As we see changes in the state of the world, we’ve been hearing from you with your travel questions. Thank you for reaching out and trusting Epperly Travel as a resource, our role in advising on your travel decisions is not something we take lightly.
Before I jump into the questions, let me start by saying the following words of advice: travel has always been, and will always continue to be, an incredibly personal decision. It’s why we believe in the providing human connection and guidance through service as your advisors, and it’s why we believe that educating you allows you to make the choice that is right for yourself.
As the world reopens and each city, state, and country determine their rules and regulations, and every hotel, airline and cruise line determine their sanitation measures, you as an individual have every right to determine what your comfort level is when it comes to travel. If someone is trying to convince you to travel, that’s a red flag. If someone is trying to shame you against traveling, that is, too. You’re here today to educate yourself and make a decision on what YOU are comfortable with, and we applaud and support whatever you determine makes the most sense for you.
The questions we’ve received largely fall into three categories: travel safety, realistic destinations and timelines, and pricing trends.
Just like the world focused on safety against an outside threat after 9/11, in that case, terrorism, the COVID world will be focusing on safety from a health perspective.
Airlines are taking precautions to keep their travelers safe and healthy. For example, American Airlines has started requiring all passengers to wear masks. Delta has begun sanitizing every flight at every Delta airport using electrostatic sprayers. Most airlines are blocking middle seats, although we’ll see how long that lasts as demand picks up. I believe we’ll see additional temperature screenings, whether those are implemented by each airline, airport, or even country are still to be determined.
For hotels, the American Hotel & Lodging Association introduced Safe Stay, an industry-wide set of increased standards to prepare America’s hotels to receive guests as the economy reopens. Requirements include the use of masks at all times for employees, as well as guests in high trafficked areas, additional sanitizing stations and hand washing requirements, as well as enhanced cleaning procedures.
In making your travel plans, many of you are asking about the benefits of a hotel versus a private rental. This is going to be a very personal choice. Most hotels are subject to the AHLA rules listed above, whereas most rentals are privately owned. This is why we work with very selective rental companies, not the mass market where all owners can list their place and say “Yes it’s clean, I cleaned it myself!” — instead, trusted companies who have vetted their properties, their owners, and their protocols. Regardless of whether you opt for a hotel or a rental, make sure you’re booking through a respected travel agency who only works with trusted resources.
Where to go and When?
As you may have seen if you follow us on social media, we’ve been revealing survey results of how travelers are generally feeling when it comes to being ready to travel again – a majority of those we polled are itching to get out, so the question is: where to go and when?
As our economy reopens, domestic travel is a viable option, with more hotels opening daily. For guests who are not yet ready to fly, we’ve been actively working to provide our clients with options within driving distance.
When it comes to international travel, this will all be determined on a country by country basis. Many of you asked about the Caribbean in particular, which we anticipate being one of the earliest international options for US travelers to pursue. We are part of Wendy Perrin’s WOW List as their Caribbean expert, so we keep a particularly strong tie with this destination. What you’ve got to keep in mind about the Caribbean is that each country is making a decision that’s right for their destination. Those decisions will be largely based on two things: 1) the safety of their citizens and what measures they can put in place to prevent outbreaks and 2) their own economies and how long they can go without tourism.
Some destinations, like Grand Cayman, have stated they are not reopening until September. Aruba, on the other hand, was the first island to announce its tentative plan to reopen borders for inbound travel to be between June 15-July 1. What we don’t know yet are what protocols will be followed: certainly social distancing measures will be in place, but the bigger question for countries reopening would be any quarantine requirements.
Pricing and Deals
This is a widely debated topic in the industry as we are seeing companies lean toward the idea of prices staying the same, if not increasing. The reasons for this: 1) it costs more to keep a hotel or airline as clean as possible and 2) the logic behind decreasing the price of a hotel or airline would be to drive demand.
As we discussed earlier, your decision to travel is all about your personal comfort levels with what is being done to keep you safe. Companies are seeing that the demand will stand one way or the other, unaffected by the price, as it’s totally hinging on the consumer’s comfort level – so their focus is going to be on keeping you safe and letting you know that you’re safe, which means additional expenses on their part. You may see some suppliers discount in the short term but, ultimately, I anticipate a staying the same, if not an increase, based on this information. Suppliers are being very cognizant of the economic impact here and would prefer not to increase their pricing if they do not have to.
Remember, as the economy opens back up and others are making decisions based on what works for their situations, you as a traveler sit in the driver’s seat on what works for you. You need a trusted resource that understands how personal this decision is and we’re grateful to be that for you. Our team is here to help provide guidance and insight, plus take the heavy lifting off of your plate when it comes to understanding these new rules and regulations. To start talking about your travel plans, feel free to reach out at firstname.lastname@example.org or fill out our request a trip form on www.epperlytravel.com