1. Hospitality companies publicize detailed plans for new cleanliness protocols
The world’s largest hotel companies are focusing their attention in making their guests feel safe once traveling resumes. Think of it as cleanliness-as-a-Service to reduce travel anxiety. Read about some of the ambitious hygiene practices and protocols announced by IHG, Rosewood, Hilton, Hyatt, Marriott, Kempinski, Langham, Wynn, as well as the Stay Safe Advisory Council (17 of the world’s largest hospitality companies). Measures include mandatory frequent temperature checks, sanitizing stations, CleanStay room seals, thermal cameras.
Alternative accommodation companies are also launching their own programs to address their guests’ concerns around health and well-being. Airbnb just launched its “Enhanced Cleaning Initiative”, a cleaning-protocol learning and certification program for hosts. Airbnb is also introducing a mandatory a 24-hour waiting period between bookings to address the possibility that virus particles could remain in the air for a few hours. Sonder announced their enhanced cleaning protocols for all their properties across the globe.
Marriott is rolling out electrostatic sprayers
2. An airline passenger journey in the age of sanitized travel
Travelers would not have stepped on an airplane after 9/11 unless they were assured that here were no weapons on-board. Now, they will not travel unless assurance is provided that there are no viruses on board. This SimplyFlying report maps out the entire airline passenger journey and how each touchpoint could change in the age of sanitized travel. Some examples:
Upload your immunity passport at online check-in.
Ancillary products: all-inclusive insurance, masks, gloves, empty seats.
Instant health assessment (like Biomind CT scan), blood test, UV disinfection process for bags at airport check-in
Touchless cabin and in-flight janitors to regularly clean lavatories and other areas
At least 4 hour arrival before flight and the end of the 30 minute turn-around time
3. AirAsia unveils new flight attendant uniforms for CV19
Fashion has taken a back seat to functionality. Designed by Filipino fashion designer Puey Quinones, the uniforms feature personal protective equipment in the form of hoods, gloves, masks and face shields. CEO Tony Fernandes explained that the new uniforms will only be used on rescue flights and not the airline’s regular flights. Read more.
4. AirAsia resumes flights with strict safety measures
AirAsia resumed domestic flights in Malaysia on April 29 and plans to resume flights in Thailand on May 1, India on May 4, Indonesia on May 7 and the Philippines on May 16, subject to approval from authorities. The airline stated its intentions to have full operations back up and running “as soon as possible”. AirAsia issued a statement describing the strict hygiene controls in place:
Passengers required to wear their own face masks throughout their journey, from check-in to baggage claim
No consumption of food and beverage on board
Passenger screening including body temperature scan during boarding. Passengers with a body temperature above 37.3ºC (99.14ºF) will be denied travel
Only one carry-on such as a laptop bag or a handbag or a small bag weighing no more than 7 kg
5. Goodbye to the middle seat…for now
US airlines - Delta, Alaska, American, United, Spirit - are blocking middle seats on flights at least until the end of May. In Europe, EasyJet said it also plans to block middle seats as it ramps up operations once the coronavirus eases. Low cost Wizz Air and global airline trade body IATA both said they were preparing for requirements that airlines fly only two-thirds full to allow some “social distancing” on board. Ryanair CEO Michael O’Leary dismissed these proposals as“mad”, saying they would be “hopelessly ineffective” as well as unaffordable. Read more - The Points Guy.
And for when the middle seat comes back....Italian company Aviointeriors has been producing aircraft cabin interiors and passenger seats for over 40 years and they have some new and innovative concepts. The "Glassafe” (left) is a protective shield that can be fitted on to existing seats "to reduce the probability of contamination. "The "Janus" seats (right) is made up of a row of three, with the seat in the middle facing the opposite direction. Each seat is fixed with a three-sided shield to prevent "breath propagation".
6. Airports are adapting with increased automation and looking to hospitals for inspiration
Sanitizing robots, sterilization robots, contactless dining, robotic parking, Amazon’s touchless checkouts for airport stores… . Airports had already been embracing automation, but the crisis may accelerate the pace of change. “The entire passenger’s journey through a terminal has to be rethought around new conventions for personal space and new concepts for protecting wellness. We’re looking at hospital design to see what may be relevant to apply to terminal design, for instance.” - Jonathan Massey of Corgan, a Dallas-based architecture firm that has worked on many terminals. Read more - Skift.
7. Flight bookings surge as China relaxes quarantine rules
Until April 30th, Beijing had some of the strictest coronavirus measures in China, including a 14-day quarantine for anyone arriving. That requirement ended on May1st, just ahead of a five-day May Day holiday. The number of daily flights in China is at 42% of pre-epidemic levels, but data from Qunar.com showed air bookings out of Beijing jumped by 15 times in the first ½ hour after news of the end of restrictions. Alibaba saw orders for air tickets, in and out of Beijing, jump more than 500% in the hour after the announcement. Trip.com sold $10 million worth of travel coupons at a live-streaming event on April 30th, a large proportion of which were purchased by Beijing-based consumers. Read more - Reuters.
8. We can’t predict the future but we can prepare for a range of possible outcomes
Anticipating the Future of Travel (Kantar and Smart Travel Labs) analyzes 4 possible futures, how each impacts consumer expectations and how businesses can best adapt to the emerging opportunities.
9. Anybody betting against travel will be in the wrong side of history in the long run
Rafat Ali, founder of Skift, conducted an insightful interview with Airbnb founder and CEO Brian Chesky. Brian believes that travel will come back in a completely different form. And this is OK. He believes that innovations that are taking place now could make travel come back bigger and better than before. He sees Airbnb becoming less of a “travel” company as a result of a new generation trending towards stays of 30 days or more. He foresees a decrease in business travel that will be compensated by a greater need to travel for leisure. Sit back, relax and enjoy this 30 minute conversation to learn Airbnb founder’s vision of the future of travel.
10. Funding 💰
Tech-enabled short-term apartment rental startup Frontdesk completed a $6.8 million Series A, following a $2.75 million bridge round in the summer of 2019. Frontdesk manages the entire guest experience from end to end, from their in-house technology stack to the in-house cleaning operation. It operates in 28 cities with over 500 fully-serviced apartment suites.
Indian business travel management startup Itilite raised $13 million for business travel management. Itilite focuses on large players who spend at least $20,000 a month on travel and offers incentives for employees to stay within a corporation’s budget and policy. Regarding how CV19 impacts his business, the founder and CEO has this to say: “Even if travel contracts overall for a long time, business travel will remain a large enough segment for us to dramatically take market share”.
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