- Özgür Töre
Veganism has traditionally been associated with both the consumer and retail sectors but its influence in the tourism space is growing.
Vegan-friendly tours, excursions and digital travel apps are emerging as another tool for travel companies to attract environmentally focused individuals.
As companies across the travel and tourism spectrum look to recover from the harmful impact of COVID-19, they see greater personalization as key. This helps ensure satisfaction and consequently, accommodating every traveler type – vegan included - will be critical in the future of travel.
Johanna Bonhill-Smith, Travel & Tourism Analyst at to GlobalData, a leading data and analytics company, says, “A common objective across the entire travel and tourism sector is to deliver a ‘seamless’ traveler experience for each customer along every touchpoint, on an individualized, trip-by-trip basis. Vegan travelers can often encounter problems ranging from where to stay to a lack of suitable meal choices. Language barriers and cultural differences can often exacerbate these problems. This creates an opportunity where personalized recommendations are lacking and catering for a growing vegan consumer base could soon be a key differentiator.”
Unique apps have emerged, with Veg Visits and Air Vegan identified as key innovators. Veg Visits, for example, is a Vegan home sharing platform providing individuals with ‘vegan hosts’ across 80 different countries. Air Vegan rates how vegan friendly an airport is, giving users insights into the best Vegan food spots within it. Some lodging providers also commonly provide for the Vegan tourist with hoteliers and Hilton opened its first Vegan hotel suite in 2019. Tour operators are also capitalizing on this market with smaller companies such as Responsible Travel promoting 34 Vegan holidays across destinations worldwide including Greece, Ethiopia, India and Costa Rica.
Bonhill-Smith concludes: “The view that a vegan diet reflects a more sustainable form of lifestyle is gaining increased traction and is no longer considered a market niche. In a GlobalData survey conducted in December 2020, 76% of over 5,700 global respondents identified they were influenced by how ethical/environmentally friendly/socially responsible the product/service is’**. Prior to COVID-19, only 46% of global respondents identified that they actively buy products that are ‘better for the environment or animal friendly’ in GlobalData’s Q3 2019 consumer survey*. This suggests travelers’ perceptions are changing during COVID-19 and many may decide to make more environmentally friendly decisions – including going vegan.
“Servicing a traveler’s every need is going to be critical in post-pandemic recovery to both restore confidence and ensure satisfaction. With a greater level of satisfaction, there is, in turn, a higher chance to attract loyal customers – a promising prospect in light of COVID-19 and the detrimental losses it has inflicted on company revenues. As travel companies aspire to personalize each individual’s experience, ‘veganism’ should be an area to be acknowledged and acted upon, not ignored across the tourism sector”.
(*) GlobalData’s Q32019 Global consumer survey – 29,744 respondents
(**) GlobalData’s latest Global COVID-19 Recovery survey (2-6 Dec 2020) – 5,766 respondents. ‘Always’, ‘somewhat’ and ‘often’ responses combined