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Large hotels will struggle post-Covid

© Alexander Kaunas

Speakers at ITB Berlin NOW see good prospects for luxury travel

Among travel customers the pandemic has massively increased the desire for support and services. All those who took part in a panel discussion on the future of the luxury hotel industry at ITB Berlin NOW agreed the industry would have to react.

“Anxiety is a game changer“, said anxiety therapist Jeffrey McCutchan. After the unsettling experience of the coronavirus customers wanted to find places where they felt good and were cared for. Health safety had also become more important and people avoided gatherings. It all pointed to luxury destinations enjoying a secure future.

Fabian Eberle from Chalet Zermatt Peak AG said that in principle his company had no health safety issues. However, taking individual care of premium customers had become more difficult in 2020. Even if most of them arrived by private jet or helicopter, much of the work by hotel services involved organisation management. This type of travel in a comfortable, secure bubble was a good way to protect against the virus, said Jenny Southan, founder of the UK research institute Globetrender. It was feasible for the super-rich, but not for the broad masses. However, once there were vaccinations she did not believe it would be necessary any more. All the same, it highlighted future trends, in hotel architecture for instance, which emphasised smaller units.

A longing for individual security stood in stark contrast to a need to be among people, and the industry had to find a middle way between yesterday’s overtourism and the current forced lack of visitors. All in all, it made travelling more complicated for customers and providers alike. Eberle was of the opinion that this shift would affect large hotels focused on a volume market: “They will struggle“, he said.

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