The Coronavirus is one of the greatest economic tragedies of our time, with very worrying prospects as a result. Yet every crisis, however deep, offers opportunities for new beginnings. How can we best deal with these opportunities? How do we act during a pandemic, and maybe most importantly: how do we gain trust from customers, so travellers will pack their bags again and are able to look forward to a careless journey?
It was not that difficult to predict that another global pandemic was imminent. Many, such as Bill Gates in his well-known TED Talk in 2015, already did predict a pandemic to be one of the world’s greatest threats. These forecasters often added that the world was hardly or not at all prepared.
A black swan?
In 2007, Nassim Nicholas Taleb published his bestseller The Black Swan, about unpredictable, rare catastrophic events that change the world forever. Yet he already announced that he did not see the corona pandemic as such a black swan. His book was intended to explain why, in a networking world, we need to change business practices and social norms and not, as he recently told Bloomberg, "provide a cliché for all the bad things that surprise us." Moreover, the pandemic was completely predictable; like Gates and others, he had anticipated it. "We warned you should actually kill the virus in the egg. Governments didn't want to spend pennies in January, now they're spending trillions. “
Lessons from the past
Previous pandemics have acted as a catalyst for major changes in public space and travel. For example, plague, cholera, and tuberculosis resulted in wider streets (for horses carrying the many dead bodies), sewage, and asphalt roads. Corona is also influencing our living environment. For example, working from home got the final push towards adulthood and the self-evidence of daily commuting to one or the other office is over in many professions. The consequences for large cities can be enormous. When proximity to a person's job is no longer an important factor in deciding where to live, the appeal of the city and suburbs diminishes. Although the metropolises in developing countries continue to grow as a result of the migration of young people to the city, rural areas are gaining ground in prosperous countries. Richer residents often have the opportunity to work remotely and move to places that offer better value for money and a healthier living environment. In a small country like the Netherlands, the falling costs of medium distances mean that as a highly educated person you can live almost anywhere.
The line back to travel
Travel has always been about discovering the line. It's a tightrope walk of operational balance. The line between efficiency and experience. But now, we are at a pivotal point in history. Where once there was passenger trust, now there is doubt. And where manual processes were once manageable, now margins don't allow. The line from here to coming back stronger can seem blurry at times. And we're working hard to define that line. Between cost efficiency through automation and passenger experience through innovation. Together with our partners we are redefining the path back to travel. Connecting passenger research to challenges of industry and from new possibilities to rapid delivery. The line we draw is one of growth in the face of adversity. Now, we see the landscape changing quickly. And those that don't toe the line fall behind. But it's important to remember that in these times, we're not alone. Together, let's find the line.
A look ahead
It is a time where many ideas suddenly become a reality due to necessity. In this series, Mirabeau, A Cognizant Digital Business will present different views on the future of travel and hospitality. We argue the necessity of travel, changing passenger preferences, and discuss some visions for traveling in 2025 and 2040. We are carefully look to restart the travel industry.
Up next in Redefining the path back to travel: UX research in a crisis content by our UX Researcher Cynthia Risse.