New Business Development Executive Dawn Bridges shares what to expect when traveling during COVID-19.
Whether that means making different decisions for back to school this year, learning how to be a remote worker, or deciding whether to travel or not, we are all doing our best to navigate the “new normal.” While not everyone is comfortable with the idea of jumping on a plane and heading out to explore new places, many people have considered their personal situation and risk tolerance and are ready to get out and about. I’m in this latter group!
I have personally taken a risk vs reward approach to getting out: If the risk of going to a crowded store is greater than the reward I feel by going, then I’m staying put. But for me the risk of traveling in a cautious and mindful way to be able to continue to explore interesting places and provide timely input to our clients is much less than the reward of going. So I’m going, going, gone!
This week, I had the opportunity to experience a quick trip to work remotely from our neighbor to the south – Mexico. Here are my top takeaways from my experience.
Delta for the Win
Delta is doing it better than the rest. They’re blocking out the middles seats, requiring masks, giving passengers hand sanitizer and wipes, and more. (See the full list of Delta’s safety measures here.) The only negative part of the flight was the deplaning process. No matter how many times it was announced to stay in your seats until the passengers in the rows in front of you walked 6 feet ahead, some people still jumped into the aisles to disembark. Be prepared for this and possibly consider a window seat so that you can stay your distance while the impatient travelers get out of the way.
Space to Distance
In Quintana Roo, the state on the Yucatan Peninsula that is home to Cancun and Riviera Maya, hotel occupancy is being limited to only 30%. This means if you are one of the 30%, you have plenty of room to spread out. There have been numerous open lounge chairs at my office (aka the pools) and on the beach, so no worrying about someone being all up in your space while you try to relax. At Nizuc, I relaxed by the pool with ten chairs between me and the person next to me! It was really lovely to experience the “most instagramable resort” firsthand and feel comfortable and safe doing so.
My experience at restaurants on this trip has been really good. Cutlery and napkins have been prepackaged in cellophane, restaurant employees are wearing masks and face shields, and guests are seated spaced apart from each other. Do note that not all restaurants are open and those that are may have limited selections. And if you want to avoid crowds, be flexible with what time you eat. Another plus: no more self-serve buffets! At Grand Fiesta Americana Coral Beach, an employee attended each buffet station from behind plexiglass and served you whatever you requested. This felt like a much cleaner and more enjoyable experience.
Meetings are still occurring! Companies and organizations seem to be slowly but surely offering the opportunity for employees to connect via face-to-face meetings and even on some incentive trips. So many of us are suffering from “zoom fatigue” that it seems appropriate for companies to offer the option to bond in person in a safe and considerate way. Travel experiences still are a powerful way to motivate productivity, whether this means in smaller groups or through individual travel opportunities. Meeting set-ups look quite different with seats being spaced apart at least six feet, break stations redesigned to eliminate clusters of people, and plenty of signage indicating which doors to enter and exit through and which direction to walk in hallways. Incentive planners seem to be opting for domestic destinations or sun and sand destinations that are closer to home, like Mexico. See more info about why incentive travel here.
Though so much has changed since March, people still want experiences and opportunities to connect in meaningful ways and the power of travel is still as strong as ever.
“Travel changes you. As you move through this life and this world you change things slightly, you leave marks behind, however small. And in return, life-and travel- leaves marks on you.” – Anthony Bourdain