Insights from Signe Jungersted on Reimagining the Future of Travel

Head of Research and Insights
Published 7/30/20
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During the live Global All-Stars session as part of Destinations International's virtual Annual Convention on July 14, 2020, we received a great response and a huge number of questions. We didn’t have time to get to all of them so we summarized a wide range into a few key themes and asked one of our mainstage speakers, Signe Jungersted, to share her insights. Signe's full presentation and additional resources are available on our Global All-Stars site here.


Question: In addition to what you highlighted, do any other parts of our industry stand out as ripe for reinvention?

Signe: High on the list is the cruise industry, ripe for massive reinvention. During the crisis, the industry has received immense negative attention, but also before the crisis there was growing criticism and negative sentiment. Several destinations have introduced taxes targeting the cruise visitors (I mentioned Amsterdam in my presentation - see a summary on that here), while the cruise ships and cruise lines are also confronted with increased negative attention in terms of their environmental and social impact.

As I also mentioned in the Q&A, I think it’s the extreme agility we’ve seen throughout the crisis across several parts of the industry - where businesses reinvent themselves (or hybridify themselves) into new business areas or sectors: like hotels shifting to student housing, SAS flying more cargo or restaurants shifting to take-away etc.

Additional Resources: The reinvention of travel will be driven by both the short realities of the recovery from COVID-19 as well as the longer term “reimagination” of tourism. See additional resources in both these areas on the Global All-Stars website which includes stories of recovery around the globe as well as the longer term reimagination in my two part blog on ""8 Ways to Build a More Sustainable Future for Tourism" including the Earth Day webinar we ran with DMO and sustainable tourism experts.

Meetings & Events

Question:  Where do large meetings and conventions fit into reinvention? How do you see these coming back? 

Signe: I don’t think all will come back - and certainly not in the same shape and format as today. 

For the ones that remain, I think we will see more hybrid meetings and conventions – mixing the physical with the digital formats in new ways. Perhaps also with less “main room” activities and more targeted break-outs with pre-sign-up, exclusive networking and/or discussion sessions (to limit numbers, target relevance and value offered – as participants / delegates will also need to argue more at home in the office why it’s important to attend). More digitalization also offers options for “smarter” follow-ups, targeting information etc. Following the pandemic crisis, there will also be increasing need and expectation for societal impact and community engagement.

Additional Resource: Miles also facilitated and sponsored a meetings research session at Destinations International Annual Convention on July 14, 2020 with Destination Analysts. The research conducted in the last month highlighted how meeting professionals and event planners are thinking about the recovery of meetings and events. The bottom line: larger events and meetings won’t be back until the health crisis is solved and then the recovery will see a range of changes to meetings, conferences and events moving forward. Check out that presentation available here.

Planning our Recovery

Question: You have said that it is important to plan for our recovery now. What are some of the key components of that planning?

Signe: A conversation with your local residents and local communities in how tourism recovery should look like. What changes to make, what to aim for, new initiatives. Redefining the success criteria of tourism to your community. Focus on the local business ecosystem – stuff like retail, small businesses, social economic projects, placemaking, community events etc

Additional Resources: Miles provided a framework for planning for the immediate recovery in the blog series, “8 Essentials for Tourism’s Restart & Recovery. The blog series highlighted above (‘8 Ways for to build a more sustainable future for tourism) also summarizes a number of critical planning steps in “building back better” over the longer term.

Technology Considerations:

Question:  Signe, last year you talked about using technology to track capacity. Can you mention what those technologies are?

Signe: There are different options. I think last year, I referred to the work we did in Copenhagen, using the city card data to track tourism flow and behavior and then looking to influence that behavior through the city card app (work in progress at the time). Some destinations also use mobile tracking data, some use credit card data. Very often integrated into an app to also be able to motivate different behavior through messages and offerings.

Additional Resources: Signe’s 2019 Global All-Stars presentation at Destinations International Annual Convention in St Louis is available here.

Economic Status and Impact

Question: As destinations begin to meter tourism to flatten the tourism curve, is there a danger that only the wealthy will travel as pricing might become the meter?

Signe: Following Corona, air travel will most likely become more expensive for all of us. But I think we need to remember that to travel as a tourist, even before the COVID-19 pandemic, is a privilege still limited to the wealthier part of the global population. After corona, certainly the possibility of traveling anywhere and everywhere will be taken less for granted. And, yes, pricing will probably be one parameter/means to flatten the curve (I think, Joseph Pine offers an interesting perspective on that in this short article). However, I also think there are many other parameters. One is diversifying your product (based on the values and priorities of your destination and your community, rather than only from visitor demand), focusing on off season, limiting access to certain parts or experiences (like museums that now require pre-booking or have exclusive opening hours for the vulnerable etc.), improving infrastructure to allow for increased, easy (green!) mobility. But also accepting that a destination is an ecosystem and tourists don’t have a right to visit in whatever way they want, but in a way that contributes, supports and sustains the destination and local life.