What traveling looks like in the world’s reopening
Travelers are ditching their bucket list trips for “less adventurous” itineraries, Scott Dunn said.
Territories across the globe may have started to open their borders, but luxury tour operator Scott Dunn said 2022 will remain a year of recovery, as tourists proceed with caution in planning their next trips.
“Guests are still being very mindful of when they travel, how they travel, and what they're traveling for,” Scott Dunn General Manager Mike Harlow said.
Harlow observed most travelers are looking to “reconnect” with their family and friends Some travelers, meanwhile, are planning to study or work overseas, such as in Europe and the US.
“Guests want to continue to return to familiar destinations, so we're seeing fewer bucket list trips, and less adventurous travel in the year ahead,” Harlow said.
“We're already getting ready for a strong desire to get more adventurous into 2023, as the world continues to reopen.” In Singapore, particularly, guests are taking advantage of short breaks by traveling to places like Thailand, Vietnam, and Cambodia.
Travelers are expecting to have more flexibility given the constantly changing border restrictions and requirements in entering certain territories. This could be through offers that give more room to adjust dates or make changes in itineraries. Having detailed and updated information on border requirements would also be key for the industry.
Harlow advised that individuals planning to travel should book sooner than later. “Availability is challenging. If you are looking to travel, then definitely start to think about it sooner rather than later and start to have some conversations with experts and operators that can support you with those arrangements,” he said.
In terms of costs, Harlow said travelers have not faced much fluctuation in the overall cost, besides the charges in getting tests and other COVID-19-related expenses. Travel costs are expected to remain within their 2019 level as suppliers and partners will neither introduce discounts nor inflate costs.
“Unfortunately, I do think that the cost of travel will increase as 2022 goes on and go into 2023,” he said.
Where tourists are headed
Europe is one of the destinations popular amongst tourists, particularly Spain, Italy, Greece, and Scandinavia. Switzerland and Lapland have also seen strong demand. Regions that implemented the vaccinated travel lane model in the middle of last year towards the end will also see an increased number of travelers.
“Almost just re-engaging and getting familiar with traveling to those destinations again, we're seeing cultural experiences, historical tours, food, and wine are ever more popular,” Harlow said.
“Guests are traveling slower, spending more time in a destination, and getting to understand the destination in a bit more depth.”
Outside of Europe, Singapore had also been in demand as a long-haul destination. But now, other parts of the Asia-Pacific region, such as Thailand, Sri Lanka, Cambodia, and Australia are also rebounding strongly.
Maldives has also been frequented by tourists at the beginning of 2022, particularly in March and the Easter holiday. This will likely continue, but Harlow said that as the world continues to reopen, travelers will start looking at other destinations, especially those that have a good infrastructure, and medical facilities, as well as an existing network that allows flexibility in their travels.
Getting back in the game
In ensuring it delivers a high-quality experience to its guests, Scott Dunn sends its team members to go on familirisation trips that could last between two days up to four weeks and experience their services first-hand. The company also works closely with the businesses that provide accommodation.
Scott Dunn has also partnered with the people on the ground, who can keep them up to date on any changes imposed within territories by their respective governments. The firm then summarizes this in the form of documentation, or through conversations with guests.
“We’ve not necessarily faced challenges around selling new experiences because we have the information and we go through quite a strict vetting process to make sure that we deliver the experience our guests are paying for,” he said.
He, however, noted that Scott Dunn had to work around the speed at which change took place that required them to pivot and adapt, whilst giving their guests the support necessary for their travels.
Scott Dunn’s head office is located in London, but it has offices in Singapore and California. Harlow said the company always sends its new travel consultants to the UK for a two-week induction also as a part of their training. After which, the new consultants undergo regular meetings with the suppliers for on-site training.
“It's a real mix of sharing knowledge amongst a team, relying on our partners and suppliers, but then also getting the consultants out to experience the product firsthand,” he said.