The New Normal while Traveling

The sudden appearance of coronavirus in our lives has drastically altered the way of living life for all of us. It has made hygiene and safety far more important than it has ever been. This new lifestyle has also affected the world of traveling. From hand sanitizer dispensers at hotel entrances and receptions to flight attendants wearing masks, from lockdowns to the introduction of tracing apps, everything had gone through a rapid change. But now, as the world is recovering slowly from the effects of the pandemic, the tourism industry which accounts for 10% of the world’s GDP is trying to adapt to this ‘new normal’.

Due to worldwide lockdown, all the flights came to an abrupt halt. Borders were closed, booked travel tickets were cancelled, travelling protocols were altered - all of this, just to prevent the spread of corona. Amidst this, when the travel and tourism industry was hit the hardest, the airlines and hotels started to think of new solutions to adapt to this situation. After a lot of pondering upon the issues in hand, the top most issue was how to make travel in the airlines and hotels contactless. Many upgrades were made with the sensor-based technology like soap dispensers, automatic sensor-based cisterns, but in airlines or hotels, the first thing we encounter is the door. Now, the issue with the doors is being addressed and people are trying to resolve it. One such example is the All Nippon Airways of Japan where they are testing a prototype of a door in which the handle can be used using the elbow and can be easily opened or closed. This solution was introduced after a survey report where 70 percent of the travellers were worried about the potential spread of the virus due to contact with the doorknob and were sceptical about using it during such a time. Although more solutions like using the foot to lower or raise the toilet lid, and hands-free waste flaps are being explored by the experts and designers to ensure the utmost safety for the passengers. Similarly, the incorporation of sensor-based technology in aircraft washrooms is being explored. Nowadays, along with all these advanced changes, flights and their washrooms are being disinfected after each use so as to reduce the risk as much as possible. Even in the airport premises, every now and then the disinfection of common surfaces like elevators, trays at security checks, escalators, and the handrails are taking place along with attempts of making provisions ‘of eventuality’ to identify a symptomatic passenger beforehand.

The next big concern is the stay at hotels. With all the risks of contact and infection mentioned till now, we’ve got an idea of how many risks are present around us especially when we are in a public place. All the protocols are issued for hotels as well. At hotel entrances and receptions, we see automatic soap dispensers installed and the guards checking the temperature before letting anybody enter the premises. The rooms and common areas in the hotel are regularly disinfected by automatic vacuum cleaners, air purifiers, disinfection sprays, digital payment and ordering systems, etc. But amidst all these preparations, the biggest concern is the use of washrooms. Along with designers, experts are also thinking of new design concepts for the washrooms to take down the risk of contact to a bare minimum. With all the research and ideas that have come up, the changes are already being made. The first and foremost change in the design was seen in the installed pieces of equipment. Now, instead of standard faucets and cisterns, sensor-based automatic faucets and cisterns are being installed in the washrooms.

To install contactless doors, changes in the designs of washroom doors are being explored too. All these new introductions in the field of hygiene technology have made a great difference for the people as all these arrangements are boosting people’s confidence in travel and stay in hotels.

The post covid situation will increase the pace of some changes which were long due but were not yet introduced like safe and secure travel with the use of artificial intelligence-based technology. The situation might end the long and tiring wait in queues. It might also increase domestic travel and travel with family and people of different generations. There are also chances that universal health passports might be issued so that the passengers won’t feel uneasy due to constantly changing rules and regulations of travel in different countries and regions. Even though the times keep on seeing several ups and downs, and the travel may seem safe, we still would feel the need to travel in alignment to the new normal in our own way.