The spring of 2020 has not started as many of us hoped – especially us, the people from the travel industry.
Instead of working on some exotic destination travel arrangements while enjoying the warm weather and thinking about our own vacations, together with the rest of the world, we got preoccupied with COVID-19 safety measures and feeling of extensive worry.
As a consequence of this Corona-Crisis, more than 100 countries worldwide have closed their borders and several major airlines have grounded their fleet completely.
You can take a look at this map above from the Economist from March 16th, 2020 where it’s shown what countries have imposed strong travel bans to curb the new coronavirus.
These closed borders and imposed visa restrictions and travel bans are changing daily and they are affecting the tourism industry worldwide – hotels, airlines, and cruise companies took the first shot. Travel agencies of all sizes followed. Embassies and Visa Centres are in a difficult position because things are changing rapidly and they must act accordingly. No one can guarantee that your trip will be possible at this time.
However, we must not forget that no matter how hard this all seems right now, it is all temporary after all!
Tourism is still alive! But travel, as we know, will definitely change
Tourism isn’t dead, it’s just wounded and it is going to recover.
People simply must travel – for personal or business reasons. That is why many travel companies are advising and helping their customers to postpone their trips and book for alternate dates.
Things will settle down eventually, however, the travel industry definitely needs to prepare itself for certain adjustments. What’s important to know is the following:
1 . Borders between neighboring countries will open again gradually, but slowly. Smaller countries are more likely to open their borders first, but overseas destinations will not open that fast.
2 . Air travel will become complicated and more expensive as airlines will constantly need to monitor the health of their crews and travelers, and change the current operations with a strict focus on health issues and safety.
3 . Immigration authorities will have a new, more detailed focus on health. And that will lead to a period of new rules and procedures at the border and the related uncertainties in the beginning.
In our opinion, these changes will impact (on a very large scale) the travel documentation as we know it. Passport and visa will simply not be enough to travel anymore.
Paperwork required for traveling, both tourism and business-wise, will extensively become bigger.
Internal documentation (for Business travel)
We can expect an increase in company internal documentation (that is required to permit travel in the first place). Simple call-making requests over the phone or by using a Self Booking Tool will not be enough anymore. The companies will roll out complex approval processes, in order to weigh up and approve every trip, and in order to inform the traveler about the current health situation, etc. No company can afford not to inform their travelers about entry restrictions or quarantine measures.
Every traveler’s health and travel history will become more important than ever – regardless of the destination they are traveling to.
Post-COVID19 travelers will probably be checked for health certificates and if they have recent travel history to certain high-risk areas, and/or proof of medical insurance that’s covering both the health cost of a possible infection and the possible quarantine and repatriation to the home country.
In the chart below we wanted to show how immigration is handling things right now VS possible scenarios on how things will be handled in the future.
As you can see, there are a few precautionary measures that are being taken right now when a person wants to travel.
The first one (Phase 1) is happening before the trips start – one of the visa requirements is acquiring information about the traveler’s history and if they were tested for coronavirus.
The second one is happening before the country exiting, where professionals are taking the traveler’s body temperature measurements, trying to catch any coronavirus symptom at an early stage.
The third one is happening at the arrival, where you can be instructed for obligatory isolation or will be taken to quarantine on spot.
When things settle down a bit, this will look different (Phase 2).
The precautionary measures will probably be shifted in the direction of conducting better and larger in volume testings, so through all the stages of traveling (from visa application to arrival upon destination), it will be required of a traveler to present various health documentation – the proof of testing the proof of antibodies, etc.
This will all be done until we reach the goal of the vaccine (Phase 3) when from that day forward, it will be required to always submit documented proof on coronavirus vaccination – next to other required documentation.
So, simply said – in the very near future, an increase in the volume of written proofs on traveler’s health conditions is expected. Obtaining and managing these documents will be an especially tricky task, as it all depends from country to country and their local laws.
All countries, especially countries that were affected the most with COVID-19, will need to make sure that when they are opening their door, the visitors will enter healthy, bring nothing more than travel enthusiasm with them, and leave healthy.
Since the governments are reluctant to open borders in the next few months, international tourism will be difficult in 2020. We should not forget that international travel was the fuel, spreading this virus around the globe. Therefore, in the first phase, the focus will be on domestic tourism, which will help both to limit the spread of the virus and to support the local hospitality industry, which is suffering heavily.
But eventually, international travel will start again and many countries will significantly tighten their entry requirements. All that indicates that it will be more strict visa regulations.
Essentially two types of documentation will be required: visas & documentation required upon arrival/immigration.
That means more documented details on where the traveler is going and with whom he’s traveling, the reason of his stay, the duration of his stay, from what country he’s coming, through which countries he passed and for how long he stayed there, who he’s visiting and travel history of that person he’s about to visit, etc.
This means it is expected to see the increase in the volume of necessary travel and visa documentation.
So far we all thought of visas as an annoying necessity, but now it seems like visas will pretty quickly be raised on a much higher level. The complexity to arrange and book a trip will massively increase, with more complex and ever-changing entry requirements.
And every travel business will have to find a way to adjust to these changes – the faster, the better for them.
If you’re interested in reading more about how will the travel documentation change post-COVID19, we recommend you to download our in-depth whitepaper.
What can every travel business do to adjust quickly to these changes?
The US Marines have a great slogan – “Improvise, Adapt, and Overcome”.
In the current situation with the travel industry, this can be modified a bit to “Research, Prepare, Adapt, and Overcome”.
So, if your business is in the travel industry, you will understand when we say that the digital age can not be avoided anymore. Luckily, we live in a wonderful age of the Internet and progressive technology, that allows us to utilize many tools online. That is why we want to suggest you move your travel business in that direction – the direction of digitization and innovation.
What every travel business can do right now is:
- Connect online with other people from your niche – network today for a more successful tomorrow. LinkedIn is a great place for that.
- Conduct online research, look into the innovative solutions that can help your business rise again after things settle down.
- Reach out to us. It’s pretty clear that the key to post-COVID19 travel documents is automation and integration (in any way) of your business with major booking-systems. Many destinations will require different travel documentation, which will change rapidly. Consequently, only a fully automated process can detect the need for a respective document. Viselio is integrated with major GDS and further systems in the travelspace. This enables Viselio to scan all flight bookings, provide the documentation needed for the respective trip. Furthermore, Viselio’s solution is monitoring flight bookings between booking and departure and alerts travelers in case any new travel documents should be needed.
- Be strategic. Work on new marketing ideas, consider new marketing channels. Make a plan that you can start executing the moment the world starts moving again.
- Improve your own and your stuff’s tech skills. Work on the adaptation of your travel business to a new, more digital model of conducting business.
There are not many things in life we can control, and the current unfortunate situation is one of them. However, what we can control is our behavior and decisions on how we’re going to use this time of social distancing that no one is really happy about.
There are many things your business can do right now to get ready for the rebound. Which is why we, at Viselio, do our best to be ready for you.
Travel will come back. The recovery is coming.
Just make sure you are ready when it does because Viselio will most definitely be ready for you.