Here is my list of 10 ways travel will change forever post-COVID
1. Every kind of ticket is moving touchless (digital) – Many years ago airline tickets moved from paper to digital. Now the rest of the ticketing world has moved digital. Tickets to Broadway shows, tickets for trains, subways, football games, etc. have all moved from paper to a digital format because of COVID. This process was in the works prior to COVID but the virus just sped up digital ticketing 5 years by my estimate. Some people won’t like digital tickets but I find that having them on my mobile phone keeps me from losing them and makes them easy to transfer.
2. Masks are here to stay on airplanes – I don’t like wearing masks but my guess is that this may be one thing that the airlines will continue to require as long as there is another virus variant on the horizon.
3. Hotel stays will become self-service from A to Z – The hotel industry has been extremely impacted by the pandemic. Hotels are going broke left and right this year. The slow climb out of the pandemic has radically affected the business models of the hospitality industry. The hotel of the future will have half the staffing of the pre-COVID hotel. Your hotel stay in the future will see self-service digital check-in and digital room key access. You may not even see a hotel person during your stay. Unfortunately, the term hospitality will be removed from many hotels as they will turn into simply a place to sleep and nothing else.
4. Hotel housekeeping will be optional and have a fee – Hotels have already started to make daily housekeeping optional and some are even adding a cost associated with cleaning your rooms. This is not a big deal on a one or two-night stay but becomes a problem (cost) on longer night stays. I was hoping that COVID would finally kill the hidden resort fees that hotels charged but it now appears that housekeeping fees will be the new revenue source for hotels post COVID.
5. Hotel room service will be replaced by food delivery – Actually, this may be a very positive thing as the overpriced room service food is replaced by ordering the food you want, delivered to your room, at half the cost. COVID has caused almost every kind of restaurant and fast food to offer delivery service at reasonable costs. Uber Eats, Door Dash, and Grubhub make it easy to order and enjoy almost every kind of cuisine in the comfort of your hotel room.
6. Hotel restaurants are toast – Unless you stay at a 4-star or 5-star hotel you will see almost every hotel restaurant close their doors. I expect to continue to see bars, but even some of them will turn to be self-service. Once again, the hotel world is fighting to find help, and restaurants in hotels have historically not been profitable so they will be the first thing on the cutting table.
7. Car rentals will be more expensive in the future – The pandemic got rid of a lot of the “cheapy” car rental companies and even took Hertz into bankruptcy. Add to that a shortage of cars from the manufacturers and it all adds up to few cars and higher prices. It is not uncommon to see car rentals that were $45 a day now be $75 a day plus taxes and fees. When you add all the extra fees on top of the car rental you can spend $100 a day.
8. Airfares will start out cheap but Katie-bar-the-door next year as travel picks up – Every week you see another airfare sale as the Delta variant combined with the slow fall travel season has caused the airlines to try to fill empty seats with airfare sales. Next year and the years ahead, once the Delta variant starts to slow, I expect to see high airfares throughout the summer both domestically and internationally.
9. We will move from tourist traps to personal experiences – Travel in the future will be looking for more intimate places to see and experience. Travelers will move away from the crowds with a priority of finding out how the ”locals” live, eat, and play. We will move away from quantity and focus travel more on the quality of the experience. We will rediscover the power of history and how it weaves through the travel experience.
10. Small is Big, simple is better – People will want plenty of space when they travel in a post COVID world. Some will bypass crowded airplanes and drive. Others will explore smaller towns and stay away from the crowds of the city. Others will trade a crowded restaurant for a picnic in the park. Space (personal) is king when traveling. Finding places to see without masks will be the objective of many travelers. We will rediscover our National parks. Big cities with layers of rules and regulations will be bypassed by millions of travelers who are looking for simple and easy travel.
11. (Bonus) Your travel advisor is now your best friend – Travel is getting even more complex. Travel before COVID was very complex but has become 5X more complex with all the new rules and regulations for health and safety. Traveling internationally even more so, as you have to worry about vaccinations, kind of masks, indoor rules, outdoor rules, visa requirements, Passport requirements, testing requirements, places to be tested, cost of testing, insurance coverages, currency issues, and foreign language barriers. The best way to simplify your travel in the future is to find a friendly travel advisor to help you through the maze of travel complexity. At Executive Travel our motto is “We Simplify Travel”. You need that more than ever if you travel today.