Just when we think we’re coming out of the woods, along comes Omicron. The bad news is that it is yet another concern for our clients and our own viability. Granted, if we’ve been paying attention for the past two years, we likely knew this day was coming. So, is it all doom and gloom? Not at all. Read on!
On March 20, 2020, it was all doom and gloom. The cruise industry was, for all intents and purposes, dead. Leisure travel was kaput. We were sheltering in our homes and wiping down our Cheerio boxes with Lysol. And the thought of passing within six feet of another person was verboten.
A lot has changed. We know a lot more about the behavior of the virus. We know how to reduce our risks. And we now can get vaccinated for additional protection. All of this is moving us farther and further away from March 20, 2020, medically speaking.
Sociologically speaking, we’ve also come a long way. People are feeling much safer. We are not crossing streets to avoid each other. We have ventured out of our own little bubbles at home. We have returned to work. If vaccinated, we are freely roaming around and shopping without masks in most locations. We are still cautious. We are avoiding large gatherings and crowds if we are uncomfortable. We are wearing our masks when asked and required regardless of vaccination status. We are maintaining a greater distance to people than we were before, but not the six feet. And people are traveling. Airports are shattering records from pre-COVID days which demonstrates the pent-up frustration breaking free. This is all good news. And this behavior, in my opinion, will continue for the foreseeable future. Masks will be a thing—they’ve been a thing in many places worldwide for decades. Caution will be a thing. And we will adjust accordingly.
Right now, with Omicron, there are some unknowns—transmissibility, severity, and I just read last night that symptoms may be slightly different. But pharmaceutical companies, governments, businesses, and people are ready. We were caught by surprise back in 2020; but now we know better and rather than panic, we can adjust and move on. Of course there will be people freaking out. Of course the news and websites will be leading with dire headlines. But the reality is likely not going to meet them.
As a travel professional, you need to do just what you have been doing for the past two years. Keep informed and keep informing your clients. Will you lose that South African safari? Perhaps unfairly, but yes you likely will. But many more clients will be looking to travel. Their travel may not look like it did two years ago; you may be seeing a lot of domestic travel, car travel, or even private aircraft travel (if you are lucky) as all are up.
The best advice I can give right now is to remember that selling travel is likely to remain a different animal than it was three years ago. And also, remember there are 24 letters in the Greek alphabet, we’ve dealt with five of them, so be prepared, there are likely 19 more to come!