As travel bans slowly begin to lift, tranquil beaches and mountain escapes once so far away are finally within reach. I believe travel will re-emerge with a force in the near future.
Over the past couple months of shelter-in-place orders and self-quarantining, thousands, if not millions, of families had to cancel or postpone their spring break and graduation vacations, trips to see loved ones, weddings and global adventures. But there is a light at the end of this tunnel.
After being confined to our homes and neighborhoods for weeks and months throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, I think we are all ready to enjoy a change of scenery and—most importantly—reconnect with family and friends. When travel does re-emerge, hopefully in the very near future, there are several behavioral changes I expect to see.
Traveling for Bonding & Closeness
For most affluent individuals, travel is a major part of their lives and there will be pent-up demand for leisure travel, which we expect to recover faster than business travel. These past few months have also made many of us realize how much we took for granted our relationships and connections with family, friends, and loved ones.
Video conferencing, phone calls, texts, and emails have become our proxy to the outside world, but have also made us realize how much we miss the authenticity of real, live, personal interaction. If you are anything like me, there are only so many virtual presentations, video cocktail hours, and webinars you can do. We’ve become so reliant on these synthetic interactions through our phones and computers we find ourselves longing for an escape from technology, reverting to simpler, gentler and more wholesome escapes, such as a good book, a walk in the forest or along the beach.
I have also found myself reminiscing and reconnecting with old friends. For many of us, one of the silver linings of the last few weeks has been a newfound appreciation for those unchoreographed personal moments when we truly connect with each other. Life is fleeting and I fully expect a renaissance in our desire for personal quality time and bonding.
Deprived of in-person interactions, people will have an emotional need to spend time with those they’ve been unable to see in person for quite some time. Whether it is visiting with loved ones after being separated for so long or taking a family vacation, prepare to see an uptick in travel.
Traveling Shorter Distances
Though I believe travel will become popular again quite quickly, people may still be wary of longer trips and plane rides. Once travel begins to pick up, we will see a lot of people driving to vacation destinations closer to home and traveling more locally within the United States.
Of course, there will be a subset of the population who desire to travel further from home. Regulations permitting, these people will still travel internationally, but likely to luxury destinations they can access by shorter, direct flights to places like Mexico, the Caribbean, and locations that offer privacy and seclusion.
We are also likely to see a resurgence of private aviation for those seeking even more security and the ability to circumvent crowded airports and airplanes.
Safe Sanctuaries & Peace of Mind
This has been a trying time, and I also believe people will travel more cautiously when it is finally deemed safe to leave our homes. Even once things go “back to normal,” there will be an emotional need to travel with people and brands we know and trust. Travelers will want to be in private, secure environments where they can be guaranteed a worry-free vacation—safe sanctuaries for rest and respite.
Other factors bringing peace of mind to travelers include knowing who manages the homes they’re staying in, who else has—or how many people have—stayed there, and how well the residences are being cared for. Cleaning and sanitation standards will continue to be a high priority, touting hygiene standards will become the new wellness.
It will be some time before we are able to go back to experience bars and restaurants the same way, so I predict affluent travelers will want fully provisioned luxury vacation homes, or yachts, where they can cook for themselves and entertain family and friends. There will also be a greater demand for personalized, full-service amenities such as private chefs and personal trainers in the homes in order to avoid gyms and other high traffic environments.
Re-emergence of Curated Travel
Personalized service will re-emerge because individuals will want to guarantee the quality of their travel experience from a trusted source. We will see a resurgence of high-end travel agents, planners, and concierges who curate every trip. Even with enhanced hygiene protocols, there may be a lack of trust for owner-operated short-term rental accommodations. Travelers will want to move to safe, secure environments that offer privacy, reassurance, and peace of mind, opting for private homes and villas managed by trusted brands far from the madding crowds, rather than returning to large hotels, cruise ships, and busy resorts.
On a personal note, my sincerest hope is that when we get through all of this, we will emerge into a kinder, gentler world where people are more attentive and empathetic towards others and perform more random acts of generosity. As we have learned the greater value of community over the last few months, I hope we continue investing our time more deeply in meaningful connections with close friends and family, no matter where in the world we choose to roam.
Travel far, travel well and travel often.
About Exclusive Resorts
Exclusive Resorts is a private vacation club for discerning travelers who appreciate high-end accommodations, access to five-star resorts and amenities, unparalleled service, and financial value. We care for our Club Members like family, making travel an exciting and enduring tradition. Founded in 2002, we have endured through market and industry changes all while providing our Members and their loved ones with incredible vacation experiences. As we navigate this challenging period, reflecting on past travels is a welcomed distraction. This too shall pass. And when it does, Exclusive Resorts is ready to help you create cherished memories on incredible vacations for years to come.