Some of the most inventive ways designers, startups and communities are responding to challenges COVID-19 has brought to the travel industry
Although some countries are beginning to tentatively open up their borders, it is unlikely that the world of international travel as we once knew it will return to normal anytime soon. Clearly, this has been a devastating time for holiday companies, tourist attractions and local communities who rely on the income that holidaymakers bring in.
Still, this difficult period has not stopped innovators from responding with new, creative solutions for travel companies. Some look to restore some sense of normalcy to how people once moved around the globe, while others are pushing the boundaries and laying the groundwork for travel trends that may one day be commonplace.
Here, we have identified some of the most inventive ways designers, startups and communities are responding to challenges COVID-19 has brought to the travel industry.
1. AEROPLANE SEATS DESIGNED TO PROTECT FROM CORONAVIRUS
Since the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic, non-essential air travel has been highly advised against. However, due to some people still needing to travel, airlines have been introducing temporary measures to provide more space between passengers, to reduce the risk of contracting the virus. Italian aircraft design firm, Avio Interiors, has released two new seat concepts that are designed to reduce the spread of germs and could act as a permanent solution with flying after COVID-19.
The first concept, Janus, separates passengers in the same row by reversing the middle seat to face the back of the plane, with a transparent guard wrapping around the sides and back of each seat. The second, Glassafe, adapts the existing seat design by installing transparent shield guards to each seat, isolating each passenger from the shoulders up.
2. A VIRTUAL TOUR OF THE FAROE ISLANDS WITH REMOTE-CONTROLLED GUIDES
Going a bit stir crazy from the lockdown? Missing your travel fix? The Faroe Islands, a Denmark territory, have come up with a way to allow people around the world to go on a self-guided tour of the archipelago. Camera-wearing locals will respond to sight-seeing commands from people at home, allowing virtual tourists to control their own route.
Virtual visitors control their tour guide using a free app and have two minutes of control over the guide, who also provides a commentary. After their two minutes are up it is someone else’s turn, although virtual tourists can rejoin the queue for another two minutes any number of times. The tours are available for an hour twice each day, at 2 pm and 5 pm (BST). Guides may be in kayaks, on horseback or hiking around the mountain villages.
3. HOTEL TURNS ROOMS INTO POP-UP RESTAURANTS
The coronavirus pandemic has had a severe negative effect on the hospitality industry, as hotels and restaurants have been effectively shut to customers for an extended period. As both businesses consider how they can resume business safely, one hotel operator has come up with a unique idea.
Swedish hotel, Stadt, in Lidkoping, has opened up their rooms as private dining spaces, allowing people to go out to eat while still maintaining social distancing from other diners. The idea is that instead of getting a table in a restaurant, diners are given an entire room with a table. Orders can be placed by phone, so diners never have to leave the room.
4. BOOK A HOLIDAY AND GIVE ONE FREE TO A MEDICAL WORKER
Among the businesses that have been hardest hit by the COVID-19 pandemic are those associated with travel – including airlines, hotels, B&Bs, resorts, and more. Now, an initiative called BuyOneGiveOne “Vacay Layaway” (BOGO) allows users to purchase future travel at a discount, while also donating a holiday to a health care worker.
Participants in the programme include chains such as Fairmont Hotels & Resorts, Red Lion Hotels Corporation, Funjet Vacations, Outrigger Hotels and Resorts, and others. Each participating hospitality brand has created special offers for BOGO participants. These range from discounted stays to extra loyalty points that can be redeemed just before travel. For each BOGO holiday purchased, the brands also donate room nights, gift cards or loyalty points to charitable health care organisations, such as the American Nurses Association.
5. CAPE TOWN TOURISM CAMPAIGN EVOKES FEELINGS OF LONG-DISTANCE ROMANCE
Tourism is a crucial industry for Cape Town, South Africa, acting as an economic lifeline for many small to medium-sized businesses and accounting for thousands of jobs in the city. Given the new travel restrictions brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic, tourism in Cape Town has really taken a toll. In response, Cape Town Tourism launched a campaign with the theme “We Are Worth Waiting For!” to keep the city top of mind of those who will — eventually — be able to travel again.
Cape Town Tourism has created several features to the campaign, which plays on the theme of a long-distance relationship. These include postcards of Cape Town, historical information, a vision board, and a video. The “Postcards from Cape Town” will be posted all over Love Cape Town’s digital platforms, showing off the city’s natural beauty. Notable and interesting historical facts will be shared across social media channels so that visitors can get to know the city better and learn about its rich diversity. As for the vision board, people will be able to find inspiration for future travel through “pinnable” images on the official website that they can save on Pinterest. Lastly, a campaign video has been shared across all digital platforms to evoke the emotions of visiting Cape Town.
6. JAPANESE ONSEN BATH EXPERIENCE BECOMES VIRTUAL
Since quarantine rules have been put in place in Japan, onsen and sento public baths have lost the majority of their customer base. Arima Onsen and Kosugiyu are amongst those public baths that are getting creative in order to resolve this, with a virtual experience that recreates the relaxation of the hot springs within the home.
To help people to relieve quarantine stress, Arima Onsen, who have closed 90 per cent of their inns, have recorded 20-minute videos from five of its 31 locations and uploaded them to a YouTube channel. The idea is for viewers to feel like they are in an onsen, and with virtual reality headsets they can enjoy an immersive experience with sounds of running water, falling cherry blossom petals and breeze amongst bamboo stands, all from the comfort of their homes and wherever they are in the world.
7. VIRTUAL RESORT BRINGS BEACH HOLIDAY VIBES TO LOCKDOWN
For travellers keen to escape the confinement of their homes, Child Studio’s Casa Plenaire is the perfect place to go. Viewable on Instagram, the dreamily imagined, fictitious resort brings the beauty of an island getaway to life. Designed in partnership with skincare brand Plenaire, Child Studio created the holiday home with 3D-modelling.
Flooded with light and containing all the necessary beach holiday accessories, the imagined home includes a circular bath, a tiled terrace, an uninterrupted view of the sea, and a sprinkling of Plenaire’s products. An open magazine, straw hats and a scattering of lemons and oranges, all situated in a whitewashed interior, immediately bring Mediterranean summers to mind.
28th May 2020