Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Vacation time is the new value

The new value is vacation time: “Take as much as you want” said Richard Branson to the Virgin Group employees. While you may think this is a revolutionary idea, Sir Richard himself pointed out that he got the idea from Netflix which already gives its employees unlimited vacation time. And many other companies have been doing it in one form or another, including a few that have been doing it for more than fifty years! The implications for the tourism industry are significant. If people change the way they think about vacations, they also change the way they plan for it and what they look forward to may be different than that of people on a more traditional annual schedule of two or three weeks vacations at the same time of the year. This new challenge is a great opportunity to reconsider what features and amenities really matter when people are considering impromptu vacations and revise vacation marketing accordingly.

With impromptu scheduling and variable vacation time, the traditional time-frame of anticipation and planning goes out the window as it is no longer a yearly event scheduled months earlier. Duration would also change from the average vacation time in the generating markets to a diverse mix of short breaks and much longer time away from work. The increasingly shorter booking lead times and the next day city breaks featured by some airlines in Europe would fit perfectly in this new model. As the standard 14-day packages evolves into open-ended programs, tour and charter airlines will have to adapt their cycles of operation just as travel agents may have to finally retire their traditional vacation booklets and replace them with offers formulated on demand and on the spot.

The mindset of expectations would also change whereas preset time-frames filled with itineraries and resort stays in the traditional model would be too restrictive for customers now empowered to choose the duration of their vacation. Instead, they could easily set their vacations to fit to their travel wishes allowing for even more personalized planning. Destinations and resorts would also need to diversify their offering to appeal to both the short break tourists and the slow pace travellers instead of the more narrow profile they are accustomed to.