What did you do in lockdown? - is a question many people ask as we slowly emerge back into the world of socialising, visiting friends and family, and planning a now much-needed holiday.
For the tourism industry, the answer varies from business to business with most relying heavily on this year being a bumper one.
From the visitor’s point of view, anticipation of a holiday is a big part of it, especially this year. When I studied tourism many years ago at the University of Strathclyde (one of the few tourism courses at the time), I was particularly struck by that fact. The looking forward, the getting excited, the planning. But we’ve become accustomed to the “cash-rich, time-poor” ethos in that we’re just so caught up in our busy lives that the holiday starts when you’re in the car, or on the plane (remember the days?) and then you think more about it; we book time off and our holiday starts when we leave the house.
Anticipation is now the most important part. If visitors are already inclined to visit a destination, and frustrated that they must delay that holiday gratification, we can feed that interest which will, because of the lockdown delays, become a bigger part of the experience.
With the anticipation stage being abnormally lengthened, there is time to influence that in a positive way. More time planning will mean more investigation and commitment to the plans. More time to scrutinise where to go, what to see, what to do.
A number of tourism organisations that Interface has helped in the past, by matching them with a Scottish university to deliver new products and services, are promoting their destinations virtually to be able to give a tantalising taste of what’s on offer. AR/VR, previously viewed as a largely added-value part of the visitor experience onsite, can now stand alone as an influential driver of visitors when promoted online. But we don’t have to have AR/VR to sell ahead of time. We can use photos, testimonials, virtual tours, scenic pictures and engaging stories. Social media has never been so well-used and never has there been more options to self-teach.
This summer, with the “staycation” looking likely for the majority of people, visitors may well commit to staying longer in one place and spending more. For many tourism businesses, 2021 summer and autumn tourism will be crucial.
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