As part of the world’s largest private education company, EF Go Ahead Tours is the leader in guided, educational group travel.
What will travel look like? How has travel changed? What is the future of the travel industry? All of these questions (and more!) are top-of-mind for people looking to plan a future trip. That’s why we called in three of our travel industry experts. Go Ahead President Heidi Durflinger, Vice President of Travel Roland Roth, and Senior Vice President of Land Operations Matts Stenbäck are here to give you some answers and insight into the future of travel.
Current travel trends
Our community, and travelers across the globe, are looking forward to when they can start stamping their passports again. Here are some current travel trends that are helping us better understand what the future of travel will look like.
- 60% of our travelers said they plan to travel internationally within the next 9–18 months
- 30% of our travelers said they want to travel more in 2021 compared to 2019
- Monitoring overseas travel regulations, planning for the unexpected, and knowing which tourist attractions are going to be open are the top three reasons travelers are hesitant to plan a future trip right now
- Multi-country trips are by far the most popular, with 75% of our travelers looking to travel on this type of guided tour
- The six countries travelers want to visit most in 2021 are Italy, England, France, Greece, Ireland, and Germany
- The top five things people miss most about traveling are exploring new destinations, experiencing a new culture, social interactions with other travelers, educational opportunities, and the excitement of preparing for the trip
How has travel changed
We know dealing with airports and airlines can sometimes feel like the hard work you have to do before you get to enjoy the fun of a vacation. Right now, airlines are doing all they can to make your journey safe and streamlined.
“Most airlines have teamed up with medical experts and cleaners to come up with science-based and best-in-class health and safety protocols,” said Roland. “For example, Delta works with the Mayo Clinic and Lysol. American works with Vanderbilt University and Purell, and United has partnered with the Cleveland Clinic and Clorox.”
Here are some tips from Roland, our Vice President of Travel, to make your flight journey easier as you prepare for a future trip.
Before you get to the airport
- Review the latest health and safety guidelines for your airline operator. They may be different from carrier to carrier and can change frequently.
- Expect a health check either online or at the airport. It’s usually a set of questions about face coverings, your health, and any symptoms or exposure you may have had. Temperature checks may also become a mainstay in the U.S., as they have in Canadian airports.
- Plan for extra time. The lines will likely move slower and get longer as more people begin to travel again.
At the airport
- Use the airline’s mobile app to make sure all of the info you have is up to date. This will also reduce the number of people touching your boarding pass.
- Check your bag and print your tag at the kiosk. You can check the airline’s mobile app to see if this is something they allow. You’ll still have the option to check-in like normal if you’re more comfortable with that!
- Pack a face mask. “It’s very likely you’re required to wear a mask or a face covering the moment you step foot into an airport,” said Roland. Plus, there will be lots of signage to aid in social distancing efforts.
- Bring some snacks. Think: Protein bars, trail mix, and crackers. Depending on the day and time you fly, some of the restaurants and lounges may be closed or operate at reduced capacity. Bringing your own food means you won’t have to worry about being hungry before your flight.
On the plane
- Be prepared to board from back to front. Even when more people start flying, you should expect to wait a little longer than normal to board the plane.
- Wear your mask at all times, except when eating and drinking. This is an added layer of protection, on top of the aircraft’s filtration system. These systems use the same technology as what you’d find in hospitals, which has been standard on airplanes since the late 90s.
- Expect reduced in-flight service and interactions between customers and flight attendants.
- Know that most airlines will likely begin selling middle seats again. While some carriers, like Delta, announced that they won’t fill middle seats through the end of 2020, you’ll find that most middle seats will be filled, especially on international flights.
Future trends in the tourism industry
If you’re asking yourself, “how has travel changed,” one of the biggest travel trends is the popularity of guided travel. Not only are all the logistics handled by experts, you’ll have locals leading you every step of the way.
“The local experts are born in many of these destinations you’re traveling to,'“ said Matts. “They’re also now going to be local experts on the rules and regulations that may be a little bit different in these places and they’ll make sure anyone traveling on our tours are clear about what’s going on in each destination and if there’s anything special to follow there.”
Here are some of the ways your guided travel experience will reflect the future of travel according to Matts Stenbäck, our Senior Vice President of Land Operations.
- Expect social-distancing measures to be in place at hotels. Chairs will be spread apart at the pool, tables at breakfast will be spaced out more, and you’ll likely talk with the front desk staff from a little farther away. Many of the same amenities will be available, just with a little bit more space for you to enjoy them.
- In-house cleaning measures at hotels are similar to what you’ll see on airplanes. You’ll see staff around the hotels more frequently to make sure high-touch surfaces, like banisters and doorknobs, are being constantly cleaned. “Many of our bigger hotel chains are working with partners across the industry to make sure that they have really, really safe procedures in place—especially when it comes to that enhanced cleaning,” said Matts.
- Buses will be thoroughly cleaned before you get on and throughout the tour. Bus travel is one of the main ways travelers get from point a to point b while on a guided tour. Since group tours are one of the future trends in the tourism industry, bus travel will be a key part of the on-tour experience. These cleaning measures on buses will be similar to what you find in hotels, with special attention being given to high-touch surfaces.
- Hand sanitizer! It will be available throughout the hotels, and on the buses. Plus, airlines are allowing travelers to bring a travel-sized bottle with them on the flight.
- Smaller group sizes. Thanks to our Right Size Advantage, we’ve always capped our tours at 14 to 38 travelers—well below the industry average of 45. As we look forward to traveling again, we’re doing all we can to continue keeping your tour size small, and the memories big. “We are going to be running tours with smaller numbers. You should expect a smaller group and more space and room on the bus,” said Go Ahead President Heidi Durflinger.
- Off-season travel is one of the rising future travel trends. Since the exact size of your group will depend on when you travel. We recommend traveling in the off-season. In Europe, that’s anytime between October and March. Not only will your group likely be smaller, you’ll enjoy perks like smaller crowds, lower prices, and all-around amazing experiences.