The New Normal For Travel Going Forward

After being pressed into lockdown for 4-10 weeks, ‘working’ from home, e-connecting with colleagues, family and friends over Zoom, Skype or WhatsApp; aren’t we all getting closer together? In essence, the lines between office and family have been blurred as we give permission to everyone to peek into our personal spaces. Now when we speak to our contacts, we genuinely ask how everyone is doing while in isolation. We are learning more about what everyone has been up to, uncovering others’ passions and hobbies. We have more time to observe, think, and more of ‘me time’ that was earlier in limited supply. Are you missing those warm, affectionate embraces when you met your near and dear? I am missing that warmth from the conversation over coffee.

What is anticipated to happen when life resumes to the new ‘normal’? These are some of the questions that have engrossed us as we continue to experience a global lockdown: Will there be lesser restrictions on movement or will new guidelines on travel dictate how we go from a to b? What will the travel response be after this pandemic is over? When will we see all flight routes return back to normal? Will we see a surge in airfare due to a lower number of open routes with limited traffic or will taking a flight be cheaper as airlines offer deep discounts to get planes moving again? Will our choices of travel be limited to our regional hubs to start with? Will our options for travel and the ease of movement revert back to how we had left the state of affairs in the closing months of 2019?

We see the following travel trends taking shape once we get into the new normal:

  1. Local restaurants and bars will be flooded with people catching up with friends and families armed with their tales from the lockdown period.
  2. We will all be revving to go, fresh with new ideas & skills to apply in our work.
  3. Domestic travel will rise and short breaks will be in great demand – not so much the pitiable staycations, but more of road trip holidays within one’s own state or country. For Singapore, road trips to Malaysia will be in high demand.
  4. Business travel will pick-up first as promptly as airlines commence their routes.
  5. There will be a boom in the numbers of family travel, multi-generational travel, reunions and groups of friends travelling together. We are social creatures and we need to connect; self-isolation pushes this need of ours into an overdrive. This is evident now as more people are expanding their networks and connecting with long lost friends and even distant family members. The one positive that we see from the current situation is a stronger bond among family and friends around the world. We have already started updating our travel wish lists, identifying the locations & themes we want our families to experience as a reward for overcoming this challenging time. We have also started planning for the fun activities and adventures we want to undertake with our friends for a reunion. Travel will only be on the rise, more than we have seen before.
  6. Delayed weddings & celebrations will get activated. They may gravitate more towards local and regional locations to start with.
  7. Luxury Travel will pick up faster than mass-market travel. Luxury travel has always been a trendsetter in many aspects of the hospitality industry. Business owners and C-suites have already started zeroing in on where they want to holiday as soon as the pandemic is over.
  8. There may be a need for travellers to carry a medical certification from their government stating that they are ‘fit for travel’ before other countries allow them entry. This would be similar to the immunization and certification requirement against Yellow Fever when travelling to/from Central Africa and South America. Hotels and resorts will implement proactive sanitisation and social distancing curbs in lobbies, restaurants and other common areas.
  9. Airlines will need to proactively deep-clean seats and the interiors at the end of every flight. Meals on board will evolve as well, hopefully for the better.
  10. The cruise industry will take the longest time to recover; rebuilding trust and demonstrating better hygiene standards will take time. Expect the small sized luxury cruise lines and river cruises to be frequented first.

We have been given this gift of time to contemplate what we want to achieve and what we want to experience in our life. Our travel diaries are already taking shape! ◼

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