Planning a summer vacation? The travel industry expects to reach pre-pandemic levels this summer, which means travelers should exercise caution and patience before heading to their vacation destination, says Mahmood Khan, a travel professor and tourism at Virginia Tech.
“Many people have been waiting for two years to resume their travels; so the demand can become overwhelming,” says Khan. “Travelers can expect some services to have returned to normal while others will remain a stark memory of the pandemic.”
To prepare, Khan offers the following tips for vacation planners.
1. Have a lot of patience, especially during holidays and long weekends. Many places are recovering from two years of regulations, closures and furloughs, and customers might find a lack of service. Acknowledge that it is becoming very difficult for service providers to manage large groups, especially as many restaurants and hotels are understaffed.
2. Call ahead before making hotel reservations. Lack of available workers and contactless options in hotels will require longer waits for guests to receive the services they are accustomed to. Many hotels notify guests of irregular room cleaning services. Some hotels offer reward points if guests choose not to have their room cleaned during their stay.
3. Consider the available public space. Many halls have undergone changes and are no longer gathering places to connect with friends, network with colleagues, or take advantage of the city center to gaze upon, as seating has been reduced or reconfigured to safe distances.
4. Travel to parks and destinations that offer outdoor access to walking trails, hikes, or water sports to enjoy activities as well as to contemplate what we’ve been through and how to prepare for the future.
5. Call ahead for dinner reservations. Provide your food preferences for orders and table location prior to arrival. Many restaurants still have capacity restrictions and limited tables, so it may be necessary to book in advance.
6. Be prepared for unexpected situations. Be careful and take care of all safety precautions, especially if you are traveling with or for those traveling with young children.
7. Stay up to date with vaccinations and boosters to prevent serious illness and the spread of COVID. Bring proof of COVID vaccination cards and keep travel documents on hand if needed.
8. Don’t forget to say thank you or pass on a positive comment. Thanks and appreciation are important given the difficult and unprecedented times. Consider all the stress, risk, and sacrifice servers face during this time.
9. Reward restaurant servers with appropriate tips or tips. Consider all dimensions of service such as tangibility, responsiveness, knowledge and empathy.
10. Don’t shoot the messenger! Front-line service providers are often the most affected by anger or frustration. This is especially true in the case of air travel. The person responding to a delayed or canceled flight may have absolutely no control over the circumstances.
Mahmood Khan is a professor and director of the Master of Science in Business Administration/Hospitality and Tourism Management program at Pamplin College of Business in the Washington, DC metro area. His main areas of research include hotel franchising, service management, customer relations, restaurant and operational management, and consumer preferences in hotels, restaurants and institutions. More here.
Schedule an interview
To schedule an interview with Mahmood Khan, contact Shannon Andrea by email or by phone at (703) 399-9494.