How will Canadians Travel this Fall & Winter?
Updated: Oct 22
Author: Rebecca Godfrey, CMC, MBA- Director
CBRE Limited- Tourism & Leisure Group- Valuation and Advisory Services
Customer sentiment points to some core yet limited travel intentions in Canada in the near future, according to Destination Canada research. Obviously, what happens over the next few months is dependent on government policy and other issues out of our control, but there are some elements of tourism demand that we can depend on either growing or shrinking over the fall and winter.
Here’s a short-list of what you can expect to see “less” and “more” of in the coming months:
Abstaining from travel
Large tour groups
On-site activity selection (e.g., at resorts)
“Overtourism” / mass travel
Engaging in safe, “healthy” travel
Last minute bookings to approved destinations
Affluent travel – private and contactless
“Work from anywhere” visas
Reliance on technology / Generation C
Research / online inspiration
For those of you who need the facts, here’s a bit more detail on those fall / winter travel trends:
LESS abstaining from travel. There is too much pent-up demand – even if it’s just to visit friends and family, people want to move out of their own space.
MORE engaging in safe travel that makes people feel healthy, less stressed and hopefully happy. This could involve visiting one of Canada’s national parks or a self-care experience.
LESS long-term planning, like that big family trip to Disneyworld.
MORE last-minute package purchases to approved destinations within Canada or potentially approved destinations outside Canada, information about which is available through www.time-to-travel.ca. This also speaks to the need for operators to be online!
LESS spontaneous travel – unfortunately, there’s a strong possibility that the destination, attraction or restaurant you want to visit is closed. At this point, you may need to book online to go to a particular park!
MORE research and searching for inspiration online before booking. People are dreaming of where they want to go, and there are a lot of destinations that are enhancing their marketing to grab your attention with incentives.
LESS large tour groups – there are just too many restrictions, and people can’t gather in groups of strangers.
MORE affluent travel - wealthy consumers are bursting to fly away, provided it’s private and contactless in nature, and exclusive VIP experiences are seeing an uptick.
LESS corporate travel, as people have the opportunity to work from home, or anywhere.
MORE “work from anywhere” visas in Barbados, Bermuda, Barcelona, etc. There are 9 countries that have designed visa programs to encourage remote workers to spend an extended time in a new destination.
LESS on-site activity selection, i.e. picking and choosing things to do at a resort when you’re there, so people are learning to plan ahead and book online, whether they like it or not!
MORE reliance on technology. A tourism business can only survive by having an active online presence, and this is what Generation C is looking for. Gen C is a uniquely defined group of “connected consumers” – basically anyone who integrates technology into their daily routine, regardless of age. C can mean “collaboration,” "community," "computerized,“ "content," etc., but at the most fundamental level, Gen C stands for connectivity. Accessing Gen C depends on reaching them where they live, and on their terms. Traditional media won't cut it – they trust content shared on our personal networks (e.g., Instagram or Twitter recommendations, etc.).
LESS overtourism or overcrowding of attractions and destinations, which can sometimes diminish quality of life for locals or cause degradation to fragile environments.
MORE conscientious tourism, meaning that people are now looking to travel in ways that reflect their values; this could mean avoiding single-use plastics, but it could also mean making the effort not to rip people off or somehow promote inequality.
Being on top of these trends while navigating “survival” mode may give some tourism operators and industry-related organizations the opportunity to step back and start to plan in a way that is both resilient and sustainable. This means taking a look at what you stand for and who you represent. Have any of those things changed? If so, how and what can you do to improve your marketing and product/experiences you offer for tourists? Travel is a privilege and an opportunity, and I really see this as a time for people to step back and think about not just how to make their businesses better, but to make travel better.