Letter to the Travel Industry: COVID

Dear Travel Industry,

It’s been a while. I miss your sparkling hotel lobbies, your pampering spas, and your enthusiastic tour guides. I yearn for countries with foods I have never tasted, foreign languages I have not attempted, and national treasures I have yet to see. Surprisingly, I feel nostalgic for the jostling crowds, noisy airports, and taxis with peeling seats and strange smells. Most of all, I miss my family. You, travel industry, were part of the deal when I moved 3,000 miles away from my family. I depended upon you to keep us all close despite the distance.

Here is my plea. Help me get back out there. I am a traveler. I want to travel. I need to travel.

As COVID positivity rates improved in my state, I tried to reach out to you. I watched with such hope as the airlines set up requirements to make us all safe. You promised us there would be rules. Then, we watched as customers boarded the planes, broke the rules, and you did NOTHING for too long. I know the airlines are trying harder now, which I appreciate. But, you blew it at the start. It will take so much more watching, positive news stories, and commitment from you to feel OK about getting on a plane.

Hotels have tried to entice us back with low prices. I don’t care about your low prices. Charge me more if you must, but tell me how you are trying to keep us safe. I want your COVID policies to be the first thing I see in big type on a hotel, AirBnB, and VRBO website. While I appreciate your disinfectants, tell me if my room will be empty for at least 24 hours before I arrive without another person entering it. Does your condo have a separate HVAC system? Have you arranged for contactless check-in and check-out? Are masks in all public areas a requirement that is strictly enforced–and don’t say it unless you mean it? Maybe yes, maybe no, but don’t make me hunt for those answers. I am looking in your direction, too, rental car companies.

And restaurants. Your customers are told they must wear masks unless they are eating. You don’t enforce that rule, because you don’t want bad Yelp reviews from people who don’t “like” masks. So, the people who do like masks, and there are more of us, can’t come back. Give me a social media campaign and newspaper articles touting the restaurants that are enforcing strictly the masking and social distancing policies. Start a national COVID rating system for restaurants and hotels that play by the rules. I’d pay for that travel guide.

I want to try a road trip. Gas stations and coffee shops, tell me how you are making your bathrooms extra clean and limiting the number of people allowed into them. I would become a devotee for life of a gas station or any other chain that made COVID bathroom procedures a selling point during the pandemic. Advertise it. Make me think that I can get to my family as safely as possible in these difficult times.

You, travel industry, need to market your COVID-safe creds. We want to come back. We want you to survive. Help us help you.

I hope to see you soon.


Categories: COVID Travel, Travel