Abhishek Sengupta

Entrepreneur | Author | Podcaster

Travel Trend Post COVID-19

At this point of time, whole world is struggling with outbreak of COVID19. Almost all sectors of economy are affected with this. Some sectors got direct hit, others got indirect hit. This is a trying and struggling time for the whole world.

Travel industry got direct hit from this. Whole world stopped traveling. Passenger airlines are just not carrying passengers anymore. No expected travel plans for tourists. Business travel took the form of web-conferencing. Most of the manufacturing units are shut. All allied support units are closed. Many countries imposed travel restrictions. Many countries are under lockdown. Most advanced countries are struggling with this outbreak. Spread of infection is alarming. Number of deaths are heart-breaking. Economies of various countries are badly affected.

Travel is not going to be same anymore. There are many types of changes expected. Even start of travel is also not going to be easy. Whenever, travel restrictions get lifted, the travel will to be highly regulated. This will seem like “Closely Watched Travel”. However, I must say, that will be need to the hour.

I have noted few probable trends as below:

  1. Airlines: Ongoing speculations say, as a measure to keep social distancing airlines might keep a vacant row next to an occupied row. This may lead to lower revenue amid ever increasing cost. In order to compensate the loss in revenue, airlines may hike up the fares. At the same time, airlines may even reduce the check-in baggage allowances and utilize this to increase the cargo quota in flights. Short flights may not have any service of food. Even handbags in cabin can be restricted. Turnaround time of flights – time taken to make an aircraft ready for next flight – may go up as sanitization process may take more time. Check-in process may go complete touch free in future. COVID check before boarding can also be implemented.
  2. Hotels: Hotels rates are expected to go down. Again, hotels will also impose many measures to check cost. For example, if a room used to have 5 towels previously, now it will have 3 towels. If, previously, in-room tea-coffee used to have 7 types of tea, it will now have 3-4 types of tea. Just like airlines, turnaround time of hotel rooms will also increase due to sanitation drive. Hotel Food & Beverage business will get a bad hit. Immediately restaurants and banquets may not go that well. So, cost cutting will be initiated.  Buffet menu in hotels will also suffer a cut. Freebies will be cut to a huge extend. Hotels may even come up with “touch-free check-in”. Few hotel chains have online or mobile check-in for rooms. This will become a common thing. Display of “Sanitized For You” can comfort a guest psychologically.
  3. Monuments: Monuments visit will also become quite different. Free flow of tourist to monuments may not be common anymore. Monuments may impose entry & exit slots for tourists. These slots will be strictly monitored. A monument may impose an entry restriction in a day. This will let to reduced footfall and subsequently leading to marginal increase of ticket cost. However, a school of thought says, instead of increasing price (in low demand market) monuments may consider extending visiting hour to facilitate more visitors. But this will increase fixed cost of monument.
  4. Shows & Arenas: Shows form important part of tour itinerary. Here also, entry restrictions will be imposed. Also siting styles are expected to more spacious to facilitate social distancing. This will led to reduced number of seats. With this revenue will go down. To compensate this, show ticket prices may go for marginal increase. Just like monuments, a school of thought says, instead of increasing price (in low demand market), show managers may consider increasing number of shows in a day. But this too, will increase daily cost and can be exhausting for manpower and animals (incase of animal shows).
  5. Transport systems: This will also go for re-modelling. Seat-In-Coach transfers may become uncomfortable for many tourists. Even if operators are going for SIC basis, number of persons they are taking in coach will be less. This might spike up the cost of travel. Private transfers, although expensive, will be preferred more. Like hotels, display of “Sanitized For You” can comfort a guest psychologically.
  6. Trains: In places like Europe, intercity commute by train is a preferred option. Likewise, in many other destinations train commuting is a preferred option. Here the real challenge comes. Railways operators across globe are brainstorming on post-covid operations. Number of bookings per coach may get reduced.  However, usage of washrooms, service of meals etc are the challenges which rail operators need to work on.
  7. Restaurants: With COVID outbreak, future of restaurants are getting discussed and debated at various institutions. Fine dining may get a hit for next few months. Buffets will see a lot of curtailments. In tourist places, where restaurants are lifelines for tourists (as hotel buffers are expensive), may pick up with start of tourism. But changes like lowering the number of seats in restaurants can be done to facilitate social distancing. Here hike in prices are not expected, rather curtailment of menus can be there.
  8. Visa: Visa processes are going to stricter. Many countries might do a scrutiny of travel history of traveller. Travel to any COVID affected country might lead to rejection. COVID check and COVID free certificate can become a reality before visa application.
  9. Immigration: Immigration may check for “COVID free” proof from you. So quick immigration may not be there in future. Immigration officer may double check a traveller before allowing him or her in their country.

There will be a different world all together after this phase.