Tom Mouhsian, Principal Analyst

Show Notes:

The travel industry has been among the hardest-hit by the pandemic, but as COVID-19 vaccines become more widespread, there is increasing optimism that the industry will rebound. In this episode, Principal Analyst Tom Mouhsian provides insights from his recent research on the impact that the vaccines will have on travel.

Mouhsian starts by providing a look at the travel industry today. While it’s a long way from its normal state, there is cause for cautious optimism. “We’re still dealing with [COVID-19] containment issues until the world reaches herd immunity,” he says. “It’s a challenging situation, but there’s definitely hope on the horizon.”

The conversation then looks at how different countries and regions are managing cross-border travel, pointing out that some closely allied countries — such as Australia and New Zealand — are creating “travel bubble” agreements with one another.

The big question on everyone’s mind: Are vaccine mandates the right move? “My personal position is that mandating vaccines right now is premature,” says Mouhsian. He provides several reasons why mandating vaccines is not practical, including:

  • Some nations currently only accept domestically approved vaccines for entry.
  • Excluding a potentially large segment of the population from traveling could be discriminatory and just “not good for businesses” at a time when the industry needs a lift.
  • But in the future, as more reciprocal agreements are hammered out between nations, mandates could become more common for travel between nations.

The business-travel segment may have been permanently changed by the pandemic, as many firms have proven that they can complete more business online and don’t need to incur the expense of travel. Mouhsian adds that there are still health risks that businesses assume when it comes to business travel, and until those risks dissipate, firms will be very selective and deliberate with their travel plans.

Airlines will adjust to the decline in business travel by becoming more flexible in matching capacity with actual demand, says Mouhsian. And leisure travel companies are getting more creative about their offerings to help consumers feel more safe and secure while traveling.

Lastly, Mouhsian outlines some of the new steps required to travel internationally and some of the tools available to help streamline the traveler’s experience in the current environment.