There are likely to be masks. Empty mid-seats. Prepackaged meals and drinks in the air and serve buffet tables at sea (if there are buffets at all). Check-in can include a nasal swab and a health certificate — and expect itinerary changes and cancellations along the way.
People will want to travel as soon as they can
Without a doubt, the first intrepid travelers to reach the post-Corona path will find the experience as changed as it was in the post-9/11 period. And maybe that in itself is part of the draw for the many who hardly go and travel professionals eager to book it.
The first travelers — and certainly the luxury travelers among them — are likely to stay close to home or head for the less-traveled paths.
“I’ve been in the travel business for 45 years and it’s never been like this: tourism is frozen; one in ten people in the world is in the hospitality industry, and the cruise company is doomed for a while,” says Jack Bloch, owner of the luxury travel agency JB’s World Travel Consultants in New York City.
“But I have customers ready to go in July and supplier contacts in Shanghai and China who tell me they’re back to normal. People will want to travel as soon as they can — and, more than ever, they’ll want the personalized service that travel advisors provide. They’ll want more privacy; they’ll want to know not only who the company is, but who their driver is.”
Initially, Bloch predicts that luxury consumers will travel to areas that are a little more remote, such as New Zealand, which has very low levels of COVID-19, or the South Pacific. Europe is going to take longer.
People are going to look for open spaces, adventure, and private islands
“People are going to look for open spaces, adventure, and private islands. And my clients still want insider access — so can you imagine right now that’s going to be even more of a phenomenon if you can afford it,” Bloch adds.
That all bodes well for travel consultants who manage to hang on for the next few weeks, says Bloch and many of his coworkers.
Beyond the actual booking, however, the COVID-19 pandemic has shown just how badly things can go wrong, how easily laws can change — and how expensive errors can be. From the story of the rich family who chartered a plane and a villa, only to be refused entry to the island when they landed, to the many who ended up stranded in foreign ports,
Travel advisors will need to be more informed than ever, more aware of global news and ever-changing legislation, and more in touch with the practices and financial conditions of the suppliers with whom they are working.
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