The DMO Download
A weekly digest for those who market and manage destinations.
Travel Trends That Are Likely Here to Stay
by Megan McDonnell
Airbnb CEO Identifies Travel Trends That Are Unlikely to Reverse
There’s no denying that the COVID-19 pandemic drove a massive surge in tourists exploring remote, rural destinations due to stay-at-home restrictions and social distancing. However, Airbnb is seeing a slow return to cities.
But, Airbnb CEO Brian Chesky believes the leisure traveler is no longer interested in crowded, congested cities.
“This is a long term trend — a trend toward bigger homes, a trend toward longer stays, a trend toward going from a few cities to everywhere, a trend from business travel to leisure travel and a trend from mass travel to meaningful travel. I think all these things…it’s hard for me to fathom those reversing,” he said during an interview with Yahoo Finance Presents.
New Airlines and Expanded Flight Routes for 2021
As vaccine rollouts are well underway in the U.S. and COVID restrictions continue to lift, travel is starting to rise and summer vacation planning is underway. April 2021 was the first month that saw over one million travelers per day since the beginning of the pandemic, according to the TSA. As a result, the travel industry is preparing to meet the increasing demand, according to Inc.
One of the most shocking (and exciting) piece of news is that a new airline, Burbank-based Avelo Airlines, launched its inaugural flight to smaller airports in the western U.S. with flights as low as $19. Another new airline expected to begin operating in spring 2021 to cover the southeast and northeast U.S. is Breeze Airways, sharing the same founder as JetBlue. Existing large airlines have also announced plans for expansions and more non-stop flights on their routes.
JetBlue is making plans for business travel to get back into full swing with the launch of redesigned JetBlue Mint, which hosts spacious suites with sliding doors and lie-back seats. Flights will be available beginning June 2021.
Hotel prices and promotions are also on the rise, with many building offers for business travelers. Hyatt and Marriott have created options for longer passes, including staying at resorts. Both IHG and Hilton are offering guests to earn more points, as well as extra welcome bonuses for new credit card members.
National Park Service Releases Summer Park Visitor Tips
The National Park Service has released a list of visitor tips, encouraging tourists to “plan like a park ranger” this summer when enjoying our national parks. These tips come at a time when visitation is increasing, and expected to continue to grow throughout the summer, and aim to help tourists plan safely as parts of the country are still in the process of lifting restrictions.
“We are excited to welcome visitors back to the great outdoors for their vacations at parks and public lands around the country. With many popular destinations expecting record visitation while parks and communities emerge from the ongoing pandemic, we hope these insider tips will help visitors make the most of their trips,” said NPS Deputy Director Shawn Benge. “Today, national park rangers around the country are divulging their vacation planning secrets. Planning like a park ranger will help visitors have great experiences, make lasting memories and stay safe.”
These tips include:
- Following CDC recommendations and wearing a mask indoors and in crowded outdoor spaces for unvaccinated tourists
- Being patient with park staff and other tourists
- Visiting one of the 400 lesser-known national parks for fewer crowds and lines
- Making reservations ahead of time at campgrounds and lodges
How Artificial Intelligence is Changing the Travel Industry
The role of artificial intelligence has significantly increased within the business world over the last few years, and has been the key to personalization for customer service and marketing efforts. It’s also allowed for faster response times, allowing a staff-free experience to help consumers in real-time, and help with critical tasks such as data analysis, calculations and problem solving — crucial parts of the hotel and hospitality industry.
The top three ways AI technology is being used in the travel industry are chat bots and online customer service, face-to-face customer service, as well as data processing and data analysis.
Chat bots, both on websites and social media platforms, allow for companies to keep up with the faster response times customers are demanding, standards impossible for humans to deliver (and outside of business hours).
Bringing the power of artificial intelligence offline, Hilton has deployed an AI robot ‘Connie’. This IBM pilot uses AI and speech recognition to provide tourist information, with each human interaction helping teach the robot to improve future communications.