Globally, the pandemic hit all of us. In the business world, we experienced furloughs, layoffs, scope changes and stay-at-home orders. The travel industry, from the airlines and airports to hotels, resorts, destinations and conferences, took the brunt of that pullback. Nearly 100% of budgets and travelers were gone in an instant.
Fast forward to today and travel is coming back. Airlines have changed the way they clean the planes with new filters, boarding procedures, a hefty amount of sanitizing wipes and masks for all. They also have changed the way they book seats: no middle seats anytime soon to allow for social distancing with most. Hotels and resorts have adapted as well, requiring masks, limiting housekeeping access to guest rooms and offering distancing for the restaurants that are open.
For the past few years, I’ve probably traveled the most for TVG clients for training sessions, meetings, conferences, conventions, summits, crisis issues and more. After a several months-long hiatus and a healthy dose of Zoom calls, I’ve finally hit the road and the friendly skies again.
I’ve now flown twice to Mississippi, and Georgia, mask and all. And I’ve made road trips in Missouri and to Tennessee. I wore a mask from the time I dropped my car at the parking lot, until I got in my rental car. It took a little getting used to. I have to say, I thought the Delta planes were as clean as I’ve ever seen them. The flight attendants were great, even handing out additional sanitizing wipes in case you wanted an extra level of cleanliness on your seat, armrests or tray table. I ended up using the extra wipe for my phone and case. Changing planes in the airport was just as I remembered it, with the addition of the masks. For all the stories we’ve seen on the decline in air travel you sure couldn’t tell from Atlanta-Hartsfield International’s airport traffic. It’s still one of the busiest airports in the world; but busy was also safe. At no point did I ever feel unsafe, and judging by the number of people flying, it looks like others were glad to be back in the friendly skies as well.
I had the same experience in each hotel where I stayed. Check-in was a breeze, perhaps even easier than before, because you can check-in online and skip the front desk. As with the planes, I don’t know if I’ve ever seen hotel guest rooms any cleaner. Wall-to-wall, Hilton and Marriott seemed to have outdone themselves on the room refreshes, all in the name of guest safety and getting guests back to traveling again.
In the last few weeks, I’ve done media interviews, spoken at actual in-person/hybrid conferences, helped with social media, live streams and talked crisis communications face-to-face with clients. I’m a big believer in those face-to-face meetings. Zoom has been a nice stopgap, but being able to safely meet with clients again in-person, that’s a win! Because airlines and hotels are working to get all of us back on the road, prices are more than reasonable. It has been a long time since I’ve seen fares and room rates this low.
TVG has several travel and destination clients across six different time zones in North America. We look forward to seeing them recover, bring back team members and thrive once again. We look forward to meeting them in-person again, just as we did before the world shut down. Travel will come back gradually, and some predict, in even greater numbers. For those who are uncertain about travel for business or pleasure, at conferences or on beaches, the travel, resort and hotel industry is doing things the right way to encourage you to get out again. Where can TVG meet you? We’re ready.