The travel industry is going through its biggest crisis in living history in the wake of COVID-19. With national borders sealed, cities at a halt, flights grounded and all other means of transport stopped, travel has become a rare commodity.
One wonders whether the world will ever recover. With no vaccine forthcoming, people remained hunkered down at home, waiting and watching. The last thing on anyone’s mind right was a holiday even as the holiday season sailed by.
There are those who feel that there is no end to this pandemic. The overall approach to the situation, however, is that there is light at the end of the tunnel. Once this crisis is behind us, there is much to be done to rebuild the travel industry.
Travel Industry Before COVID-19
In the pre-COVID era, the entire setup of the travel industry was arranged as follows:
Customer experience was given utmost importance for at least the last five years. Travel companies would move heaven and earth to provide customers with unique experiences to beat the competition. They make a lot of effort made to make purchasing easy for the customer
Growth of Revenue
Since the last decade, travel has begun to take the shape of a commodity. There was income being generated through related services like baggage services, meals, frequent flyer incentives, and hotel room deals.
A lot of technology was being invested in streamlining efficiencies, using innovative business models to curtail wastage and optimize profitability. Automation and modernization were the mantras, and the industry grew in leaps and bounds.
Travel Industry in the Post-COVID Era
The major thrust of the three trends we mentioned above will continue. These will gain even more relevance in the post-COVID era. How adeptly companies convert these priorities will determine their success or failure in the days to come.
However, there will be additional considerations that will need to be taken care of as the world slowly limps back to the “new normal.” Here are a few interesting points that we are likely to notice in the travel industry in the wake of COVID-19:
A Feel of the Pulse
Of course, travel companies will be eager to push travel, but they will have to look at the big picture. These companies will have to tread lightly and get a feel of the voice of the people to proceed in the right way, appropriate to the emerging trends.
How to proceed will depend mainly on the type of travel, and whether traveling to hotels, or air travel and cruise liners. Companies can maintain a thrust, for instance, to off-track destinations which are a much safer option than heading for crowded cities.
Airlines would necessarily have to keep travel to countries with travel bans suspended while resuming travel to other destinations in a phased manner. Messages would have to be sent out to valued customers with the human aspect in mind.
Innovative Ways to Engage Customers
With budget cuts and heavy losses, it easy to lose sight of the need for travel marketing tips from Invideo. It becomes a challenge to drive sales in the backdrop of pay cuts and layoffs. So, here again, caution needs to be exercised.
But there is much scope if you look for opportunities in the right places. For instance, some airlines are offering free travel for medical volunteers, and some hotels are providing free accommodation for healthcare workers.
All this helps to shore up client goodwill and will go a long way in forging customer loyalties in the foreseeable future. Then, alongside this, travel companies are also portraying destinations, redesigned in the backdrop of the “new normal.”
There is a campaign going around called the “OnlyYou” campaign. It shows an empty Las Vegas strip to illustrate how that destination will still be there post-pandemic, albeit with an altered social structure.
With a massive spurt in cancellations, travel companies have been through the worst time ever. With a two-hour average wait time in March, company staff and customers alike were stretched to the limits of their tolerance.
There are ways and means of streamlining the CRM systems to handle higher volumes and reducing wait times. Applying new technologies, digitalization, and automating systems has become and will continue to be a priority.
New Ways of Competing
COVID-19 has made a massive economic impact on the travel industry. Small airlines, budget hotels, and independent travel agencies have faced the brunt of it. Many of these establishments went down under and even ceased to exist.
As the survivors of this scourge emerge from the debris, the recovery will be gradual and erratic across the globe. Domestic travel will gradually resume, but international travel will still be unavailable in many parts of the world.
Being able to patch up customers for traveling to various domestic and international destinations will become the ultimate challenge. With so much uncertainty remaining, timelines will be hard to predict.
However, companies that do have access to the limited information available need to be updated frequently and use that information to reclaim market shares, enter new areas, and come up with fresh products.
These companies need to use this information to plan a strategy based on customer behavior to know when to respond to emerging customer needs. It will send out the right messages to get back to business as usual.
A New Thrust on Health and Wellness
In the post-COVID travel world, health and wellness will be a prerequisite. It will be the minimum expectations of travelers, and the travel industry will have to gear up for it. New technologies will have to be introduced to facilitate these changes.
We have already seen the proliferation of contactless payments through portals like Google Pay. Several other contactless processes will have to be established in hotel reservations, air ticketing, and face recognition technology for flight check-ins.
A New-Age Travel Industry Emerges
The travel industry has been severely disrupted. But we could call this a “constructive” disruption in that it will pave the way for new things to come in a new infrastructure to serve us better. With the combination of new technologies like 5G and AI, the travel industry is headed for an exciting destination!