Getting back in the travel groove for 2022

January 04, 2022 | 10:27
The past two years have been unprecedented for the majority of the world. Michael Piro, COO of Indochina Capital and CEO of Wink Hotels, forecasts hospitality trends for 2022.
Getting back in the travel groove for 2022
Getting back in the travel groove for 2022

Among the hardest-hit economic sectors, the tourism and hospitality industries are likely to face one of the most difficult recoveries. In 2020, international tourism came to a complete standstill; and while 2021 saw some improvements, particularly for local tourism, Vietnam still faced the realities of the pandemic and most of the country was plunged into lockdown during the summer months.

In an era of behaviour-shifting challenges, it is hard to predict how 2022 will shape up; however, new tourism trends have emerged in the last two years.

After cancelled trips, postponed celebrations, and being away from friends and family, travellers are ready to spend and make up for lost time.

A recent Expedia survey shows 40 per cent of US travellers are more willing to treat themselves and spend money on their next trip, from indulging in luxurious experiences (15 per cent) to upgrading on rooms or flights (16 per cent) and splurging at high-end restaurants.

During the pandemic, luxury resorts and hotels across Vietnam were offering highly attractive packages to local travellers and were met with very good results, especially during national holidays when many five-star properties were operating under full occupancy.

Many five-star accommodations in tourist cities such as Sapa, Quang Ninh, Dalat, and Phu Quoc were reportedly fully booked for the end of year holiday season.

With lockdowns all over the world at the start of the pandemic, air pollution was down by a considerable amount. Travellers are more likely to look for more eco-conscious experiences and spare extra thoughts on the impact their travels have on local communities.

Getting back in the travel groove for 2022

According to a 2021 booking.com survey, nearly all Vietnamese tourists want to stay in eco-friendly accommodations at least once and 82 per cent of Vietnamese respondents agree that it is important that their trip is beneficial to the local community at their destination.

Thus, sustainable construction, eco-conscious operation processes, and support to local communities are elements developers and hoteliers should try to include in their upcoming hospitality projects.

Data from Wink Hotels and online booking agencies show that booking windows have been considerably shortened to 1-2 days in Vietnam over the past two years. With integrated applications as well as hoteliers launching their own applications and booking platforms, travellers have become familiar with instant book-and-go offers, which include transport, accommodation, food and beverages (F&B), and entertainment options.

They have also become more open to last-minute travel decisions as many travellers took every opportunity they could to leave their homes between social distancing periods. Embracing the unpredictable, hoteliers, travel agencies, and F&B and transport suppliers should work together to provide guests with integrated, highly flexible but also customisable travel plans so people can reclaim their travel groove.

Getting back in the travel groove for 2022

Over the last two years, we have seen a wave of hotels incorporating new technologies such as self-check-in, mobile check-in, mobile keys, etc. to their guest experience, and technology in hotels is expected to grow as today’s travellers are increasingly young and tech-savvy.

Improved in-room charging capabilities will presumably be at the top of demanded new hotel features to watch for in 2022. According to a 2021 DataReportal report, the percentage of smartphone internet users aged 16-64 in Vietnam is nearing 100 per cent. An Openkey survey also stated that 88 per cent of respondents “expect device charging ports” in their hotel rooms, and hotels that fail to embrace smartphones and tablets could quickly see negative reviews from travellers.

Connectivity is another key criteria in the guest experience: slow or no in-room Wi-Fi will no longer sit with today’s travellers, who will expect 4G and even 5G speeds to be deployed in their hotels.

Mobile-friendliness is another trend hoteliers should consider, which can be incorporated via the design of touchpoints in the customer journey with mobile technology in mind. A hotel’s website and booking system need to be mobile-friendly, and booking by voice as well as other features should be studied to enhance how customers interact with a hotel’s website or social interface. A good hotel app should also include functions such as check-in, mobile key, room service ordering, facilities booking, transport options, chat with guest service, and even invoice request or TV remote controls, among many others.

Savouring locale immersion, seeking new sensations, and exploring never-been-before places will be in the minds of 2022 travellers.

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