For travel companies looking at how and when they might emerge from the Covid-19 crisis, scenario planning is a big part of the equation.
Many now believe domestic travel will rebound first followed by intra-regional travel, as countries reopen borders and consumer confidence grows.
Companies from all segments of the industry are cutting costs and adapting business models now, to put them in the best position for whatever comes on the other side.
Prior to the crisis, Smart Travel Lab highlighted sustainability, over-tourism, "seamless" journeys, the future of workforce and security as the five main themes to impact the industry in the next five years.
It now believes that health and sustainability will top the agenda for the next 18 months.
Christiaan Uittenbosch, co-founder of Smart Travel Lab, says: "All companies should be on top of these two topics, not only to be in business and stay relevant, but travelers will be looking at them for a strong and positive answer."
The organization, which is focused on sustainability in travel, has got together with Kantar, to put together four scenarios to depict what a post- Covid-19 travel industry might look like.
• Close Call: "the Surge for Survival" describes how companies taking drastic measures to survive will also need to be prepared for the pent-up demand as consumers are released from lockdowns. The report says there will be a "short window of opportunity to recover from losses" but stresses companies need to have the resources to compete.
• Panic Attack: "Stay local, stay safe" predicts that consumer behavior, naturally more risk averse during the crisis will have changed habits for the longer term. This means travel companies will need to earn trust again.
•Recurring Nightmare: "Two seasons, two travelers" describes a scenario where the virus comes back for portions of the year. This leads to consumers able to travel for a part of the year and in lockdown for the remainder. In this scenario, more well-off segments of the population able to spend the year away from it all while others are unable to afford to travel. The report says brands would need to choose who they target in this model.
• Brave New Reality: "Travel Safety by fiat" envisages a world where Covid‐19 is a permanent feature but governments step in to manage it with regulation. The scenario would see borders close as and when infection emerges and would mean companies could operate in "a relatively stable and prosperous business environment" but be prepared for restrictions being put in place.
The full report can be downloaded here.
Jim Hepple is an Assistant Professor at the University of Aruba and is Managing Director of Tourism Analytics.