A clean new world for travellers
A clean new world for travellers
Updated 19 January 2021
There is no crystal ball to tell us what travel will look like in the long-term, but we know that heightened hygiene measures stemming from Covid-19 will be a critical part of travel moving forward.
Few travellers will leave home without hand sanitiser and the phrase “social distancing” will be engrained in our new travel vernacular. As a result, there are going to be increased levels of anxiety for travel managers and travellers returning to the skies. “How soon is too soon to put my travellers back on the road?”, managers may ask. Travellers themselves, despite the frustrations that lockdown brings, will also be less cavalier about hopping across borders for meetings and events. So what are some of the things we know will change that we can already see happening from airlines, hotels and ground transport that will potentially ease some of that anxiety?
What to expect from hotels, airlines and ground transport
Contactless check-ins and social distancing
Hotel companies have released various measures to ensure a high level of cleanliness and to minimise contact with others. Marriott Hotels launched a “Global Cleanliness Council” to address guest concerns and to advance its current levels of cleanliness standards in order to enhance customer safety. Hotels now have more signage in lobbies enforcing social distancing rules and spaced out furniture in communal areas.
“We are living in a new age, with COVID-19 front and center for our guests and our associates,” said Arne Sorenson, President and Chief Executive Officer, Marriott International. “We are grateful for the trust our guests have shown us through the years. We want our guests to understand what we are doing today and planning for in the near future in the areas of cleanliness, hygiene and social distancing so that when they walk through the doors of one of our hotels, they know our commitment to their health and safety is our priority. It’s equally important to us that our associates know the changes we are making to help safeguard their health as they serve our guests.”
Hilton followed suit with “Hilton CleanStay”, partnering with the company behind Lysol, and introduced measures such as disinfecting wipe stations and contactless check-ins.
As well as check-in and check-out precautions, hotels have also addressed how to make other services as contact free as possible, such as staggered breakfast services with orders instead of a buffet set-up and meal deliveries to rooms.
Masks and cleanliness in the air
Airlines and airports are constantly reviewing and updating their safety measures. Rules differ between companies but the general guidance is to wear face covers, maintain social distancing and to avoid touching surfaces. Travellers must check with their carrier before leaving for trips.
Many airlines are reducing inflight food and beverage services to reduce interactions on board. For example Southwest Airlines is now serving individual cans of water rather than its usual full drinks round and other airlines are offering to-go bags in the gate area instead of in-flight options.
Back in spring 2020 many airlines announced their cleanliness programmes to reassure travellers. Delta Air Lines launched its own new health and safety program dubbed “Delta Clean”. CEO Ed Bastian said that the most important thing will be continuing to make guests feel comfortable while travelling—“it’s going to be confidence and their safety, their personal safety, not just their physical safety,” —which has always been at the front of the industry. The airline has extended blocking the use of middle seats in Main Cabin, Delta Comfort+ and Delta Premium Select across all flights.
United Airlines promised customers to be the “only U.S. airline with a full-time, on-site medical director, who has been on the front lines of the COVID-19 outbreak providing counsel to the company and our employees around the world.” It has brought in measures such as ‘enhanced cabin sanitisation’.
Staying clean on the ground
So what’s happening on the ground? Like other global ride-share suppliers, Lyft has temporarily paused Shared rides across its markets to practice social distancing between customers. Car rental companies like Hertz have increased their already ‘high’ standards for cleanliness such as regular disinfectant wipe-downs of surface areas in cars and pick up locations. A spokesperson for Hertz noted that they ‘remain vigilant in upholding these practices and will take additional precautions as recommended by the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC), World Health Organization (WHO) and local governments'.
The question remains: will this ‘new normal’ be enough to ease travellers back into the road-warrior lifestyle or will it take much more? We’d love to hear your thoughts.