The global pandemic of 2020-2021 flipped the travel industry on its head. Governmental restrictions reduced hotel occupancy to zero overnight. Air travel stopped, cruises docked, and even travel by car was unpredictable because destinations of all sorts – hotels, restaurants, wineries, and local attractions – were postponed or permanently shut down. This left those that survived the fallout to wonder how the pandemic might affect their business moving forward, when travel would restart, when they might see revenue numbers return to pre-pandemic levels, and what they should be doing in their advertising, PR and marketing plans, if anything. We heard from many senior professionals in media, marketing, sales and development who had used traditional surveys and focus groups in the past, but were not sure how effective they might be for predicting travel and hospitality trends. Many even reported that their expenditures in surveys just didn’t give them the actionable insights they needed, or they were not confident in the data.
Travel, tourism and hospitality have been industries we specialize in for over a decade. In order to serve our existing clients and be of service to future ones, we conducted a Swarm Session in Q1 of 2021 and follow-up Swarm Study to develop a publication full of predictions and actions for the industry. We conducted the program using the four building blocks we offer clients.
First, we reached out to our network of thought leaders and senior industry professionals to engage them in an exercise with our partners from the Advanced Strategy Center. Together, we identified the questions and concerns that were on the minds of hoteliers, resort executives, and travel and tourism professionals. We then refined the questions to best elicit accurate feedback from a select group of swarm participants we recruited from an in-house email list of frequent, experienced travelers. We invited the participants to a 1-hour swarm session where they acted as industry analysts, predicting the future state of travel and preferences from travelers. During the session, we captured uniquely dimensional data showing starting and ending factional support for each question, time to answer, the number of times individuals changed their minds, and the final conviction score. Then, the Parker Sanpei Analytics & Optimization team assembled the conclusions into a final Swarm Study with directional data and actionable insights.
Lessons from the Swarm
The Future of Travel & Hospitality: Post-Pandemic and Beyond was produced and made available for download here. The study covered twelve topics including the timing of travel resurgence, preferred destinations, accommodation features and reasons for travel. It measured how sensitive the traveling public would be to enhanced cleanliness and safety protocols, and the messaging that would motivate people to take a trip, choose a destination and stay longer. It concluded with practical insights about what organizations can do immediately to gain a competitive edge, plan high-return marketing, and even what to put on their websites. The collective information from this swarm study is being used by DMOs, hotels, resorts, cities and a number of other travel, hospitality and tourism PR and marketing teams.