Published on November 24th, 2020 | by Bibhuranjan0
How is the Tourism Industry evolving with the COVID Nemesis
To say that this year has been a total shipwreck would be an understatement to say the least. As a matter of fact, some analysts predict that this period of international isolation could last well into the better part of 2021. This not only means a period of economic turmoil, but also a mortal risk for anyone careless enough to not follow basic precautions laid out by bodies like the WHO or their respective governments.
Speaking of businesses that saw a downturn, Tourism has been one of the worst hit due to the travel bans imposed by most countries during the peak of the epidemic. Make no mistake, there are still mandatory travel restrictions in many places and it doesn’t seem to be going away anytime soon. However, compared to the situation before, a lot of the restrictions have been eased, mostly thanks to advancements in COVID mitigation technologies like advanced front desk hotel software that eliminates direct human contact and keeps the staff away from visitors. And its not just that; there is more to this whole post COVID technical progression that has been taking placing behind the scenes; implementing changes that are probably here to stay for good. What changes precisely, well let’s take a deep dive and see how technology is changing Travel in time of this disastrous epidemic.
A Post Covid-19 Travel Industry – Major Changes Adopted Worldwide
Travel as we knew it, will take a backseat for a while. That’s inevitable. What’s amazing is that, International Tourism too is starting to open up, albeit in smaller volumes. But the major winner here is definitely domestic tourism, which has seen a sudden spike because people cannot go to other countries at the moment. However to mitigate domestic spread for the epidemic, certain measures had to be in place, which brings me onto the major changes that’s being adopted by the tourism industry to both facilitate travel and combat COVID.
1. Pre-Approval for Travel
Certain countries have taken it on themselves to limit domestic movement in a bid to stop infection. However there are others that require you to carry a valid COVID report that can be shown to the authorities, in case you want to travel domestically. Also some places have also gone to the extent of issuing government approved travel permissions with valid lab testing, so that the chances of spread are minimized. For international travel, it is still very limited and people that do have to travel, need to be in isolation and subjected to precautionary COVID testing.
2. No-contact Travel Facilitated by Technology Adoption
The norms of social distancing are still widely mandatory to follow across countries. This is also something that the hospitality industry is following very strictly as well. This includes things like integrated guest experiences via mobile apps and lesser staff involvement with visitors. Because so much of the service can be remotely controlled, it only makes more sense that only the bare minimum of staff be allowed to at any given time.
3. Limited visitor occupancy in establishments
Another notable change that is being slowly adopted worldwide is that overcrowding of establishments is getting minimized. At no point of time is any establishment operating at peak capacity. While this does mean that they are doing less business than usual, but the fact that some of them are able to pull it off while minimizing exposure is a feat on its own.
4. Adopting technological advancements in existing hotel processes
A lot of the tangible services are being replaced with more technology driven experiences. For example, normal hotel services requiring staff to customer interactions is replaced with remote engagement via smartphones or the hotel’s integrated communication systems. AI and big data adoption is also on the rise to analyze customer behavior and make changes to the hotel structure to suit evolving customer requirements. Bookings and payments of Hotels and other facilities is also being done without any interaction and pretty soon more advanced payment gateways integrated in shopping portals like Amazon’s offline stores will also be in mass adoption.
5. Robotics will take center-stage as human interaction is minimized
A little while back, in-store robotic assistants took charge of guiding customers around retail stores. And to say that it was a marketing gimmick would’ve been an understatement at the time. However thanks to whole “no-touch” curfew, major establishments in the hospitality sector have slowly started to embrace this same technology. They can still perform about the same as a human guide, but are more precise in their guidance. The most recent example of this can be seen KT’s 2nd Generation AI Hotel Robot, developed in collaboration with Hyundai Electronics. While its still very primitive, it atleast gives us a glimpse of what’s to come.
6. Pre-Defined Standards for COVID safety assurance
A slew of hotel and other travel chains have taken it upon themselves to certify their establishments with pre-defined COVID safety protocols. This includes giants like ITC, Marriott, Radisson, Carlson, etc. The safety standards adopted by these hotel chains relate to effective premises sterilization processes, top notch worker hygiene, guest overcrowding management, etc. All of this just to ensure that your stay is safe and hygienic.
While tourism won’t exactly expected to pick up to pre-COVID levels for quite a while, that isn’t stopping the industry from trying to claw its way back up again. Sure, it’ll be be a while and this industry has suffered tremendous losses. However some optimistic forecasts project this industry to triple in occupancy in the years to come, which is worth looking forward to.