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The road ahead: Tech paves the way for post COVID travel

  • Air Travel
  • Renee Martin
  • 5 minutes

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It’s clear that travel will make a comeback – both industries play significant roles and continue to remain essential for conducting the world’s business. This is also bound to bring about changes to various sectors of the industry. Experts collectively agree that technology will have a massive role to play in this resurgence of travel – and we’re taking a look at how technology could pave the way for post COVID travel in the near future.  

Post covid travel booking

Industry opinions

The month of May witnessed the loss of 6 million tourism and travelrelated jobs which counts for over $900 billion in lowered economic output thanks to the lockdown measures. The official word doesn’t sound all that great either. The CEO and President of the U.S. Travel Association Roger Dow recently said that he feels the coronavirus pandemic is hitting the travel industry hard and fast. Not only are workers suffering right now, but if employers are forced to close their doors, it is unknown when or if those jobs will ever come back, he added. The slow but steady path to recovery that’s sure to follow is now going to be paved by what made international travel a phenomenon in the first place – technology. Here’s a look at how post-COVID travel is shaping up thanks to technology’s help.  

Renewing interest and reassurance in travel among customers is vitalsay industry experts in the United StatesJeff Roy, Collette’s Executive Vice President, recently said, “We’re starting to see customers kind of re-engage. They are starting to shop, research.” Have no doubt; the world will begin to travel again – although under very different circumstances. It’s not long before we start to see standardized health and hygiene protocols in place at all tourism hotspots and travel/transit scenarios.

Restoring faith among travelers

Let’s face it; no one’s going to feel comfortable risking it unless they’re sure that the services they use are safe – not just in the physical sense, but digitally as well. The spotlight at the moment is on tech trends that include the use of biometrics and digital identities, while ensuring that all of this user data remains secure and private. Regaining trust among travelers seems to be the industry catchphrase here, and that’s always a good thing.  

Post covid travel tech 

Passengers on a recent Emirates flight were subject to an unexpected blood test to determine COVID-19 before boarding – one of the many ways air travel is utilizing medical tech right now. Minimizing contact every step of the way is also where the focus is. Try picturing a no-contact travel/transit experience that sees you get from the airport curb to boarding your flight without having to touch a single surface. The process of exchanging travel documents in real-time and getting that boarding pass of yours stamped might become a thing of the past now.   

Embracing new technology

Automation is another sector that the industry is going to have to embrace further. It’s hard to ignore the fact that all these jobs are at risk, and it’s not going to hurt to invest in automating rather than paying salaries in the long term. Old-school biometric technology that scans hands and fingerprintseem to be on their way out. They are soon to be replaced with cutting edge touchless options like iris and facial recognition, along with contactless fingerprints. Data entry is getting an upgrade, too – you could be giving out voice commands and using gesture controls instead of touching a screen at a kiosk sooner than you think 

A recent survey conducted by the International Air Transport Association (IATA) suggests that monitoring passengers’ health and assessing travel risk is one short term solution that needs exploring. Not only do procedures like screenings, mask usage, and visible sanitizing make air travel safe, they’re sure to instill a sense of safety amongst travelers. Methods like will be crucial in reviving interest in travel. 

Devices like thermal scanners are the norm now, and until a vaccine is successfully developed, the industry must rely on technology to tide things over. Contact tracing software is another promising tech trend that could help alleviate travelers’ concerns about travel safetyTop tier companies like Google and Apple are close to finding long-term solutions as well. They will soon release contact tracing and symptom tracking apps that keep privacy and data sharing issues transparent.  

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Digital identity solutions are another critical factor for successful touchless travel. The ‘Known Traveler’ Digital Identity, a brainchild of The World Economic Forum, intends to consolidate information sharing and gatheringThis digital identity will help governments, individuals, and travel authorities access and share verified travelers’ identity and health informationBiometric technology will come into play here via facial recognition and fingerprints, making way for paperless and seamless transit for travelers. Travelers will be required to provide self-attested digital identity and health-related data, a move that ensures faster processing of passengers.  

The path ahead

With rising concerns over the coronavirus pandemic, domestic travel is starting to look like a more popular option for travel enthusiasts. We might be seeing a rise in travel trends that not too long ago seemed passé – say hello once again to vacation rentals or an RV road tripPeer-to-peer online marketplaces for travelers are also services that stand to gain from all this pent-up travel demand that’s been gathering.

With people itching to get out after having been indoors for a while, choosing an Airbnb seems like a more secure travel experience than large chain hotels. Business travel, although it looks upended at the moment, will force itself a return. Travel companies will need to think outside the box and embrace technology to recover so as to find a foothold in this world of a new normal. 

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