13th April, 2020
The coronavirus pandemic is forcing travel brands to reassess what to offer and how to take care of travelers, especially considering the major health risks posed by COVID-19.
Travel companies are collecting all the relevant information from government and medical authorities, and have been acting accordingly. Airlines are not only finding ways to ensure safety of passengers when they decide to travel, for instance, by practice social distancing on the ground and in the air, but they are also protecting their employees, how to handle suspected or confirmed cases of coronavirus etc.
Some of the recent initiatives that have stood out:
Change in the core experience: Don’t expect the flying to be same when you do so. Delta’s move to show middle seats as unavailable and to cut down on the number of passengers on each flight is a big indicator of the things that one can expect.
Social distancing an integral part: It won’t come as a surprise to see the number of physical touchpoints/ interactions going down, for instance, paring down to essential onboard food and beverage options for domestic and international flights. Delta has explained what to expect for flights more than 350 miles, 900-1500 miles and more than 1500 miles.
Assessing suitability to travel: Etihad Airways has chosen to test self-service devices (touchless use) at airports to monitor the temperature, heart rate and respiratory rate of any person using an airport touchpoint such as a check-in or information kiosk, a bag drop facility, a security point or immigration gate. The airline stated that the technology will not only help in the current COVID-19 outbreak, but also into the future, with assessing a passenger’s suitability to travel. The system would screen every individual, including multiple people on the same booking.
Assuring travelers with new cleaning protocols: Hotels are not only training their staff, but they are also focusing on how to disinfect high-touch items, surfaces etc., with increased frequency and intensity of cleaning public spaces.
Hospitality @ Stay Home: The hospitality industry is also evaluating options related to guests’ availing bakery, gourmet, wellness etc. hampers. For instance, Taj in India as part of its “Hospitality @Home” is letting one to use e-vouchers and buy such hampers. As of now, after the order and pre-paid option, one has to pick the order from the hotel lobby.
By Ritesh Gupta