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Travel Retail: How airport travel hubs can bounce back Post-Pandemic

Of all the industries impacted by COVID-19, the aviation sector was one that suffered immensely from lockdowns and travel restrictions. But now that lockdowns have been… View Article

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Travel Retail: How airport travel hubs can bounce back Post-Pandemic

Of all the industries impacted by COVID-19, the aviation sector was one that suffered immensely from lockdowns and travel restrictions. But now that lockdowns have been lifted and we’re able to travel to a certain extent, how can travel hubs bounce back and ensure customer safety in the process? 

Make customers feel safer

The recovery of the aviation sector begins with the customer and adapting to the ‘new normal’. It’s expected that there will be a reduced demand for travel for some time, but for those who are still keen to travel, or need to for work, making the process as easy and safe as possible is crucial. With so many customers still feeling unsafe flying, airlines need to do all they can to help people feel secure if they want the demand for travel to rise. 

Having regulations in place that require travellers to carry out a lateral flow test and provide evidence of their vaccinations will provide peace of mind that airlines are as safe as possible, while reducing the spread of the virus. 

Similarly, amping up hygiene processes and reducing the need to touch screens or technology will help ease their worries. 

Flexible operations

The uncertainties that customers and staff are facing will mean that airlines will need to be more flexible with their operations and strategies to accommodate fluctuations in demand and the changing rules regarding travel. Digital dashboards and data will be essential in anticipating trends and responding accordingly, so that they can mitigate any potential issues before they arise.  

Operational changes may also encompass the check-in process so that passengers can carry out the tasks required before they arrive at the airport to make the process simpler and touch-free. Airlines need to consider each aspect of the journey to accommodate social distancing, cashless payments and touch-free baggage pick-up and drop-offs to make it as risk-free as they can. This will help to ease the customers’ minds about travelling and boost the demand post-pandemic. 

Prioritise communication with customers

Communication is always important when it comes to a business-customer relationship, but now more than ever. The behaviour and patterns of travel customers is always changing, so airlines need to rebuild trust and loyalty through consistent communication and making sure that their customers are kept up to date and informed.  

This will instil confidence in the business and keep customers engaged. Regular, in-depth communication that makes it easy for customers to get the information they need will be more critical than ever post-pandemic. 

Make flying enticing again

There’s no doubt that after the struggles of the pandemic, all of us are keen to enjoy relaxing holidays away. But the uncertainty of the situation puts so many of us off the idea. But airlines looking to bounce back from the difficulties of the last two years need to think outside the box and remind customers of the joys of travel, offering incentives where possible to make it an appealing prospect.  

This might require some creativity on the part of the carrier, such as donating miles or offering discounts to frontline workers who need a break. By rewarding customers and showing empathy for the challenges we’ve all been facing, airlines are in a better position to encourage people to spend on flights and trips away. 

Re-engage staff

It’s easy to focus exclusively on the customer when it comes to recovery, but staff are critical to the success of these plans. Working practices need to evolve to enable employees to work in line with the latest safety requirements and government guidelines.  

For example, technology can be really helpful in enabling staff to continue to work at a safe distance, such as using hand-held devices for customer service tasks. Airlines should also focus on training and upskilling, as well as providing staff with PPE and regular health checks which will instil confidence for both employees and customers alike. 

Develop smarter network strategies

When demand plummeted in 2020, airlines closed their major stations and trimmed back their network of destinations. But now, airlines are entering a phase of network regrowth so there’s a challenge in rebuilding connecting networks and delivering convenient schedules to attract travellers. 

Network decisions are largely driven by passenger demand, with cargo as a secondary consideration, but businesses need to rethink this strategy if they are to boost revenue.

Final thoughts

Airlines have been hit hard by the pandemic, and there are still challenges to face for the foreseeable future. Many restrictions remain in place around the world and there are still high numbers of cases occurring daily. But by taking safety protocols into account, thinking about the priorities of the customer and finding ways to re-engage staff, there is potential to boost profits and reignite demand for travel once again. 

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