Last week, we participated in a Virtual Retreat with 100+ travel partners and peers. And while the distance toned down the usual revelry (slightly!), we really enjoyed connecting with our industry. Of course, we’ve all been meeting up regularly for Friday night dance parties and Meditation Mondays, it was oddly freeing to sit down and talk business with our supplier partners. And the overall message was a resounding one: Travel will be back.
When it returns, travelers will be seeking remoteness and getting back to nature.
“These kinds of trips that are off the beaten path, more isolated, this is going to become the new normal,” Big Five Tours & Expeditions president Ashish Sanghrajka said in highlighting the company’s President’s Picks itineraries. One, the 13-day Morocco Mysteries & Mint Tea, includes a night at the exclusive Ghazala Camp in the southern part of the country. The camp’s six tents are set well apart from each other and deliver an authentic desert experience.
“The key word is private,” Abercrombie & Kent’s Norma Spadola said. “Private activities and insider access will be more in demand. If you’re going on a ship, it’s going to be a smaller one.”
Speaking of smaller ships, Paul Gauguin Cruises will launch two new 230-passenger luxury expedition vessels in 2022. Crystal Cruises will place more of an emphasis on remote expeditions with Zodiac landings in rugged landscapes with exotic wildlife and the 200-passenger Crystal Endeavor taking guests to the end of the earth in style and comfort.
Out of the way places will be highly sought after, with polar regions, Patagonia and African safaris seeing renewed popularity as travelers look to avoid crowded cities. Nordic specialists 50 Degrees North are ready, with itineraries featuring Arctic Bath, a floating hotel on the Lule River in Swedish Lapland. The wellness oasis aims to leave behind a minimal environmental footprint, and sustainability — already a point of emphasis in luxury travel — will be even more popular moving forward.
50 Degrees North tours in Norway showcase Hurtigruten’s hybrid-electric ships that have reduced emissions and can cruise silently through the country’s famed fjords. Big Five’s GIB 5.0 virtual assistant matches travelers with the sustainability project that best matches their personality: Jetwing Youth Development Program in Sri Lanka, Awamaki women’s project in Peru or Africa Wildlife Foundation Kidepo Project in Uganda. A year after their trip, they get an update on the project they helped support. Viking ocean cruisers have the opportunity to participate in climate research onboard. Paul Gauguin Cruises new ships will explore the South Pacific while operating smokelessly at anchor, in port and in environmentally sensitive areas.
Wherever and whenever you’re looking to go next, you’ll want to book early, as demand for later in 2020 and for 2021 is high and space on smaller tours and in remote places is limited. With such uncertainty and farther afield destinations, it helps to have excellent partners on the ground to provide real-time updates to keep travelers safe and happy. When you’re ready, we’re here for you.