How COVID-19 Has Taught Us the Significance Of Safety And Hygienic Conditions During Travel
Grow Your Business, Not Your Inbox
You're reading Entrepreneur India, an international franchise of Entrepreneur Media.
Traditionally, safety and hygiene have fared low in popular modes of transportation in India. Travelers in India had almost come to accept poor hygiene in trains and buses. In a pre-COVID world, these popular travel modes gave minimal attention to safety and hygiene conditions. Not anymore. Surveys being done during this current pandemic show that people will choose modes of transport that reduce social contact and adhere to hygienic conditions. They also show a rising hope that normalcy will return in the next few months. The overarching question in the pandemic struck world is—When can we travel again? The answer is nothing close to simple as it will be driven by both logic and emotion. However, a revival can be accelerated by earning the trust of the people through safe and sanitized options.
Livelihoods and Economy Booster
The travel industry has been at the forefront of bearing the brunt of the COVID-19 pandemic. While the shutdown was absolutely necessary to contain the spread of the epidemic, the duration of this step is finite. One cannot deny the role of the travel industry for inclusive growth and economic development. According to a report by Grant Thornton in India and FICCI, the travel and tourism industry provided 87.5 million jobs and accounted for 12.75 per cent of the total jobs created in the country in 2019. The same report says that with a population of more than 1.3 billion people and an unemployment rate of 7.8 per cent, this industry holds the potential to provide livelihood to countless people, who in turn can help the industry scale new heights. Travel, except for pleasure, is an essential service which requires a careful, incremental strategy to return to normalcy maintaining the highest standards of safety and hygiene and a collaborative effort. As things get better, tourism will also pick up.
Towards The ‘New Normal’
The travel industry is moving at a slow pace right now and it is difficult to say when it will return to the way we knew it to be. Restrictions are progressively being lifted in most countries, as people return to work and start travelling again on a limited scale. The process will be a slow, steady one, based on real time happenings. Initially, the business will have to be nimble footed while planning its services because the demand will be staggered. Some cities in India are witnessing reduced number of travellers even after restrictions were lifted while in some, routes are fully occupied. The latter is said to be mostly due to lack of alternatives. Clearly, customers will choose hygiene and safety above all followed by social distancing and technology. All the three have to work in tandem.
Safety: Passengers’ safety is the top priority. From the moment a passenger enters a bus stop to the moment he or she exits one, every measure must be taken to ensure his or her safety. Availability of clean water, washrooms, hand soaps and sanitisers, masks, are going to be critical. One could even consider taking an extra step to provide access to warm water. Also important is to have a 24x7 crisis management team so that passengers feel safe knowing that the team is prepared for any unforeseen events. Frequent sanitisation of common areas and high frequency touch points, clean and hygienic food are musts. During the trip too, they must have access to sanitised infrastructure.
Setting up rapid test centres in case a passenger shows higher than normal temperature will help. So will the availability of basic medicines. And all of these factors are as important for travellers as they are for the staff. The latter is at a higher risk and every care must be ensured for their safety and good health.
Social distancing: Crowded areas are a thing of the past. With social distancing becoming a mandate, vigilance will be required to maintain it. Long waiting periods have to be minimised so there is a smooth in and out flows of travellers. The travel industry needs to earn the trust of people by deploying measures that are well thought through and cover the last mile. One way is to adopt density management systems to ensure adequate space to maintain the practice of social distancing. Case in point is Veovo’s Passenger Density Management solution. An individual is as safe as the environment he or she is exposed to. In this context, a passenger’s safety can be ensured by ensuring community adoption of social distancing. Recognition and rewards for those who maintain the norms could prove beneficial. Social distancing will also demand better work hours management.
Technology: Companies that implement tech-based facilities to travellers will find themselves ahead of the curve. Long ticket booking queues have a huge potential for infection and thus will be a thing of the past in the new normal world. Introducing online booking and digital payments is a great way to facilitate social distancing. Similarly, using technology to avoid a crowd will be a life saver. Sensors can be used to alarm whenever the ideal distance is not maintained between people in common areas. Touch based access to buildings, sanitisers and even food can minimise contact. From wearable technologies that measure our distance, to wall or ceiling-mounted cameras that monitor space use, these types of technologies will soon become part of our daily life.
Sign off thoughts
Now is a good time to think and introduce novel and safe ways to travel. As the industry picks up, those with safer options will be preferred by the conscious and cautious customer. Post COVID-19, passengers will be very careful while picking up their modes of transport. Although the impact on travel behaviour remains to be seen, travellers need to be aware at all times. They must choose options that enable them to confidently plan their travels. Services that provide real-time information on their transport status, clean washrooms, hygienic food and other resources, follow strict safety measures such as on physical distancing should be their first choices.
Be Informed, Choose Wisely and Stay Safe.