After Boris Johnson’s announcement that hotels can open from 4 July, booking a holiday seems to be all anyone is talking about. We’ve consulted experts at Airbnb to explore what travel will look like post-lockdown.
Covid-19 has not only stopped us from going away this summer, but has changed the face of the travel industry for the foreseeable future. From the financial impact of closing hotels to the huge reduction in flights, it will be a long time until we’re travelling again the way we’ve been used to.
After nearly four months of restrictions that have seen most us cooped up inside, going on holiday and seeing something new is what we’re all craving. Google search spikes around staycations and holidays show that Britons are keen to take a summer break, but because we don’t know how long the effects of the virus will last, it can be hard to predict what our future holidays will look like.
Now that Boris Johnson has announced that hotels, bed and breakfasts and campsites can open from 4 July, though, we can dare to hope that the UK’s travel industry will start to be revitalised. Which begs the question even more keenly – what will travel trends be post lockdown?
You’ll know Airbnb as one of the most influential travel brands in the world, having single handedly re-shaped the way we immerse ourselves and stay in new destinations. We spoke to Catherine Powell, the head of Airbnb’s experiences, about the three big changes we can expect to see post-lockdown.
Virtual experiences will continue to be popular
As lockdown has raged on, we’ve seen millions of people turning to online versions of their favourite past times to recreate their usual fun. Virtual pub quizzes, film clubs and escape rooms have all been hugely popular, which is something Airbnb has replicated in its experiences sector by turning it digital.
Although last year you would have been able to cook pasta with an Italian Nonna in her kitchen in Rome or wander the streets of Amsterdam with your own feminist historian guide, many of these experiences are now available online and Powell says there’s been an encouraging interest which she thinks will continue.
“Travelling abroad is going to be very slow to come back, which will mean virtual experiences will continue to be popular,” says Powell.
“We’ve seen through the popularity of our online Airbnb experiences that people are keen to see things on the other side of the world from their living rooms. You may not be able to go to Italy, but you can learn how to cook Italian pasta online. You can learn about sake in Japan, or K-Pop in Korea, all through a screen. It’s about getting a taste of these experiences that you may not be able to have for a long time.”
Powell says that this will extend to getting involved in celebrations online that we would usually hope to take to the street to experience. For example, Airbnb will be celebrating the Olympics and supporting athletes by running online experiences with them in which customers can speak to Olympians, hear their stories, see their medals and even do an at home workout.
Similarly, is supporting Pride celebrations by setting up experiences with key voices in the LGBTQ+ community for those who won’t be attending in-person parades.
Consumers will have three main priorities
When planning a trip in the future, Powell predicts there will be three main tick boxes that holiday makers will be focused on for both accommodation and overall experience. These are; locality, affordability and cleanliness.
“These will be the requirements for users going forward,” Powell explains. “I don’t think there will be a desire in our customers to travel too far. When our travelling options start to broaden I think it will be about staying local, being affordable and that guests can feel sure that it will be clean.”
Re-discovering and making the most of what’s on your doorstep
A key part of future travel will be finding new ways to explore your local area. We don’t know if a second wave will ensue, which would stop us from travelling around the country. Plus, as we’re yet to experience staycations in a pandemic, many people may want to stay close to home.
Powell thinks that getting creative with what is around you will be the biggest travel trend for the rest of 2020 and 2021.
“I think international travel will be much slower to return and that staycations and rediscovering what’s nearby, stays and experiences, will be incredibly popular,” she says.
“For example, I live in LA, USA, and I’m very lucky to live in the Santa Monica mountains. I hike them all the time but I thought it would be interesting to do a local experience with someone from here, and this amazing host had so much knowledge about the flora and fauna specific to this area. It opened my eyes to having this totally different experience right on my doorstep,” Powell explains.
“Another one of my favourite experiences is the LA speakeasy bar guide, which if you talk to people in LA who have lived there for years they don’t even know about any of these places. So in the UK we’ve got these unique, rural homes and destinations to explore that many people didn’t realise was just under their noses before. It will be discovering what’s nearby and on your doorstep for the future of travel.”