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Last year was a tough one for the travel industry, but also allowed brands to take a glimpse into trends for the year ahead. Club Med is sharing the insights they found from the previous year and predictions for travel trends in 2021.

“As the leader in all-inclusive vacations, Club Med continues to innovate through this challenging time by offering our guests the best in flexibility and safety,” said Carolyne Doyon, CEO and president of Club Med North America, in a press release statement. “We’re utilizing our thoughtful and strategic analysis of 2020 learnings and 2021 market trends to deliver on travelers’ evolving wants and needs.”

A Projected Return to Travel
Americans have started seeing the “light at the end of the tunnel” when it comes to travel. A recent Skift Research study reported that beginning in September 2020, for the first time during the pandemic, more Americans planned to increase their travel spend over the next 12 months. The most popular destinations include beaches and coastal drive-to markets.

While domestic travel continues to be preferred by the majority of travelers, a recent study conducted by Club Med found that 56 percent of travelers are looking to travel by spring/summer 2021. Club Med has also seen significant interest in travelers who are booking for the 2021 holiday season. Considered “revenge bookings,” the trend indicates a strong interest in families getting together after canceled plans this last holiday season, with advance bookings for holidays at a 17 percent increase versus 2019.

The pandemic spurred increased domestic travel with Americans looking for shorter escapes closer to home. Through data compiled from recent sales, Club Med Sandpiper Bay in Florida saw a substantial increase in bookings in 2020 from travelers in drive-market regions. From June to December 2020, the resort reported 40 percent of travelers were from Florida.

Working Remotely with Extended Stays
Travelers have shown an appetite for escaping the pandemic restrictions at home and extending their stays at all-inclusive resorts where they can work or study remotely while also relaxing. In June 2020, Club Med Sandpiper Bay reported a 9 percent increase in bookings for “short week” getaways—meaning a 4- to 5-night reservation during the week rather than the traditional long weekend getaway. According to the Skift Megatrends report, the pandemic and the rise of remote work will likely further blur the lines between business and leisure travel. A significant hike in the length of stay in vacation rentals highlights how travelers have been looking at other places to stay and work during the pandemic.

Club Med is adapting to this trend by setting up Workation, a hybrid stay between working remotely and a vacation with the all-inclusive service. This remote work and learn option has been available at Club Med Sandpiper Bay since October 2020, delivering adults and children the tools they need to work remotely, including premium WiFi, dedicated workspaces (or free to roam and setup beachside) and printer access. Club Med is looking to launch the concept in additional resorts soon.

Guestrooms at ClubMed Sandpiper Bay. (Photo courtesy of Courtesy of Club Med.)

Low-Density Resorts with Safety Protocols
Travelers will continue taking increased precautions to protect themselves from COVID-19 and expect the travel industry to provide them with peace of mind by offering increased safety precautions. Worldwide, Club Med’s Safe Together program has established a range of enhanced health and safety protocols that include protective face coverings for staff, hand sanitizer available throughout the resort, deep cleaning and frequent sanitizing of surfaces and facilities, social distancing, capped resort capacity, increased amount of already-existent single plated foods in main dining area buffets, and temperature checks on arrival and periodically during the stay. All Club Med properties in Florida, the Caribbean, and Mexico are POSI-Check certified, receiving recognition from Cristal for the Prevention of the Spread of Infection.

Travelers will also continue seeking destinations surrounded by nature, offering a variety of safe outdoor experiences. All of Club Med’s global resorts, including the Florida resort, meet this demand as they are low in density, spread across 50 acres of land and wide stretches of beaches, creating a sense of privacy and freedom. Each resort features multiple low-rise buildings that are only three stories high, sitting just below the treetops. To further accommodate social distancing practices, dining tables and lounge chairs throughout the resorts are more spaced out with an increased amount of outdoor seating, and activities and entertainment are also predominantly outdoors.

Contactless Technology
Travel in 2021 will be more touchless than ever. A recent study showed 64 percent of travelers agree that technology will be important in controlling health risks when traveling and 63 percent say that accommodations will need to use the latest technologies to make travelers feel safe. Club Med’s Easy Arrival contactless check-in/check-out prepares guests to fully enjoy vacations immediately. From signing up children for childcare services, everything will be ready for guests as soon as they arrive at the resort. The My Club Med app also allows guests to enjoy a seamless experience from the start of their trip to the end, with options to create a personalized itinerary, preview the daily activity schedules and, at select resorts, guests can book spa appointments and order room service. Coming soon, in order to abide by the CDC’s new requirements for entry into the United States, travelers will also be able to schedule their PCR/Antigen testing.

The pandemic has made many people aware of impacts on the environment and local communities. A study found that more than 69 percent of travelers expect the travel industry to offer more sustainable options. Avid globetrotters are quickly getting behind the “go green” initiative in tourism decisions and Club Med is supporting the cause. In 2018, ClubMed launched its Bye-Bye Plastics program, and is on track to ban single-use plastic products from bars, restaurants and rooms by 2021.

Tourism has a growing impact on the environment, which is why Club Med has always devoted itself to sustainable practices. Club Med’s Happy to Care program features a range of sustainable commitments based on values and practices, which reflect sustainable development.

Flexible Travel Options
According to the United States Tour Operators Association (USTOA), the most frequently asked question by travelers who made new bookings this fall was regarding cancellation or refund policies. Flexible booking policies are anticipated to continue into 2021 and beyond. To ensure added flexibility for travelers, Club Med offers:

  • Free Cancellation Policy: For new bookings made on or after May 18, 2020, guests can receive a full refund should they need to cancel their stay (up to 15 days prior to the anticipated travel date) for stays on or prior to Dec. 16, 2021.
  • Emergency Assistance Program: All guests traveling before Dec. 31, 2022 will receive coverage for emergency medical expenses during their stay, including those related to COVID-19.
  • PCR + Rapid Antigen Testing: As required for re-entry into the United States from international destinations, Club Med offers complimentary Rapid Antigen COVID-19 tests either on-site or off-site (dependent on the resort). PCR testing is also available at an additional cost.

For more information, visit Don’t miss this report: “Visit Florida Officials—Extremely Optimistic on the Year Ahead.”