Contactless travel has been gaining significant traction in the travel industry of late, and with good reason. Every sector connected to tourism has felt the impact of COVID-19. When flights were grounded, and borders closed, travel companies and travelers had to take stock of what it would mean to journey in the post-pandemic space.
Now that there is some movement again, providers and other role players in the travel industry have had to adjust quickly. There are new ways that travelers expect to be served and treated at every touchpoint along their journeys.
Is your business ready to adapt? Here are four important contactless travel trends to take heed of this year and beyond:
Four Important Contactless Travel Trends Emerging In 2021
1. Contactless Check-In
Activity and accommodation providers face unique challenges in the time of COVID-19. In most cases, guests want to either get off their feet and relax, or get on with their adventure. But, before anything happens, information needs to be gathered, payments need to be made, and forms have to be filled out.
So, what is an innovative business to do?
The answer is quite simple, really. Allow your clients to do everything ahead of time via an app or online booking system. This way, they can jump right in and do what they came to do as soon as they arrive at the physical location.
How does your current setup look? Does your clientele spend up to half an hour doing paperwork upon arrival? And how are you handling all of this while social distancing measures have to be in place? Are there shared clipboards or tablets in the mix when you have to gather and process the information of people arriving in groups?
Businesses that are client-facing in large, bustling spaces can have trouble managing all the touchpoints they need to. This is especially true at a time when people are cautious of what they touch and how their belongings (including their credit cards) are handled.
Contactless check-in through an online booking system allows guests to complete certain check-in steps via an app or online platform even before they arrive. This includes completing guest forms, digital waivers, QR barcodes, contactless payments, and more.
2. Ordering-In Online
With waves of COVID-19 continuing to flare up around the globe, travelers are being cautious about where and how they eat.
For example, in many places, buffet dining has been closed down in favor of seated service. And this makes sense safety-wise. It can be quite taxing to dine out in a new location, especially when you have to mask up and remain vigilant about what you touch and how you engage with the people around you.
So, it’s understandable that business and leisure travelers alike are opting to order their meals to enjoy in their rooms.
Savvy hotels, guest houses, and accommodation providers can tap into this trend by upping their game where their room service menu is concerned. Perhaps, instead of only offering a few basic meals, consider building out your menu to include local delicacies.
Alternatively, you could also be proactive by offering your guests a ‘menu’ of local restaurants that deliver your location. Include their relevant online details or give your guests the names of the best local food delivery apps.
When your clients can’t ‘bill to the room,’ choose partners who will allow them to order, pay, tip, and track their meal orders from their smartphones.
3. Flying ‘In A Cocoon’
Airplanes can be a triggering space for just about any person at the time of COVID-19. Being confined to a small space filled with lots of people you don’t know can be nerve-wracking if you are unsure about the protocols being followed, etc.
Forward-thinking airlines are pulling out all the stops to allow passengers to be as comfortable as possible before, during, and after transit. This includes developing apps that allow travelers to book in and check their flight status from their smartphones. Most of these apps also provide the opportunity to link their frequent flyer number and check-in for their flight.
Additional app add-ons include the ability to stream in-flight entertainment from personal devices. This is a great setup because it allows cautious passengers to avoid touching shared screens on airplanes. Instead, they can be comfortable knowing that they were the only person to handle their device and earphones.
4. Destination-Specific Traveler Education
Every country has its own legislation around COVID-19 and how their government chooses to curb the spread of the disease. Sometimes, different states and provinces within a country may even have rules and regulations in place that differ from the next. Because of this, it’s a good idea to give your clients and travelers more information about the destination they are traveling to.
Whether you offer accommodation, facilitate activities, or host retreats or events, educating your guests will help to put them at ease. Consider adding a handy information pack that travelers can download from your website or access online before and during their trip.
This way, you can let them know about all the local destination nuances. For instance, if specific curfews are in place, restaurants are restricted, or tourist sites remain closed, travelers will need to know ahead of time what is happening so that there are no unwanted surprises when they arrive.
Giving your clientele the lay of the land before the start of their trip helps to manage their expectations. They can get all the information they need conveniently online and don’t have to worry about handling and safekeeping physical documents.
While not all the points above will relate directly to your travel company, it is crucial to know how travelers are navigating the world as we emerge from the COVID-19 pandemic.
That said, do what you can to support contactless travel. Offer your clients contactless payments, zero-touch check-in, and online documents as much as possible. Doing this will put them at ease, and better meet travelers in the emerging market.