Post-pandemic travel: What will it look like when the pandemic is over?

(CNN) – As global territory stopped last March, many travelers expected to return again in a few months.

We are here a little over a year later.

But with the rapid development of effective vaccines and the increasing distribution of these life-saving doses in some countries, glimmers of hope are beginning to emerge.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention continues to encourage travel, but vaccinated travelers have reason to be optimistic.

“We are reconsidering what we need to do about travel for those who have been vaccinated and that will come soon,” Dr.’s director, Dr. George W. Bush, said Thursday during a Senate hearing. Rochelle Valensky.

Travelers traveling freely in the world will again find an experience that is shaped and changed by the pandemic – and not just with the mask they wear, the social distance and the increased hygiene we expect in our daily lives.

Some of the changes are likely to last well beyond the end of the pandemic. CNN Travel asked a series of travel experts how the landscape will have changed for consumers as the Covid-19 threat subsides.

The proposed EU digital green certificates could open up places like Lisbon to vaccinated EU visitors.

Patricia de Melo Moreira / AFP via Getty Images

Here are some to look forward to:

Vaccine and test certificates appear everywhere

Anyone with international travel ambitions will take the time to study the rules – both entering and returning to their own country.

Hopefully the vaccinations will ease some of the hassle of navigating the current global patchwork of regulations.

But we will need proof that we have been vaccinated, which brings us to what is likely to be a trademark of travel in the post-Covid era: vaccination and testing certificates, often referred to as “vaccine passports” or “health passports.”

The European Commission has recently proposed Digital Green Certificates showing that a person has been vaccinated, tested negative for Covid-19 or recovered from an infection. The certificates will facilitate the movement of EU citizens within the EU.

There are also a growing number of health applications designed to serve the same purpose in other places, such as the Travel Pass by the International Air Transport Association, Clear’s Health Pass and CommonPass. Some airlines are already testing health applications on selected routes.

How this collection of digital certifications will work across borders is still being determined.

Most industry leaders agree that vaccination should not be a prerequisite for traveling in part because people in many parts of the world are far from vaccinated.

Extensive testing remains essential, said Paul Charles, founder and CEO of the London-based travel company.

“The test is the magic wand, as well as the vaccine. And only by testing travelers can you reduce the impact of cross-border infections as much as possible,” Charles said.

However, in the near future many travelers will have to carry certificates for vaccinations and test results.

The pandemic has accelerated flawless travel.

The pandemic has accelerated flawless travel.

Pau Barrena / AFP via Getty Images

Flawless technology everywhere

Technology used sporadically – such as mobile hotel check-in – has become necessary during this reverse touch and contact, and will not be retired any time soon.

“Using your phone as a key, texting at the front desk, texting room service – it all started to happen, but now it is much more widespread,” said Jan Freitag, national analytics director at hosting analytics firm STR.

Even before the pandemic, cruises add tools such as face recognition to aid in the boarding process and without touching, without buying contact and entering cabins, said Colleen McDaniel, editor of the cruise website Cruise Critic.

“I think now passengers will really see the benefit of that. We are all used to not touching, not having a lot of face to face with people,” he said.

It means more hassle-free boarding and disembarking, as well as a much easier way to perform contact detection when needed.

It is not just technology that has become intact, he added. “I do not think the buffet as we knew the pre-Covid would be back.”

Casual buffet options will still be available, but food will be served by crew members, reducing contact points and food waste.

Hotels in dense city centers such as Manhattan face a long road to recovery.

Hotels in dense city centers such as Manhattan face a long road to recovery.

Ludovic Marin / AFP via Getty Images

More independent off-road accommodation

Vacation rentals available through Airbnb and other sites were especially popular during the pandemic, and visitors want space and control.

It is a trend that Freitag did not see coming. It expects guests to rely on the improved and standardized Covid-related cleaning and hygiene protocols available through major hotel brands.

“I did not think it would happen the way it did, but it turns out that people prefer to have their own front door, no lobby, no elevator and a place where they could get off Lysol twice a day if they wanted to.” , he said.

Demand and occupancy of hotels will increase again as people will feel more comfortable staying at the hotel, he said.

In 2020, the occupancy of hotels in the US for the week ended March 21 was only 30%. This year, occupancy was 52% for the week ended March 13.

Room prices will continue to be lower. Rates fell by 20% in 2020, Freitag said, and are expected to rise by only 4% this year.

Christopher Anderson, a professor at the Cornell School of Hotel Administration, said alternative accommodation would continue to be a “bright spot” in the area.

“I expect even in a fully vaccinated world people will be looking for newer and different kinds of experiences,” he said.

Many smaller off-road properties – often independent hotels – had a wonderful summer in 2020, he said.

“I think this will continue until 2021 as people continue to be vigilant until we learn more about the longevity of vaccine effectiveness,” Anderson said.

The reluctance to stay in city centers and downtown hotels can mean the appearance of exciting smaller hotels and restaurants in the suburbs and suburbs of a city, Paul said.

Many airline travelers have much more flexibility to change their tickets - at the moment.

Many airline travelers have much more flexibility to change their tickets – at the moment.

Scott Olson / Getty Images

More flexibility, for now

Travel policies have become more flexible and can overcome the pandemic, some experts say.

“One of the great things that has happened is for travel providers, travel agents and airlines to become more flexible,” Charles said. “Obviously they have had to be more flexible if they want to retain their customers in the future, but it certainly sets a trend for more flexibility for airlines, especially.”

The jury is whether these fees will be refunded or when.

Richard Quest, CNN airline and international business correspondent, can not see the carriers reversing the well-publicized move to eliminate change charges in the near future.

The change fees will eventually return, says Jordan Staab, president of SmarterTravel Media, which manages websites including

“There is a lot of money at the end and also a huge amount of value to maintain predictable demand. If people can change whenever they want, it reduces the ability of airlines to operate efficiently,” Staab said.

And he said new charges could be on the horizon.

Higher airline tickets

Airlines will try to make up for the shocking losses caused by the pandemic.

Paul Charles sees fares rising, often by 20-30%, “and because there is so much demand, consumers seem happy to pay for it.”

Staab expects price increases later this year to next year.

“Airlines will not immediately return 100% of their pre-flight routes, even when demand increases, which means demand may outstrip supply and airlines may increase rates and still fill seats,” he said. .

Bookings until the end of March are likely to yield the best deals in the US, Staab said, while international offers will be few and far between due to reduced availability.

The big business trip

“What will be the long-term new level of business travel?” This is the big question CNN Quest says no one can answer yet.

“Every company will look at ways to keep a lid on the rising cost of business travel. And that has an interesting impact on airlines, because their entire product is business-oriented,” Quest said.

It is clear that meetings and major conferences are also closely linked to accommodation, with some potentially interesting results, Freitag said.

He suggested we see more hybrid events – hopefully with the usual number of visitors to the hotel ballrooms – with an unlimited number of guest videos that can actually watch – at a lower cost.

Whether for business or leisure, a key part of travel has not changed, Freitag said.

“It is very clear that people want to be physically together.”

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