All of this news has us wondering how specific operators in different parts of the world are preparing for the summer 2021 season. We spoke with a few who were keen to share what they have been up to and how they foresee the upcoming season playing out.
What one operator is doing while international travel is in the doldrums
Sean Finelli from The Tour Guy, which largely serves U.S. travelers in major European cities, is not anticipating any large numbers for this summer; however, he continues to lay the groundwork for a strong digital presence. The company has completely revamped its content strategy over the past year. They plan to continue this work over the summer. Thus far, they have written over 300 new blog posts and edited nearly 200 others. They are currently at a standstill with hiring, but are optimistic that things will start to pick up before the end of the year. Sean did say that he believes 2022 will be a Pheonix Year for them; his optimism is encouraging.
Unexpected benefits as travelers stay local and outdoors
On the opposite side of the world, Matt McClinton of SkyCab Balloons in Louisville Kentucky is preparing for an exceptionally busy summer. Demand in his off-season, December through February, has already been higher than years past and he is anticipating this to continue into the summer. In anticipation of this increased demand, he has opened a new location in neighboring North Carolina. Speaking with others in the hot air ballooning space, he’s convinced the heightened demand they have already seen this year is in part due to consumers redirecting funds that would normally be spent on traveling and vacations.
Slow and Steady in D.C.
In Washington, DC, Unlimited Biking Manager Georgia Lucas is taking a more cautious approach. While the Cherry Blossom season in April usually kicks her season off with a bang, and allows time to train and acclimate a new batch of 10-15 guides, this year will look slightly different. She has plans to onboard only a handful of guides now in hopes of being ready for the floodgates to open this summer. With numbers still paling compared to years past, her concerns lie primarily with the hiring and training of new guides and the company’s ability to respond to a rapid increase in demand.
Clearly, various approaches are being taken at the moment around the world, and there is no magic bullet for how, when, and where tourism will return. Everyone needs to understand their own circumstances and options available for the summer ahead.