The effect of the COVID-19 outbreak has a massive impact on the travel industry. Globally, the pandemic has grounded major airline services and as people advised to stay home to prevent the spread of the virus, the lack of passengers’ demand of air travel also hit the industry. According to a report, nearly 90 percent of the world’s population now lives in countries with travel restrictions. However, the outbreak also caused several jobs at risk as airlines, travel companies and the tourism sector as a whole are among the most affected businesses.
In a World Travel and Tourism Council report, the COVID-19 pandemic could affect 50 million jobs worldwide in the travel and tourism industry. Meanwhile, industry experts now believe that the use of digital technologies such as digital identity and biometrics technologies could ensure a seamless journey during and post-pandemic scenario. However, these tools will only be effective if users’ data is protected, privacy, consent and transparent data governance must be in place while leveraging any technical solution.
There are several travel tech companies and startups providing effective solutions to assist travelers amid the crisis. For instance, WishTrip, a SaaS-based tourism experience management platform, is helping its clients through this difficult time. The company’s customer success team went to work thinking of new and revolutionary ways to support destinations stay connected with their visitors and potential visitors, create income during shutdown and plan for the future.
On the other hand, Zostel, a travel tech platform, has waived its cancellations fees on all booked accommodations and experiences, fostering travelers to not bother about their canceled plans. According to reports, the company will process 100 percent refunds immediately for bookings made through its website. Meanwhile, for bookings that were made through online travel agencies, the travel tech platform will ensure priority cooperation to refund the advance deposits made by travelers. Besides, the latest policy by Zostel will enable travelers to get their accommodation bookings rescheduled for any dates till 31st December 2020.
Moreover, several tech companies are also stepping out with state-of-the-art solutions helping the travel and airline industry for smooth business. In this context, a Tel-Aviv based startup, RubiQ is helping airlines to minimize significant overload on call centers and streamline passengers’ rebooking and refund processes. The startup offers Aircules, a white label AI-powered mobile solution which keeps the passengers updated, and lets them rebook from personalized alternatives.
One another company Sitata that is working in disruption management, offering a mobile-based platform which provides travelers with pre-trip health and safety advice, real-time monitoring of travel disruptions, and automated safety check-ins with real-time assistance.
Furthermore, most travel tech startups are struggling to navigate the impact of the pandemic. According to a report by management consulting firm Praxis Global, the travel market was accounted for US$5.71 billion in 2015, and expected to reach US$13.6 billion by 2021. But in the wake of COVID-19, startups are grappled with deep shock as a large number of companies in this field are less than five years old, and has raised seed funding and Series A capital.