The pandemic has had a severe and long-term impact on the travel and hospitality industry, leaving experts in this industry less optimistic about new prospects and swift recovery from the pandemic. COVID-19 has drastically changed the customer behavior and patterns. Digital transformation seems to be the main pillar for the survival of the industry.
The travel industry that accounted for 10% of the global economy before the pandemic is now forecasting annual losses of up to 80% which could further inflate exponentially, according to a report by the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development. COVID-19 has severely impacted global travel and brought the world to a standstill. Air travel demand recovery back to 2019 levels will likely not take place until 2024 globally, according to some recent statistics published by the International Air Transport Association (IATA). Reports suggest that only 67% people would feel confident traveling once vaccinated. For the industry to recover, travelers will need to feel safe and confident that their health is protected.
While the World Health Organization (WHO) does not recommend flight bans or other forms of travel embargoes, it emphasizes prioritizing vaccination, hand hygiene, physical distancing, well-fitted masks, and good ventilation.
Key areas and digital transformations that are likely to shape the future of travel
Post COVID-19, the travel industry has seen a massive technological disruption specially in reservation and refund processing areas. Companies are now transforming the processes to provide contact-less service experience, with a shift to touchless travel and a new health safety regime, supported by digital tools and technology.
Customer desire for flexible options
Personalized solutions and policies that provide choice and control to customers offering flexibility in terms of refund guarantee and change of dates and/or destination will be extensively desired.
Evolving travel trends
The rise in leisure trips is expected to outpace the recovery of business travel. The newly coined term – revenge travel – heralds a new phenomenon, where people are beginning to travel more extensively, after the lockdown and other restrictions in the new normal.
The most immediate visible change is a shift to touchless travel from airport curbside to hotel check-in, while automation across the entire sector is expected to become the new norm. The use of biometrics along with several other touchless options such as contactless fingerprint, iris and face recognition are expected to become predominant as physical fingerprint and hand scanners are phased out.
Digital health passports
With contactless technology being deployed throughout the customer journey to address health and safety concerns, automated health screening, digital health IDs and e-passports, organizations will have an opportunity to engage with a new audience and support loyal customers using digital platforms.