As borders closed, events got cancelled and self-quarantined at home began on a mass scale, the travel industry, like most other sectors, began to bleed. The collective effort to save lives meant economic catastrophe for an industry that profits from people leaving their houses. With the entire industry on pause and no clear answer on when things will return to normal, one thing is certain, travelling in a post-coronavirus world will not be the same as before.
Experts opine that travel will return gradually over the course of months, if not years, but for now, travel may look different in many ways.
Expect fewer people at tourist hotspots
Theme parks, museums and iconic landmarks are known for drawing a crowd. But as they reopen and look to the future, those crowds are expected to be much smaller — and more controlled.
Balancing act for airlines
Airports will ramp up health screenings in a bid to fight the coronavirus as they balance safety and profits. Unlike many travel companies, airlines continued to operate throughout the pandemic, although at drastically reduced numbers. Practices adopted over the past few months are likely to shape the future of flying. Blocking some seats on planes or limiting the number of tickets sold is unlikely to be the status quo as more people start to fly. Airports will need to rethink everything from security lines to baggage carousels as they assess spacing for traveller safety. Zone boarding will be more strictly enforced, rather than serving as a guideline that is inconsistently followed.
Travellers likely to stay closer to home
When people do start travelling again, they won’t want to venture far from home, preferring long weekend stays to drive-to destinations. While train travel may be the most sustainable option, road tripping allows people to have more control of their environment and avoid contact with strangers.
Unless its isolated travel like driving a car, masks and gloves will be essential throughout the travel. The practice of maintaining cleanliness through the sanitisers will come handy and serve as a shield. Most countries will require a health certificate to visit. First, the travellers will be pre-screened in their home countries, then in the arrival countries. Interestingly, some international flights are also exploring new measures, such as mandatory blood tests, whether passengers or staff.
Choosing hotels differently
Things have changed, and you’ll change too. You’ll book with brands you know and trust to have hygiene systems in place for safety and security. You’ll also search for smaller properties that are centrally located, so that you spend less time in public transportation getting from one place to the next. Hotels that offer minimum ‘touchpoints’ will also fare well—hopefully no more long lines at check-in and check-out. You should be able to do it all digitally. When it comes to weekend breaks or long summer breaks, secluded, boutique properties that are out in nature, away from crowded cities, will be the first choice.
The classic road trip will be back
An open road, favourite tracks playing, and a blue sky doesn’t sound too bad right now? Car rental companies will likely offer great rates post-lockdown, with assurances of each vehicle having been deep cleaned after each use. In the short-term, there might still be restrictions on crossing state borders for leisure travel, so look for options within your state. Staycations will also emerge as a popular first choice, as it offers you some much-needed space and quality time in a beautiful setting—without any hassle of travelling at all.
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 better value for our money. For luxury hotels, that could mean anything from dropping room rates to throwing in a host of perks, such as airport transfers or letting kids eat for free. As for other accommodation options, chances are you’ll find them at better prices too.