Director of Content at The Points Guy UK, Nicky Kelvin shares his thoughts with HELLO! on what the future of travel will look like and how we will navigate this 'new normal' way of travelling. Amid new claims that British holidaymakers will potentially be able to travel freely around Europe from July without the need to quarantine for 14 days upon their return, we take a look at what holidays will look like this summer...
"When the coronavirus releases its grip and we slowly start to emerge from quarantine, the world we see won't look the same as it did before we entered lockdown in March 2020," he says. "From how we book, where and why we travel, our seat selections on the plane and what financial and safety risks we're willing to assume, we’ll emerge from this worldwide crisis different travellers than before the pandemic began."
Scroll down to see all the ways the travel industry will change post COVID-19...
Nicky Kelvin is the Director of Content at The Points Guy UK
Airports will change - as will onboard experiences
As travel begins to slowly resume across the globe, countries are cautiously reopening, but the future of travel is shifting at a rapid pace. Health screening measures are increasingly prominent part of the conversation surrounding the future travel experience, as the quarantine policy, which requires all arrivals, including returning Britons, to self-isolate for 14 days on arriving in the UK comes into force this week.
In some countries, especially in Asia, screening such as temperature checks for passengers are normal and these sorts of checks are likely to be rolled out globally. We may see requirements put in place to show immunisation statuses for certain passengers. On the whole, the effect 9/11 rightly had on tighter security will be seen for health issues when flying.
This is already becoming a reality with Etihad announcing its participation in developing and testing passenger kiosks that will check temperature, heart and respiratory rates.
The experience on board is also likely to be different. Expect stringent cleaning programmes, mask and glove wearing, and systems to spread out passengers on an aircraft. We are already seeing some airlines block out all middle seats, and this may become the norm as we try to maintain social distance in the skies.
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We'll travel closer to home
The bad news is very few countries are open to tourism right now. The good news is that some countries are slowly opening up again and more are providing timelines on when travel might again be possible.
However, while travel to European hotspots such as Greece and France might seem to be on the cards thanks to proposed ‘air bridges’, your summer holiday will depend not only on government restrictions but on supply and demand, as well as your willingness to travel and your willingness to potentially self-isolate for 14 days when you return home.
If there are no airlines flying to your destination, it’ll be impossible to get there, and if the hotels haven’t reopened, there will be nowhere to stay, plus airlines will have to convince passengers that air travel is safe, which could prove to be challenging.
As domestic restrictions ease up, we should see far more interest in staycations, national parks and beaches near home with people wanting to explore corners of their countries they were never interested in due to the previous ease of international travel.
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At first, we will look to bag a bargain deal…
There is an additional important side issue to consider. The economic impact of the coronavirus could last years, with the potential of significant unemployment, and a deep recession. The resulting reduction in disposable income for millions of people will have a direct effect on the ability to travel. Holidays, or at least the level of extravagance, distance, or duration of breaks are one of the first things to get cut from budgets when times are tough. This could signal the popularity of staycations or shorter bargain European holidays in the coming years.
But then we'll book that dream trip
Looking longer term, I think there is huge potential for rebound in travel for those wanting to seize the day after feeling the reality of being trapped. People may start to live for the now, and aim to realise their dreams. This could mean a boost for bucket list destinations like the Maldives, Petra, the Galapagos, Santorini, Angkor Wat, the Himalayas and Machu Picchu. For me, South Africa and the east coast of Australia are at the top of my list, and I'm now itching to get myself there.
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The cost of travel is uncertain, but could drop
Also tough to decipher is what the cost of travel will be, the necessity of airlines, hotels and other travel companies to fill the coffers via price increases will compete with the need to get bums on seats, heads on pillows, and reservations on the books. This will require price drops to get travellers to part with their limited cash.
We are already seeing some great deals for flights for later in the year, and overall I think we will see a plethora of amazing deals coming to the market in the next few months.
Whilst we might see a number of companies not surviving 2020, resulting in a decrease in competition, demand is likely to be so weak at first that prices won’t rocket.
Fuel prices are incredibly volatile but are very low at the moment and this cost decrease for airlines that haven't locked in older higher prices by hedging may stand to benefit in this area and be able to offer cheaper tickets.
We'll book direct
We could also see a shift away from online and traditional travel agents in some cases where people may want to take advantage of deals available directly with airlines and hotel groups, and ease of dealing with issues if things go majorly wrong again, as there have been many complaints of middle men making refunds and changes more difficult.
Travel insurance will spike
After the coronavirus upended the travel industry, we all learned a valuable lesson: Epidemics and pandemics are not covered under most types of travel insurance policies. Even independent policies weren’t much help for travellers who had to back out of travel plans, especially before airlines and hotel groups began modifying cancellation and rebooking policies to accommodate travellers affected by the outbreak.
The number of travel insurance policies sold has skyrocketed 200 percent since January, according to InsureMyTrip. This is the highest increase the company has reported in the past 20 years, suggesting that travellers are already rethinking how they'll protect their travel investments.
Family travel will grow
When this is over, it will have likely been months and months since families have really gotten a chance to be together. They say that absence makes the heart grow fonder, and the post-pandemic world may see an already-growing travel trend of bringing many generations together rise to the next level. We’ll see no shortage of multigenerational trips and travel providers catering to that demographic. From theme parks, to airports, hotels and beyond, the world of travel will have to change as the world eventually reopens. Precisely what those changes might be remains to be seen.
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