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Industry Titans Unveil Transformations in Travel Behavior Post-Pandemic

Some Takeaways from the World Travel Market in London

Industry Titans Unveil Transformations in Travel Behavior Post-Pandemic

Key figures in the travel industry convened at the World Travel Market in London to discuss the enduring shifts in consumer behavior and the impact of inflation on certain markets post-pandemic.

Patricia Page-Champion, Hilton’s Senior Vice President, and Global Commercial Director highlighted the changing landscape of business travel, stating, “85% now of business travel is through small to medium businesses.” She also noted a rise in ‘bleisure,’ with one in four people now bringing a loved one on a trip, facilitated by the flexibility of remote work.

Post-pandemic add-on requests from Hilton’s customers reflect evolving preferences, including pet-friendly hotels, confirmed connecting rooms, and EV charging, with a growing emphasis on sustainability, even for events.

“Experience is the new luxury,” declared Peter Krueger, Chief Strategy Officer and Chief Executive Officer of Holiday Experiences for TUI. He emphasized that while customers may still purchase traditional holiday components like hotels, flights, and transfers, it’s the overall experience that now drives sales, shifting away from the conventional focus on sun and beach.

Krueger highlighted the economic sense of sustainability, citing examples of TUI installing solar panels in hotels, expecting to recoup the investment in a short time. However, he expressed frustration at government obstacles to building solar fields due to continued investments in fossil fuels.

Despite financial downturns in some countries, Krueger remained optimistic, noting shifts in source markets and destinations. North America, for instance, was picking up slack for the Caribbean, while Europeans controlled budgets by opting for all-inclusive or value destinations like Bulgaria.

Page-Champion emphasized the resilience of domestic markets globally post-COVID, citing demand from Mexicans for room nights within Mexico. Meanwhile, Hatim El Gharbi, Chief Commercial Officer of the Moroccan National Tourism Office, discussed Morocco’s efforts to encourage regional travel and promote sustainable community tourism.

Regarding technology, Krueger stressed its importance for a company with a massive customer base, stating, “If you have a scale of 27 million customers but everyone wants to have a personalized holiday, how do you match this? The answer is technology.” TUI utilizes search patterns and digital touchpoints to gather information for targeted marketing, enhancing the “look to book” ratio.