The hospitality and travel industries are dealing with dramatic losses in business volume, given travel restrictions and fear of coronavirus exposure continuing to depress passengers’ demand. Now, as the holiday season approaches, they are facing another unprecedented test.
Cornell University hospitality experts, Christopher Anderson and Chekitan Dev, are available for interviews about how the industry is preparing for a possible holiday bump, and what can be achieved in the midst of uncertainty.
Christopher Anderson is professor of operations, technology and information management and an expert in the hospitality and airline industries at Cornell.
“We are approaching a phase where we can expect travel, hospitality and services in general to take a pretty solid uptick – especially those which are centralized, like airlines, cruise and major hotel brands. While the U.S. and many other countries are experiencing record numbers of positive cases – the recent vaccine announcements combined with key initiatives bode well for a return to travel.
“While several airlines, such as Air Canada are providing free COVID-19 insurance to cover expenses resulting from infections and quarantine during travel – the key elements will be more like those recently announced by Ticketmaster.
“Ticketmaster recently announced the integration with third party health companies like CLEAR and IBM along with testing and vaccine distribution providers which ensure patrons are vaccinated or test negative prior to attending events. The barriers to travel so far have been mistrust and uncertainty, we are at stage now with testing and soon with vaccination that major service providers, especially those with scale through centralization, can provide potential guests piece of mind.”
Chekitan Dev, professor of marketing and management at Cornell’s Hotel School, says the current crisis is also an opportunity to rethink how companies serve their guests.
“As we wait for the COVID-19 pandemic to subside, there is a real opportunity for everyone involved with the travel industry to imagine not just a new normal but a better normal.
“As has been often said: buried in every crisis, there’s always opportunity. In my opinion, the one big opportunity that exist for businesses to emerge from this pandemic is to innovate the travel experience at all stages of the guest’s journey.
“Consider the following examples of new and interesting ways to serve guests. Hotels are increasingly serving the daycation, staycation and workcation markets. Resorts are offering families ‘schoolcations’ by creating a chief learning officer at each hotel. Destinations and tour companies are live streaming to keep tourists engaged with what’s happening locally until they can visit in person. Brands are experimenting with subscription prices, advance purchase vouchers, and augmented reality to engage the armchair traveler.
“It’s the perfect time to experiment as guests, employees, and investors are going to be forgiving if we try some well-intentioned changes in our practices. As we deal with the worst economic shock of our lifetimes, this crisis offers the travel industry a unique opportunity to learn new ways to survive and thrive in a post-COVID world.”