Travel In A Post-Pandemic World

There was a lot going on in the world of travel prior to the pandemic. The emerging Mobility Ecosystem built on a foundation of innovation promises to disrupt this space as the decade progresses. The visual describes some of what lies ahead (click to view in a separate window).

Now, with the pandemic serving as a possible Catalyst, changes in the travel industry may accelerate. This recent Article written by Jessica Stillman describes what Industry insiders are predicting: a future filled with less soul-crushing business travel and easier airport experiences. According to American Airlines CEO Robert Crandall, we will not be returning to the volume of business travel we’ve seen in the past. He recently predicted to the Wall Street Journal that business travel will drop by one third to one half post-pandemic.

If you are a forward-looking airline executive, you have already been planning for a world that looks quite different than this one. But the pandemic likely changed the time horizon. As extreme events occur with more frequency, our pictures of the world ten years from now shift. Our Zooming Out to capture views of possible futures are therefore creating a portfolio, representing possible paths that shift when confronted with accelerants, obstacles, and unforeseen events.

These shifts may initially point to negative outcomes – but that is not always the case. In the referenced article, Ms. Stillman describes how Airbnb was forced to lay off 25 percent of its staff in May due to the virus. Now, after filing for an IPO, CEO Brian Chesky expects good things. He acknowledges that business travel will drop, but if we are constantly online in our work lives, he predicts we will want to get offline and into the real-world post-pandemic. He states: “We used to do a lot of travel for work, and then we entertained ourselves on screens. That’s going to inverse. I think we’ll work more on screens and entertain ourselves in the real world.”

In another prediction, Chesky offers an interesting intersection of post-pandemic realities: widespread remote work disconnects us from physical location. As such, he sees people exploring the world as digital nomads. The article states that several countries are already trying to attract remote workers for extended stays with new longer-term visas, but even just hopping between various U.S. cities may become more common.

For those that continue to travel, another accelerated, positive outcome is likely: navigating airports may become less horrible thanks to investments in technology made during the pandemic. In a great example of rapid innovation driven by a catalyst, technology-driven change to the travel experience is accelerating. The article mentions a couple: Facial-recognition systems for everything from checking bags to passport control are likely to become far more widely adopted to reduce person-to-person contact. Security, passport and customs lines themselves may get redesigned. Video links may enable processing of international passengers before they depart, predicts the same WSJ article.

That emerging mobility ecosystem might just arrive sooner than projected.

One thought on “Travel In A Post-Pandemic World

  1. I’m already seeing this with many millennials that I know who got remote work at home jobs to survive the pandemic and now go visit friends, relatives and other cities while working 40 to 60 hours a week in these jobs as well. If they want to explore (most are not doing much of that yet) they scale back work to 20 or 30 hours or take a week off whenever they want.

    I’m also looking to do this in the next year or two when 5G is finally truly ubiquitous and I can put a 5G hotspot on an RV and work from a park, Walmart lot, any city or friend/family location. After a couple years of doing that, I’ll probably just visit a different city somewhere around the world for a month at a time renting an AirBnB or similar. I had friends who did this a few years ago with a truck and trailer after the wife beat cancer. She did paid QA work while traveling and he painted when they stopped and they started on the festival circuit with his painting (which he had done as a kid and in college, but then pursued a career as a programmer for 30 years, only to finally return to painting). Now they have a house in Colorado with a studio and online site that generates all their income and they only do a few dozen festivals, the most profitable ones, a year. Looks like much of the world, at least the rich world, may be going this way.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s