Head at Travelpayouts, the largest affiliate marketing network focused on the travel market.
Over the last few months, travel-related search queries have skyrocketed, according to Google data. People worldwide are eager to travel, but because the Covid-19 pandemic is still not over, it’s difficult to understand where and how they can go. Information is often inconsistent, while trust in the data released by official institutions is at its lowest levels in recent years. Still, travel companies depend on people actively traveling, and as such, they need to help inform their customers themselves.
The global pandemic led to massive lockdowns, but restrictions have differed from country to country. There are already countries that are fully reopening, while some U.S. states are gradually removing restrictions and other places that remain closed.
For example, the Recovery Index calculated by Skift provides a real-time measure of the performance of the travel industry in 22 countries. The current index score (at time of writing) is 58 points, and in April 2019, it was at 100 points. So, travelers can’t just go to any place they want without analyzing tons of data on entry requirements, possible quarantines, local lockdowns and so on.
All of this makes it difficult for travelers to get a clear understanding of their options: whether they can go to a specific place, what terms and conditions they need to meet to be allowed in, which restrictions are still in place, etc. Oftentimes, information that’s posted online may be irrelevant, outdated or wrong. For example, a travel blogger posting in English may be a citizen of a country whose citizens are allowed to a specific place, while their followers may be from other regions and for whom other terms of entry apply.
Global organizations including WHO and the EU are trying to keep up with changes by releasing digital solutions such as Re-open EU to provide more information on reopening dates. However, the pandemic has inspired a massive erosion of trust, as mentioned earlier, and more and more people just don’t believe official information anymore.
Travel companies, the businesses that were among the most affected by Covid-19, are motivated to accelerate recovery. To do so, they can release their own solutions that help travelers across the globe get verified and up-to-date information on current restrictions and reopenings.
Power your travel app with location-specific data.
If your travel company has an app, integrate data from search engines so travelers can see entry requirements and restrictions while typing search queries for airline tickets and hotel stays. For example, if a traveler wants to go to Athens, integrate information not just on ticket prices, but also on whether PCR tests, vaccinations, additional insurance or quarantines upon arrival are required in Greece.
Aviasales, one of the world’s largest travel marketplaces, has recently done this by powering its travel app with an “Ok to go” feature. It assuages travelers’ uncertainties by using data from official sources and analyzing and updating its information on reopenings and entry requirements. It also includes information on mask policies, curfews and more based on location.
Create an interactive map.
Another option is to build an interactive map that allows users to view entry restrictions and Covid-19 travel requirements for countries worldwide. The tool can be simple: The user just needs to click on or hover over a country to see its specific entry requirements.
Sherpa, a travel tech company that provides technology for travel companies, recently built a similar map; Expedia used this feature to power its COVID-19 Travel Advisor that guides travelers through pandemic restrictions. The service uses the data on the departure and arrival regions and the date of departure to list information on quarantines, important health documents to provide and even information on whether transit travel is possible.
Another travel restrictions map was released by GetYourGuide. It features countries that are entirely or partially closed and places with no restrictions at all. The user needs to hover over the country on a color-coded map to see a snippet with the travel-related data highlights. [Full disclosure: Aviasales, Expedia and GetYourGuide are Travelpayouts affiliate partners.]
As can be seen in the examples above, travel companies are offering travelers various features to help them stay informed. Whether it’s a map to browse or an integrated solution that instantly highlights essential data along with airfare, companies can now help people prepare for smart travel as Covid-19 restrictions begin to lift. These steps toward better informing travelers on reopenings worldwide will be crucial for the faster recovery of the travel industry.