Since Zoom Vacations is a member of several various luxury travel consortia, I am often speaking to other luxury travel planners from around the world.
Recently, I attended a lunch in Chicago hosted by Singita, which is one of our preferred safari partners in Africa. In addition to discussing their incredible safari offerings, the travel planners in attendance were discussing the realities of travel, post-Covid, and what travelers are expecting versus what they are receiving when they travel these days.
The most common sentiment expressed at that lunch was that people are definitely traveling again, but if people are expecting the exact same service and standards that they received during their travels in 2019, they may be a little bit disappointed, especially in certain destinations. This is true for hotels, cruise lines, restaurants, and airlines.
The issue is that during Covid many hotels, cruise lines, etc. were not operational at all, and so they had to let people go. Now that travel is at full swing again, many hotels for instance are finding themselves a bit understaffed. Or they have employed people who were in other disciplines prior to Covid, and are now in the hotel industry, learning entirely new roles. So, what I and other travel planners have noticed is that brand standards may be a little bit shaky. Certain things that you may have come to expect from a various hotel chain may not be the current reality partially due to staffing limitations.
However, prices are not going down to make up for this, and if anything they have gone up. For all of our tours, I am advising my guests to come with a flexible go-with-the-flow attitude. While there are certain things that are beyond my control, on my tour, I am finding myself more and more getting involved in things that I didn’t have to before, just to ensure that our high standards are upheld. The nice thing is that when people travel with me, I handle all of this so that they don’t have to. Also, I have found that many travel providers that kept a full staff during Covid are in a better position to provide pre Covid service levels now. That is one thing I always investigate as I am planning a private or group trip in order to make sure the trip is successful.
If you want a vacation that is beautiful and hassle-free, it makes sense now more than ever to hire a travel planner to assist with the details, and good ones will step in when necessary to make sure that your experience is perfect without you having to do the work.
On the flipside, one of the biggest benefits to traveling now is that people in the travel industry are so excited to have guests again, and to be doing what they love. This shows in the overall experience. There is an exciting energy and passion that I haven’t really seen in a long time. It’s kind of like Covid made us realize that we cannot take traveling for granted.
The best advice that I have for anyone traveling right now is to absolutely go for it. However, come armed with a big dose of flexibility, and you will have an incredible experience. While some places may be experiencing staff shortages, those who you do meet in the travel industry are more passionate than ever, and thrilled to be doing what they love. Friendly and generous reception and entertainment of guests is what hospitality is all about.