At the 2021 ABTA Travel Convention, travel bosses from G Adventures, Celebrity Cruises and Sunways discussed navigating the ‘next normal’.
The panel was moderated by Travel Weekly Group’s editor in chief Lucy Huxley, who was joined by Mark Colley (managing director, Sunways), Jo Rzymowska (vice president and EMEA managing director of Celebrity Cruises) and Brian Young (managing director, EMEA, G Adventures).
All panellists spoke optimistically on the travel sector’s recovery from Covid-19. Young pointed to consistent growth and a return of consumer confidence, while Colley spoke of flexible booking policies (for example BA’s Book with Confidence) potentially extending indefinitely post-Covid.
Colley elaborated on the future of business travel, predicting that short business meetings will continue to take place via video call, whereas long-haul business trips will last longer – with perhaps an increase in ‘bleisure’ travel. “Business travel will be more considered,” he said.
For Rzymowska, “the ‘new normal’ is not pre-Covid or post-Covid – it’s living with Covid.” She highlighted 2022 as a key year for the cruise industry, as well as the importance of the reopening of the US borders.
“As soon as we can get into the States, the demand is there,” she said.
The panellists also discussed diversity and inclusion in the travel sector, with the need to diversify their workforces acknowledged as a priority for both G Adventures and Celebrity Cruises.
Young revealed that G Adventures had hired an external specialist to assess its diversity and inclusion policies, leading to changes in recruitment practises and branding.
While the pandemic forced G Adventures to make “very tough decisions” in downsizing its workforce, Young said that it had also provided an opportunity to “build back better” by rebuilding a more diverse workforce.
“Never hire the best person for the job,” said Rzymowska.
“Hire the best person for the team. And the best team is a diverse team.”