COVID-19: Global restart on travel | But how do the travelers feel?

A cautious start to travel

As summer in the northern hemisphere draws closer, there are growing fears that areas reliant on tourism will miss out on their biggest season, and countries and businesses are cautiously beginning to encourage more travel. The UAE’s Emirates Airlines said Wednesday it would restart limited passenger flights to nine destinations, including London and Frankfurt, from May 21. The interior minister of Germany, Horst Seehofer, has said that together with Austria, France and Switzerland, his country would begin easing border restrictions beginning May 16, with the aim of lifting them entirely by June 15. And the European Commission on Wednesday recommended the reopening of borders closed in the pandemic. Cross-border vacation travel had been expected to generate €1.3 billion, or US$1.4 billion, in spending in 2020 before the lockdowns.

More from the New York Times

Most early travel will be leisure-related: Survey

In light of the COVID-19 pandemic, the One Night app surveyed 820 travel and hotel enthusiasts largely residing in United States from May 4 to May 9. The pandemic has greatly dampened overall travel demand and hotel stays – U.S. hotels occupancy dropped to 39.4% in March, a decrease of over 40% from prior year according to data from STR. The survey indicates that individuals will travel far less in 2020 and 2021 than they did in 2019. However, the majority of respondents are planning to travel again later this year and the majority of that travel will be leisure related, many to visit family members. An individual’s desire to travel or pent-up demand will be the biggest driver for planning future travel, followed by lifting of government restrictions, and disposable income.

See the full survey

Search and UX tips for hotels during the crisis

Booking intent may of course be low due to current domestic and international travel restrictions, however with little visibility of OTAs currently, this presents hotels with a strong opportunity to advertise at a lower cost, due to the bidding auction being less competitive, according to marketing firm Econsultancy. Some of these opportunities include:

•   Developing direct brand awareness and visibility of the key ‘book direct’ benefits

•   Test the bottom of the brand protection with “maximize clicks” bidding strategies leading to exceptionally low cost per clicks and an excellent corresponding cost per conversion

•   Add remarketing tags to their websites to re-capture audiences back to engage

•   Trial a handful of non-brand terms at a lower cost per click

•   Generate direct website engagement and newsletter signups

•   Tailoring paid advertising messaging to ‘Save the Summer’, ‘Book Now Travel Later’, and to emphasize the hotels scope for flexibility with any future bookings made

Read more

Now is the time to innovate

Over the past eight weeks, UI/UX design firm Quo Agency has been in conversation with travel and hospitality leaders for its podcast series ‘The Future of Travel.’ A recurring sentiment is that now is the time to prepare to innovate. To that end, Quo has prepared a simple and practical relaunch guide to help hotels get back in business as quickly as possible. Focused on tactical communications and marketing, it advises how and where to reach target audiences in the short-to-medium term.

Download the guide

Where is Spain heading?

Hotel, tourism and leisure consulting firm Horwath HTL interviewed its senior director of Spain and Portugal about Spain and the Spanish hotel market, with a focus on government support and what comes next in terms of the country’s reopening plans.

Watch the video

The first Steigenbergers reopen

Frankfurt-based Steigenberger Hotels & Resorts will reopen its hotels in Germany before the end of May. The hotels’ facilities will be able to be used without compromising social distancing. In public areas, for instance:

•   Mandatory protective mouth and nose covering will be required for staff and guests – face masks will be distributed to guests as needed

•   Hand sanitizer dispensers will exist in all public areas (lobby, restaurant, bar, lifts)

•   Sanitizer dispensers will also be available at reception and in the toilets

•   Distance markings will be implemented

•   There will be hourly disinfection of contact surfaces (door handles, lift call buttons, counters at reception and in the bar etc.)

•   There will be a regular airing of public areas

•   Elevator capacity will be limited to two persons at any one time (except for families)

•   Notices will be displayed in central areas to draw attention to hygiene rules

•   Gyms and spa areas will remain closed until further notice (no exercise courses or treatments can be offered).

Read details of the new guidelines

Elsewhere: Hostmark acquires RAR Hospitality

Chicago-based Hostmark Hospitality Group has acquired RAR Hospitality, a San Diego-based hospitality management group. The combined company will now own and operate both limited-service and full-service as well as branded and independent hotels across the U.S., with a portfolio of 40 hotels totaling over 5,000 rooms as well as successful restaurants. Operations of RAR’s portfolio will continue under the Hostmark brand in its San Diego office.