The travel industry has endured many crises but very few were adequately prepared for a pandemic as devastating as COVID-19. What we are experiencing now is unlike anything that has gone before – this is a crisis everyone is learning to navigate in real time and the longer the lockdown and travel limitations go on, the louder the questions of ‘what next?‘ reverberate through every business connected to tourism.
What has started to become clear is that there is no straightforward answer and everything has become interlinked, travel cannot happen without developments in healthcare. These developments are aided by advances in the world of technology and many are pointing to how all three industries, tech, travel and healthcare will help to lead the way towards a more sustainably sound and socially aware global future.
CONSIDERATIONS FOR RECOVERY
Flexibility is a critical element for the industry and the individual. First, the
industry has a responsibility to build flexibility into business to accommodate
for health or safety concerns to further build trust with travelers.
Secondly, travelers will need to be more flexible with their travel plans to
protect themselves and others when issues arise, even if it comes with an
Once individuals arrive at their destination, it’s also essential to consider and
respect the health and livelihoods of the workers who make travel happen.
Covid-19’s economic impacts shed a light on how quickly people’s livelihoods
in the serviceindustry can be disrupted, which can aid in the communication
about tipping and the treatment of staff.
With attention being paid to improved environmental conditions, now is the
time to educate individuals or for people to research setting a carbon budget
and exploring carbon offsets.
Get ready for a contactless future of travel and a much more robust approach to
airport scheduling. Airports are famous for long lines, so keeping people at
recommended distances may mean that arrival times are far more staggered, as
you arrive at the airport and board an aircraft.
For those travelers who may have already been wary about germs, there will be
new technology-enabled solutions to move them through airports – touching the
least number of surfaces and items as they go.
For example, rather than practicing social distancing while waiting in line for
your morning coffee, artificial intelligence systems – with the power of cloud
computing – can monitor when you enter the airport, or exit a flight, and start
fixing your drink according to your personal preferences. Perhaps the gate you
normally use is busy? Your smart phone may overlay with an augmented reality
app to re-route you faster to another part of the airport. You’ll pay for the coffee
right on your app, too. No waiting; no contact; perfect coffee.
Motion sensors can even be used to
inform that airport’s intelligence system to adjust, in real-time, cleaning
schedules based upon crowds or foot traffic patterns.
Humans rely on science to make thousands of conscious and unconscious decisions every day. We trust the laws of physics for our very movement, never questioning if gravity might release its grip.
The laws of nature govern our calendars — we accept that the sun will continue to predictably rise and set. Whether we consider it or not, scientifically proven facts guide our actions and protect our lives all day, every day. When we base our decisions on tested and trusted knowledge, we are free to live more fully — and safely.
The same goes for pandemics and the spread of infectious disease. With COVID-19, our global population has embarked on a collective crash-course in virus transmission. The importance of hygiene and personal protective equipment is inarguable. Our understanding of how COVID-19 is transmitted—and what we can do to prevent it—is concrete. We are responsible for protecting ourselves, and we are responsible for extending that protection to others.
We will not soon forget the global biotechnology conference in Boston, where ideas were shared along with the invisible illness. I believe these recollections will inform how we think about travel for years to come.
The verdict is out on how the leisure and business travel industries will adjust their practices as we navigate this global pandemic.