The pandemic has awoken a desire among Spaniards to travel domestically and visit national destinations, as well as enjoy their own culture.
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This new trend owes much to new travel priorities adopted during the COVID-19 pandemic, which, together with associated economic, health and social consequences, marked a turning point in the way people travel and in their decision-making process. As a result, new traveller preferences include factors such as hygiene, travel restrictions, proximity, interest in outdoor activities or less crowded places, as well as cancellation policies, amongst others.
This framework of renewal within the tourism sector starts with the importance of offering a quality service and maintaining the highest possible hygiene levels. This renewal is focused on the new trends of digitalization, wellness tourism, digital nomads, and sustainability, which have a catalytic effect on the reactivation of domestic tourism.
- Digitalization, the new language between the hotel and the customer: The new demands of Spaniards show the need to be understood and placed at the heart of the activity in order to live unique experiences. For this, the help of new technologies is essential, as well as Big Data, to know the preferences and needs of travellers; and tourism intelligence to make the booking process simple and direct. It is also essential to use smart technologies such as the internet of things, which avoid direct contact between people and facilitate management.
- The rise of wellness tourism: Wellness tourism has emerged as a result of a growing concern of citizens for their mental and physical health, which influences their travel decisions. Thus, this type of tourism has grown as a major player in weekend getaways. According to the themed getaway portal, Weekendesk.es, plans that include private jacuzzies and massages currently account for 46% of total bookings.
- Digital nomads: Faced with the consequences of the pandemic, a new trend has also arisen: the “digital nomads”. These are travellers who take advantage of the opportunity to telecommute to explore new destinations. Many of them are domestic travellers with the opportunity to work from the peace and comfort of hotels. This is a trend to which we all need to pay attention, as this type of traveller spends on average 53% more than an international tourist. In this way, it opens the door to a new customer who generates income at any time of the year.
- Sustainability: a major factor in millennials’ decision-making process: Sustainability is another of the milestones that have been consolidated in 2020 and is becoming increasingly important in the decision-making process of Spanish travellers, specifically millennials. According to our Business Intelligence platform, Travellyze, which analyses the behavior and interest of European travellers, 43.7% of Spanish millennials are concerned about the environment and sustainability; and 80.3% are interested in outdoor activities. Furthermore, 58.7% take CO2 emissions into account when choosing a hotel or means of transport.
- A reflection of this is the traveller’s desire to visit rural areas to connect with nature and engage in a variety of outdoor activities. The rural tourism boom has generated a 35% increase in rural accommodation bookings in 2020 compared to 2019.
Rural tourism in Cazorla (Jaén)
Understanding the scope and relevance of these changes in consumer behavior will be vital for the sector, especially for the hotel industry, when developing its strategies and being able to adapt its offer to this new demand.
Strategies and actions
Institutions based within this industry have begun to apply a series of strategies aimed at the national traveller, based on digitalization, wellness tourism, and sustainability. Some of them are:
- Digitalization for direct sales: In order to increase direct sales, hotel websites have been much improved, incorporating roles such as community managers who contact customers directly. In this way, they offer a more complete online service, so that guests can make their bookings directly with the hotels, without the need for another intermediary website.
- Collaboration between hotels: As an example, several hotels joined forces and created the “SíVamoss” strategy, a platform that offers customers four nights in any of these hotels at a single price. The aim is to offer more accessible packages to customers and encourage them to travel.
- Co-hoteling: This strategy offers guests the possibility of using and taking advantage of hotel facilities without the need to stay at the hotel. In this way, the citizens of the destinations themselves become a potential and essential client on which the industry can rely 365 days a year.
- Long-stay offers: With the rise of these new travellers, the digital nomads, long-stay offers become an opportunity to attract this niche, focusing on the comfort of facilities with good connectivity, to attract these tourists to telework from the comfort of the different destinations.
- Unique and sustainable experiences: A new strategy resulting from the crisis, is the creation of synergies between hotels, local commerce and destinations. This makes it possible to offer travel packages to create unique experiences and align sustainability values. For example, including outdoor sports, visits to green spaces in the destination, meditation with nature, among others.
Yoga activities on the beach
According to Travellyze, 57.2% of millennials make their travel decisions based on pre-organized experiences and tours. This boosts local consumption and allows guests to live unique experiences as well as connect with nature and the environment.
These four trends are here to stay, leading the industry to a radical change, in which the sector will have to apply new strategies to adapt to them. Furthermore, it will be essential to keep the domestic traveller at the center of the business model.