Travel in the Post-Corona Era: Health and Safety

Total Croatia News

April 7, 2020 – Continuing his stimulating series look at travel in the post-corona era, Zoran Pejovic of Paradox Hospitality turns his attention to the subjects of health and safety.  

The world is slowly waking up to the fact that things are not going back to pre-corona times. As days and weeks go by, I keep getting fewer funny memes in my inbox and WhatsApp messages, and more serious articles pointing to the downfall of the travel industry and the difficulties it will face once it all resumes. The question I get asked more and more is how travel will look like after this is over? I have already given some predictions about the post corona travel. This article will dig a bit deeper into the emotional aspects that go into travel decision-making, and how those will evolve in the post-corona travel era.

What can we learn, for example, from the toilet paper craze that dominated the early days of the coronavirus pandemic? We can learn that there is such a thing called zero-risk bias. Zero-risk bias is an interesting defence mechanism that evolution has gifted us, and it really means sorting out some small, tangential, less important problems rather than those large, often unsolvable problems on the individual level, so that we regain some sense of control. Zero-risk bias comes fully into the play when we are faced with the larger questions on health and safety. Hence buying toilet paper in the wake of the Coronavirus pandemics. Why is this important?

When it comes to travel decision making, we are motivated by, broadly speaking, two sets of emotions, promotion emotions and prevention emotions. Promotion emotions of self-elation, recognition, excitement, delight and satisfaction, especially satisfaction derived through the acquisition of new knowledge and new experiences, have dominated the travel world over the past decade or so. This especially applies to the “upper middle” and “entry luxury” segments of the market. The idea of personal betterment through travel, especially via experiential travel and the rise of the affluent traveller in contrast to the mass tourist has been studied, discussed and fully acknowledged, even hyped as health beneficial. Recent psychological research conducted by prestigious Cornell University has shown that such behaviour, the one hallmarked by experiential rather than material purchases, does indeed make one a better person. Better is here meant in terms of sense of gratitude and generosity which in turns propels one’s social behaviour, which ultimately leads to better general health.

In this time of rapidly evolving contexts, we need to examine some of the trends that made sense then and ask if they will still make sense afterwards. The longer this crisis takes, the more likely it is that prevention emotions will take over as the driving factors in the travel decision making. Prevention measures that deal with risk reductions, absence of problems and absence of discomfort, can in turn again lead to satisfaction, confidence and a sense of security.

I will look a bit more here into the segment of health and safety, on a more practical and applicable level. When we extrapolate from the current situation and apply it to the hotel industry, we can safely assume that hand sanitizers for example will become more permanently placed in all hotel public areas, entrance to the hotels, to the bars and restaurants and next to the elevators. Also, we will probably see alcohol-based hand sanitizers as part of the standard set-up in public restrooms, next to the soap dispensers, and the restrooms will have to be equipped with no-touch garbage containers as well. Also, the regulation of fresh air share in the hotel public areas will need to be controlled more rigorously by air quality sensors. It might become a standard that hotels need to be able to provide 100% fresh air supply every hour or so in the public areas, especially conference halls and meeting rooms. In terms of operations, all staff will have to complete additional hygiene training courses, and housekeeping will have a special schedule for cleaning high-frequency areas such as elevator buttons, door handles and restrooms. All of these activities might lead to a heightened sense of safety that post-corona era travellers might look for.

What does the toilet paper craze have to do with this? Well, extrapolating from the current situation is fine and will probably lead to some good decision-making on behalf of the hotel operators, but I expect the real changes to come from somewhere else. So, for example, those with a desire to travel, being unable to prevent all the challenges regarding the anxiety of the post-corona travel might subconsciously use the zero-risk bias and eliminate some other risk, way smaller and unrelated. One of those might be handling of cash, for example. Cash can be a transmitter of the virus. However, more importantly, cash often presents a risk for those who are carrying it with them. Cash is easier to lose, there are issues with currency exchange and overall people feel more comfortable, in this day and age, handling payments via credit cards and more so mobile payment options. So, cash, which was already dying out, might be given a final blow by the coronavirus pandemic. In this case, eliminating cash as one of the small, unrelated risks might play the role of the stockpiling of the toilet paper.

Other measures that will play a role in travel decision making motivated by prevention emotions concern ease of access, ease of use and privacy, but I am more interested in finding another “toilet paper” risk elimination.

You can read more on this subject of post-coronavirus travel from Zoran here:

Travel Industry: Keep Communicating and Visibility

Build Scenarios! Be Present! Take Time to Think!

Post-Coronavirus Travel and Tourism: Some Predictions

Croatian Tourism 2020 and Coronavirus: Let’s Postpone the Season

Post-Corona Tourism Planning: Hope is Not a Good Business Strategy

You can connect with Zoran Pejovic via LinkedIn.


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