Revenge travel – international or domestic – is a new buzz term showing up in hospitality and travel articles everywhere. But what does it mean? It sounds kind of dark, doesn’t it?
At first glance, one might assume that people are planning to travel to get revenge on someone who has wronged them. Imagine Uma Thurman in Kill Bill. A quick google search, debunks this theory and tells us that revenge travel is actually a positive movement to global normalcy in the hospitality industry. By definition, it’s the act of going on a trip or splurging on a vacation after the corona crisis has passed.
The term is actually quite clever. The one who wronged us all is COVID-19. It locked us inside, paralyzed the tourism industry, and forced us to cancel our travel plans and vacations over the past 3-6 months. And our revenge on this virus? To go and travel as much as possible as soon as it’s safe to do so.
Domestic revenge travel – travellers simply sticking it to the man – er, the COVID-19.
The good news is recent studies and polls have shown that people are eager to start travelling.
A study done by Fliggy, China’s largest online airline platform, found that 56% of respondents want to travel again within 3 months of the virus being resolved. They also found that 52% would be comfortable travelling domestically and 32% internationally.
Fuel also found data to positively support the revenge travel theory. 75% of respondents want to travel within the next 18 months but flexibility with their bookings is almost a mandatory need in order for them to move forward with the actual reservation.
The data is there to support the theory that the world is going to see an influx in revenge travel. But what is it going to look like over the next 6-18 months and how can hotels and resorts capitalize on this new trend?
Let’s start by looking at China and their increase domestic revenge travel
China has seen a decline in the number of cases in the novel coronavirus and, as a result, has relaxed its lockdown restrictions and travel since late March. As a result, they’ve seen 82% of employees return to work who work in the food & beverage or hotel industry. The country saw its first boom in domestic travel during Tomb-Sweeping Day, its first long weekend since the restrictions were lessened. According to China Tourism News, 43.25 million domestic trips were made between April 4-6, 2020.
On April 20, Beijing removed the mandatory 14-day quarantine for domestic travellers. This was a huge win for the Chinese population. Domestic flight bookings increased by 15 times and Fliggy saw air ticket sales jump more than 500% in the first hour after the government’s announcement. The announcement also came at an opportune time. Golden Week, a 5 day holiday, was to commence on May 1-5 and Trip.com was estimating that 80 million people were planning to travel domestically for the holiday (a two-fold increase from Tomb-Sweeping Day). While data is still being collected for travel during the holiday, State Media released encouraging numbers and reported that there were more than 50 million domestic trips for leisure travellers on the Friday and Saturday of the holiday.
Recovering #tourism sector: Total trips in China reached 30.86 million on the second day of the May Day Holiday, up 33% from the first day, with spending hitting 12.86b yuan ($1.82b), as China seeks to reopen economy after #COVID19. pic.twitter.com/LF5gO0PQCK
— Global Times (@globaltimesnews) May 3, 2020
These stats should be encouraging to other countries looking to reopen. It supports the theory citizens are eager to start travelling domestically and want to get out of their lockdown locations.
What does this tell us about future travel?
China’s reopening and past data from global events tells us that domestic revenge travel is going to be the first type of travel to come back. Air Travel will start to resume with short, quick trips being booked first and international trips being booked for vacations 12-18 months down the road.
INCREASE IN OFF-GRID TRAVEL AND SMALLER HOTEL STAYS
Secluded regions with areas to explore outdoors are going to bounce back the quickest. Most countries will continue to see restrictions on the number of people allowed indoors and at tourist destinations. Without a vaccine, the general population is still cautious of densely populated areas. This will encourage travellers to find isolated destinations with a focus on outdoor activities like hiking and fishing.
When travelling to larger cities, revenge travellers are more likely to stay at small, boutique hotels. They have a smaller capacity and less guests than a large-scale hotel. Staying at these properties will decrease the number of people a guest may interact with in a day.
FEWER, LONGER TRIPS
Hotels and tourist destinations should expect trip lengths to increase while the number of trips to decrease. This is to minimize the number of times a person is at risk of contracting the virus or days that they will need to quarantine.
The majority of the world has not only been isolated from their friends and coworkers but also their family members. As restrictions loosen up, local travel markets can expect multi-generational travel as families are able to reconnect.
Hotels need to start planning how they can capitalize on the expected inundation in revenge travel now.
Target your domestic markets through email and social media outreach
Share with your community what you are doing to keep them safe and locations in your area that they are able to explore outdoors like nearby parks or beaches. Also include how your city is proactively keeping everyone safe through social distancing and capacity constraints. You need to build trust with your guests and the best way to do that is through information sharing.
Build packages based on length of stay
Now is the time to be creative. People are still tentative about being in crowds or eating out. Hotels are going to see guests stay at the property more than before. Capitalize on this by including reservations at your restaurant or meal deliveries to their rooms in your hotel bundles. You will find you have an increase in your average guest spend by taking the time to develop these packages.
Go above and beyond
Providing guests with exceptional hospitality should always be your first priority. However, it is even more important now than ever. As leisure travel starts to ramp up, you need your guests to give you positive verbal and online reviews. They will become first-hand advocates for your property especially if they have a safe, amazing experience.
Finally, the ‘revenge travel’ trend is a fairly new concept. It’s more fun than terms like transient or leisure and is less main-stream than nomad. It has the potential to be transformed into a strong marketing campaign that targets millennial and gen-z audiences. Millennials spent $200 billion travelling in 2018 and made up the majority of travellers when the pandemic first broke out in North America. Now is the time to get creative – it’s worth it.
The response to China relaxing their restrictions has taught us that people are eager to get out and explore. It’s important that you come up with a plan now to capture these domestic revenge travellers. People are tired of being in lockdown and are ready to move. Capitalizing on these opportunities will help you recover from any losses incurred during the government lockdowns and increase your 2020 revenue.
They say that the best revenge is no revenge but at Event Temple we disagree – the best revenge is the one with travel.