In what feels like a previous life, travel was simple. There was very little to consider, and it boiled down to this: Where do I WANT to go? After that, it was just a case of going. Post-Corona travel is different.
Now it isn’t so simple. Where CAN I go? What are the restrictions? Is it safe?
After months of cabin-fever, everyone is anxious to travel. In post lockdown areas around the world, travel has seen a huge increase. This is also set to continue for the rest of 2021 and 2022.
Travel has operated in much the same way for years. Choose a destination and book flights and a hotel, but STRs (Short term rentals) like Airbnb changed the game. Suddenly you don’t just have a choice of 1000s of hotels, you can “travel like a local” and stay in an apartment outside of the touristy spots, or right in the center of them. It has given everyone so much more choice.
So the question on everyone’s mind is this:
How will travel work post-Corona?
Covid-19 has taught us many things about what we value. Everyone debates if people are doing the right thing, or if it could have been handled differently. One thing is universal though. Covid-19 has changed our views on what is considered safe, clean, and hygienic.
Why would you want to be stuffed into a hotel with 300 other people in close proximity in the future? Now don’t get me wrong, I love a luxury hotel with all its amenities, but I am starting to wonder how sensible it really is when there are such great alternatives! Hotels can have immaculate cleaning standards, but they can’t control one main variable: other guests. The room can be super clean, but if 1 person has a cold/bug, everyone at that amazing all-you-can-eat breakfast buffet could catch it.
STRs offer a great alternative. You can choose to stay in an apartment or even a whole house. From a cheap getaway to a luxury stay. There is so much choice! Suddenly, travel can be just as great, and you get to avoid other people whenever you want to. Want to mingle? Go to a park, cinema, café or bar.
Are STRs really clean though?
As early as April 2020, Airbnb added strict new cleaning policies for their hosts which they called: “our enhanced cleaning initiative for the future of travel“. When they released it, they said it is “the first overarching standardized protocol for cleaning and sanitization in the home-sharing industry.” They are taking post-Corona travel very seriously.
Airbnb recently went a step further and is now encouraging all hosts and guests to participate in the following COVID-19 security practices:
- All guests and hosts are required to wear masks and maintain social distance when interacting with one another.
- All hosts must commit to implementing Airbnb’s improved five-step cleaning process.
Otherwise, their accounts can be warned, suspended, or removed. Airbnb hosts must now commit to following certain health and safety guidelines when signing in to their Airbnb account. The hosts are provided with tools and resources such as articles, videos, checklists, and recommended supplies to help them meet and understand these new standards.
The 5-part process includes tighter preparations for safe cleaning methods (think about: proper ventilation when cleaning, using only recommended detergents, wearing PPE, etc.), cleaning up dust and debris, disinfecting with the correct disinfectant, and following the checklists in every room, the restoration of rooms for each guest and the commitment to higher standards of cleaning, among other things. Likewise, guests are asked to accept the same guidelines when booking a stay.
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What do the experts say about this?
So we have seen that Airbnb along with other STRs could very well be a great form of travel, but what do the experts say? The CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in the USA) have issued guidelines about travel. They list “staying at home” as the best option, obviously, but the next safest option is “a house or cabin with people from your household (e.g., vacation rentals)”.
Business Insider talked to Dr. Thomas Russo, chief of the division of infectious disease at the University at Buffalo about his views on STRs vs Hotels: “If you are the only party booking into your Airbnb for a given stay, would you consider Airbnb a safer option than a hotel, where you’re much likelier to have more person-to-person interactions during your visit?”
He answered without equivocating: “I absolutely agree with you. Anything you can do to decrease your encounters with other individuals will be safer. Or if you have those encounters, they’re at safe distances with everyone wearing masks ideally.”
The doctor’s answers line up with the remarks made by Airbnb President of Homes Greg Greeley, who said in a statement, “Homes have become a place of shelter, and the future of travel will also rely on a new comfort zone, with the privacy and benefits of a home away from home, without crowds or high turnovers.”
The future of travel, especially in a post-Corona world, is still uncertain, but Airbnbs along with the likes of VRBO and other STRs could definitely play a big role.