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It's been a year of cancelled trips and missed experiences. The New Year is around the corner and we can't wait to talk about what is on the horizon as we get to say goodbye to what has been a very difficult year for mankind. 2020 has been a year like no other and while much has been said about the adversity, positive news around the vaccine rollout has also uplifted spirits helping all see a glimmer of hope.
"The pandemic has been a shape-shifting event when it comes to consumer behaviour and preferences," Sunil Suresh, Chief Marketing Officer MakeMyTrip Group, tells IANSlife.
"Travel is on top of mind as people look at making a fresh start. Searches on our platform related to travel destinations and activities reaffirm that travel may have slowed down but travel planning has been on in full swing for travel dates as far out as fall of next year," he says.
Vipul Prakash, Chief Operating Officer, Goibibo, says: "After a year that saw travel come to a complete halt, we are witnessing how travel continues to remain an experience of utmost importance to mankind besides being a necessity. While essential travel picked soon as Unlock phases were announced, travel season since Diwali validated this further as road trips, weekend getaways and Daycations picked big on GoIbibo."
Leisure Travel recovery is being led by millennials and it is expected that the trend will continue in a more pronounced way, come 2021, he adds. "Young Indians will be seen going back to taking multiple short vacations or mini-trips once in a while in order to rejuvenate and reconnect with their friends and loved ones."
Sifting the travel search and booking data on MakeMyTrip over the last nine months, Suresh shares a few definitive trends that will shape how Indians are going to travel, come 2021.
Revenge Travel on Bucket List: Revenge is a dish best served cold and after having been left out in the cold for almost one full year - expect travellers hit the road with a vengeance. Travel is on top of mind as people look at making a fresh start. Searches on our platform related to travel destinations and activities reaffirm that travel may have slowed down but travel planning has been on in full swing for travel dates as far out as fall of next year. People are going to spend time and effort planning their excursions for future travel in 2021 relying on platforms that provide treasure trove of information and booking choices.
Rise of Slow, Immersive Travel: The one thing that this year has taught us is to slow down and somewhat appreciate an unhurried life. So be it a work-ation, staycation or a weekend getaway, travellers are gravitating towards fuller and richer immersive travel experiences that allow them to connect, explore and unwind. More and more people will prefer travel that balances their itinerary with a languid pace affording them the time to explore more while eliminating the stress of rushing around many places to tick the boxes.
More takers for premium stays & non-hotels: Safety and hygiene have emerged as the new comfort and luxury in travel. The traditional in-stay checklist has now made way for questions like - does the stay ensure adequate social distancing, is there a private kitchen, can I have an extra room for help or support staff and so on. Post-COVID, travellers are looking for more control over their stay - leading many to opt for higher category hotels, premium homestays, independent villas and non-hotels that promise comfort of a vacation while meeting additional requirements. So, if in 2019, one in every two Indian traveller was thinking of booking an alternative accommodation property (results from the survey conducted by MakeMyTrip's Consumer Insights team in October 2019), come 2021 more Indians than ever will be booking villas, homestays, vacation rentals and non-hotels for their travel.
Weekend getaways to become the new weekend goals: Urban Indians were just warming up to the idea of weekend breaks in recent years but the pandemic seems to have flipped the switch for good. More and more Indians have tasted the fun of quick getaways during the pandemic induced travel restrictions and this travel habit is all set to become the norm. MakeMyTrip has seen a 70 percent recovery in the short-haul leisure travel segment.
Contactless Travel a reality: Post the pandemic, the travel and hospitality industry has made significant efforts to boost confidence among travellers by making services contactless as far as possible. From contactless check-in at airports and hotels; to ordering food and beverages and concierge services at hotels online, contactless offerings are becoming a norm more than an exception. In parallel, travellers are also warming up to the idea of using contactless services and also building appreciation for the tech-rich experiences that promise travel safety, upfront.