If you had the opportunity to start over again, what would you do differently?
Life doesn’t often give us second chances. But sometimes it does extend the opportunity to pause, reflect and revise the way we’re doing things.
If you’re one of the many people in our industry who plans to restart travel in earnest this year, you have just such an opportunity in your hands now. So much has changed since spring of 2020 that planning, selling and operating trips is bound to require some adaptation and creativity.
So if we’re going to be doing things differently anyway, why not seize this reset as an opportunity to make some intentional, positive changes?
Here, in no particular order, are my suggestions for ways we should do tourism differently in 2022.
1. Redefine Value
For decades, the concept of value in tourism has been a euphemism for low prices. The value-first paradigm among tour buyers has been changing for some time, though. And now, with inflation and labor shortages pushing travel prices up, perhaps we should stop focusing on how much our trips cost and instead focus on how compelling they are. Build experiences that are focused on fun or designed to make an impact. Value can be measured in memories, not just money.
2. Include Travel Insurance
If the mass travel cancellations of 2020 taught us anything, it’s that even our greatest trip plans can be torpedoed by forces beyond our control. And though it’s impossible to avoid every interruption, it is possible to anticipate some — and plan accordingly. Travel insurance is the best way to do that. Many travel sellers offer insurance as an add-on option. Given what we’ve been through, though, we should start packing travel insurance into every trip we sell.
3. Eliminate the Tour Menu
How many times have you been excited to sit down at a great restaurant on a tour only to learn that your options there would be limited to chicken and fish? It happens to me way too often. For a long time, tour planners have used limited, preset menus as a way to keep costs down and ensure that meal stops don’t take too long. But in a world where travelers are increasingly seeking culinary experiences, the tour menu might cause more frustration than convenience.
4. Stop the Driving Tours
I can’t tell you how many times I’ve sat through a driving tour when visiting a new city. What I can tell you is that they were almost all a waste of time. With rare exceptions, visitors don’t need to be shuttled around a city and lectured about its history. And although many destinations have districts that are scenic or historic, they’re not best experienced through a motorcoach window. Let’s stop the driving tours and offer more focused walking tours or free-time exploration.
5. Modernize Registration and Payment
Today’s consumers are accustomed to buying everything, including travel, on their phones. If your business model entails customers filling out paper registration forms and mailing you checks, you’re falling behind the times. Accepting digital registrations is easier than ever with drag-and-drop website builders, many with e-commerce capabilities built right in. And having a digital registration and payment workflow will help you streamline your operations so you can spend less time on paperwork and more time on building better trips.