This shall pass. We will travel soon again. We are all hearing this too often now and with everything going on, honestly, this is all we can say at the moment.
Yes, travel will bounce back. It has to, but it will not be the same. Travellers need to feel safe again before they board that plane and also need to have the guarantee that they will be allowed to enter their destination country without a hassle. New health protocols and measures are all in the pipeline but no defined guidelines have yet been issued.
We believe this is how travel will change post COVID.
Touchless travel will be the new normal. A lot of automation and digital tools will come into play and this will be the new norm going forward. While biometrics are already a widely accepted solution for identity verification, their use is likely to go up significantly and more touchless options including contactless fingerprint as well as iris and face recognition will come into use.
Digital Health Passports
Health is now going to be an important part of travel going forward. According to a survey by the International Air Transport Association (IATA), measures such as visible sanitizing, screening and masks all increase passengers' feelings of safety when thinking about travelling after COVID-19. Until a vaccine/cure is developed, the focus will shift to assessing the risk of all individual passengers. With the passenger's consent, travel companies and airlines could use personal data such as their age, underlying health conditions and travel history to compile an individual risk profile.
Collaboration is Key
Governments and the industry have a great and very unique opportunity to redefine travel and give way to a more sustainable and resilient industry. All the concerned parties will need to cooperate and increase their use of digital technologies and develop policies which are common and standard across all platforms. This pandemic is likely to give way to two trends that were already in the pipeline for sometime now:
This means the individual is in possession of and controls their identity attributes and also travel history, health information and other data. Combined, these trends will ensure travel is enjoyable, efficient and safe.
Close to Home Destinations will be Preferred
Industry experts believe that people are more likely to choose destinations closer to home for their holidays. There is so much uncertainty around and thus people want to be close to home so that they can rush back whenever needed. International travel is looking highly unlikely for the next 6-12 months and even if people do start going abroad, they will choose destinations closer to home. For example, Indians will be more likely to visit Sri Lanka and Bhutan, which have more or less recovered from the pandemic. Also, for now, India is going to be more incredible than ever!
Choice of Hotels/ Locations will be Different
Everything you do post pandemic will be a more thought of and planned decision (bye bye impromptu trips). You will choose hotels which are trusted brands and the ones you are familiar with. You will also want hotels to be centrally located when in a city so that you spend less time on public transport. For weekend breaks and short trips, you are more likely to choose secluded boutique hotels and focus on back to nature holidays rather than full fledged city breaks. Wellness and spa breaks are also something that will be on the rise. Slow and sustainable travel will be the new thing!
Price of Activities will go up
All the adventure activities that you love, will now come with a higher price tag! Take ziplining or snorkeling for example. Would you want to share gloves, helmets and masks again with others? And are you willing to wait in the lines for your turn while the equipment is being thoroughly sanitized? Most likely you will now have to carry your masks, helmets or gloves or else the costs of the same will be factored into the price of the activity.
Flight Prices might go up
Continuing with social distancing on flights will mean the flights will have to operate at a lesser capacity than usual. If airlines have to allow more space between passengers, their seat inventory will go down to 65%! That’s just about a break-even point for a flight. Hence, expect a hike in prices. The good news is that you’re likely to have way more space in your Economy seat.
Going forward, you can also expect aircraft to be equipped with things like surgical gloves, sanitising wipes, contact-less infrared thermometers, etc. What are you going to see less of? In-flight reading material like magazines in your seatback pockets, and less chit-chat with friendly flight attendants.
The Classic Road Trip will make a Comeback
Using public transport is going to be a major concern and thus shorter road trips are going to be preferred in our own private vehicles. A great drive, good music and your favorite snacks doesn't sound too right now, does it? People will prefer using their own vehicles for these trips (good time to stock up on those automobile stocks?)
Luxury will become more Affordable
The travel industry will be giving better offers, steepers discounts to make sure they get back their customer base. Other than hotels, even Airbnbs and homestays are bound to get cheaper. The sooner you are willing to travel post the pandemic restrictions ease, the better deals you will get!
You will have more Flexibility
One good thing that will come out of this pandemic is that the flexibility of booking and traveling will greatly increase. Everyone in the travel industry is going to make it as easy as possible for you to book your next trip. The usual rules and conditions are going to be relaxed and cancellations, date changes, and full refunds are going to be possible even more now. You will also be able to enjoy the benefits of your loyalty programs for longer. Marriott International, whose loyalty program provides a wealth of perks has announced that it would extend members’ existing statuses from 2019 until February 2022! Plus, your points won’t expire until February 2021.
Experiences will Trump Products
This experience has made most of us realise that people and experience trumps products and things. Memories with friends and family are more valuable than buying new dresses and shoes. We have all realised how much we took our life and experiences around us for granted and hopefully when we all go back to normal life, we will remember what this pandemic taught us. We will value having a meal with a friend more than buying something new. We all have realised that we can do with much less in our lives and the spending can also significantly reduce. From now on we are going to be wanting to spend as much time as possible with the people we love!
Travel will be back! it has to be back as far too many livelihoods, jobs and economies depend on it. The world has come together to fight this and together we will! The skies will soon be full again with flights and countries will be full again with tourists. We will soon not be scared to hug our friends and go dancing with them in a crowded club and masks and gloves will be a thing of the past. But till all this happens, we take it slow and we take it one day at a time! Stay safe and stay home!