Overcoming Today’s Travel Industry Challenges and Pondering Tomorrow’s New Normal

The COVID-19 pandemic has abruptly changed and dramatically altered the way much of the world operates. As nations, states, and cities issue varying levels of stay at home orders, the travel industry is one of the hardest hit. If you work in this industry, you face challenges that may seem bigger than any you have seen in your lifetime. Navigating this tricky time and preparing to operate in the new reality will require patience, planned urgency and ingenuity.

The Economics of Travel During the Pandemic

The challenge of this time comes from limitations of both business and personal travel. Many businesses have closed their offices or limited their travel in keeping with the stay at home orders being issued. Similarly, personal travel plans have been postponed or cancelled until those orders can be safely lifted. The sheer numbers are daunting. The World Economic Forum has stated that the travel industry could lose as many as +50 million jobs across the entire travel and tourism industry, and it may take as long as 10 months after the pandemic is under control for tourism to return to normal levels.

What Comes Next?

Shedding jobs at this level can feel like a death knell for an industry. Eventually, though, people will want to travel again. This will present two interesting challenges when the industry revives. One is that people’s expectations will be different. After a pandemic, your customers will worry about safety issues in ways they may have taken for granted before. This means you have to be ready with strategies for sanitary travel, and work with your partners to make sure they are prepared to protect their customers.

More business travellers are now completely digitalising from a working standpoint. People have quickly become accustomed to using Zoom and may continue in lieu of zooming thru the sky. Furthermore, the business travel policies will be revamped, meaning the business traveller will simply travel less because it’s more productive and cost effective.

Beyond this, the eventual return of tourist travel will likely come with a surge. The challenge of not having enough customers to stay afloat will be replaced with that of having too many to manage. A return to packed flight schedules and crowded destinations should figure into your future plans, and finding ways to accommodate the customers will be crucial.

Strategies to Employ Now

In the current lull, you should therefore look to plan for tomorrow. Part of this is learning and investment in technology. Virtual reality tours of popular destinations are available now, and should continue to emerge and become more sophisticated. Getting in front of these sorts of trends will not only give you ways to accommodate would-be travellers now, but also help people who come out of the pandemic uneasy about going back into the world.

In addition, streamlining your existing product and services offering and re-focusing on local and regional audiences first (not global), will help to conserve and direct your resources and properly prepare you and your team for a return to future growth – the new normal. This includes updating everything from your booking processes to your payment processing technology. Investing now can yield direct benefits in the short term and medium term, and set you up right for the long term.

Today’s business challenges are very real and very significant. There is no time or place for waiting, worrying and hoping – when you and your team can aggressively work hard ‘Today’ to take charge of your future ‘Tomorrow’. Your business’s future in the local, regional and global travel industry depends on it.

As a start, feel free to take a look at our modular ‘Solution Portfolio’ where you can easily search for your right payment solution to support your business ‘Today’ for ‘Tomorrow’.

About the author:
Jay Abbot, VP Travel, SafeCharge, a Nuvei company
I’m a New Zealand native and live in The Netherlands for close to 17 years now together with my better-half Aynur Abbott and our 10-year-old son Tané Abbott. I tend to be a bit of a serial reader (mostly non-fiction) and I enjoy writing, music, study, traveling, food, and hanging out in cafes drinking black coffee. Running has been a constant for me over the past 12 years, and I’ve recently included swimming and cycling into the mix. ‘Considering’ a half-triathlon later this year – no promises yet though… Work-wise I have experience in the fields of global travel and retail, marketing technology, payments and finance, and cyber security. My dream job as a kid; Rugby sports commentator (NZ’s All Blacks of course).  

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SafeCharge Limited is an Electronic Money Institution authorised and regulated by the Central Bank of Cyprus and is a principal member of Mastercard, Visa and Unionpay International (CUP). SafeCharge Financial Services Limited is authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority as a Payment Institution. Both SafeCharge companies are wholly owned by SafeCharge International Group Limited.