We have been working with clients in the travel and airline industries for nearly 15 years and have seen the industry flourish, evolve and embrace technology. We were in the middle of a large-scale journey mapping project with a travel industry client as the Coronavirus crisis hit. The project involves mapping the experience of different types of travellers, travel agents and the clients’ employees.
We had already run research with the travellers and were due to be conducting research with travel agents but as you can imagine, at the end of March they became very busy trying to get people home safely and dealing with cancellations so we put the project on pause. But there is another reason that this project is paused – will the users’ journeys, tasks and experiences be the same after all of this? Will our original research be valid? What will change and how will the travel industry need to adapt?
We have never experienced this type of event before and have no real data that we can use to accurately predict how the travel industry will change or evolve after Coronavirus. However, it is interesting to imagine the future and consider the possible effects. These are some thoughts on some things that might change.
Remembering the benefits of booking with a travel agent
When we were running our research, travellers who used a travel agent often said they did this due to a bad experience in the past where they had booked their own travel and something had gone wrong. Yes, after the event they could get compensation if they booked with an ATOL protected supplier, but in that moment there was no one to call, no one to help, no one to ask for advice. They were on their own.
Travel agents that we have run research with often go above and beyond to help their clients – they have 24-hour helplines, value customer experience and provide the human element when people need support. Perhaps after all this, people will see the benefit of having a smiling face and a helping hand… just in case.
A reduction in business travel (at least in the short term)
The world has gone remote. Everything we thought we had to do face-to-face has gone remote – workshops, conferences, medical appointments, meet-ups, social events. And it turns out there is a lot of technology out there to support this. There will always be a need for face-to-face meetings (when we have the luxury of being able to do this again) but when we know it can be done remotely, we know the associated cost of travel compared to remote working, and we know the effect air travel has on the climate, will we be able to justify going back to the level of business travel we were doing before Coronavirus?
Will cruises lose their appeal?
I’ve never been on a cruise (because I don’t like boats!) but the idea amazes me – your lovely hotel (with all the amenities you could want) travelling around taking you to different countries as you sleep. I personally would never be tempted to cruise, but I imagine there are people who before Coronavirus would have considered booking one – but are unlikely to now. The images of stricken ships, the video links to people stranded aboard and the figures showing how quickly illness can spread on a cruise ship will be hard to shift from memory. At least for a while. I’m sure fans of cruises will enjoy some great discounts once the industry is back up and running though.
Increased focus on cleanliness and sanitation
I’ve always looked at those airline tray-tables and tried not to think about all the germs on them. I read in the past that we should all be taking cleaning wipes with us to wipe them down but:
I have never remembered to take any wipes with me and
If I did, would I look a bit paranoid, a bit of a clean freak?
Well I won’t need to worry about that second point again (I just need to remember the cleaning products next time). I think we will all be a bit more conscious of trying not to share germs with our fellow travellers. And I would like to think that the hotels, airlines, cruises etc. will also keep up the higher level of cleanliness that they have been employing over the last few weeks – fingers crossed.
Getting back to nature
Finally, I wonder if at least in the short-term, travellers will be more likely to choose outings and holidays that involve fresh air, remoteness, nature and a lack of built-up areas? Have we come to value these places more, looking at them in a different light? At the moment, a city break seems like a poor choice – mind you, once we can truly say this is over I can’t wait to be squashed next to strangers at a gig, in the hub-bub of a city I’ve never been to, flying with my family to our package holiday and even being packed on a train on my commute to London!
I’m confident that once we understand the impact that Coronavirus has had on the travel industry, it will be able to adapt, rebuild and innovate. If there’s one thing the last few weeks have shown us, it’s that the whole world has the capability to adapt to the circumstances and environment that we find ourselves in.
Amadeus ePower is a customisable online booking engine used by travel agents and travellers. We undertook customer journey mapping and persona ...
Amadeus ePower is a customisable online booking engine used by travel agents and travellers. We undertook customer journey mapping and persona development work to help Amadeus enhance understanding of...