By Vanessa Fagard on 4/23/20 8:00 AM
The world has changed. COVID-19 disrupted every aspect of our lives. With self-quarantine and nationwide lockdowns, the way people spend their free time is redefined. Momentarily, most people are staying at home, but this will not always be the case.
Looking into the near future, governments are trying to find ways to let the public live a safe life outside the families’ four walls without compromising the positive progress lockdown and isolation has had on flattening the curve.
As governments establish rules and regulations to bring us a new normal based on a 1.5-meter economy, many wonder what will be in store for tourism & travel once we settle into this new mode of life.
Ready, Set, Go - on Staycations!
As you might have guessed already, staycation describes when families or individuals participate in all sorts of leisure activities, which are within driving distance of their home. Often, these activities and the connected domestic travel do not even include an overnight stay.
As international travel will most likely decrease, people, will look for options to create a get-away feeling closer to home, an area they know, and thus, feels comfortable and safe. With the growing importance of values around health, safety, and the environment, decisions about travel plans will be made more consciously.
Staycations also bring benefits such as reduced travel time, costs, and not bearing a language barrier.
Additionally, all unmet demand and unsatisfied needs brought by a lack of social activities during isolation will result in suppressed feelings, only piling up until they can eventually burst out.
‘I want to break free.’
Everyone will want to get out, do something different from sitting at home and socialize - even if it is not a trip around the world.
Local options such as restaurants, movie theaters, spas, public gardens, or amusement parks will be cherished more as they place an immediate relief to the social need that “staycationers” have been holding back on for so long. In the visitors’ minds, with the local component, these activities will feel somewhat familiar and provide the level of security, and amusement people want.
And you are following right, this shift in behavior will most likely trigger an evident boost in local tourism!
People will have vacation budgets that are now not entirely spent outside of their home country, but at least partly for domestic travel and leisure. According to a travel study conducted in the Netherlands, over 32% already voiced that they won’t be leaving their home country for a vacation this year.
“People will still want to go on holiday – they do not want to give up their holidays altogether. However, they are going to start to revert to ‘safety first.” - Nick Wyatt, Head of R&A, Travel & Tourism at GlobalData -
So, a local tourism boost does not mean we can let crowds stream into our venues. It means we need to be prepared to allocate and distribute this expected demand in line with all necessary safety regulations.
In a nutshell: Venues will need systems in place that are capable of securely spreading out all people wanting to visit their venue.
Next to measures taken ‘in-venue’ such as sanitary stations, spaced queues, and contactless service, there is a wide range of measures venues need to take even before the visitors enter their premises.
They will need to limit capacity, work with time slots, and upfront reservations instead of drop-ins and box-offices to avoid unsafe situations that lead to consequences, including fines and even closure.
Subsequently, the new dynamics of local markets' concerning these new regulations will then lead to the markets' very own parameters.
First, in order to sell, prices might be low, but if only a certain amount of people can enter a venue, then tickets might get more expensive, or getting access will be more difficult. These are all components that will have to be defined along the way as the market develops.
Clearly, venues will need a highly adaptive and agile strategy to include these ever-changing factors and ensure a safe staycation experience for their visitors.
“There are a number of potential winners, for example, anybody that is operating hotels and attractions.” - Nick Wyatt, Head of R&A, Travel & Tourism at GlobalData -
So, yes, we know, the situation has been difficult for leisure venues as this industry has suffered significantly from the lack of visitors.
Now, it is time to refocus.
Staycations and an uplift in local tourism might not make up for lost easter weekend trips or big time your revenue loss, but preparing your venue now to embrace even the smallest of positives we see at the horizon will make the difference in whether you are surviving this new era or not.