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Tourism trends in 2021: from digitalization to never-ending tourism

30 November 2021

2020 is now behind us and, among others, it gave us a very changed world, also regarding tourism. After the long lockdown periods, people have a great desire to restart travelling and seeing the world but, currently, what are the top trends for 2021?

According to the Digital Innovation in Tourism Observatory of the Politecnico di Milano, in 2020 the digital tourism sector declined by over 9 billion euros, 60% less than the previous year. This downturn, due to the heavy restrictive measures, marks a worrying moment but, at the same time, it is an opportunity for innovation, also in the way of thinking holidays and tourism.

The most important trends detected by the latest research can be summarized in a few points. Digital innovations are the great protagonists. Let's see which ones.

Digital Journey

In 2019, about 8% of Italian accommodation facilities offered payment solutions accessible from mobile devices and online check-in. To date, the percentage of accommodation facilities has risen to 30%, as well as the integration of chatbots on the website of accommodation facilities has risen from 2% to 14%. There has also been an increase in the use of virtual tours of the rooms, which has risen to 13%.

These increases indicate how, in the world of tourism, Digital approach is becoming ever more relevant: offering customers more information and tools to speed up payments and bureaucracy is the right way to increase turnover.

Never-ending Tourism

The expression means, literally, endless tourism. It is a neologism that summarizes a modality of tourism that begins before the trip and continues even when returning home. How? Through digital content.

2020 was the year of “lockdown" and many places and structures contributed to offering online contents of cities, museums, beaches, woods, mountains, and general experiences. Creating this type of contents allowed people to keep in touch with their dream destination without leaving their house.

The strategy of creating a relational bond with customers before and after the trip is an excellent starting point to ensure new sources of income: the more connected tourists will feel to the place and to the accommodation facility, the greater the chance of their return will be.

The holiday/job

Smart Working is another trend that was necessarily established during 2020. The possibility of working remotely gave birth to a new way of thinking travel: all you need is a good internet connection in order to work, so why do you continue to work from your home? So, the holiday/job was born.

Not being tied to the workplace, more and more people have preferred to leave their homes and work from accommodation facilities that can guarantee an excellent internet connection. The result is that they work but, at the same time, they can relax thanks to the services offered by the structure where they reside, perhaps treating themselves to relaxing massages and treatments offered by the beauty farm.

Undertourism, Sustainable Tourism and Staycation

Two elements have developed these new trends: the low chances of reaching distant locations and the concern for personal safety. In Staycation, as the name already explains well, tourists travel towards nearby places that can be reached in compliance with the regulations using their own means of transport in order to avoid any contact with strangers.

Undertourism, however, involves choosing less frequented destinations to avoid particularly crowded places, an example of how the Covid pandemic has changed people's approach to travel. Sustainable Tourism is closely related to Undertourism, and it means that tourists choose destinations where they can be in contact with nature, with many outdoor activities and with small local excellences.

So, how to approach tourism in 2021?

Undoubtedly favoring digital innovation. There are countless tools available to accommodation facilities and they can ensure a considerable growth in revenue in a strongly changed world in which travelling is still complicated.

Discover in our in-depth study on Digital Marketing and Tourism how to get the most out of an approach focused on the Web and how to ensure the growth of your business thanks to a Digital Strategy based on the Digital Inbound Marketing method by offering your customers not only a great product but also a real unforgettable 360-degree experience, before, during and after the holiday.

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