The Future of Luxury Travel

April 29, 2021

Categories: Health, Safety, Travel Tips,

In late December 2019, an outbreak of the pneumonia-like coronavirus was first traced to a seafood market in Wuhan, China. By March 2020, the World Health Organization declared COVID-19 a pandemic and countries around the world began rapidly imposing entry restrictions and travel bans.

Tour operators and travel advisors were quickly thrown into unprecedented territory as the travel industry came to a sudden halt.

By mid-April 2020, a survey of Global Rescue members revealed 90% of travelers had either canceled or postponed their travel plans due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Recent research from the World Travel & Tourism Council (WTTC) estimates COVID-19 could result in a loss of 121 million global travel and tourism jobs and an estimated $3.4 trillion in global GDP.

While the tourism and travel industry has been deeply impacted by the pandemic, the road to recovery is already showing signs of promise.

Future of Luxury Travel PDF

Signs of Recovery

As early as mid-April, signs of pent-up demand for travel were already emerging. More than half (59%) of Global Rescue travelers reported they would book another trip as soon as they feel safe to travel.

Among travelers who did cancel their trips, not all did so indefinitely.

“A great majority of the travelers have postponed,” said Jim Sano, former president of Geographic Expeditions and Yosemite National Park Ranger. “When you look at the number of travelers booked, the bookings for these tour operators compared to this same time last year, October of 2019, are up by as much as 46-50%.”

Despite the fact many tour operators are still shut down, it’s clear that when the time is right, the return will be fervent.

In mid-September, another Global Rescue travel safety survey revealed 52% of travelers said they were looking at international locations for their 2021 travel.

Even with traveler sentiment at such a promising level, there’s no ignoring that travel is going to be infinitely more complex than ever before.

For luxury tour operators, gone are the days where attention to detail and unmatched service are enough to attract clients. Here to stay are clients who expect the very best in health and safety.

In response to a greater expectation for health and safety measures, organizations like WTTC and the Adventure Travel Trade Association (ATTA) have developed a series of COVID-19 guidelines with protocols and recommendations for rebuilding traveler confidence with an evidence-based approach to health and safety.

The Future of Luxury Travel

Outside of rebuilding confidence, some expectations among luxury travelers will remain familiar. While privacy has always been paramount, it’s already emerging as an even greater priority.

“One of the first things out of the gate will be private trips,” Sano said. “These private trips will be family bubbles or small groups of people with high confidence that this is the group they feel sure of.”

While much of the airline industry continues to remain stagnant, the private jet industry is surging.

According to a recent article in Bdaily News, global charter company Vista Jet has reported a bounce back to about 85% of pre-pandemic traffic in the United States, with more than 70% of bookings coming from new customers.

Much of this new traveler confidence is due to new innovations in science and technology. Breathalyzers to detect COVID-19 with faster results and quick-to-market 3D printed nasal swabs are just two of the newest developments helping increase the safety of travel. More are under discussion, such as travel health passports (digital or otherwise) and coronavirus control centers at major transportation hubs.

The future of luxury travel is already in motion, which means tour operators will need sound strategies and resources to ensure they are able to overcome unprecedented challenges to meet new traveler expectations and provide peace of mind.

To meet these challenges, they’ll need two things: planning and response.

Planning and Response

In a webinar for tour operators preparing for a return to travel, Global Rescue Vice President of Operations Scott Hume pointed to the renewed emphasis and requirement to assess medical capabilities and transportation infrastructure at every destination’s local health care facilities.

“It is critical whether the medical infrastructure is accessible and capable of providing the needed treatment,” Hume said. “Who bears the cost should someone get sick or injured and stuck on the other side of a border is also important.”

The time, expertise and resources required to carefully and accurately vet health care providers and facilities to ensure travelers will have immediate access to care should they need it is a huge undertaking. Many luxury tour operators rely on Global Rescue to provide vetted hospitals and medical facilities rather than take on this burden and liability themselves.

Similarly, Global Rescue’s award-winning GRID travel intelligence platform continuously monitors changing border restrictions, fluctuating destination conditions and shifting traveler rules – relieving both operators and travelers from that concern. Providing additional services like emergency action plan creation, training, scenario analysis, running a rigorous COVID-19 testing regimen and maintaining access to emergency response assets is at the heart of Global Rescue’s solutions that allow tour operators to focus on delivering the best possible experience for their guests.

Finally, no planning process is complete without a robust response component. Rescue, case management, including for COVID-19 cases, evacuation and repatriation complete the comprehensive array of services that will help tour operators focus on their business and help travelers relax and focus on their experience.

The Smart Solution

As the leading provider of travel risk, crisis management and response services, the in-house experts at Global Rescue have extensive experience assisting tour operators develop and implement solutions of all sizes, supported by our proprietary GRID journey management platform and our exclusive relationship with the Johns Hopkins Emergency Medicine Division of Special Operations.

From planning to response, Global Rescue services are completely customizable to meet the unique needs of each client.

Global Rescue medical, security and intelligence experts can support tour operators as they evolve existing protocols and implement new safety procedures. These safety measures will be different for each stage of the travel journey: from touchless solutions at airports to new cleaning protocols at hotels to contact tracing at restaurants, attractions and events.

Once a screening and tracking strategy is set, Global Rescue’s GRID platform allows tour operators to securely collect and store information, while also keeping up to date with destination reports that include COVID-19 specific information.

Should an emergency occur, Global Rescue medical and security experts can fully coordinate all aspects of advisory and evacuation – managing all ground and air medical evacuation, quarantine and treatment for COVID-19 positive individuals.

Global Rescue services may also include global telehealth, which includes access to trusted physicians with substantial expertise in global traveler medical concerns. This fully-integrated model provides access to doctors for real-time diagnosis and treatment from anywhere.

No one expected a pandemic, and no one knows what the next vulnerability will be. We do know that the people, businesses and industries that are best prepared will be most resilient to any challenge. Part of that preparation includes an all-hazards emergency protection solution for medical and security crisis, like COVID-19. On-going protection provides support for authorities in executing established emergency action plans including: access to case management, transport logistics, evacuation and repatriation for any medical emergency and monitoring from diagnosis through repatriation.

While these services are a critical piece in helping tour operators and companies get back to business, Global Rescue has been working closely with clients, governments and health care providers to deploy integrated travel risk and crisis management solutions for more than 15 years.

With more than 20,000 operations worldwide, Global Rescue has been at the forefront of some of the world’s most challenging crises. The coronavirus has deeply impacted the travel and tourism industry, but as history has shown, the industry is resilient and travelers will acclimate.

Just Another Known Risk?

“There’s a certain amount of acclimatization that is bound to happen over time,” said Sano, who pointed out that many tour operators have already updated their terms and conditions and implemented new waivers.

Sano likens aspects of the coronavirus pandemic to that of the Ebola outbreak, noting that eventually travelers still opted to visit Africa knowing Ebola was there.

Outside of Ebola, malaria is also an endemic disease in African countries. Dengue Fever is endemic in South America. Asia is one permanent home for Chikungunya, a viral disease transmitted to humans by infected mosquitoes. These endemic diseases are known risks to travelers.

“It is always a background travel risk,” Sano said.

While there’s no way to predict if and when the coronavirus will fade to the background for travelers, what’s clear is that travel risk will always be present yet manageable with the right skills and team in place.

Before You Go

We love to travel. Whether it’s to visit family and friends, for adventure and discovery, or to escape and relax – travel is important. And travel carries risks that may dramatically change our plans.

Global Rescue has done the work to mitigate those risks and anticipate crisis. We also know what to do when a crisis inevitably occurs. In order to adequately prepare for a crisis, the travel and tourism industry must take a seat at the table in crisis preparedness, management and recovery.

We cannot always predict the nature of the next crisis, but the value of your participation in the understanding and planning around crisis preparedness is clear.

Even if a disaster strikes, having these systems in place will mean a shorter recovery time for you, your clients and the destinations you serve.

Similar Posts

Spring Climbing Fever: Global Rescue Anticipates Record Climbers – and Rescues – on Mount Everest This Season  Thousands of mountaineers and trekkers will descend upon the Himalayas for the 2023 spring Mount Everest climbing season, eager to summit the tallest mountain in the world, as well as K2, Kanchenjunga, and Annapurna, some of the highest peaks in the Himalayas and the world.   It’s not easy. Frostbite, twisted ankles, high altitude pulmonary edema […] Read More
Spring Holidays in the Holy City: Health and Safety Risks for Travelers in Jerusalem  Steeped in history, culture, and religion, Israel is a country of stark contrast and complexity. It’s a land where faiths collide and diverge, where ancient ruins stand next to modern skyscrapers, and where the spiritual is tangible. Nowhere is this more apparent than in Jerusalem. But is Jerusalem safe?  One of the oldest and holiest […] Read More

Recent Posts