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. "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. "When we can begin to re-enter society, lots of elements of our daily lives will change and we know that travel probably won’t look the same. 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
The aviation world will inevitably begin to open up at some point, but it's tough to say exactly what it is going to look like.
There are indications of key upcoming changes. Firstly, we are likely to see health checks become run of the mill. 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.
We'll travel closer to home
Flying is possible right now, albeit the choice of routes is severely diminished and the freedoms on travel are also limited. Both of these things will slowly improve in the coming months, so when you are 'able' to fly is going to depend significantly on where you want to go. Is there a flight that will take you to your desired destination, and will government and other restrictions at either end allow you to travel?
We might see some countries locked down for much longer than others, so whilst you may be able to get to Berlin next month, maybe you won’t be able to get to Barbados this year.
The popularity of destinations is going to depend hugely on how the global shutdown retreats. We could see a rush of travel to the first places that open up, but equally, many people are likely to stick closer to home in the short term.
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.
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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