Travel Industry: Adapting in times of COVID-19

As the globalized world was forced to get into partial or complete lockdown due to the COVID-19 Pandemic, the entire travel business faced a huge setback and went 10 years back in terms of growth.

Be it the tourism sector, airlines, or travel industry – none has left unscathed from the battle against COVID-19, putting an estimated 25 million aviation jobs and 100 million travel and tourism jobs at risk.

It will take ages before travellers feel safe and confident again to travel.

Impact of the COVID-19 pandemic

The COVID-19 outbreak has a gigantic impact on the travel industry, ranging from hotel and cruise ship abandonment to airlines halting flights.

Calculating the exact losses is a herculean task, as the losses increase in direct relation to the spread of the virus. If the virus continues being on a rampage at the given rate, a loss of approx. 75 million jobs and $2.1 trillion in revenue could be suffered by the economy.

Effect on Airlines:-

It has been estimated that air-travel revenues could witness a fall of $ 252 billion and a fall in air passenger volumes is inevitable. The airline industry can take years to cover.

Effect on Hotels:-

There is no denying the fact that companies are struggling to stay afloat in the turbulent waters of COVID-19 Pandemic. To keep their boats sailing forward, businesses are embracing digitization more than ever before.

Digital Transformation has taken an enormous leap from being an option to being a priority. It has surpassed all the physical and virtual constraints and aided businesses in thriving amidst the crisis. Let us discover how.

Key Areas of Transformation for Travel Sector

COVID-19 has given birth to two travel trends: one being seamless travel where your body becomes your passport and the other being decentralized identity

Shift to Touchless travel

Since coming in contact with surfaces through check-in, security and boarding procedures poses a notable health risk for travellers and staff members, the most rapid and evident change will be a shift to touchless travel.

Automation will be observed across the proceedings of the entire sector. The use of biometrics for identity verification is known to all of us but it will become more prevalent with times. Contactless options such as face recognition and touchless data-entry such as voice commands, document scanning, and gesture control are already being explored.

Adoption of digital health passports

As the health and safety protocols for the travel and tourism sector are still in their nascent stage, countries are resorting to contact-tracing apps and thermal cameras to keep a check on the spread on COVID-19. Advanced health-screening and contact tracking tools seem like a beacon of hope for travellers in these dark times.

The traveller goes digital

In the context of COVID-19, a traveller can now secure credible and trusted health credentials and manage their own profile to facilitate a safe and seamless journey. This initiative called Known Traveller Digital Identity by World Economic Forum is a great example of such an approach. This initiative aims to serve as a platform where the travellers, government and authorities can come together to ensure safe and secure travel. As a part of this scheme, a traveller can consent to share his/her identity and details well in advance, eliminating long queues at airports and potential health risks

The key to success lies in Collaborative efforts

COVID-19 has presented the travel industry with a unique opportunity to revamp and remodel the travel industry into a more adaptive, tenable, and resilient industry. The key to doing so lies in effective collaboration at all levels. The alignment of health and aviation processes, priorities, and policies will be critical in establishing a cohesive process.

How hard has the Coronavirus hit the travel business

COVID-19 has had an unprecedented impact on the travel and tourism sector. It has left the travel sector in ruins.

Sectors Impacted:

• Airlines
• Booking sites and online search portals
• Hospitality(hotels and apartments)
• Transportation ( cabs and bikes)
• Tours and recreational activities

Business Strategies:

• Cutting down on variable costs
• Reallocation of Resources in a travel crunch
• Duty of Care
• Re-channelling focus back to core offerings.

What Travel might look like in the Future:

Brace yourselves, travellers! We are in for a long and bumpy ride.

This is how the travel and hospitality industry plans to overcome the aftermath of COVID-19 Pandemic:

1. Engaging with customers is more important than ever

With all forms of physical and direct communication out of question, taking to digital and social marketing platforms has become essential for any company’s survival. Companies should be focused on providing solutions to customers and building brand value and awareness.

2. Easing the contact process for customers

With cancellations and customer queries soaring, the company’s customer care is facing a huge spike in volume. Companies can make the process easier and less cumbersome by streamlining digital touch points of customers. Many leading businesses have merged digital and call-centre groups via automation tools.

3. Re-examining business goals and re-visiting business strategies

This is the perfect time for any company to re-assess the travel landscape and analyze its recovery plan. Companies leveraging this time to do so will be better positioned in a Post-COVID-19 world.

4. Laying stronger emphasis on health and safety standards

As the travel industry prepares itself for future consequences, health and safety standards become non-negotiable. Companies need to prioritize the health and safety of customers, travelers, and staff members. Every customer touch point-point needs to go digital from passports, boarding passes to room-keys, and checkout procedures.

Light at the end of the tunnel

With large-scale events canceled, airports abandoned, and travel destinations deserted, the travel and tourism industry has been truly jeopardized. But companies are no longer being passive and are taking a proactive situation to not only dilute but effectively deal with the situation.

The innate human desire to travel will never fizz out. When the world goes back to a state of normalcy, the demand will be greater than ever. Until then, companies are leveraging COVID-19 to build scalability. Moreover, over-tourism in recent years has taken a toll on nature, degrading customer experiences, and frustrating local population.

After exploiting all destinations to the fullest, this sabbatical will give all beautiful and cherished destinations, a breather, and a chance to recover.

2 Jun, 20 By Naveen Kolhapur
Discover more