For a while, I have been talking about what will enable travel in the future in a world that is beset by a viral pandemic that just doesn’t seem to want to quit. Effective Safety protocols and the expertise of Travel Professionals have emerged as the key ingredients in the execution of safe travel and one of the ways that this is being achieved is for at least larger groups to “travel in a bubble”. This, in essence, is achieved by the travel party remaining within their protective shield of assigned modes of travel and accommodations and meeting only with accredited hospitality professionals or pre-screened outsiders.
Travel Advisors achieve this using their industry knowledge to provide low-risk coronavirus options, like suggesting certain safer destinations, travel corridors, transportation providers, hotel and restaurant choices and even choices of activities. These travel bubbles are already working pretty well for sports teams and larger groups generally, but as we have also seen in certain cases teams have still reported coronavirus outbreaks when certain individuals break the barrier and go AWOL, making contact with non-accredited parties.
It is a massive team (excuse the pun) effort, therefore, for this to work effectively but it can be achieved and the question is being asked is, “Is this a viable solution for business travel, or for that matter leisure travel of reasonably large-sized groups?” I would definitely say it is and with the help of Travel Professionals who know their stuff, it can at least be effectively organised, so that it is travel at the highest level of safety.
A mammoth task
Don’t underestimate the enormity of the role that Travel Professionals need to play in this either. Having the correct travel documentation right now is critical: passport, health insurance, travel insurance and of course vaccinations right down to the finest details of vaccine type, manufacturer, date of vax etc. An infinite amount of information is required in this convoluted travel scenario we are currently playing out.
Communication on all the right things with clients is also imperative and Travel Professionals need to know what the travel party’s concerns are and share objective sources of information, such as links to the right resources. The travel party need to know things like the COVID-19 protocols they can expect in each destination and how to get COVID testing done before returning home, availability of outside dining, the percentage occupancy at hotels or restaurants, etc. The list is extensive and needs to be comprehensively covered but it’s all in a day’s work for competent Travel Professionals.
The good news for small family groups too is that one additional thing currently being rolled out is what is known as “Private trips” which are private trips taken by families or any small business groups confident of each other’s status and reliability. These, however, require the same level of input from Travel Advisors.
United we stand…
In essence, Travel Professionals, and the excellent job that most of them do, will be essential to ensure safety in future travel, but they can’t do it entirely alone. It is going to take the buy-in and collaboration of every facet of the hospitality and travel sectors, businesses and the travellers themselves to make travel in a bubble, or private trips possible and safe.
I agree with the U.S. Travel Association which, in its March 2021 report, “Travel for the New Normal” said, “We must all work together. Travellers must do their part by adopting safe travel practices and following science-based guidelines to help protect themselves, the health of their family and all those around them”.
The moral of Aesop’s fable of “the Lion and the four oxen” states “United we stand, divided we fall,” and never has this been more appropriate than right now as we collectively face the kind of scourge that COVID-19 has placed upon the world. Be safe and be positive, and remember there are solutions to every challenge. The travel industry is a multi-trillion dollar industry worldwide and employs a massive percentage of the world’s population, so it is not going to just lie down and wait for the storm to pass. It will find solutions and “travel in a bubble” is just one of them, so watch this space!LIDIA FOLLI
CHIEF EXECUTIVE OFFICER