Q&A with THIRDHOME Director of Adventures & Custom Travel: Liz BatesMay 22, 2020 • By Margeaux Gerwin
Everyone has questions for a travel agent, so we asked our very own.
Meet Liz Bates, THIRDHOME Director of Adventures & Custom Travel. Liz has been fortunate to have explored over 65 countries, exposing her to many diverse cultures which provides members with a vast array of specialized niches of interests that exist around the world. From Silicon Valley working for American Express in branch management, to Nashville’s Music Row coordinating top talent tour schedules, she has tailored memorable travel experiences for Fortune 500 CEOs, renowned entertainers and celebrities, including prominent American Express Platinum and Centurion Card members. Now at the helm of THIRDHOME’s Adventures and Custom Travel division, Liz curates for our membersonce-in-a-lifetime private journeys and designs exclusive small-group Adventures. With a passion for seeking out profound travel experiences in the most captivating global destinations and crafting inspiring and immersive itineraries paired with regional connoisseurs, her gifted calling and expertise are priceless THIRDHOME membership perks to tap into.
What can travelers expect in the near future?
I anticipate global open borders will never be the same or what we once experienced – we will have stricter requirements to travel internationally, with health certificates and immunization verifications required to enter through a foreign country’s Customs & Immigrations control; in addition these will be required for traveling/boarding airline carriers. We will also be required to present these health documents again when we return back through our own home-borders (this will also apply to car traveling internationally when entering/exiting borders)
I expect we will finally get the more room on airplanes and between seats – airlines will reconfigure their planes enforcing more space between seats, along with other onboard practices being required for safer air travel – all of which will result in less flight routes and time schedules being offered; this could sadly include higher airfares and less last-minute savings in the future as the public demand to fly will remain low for quite some time; domestic flights around the globe will become the “test-tube” for how international in-flight travel requirements will evolve as longer flights will require an evolution for food & beverage services, bathroom facilities and stricter hygiene requirements for these long-haul routes
It is possible that the self-testing and scanned monitoring of body temperature on-site prior to entering airports, dining facilities and perhaps even hotels will be the new norm.
Domestic flights will be the “test-tube” for seeing what will work, before international flights re-open again with global open borders
The need for enlisting the expertise of experienced travel agent will become the go-to norm to ensure information and guidance is coming from a trusted source within the industry along with accuracy of up-to-date requirements
International travel destinations could become more limited with fewer destinations available to consider for a vacation as countries begin re-opening at slower paces based on their individual governing decisions; international travel could also become more complicated and more expensive due to fewer hotel properties coming back on-line along with overall tourism restructuring and availability of resources/personnel/staffing within each destination
Out with the old normal traditional vacation model and in with a higher quality new-normal travel model, with a mind-set focus on “traveling with who you know” and more privately will surge as the ideal recommended way to vacation – an industry emphasis on private vacations, smaller groups and/or going with your own group of trusted family and friends, along with the inclusion of expected crafted experiences and personal outings with controlled environments will be in demand
There is much speculation that mass tourism Budget & Moderate vacation brands including cheap deals will cease to exist (for a while) – The general public had such a mass-tourism selection of options pre COVID-19, and as such these budget to moderate vacation brands will not bounce back quickly and/or many will not last through the financial strains caused by the pandemic. This type of mass-tourism travel traditionally focused on large groups or larger gatherings of travelers, as such these will continue to go against social distancing safer practices even as we move forward to the other side and enter into a post COVID-19 world of traveling
Mass-tourism cruise vacations will be the most impacted, with most cruise lines eliminating their larger massive vessels
I expect that Boutique expedition ships with exotic remote itineraries will take the place of large-ships; focusing on smaller boutique expeditions to exotic remote locations, with no more than 15-30 suites onboard; Private yachting will become the more preferred way to sail and take to the open seas and oceans, as these offer the exclusivity of smaller gatherings with select friends & family onboard
A resurgence of purposeful-eco-nature tourism travel preservation and conversation of our world’s natural resources will be at the forefront of the type of vacation one will take – the impact of the mandated global shut-downs have caused mother nature to experience a remarkable rehabilitation of preservation in not only nature but in a variety of species from land to underwater with have been vividly noticed and documented by scientists and biologists around the world
Stay-cations will be the BIGGEST player in the future of travel, however until the rental industry can re-open as there are strict laws enforcing no rentals less than 14-30 days at this time, the most coveted way to experience a stay-cation are through private clubs that offer owner-member residences offering expertly cleaned environments with less mass-tourism occurring around this type of vacation, making for a worry-free vacation option. They promote the perk of not having to travel and be surrounded by strangers, along with the peace of mind that one can feel more relaxed knowing there is safety within your own group, and the comfort of including elderly family and friends to join in
Luxury boutique hotels will most likely bounce back, as they will become strong players in offering less-number of guests ratios and individualized services with a focus on privacy, privacy, privacy; larger hotel brands will not bounce back as quickly; however public gathering areas such as pools/hot-tubs, lounges, bars and even larger dining rooms will not reopen as quickly – these guest services will be scaled back and/or take quite some time to come back
Once-in-a-Lifetime bucket-list small group adventures will become even more important and sought after, but these too will be defined by traveling along with a tribe of trusted travelers (friends/families)
Wellness & Fitness retreats will emerge again and become a creative niche catering to private groups for whole body-mind well-being vacation experiences
Do you think certain amenities that are usually available during a stay will be removed? What about Activities?
Yes, how we dine, sip and play will completely change within a type of accommodations traditionally offered by hotels. Public gathering areas pose the greatest risk currently and even as we move forward post COVID-19, and travelers will continue to have at the forefront of their minds “is it safe” to go and how should we vacation. Within private residences and stay-cations, these services can still be made available to travelers and incoming guests, and will more likely remain in place as an amenity through established relationships built upon trust found within excellent club programs that can ensure cleanliness of residences through their member-owners. Dining and entertaining within a private residence with personally chosen friends and family can also reassure these services and amenities be available for their enjoyment. In additional wellness and fitness services can be offered within these more private stay-cations; personalized and brought to your in-home safe environment.
How do you think air travel with change or be affected?
According to industry travel publications, specifically for international long-haul journeys, airlines are reviewing the options of installed devices that could eject sterilized PPE (masks/gloves) for their in-flight travelers and/or providing mandated masks/gloves to all travelers who show up without these; also restricted dining services and enhancements (boxed options not requiring to be served by flight attendants available for purchase before you board from a provided menu offered at the point of purchasing your ticket); stricter quality control of reducing germs so no bringing on-board your own food or beverage items; there will be less seats with more room between them; there will be higher ticket prices
Do you think the number of trips families or couples take per year will change?
The number of vacations one used to take will certainly evolve, based on what the new-norm of vacation styles that will be available to choose from. I personally believe the way people traveled in the past will certainly change as they will have limited budgets. As mentioned above, many travel brands that offered cheaper vacation options within the mass-tourism model, will cease to exist and/or it will be a very long time before they can exist in the future. In addition, the financial impact that households are facing with the economic strains caused by this global pandemic might cause them to postpone their vacations until perhaps 2022, and as such will need time to rebound in order to afford a new-traditional post COVID-19 vacation – but experts are projecting bucket-list once in a lifetime vacations to be huge hit for 2022 and onward. Also, the “old norm” was that travel had become extremely more affordable for families and friends to travel from all regions of the world and join up together. This will not necessarily be realistic moving into the post COVID-19 era of travel, as it will also be determined by where one lives and what region of the world will they be traveling due based on the mandatory health records and immunization requirements that will be in place to now every destination you could image traveling to (where in the past only select countries had these in place).
Any thoughts on home exchange post-pandemic and the popularity of this type of vacation model?
In addition to the above referenced “Stay-cations” points – With many states implementing self-quarantine practices between 7-14 days if you drive into many states from other states, the THIRDHOME Exchange model provides yet another perk for the perfect vacation. Safer at home or sheltering in place goes hand-in-hand with the THIRDHOME Exchange model and style of traveling offered, as it’s in alignment with the ideal safer practices imposed by government mandates. This provides our members with the assurance that one can stay safe in choosing to travel with THIRDHOME. In addition, there will continue to be the imposed practices of social distancing and reducing the size of gatherings, specifically as it applies to dining out in restaurants as states and cities begin to re-open and determine if it will be safe to remain open moving forward. Choosing a THIRDHOME Exchange vacation provides the hassle-free benefit of cooking safer at home. In addition to our Custom Travel division can assist with approved caterers, in-home chef dinners and which restaurants are offering either curbside pickup or take-out stay-in deliveries directly to your THIRDHOME residence doorway. With the majority of states continuing to mandate that bars remain closed or not serve drinks, THIRDHOME Custom Travel can assist members with catered alcoholic beverage in-home set-ups complete with a bartender if desired, or you can BYOB and never leave your home away from home confinements. For those who seek some regional adventuring, THIRDHOME Custom Travel also provides assistance with customized self-drive itineraries with built-in fun regional inclusions through our USA Road Trips packages. With many national parks beginning to reopen, these make for the perfect timing to explore outdoor activities and take in the beautiful serene environments that nature provides…and with less crowds.