Travel has been severely impacted by COVID-19 and the social distancing and stay-at-home orders implemented. As we cancel our vacations and major tourism spots close, many people wonder how travel will change in the post-pandemic world? What will be different in our new normal when it comes to hotels, flying, and cruising following the COVID-19 outbreak?
How will travel change in the post-pandemic world?
Hygiene is the most integral aspect of preventing the spread of diseases. With that, the American Hotel & Lodging Association has created new Safe Stay guidelines for hotels across the country to implement as we move towards the post-pandemic world. This encompasses the following:
- increased cleaning standards
- increased signage
- availability of hand sanitizing
- increase of contactless experiences
- social distancing procedures.
The goal is to ensure safety for all hotel guests and staff following the outbreak.
For example, Hilton is adding a CleanStay room seal on doors for each new guest. They will no longer provide shared amenities such as pens and paper. The room directories will be digital. Marriott is improving cleaning standards by utilizing new cleaning technologies such as electrostatic sprayers to give all surfaces a deeper clean than ever before. This occurs by adding an electric charge to disinfectant cleaners, which then allows the disinfectant to cover a surface more efficiently than traditional methods. Other hotels are likely to begin installing keyless entries to rooms; creating mobile apps to order room service, rather than having a physical menu; enforcing sign-up times for using the gym facilities; limiting or eliminating car valet services; and removing buffet-style dining options and instead utilizing grab-and-go options.
Temperature checks are another possibility that organizations are wondering if and how to implement. Some places, like the Venetian in Las Vegas, plans to set up thermal scanners as a non-invasive method of checking for fevers upon entry of all individuals. Some places are talking about setting up health screenings for employees. Specifically, those include regular temperature checks, as well as COVID-19 tests.
Even with the changes hotels are suggesting and beginning to implement, some predict that AirBNB and other private rentals will increase in popularity. Mainly because people would rather have their own space than a large shared space. The communal aspect of a hotel, even with social distancing implemented, is still worrisome for many people.
Airports and air travel
Air travel will surely be altered in light of the pandemic. Given the already tight and clustered nature of flying, many people already had aversions to it. In the post-pandemic world, we can plan to see: temperature checks, flight attendants wearing increased protective gear, disinfection of luggage, touchless kiosks, slower boarding, and increased mask-wearing. These are currently applied to many airports now, but they should be sticking around for the foreseeable future as well. Limiting food and drink offers during flights might also be something that airlines will consider in an effort to cut down possible transmissions of germs. Lastly, decongesting the lengthy lines that are inevitable due to our current security process is necessary but has not been solved yet. The hope is that new technologies can aid in this area.
There is also the possibility of changes to the physical layout of plans and where passengers will be seated. A plan that is currently being discussed is reversing middle seats in coach and placing transparent shields in between passengers. These alterations will create more space and solid boundaries between people’s faces, thus preventing the easy spread of germs. A second possibility that will take significantly longer to implement is to create a double-decker layout in economy class for long-distance trips. Ideally, this will provide more comfort, as well as protection.
Cost of flying
Unfortunately, we can also expect an increase in the cost of flying. We were in the “golden age of flight prices” according to experts in the field, the crisis that the pandemic created for airline companies is bringing us out of it. Once we move through the current avoidance of travel, airlines are likely to hike up prices in the long run. No one is going to want to sit in a squashed cabin anymore. So airlines will want to increase prices to make up for “lost space” when seat layouts are redesigned to provide more space for passengers. And the airlines will want to put away extra income in case of another situation where the demand for flight stops.
These are just two aspects of travel that we used to not give second-thoughts to. Check back later to read part two of this article, a look at how cruise ships and road trips will change in the post-pandemic world.