Marion Mesnage, head of Amadeus Nexwave, explains some of the findings of the incubator’s recent research

It’s more than a year on from the start of the pandemic and, as the dust settles, the true scale of the challenge facing our industry is clear.

However, Covid-19 has also presented us with an opportunity to re-evaluate how we as an industry operate, understand what travellers want and look critically at how to meet their needs.

This month we published our Rebuilding travel together paper, which explores changes in traveller behaviour; how the industry can adapt; and the role of technology in encouraging travel demand and supporting recovery.

As part of the project, we interviewed a range of industry leaders and undertook traveller insight research at different stages across multiple markets.

The traveller of tomorrow

Several trends have emerged, including the rise of the ‘informed traveller’. Travellers are expected to demand consistency of procedures wherever they go. They now demand more standardized and trusted end-to-end experiences, which includes Covid-19 testing on arrival/departure, quarantine policies, vaccination certification and effective hygiene practices.

More than 40% of the 6,000 travellers surveyed across six key markets, including the UK, US, France and Germany, said they would like to see an effective test, track and trace programme that adheres to global standards.

Travellers have also become more aware of physical touchpoints in transport hubs, aircraft and accommodations as hygiene and sanitisation is front of mind.

Our research suggests that leveraging technologies such as biometrics to remove physical checks will become increasingly important, with more than one in four travellers wanting to see the industry accelerate these initiatives.

Another trend we predict is the rise in multi-generational travel. With family holidays set to become less frequent we foresee larger, cross-generational groups booking more personalised and tailored experiences.

Simple things such as transfers to and from the airport and visiting attractions might also be conducted in one vehicle, rather than using public or shared forms of transportation. This not only helps preserve the integrity of the group bubble but also reduces social interaction with others.

There was also consensus among our experts that the economic impact of the pandemic would be felt most by younger generations with less spending power, leading to Generation Z and Millennials holidaying with other family members to help reduce the cost of travel.

Building back better

The travel industry is, and has been for many years, fragmented. Who ‘owns’ the traveller has often been a complex question.

The crisis has highlighted the need to address this. Key players must communicate with one another and work closely with public authorities as health and immunity certificates become a more important part of the picture.

Global patchworks of suppression and containment require the industry to work hand-in-hand with industry organisations such as Iata to ensure that there is a workable, transparent and consistent approach to health protocols.

This is where technology can reduce complexity and make operational deployment as easy as possible. More than a third of our respondents demand a mobile-compatible universal digital traveller identification that includes all necessary documentation and immunity status to ensure they only must prove it once.

Contributors agreed that the travel industry that emerges over the next few years will be greener and more sustainable.

The drivers behind this shift are likely to be consumer pressure for more sustainable travel options; economic incentives as a result of government support; and the acceleration of innovations to improve operations.

According to our survey results, traveller demand for more sustainable travel options is holding steady across all demographics and markets. One-third of Millennials wanted to see more availability of sustainable travel options and ways to reduce their carbon emissions when travelling, while one in four travellers wished to reduce their carbon emissions throughout the journey. This is likely to act as an incentive for all travel players to think about how their products and services can be differentiated.

The findings of this project confirm the solutions we are working on will improve collaboration across the industry, and ultimately, the traveller’s experience.

Within Amadeus Nexwave, our business incubator, the objective is to work with our customers and partners to rebuild travel. We know our industry is resilient, and this is cause for much optimism.