Travel executives have been ideating how to bring business back before the anticipated recovery in late 2021. Airlines, hotels, and other travel companies in anticipation of promising times, lean towards disruptive rather than cookie-cutter solutions. So, forget staycations, daycations and steep price cuts – nearly all climbed that bandwagon. The real disruptors innovate in unpredictable ways, borrowing some ideas from other industries.
Innovation in travel
Half of top ten busiest domestic routes worldwide are in Asia. Before the pandemic, the busiest route used to operate close to 180 flights a day. Within overseas travel, 8 out of 10 most popular international routes connect various Asian metropolises. These figures show how indispensable air traffic has become in the region. And it comes as no surprise why Asian travelers long air travel. Thus, some airlines have devised a remedy for the adventure-starved travelers without crossing national borders. Flights to nowhere, which resemble a sightseeing trip, have become singular revenue drivers for the airlines. When Qantas launched its flight to nowhere, tickets sold within minutes. Other Asian airlines experienced an uptick in demand for such trips when lockdowns were eased.
Innovating travel insurance
Airlines have been making headlines throughout the pandemic for unprecedented losses, furloughs and scrapping of some of their fleet. Amid those news, Emirates Airlines emerged with a groundbreaking solution. By implementing a multi-risk insurance, Emirates stepped up its game in convincing those eager to travel but wary of possible infections. The coverage is comprehensive and offers plenty of assurance before planning a trip. Most importantly there are no exclusions regarding memberships or travel class. It certainly does not protect you from getting the virus, but in worst case scenario, the airline has your back covered.
Promoting a destination
Mallorca, Cyprus, Capri–there is hardly any island in Europe that wealthy Europeans do not consider their second home. But as far as an investment in such a destination is a secure retirement option, Maldives have never been on the radar for this purpose. And it will probably stay this way. But, some will likely call it their preferred getaway destination when they benefit from the offer of a year-round stay at a flat rate. The destination will still maintain its reputation for being high-end , but the solution has become a great way to attract interest of those with fat wallets, for whom the distance plays no role. Work from home from Maldives might become a reality.
Those who plan a getaway to a secluded accommodation and do not plan to repeat the experience regularly, may find Maldivian bubbles inviting. A nest in a tree or a bubble tent on a beach are a unique isolation-compliant lodging in style. An accommodation tailored to the bizarre times we happen to travel in.
Still mulling over where to go?
To offset the burden of a long-haul travel -a jet lag, extended layovers on a way back home- many of us used to wish for an extra time off after a holiday break. The idea seemed attractive then. Now, with quarantine imposed, the prospect of being in self-isolation two weeks after arrival, does not look so appealing anymore. Therefore, governments have been striving to bring back travel to the usual state with no isolation necessary by creating travel corridors. They allow a smooth transition from travelling to incorporating into daily activities.
Destinations which rely on international travel have been seeking government help in this respect. Awaiting easing travel restrictions to spur influx of foreigners, Thailand is weighing the possibility of enabling travel corridors for Chinese travelers. This will allow them a quarantine-free arrival and incentivize more tourists to travel to the country.
In anticipation of this proposal, the Thai government is seeking collaboration of some major online travel agencies with onboarding hotels to participate in an Alternative State Quarantine program. The program enables tourists to enjoy wellness and golf retreats while they remain in seclusion. The government hopes that this initiative will stimulate foreign tourists to visit the country despite the travel-adverse requirement in place.
There are clashing theories regarding the recovery in the travel industry. But despite that, one thing is clear. The innovation triggered by the pandemic, is yet to bring about some revolutionary solutions in hospitality.