4th May 2020

HOW THE TRAVEL INDUSTRY IS IMPLEMENTING RAPID CHANGES DRIVEN BY COVID-19

A recent research from M1nd-set shows that 41% of travellers will travel less or not at all in the first 6 months after travel bans are lifted. The main reason being they want to avoid crowded areas to respect social distancing and save money.

The travel industry, already hit by a significant drop in business since the beginning of the crisis, now faces the ultimate challenge in luring travellers back when lockdowns are lifted.  

Many airlines and hotels are already implementing changes in readiness.

Emirates has introduced social distancing on its flights leaving empty seats between individual passengers or families. All cabin crew and staff in contact with passengers are wearing personal protective equipment and all aircraft will go through enhanced cleaning and disinfection processes in Dubai, after each journey.  Passengers are being tested pre-boarding to ensure they do not have the virus.

United Airlines are requiring all their crew staff to wear face masks on duty and are also leaving middle seats empty.

Philippine Airlines has launched specially designed uniforms that have protective equipment for their crew staff.

Aviointeriors design agency are working on innovative interior designs such as a new layout to maximise seats while providing protection and plastic shields to surround seats in economy class.

Hotels such as Hilton are also taking action. Hilton announced last week a new hygiene programme designed to reassure and entice travellers in coming months. Measures include room seals, extra cleaning of remotes, light switches etc, improved disinfecting of fitness centres, providing disinfecting wipes at key locations etc.

But it is not just airlines, airports and hotels who have to adapt. Passengers will need to as well. For example, Business Travellers published that from Monday May 4, Lufthansa and Swiss will insist passengers wear their own face mask throughout the flight and whenever social distancing cannot be applied. At Dubai airport, passengers are already required to wear gloves and masks from check in to leaving the airport. Thermal scanners are also monitoring the temperatures of all passengers and employees.

Another challenge is how to entice these first travellers to shop in duty free. According to a recent M1nd-set ‘s survey, around 60% of travellers in airports say they will not visit the shops and those that do  (62%) say they will avoid interaction with sales staff and avoid touching products. . This is expected to impact Beauty and Liquor the most.

It isn’t enough for the Travel Retail industry to rely on footfall from passengers starting to travel, it needs to further reinvent its model to adapt to the world post Covid-19.  This is a new world we’re living in and radical measures are needed to ensure business starts heading towards the heady heights of pre Covid-19.