Most of us travel because we are looking for an escape. We want to take a break, to relax. We are looking for a release from the seriousness we take life with. When we travel, we only want to think about the activities we have planned, how much sunshine we will be able to catch, and being in time for the next meal. After months of restricted movement, closed borders, curfews, and self-quarantine, we are all looking forward to a time when we will be able to travel again. But imagine taking a holiday in Diani and having to wear a mask the entire time. Or going through mandatory temperature checks three times a day, constantly worrying about exposure to germs, and keeping tabs on the last time you sanitized. Is that how travel will change after COVID-19?
It is not the way we want to travel, and rather than be subjected to that, some of us have chosen to forego all forms of travel for the foreseeable future. For the rest of us though, travel is a staple. Even with the Corona pandemic forcing us to put all travel plans on hold, we are looking forward to getting back on the road to revisit our favorite holiday destinations and discover new ones too.
Travel, as we have known it, is likely to look quite different after COVID-19. To help you prepare for the inevitable changes, we have put together a list of FAQs to guide you as you make plans to travel after COVID-19.
How will COVID-19 change the way I make my travel plans?
Choosing where to go for your next holiday was hard enough without the complications brought on by this pandemic. Post COVID-19, that process will get even harder. You will find yourself being more deliberate about your travel decisions. Previously, you may have focused only on where you are going and how you will spend your time there, but after COVID-19, your destination check-list is likely to get longer, and more complicated. You will become more demanding of airlines, hotels and tour companies, expecting them to practically demonstrate their adherence to all safety protocols. You will want to know what specific health measures your service providers have put in place and if their staff have been adequately trained.
Your expectations on cleanliness will have soared, and your travel research will focus less on room decor, and more on hygiene standards. You will want to read reviews that mention cleanliness, sanitization, and social distancing. With all the additional research you will comb through to plan your next holiday travel decisions are going to be much more arduous. You will need more help, probably from a travel agent, to navigate the paperwork, health-checks, and other requirements.
How will you travel to your holiday destinations?
Private travel is expected to overtake group tours and packages, with travellers choosing to book private transfers and exclusive use vehicles. In the short term, we expect to see more travellers opting for road-trips and not holidays that require them to fly to their destinations.
Travellers looking for an uber-exclusive experience will opt for chartered flights and helicopter rides to their holiday destinations. If you must take a commercial flight, expect to fill out health questionnaires and provide details of your itinerary before being allowed on board.
Where will people choose to stay?
It is anticipated that there will be a surge in demand for boutique hotels, small camps, lodges, and exclusive use villas. With health concerns being at the top of every traveller’s mind, people will generally choose to stay at locations that offer minimum interaction with other guests. Travellers will opt for the uncommon, often uncrowded locations, which is an area of specialty for Mint Safari. Privacy will be at the top of the list for many, and we are already seeing requests for accommodation options that have private pools, private gyms and private staff.
Should I expect holiday offers and discounts?
As hotels re-open, many of them will provide discounted rates to drive bookings and make up for the loss of revenue in the months they were not operational. Innovative ways of providing these discounts are already rolling out, with the most recent one being a holiday bond from Diamonds Dream of Africa in Malindi. This bond allows you to buy an all-inclusive holiday now, at a generous 50% discount, then travel later. No travel date is required at the time of purchasing the bond, and your booking will remain available for a period of two years.
You should also expect to see a variety of offers such as “free nights”, pay 2 stay 3 nights, children travel free and many others aimed at encouraging people to travel.
It will be easier to take a longer holiday
As we have now become accustomed to the rigors of working-from-home, and with more employers choosing to make this their new norm, travellers will have more flexibility with their holiday time. Previously, a good number of us could only squeeze in a quick weekend escape every now and then, or plan around long weekends. Post Covid-19, not having to go to an office will mean we can work from anywhere, and therefore take extended breaks, beyond the weekends. Working holidays are likely to become more common, meaning hotels will have to adapt and provide a conducive work-holiday environment to include in-room work-stations and free, fast speed wi-fi.
Local Travel will be more attractive
Globally, local tourism is expected to rebound much faster than international travel. In Kenya, premium destinations that have mainly been sold to the international market will have to come up with creative ways of accessing the local travel market. As properties re-open, we are seeing more locations offering discounted rates for resident guests, a trend that we look forward to maintaining in the long-term. Talk to one of our Personal Holiday Planners, to help you put together a local travel experience that will meet all your needs.
What about international travel?
International travel will be one of the biggest indicators of how travel will change after COVID-19. Industry experts project that international travel will become unaffordable for many, and we could go back to the days when foreign trips were a preserve of the wealthy. As airlines work to close the revenue gap caused by cessation of travel, ticket prices are likely to go up. Apart from cost implications, people will generally be cautious about unnecessary travel, opting to spend less time on flights and airports.
What will hotels do different after COVID-19?
Hotels are now implementing ‘light touch’ protocols to limit interaction between their guests and staff. Filling out check-in forms will be a thing of the past. Under the new norm, you will be expected to check-in online and send scanned copies of your documents to the hotel. Hotels are expected to ditch the clunky key-holders and plastic cards, and in their place you will now have contactless options such as mobile apps that unlock your room.
Hygiene and health protocols
Expect stringent cleaning procedures, constant sanitization and random temperature checks. Rooms will be cleaned, sanitized, and left vacant for at-least 24hrs in between bookings to assure guests of the highest level of hygiene. At Swahili Beach Resort, they have gone a step further. After your departure, their rooms will be disinfected then sealed, and only opened by the next guest.
You will most likely not hear that mid-morning house-keeping knock, with more locations providing guests with the option to have their room cleaned on demand. You will see more sanitization stations and those little bottles of toiletries we like to take away with us will now include sanitizer.
How will eating at the hotels change?
Mealtimes will now be extended, with restaurants limiting the number of diners at any given time to ensure social distancing between tables. The freedom that we have become accustomed to at buffet stations will now be limited, with some hotels entirely scrapping buffet style dining. Prepare yourself for a knock-and-drop room service experience, where the staff will not get into your room, but will instead leave your food at the door.
It all sounds too much doesn’t it? How will the travel industry evolve to deliver personalized service and hospitality amidst all the post COVID-19 precautions which only serve to put as much distance as possible between guests and staff? Is this really how travel will change after COVID-19, or are we going ahead of ourselves and merely preparing for the worst? We look forward to seeing all the innovative ways that service providers will adapt, and more than anything, we look forward to packing our bags and heading on to the next trip!
Mint Safari is a boutique travel company, specializing in Kenya’s premium holiday destinations. Get in touch with one of our Personal Holiday Planner to help you plan your next holiday.