIf there’s anything we’ve learned in the last year and a half is that the world is unpredictable. As a result, people are trying harder to plan appropriately — or “expect the unexpected.”
One of the best ways to do so when it comes to travel is with a Global Rescue travel risk and crisis management membership. Because emergency incidents do occur even in the most innocent and seemingly safe situations, whether a bicycle accident in a front yard residence abroad or a simple slip on a boat trip to a sudden collapsed lung while on a cruise.
When they do, Global Rescue — with its comprehensive list of services, including field rescue and medical evacuation, medical case management, and 24/7/365 travel advisory services — is there for its members.