We have finally crossed the threshold of this new decade, and I wish all of you and your families well for the future. I also obviously hope for great strides in the travel industry in South Africa as this is something very close to my heart.
We are a country that faces many challenges in the economy, equality and even has a national carrier beset continuously with its own challenges. We therefore need to work closely and strongly together to ensure that we always remain relevant and at least as equals in global terms in the travel industry.
Setting new and ever more ambitious goals is undoubtedly one way to do this, and I am as much for this as anyone. I do believe however that in looking back, we can gain much with which to go forward and in taking cognisant of trends and preferences of the recent past we actually can arm ourselves for a more effective future.
I decided, therefore to take a look at a few of the themes that I touched upon in 2019, not only for interest sake but to examine how relevant they might be in 2020 and beyond. After all, how can we possibly set new goals without analysing areas in which we may have previously failed, or ignoring the things that have changed the industry in recent times?
Bleisure and World travel
Near the beginning of 2019, I wrote about ‘Bleisure travel’ as being an emerging trend we should not ignore. As it transpired, towards the end of the year when discussing potential corporate travel trends for 2020, Bleisure travel emerged as one of the most prominent.
An article much later in the year took this a step further, citing Bleisure travel as just one part of a global trend towards ‘WorldTravel’ where young executives are aiming at working and living in a different part of the world for months on end. The idea is that they would learn the culture and be closer to the clients in those destinations.
Technology, disrupter ruler – or what?
Technology had massive advances and has turned the industry on its head in the last couple of years. As I have pointed out in articles about emerging trends for the new decade this will not change, but continue to escalate, as most emerging trends are highly technologically driven.
Technology certainly has not been the only disrupter in the industry, and I also don’t believe it totally rules an industry based on personalised traveller satisfaction and service, however as Thomas Cook found out, the massive changes it has brought about are ignored at one’s peril!
All about Women
Here I guess I came into my stride in 2019 as I did write a lot about Women. We spoke about the important role that women in positions of authority can play to assist others, the challenges they face when travelling and why they make great travel professionals.
Obviously, as a CEO in a substantial position, I felt I needed my voice to be heard, and I really do believe that issues surrounding women also cannot be ignored as we go into this next decade.
People first, traveller satisfaction and sustainability
Sadly we in South Africa lack in sustainability initiatives in the travel industry, but it is improving, and I do believe that going forward we can all look towards helping with this.
I have made my feelings strongly known about how I believe this is still, in essence, a ‘people’ based industry and I still do believe that any long term goal setting has to include the issues and solutions pointed to in my articles about ‘Putting people first’ and ‘Traveller satisfaction.’
Care could reap significant rewards
My greatest wish, however (and I’m greatly relieved to see it is being taken very seriously right now by some of the biggest role players in the industry) is that the drive towards ‘Inclusive hospitality’ will become a key aspect of the growth of the travel industry in 2020.
Billions of dollars are being lost through ignoring issues like the insecurity women suffer when travelling, poorer travellers like students and in particular lack of facilities for the disabled.
Business will always be our primary focus, as we are, after all, in business ourselves. If we start to look to what we, as an industry, can give to many other people we should be caring about. However, we may find that this new decade reaps a greater harvest than we could ever have imagined!LIDIA FOLLI
CHIEF EXECUTIVE OFFICER