What will it be like next time you take a tour? The coronavirus pandemic has certainly upended almost every aspect of the travel industry, including air and ground transportation; hotels, resorts, and rental accommodations; cruises; bars, restaurants, and eateries; sightseeing and entertainment.
Tour guides and the companies that employ them are among the tens of millions in the industry who were hit hard when travel came to a grinding halt. Many companies found creative ways to pivot, offering virtual tours and experiences to armchair travelers—which allowed them to remain connected to both their clients and employees. But analogous to restaurants not being able to survive on takeout orders alone, virtual travel isn’t a viable model for the long-term sustainability of the tour industry.
There will be a time when people will be eager to travel again and experience first-hand all the riches of different places, people, and cultures. And whether they are walking through a market in Barcelona, visiting the Brandenburg Gates in Berlin, or exploring small hillside towns in Italy, doing so with a knowledgeable tour guide enriches the experience. A guide knows the terrain, can bring alive the history of an attraction or destination and can personalize experiences to address individual needs and interests.
As travelers emerge from self-isolation, many will want to travel within “social bubbles,” small groups of families or friends, rather than with total strangers. As a result, they’ll be more likely to seek out private tours than they did in the past.
Essence of Berlin is one of the world leaders in providing private tours, shore excursions, and city sightseeing in Europe with professional tour guides and 100% satisfied customers. And you should try them out if you want to visit Spain, Germany, Italy or the UK, in addition to many more destinations they provide.
Emphasis on health and safety
Almost every tour company is thinking about the measures they need to take to mitigate the effects of the virus and make guests feel safe and secure. This may include requiring virus-free health attestations, taking temperature checks, and requiring the use of masks, gloves, and goggles.
The new guidelines will include such measures as sanitizing vehicles in-between tours, providing hand sanitizer, leaving the front seat empty to maintain social distance between guides and clients, and requiring masks while in vehicles and other enclosed spaces.
Focus on social distancing and low-density destinations
Travelers will always want to visit the iconic sites they’ve read about in books or seen in films, but we predict that in the short- and medium-term, they’re more likely to choose off-the-beaten-track, less densely-populated destinations. Although some rely on vehicles to get from place to place, walking tours offer the advantage of largely being “al fresco.”
When travel begins to reopen, post-Covid-19, many guests will want to travel close to home before they embark on international trips so we are planning to launch new local experiences.
It’s like the industry is starting from scratch, and people are tempted to rediscover nearby places, cook at home, and generally minimize the risks. However, international destinations are still appealing and once the borders reopen internationally - the thirst for visiting other countries and discovering cultures and traditions will be felt fully.
Museums and attractions around the world are lifting closures, changing hours of operation, and instituting new visitor policies and protections. As scientific findings of the virus continue to emerge (and change), regulatory agencies are modifying and updating health advisories, and slowly easing travel restrictions.
This extremely fluid situation requires tour operators to be nimble and responsive to the changing context in which they operate. And with many clients still skittish about traveling, we’ll likely see more flexible cancellation and refund policies, too, not only among tour operators but also from other sectors of the travel industry.