Before 2020, my family clients needed me to plan their travels for several simple reasons:
They had little time to allocate to research and all the logistics of planning a trip
They did not enjoy the planning phase of a trip and wanted to jump straight to the adventure
They had no idea where to go and what to do
They needed reassurance that everyone would enjoy the trip
The big difference is the world was truly our oyster. Anything was possible in terms of destination, adventure and activity: the sky was literally the limit.
Sitting in January 2021, in the world as we know it, I have to reaffirm the reasons why my existing and future clients will need me:
Expertise: Travelling now feels complex and rules are ever-changing. Where can we go? What rules do we need to follow? What can we expect?
The specific knowledge and technical expertise previously required were around vaccination and visa, not much else. The information is easy to find and pretty much identical year after year.
The current situation makes everything more fluctuating and unstable. Information is not always clear, in a dedicated space and up to date. Part of the work of travel designer is to know precisely what is happening, what is possible and what can be expected in the near future at your destination.
Creativity: Where to stay and how to get there will be crucial questions. People expect alternatives to flying, slower and more comfortable options. Families also want private, safe and interesting places to stay.
Flying on crowded planes, staying in a big resort and following a herd of tourists around cliches sites is definitely not a 2021 travel trend. Families will take more time to travel and will therefore be open to alternative modes of transport (night trains are making a big come back!). There will be a strong demand for villas and private accommodation with fully tailored services. With the amount of time we spent in isolation and away from our friends and family, it is likely we will want to travel in larger groups this year. 'Off the beaten track' and 'tailor-made' will truly take their sense this year.
Responsibility: Sustainability has to be at the heart of travel experiences. From the way we get somewhere, to the places we spend our money.
Whilst we couldn't travel over the past months, I have spent time educating myself and learning about sustainable tourism. The way we restart travelling now will be crucial for the environment but also for people. Over the coming weeks and months, I will be sharing what I learnt and how I plan to integrate sustainability within the business. It will start from the companies I partner with, the accommodations I work with and the activities I plan for you. My aim will be to create sustainable trips, where you can measure the impact (positive and less so) you are having.
Flexibility: We have learnt the hard way that things can change from one day to the next one. Families will want the guarantee that their plans can go through.
Between homeschooling, limited time and very precious holidays, we cannot take the risk to have anything cancelled anymore. Intelligent planning, yes, but also flexibility will be a key to make your holidays a success.
Not having travelled for most of last year, this will feel strange, and maybe even uncomfortable at the start. But step by step, we can do it, go out there, see the world and travel again: better.