MIAMI– An unprecedented 2020 was challenging for the travel industry and also provided valuable insight into travel trends for the year ahead and beyond. Club Med, a pioneer of the all-inclusive resort concept, is innovating products to align with anticipated trends for 2021, some of which will have lasting impact far into the future. These include working remotely with extended stays (workation); a demand for sustainable/responsible travel; flexible booking options.
“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,” says Carolyne Doyon, CEO and President of Club Med North America. “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% of travelers are looking to travel by Spring/Summer 2021 with most looking forward to returning to Turks and Caicos (47%) and Mexico (31%). 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% increase versus 2019.
As Club Med anticipates seeing a return to travel to the Caribbean islands and Mexico, resorts such as Club Med Cancún, Club Med Punta Cana, Club Med Michès Playa Esmeralda and the adults-exclusive Club Med Turkoiseare poised to provide travelers, whether families, couples or singles, a restorative and safe experience to escape to in 2021. Domestically, Club Med Sandpiper Bay remains the brand’s top-selling resort for those looking for an escape closer to home.
Increased interest in international travel
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% of travelers were from Florida.
However, according toThe New York Times, while interest in domestic travel is likely to continue through 2021, interest ininternational travel has increased since the news of the vaccine. Club Med is well equipped to meet this demand for years to come through the consistent growth of their international portfolio, marking three to five new resort openings or renovations per year, including a new Alpine ski resort annually. Each resort is constructed with a low-density layout – which is defined by low-rise buildings that are spread out across 50+ acres and respectfully integrated in their surrounding natural environments – leaving plenty of space for guests to roam freely and comfortably.
Exemplifying their eco-friendly positioning,Club Med is set to open their eco-certified Seychelles (Indian Ocean) resort in March 2021. This will be its newest Exclusive Collection luxury resort, respectfully integrated along a preserved Marine National Park. In harmony with nature, the resort will offer nature conservation experiences, like marine conservation and turtle nesting. Club Med Québec Charlevoix is also opening in December 2021, with bookings already well underway. Located just outside Québec City in Le Massif de Charlevoix region, the all-inclusive resort is Club Med’s first four-season mountain property with unparalleled waterfront views of the Saint Lawrence River, amazing year-round outdoor activity options, full ski-in/ski-out access, and spacious accommodations. Club Med anticipates seeing a high level of bookings from Americans, as the resort is easy for them to get to and more cost-effective than a do-it-yourself ski vacation – for example, a 7-night do-it-yourself ski vacation for a family of 4 to Whistler would cost approx. $9,900; while at Club Med Québec Charlevoix, a similar vacation would cost $4,500.
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 in Florida reported a 9% 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 à la Club Med. 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 wi-fi, dedicated workspaces (or free to roam and setup beachside!) and printer access. Club Med is looking to launch the concept in additional resorts soon.
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 Togetherprogram 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 ofalready-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, receivingrecognition 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 those in Florida, the Caribbean, and Mexico, 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.
Travel in 2021 will be more touchless than ever. A recent Booking.com study showed 64% of travelers agree that technology will be important in controlling health risks when traveling and 63% say that accommodations will need to use the latest technologies to make travelers feel safe. Club Med’s Easy Arrivalcontactless check-in/check-out prepares guests to fully enjoy vacations immediately. From signing up children for childcare services to booking ski equipment ahead of time at Club Med’s ski properties, 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.
Skift predicts travelers will continue seeking outdoor and wellness-centric destinations. An unspoiled paradise hidden in the heart of a Dominican palm grove, Club Med Michès Playa Esmeralda is the first and only resort in Michès, offering guests a sense of intimacy and personalization. Set upon 93 acres with a 2,000-foot stretch of untouched beach, the resort’s architecture seamlessly and respectfully blends into its surroundings, featuring four boutique villages with distinct concepts designed to deliver tailored experiences for various segments. This ‘resort within a resort’ concept includes:
· Explorer Cove, a dedicated section designed for families with activities and kids clubs nearby
· Caribbean Paradise, the alluring heart of the resort surrounded by lush tropical gardens and colorful décor designed for both families, couples and singles alike
· Emerald Jungle, designed for wellness seekers with a natural Zen pool, spa, wellness bar and treetop wellness canopy
· Archipelago, created exclusively for adults featuring floor-level oceanfront suites with private pools, outdoor showers and infinite views of the ocean just steps away
The pandemic has made many people aware of impacts on the environment and local communities. A Booking.comstudy found that more than 69% 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 proudly supporting the cause. In 2018, Club Med 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 Careprogram features a range of sustainable commitments based on values and practices which reflect sustainable development.
Club Med’s newest Exclusive Collection resort, Club Med Michès Playa Esmeralda, acts as the catalyst for Club Med’s environment-friendly positioning. Devoting its design, activities and elements to the surrounding region, the resort pays homage to the Dominican Republic’s ecological essence so guests who visit the resort can understand the natural beauty that first attracted many locals to the destination. The resort’s eco-chic concept is based on five core pillars: agriculture, immersion, waste management, energy and people.
Sustainability is at the heart of the resort with special programs and initiatives, including:
· No single-use plastics in the resort
· Locally sourced coffee and cacao products in the resort’s Coffee House, in partnership with local farmers
· Employee uniforms are created out of recycled plastic bottles (currently more than 200,000+ bottles have been recycled for this initiative)
· Programs have been implemented to provide more than 900 locals with language, vocational, and hospitality skill trainings
· Solar panel project – an estimated 45,000 square feet of solar panels are being installed in the resort to generate renewable energy
· Programs to stimulate the local economy are underway via various farming development projects to increase the efficiency, quality and demand for local farmers
· In-resort plant nursery currently houses 30,000+ new plants, and more than 2,000 trees were preserved or re-planted during the construction process
· Family environmental workshops offer interactive, fun and educational sessions for parents and children to learn about the environment together and participate in hands-on gardening activities
Flexible travel options
According to the United States Tour Operators Association, 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 and peace of mind 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 December 16, 2021.
· Emergency Assistance Program: All guests traveling before December 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.
Club Med, founded in 1950 by Gérard Blitz, is the pioneer of the all-inclusive concept, offering approximately 70 premium resorts in stunning locations around the world including North and South America, Caribbean, Asia, Africa, Europe and the Mediterranean. Each Club Med resort features authentic local style and comfortably upscale accommodations, superior sports programming and activities, enriching children’s programs, gourmet dining, and warm and friendly service by its world-renown staff with legendary hospitality skills, an all-encompassing energy and diverse backgrounds.
Club Med operates in more than 30 countries and continues to maintain its authentic Club Med spirit with an international staff of more than 23,000 employees from more than 110 different nationalities. Led by its pioneering spirit, Club Med continues to grow and adapt to each market with three to five new resort openings or renovations per year, including a new Alpine ski resort annually.
For more information, visit www.clubmed.us, call 1-800-Club-Med (1-800-258-2633), or contact a preferred travel professional. For an inside look at Club Med, follow Club Med on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and YouTube.
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