Note: Below is an “inside the Beltway” discussion that has been making the rounds in the travel industry and most particularly among travel advisors who are wondering if they should be sharing their own travels or marketing travel to their clients. What are the risks of doing so… and the rewards? Everyone’s answer will be a personal decision. Here is mine.
I have my finger in the air and have not yet been able to assess which way the wind is blowing for public opinion toward travel. It shifts in tornado-like switchbacks and then dies down to an eerie calm. To some, travel has become an act of defiance to all that has been lost over the past 7 months, to others a necessity and to many a dream to plan for “after” COVID has passed or a vaccine developed. And there are those who feel that all travel endangers others, hence ‘travel-shaming’ has gained some traction of late. Welcome to the boomerang hit(s) of COVID. So, should you travel or market travel during these uncertain times?
The dust is yet to settle from our COVID hell and those of us who work in the travel industry can honestly confirm that travel is a mess right now. The lack of international (or national) protocols for the most fundamental safety concerns makes it more difficult (but not impossible) to assess risk. Some trips go well on empty planes, some locales are blissfully empty and social distancing in a hotel with 20% occupancy is simple and comfortable. And some are in full planes to sites that are once again becoming crowded. I confess that the thought of visiting Paris or Jordan without the crowds is alluring enough for me to take some level of risk. And I am researching that risk with my travel advisor.
At the Citadel in Amman, Jordan
I am cautious but I will travel and cruise before the majority of the population. I am a travel advocate. I feel the advantages of all travel are vast and almost immeasurable. Sadly, the economic disadvantages and devastation from a total cessation are now visible in every country. The advantages of travel, promoting understanding of other cultures and making the world smaller, are less quantifiable, but nonetheless valid. A more personal advantage is important to me; travel abruptly jerks me from my daily routine and allows me to reassess how I am living my life. And I know I will not be living it for another year in isolation or without seeing my San Francisco and London grandchildren.
Travels with the Grands is grand.
I trust that there are and will be safe ways to travel prior to any international herd immunity from a vaccine. With all that in mind, I will be traveling again soon. Will I be sharing my travels? Yes. Will I be sharing my concerns? Absolutely. None of us are unique and my concerns will mirror those of many others though we may come to different conclusions.
Travel will return at differing speeds for every individual. Risk tolerance is a very personal matter. To not share my own travels would be disingenuous. To not let others know of the opportunities available and how to assess the risks for themselves would be an injustice to their own intelligence.
Does it really matter which way the wind is blowing? Only if you prefer to play it extremely safe and avoid all possible controversy. Public opinion has been hard to measure of late and being a leader is not taking the least controversial path. Being transparent and honest about your own thought processes will generate more trust in your judgment. I will be sharing my travels, travel planning, and concerns. I will be working with my expert travel advisor to weigh every risk versus reward before I board my next flight and I look forward to hearing about their own travels and concerns. Stay tuned.