Not since World War II has there been such a challenge to consumer confidence in travel as that created by the coronavirus. The shut-down of global travel has left carriers, agencies and tourist destinations desperate to find solutions that offer the safety and reassurance that travelers will need in a post-covid world. Even those vaccinated can still be vulnerable to or carriers of the infection, so the requirement for heightened safety measures and greater tracking and tracing of passenger activity as well as the limitation of human contact to the minimum possible are unlikely to go anywhere soon.
At the same time as feeling frightened, according to groups such as IAG, passenger demand for travel has never been as pent-up. Families that have been separated, business ventures that have only been conducted virtually and holidays that have been missed mean that the airlines that are offering greatest precautions and convenience for passengers travelling in a covid world are likely to do very well this summer. Fortunately, digital technology is offering a number of affordable ways that airlines achieve the necessary amendments to their services.
1. Communicate and reassure
The main way that airlines can help their passengers at this stage is to reassure passengers that there are on the same side. For some airlines, such as Qatar and their “travel with confidence” program, this has meant reassuring customers with ticket guarantees and chargeless extensions.
But in additional to this costly policy, just being a trusted and up to date source of information on travel and local governmental policies, there is an opportunity for airlines to develop better relationships with customers than ever before. For those that can’t answer the questions that their passengers have with the latest information, such as “when is it safe to fly?” to “Do I need a quarantine? What is open and what is close at my destination? What happened if I get covid whilst I am away?” There is a real risk of being seen as unprofessional and incompetent. After all, nothing bonds or divides people like a crisis. With the speed at which things are changing sometimes by the hour, this is a real challenge that digital solutions can really help with, especially those innovative services such as Mobipax app that offer alerts sent straight to passenger smart phones.
2. Empower and inform staff and partners
It is important for airlines to also remember that their staff on the ground and in the air, all also need reassurance and the latest information and procedure readily available and easily digested and as much help as possible to deal with a fast-changing environment.
Again, digital business systems that offer real-time connectivity between management and staff about regulations and passenger updates direct to smart phones are helpful here.
Airlines also now have an opportunity to play a role in creating partnership with hotels and other local providers of “corona safe” services, such as taxis, hotels and doctors meaning entirely new business opportunities.
3. Socially distance and track and trace
And last but not least, it goes without saying that enhanced safety measures are astoundingly important. Surely the business case for going totally contactless is overwhelmingly strong at the moment. But also, many of these safety measures involve far more involved collaboration with airports to maintain the proper checks and controls for staff and passenger and Tracking passengers and communicating with them whilst they are at the airport and during their trip is also very important in the control of transmission rates – the airlines must do everything that they can do to not be seen as the couriers of the disease and more information on their passengers and where there are is undoubtably important
All of the above practices are well supported and more easily delivered by airlines using digital solutions such as Mobipax, the benefits of which Corona has only heightened. With the correct software, smart airlines are better adapting and are likely to be remembered for it so we are likely to see many more app-based systems that can enable them to interact with staff, passenger and other important stakeholders in better, more streamlined ways being adopted.
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