Travel After the Coronavirus

Travel & Tourism, one of the largest sectors in the world, at a stand-still. Working in this industry you see the impact first hand.  So many questions, no answers. We are all curious when our next vacation will be, or when we will be able to fly again, and how that climate is going to change. I don’t think anyone knows when things will be back to normal, or if we will travel in August, or how international travel will look, how could they? The pandemic has rocked the world of many, but nothing has changed or will change more than travel.

According to Loup Ventures, a research-driven venture capital firm based out of Minneapolis, Minnesota, there are three main takeaways in travel after this pandemic.

  • Recovery in the travel space will take time.
  • Frequent travelers will return to relatively normal travel habits.
  • There is an opportunity for travel-related brands to associate themselves with cleanliness and safety.

I wanted to share my thoughts on this conversation – you will find predictions, (yes just predictions) but more importantly, discussion points.

“It is hard to predict any outcome while the crisis is unfolding” – Bloomberg.

1. Flight prices? 

Wanting to both travel and social distance on an airplane? This might be difficult. How are airlines going to be different when we are able to fly again? The one solution moving around; no middle seat.

Good news, more room on the plane…bad news, higher prices…right? “If airlines have to allow more space between passengers, their seat inventory will go down to 65 percent. That’s just about a break-even point for a flight”

‘For now, cheap flights can be found as airlines compete for a handful of passengers. While airlines may have to cut prices initially to woo passengers back, hygiene concerns will gradually fade away, said Rico Merkert, professor of transport and supply-chain management at the University of Sydney’s business school” – Bloomberg.

2. Deciding on accommodations?

Reputation and sanitation top of mind.

I believe hotels that offer minimum ‘touchpoints’ will be more attractive; no keys, more tech (just a few examples) – everything will be handled digitally, hopefully.  Crowded cities? How will people fare with this? Possibly more secluded properties, private homes, villas, accommodations with high reviews will be the preference. Reputation, maybe only Marriott properties – you might be surprised – many fall under this umbrella.

Perhaps your decision lies in the values of the hotelier. Perhaps this made you pause to reconsider your lifestyle (lack of a better term) and are more likely to choose a hotel that values sustainability, wellness, yoga…etc.

Ultimately, will your preference for hotels, resorts, Airbnb, etc. be affected by this?

3. Sanitisation will be the new security

When you get back from your trip, will the topic of conversation with family and friends nod towards the sanitary measures? Will this become the new norm?

While transparency will be expected…I have sympathy for the hospitality industry – about to go through a plethora of phone calls and questions from concerned travelers. Recent popular google searches – “how are hotels sanitizing?”

Marriot said “they will use electrostatic sprayers with hospital-grade disinfectants to sanitize throughout the hotel. Besides guest rooms, the sprayers will be used in lobbies, gyms, and other public areas.”

In a USAToday article, “guests who want to minimize contact with the staff can use their cellphones, Marriott says. Phones can be used to check-in, unlock room doors, make special requests, and order room service “that will be specially packaged and delivered right to the door without contact.”

Health, hygiene, and sanitation…three things every traveler and travel professional will be taking into account on their next vacation.

4. Domestic travel will rise 

Experts say domestic travel will fire back before anything. Short trips, extended weekends, road trips, etc. I believe before COVID-19 we were overly infatuated with international travel (Paris for 4 days because it was ‘cheap’) and left our backyard out to dry. I shouldn’t say that, but I foresee more hesitation for international travel than domestic considering it might be uncharted territory for most. But is it “safer”? Who knows…it just makes sense that this type of travel will come first.

5. Nature and isolation?

Tiger King was the icing on the cake.

As we lockdown in our home (486 sq ft. apartment for me), are we becoming accustomed to simplicity – time to ourselves, nature, sustainability? A common theme…responsible, sustainable, and nature-driven travel plans. Will nature and fresh sky be more incentivizing than bustling cities and crowds when things return? Post pandemic, vacations might look different – at least to start. National parks, camping, hiking trips, even smaller groups… “but it also means that we are more likely to select those destinations and hotels that practice responsible tourism”.

6. Luxury will become more affordable

Stocks plummet and millions are unemployed. “We are going to have to think hard about the money we are spending—and what we’re spending it on. Similarly, the travel industry is going to think about how they can provide us better value for our money.” Will luxury hotels and destinations be forced to drop their rates? Or throw in a shit ton of perks? As far as the cruise lines go – they are practically throwing you a vacation for minimal cost – rightfully so; “kids sail free”, on-board credit, drinks comped, free-air, etc. A common thought – “the sooner you’re willing to travel, the better a deal you can expect to find once lockdown ends and restrictions are eased.”

7. More flexibility…for now

Loyalty programs are extended, airlines are being more lenient and hotels are adapting to new cancelation policies. Take this example – “the world’s largest hotel company, Marriott International, whose Bonvoy program provides a wealth of perks, such as late check-outs, free stays, upgrades, lounge access, etc. In the wake of the pandemic, Marriott has announced that it would extend members’ existing statuses from 2019 until February 2022! Plus, your points won’t expire until February 2021. Loyalty will be rewarded, so don’t go throwing those membership cards away” – Neeraj Govil; Senior Vice-president – South Asia, Marriott International.

While many will be using credits for their next vacation – how will cancelations and refunds look in the future? For now, flexibility and customer service will be huge in a client’s experience…(travelers with hotel and airline status, pumped). Every company is battling how they will approach this…as leaders in each sector are paving the way and setting high expectations from a consumer perspective – brand loyalty.

8. Experiences >

Mind consciousness – we’ve had a lot of time to think, time to reflect. Perhaps, you are being more responsible, eliminating single-use plastic, going vegan, eliminating your carbon footprint, even becoming closer to the family…whatever it may be, we are giving these things more thought. Minimalism…a big topic of conversation. Are we realizing we can do with much less? Are we valuing this time without consumption? Have we taken real-life experiences for granted? When this is over, will we come out better on the other end? More aware? I believe so.

Adam, how does this tie into travel? Maybe instead of sitting on the beach or next to the pool with endless mimosas, we will want to get out and see the world. Cooking classes, self-betterment, learn.

9. Travel will be back

What do we know? Travel will be back. You will have another vacation, you will fly again. The world is waiting for us, let’s not take this one for granted…Be adventurous. Be bold, but savor it, it goes fast.