How To Deal With The Complexity Of International Travel
The more I read about international travel, the more I realise I’m going nowhere without travel advice. Here’s 6 reasons while I’ll be consulting my travel advisors before my next trip.
1. Knowing what’s the status of a destination
Today the prospect of overseas travel can cause a sense of insecurity and uncertainty. How the region to which I am travelling is dealing with COVID-19 is only the start of the assessment.
Over the last few years, some employers used safety apps for staff travelling to “risky” areas. But the nature of travel risk is now more fluid and complex. Despite its ubiquity, COVID-19 has not brought about international agreements. There is no consensus on the acceptable levels of risk for reopening borders. Plus government actions and restrictions fluctuate. To navigate this complexity of international travel, I need more than a mobile app. I want expertise available to me ahead of and during my trip. That’s job number 1 for a travel management company.
2. Air travel standards and practices
Again, there are no standards in place. Sure, measures like visible sanitising, screening, and masks increase passengers’ feelings of safety (IATA). But rules are changing and standards will be slow to develop.
The focus will shift to analysing us as passengers. With our consent, airlines and travel companies will use personal data such as age, health, and travel history to compile our risk profile.
In the meantime the onus is on travellers to assess and manage risk. Who can help navigate this complex and changing set of factors? Well, I will rely on my travel management company to stay up-to-date with developments.
3. Airline uncertainty
Is there a high risk of infection on a plane? Planes have systems to control airborne viruses (and bacteria) and ventilation systems that cycle air around 10 times per hour. They also have filters, which are at least 99% efficient at capturing particles as small as 2 microns. This doesn’t end airborne transmission in a cabin, but these measures would seem to minimise it.
Rather than the plane, our attention should go to the airline.
Airline policies for disinfecting planes between flights vary. Airline standards and seat assignment policies are not consistent. Most require passengers to wear masks, but that isn’t always the case.
Risks will reduce with phased boarding and touchless processing of passports and boarding passes. Pre-packaged food and sanitised hand wipes on board can lower risks. But do we know which airline follows what procedure?
Well, I can expect my travel management company to know the answers and will want their guidance before I choose an airline.
4. Pros and cons of specific airports
There is perceived risk going to and from an airport. As there is with standing in security queues, and shopping in-terminal. Which terminals have implemented the better systems? What implications are there for check-in and arrival times? All this risk seems to increase in international airports.
I also need to know what the best ground travel options are on arrival overseas. I want professional advice from my travel expert to address these questions.
5. Travel insurance
Insurance companies will “green list” countries. They will add policy caveats and variable national conditions, restrictions, and exclusions.
The pandemic has exposed loopholes and shortcomings in some travel insurance policies. Some insurers refused to reimburse customers for COVID-related cancellations.
Also, we can expect some countries to adopt public health regulations. These may stipulate mandatory health-check certifications and travel insurance for visitors.
Who can I rely on to navigate my way through these processes? How am I to make informed decisions about travel insurance? Again my mind turns to travel experts.
Oh, and what about costs? There have been short term drops in fares. But IATA’s Chief Economist, Brian Pearce, estimated that flight prices will increase from 43% to 54%.
Sure, fuel prices are low, and airlines have moved to reduce capacity. But the relationship between price and load factors shows he is likely to be right. Wolfe Research predicts US airline profitability to be in serious trouble:
In 2020, the seats offered by airlines will drop anywhere between 44% and 55%. Passenger revenues in the year will fall by between $343 and 383 billion (ICAO). It took air travel 3 years to recover from 9/11 and over 7 years from the global financial crisis in 2007. COVID-19 will be a far more drawn out and difficult to predict. It was hard enough to know I was getting the right fare last year. Things can only get more complex. I can’t rely on booking sites for real insight and advice, again it’s the help of the professionals I’ll be turning to.
So, 3 concluding thoughts:
(1) We will still travel internationally for work and leisure.
(2) We won’t do it the same way as we used to.
(3) And we will need the help of travel experts to make informed choices about all aspects of our travel.
No, we are not a travel management company or travel agent. TRAQ is the app for travellers and travel companies that puts the travel company back at the heart of travel transactions. What’s more, we designed TRAQ to bring travellers savings and convenience.
The TRAQ app. is configurable to look and work like a travel company’s technology. Even better TRAQ wraps around a travel service. Customers access the travel team’s expertise in a fast, easy-to-use, money saving app. They gain convenience and personalisation. The travel company strengthens the bond with its customers and drives more revenue.
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