How the virus will change hotels, B&Bs and villas for ever

Check out the new check-in: Mini bars replaced by sanitation units. Housekeeping robots. And no more buffets… how the virus will change hotels, B&Bs and villas forever

  • Hotel owners are working tirelessly to prepare to please guests once more 
  • There are plenty of bargains on offer at hotels and B&Bs to tempt travellers back 
  • But what is being put in place to keep you safe? Here’s what to expect…

Mid-rant, Basil Fawlty, the irascible hotel owner played by John Cleese in classic TV comedy Fawlty Towers, is interrupted by a guest complaining: ‘I’m not satisfied!’

To this, Fawlty — not one to take criticism lightly — raises an eyebrow and snaps: ‘Well, people like you never are, are you?’

How Fawlty would have coped with the expectations of today’s desperate holidaymakers we’ll never know — but, thankfully, real hotel owners are working tirelessly to prepare to please guests once more.

hotel owners are working tirelessly to prepare to please guests once more. But what will you get for your cash? And what measures are being put in place to keep you safe?

It will be a case of hand sanitiser at every turn, endless cleaning, contactless payments at reception — and you can forget that complimentary welcome drink.

We could see plenty of bargains on offer at hotels and B&Bs to tempt travellers back, and the same with air fares.

But what will you get for your cash? And what measures are being put in place to keep you safe?

Here’s what to expect…


  • Contactless check-ins will be the order of the day, with printed room keys and no requirement to queue to check out. Self-service machines, wiped down regularly, will be a feature of hotel lobbies everywhere. Many groups including Ruby Hotels, Citizen M and Premier Inn already have this at some properties.
  • Thermal screening on arrival could be the norm. It’s already been introduced at the Mandarin Oriental Bodrum in Turkey.
  • Collection cars from airports may also be phased in. Many guests will not want to use public transport. Partitions and drivers wearing PPE could become standard ‘upgrades’. At mass-market hotels in resorts in the likes of Spain and Turkey, buses with extra spacing will be brought in.
  • Facial recognition is a possibility at check-in at the most high-tech hotels, plus at lifts and for room entry. It’s already done at the FlyZoo Hotel in China.
  • Face masks for all guests will be provided. Accor group hotels, which includes Ibis, Sofitel and Novitel, is preparing this.


Holiday rentals of every type will have to prove they are clean to reassure customers 

  • Social distancing will be easier than in hotels so bookings may boom.
  • Every type of holiday rental will have to prove they are clean to reassure customers.
  • Hygiene standards approved by governments are expected across the globe. Singapore’s SG Clean initiative and Portugal’s Clean & Safe stamp are some of the first nationwide initiatives.
  • In the UK, Premier Cottages is part of an advisory panel, along with UK Hospitality, Visit England and others, which will formulate health and safety guidelines to be circulated by the Professional Association of Self-Caterers.
  • More self-catering accommodation will offer electronic key-safes and contactless check-in; already being introduced by Oliver’s Travels, which has holiday rentals in the UK and Europe.
  • Chefs on call will be offered more widely because people are reluctant to eat at restaurants.
  • Deep cleans will be organised between bookings, so swap-over where guests leave in the morning and others arrive in the afternoon become rarer. Mullans Bay in Northern Ireland has brought in deep cleaning between bookings, as well as a requirement for guests to drive to the door of the rental so check-in is contactless.
  • To win guests away from hotels that can no longer easily offer such services, some upmarket rental chains may offer spa treatments in privacy. The Greek Villas company has already begun this.
  • If hosts do not install hand-sanitiser dispensers and plastic divisions, or put plastic coverings over their own household items, some guests could be put off.
  • Renting out rooms within houses will become much less popular as guests may doubt social distancing and cleanliness.

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Airlines Will Rely on Travel Agent Insights to Aid Recovery

Top-level sales executives at Delta and American Airlines spoke candidly with Travel Weekly about airlines’ anticipated reliance on travel agencies for guidance when the time comes to truly revitalize passenger air travel.

“We’ve invested a lot of energy into these partnerships,” said Jim Carter, American’s Eastern Division Vice President for Global Sales. “It’s these kinds of times when you get to test these partnerships. It’s natural now that we lean on them. The conversations we are having with them are more critical, to make sure we’re listening to where their clients are thinking about traveling.”

Bob Somers, Delta’s Senior Vice President of Global Sales, had thoughts along similar lines. He said, “Having good visibility on what customers want from us, where they are going to travel, when they are ready to travel, those are questions that are being looked at now.”

Within agency channels, in particular, airline tickets sales have lately seen some modest improvement, though those numbers remain at lows that would’ve been unfathomable pre-pandemic.

According to the Airlines Reporting Corporation (ARC), sales transactions were down by almost 89 percent and, by volume, had plummeted nearly 94 percent for the week that ended on May 10, 2020. Dismal though these figures may initially appear, they actually demonstrate a slight uptick in demand relative to the month of April and the start of May.

At this point, all predictions are forecasting a slow recovery for the passenger air travel industry. A recent Harris survey (conducted May 1 through May 3) found that almost half of Americans won’t feel comfortable taking to the skies again until the COVID-19 pandemic has passed.

Peter Vlitas, Travel Leaders’ Senior Vice President of Airlines told Travel Weekly that airlines are aware that there are key insights that will be uniquely available from travel agencies during the restart period, as they seek to gauge consumer sentiment and rebuild their schedules, which have been reduced during the crisis by as much as 90 percent.

Vlitas foresees that travel advisors will observe notable increases in their share of airline ticket sales with consumer confidence being at an all-time low and travelers feeling the need for more insider assistance.

“The airlines are realizing that we’re going to have a bigger role, and they want to have a conversation with us about when we think the customers are going to want to travel and where we think they want to travel,” Vlitas said.

Carter and Somers both said that leisure travel advisors aren’t the only partners they’d be looking to for insight on areas where demand is returning. Carter revealed that American Airlines is also counting on the corporate agency community and its partners in such corporate verticals as technology, entertainment and pharmaceuticals.

While airlines also have their own internal data sources to mine, including flight searches and current bookings, Somers said agents will play a crucial role in guiding the trajectory of air travel recovery. He disclosed that Delta’s sales team follows a mantra of “listen, act, listen” in working with its partners. “It’s especially critical when you have times of rapid change,” he said.

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Ryanair passengers will have to ask to use lavatory

European discount carrier Ryanair will require passengers to
ask permission to use the lavatory, starting July 1.

Queuing for toilets will be prohibited.

Ryanair also will require mandatory masks, do temperature
checks, disinfect aircraft interior surfaces daily, and serve only pre-packaged
food and beverages. 

In July, Ryanair will increase its schedule to 1,000 flights
per day from its current skeleton schedule of 30 flights per day.
Those 1,000 flights would bring Ryanair to 40% of its normal flight schedule
and 90% of its normal route network.

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Airlines: Job Losses Will Undoubtedly Happen

Airline executives and observers say it’s inevitable – the industry could lose almost 15 percent of its employees, if not more, come the fall when carriers are able to institute job cuts and layoffs.

Right now, airlines that accepted federal government grants from the CARES Act stimulus package are prohibited from instituting terminations, layoffs, involuntary furloughs or pay cuts for employees until Sept. 30. On Oct. 1, with airlines losing billions each month – the International Air Transport Association predicts 1.5 billion fewer air travelers than last year – it could get ugly.

“Our schedule is down 90%. And we plan for it to stay at that level until we begin to see demand recover,” United Airlines President Scott Kirby told CNN. “If demand remains significantly diminished on October 1, we simply won’t be able to endure this crisis as a company without implementing some of the more difficult and painful actions. These include decisions on involuntary furloughs, further reductions in hours, as well as other actions that will have an immediate impact on our people and their livelihood.”

The U.S airline industry employs almost 750,000 workers ranging from pilots and flight attendants to gate agents, mechanics and baggage handlers, among others. Airline industry analyst Helane Becker of the financial services firm Cowen says the industry could lose up to 15 percent of those workers.

“Ultimately, we will likely see 95,000 to 105,000 jobs lost in the US airline industry,” Becker said in one of her latest analysts’ notes.

Philip Baggaley says it could be worse.

Baggaley, the chief credit analyst for airlines at Standard & Poor’s, said 20 to 30 percent of airline jobs could be eliminated through buyouts and early retirement offers in addition to job cuts.

Southwest Airlines CEO Gary Kelly said on CNN this week that the carrier is going to do “everything that we can to preserve jobs. … We have a lot of cash today, but we burned through about almost a billion dollars in the month of April as an example. So you do the math in your head and you just can’t survive that way.”

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Third of Britons say they will travel more than ever after coronavirus

Revealed: Britons are set to holiday like never before with a third saying they will travel ‘more than ever’ once coronavirus restrictions are lifted

  • In a poll of UK adults, 75% said they are now more appreciative of free travel 
  • However, 25% said they would be more cautious when travelling in future 
  • Meanwhile, 23% said they would be taking more trips within the UK  
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A third of Britons say they will travel ‘more than ever’ once coronavirus restrictions are lifted, according to a new poll.

However, 25 per cent of those questioned said they would be more cautious when travelling in the future with 23 per cent adding they would take more domestic trips. 

The poll of UK adults also revealed that 75 per cent are now more appreciative of being able to travel freely.

A third of Britons say they will travel ‘more than ever’ once coronavirus restrictions are lifted, a new survey has revealed

The survey, of 2,274 UK adults, was carried out by Skyscanner, which says that the results show that ‘people will continue to travel as soon as restrictions allow, but that how they travel may change’.

For example, Skyscanner says that the survey highlighted that many will prioritise quality of the experience, with 64 per cent keen to make better use of their time for travel.

In addition, 54 per cent believe they’ll spend the same on travel and 12 per cent are planning to spend even more than usual.

‘Bucket-list’ travel is high on people’s agendas, with 75 per cent more likely to travel to their dream destination once restrictions are lifted.

Of those polled, 29 per cent said they wish to be more adventurous in the way that they travel, exploring new destinations and cultures.

Meanwhile, Skyscanner has also revealed the top five foreign destinations users have been searching for during April for travel from December 2020 to February 2021.

Skyscanner says that its survey highlighted that many will prioritise quality of the experience, with 64 per cent keen to make better use of their time for travel


1. Bangkok 

2. New York 

3. Tenerife

4. Orlando

5. Dubai 

For travel between December 2020 to February 2021.

The most-searched destination is Bangkok, followed by New York and Tenerife.

Orlando is in fourth place with Dubai rounding off the top five.

For the same period last year, the top five destinations were Bangkok (1st), New York (2nd), Tenerife (3rd), Orlando (4th) and Sydney (5th).

Jon Thorne, director of user satisfaction at Skyscanner, said: ‘We are seeing a high level of pent-up wanderlust among travellers, who are eager to be able to explore the world again. While travel has changed, it is clear that the desire to discover will endure.

‘It is interesting that this period of lockdown appears to have increased the value of travel in people’s minds, with a greater appreciation of the ability to get away.

‘For many travellers, confidence and optimism remain high for domestic and international travel within six months. We are seeing patterns in travellers simply altering their search and planning behaviour to accommodate the restrictions of Covid-19.’

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UAE F&B industry will take over a year to recover, says The Coffee Club CEO

Ravi Chandran believes the country’s brunch scene will take time to adapt to ‘new normal’

Chandran revealed he kept four branches open throughout the lockdown, two in Dubai and two in Abu Dhabi, which were available for delivery orders only.

A member of the Middle East Restaurant Association (MERA) has warned the industry will not recover to pre-Covid-19 levels until the second quarter of 2021.

Ravi Chandran, CEO of The Coffee Club, welcomed the partial reopening instructions from the government, but warned it would take some time to regain the confidence of consumers, who have been reeling from the global spread of the deadly coronavirus pandemic.

Chandran told Arabian Business: “It’s all about the fear factor from the customers and consumers. If I’m going to go out and eat or if I’m going to be served cooked whatever it is, am I going to get the virus, because the virus can come back again?

“Until a vaccine is found, there is going to be a fear factor. How hygienic is this place? Are they following all the guidelines? Even the delivery stuff, we don’t know who is delivering and if this person is free of coronavirus.”

He added that the ‘new normal’, once Covid-19 is consigned to the history books, may have a huge impact on the country’s famous Friday brunch scene, in particular.

“For sure. For the brunches, there is a particular community that goes to brunch. It is going to take a while. But that’s buffet. You can go and cough in front of a buffet and you never know,” he said. “But people are so attached to buffet and Friday brunch here, it’ll take a while to come back.”

According to KPMG Lower Gulf’s latest report, ‘Navigating the pandemic’, F&B outlets in the UAE reported sales drops of up to 80 percent for the first week in March compared to the same period last year.

Chandran revealed he kept four branches open throughout the lockdown, two in Dubai and two in Abu Dhabi, which were available for delivery orders only. A further six are to gradually open this month – three in the capital and two in Dubai – with a particular focus on community malls.

There are currently 29 branches of The Coffee Club across the country, 21 of which have been granted rent relief from landlords.

However, measures of up to three months’ rent waivers have been welcomed, Chandran said further negotiations are necessary going forward, including the potential for turnover-related rent payments.

“What happens after three months is the question mark. Three months is not enough because your business is not going to pick up for the next six to 12 months. My rent is 18 percent of my sales and if I don’t make those sales now, how am I going to pay that,” he said.

“We need to negotiate with landlords to get an extended holiday or some rent relief or let’s work on turnover rent. There’s going to be conflicts.”

Arabian Business magazine: Read the latest edition online

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When and How Will Cruising Return?

While the entire travel industry has ground to a halt from the coronavirus pandemic, the cruise industry was hit especially hard as multiple ships were turned away from ports while passengers and crew fell ill and even died.

“COVID-19 has been a PR disaster for the cruise industry,” said Ben Cordwell, a travel and tourism analyst at GlobalData, a data and analytics company.

How does the cruise industry recover and regain its momentum?

“Since the cruise industry pivoted from passenger shipping to leisure cruising in the 1970s, cruise lines have not faced a full-scale halt of operations like they face today due to the Coronavirus pandemic,” said Robert J. Kwortnik, an associate professor at Cornell University’s Hotel School, who studies tourism with a focus on the leisure cruise industry. “This situation truly is unprecedented, which means the response to it will have to be unprecedented as well.”

First, the cruise companies need to secure the finances needed to keep the core operations running – which they’re already doing. Kwortnik said they also need to prepare logistically for re-crewing ships when they are ready to resume sailing, especially with travel restrictions and severely reduced numbers of flights.

They’ll also have to figure out how to weed out sick passengers and disembark ill and healthy guests if the need ever arises again, he said. It likely will mean more detailed health forms before boarding and thermal scans to check temperatures.

“Stronger or different health screenings may become the new normal for the cruise industry, much like the more involved TSA screenings implemented after the 9/11 tragedy in the United States,” Kwortnik said.

Flexible cancellation policies also may be required so people don’t lose all they paid if they cancel at the last minute due to illness. “Reducing, and ideally eliminating, the possibility of sick passengers getting on a cruise ship will require both more vigilance at the port and the removal of disincentives for ill travelers to show up at the port in the first place,” he said.

But the biggest challenge likely will be convincing people to take a cruise. Steeply discounted fares will help, at least with avid cruisers eager to return to the seas. But many travelers will need to be convinced that ships are disinfected and clean.

“Veteran cruisers know how seriously cruise lines take onboard cleaning and hand-washing to minimize the threat of norovirus. But coronavirus is very different,” Kwortnik said. “Moreover, the important new-to-cruise segment doesn’t have experience with the extraordinary sanitation measures used by cruise lines to minimize the threat of illness spreading onboard. While it’s reasonable for the cruise lines to be reluctant to discuss a common objection to cruising — the fear of getting sick — it may now be necessary to move the question of health/sanitation more front and center as part of a public awareness campaign, especially for travel agents and the new-to-cruise market.”

In fact, Crystal Cruises released a video by President and CEO Tom Wolber, in which he said the luxury line enhanced cleaning and sanitizing protocols for ships, terminals and vehicles transporting guests. Carnival Cruise Line also detailed its more rigorous cleaning standards on its website.

When cruising does resume, travel advisors will be essential in helping the cruise industry recover, just as they were in building the industry since the 1970s.

“Travel agents may never have been more important to the cruise industry than now. Agents will be key sources of information for cruise education as the cruise lines make operational changes to protect passenger safety, and of course for information about cruises sailing again, itinerary changes, reservation and cancelation changes, etc.,” Kwortnik said. “Communicating and incentivizing the travel trade will be vital to the industry’s reemergence. Travel agents are trusted by their clients, and this trust will be critical as travelers decide if and when it’s safe to cruise for the first time or to cruise again.

“Cruising is an outstanding vacation value, and the industry will come out of this pandemic stronger and all the more focused on guest safety and security,” Kwortnik said. “There’s no reason travel agents shouldn’t be confident to continue selling cruises to their clients and to recommend cruises for customers who have never sailed before.”

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Experts Say Travel Will Be Better Going Forward

Travel experts say the devastation to the industry caused by the global pandemic of the coronavirus will only make the sector stronger – and entice more people to travel – when the pandemic finally ends.

Paula Froelich, founder and editor of the online travel magazine for women ‘A Broad Abroad,’ recently wrote a piece in the New York Post on this topic. She talked about the situation with fellow pundits who all agree that, while it will take time, there will be an appreciation for travel that will help bring the airlines, cruise lines, hotels and restaurants back to life.

“I think when this has finally come under control it will create a huge need to travel,” said Samantha Brown, who hosts the PBS travel show ‘Places to Love.’ “And I’m not talking just travel to far places … but small trips to more local and state destinations. We will want to move and most importantly reconnect to people.”

Pavia Rosati, who founded the travel site Fathom, agreed and said there will likely be an “increased interest in local travel, for those who want to stay relatively close to home. This might be the year that New Yorkers who usually go to Greece make their way to Nantucket or the Gullah Islands instead.”

Froelich wrote that while the industry has been decimated by the virus, it has allowed tourist destinations around the world to catch their breath. By that she meant, for example, that the city of Venice, Italy has seen its famous canals become clear for the first time in centuries without the constant influx in its waters of pollution from cruise ships, water taxis and boats transporting tourists.

Tom Marchant, a co-founder of luxury travel operator Black Tomato, said he believes there will be a new appreciation for the destinations we visit.

“…This longing for authentic human connection and togetherness will be stronger than ever … but there will be less of a cookie-cutter travel mentality,” he said.

In part that’s because airlines, especially, have said they will become smaller. Getting from Point A to Point B might not be as frequent or easy as it has been in the past.

“One upside is that people will not take for granted the ease of travel and the freedom to explore so many places,” said Melissa Biggs Bradley, CEO and Founder of boutique travel planning company Indagare. “There will be less over-tourism, but that is also going to be a consequence of fewer travel options, which will have shrunk when we come out of this. There is no way that you will have the quantity of flights or the range of flights when travel comes back. I doubt that the smaller regional areas are going to have the same kind of flight lift that they had in early 2020 for another 10 years. Airlines everywhere have been decimated and they are going to cut routes and many of the hotels and businesses that existed because of arriving tourists are going to disappear.”

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