As we advance in the summer of 2020, several countries are lifting travel restrictions and creating conditions for normal life to resume. And yet, no one can call this a normal period.
In past years, the summer months represented the peak of the tourism industry revenues and a great increase in the number of travellers all around the world. In 2020, due to the Covid-19 crisis, the sector’s revenues are dismal, and the recovery is slow.
The amount of health and safety requirements for travel increases proportionately as travel restrictions made by national authorities are lifted. Some governments demand testing before entering the national territory, others use various technologies to monitor and control health parameters and personal contact.
To resume activity, the professionals from the travel industry need to adapt to new circumstances and priorities. All around the world, restaurants, agencies, shops, rentals, and airlines have struggled to survive the last few months, and now need to face and surpass great challenges in order to thrive. In this article we will try to peek into the travel industry post coronavirus.
People Will Keep on Traveling
Everyone is worried about the future of the travel industry, and there certainly is reason for concern, but there is also an irrefutable truth: people will continue to travel after the pandemic.
The habit of travel is embedded in our daily lives and our human instinct will be to resume normal life as soon as possible – and finding innovative solutions to the problems that arise in our path. Society has evolved during the last decades to be increasingly scattered and global. Almost everyone has family members living abroad and feels the need to visit and physically connect with them. Modern travellers have the curiosity to experience different places and traditions physically and are not ready to abdicate of the cultural possibilities that the advent of air travel brought. Human resilience, science, and technology will guarantee that sometime in the future we are back to our old travelling behaviours.
Health Will Be the Number One Priority
From now on, and until a permanent solution against Covid-19 is found, the top priority for travellers will be safety and health. The future of travel and tourism depends on the capacity of providers to offer transparent and trustworthy solutions regarding these conditions. This applies both for leisure and business travel.
Corporate partners cannot risk employee’s health and reputation hazard and will only resume business travel in essential and secure routes. If airlines, hotels, and local businesses can guarantee top hygiene and control conditions, business travel is likely to gradually grow into a higher level, even if not quite the pre-covid usual.
The common tourist will probably avoid over-crowded hot spots and might look for less-known alternatives and options that involve outdoor activities and some level of isolation. And yet, popular tourism hubs are being visited by risk-takers that want to enjoy the opportunity of exploring famous sites in a less jammed state.
Customers travelling with family are faced with the usual budget restrictions and will obviously add new criteria when choosing the location for their vacations. Groups including children and elderly people will demand extra care regarding health and safety conditions.
One can conclude that in this post-pandemic era the priority for all travel industry partners is assuring the health of consumers. While all the businesses are struggling for financial stability and sustainability, the need to increase gains and expand margins can not superimpose itself over the need to strictly comply with all the recommendations and standards, and deliver a top quality, unquestionable service to users.
Innovations and Developments in Travel and Health
There are some changes that are already apparent in the industry and many more are going to follow. Some are the result of a shift in behavioural patterns, but some represent true technological and operational innovations. All over the world and across the industry, these are some of the advances and adaptations that are being implemented.
Streamlining Airport Operations
Flying is an acquired human habit and people are just not ready to abdicate of it. Air travel is one of the giants of the travel and tourism industry, and many innovations and advances focus on this driving force of globality.
Making a profit in this sector is not always easy, thanks to the inherent costs of operating an airline or managing an airport. Health and security measures take their toll on the profitability and financial health of companies that are only now fully recovering from the 9/11 crisis. But they are inevitable, and airlines are already adopting a range of procedures to make travel possible while avoiding the spread of the coronavirus. In truth, companies these days are generally more flexible and nimbler thanks to the automation of processes and the use of data, giving them a superior fighting chance to adapt and survive in these times.
The measures being implemented in airports include reduced personal contact in check-in and baggage drop operations, enhanced and reinforced decontamination of common areas, mass health monitoring (such as temperature control) and a general re-organization of spaces to instigate social distancing.
Inside the aircraft, many airlines are doubling cleansing and disinfection, strengthening operations that were already in place and using the best practices according to the scientific community to eliminate the virus within confined spaces. Individual protection equipment such as masks and screens will also appear on board of aircrafts, with the first one being mandatory in almost all operating carriers. Some airlines are even adapting the crew’s apparel to include personal protective equipment.
Thanks to modern data science and monitoring capacities, all these actions can be adopted, suspended, or strengthened in real-time, by analyzing the threat and contagion level in the local community and at the origin of the flight. These measures function as a complement to the policies dictated by the national authorities.
Ultimately, and because humans are great at surpassing adversity, we just might get a more efficient and modern passenger experience, better adapted to the current lifestyle and completely safe.
Unexpected Marketing Opportunities
If you can boast a good control of virus transmission or, better yet, a zero cases record, then you have just found your new marketing strategy.
Everyone is looking for the safest spot to spend the holidays, and effective transmission control measures set up at the right time will hopefully keep your business out of the way of Covid-19. As people resort to the news to be informed about the global response to this crisis, some countries and areas are coming through as better prepared and safer. Some governments, airlines and tourism associations are already showing their numbers as a business card and developing a marketing strategy based on trust and safety.
Tourists are also looking for new experiences that stray from the best-of areas and popular spots. Even unknown locations and facilities are welcome to advertise, by showing their strong assets (one of them being collected and peaceful). Outdoor activities and camping, small and traditional villages, beautiful natural landscapes, are sought after and local businesses have an opportunity to shine, both with local and international visitors.
Tracing and monitoring apps are being developed in various countries and with various functionalities. These applications allow you to instantly know the level of contagion threat in the areas into which you move and even find out if you have been in contact with anyone that is infected. Many countries have developed working apps, but for now their cross-compatibility is still being improved.
Technology is a driving force in development, and the search for effective medication and vaccination is being guided by the most brilliant scientists and supported by top-notch tools. But while we wait for the results, integrated and intelligent digital systems can be used to collect and analyze data and help us have better interactions. Our everyday steps can be re-worked in order to live in a more efficient and hygienic fashion.
Hotels are integrating innovative check-in and reception operations that are contactless while still conveying a high, personalized service level. This kind of initiative will be increasingly common, as airlines and even tour agencies try to replicate them.
Wallet-type applications are being developed to hold personal data and information that is needed for international travel, since there is an increase in demanded documentation to enter countries all over the world. This kind of app is able to store and share personal details with border control staff and authorities, and even present medical certificates and test results; of course, these apps are being developed while prioritizing individual privacy, data safety, and integrity.
The Future of Travel Has Arrived
Whether we like the course of events or not, and however damaged our businesses have been, it is indisputable to say that we are giving a giant step into the future. Some factors of this new reality are unappealing and fill us with doubts concerning sustainability and if things will ever be as good as they were before. But the best approach is to embrace change, react quickly, and fight for the future of the travel industry, contributing to a slow but sure recovery.
As long as the industry cares about its members health and safety, partners and clients, the will and need to move will keep travel alive.