The travel and hospitality industries’ fragmented approach to the Covid-19 crisis has left us more confused than reassured – a viewpoint from our disgruntled corporate traveller

6 July, 2020

It appears that every hotel brand has set a new standard in its health and hygiene promises to reassure potential guests. The same could be said for airlines and airports too. Some messages are varied, others following the same themes but to different qualification standards. What this does is rather than reassure travellers it leaves them more confused over what to expect.

Mr Victor A Forcenteain, our disgruntled corporate traveller, this month highlights his dissatisfaction of the fragmented way the COVID-19 crisis is being handled by the travel industry.

"As a frequent traveller, I believe I am pretty savvy when it comes to seeing through all the hype put out by travel companies, but as a result of Covid-19 I have to say I'm getting a little fed up with the constant flood of emails from travel companies telling me how safe it is to travel.

"Many a hotel has written to report of their new hygiene protocols. They now clean the toilets regularly apparently - something I was under the impression they did anyway. Cleaning high touch surfaces - yes that's a good idea, maybe they should always be kept clean. They pretty much all say the same thing which seems to be the minimum all of them should be doing to keep us safe from this virus. They really don't need to crow about their actions as if they are doing anything others are not.

"One thing I'm happy to see, however, is the removal of throws and cushions from hotel rooms - not before time I say. They only ever ended up on the floor and were rarely cleaned so one can only imagine the amount of bacteria they harboured.

"The social distancing idea is something I'm more than happy about. But let's be honest about it. It's not really social distancing but physical distancing as I still see everyone socially connecting from six feet apart while constantly connected to their devices.

"Only too often have I had to endure being stuffed into a bus, waiting room or corridor far too close to my fellow travellers. We are not sheep. Let's all keep a little distance from now on and then we don't have to suffer some else's smelly armpits, let alone bacteria exchange.

"Many airports are saying that they are temperature checking everyone on arrival so therefore it's safe to enter and travel with them. I'm not convinced they can be so sure of that. We all know it is the people without symptoms that are the dangerous ones as they carry the virus without showing any outward signs. Anyone with a temperature and is stupid enough to want to travel and knowingly spread the virus should be locked up, not just refused entry to the airport.

"There are airports that are conducting viral checks on all arrivals which is to be applauded. But I wonder how that will work when the passenger numbers increase because that is really only feasible with the small numbers currently travelling. Where will a widebody full of people wait? How long will the test take? What do you do with people who test positive? So many questions.

"Hanging around an airport for hours waiting for a flight seems fairly fraught with dangers. We may be kept apart from our fellow passengers for the most part but the boarding process still seems to offer plenty of opportunities to bump shoulders. Nobody likes to queue and it seems that we are simply going to have to be standing in line more often and for longer if we want to fly anywhere.

"I have read much about so-called 'roadmaps' to getting the air transport industry back up and running but it seems to me that every company and country are doing their own thing so there is no joined-up thinking or collaborative approach. We travellers need to know exactly what we should be doing during all forms of air travel, regardless of what airport we are going through or which airline we are flying or how we are getting to and from the airport. Rules need to be agreed and set, and quickly too.

"I really do want to travel again. There are people I need to meet, business to do and places to see, but it really seems to be a bit of a zoo out there with so much information and disinformation. Hopefully the industry will quickly get itself some kind of coordinated approach so we can all feel that when we are told it's safe to travel, we do actually feel that is true and not something we are being told in order to get us to buy a ticket."