By: Katja Bohnet, Director, Hotel Distribution, Hospitality, Amadeus
Did you know that there are five stages of reacting to change? Denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance. If I take a moment to reflect on the pandemic and how I reacted to one of the biggest changes we’ve ever faced, I can easily identify those stages in myself. Denial: I’m sure this lockdown won’t last long. Depression: Another wave, the tunnel seems to be growing longer each day. And finally, acceptance: we’re slowly reopening, let’s drop the ‘new’ and just think of this as normal again.
So here I am in the acceptance stage, thinking of all the ways our lives have changed in the past year and a half. Some for the worse – the personal losses and some other long-term implications we won’t forget quickly. But, some also for the better –I finally adopted a dog and, apart from spending time walking him, in preparation for travel returning, I am now already on the lookout for pet friendly hotels all over the world.
It takes change to make change
The travel industry has also experienced a lot of change as a result of the pandemic. One of those is a growth in leisure travel. In the past months, Amadeus has shared various data points that confirm this trend, from growing occupancy in top leisure destinations across the U.S. for Labor Day, and a booming car rental market that’s even outperforming 2019 numbers. Industry players are also adapting, acquiring companies or adding new, leisure-oriented flight routes.
At the same time, travelers are shopping and booking trips in new ways in direct response to COVID-19 case counts and other restrictions, leading to new trends like ‘workcations’ and ‘bubble travel’. Traveler audience also varies by trip type, for instance, according to Euromonitor, luxury travelers are most likely to travel with their partner or children versus friends or alone. The end result is that travelers now have more choices and higher expectations than ever before. When it comes to booking with a travel agent, it’s no different – 40% of travelers in an Amadeus study say they now want more support from travel agents following the pandemic.
Are travel agents ready for new traveler expectations?
Despite this growing opportunity in leisure, travel agents are faced with several pain points when it comes to booking accommodation. In the same way that a traveler has a multitude of options available to them, so too does an agent and many have to scour several sites or sources to find the right option. This becomes more challenging when each website offers different prices for accommodation. Without this rate parity, the agent spends additional time assessing options to choose the best choice for both the traveler and their business. On top of this, shortages in labor coupled with rising costs or reduced budgets mean many don’t have the luxury of spending hours or days on each booking.
Hotels for Leisure: a win-win approach
With Amadeus Hotels for Leisure, our vision is to encourage collaboration, taking advantage of Amadeus’ position at the center of the travel industry. Our goal is simple – to create positive outcomes for all involved. For hotels and accommodation providers, we help them to stand out by giving them maximum visibility in new channels as well as greater control over content and pricing. For travel agencies, the end result is fast, easy access to a wide variety of leisure content. To make this possible, we’re adapting our existing success in business travel, and continuing to invest in technology. This includes redesigning the UI to book accommodation in the Amadeus Travel Platform. Connectivity is also key, and we’re working to source rates directly from different providers – including our own merchant provider, Amadeus Value Hotels – creating more profitability for all.
Today, we’re at the beginning of our leisure journey, and I’m sensing a new stage of change – anticipation. Amadeus has been building leading technology solutions for over 34 years, Hotel Distribution has been simplifying and standardizing the hotel booking process for business travel for 10+ years. I now look forward to years of collaboration and helping travel players check-in to the future of leisure travel.