Consumer Confidence – The key to Post COVID-19 Travel
As we all move forward trying to pick up the pieces of our lives that were turned upside down in mid-March, we are reevaluating our way of life, and for businesses and corporations, that means policies and procedures. Consumers want to see new operating procedures that will protect employees and customers alike. For consumers to feel confident to return to shop, eat, travel and stay overnight somewhere, and cruise anywhere, all businesses need to find a way to prevent viral contamination. This is not entirely new to the cruise industry, but this is absolutely a new level.
Back in the day (just 2 months ago, pre COVID-19 lockdown), the cruise industry was focused on finding the new “wow factor” in a competitive market, and now the new goal is gaining consumer confidence. Cruise lines are looking to biorisk companies to assist with infection risk management so they can join the rest of the economy in the reopening process. The post COVID-19 economy will require new procedures and biorisk companies can assist with developing industry specific solutions while assessing the compliance to national and international requirements, building trust and resilience, in addition to training personnel and formatting a plan to prevent future crises. They offer courses and can help businesses with accreditation programs.
Many cruise lines are devising their plans, and most will include some, if not all, of these additional procedures:
- Pre boarding health screenings
- Social distancing
- Thermal temperature checks prior to check in and onboard throughout the journey
- Additional sanitation in public areas and cabins
- Fewer contact points & more touchless interaction
- Barriers between crew & guests such as plastic screens and face coverings
- One-way travel in hallways or open spaces
- Reserved dining times – no buffets
- Additional medical staff and possible testing onboard
- Staff dedicated to contact tracing
- Mandatory testing for crew
- PPE for crew
- Outbreak management plan with infection control measures
Contact tracing will be a big part of the reopening plan, especially when it comes to visiting destinations and taking shore excursions. Ports, destinations, and tour operators will work on new policies and procedures to comply with new Post COVID-19 guidelines.
This week, the cruise industry’s Destinations Together held a webinar to inform members and the industry in general about “The Science of Sanitation”. The presentation focused on educating the industry in fighting the virus and offering ways businesses can take the steps necessary to move forward and keep their customers and staff protected.
The Hospitality and Travel industry as a whole, needs to revamp sanitation procedures to gain consumer confidence. Four Seasons Hotels and Resorts has taken a big step and collaborated with John’s Hopkins for a new global safety program. People want to travel again, and having companies partner with and get accreditations from reputable programs is a sure way to calm fears for travelers.
Another challenge the hospitality and travel industry will see is an increase in the folks who want an “Isolation Vacation”. These travelers will be camping, glamping, road tripping, and sailing private boats, and the industry is going to have to get creative to gain their business back. Consumer confidence may not necessarily be the way to regain these customers, but it’s times like these when the best creative minds will work their magic.
In a post COVID-19 world, the new normal for travel must be responsible, secure, and safe in order to build consumer confidence. As the global travel market begins to reopen, these steps show positive strides towards a safe and successful recovery.
This post was written by cruise industry expert, Shannon Mckee, founder of Access Cruise Inc. Access Cruise Inc is a Miami based cruise marketing and sales consulting group, specializing in product and business development within the cruise industry.