Look beyond the horizon

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Since the Covid-19 pandemic hit, travel has grounded to a complete halt. Critical client meetings have been moved to Zoom, frequent-flier cards have gathered dust and we communicate with colleagues, friends and family around the world without jumping on a plane.

Uncertain is a buzzword making its way into most conversations at the moment, on travel specifically or when speaking about the future in general.

According to the World Travel and Tourism Council, in 2019, travel and tourism’s direct, indirect and induced impact accounts for 10.3 percent of the global GDP and 330 million jobs around the world (that is 1 in 10 jobs).

The damage done by the pandemic is yet to be completely accounted for and not only in terms of revenue lost, but also from the loss of jobs and more importantly livelihood, for the multitude of people working in the travel, tourism and hospitality industries. The crisis has left the industry at rock bottom. With many airlines going under, it seems likely that many of those jobs aren’t coming back anytime soon — if ever.

Prior to the pandemic, with the economy on solid ground, investment in the travel industry boomed. Now, this massive engine of growth has been thrown into reverse as Covid-19 continues to ping-pong around the globe.

But alas that was the economy we once knew.

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We’re all struggling to understand how quickly travel will recover in terms of the magnitude of the impact the pandemic has caused. Recovery from past events like 9/11 or the global financial crisis generally took two to three years, but even then these events did not entail the months-long shutdown of virtually all of global travel.

And health concerns also were not an issue in either of the events. And that makes it even harder to predict how soon fliers may feel comfortable exposing themselves to strangers once again, or fellow passengers not wearing masks and a general discomfort around flying. The scars inflicted on travel and tourism look to be permanent as most tourism related companies shift away from massive travel budgets and experiential living becomes a memory.

The former strength of the travel and leisure sector was a convergence of demographic and economic factors such as lifestyle changes among the middle class who had been bitten by the ‘flying bug’ and were eager to see the world beyond the local tourism segments, availability of resources to spend freely on leisure and business travel, and millennial and solo travellers who lived to taste the bigger chunk of travel related experiences.

This massive pullback in both business and leisure travel is apt to inflict the deepest economic pain on both the airline as well as the hospitality sectors. According to IATA the industry is unlikely to come back on its feet as it were to pre-covid days, until the 2024 or even later, provided the vaccine is available soon.

All over the globe with countries most dependant on tourism such as Mexico, Spain, Italy, China and Australia, are struggling to find an answer to the crises as cases show a resurgence of a second wave.

And that is the case of just the developed world, many emerging markets that are highly dependent on travel and tourism will be devastated if the pandemic continues to spread over time.

Travel is a massive services export for many countries. As the recession caused by the pandemic becomes apparent, the task to rebuild and renew the travel and hospitality industry once again will be a long and ongoing process for years to come.

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So how does the future of travel look like? 

Well travelling will make a come-back again, that’s for sure. But it will be a privilege with people making considered choices about not only how and where they travel but also why they want to travel.

After being cooped up for so long, travellers will more responsible and conscientious as they seek out serene holiday spots, which will give them peace, simplicity and a desire to reconnect with nature.

People are likely to take fewer holidays, with the journey and experience being just as important as the destination.

The travel corridors which have recently been created by many countries are a great first step in rebooting the travel industry. In the immediate future, both staycations and trips which offer greater connection with local communities, and supporting travel brands that prioritize and implement environmentally sustainable tourism will lead the way.

Of course the truly deciding factor will be safety – moving forward travellers will want clear and transparent communication from the tourism councils, government, destinations, tour operators and other travel providers reassuring them that it is safe to travel.

The situation that we are currently experiencing is universal. And although is a time none of us ever wanted to see in our lifetime, what makes me hopeful is that this situation has somehow generated the opportunity for people to feel united again. This challenging period made people more sensitive and connected to each other, more concerned about their health and well-being, keener to find their real selves, and also to look for balance and meaning in their lives.

It was also a chance for nature to take a break and breathe, as well as to remind us of the importance of living in simplicity and purity.

As Ancient Greeks used to say, “All in good measure.”

-Madhavi

 

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OS- Bloomberg Opinion;BBC News;Forbes

 

 

 

 

 

 

How COVID-19 will change the way you travel

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COVID -19 is like the monster that engulfed the entire world in its pandemic circle too fast. Most countries did not have time to even prepare for the basics, leave aside eventualities.

Besides targeting people’s health this pandemic has also devastated businesses around the globe leading to unprecedented job losses, closures of establishments and doom as far as economy goes – worst since the Great Depression of 1930s.

Every component of the Travel and Tourism industry, including air, rail,  ground transport  and hotels & restaurants are the most severely hit sectors globally, as the outbreak continues to take its toll.

What is now important is to try to plan ahead of the curve , to re-imagine and re-shape the new reality of travel.

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Social distancing – the new norm?

After this contagion has been contained, international travel may not be a top priority for the majority of the global population, partly out of fear (until a vaccine is found), and partly due to the collapse of the economy.

Airlines and airports will have to work together in tandem to bring back customer confidence, and to support a new way of travelling defined by social distancing and increased sanitization.

Although compulsory, this could be particularly challenging for smaller airports which tend to have large crowds of people due to relatively small spaces.

Managing large queues in typically congested areas such as check-in halls and security/immigration checkpoints poses an additional challenge.

Queue management will have to be enforced strictly which could ‘up your time taken door to door’ with longer pre check in times and longer wait at security and immigration.

Of course technology will have to take a leap forward and enable airports and airlines overcome the hurdles of this new reality; besides a lot of self discipline amongst travellers.

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Automation will become paramount

All elements of the industry will have to make swift progress to re-imagine, re-shape and re-invent travel.

A range of contactless, self-service technologies to screen the vital signs of passengers, and baggage drops will have to be implemented by majority of airports. And for this the demand for automation, robotics and biometrics, will only become stronger.

The implementation of biometric E-gates may somewhat cut queuing times in the future but getting a number of airports e-enabled could be a mammoth task as of now.

With a lot of people unlikely to be wanting to touch surfaces and interact with agents as little as possible, automating as many passenger processes as possible will be crucial.

Maybe scanners on the lines of CCTV and surveillance platforms could be adapted to spot passengers who are indicating potential illness symptoms.

And of course carrying a certificate of immunity along with other travel documents will become mandatory.

To take things really out of hand, so to speak, passengers may turn to using their own devices at every touch point – right from checking in and navigating through the terminal, to controlling In flight entertainment  creating a real opportunity for airlines to promote relevant ancillary services though their mobile apps.

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Reconsider flight schedules

Most airlines especially those who have quick turnarounds between flights will have to look at rescheduling their time table to ensure thorough sanitizing of the aircraft while on the ground/in transit.

Cabin decontamination will have to be given centre stage to reassure passengers and crew that the cabins are sanitized and healthy.

However, reduced turnaround time has always been a weapon for airlines to cut costs, and also to keep airports profitable, so this would certainly pose a big challenge to the industry.

Also in the immediate future airlines will also have to consider using “social distancing” within the aircraft. The “seat separating” approach in which every second seat in the aircraft would have to be left unoccupied.

This would present another financial blow to airlines. But looking at a different point of view here, giving passengers a vacant space could also provide a sort of “a new premium travel experience” since passengers are guaranteed of having an empty seat next to them.

Although this could have a positive passenger experience so to speak, will the airlines charge more in such case? …. and more importantly will the passengers be willing to pay more.

If industry veterans are to be believed it will take a year to 18 months to reach anywhere near pre-crisis traffic levels, and the industry may not record pre-COVID-19 traffic volumes again before the end of 2021.

But at the same time, it is important to remember that while this crisis has put immediate growth ambitions on hold; all stakeholders should use the real opportunity for meaningful innovation and transformation to be accelerated.

Ultimately, airports and airlines must take action now to help secure consumer confidence and ensure they are well placed when the demand for air travel inevitably returns; and also be future-ready!

ny9

 

 

-Madhavi

 

 

OS:FTE
OP: AirlineTrends;TravelDaily; GoogleNews

“Adults Only” – Grown up Getaways

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Komandoo Maldives Island Resort

At first it seems like the sort of thing you would associate with the category of a movie rating, and not the hospitality industry.

Adult only holidays is definitely a thing. Popular worldwide, the concept, though a novelty in India, is becoming quite the rage.

The segment is not associated with licensed yet racy ‘good times’ for grown-ups unhampered by children in the background. Usually “Adults only” resorts and hotels might have different characteristics, but they all agree on one thing and that is kids below the age of 18 are not allowed.

Canny industry operators have showcased its appeal to the wealthier traveller on the lookout for some quality downtime, and to sub-sets of aspiring tourists, like women’s-only groups, sports fans or alternative therapy seekers.

The facilities, as well as all the small details and comforts, are designed considering the needs of this audience in depth. Some adults only hotels are livelier while others are more tranquil, relaxing and romantic. They offer an upscale and sophisticated vacation experience and take care of every last detail, guaranteeing that guests enjoy a blissfully relaxing holiday.

If you are looking for the answer to your quest of finding a child free environment some of these hotels/resorts may appeal to you

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Komandoo Maldives
  • Komandoo Maldives Island Resort, Maldives.
  • Secrets Wild Orchid Montego Bay, Jamaica.
  • Sandals LaSource Grenada Resort & Spa, Grenada.
  • Excellence Playa Mujeres, Cancun.
  • Royal Davui Island Resort, Fiji.
  • Excellence Punta Cana, Dominican Republic.
  • Galley Bay Resort & Spa, Antigua.
  • Iberostar Grand Hotel Paraiso, Playa Del Carmen.
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Hotel Senses Quinta Avenida, Playa del Carmen, Mexico

Closer home The Park Hotel Goa Baga River which caters exclusively to couples and the honeymooners is a boutique hotel, with its ‘adults only’ tag.

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Although hoteliers are of the opinion that considering the fact that Indian families hardly travel without kids and such restrictions are generally looked down upon, The Park has taken a ‘bold move’. But nonetheless with having almost 60% occupancy, the hotel has been a trendsetter of sorts.

According to TripAdvisor, there is only one other hotel in the country with entry restrictions Ananda – In the Himalayas, in Rishikesh. But Ananda is not an ‘adults-only’ place, it simply doesn’t allow children below 14 in order to maintain its tranquility.

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Ananda in the Himalayas

Globally, however, the line between family and adults-only hotels is getting sharper. While package tours catering to family groups with a long checklist of things to do and see on vacations continue to be popular, the hospitality industry is discovering the benefits of nurturing a child-free, or more accurately, ‘adult-only’ clientele.

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Secret Wild Orchid Montego Bay 

But having said all of this do you think the “adult-only” tag will be considered discriminatory? I would like to hear your thoughts on this in the comments below.

-M

 

 

 

 

PC:Hotels own website