The Aftermath of COVID19: As Travel Looks Ahead

April 16, 2020

Industries around the world are facing unparalleled shifts in their businesses due to the COVID-19 pandemic, and the travel industry has been hit especially hard. In the United States alone, the travel and tourism industry could lose an estimated $24B in foreign spending this year. Even as the virus decelerates, people will be cautious about immediately resuming travel. The sense of safety and well-being has been diminished. It will take time to rebuild confidence and trust. During this period of refocus, it’s helpful to keep in mind ways the ecosystem can evolve in a post Covid world. 

Democratization of Data

It’s been said here and is worth reiterating, to help respond better and potentially avert another outbreak on the scale of COVID-19, companies, organizations and researchers can collaborate, share knowledge, data and resources. 

Already, COVID-19 has affected over 2M people, a number that is growing exponentially. Even as the number of infected eventually steadies, history will likely repeat itself. Medical and health professionals are predicting the virus will return this fall as an evolved strain. This isn’t the first we’ve had in recent memory (H1N1, SARS, etc.). Knowing this, it’s important to ensure the ecosystem is prepared and able to withstand future outbreaks. Working together to solve a global crisis transcends the bottom line - it’s about stewardship, giving back, helping to keep people safe around the world. That makes us stronger in the long term.

If just one data point could potentially save thousands of lives, imagine what thousands made available among data scientists and researchers could do. Knowledge share is key for the future survival of many industries, and in particular, tourism and hospitality. To rebuild the tourism economy to what it was at its recent peak, travelers need to know they can go forth safely, as we are equipped to predict, analyze and better prepare for future crises. Through open learning, the industry can be confident it is analyzing relevant signals, trends and data points. 

The industry can empower travelers to make confident, smart decisions, but to do so, we must work cooperatively as we rebuild, together, towards a better travel economy. 

Switch Up Your Sources

As we’re dealing with the extraordinary extent of this invisible illness, it can often seem difficult to decipher between fact and fiction. Media, government and other entities have worked to distribute information as quickly and efficiently as possible, yet the news cycle is in hyper ADD mode. We’re bombarded with reports that can be confusing and contradictory. Although clarity should improve as we learn more, ambiguity can lead to anxiety, something that will take time, trust and effort to earn back.

To be sure, health and medical information must be of reputable origin. And when that data is analyzed and interpreted to identify trends and potential spread, data science, risk modeling and predictive analytics expertise is required.

GeoSure, a real-time, hyper-local risk modeling startup, is an example. GeoSure sources data from trusted, household name authorities, including the CDC, UN and WHO, Interpol, and hundreds more. Structured data sources are added to vast quantities of unstructured data, plus user insights, and other sources. Aggregated data is then modeled to produce safety scores (or GeoSafeScores™) for 65,000+ cities and neighborhoods, across eight risk categories, including Health & Medical. From the imprimatuer of recognized data inputs, the end result provides an independent, objective reflection, or standard, of safety conditions on the ground, worldwide.

More Options for Travelers

As society is collectively working its way back towards a new normal, it is helpful for the industry to keep end users at the center of decision making, providing as many options as possible when needed. Coming out of this crisis, the ecosystem won’t see an immediate rebound. More likely it will be a long time until confidence is restored and the travel economy is back to what it once was. 

For most, Covid19 has brought a new level of distress. To assuage apprehension when travelers need it most, organizations should work together to share knowledge, build trust, empower instead of disquiet, and create a confident, productive experience. Thoughtful approaches will bring a new level of reassurance for essential business and excursion travel.

As the travel industry thinks ahead, leaning in to do more will help us all come out stronger, and more resilient than ever.

Michael Becker co-founded GeoSure to help solve growing safety awareness problems, innovate travel, promote community well-being, and democratize safety.