As operators testify, the sector's resilience is leading to profound changes that will make travel more digital, personalised and sustainable in the long term.
This year? Next year? Or even after? When will tourism return to pre-pandemic levels? Leading market analyst Grant Thornton predicts a three-year horizon. But there are two pieces of good news. The first is that the responsiveness of players in the supply chain accelerates the digital transformation and evolution of business models that are long overdue; the second is that Italy remains a highly sought-after destination. Even another prestigious analyst such as Deloitte agrees that the future of post-pandemic tourism lies in innovation. In particular, in the coexistence of digital and physical, hyper-personalisation, more robust relationships between public and private, and a push for slow tourism.
This evolution is confirmed by the Tour Operators' steps, with the addition of some typically Italian ingredients such as creativity and flexibility. "We have quickly reshaped our business by focusing once again on proactivity, flexibility and creativity”, says Gabriele Burgio, Chairman and CEO of Alpitour World. We have invested heavily in technological innovation and organisational simplification, in line with the sector's drive towards digital transformation and a more dynamic business model open to the entire supply chain. We have also continued to offer a quality product, without ever losing sight of the fact that today's travellers are looking for an experience above all, as well as the ever-increasing importance of sustainable logics".
Burgio continues by saying that “our country has great potential, and this is where we must start again. These considerations led to the creation of ITPARADE, a union that unites the freedom to travel with constant attention, based on know-how and well-defined protocols. The collection will be gradually expanded to offer more than 60 proposals in 21 cities and 11 regions. The proposals include themed weekends, free itineraries guided by experts through an app, and tastings. 2021 will be a year of transition, and in the coming months, we will be refining workation and staycation formulas, and imagining new ones. We hope that the real year of rebirth will be 2022”.
In fact, the resilience shown by operators passes through a twofold reorganisation of the business model as well as of the offer. "We face the market with a focus on costs and the creation of new product lines", adds Ludovico Scortichini, President of Go World. We have launched several innovative clusters such as Go in Italy, dedicated to travel in Italy, Go Deluxe, for luxury travel, or Go Ski, dedicated to winter sports. We will soon be launching a new cluster dedicated to river cruises. On the destinations where it will be possible to travel soon, we are also working on open-air programmes and groups of up to 8 people. In the meantime, we try to continue to make our followers dream with videos and images of destinations around the world on our social networks. Tourism is becoming increasingly fragmented, and people are looking for a mode of travel that is more in line with their passions, such as horseback riding, motorcycling, cycling and skiing, with a focus on eco-sustainable and responsible tourism, the open-air concept and the choice of boutique hotels rather than large hotels".
On the supply side, Tour Operators agree that it is necessary to diversify from the needs that arose between last year and this year, such as proximity tourism, but without stopping there. "In 2020, we worked on diversifying our offer", explains Raffaele Sigillo, Marketing Director of Fruit Viaggi. We have focused on proximity holidays, concentrating on Italy, with eight new products. We need a broader range of opportunities, which is why in October 2020 we launched the 'Believe in Tomorrow' campaign, which gives our customers the minimum down payment commitment, price guarantee and freedom to reconsider. For 2021, we are seeing the first signs of recovery, which bodes well for the summer season. We are confident of a renewed recovery from March onwards, counting on Italy for 90%. The market is starting to respond to the significant investments we have made.
Thanks to the new dates, at fieramilanocity from 9 to 11 May, Bit 2021 will be the first appointment to take stock of the new needs of travellers and relaunch the meeting between supply and demand, both Italian and international, not only in the exhibition itinerary and the six theme areas but also in a conference programme with high-quality content and rigorous scientific coordination. With the support of the most representative trade associations present at the event, Bit 2021 will indeed be a unique opportunity to reunite the sector and outline the common guidelines on which to focus to relaunch Travel.