Destinations should prioritize demographics which are likely to jumpstart the recovery, making sure their destination’s product offerings match their passions, wants and needs, and are being marketed on “the right channels”. (See Appendix 2 for guidance on creating traveler personas.)
Surveys and reports suggest “first wave” travelers are likely to be those who are most optimistic about travel — aged 25 to 34 and 65-plus.
The International Air Transport Association has identified the following six post COVID traveler personas:
- The impatient innovator
- The young early majority
- The untroubled 55+
- The wait-and-see X and Y generations
- The late business trip, and
- The late leisure trip
Ketchum Travel’s “Transforming Travelers study” takes a different approach, identifying 4 personas which are based on how soon individuals will feel comfortable returning to their pre-COVID lives and activities; and how much the importance of various personal values has changed in response to COVID-19.
It is evident that COVID has made many travelers rethink the types of destinations they will select.
There is clearly strong interest in smaller and less crowded destinations, but there also appears to be a renewed interest in authentic and connected experiences.
Local communities can be crucial partners in designing these experiences, e.g., cooking classes, tours by locals, and insider talks.
For example, Melbourne-based Free to Feed offers immersive cooking experiences for visitors, which are delivered by refugees, people seeking asylum and new migrants.
At the other end of the spectrum, there is also increased interest in “once-in-a lifetime trips,” with travelers thinking “Why didn’t I take that trip before, when I had the chance?” and “now that ‘can’t’ has been put in front of me, it feels more urgent to do the things I’ve dreamed of doing.”