With lockdowns in effect and travel bans in place all over the world, it’s hard to imagine what travel will look like after the coronavirus.
While experts disagree on when travel will resume — guesses range from summer of 2020 to fall of 2021 — they all seem to agree on one simple fact.
Travel will, eventually, rebound.
A resilient travel industry
In a New York Times interview with Lori Pennington-Gray, Director of the Tourism Crisis Management Initiative at the University of Florida, Ms. Pennington-Gray said:
“As far as the travel and tourism industry, one of the things that we’ve seen from crises in general is that the industry is very resilient, and that we rebound fairly quickly. We also are seeing that there will be some pent-up demand and that people will be ready to travel.”
After an extended period of social distancing and quarantines, people will be eager to resume exploring the world.
This will likely start with domestic travel, especially road trips, before we start to see air travel and international travel approach their pre-pandemic levels.
More lenient change and cancellation policies
Before COVID-19 disrupted the world, most airline change and cancellation policies were rigid, confusing, and difficult to navigate.
Southwest Airlines was the only airline that offered more relaxed booking options and easy methods for changing or cancelling reservations. But in the wake of the coronavirus, every airline has been forced to adopt Southwest’s model.
The gradual return to travel is likely to be slower for airlines. Some people will be eager to hop on a plane, but many more will be hesitant.
As airlines do their best to reassure travelers that it’s safe to return to the skies, one method will be to continue offering generous change and cancellation policies.
For travelers that are wary about flying, knowing they have the option to cancel or modify their plans removes a major obstacle. We can be sure the airlines know this and are ready to use it to their advantage.
Hygiene and sanitation
The spread of the contagious coronavirus is all but guaranteed to have a lasting effect on the general population’s attitude towards sanitation and cleanliness.
When it comes to cleaning between guests, we can expect to see hotels and airlines enacting stricter policies and regulations. Deep cleanings will become routine and more-frequently scheduled.
And in an effort to put customers’ minds at ease, companies will probably make these new hygiene and sanitation policies very visible to the public. Brands will want everyone to know just how seriously they are taking cleanliness in the post-coronavirus world.
Perhaps we’ll even see cleaner public transportation.
Greater reliance on travel managers and experts
The outbreak of the coronavirus posed a significant challenge for many travelers. From fighting to get money back on cancelled flights to trying to find a safe way home, thousands faced difficult, frustrating, and even scary situations.
Travelers working with a travel management company had a distinct advantage. They could rely on the experts to help them secure refunds or passage home instead of handling that frustration on their own.
When travel does finally rebound, many people will want the reassurance of a travel management company looking out for their best interests. They will want the peace of mind of knowing that if anything goes wrong before or during their trip, they will have a team of experts there to help make it right.
Whether traveling for business or leisure, trust the experts at Professional Travel, a Direct Travel company, to make sure you’re taken care of in any situation.
Learn about Direct Travel's customized approach to corporate travel management.