Travel, Marketplaces, and Technology: What Will Happen to Business After the Pandemic?

24 December 2021

Veronika Nedashkovskaya

Content Manager

The global COVID-19 pandemic has affected almost every aspect of people’s lives. While adjusting to ever-changing circumstances, society has accepted the “new normal.” Most experts agree that this new normal will soon become permanent. 

Ipsos’s poll for Halifax International Security Forum found that 45% of the surveyed believe that the coronavirus outbreak has been contained and that the epidemic will end soon, with 10% agreeing strongly and 35% agreeing somewhat. Over the year, the number of respondents saying the pandemic would end soon increased by 12%. All countries except Russia and Malaysia are seeing rising optimism. 

The travel industry has been heavily damaged by constant lockdowns and strict regulations. Online retail, on the contrary, has seen an unprecedented rise in revenues. Personal QR-codes, travel passes, instant e-commerce, remote work, home-office equipment, and total digitization – what awaits us after the pandemic? The Rocketech analysts share their ideas and the most recent trends in this article.

Lockdown Fatigue as a New Travel Motive

Wishing someone a safe journey has taken a new meaning in our new reality. In fact, safety regulations are the first and foremost traveling trend for many people. According to the latest PWC report, 28% of responders associate higher-end properties with better public health protocols. 36% are ready to spend more to have a safe distance from other travelers on a flight. Moreover, 85% of travelers have concerns about current vaccines and their effectiveness against new variants of the virus.

However, Tripadvisor keeps its community more positive. The company’s 2021 statistics say the platform’s users created 7.5 million Trips this year. 66,700 Trips already have “2022” in titles. Searches related to travel regulations remain trending on Google, which indicates that, although heavily affected, the travel industry is alive. Now businesses need to adjust to the new normal to stay afloat. 

Post-Pandemic Travel Trends

Lockdown or quarantine fatigue is a new term that already defines the upcoming tendencies across industries. It describes overall exhaustion caused by a restrictive lifestyle and the long-term effects of the pandemic. A combination of lockdown fatigue, the rise of remote working, and more thoughtful attitudes to travel allows analysts to make some predictions.

  • Domestic Travel

Fast-changing travel restrictions make holiday planning a risky adventure. The CEO of shared that the platform saw a 200% rise in bookings with a within-a-week departure. Since it’s much more complicated to plan a last-minute long trip abroad, businesses can expect an increase in short-stay domestic tourism. 

  • Workcations

 A record-breaking number of remote working opportunities created a new trend for becoming digital nomads. Since people are no longer bound to physical offices, it’s relatively easy to combine travel experience with continuous professional activity. According to Airbnb’s managing director for the APAC region, 24% of all Airbnb bookings were for over 28 days in Q1 2021, compared to 14% in Q1 2019.

  • Vaccine Passports

Most EU countries already require vaccine passports to grant entry. Another Tripadvisor survey found that 77% of respondents are comfortable with the idea of international travel once they receive the vaccine. 

  • Low Travel

Low travel includes traveling on the ground – cars, trains, or bikes. Citing Black Tomato, Euronews connected the need for longer stays in rural areas with lockdown fatigue. Such travels help people fight exhaustion, learn new skills, and have an overall mental reset.

  • Flexibility

Being flexible is much more crucial for travel businesses than ever. Airlines and accommodation providers have to revise their cancellation, rescheduling, and refund policies to retain loyal customers in complex circumstances. For the large part, it concerns business travelers. 46% of them may not have a choice but to make business trips because of concerns that their employment or income could be negatively affected.

Related Technology Trends

  • Telecommuting tech
  • Enterprise VR
  • Remote communication platforms
  • Contactless airport services 
  • Biometric check-ins
  • Social distancing sensors

Flexible, Hyper-Local, and Omnichannel – the Future of Marketplaces

Although e-commerce has been around for a long time, the new normal has revealed consumers’ changed demands and preferences. It led to the dramatic rise of marketplaces as the reflection of the on-demand economy. Mirakl reported 81% growth in marketplace gross merchandise value. According to the Wunderman Thompson Commerce’s Future Shopper Report 2021, 41% of global shoppers admit they are still frightened about in-store shopping. 66% of the surveyed find online marketplaces the best option for fast delivery.

Manufacturers and offline retailers who had not previously been interested in online sales were suddenly forced to develop their own digital projects to survive the growing competition. That’s when the partnership with existing marketplaces comes into play. Such platforms provide retailers with digital solutions and already developed infrastructure that includes delivery and often warehouses.

Post-Pandemic Marketplaces Trends

Facilitating changing consumer demand, marketplaces and instant e-commerce have reshaped the retail industry and brought new features that are set to evolve in the post-pandemic world.

  • Omnichannel Retail

Insider Intelligence defines omnichannel retail as “seamless integration between online and offline worlds,” enabling frictionless shopping experiences. Most analysts see a combination of brick-and-mortar facilities and full-on online presence as the inevitable way of brand building. Online presence in this model includes social media, email newsletters, websites, landing pages, marketplaces, and any other digital channel used by the brand to communicate with consumers.

  • Flexibility

Similarly to the travel industry, flexibility is the key for marketplaces and retailers. In 2020 alone, US consumers returned merchandise worth nearly $428 billion to retailers. Growing competition makes customer retention a challenging task. As returns are impossible to avoid, far-sighted business owners introduce better customer support and more flexible order fulfillment and return policies.

  • Hyper-Local Commerce

Self-isolation and pandemic-related restrictions on import processes leave many communities dependent on local manufacturers and vendors. However, people seem happy to support local and independently owned businesses. According to Shopify, 61% of consumers will keep buying from local retailers.

  • Conversational marketing

Conversational marketing is the next-level marketing strategy that involves AI implementation and includes any kind of one-to-one communication with the customer – chatbots, live chats, voice assistants, or other forms of conversational AI. The global tech company LivePerson launched Conversational Marketplaces, a solution that integrates AI-powered conversational options into marketplaces and creates a new, personalized customer journey.

Related Technology Trends

  • Enhanced cybersecurity
  • Conversational AI
  • Cloud-based call centers
  • Click & collect models
  • Contactless delivery 
  • Touch-free payments
  • Big data and automation

Do I Have to Adjust Your Business?

The short answer is yes. Although Industry 4.0 started long before the COVID-19 outbreak, the global pandemic has accelerated this process and become a catalyst for total digitization. The reality is that businesses inevitably have to adjust to the changing consumer demand and the new ways of providing services. However, such adjustments are not limited to merely implementing some new software. This transformation requires reimagining overall business processes, working patterns, and ways of communication between the organization and employees.

According to Deloitte’s 2020 Human Capital Trends report, 96% of respondents thought well-being was the company’s responsibility.

Ironically, in the era of digital transformation, the visionaries see the “human-centric” approach as the next step of business development. While the on-demand economy was essentially based on a customer-centric approach, Deloitte suggests taking a similar approach to building the relationship with the employees. Their experts set the notion of “humanizing the future of work” in three steps:

  1. Setting the enterprise mindset;
  2. Recognizing that the biggest motivator for humans is work itself;
  3. Reorienting from past performance to future potential.

Keeping the human factor as the main priority seems like an uphill battle in the new-normal circumstances. Bill Gates predicts companies abandoning big offices and people moving to the outskirts and cutting down their contacts. In these environments, rather new to us, it’s essential to incorporate technology into everyday communication and working processes – whether a customer relationship management platform or internal enterprise resource planning tools.

Final Thoughts

We are witnessing global changes. And these changes may seem frightening, especially for business owners. As digital transformation progresses and consumer demand becomes more sophisticated, companies must be more inventive, determined, and courageous. On the bright side, tough times provide fertile ground for bringing innovative ideas to life. At Rocketech, we know how to be responsive to changing environments and create flexible, in-demand products that sell. Do you have product ideas? Share them with us!

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