The New Normal, Post-COVID-19 for the Three Main Travel Industries: Air, Car, and Hotel
As coronavirus numbers begin to spike again for 23 states in the U.S. after most of the mandatory restrictions have been lifted, the travel industry will continue to be altered to prevent a greater risk of exposure.
The daily lives of so many have been affected because of the coronavirus pandemic. Birthday celebrations, family vacations, and business events, all canceled to minimize the spread of the virus. Society is still learning how to navigate post-COVID-19, without services or experiences we were all previously accustomed to.
Although leisure travel may take off again before business travel, corporate events and conferences will eventually resume, and travelers will be looking for reassurances that it’s safe. As a result, travel-related businesses such as hotels, airlines, cruise ships, theme parks, and rental car agencies are implementing new protocols to prevent the spread of the virus and to keep COVID-19 cases to a minimum, while keeping their customers and staff safe as well.
Let us walk through what to expect from an ordinary business trip, post-COVID-19.
A traveler books their flight through their preferred booking tool, as usual. They should anticipate limited flight options for awhile because some airlines have grounded their planes. With government and local restrictions still in play, there are also a limited number of destinations travelers will be able to fly to. According to BCD Travel, everyone should prepare for a slower pre-boarding process due to airline staff performing mandatory checks on all travelers for personal protective equipment, passing out health acknowledgment questionnaires, and performing temperature checks at the gate. Travelers should plan to arrive earlier to ensure they can complete the entire process prior to boarding time. Every traveler should now come with their own mask, gloves, and hand sanitizer as a precaution.
Certain airlines such as Delta have started to use fogging machines with a new high-grade, EPA-registered disinfectant that is highly effective against the coronavirus, to coat every interior surface. Staff members follow up with a complete disinfectant wipe-down of all surfaces in the cabin.
Car Rentals & Rideshare Services
Once the traveler has landed at their destination, they’ll find that vehicle transportation services have rolled out new cleaning processes as well. For example, Enterprise started a Complete Clean Pledge. According to Enterprise, “The Pledge extends to both the company’s car rental operations and its comprehensive list of ground-transportation services: truck rental, corporate fleet management, retail car sales, vanpooling, carsharing and vehicle-subscription services.” Most agencies have even enabled travelers to pick up their rental cars curbside.
Rideshare companies such as Lyft distributed supplies like hand sanitizer and face masks at no charge to their drivers to ensure safety. On their website they have suggestions riders should follow such as wearing a face mask, keeping their hands clean, sitting in the backseat, and rolling car windows down. They also continue to provide local updates broken down by state and province, that travelers can use to check the status of government restrictions, safety guidelines, and changes to service in each region.
At the start of the COVID-19 outbreak, many hotel locations decided to temporarily close in an effort to decrease exposure to the virus for employees and guests. Before re-opening, many hotel brands have first invested in better equipment to keep their rooms and common areas sanitized around the clock. For those hotels that did not close, new sanitation protocols were implemented immediately. Many hotels have released statements about all of their cleaning methods. Some commonalities travelers can expect are frequent sanitization of common spaces, front desk representatives wearing masks, limited hotel dining and room servicing options, and additional hand sanitizer provided to guests.
Travelers should not fear business trips if they are taking their own personal protective actions. Airlines, car rental agencies, rideshare services, and hotels are all taking extraordinary measures to ensure safety. Business trips can still be planned, and travelers should know that all parties involved have their best interests in mind.