Social Distancing will Create Changes in Tourism Habits in the Foreseeable Future
By Joseph Fischer - Exclusive for 4Hoteliers.com
Tuesday, 14th April 2020

Joseph Fischer - Regular contributor to 4Hoteliers.comExclusive Feature: The global Corona pandemic and the closures and quarantines that were forced upon large parts of the world due to it will not go away in days, weeks or even months.

The common assessment with epidemiology experts is until a tested vaccine is found for the disease, humanity will have to continue and take precautions and safety measures that mainly comprise of different kinds of social distancing and quarantine strategies.

The global tourism industry has become a kind of huge social event. We travel and at the same time share our experiences with different groups. Social media has become key in our methods of communication: Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and TripAdvisor are just some of the channels where we share our experiences.

Our rules of conduct in global tourism will have to change. No more will we sit in a crowded football stadium, airplanes, casino or in line up to an all you can eat buffet onboard a huge cruise ship or an All-Inclusive club.

Hotels, airlines, tourist attractions. Convention centers, Exhibition centers and casinos will have to come up with creative solutions that will enable guests, travellers, participants to attend them on one hand but will let them enjoy a safe and hazard free environment on the other hand.

Whoever takes action and adjust himself to these changes will survive and even prosper. I estimate that there will be many entrepreneurs that will seize the opportunity to enter a virgin market that demands changes.

We are at the beginning of a new era in the global economy and a kind of mini “Ice Age” in the tourism industry. The length of this Ice Age is still unknown, but humans are adaptive creatures and the tourism industry will come out of this crisis very different, but stronger.

As it is said in the bible “Genesis 2: “And the Lord God said, it is not good that the man should be alone”

My practical advice to those who deal with tourism and aviation: “In an ice age, it is better to be an Eskimo then a Bedouin”

Hotels will have to create a much cleaner and more sterile environment both in hotel rooms and in all the public areas. Ballrooms and convention halls, restaurants will need to maintain the appropriate distance and spaces between participants, provide them with face masks and containers of alcogel at all entrances. Food preparation will need to address the issue of sterilization and sanitation in a similar way hospital prepare their food.

We can definitely see a future where hotel chains will be ranked by additional and different means for how clean and sterilized, they are. This can definitely be a new category in the international rating criteria for hotels. Rating and classification systems like Hotel Stars Union, the north American Diamond system, Forbes and the French classification system will need to create new sets of criteria.

In “wisdom of the crowd” websites like TripAdvisor visitors will rank the place they are staying at based on how clean and sterilized it was.

These criteria already exist for a long time in hospitals. Now it will need to be adopted by the hospitality and travel industries.

Think about it: in the hotel room or cruise cabin where you stay for 3 nights, a week, thousands, tens of thousands of people have stayed there before you. This is similar situation to that of an airplane where hundreds of thousands of people have sat in the seat you are in right now for a flight that lasts several hours.

The terms sanitation, hygiene and sterilization will accompany us in the following months and maybe all the way up until the scientists will find a vaccine that is proven to be safe and effective. The optimistic view is that this could be a year and a half from today.

We will resume flying in the upcoming months which means that the tourism will also slowly come back. Flying won’t be the same. Shorter distances, safety distance between seats, would mean smaller load factors on each flight, less paying passengers. Aircrafts will need to be sterilized before each flight, which is time consuming and costs money. Who will pay for all of this?

But for the meantime there will be those that will make lemonade out of these lemons.
I think that the first ones will be the low-cost airline and smaller regional carriers. They will offer their passengers the option to purchase masks, gloves, alcogel, alcohol pads and disinfection spray to be used on the airplane toilet. They will try to compensate on loss of passengers with cargo loads.

If in the past we were sold headphones, coffee, cigarettes, soda, bear, wine or sandwiches, now it will be alcogel and N95 safety face masks, alcogel and gloves.

A different and strange world but let’s start to think how we go back to living in it.
Don’t stop traveling.

Remember the saying “Travel as much as you can. As far as you can. As long as you can. Life’s not meant to be lived in one place”.

Joseph Fischer is the CEO of Vision Hospitality & Travel - An international lodging & hospitality consulting firm. He is a veteran hotelier with over 30 years of extensive management experience in the global lodging Industry.

A strategic “out-of-the-box” thinker, visionary, with plenty of tangible and ready-to-be-implemented ideas. Joseph is a frequent contributing writer on 4Hoteliers.com global new portal.

This is strictly an exclusive feature, reprints of this article in any shape or form without prior written approval from 4Hoteliers.com is not permitted.

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