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Consumer Travel Trends to Watch in 2021

Cautious optimism are the watch words for the year ahead

The future in travel this year is looking like it will be about bubbles, isolation, cocooning and climate change, according to a report by global marketing and communications firm Wunderman Thompson.

The agency has published “The Future 100,” an annual report that identifies trends in consumer behavior and innovation. For 2021, the report says “cautious optimism sets the pace for 2021 as the world…enters a hopeful year of economic rebound and societal healing.”

2021 travel and hospitality trends the report highlights include:

Carbon-free aviation –Major players from the aviation and energy sectors are recognizing the environmental cost of fossil fuel, investing in sustainable fuels, electric flight and hydrogen-powered technology. The cost of the climate damage caused by aviation’s emissions was estimated at $100 billion for 2018 alone.

Hospitality redesigned – Cocooning, self-contained pods, venues that make the most of outside spaces, and expansive yet welcoming shared public areas are among the features that could characterize hotel and hospitality design in the COVID-19 era.

Subscribed stays – Travel subscriptions are a way for both hotels and residences to attract remote workers who want to explore and stay in destinations for long periods, now that they’re not tethered to an office. Post-pandemic, one-fifth of the US workforce could be entirely remote.

Informed journeys – Transportation apps have long been a staple on smartphones, and now they are going beyond simply giving directions. Using newly added functionality, apps are advising people on how to make the smartest choices for physical and planetary health.

Member-based services – From hotels, to airlines to resorts, luxury travel is embracing the membership mode with its growing popularity with clients who seek elite, private travel solutions.

Multigenerational travel – As households have reduced their social circles due to COVID-19, a multigenerational vacation with children and grandparents has become a viable, less risky option. As a result, private vacation home rentals for large groups are rebounding.

Incentivized travel – From country loyalty programs, countries paying its residents to staycation, subsidized travel perks to free pandemic insurance coverage, the travel industry is reinvigorating tourism with new initiatives aimed at both domestic and international travelers.

Subterranean resorts – Architects are designing hotels that blend into the landscape, often with most accommodation underground, offering guests the chance to enjoy beautiful and unspoiled natural surroundings to protect and preserve the environment.

Travel bubbles – Travelers are looking local as the tourism industry constricts. While various countries have opened ‘travel corridors’ to admit travelers from neighboring countries, travelers are rediscovering destinations in their own backyards in place of exotic trips to far-flung locales.

Isolationist travel – For 2021, think remote destinations, private lands, and no other tourists in sight. Travel hotspots will be more about spacious immersions in the great outdoors, nature, adventure and solitude for those who desire a mindful, truly socially distant escape.

To see the full report, click here.