2022 promises to be a story of two travel industries

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From restaurants and bars to hotels, airlines and of course cruise lines, there was no industry hammered Covid-19 just as badly affected as travel and tourism. The sector was reduced from $ 9.2 trillion to $ 4.5 trillion, with GDP falling 49.1% in 2020 compared to 2019. Many lost their jobs for long periods of time. Some hotels have yet to open. Jumbo jets are still parked in the desert. Cruise ships continue to roam the seas empty, waiting for their turn to come again, and host avid guests eager to create unforgettable memories.

And this is the problem. Whether it’s a family reunion, the first outing with a new partner, or a trip to do big business, travel is not a tangible product, like a car parked in the driveway or a new, ultra-modern apartment. Screen TV for the cave. What you buy are the memories to take home, on Instagram, or just keep in mind. It’s the stories that you share with others and the stories that are private and limited to retelling only with your travel companions.

A new commercial from Silversea Cruises demands: “To everyone who has always longed to travel. It is time. “It says:” The world is opening. Open to the world. “

For many of us we don’t need a push. We also understand that masks, tests (including cost), and other protocols are part of the Covid travel experience. We understand supply chain issues and labor shortages, and know that in some cases, limited inventory means fewer bargains. We value those in the service industry who continue to serve us.

However, in the travel industry, from the corner suite to the CFO’s office, there is an obvious and growing dichotomy regarding the types of amenities and services offered.

Some airlines are once again serving business-class meals on fine china with the right utensils, while others continue to offer low-quality, plastic-wrapped sandwiches. Some hotels have restored full 24/7 room service, while others offer limited menu service in boxes of plastic knives so thin that they will break if you use them for their intended purpose. Yes, even in the world of plastic paraphernalia in luxury hotels, some are cheaper than others.

Travel consultants tell me that when booking clients for high-end resorts, it is a necessity to make dinner and spa reservations in advance. Otherwise, you might show up and check into your $ 1,000 per night standard room and find that your favorite restaurants are booked for your entire stay, don’t open every night, have limited hours, or have a reduced menu.

Again, it’s understandable. That’s until you find that the hotel has opened all of its dining options just down the street. Daily room cleaning is an obligation, not a request, with the restriction: “We cannot promise that we will come to you.”

It seems clear that the different levels of service you will find are not specific to a city or route. That varies from company to company. Why a hotel or airline can offer a product that is in line with the pre-pandemic product while a direct competitor declares it lacks current challenges remains an open question. Is it just a win? Are some management and owners simply more competent? Are there more problems hiring people in places that have never been a good place to work than in places that truly value their people? I do not know.

Based on my travel experiences this year and those of travel agents I speak to, there is more than ever a difference in the services you receive. I’m not sure Covid is a valid excuse at this point if the hotel across the street or the airline that flies the same route doesn’t seem to have these issues.

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