This article in the ever-incisive Skift calls on travel brands to keep the travelling public at the front of everything, to stop taking them for granted – overcharging, ignoring, even lying to them – especially at a time when the need to protect one’s own friends and family must not get pushed aside in favour of big business. Or things have even less chance of returning to normal.

It concludes: In an existential crisis, travel brands would be wise to remember who they really serve: the travelling public.

The travel industry is buckling under the uncertainty of the coronavirus, but leaders across travel are failing to mitigate the scale of the crisis or engage effectively with their customers.

Some airlines are making their policies more flexible, but this is showing consumers that there is no actual reason for high change or cancellation fees the rest of the year round.

Some industry spokespeople are also encouraging people to travel, as long as they follow expert guidance on good health practices, treating Covid-19 like the seasonal flu. This implies people should continue to travel because they owe it to hospitality businesses, and ignore fake news about the likely scale of the virus.

The article says treatment like this shows the individual traveller doesn’t matter to the industry, which sees them instead as numbers and revenue instead of people. But with countries worldwide daily starting to restrict or even ban travel, protecting the most vulnerable is not just sound decision making, but the moral thing to do in an uncertain situation.

It is possible that when this global crisis ends, the behemoth hospitality industry will be healthy enough to start growing again. But bigger companies may well collapse if they are not flexible and agile, allowing sector slowdown and the emergence of new entrants.

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