25 Sep Travel Technology Ushering in the New Era of Travel, Post-COVID
The way travel used to be isn’t going to happen again for a while, and the travel industry as a whole will need to work together and adapt to meet this challenge or face a grim fate. Fortunately, some travel technology companies are doing just that and already innovating to make the future of travel even better than it was before.
By Steve Shur
Not long ago a person could buy a plane ticket, take a ride to the airport, and get on a plane to their destination without a second thought. It was so seemingly straightforward that looking back you could kick yourself for not taking advantage and traveling the world when you had the chance. Now, in the middle of the coronavirus pandemic, travelers must take their health and safety into consideration when booking a trip and leaving their homes. However, there is hope for new possibilities to explore an unfamiliar destination while putting safety first. The way travel used to be isn’t going to happen again for a while, and the travel industry as a whole will need to work together and adapt to meet this challenge or face a grim fate. Fortunately, some travel technology companies are doing just that and already innovating to make the future of travel even better than it was before.
Many people are making predictions about the “new normal” coming out of this pandemic, the travel industry included. Even after the introduction of a vaccine, the way we book trips and travel will be forever changed. Travel technology companies have always been committed to meeting the needs of travelers, but now they’re implementing innovative programs to meet the new and constantly evolving challenges caused by the pandemic. It’s the procedures and best practices travel companies put in place now that will last and become the new normal.
First and foremost, travelers need to feel safe. Many companies instituted rigorous health and safety standards at the beginning of the pandemic, including Vrbo’s enhanced cleaning guidelines for hosts, and other travel companies are taking steps to ensure travelers stay healthy. TripAdvisor, for example, instituted a COVID-19 search filter that helps travelers find accommodations that meet their health and safety needs, allowing them to search destinations by mask-wearing regulations and social distancing guidelines. Travelport, a global distribution system (GDS), took the guesswork out of travel by creating a free Airline Health & Safety Tracker that includes updated safety measures put in place by the world’s largest airlines. Each person has different health and safety standards that need to be met, but with tools like those offered by travel technology companies, they can book and travel confidently.
The technological needs of travelers are also changing — and touchless tech has never been more crucial. Travel companies are taking advantage of this moment to implement new technologies to streamline the entire experience. Amadeus, a travel technology solutions provider and GDS, is partnering with Norwegian airport operator Avinor to deploy a suite of touchless technology that allows travelers to check-in, drop off their luggage, go through security, and board their plane without unnecessary contact. By taking advantage of technology and platforms that already exist, such as mobile check-in options and airport kiosks, Amadeus was able to decrease costs for airlines while implementing a safe, touchless process for travelers.
Innovations in travel technology do more than just ensure the safety of travelers; they also help financially support beleaguered small businesses and communities. This pandemic has the potential to be the worst economic crisis the travel industry, and the world at large, has ever faced. Destinations that used to rely on tourism are losing revenue and local small businesses and property owners are having to find new ways to support themselves. Many short-term rental owners and managers who utilize platforms like Airbnb and Vrbo rely on the income they make from hosting, as do the neighborhoods in which they reside. To continue supporting their hosts around the world, Airbnb launched new Online Experiences at the beginning of the pandemic. These Online Experiences, a digital version of Airbnb’s highly successful in-person Experiences, give hosts the opportunity to bring in additional income even if in-home bookings are down.
This has been a year unlike any other, and massive changes are rocking the travel industry in particular. But it has also been an opportunity for travel technology companies to innovate and support their supplier partners and travelers with innovative solutions to address health and safety standards. In 2021, there will be a new travel landscape, and it’s up to travel technology companies and the industry as a whole to innovate, adapt, and implement new ideas to meet this new normal — shaping the new best practices and processes that will define the future of travel as we know it. The members of Travel Tech, the world’s leading travel technology companies, stand ready to meet this challenge.