Rules, rules… and more rules!

One might say we’ve had enough of them since the pandemic reared its ugly head early last year. The last 20 months have flown past in a haze, with 2020 being nicknamed on social media as "The Year That Never Happened".

Perhaps this is because of the fact that life seemed to have crawled to a standstill for many of us, with lockdowns and restrictions limiting almost every aspect of our social and work lives, not to mention travelling. In fact, some may quip that the most amount of travelling we were doing for a long time was from the bedroom to the kitchen to the bathroom.

For those of us living in tight spaces and urban apartments, well, those were painfully short trips.

Yet, life goes on for many working in the essential services, so that society in general can continue to function. These include the postal services, the food & beverage industry, supermarkets and even the hospitality services.

Most essentially, in the face of a harrowing global health threat, the health services chugged along full steam ahead, with no rest in sight. For our healthcare heroes, theirs was a daily mission to take care of those among us hardest hit by the pandemic, braving the odds every day.

Fast forward almost two years and with vaccination efforts across nations all over the world at unprecedented rates, borders are starting to open up, as COVID shifts from pandemic to endemic. As humanity learns to live with this virus, life shifts gears to a new normal.

With leisure travelling resuming over these few months, the responsibility is upon us all to ensure that we do what we can not just to stay safe ourselves, but to protect others. One of the ways we can do this easily is through staying updated on COVID regulations and restrictions at our destinations and even back home when we return, seeing how these are ever-evolving.

This is also where hospitality can step in.

The hotel industry has played a significant role in many ways throughout this pandemic, across the globe, serving as quarantine and even temporary healthcare facilities. However, not every hotel has the capability to offer such services.

Thus, apart from continuing to play a huge part in ensuring customer safety and comfort by ensuring regularly sanitised premises, hotels can also go the extra mile by equipping guests with regularly updated information on the various regulations of the country, state or city in which they are staying for their visit.

This is particularly crucial because regulations vary across transnational boundaries, thus a concise list of well-phrased guidelines with a little help from transcreation service providers like IPPWORLD, will make a world of difference in ensuring that guests keep to local safety measures while enjoying a pleasant travel experience.

Apart from safety guidelines, here is a Set of Seven Tips for your guests you may consider providing them as additional reading material before or during their stay (which can also be translated into multiple languages for their reading comfort).

This checklist will go a long way in helping them travel confidently, as we slide into the new normal of travelling in the time of COVID.

1. Research before travel

Before taking that long-awaited trip, take the time to check for COVID regulations at your destination before your visit. What are the rules regarding masking and social distancing? Is your choice of hotel or accommodation able to accommodate you, especially if you’re travelling with family? What are the local regulations with regard to sharing of rooms?

Remember to book your lodging and make restaurant reservations in advance as much as you can to avoid disappointment. With restrictions on numbers and social distancing, hotels may reach maximum capacity much more quickly than usual.

2. Protect others as you are protected

Needless to say, it’s safest to stay masked at all times, except when eating and in the pool. Staying masked when among people outside your inner circle reduces exposure to potentially infectious aerosols by up to 95 percent, especially N95 masks or tightly fitted cloth/disposable masks or when double masks are worn. Stay a good six feet away from others where possible, especially during mask-off activities such as dining.

3. Get tested, then travel 

Ensure that you get a COVID-19 PCR or rapid test before your trip. Get tested when you return home as well and remember to review all testing and quarantine rules both in your home country and travel destination before the trip so as not to be caught off-guard.

4. Packing for travelling in the new normal

With delays, flight cancellations and potential changes in itinerary, it is best to be overprepared by packing extra masks, wipes and hand sanitisers. While it is possible to purchase these items if necessary, you’d rather save yourself the hassle (and potentially inflated costs at airport terminals) and carry your own.

With sanitisers, it might be wise to keep smaller, personal vials of less than 100ml on each traveller if you’re travelling by flight.

5. As much as possible, support local businesses 

The pandemic has hit many businesses hard, especially those in the food and beverage industry. Do your part to support local businesses by patronising them as much as you can. Many of these businesses, especially in the cities, have switched to payment by debit or credit card for hygiene purposes, so keep those handy for transactions.

6. As much as possible, tip well. 

Hospitality professionals are doing their best to keep you happy and healthy while keeping things as normal as possible despite these trying times. For them, the hotel/lodgings is the eye of the storm they hope to create for every guest to relax and retreat from the bustle of the outside world.

Please remember to always treat them with respect. While they keep you safe, you can reciprocate by keeping them safe as well. For example, comply when they remind you to mask up, should you forget. When being served at a restaurant, while unmasked, consider covering your mouth with a napkin when you speak to the server.

7. Finally, when in Rome…

Do as the Romans do, as they say.

Always keep updated (everything is available online these days), so that when you visit a country, place or community, you know beforehand what precautions you will need to take. No one wants a great holiday ruined by a brush with local law enforcement. It’s just not the kind of memories you want to take home with you at the end of a holiday.

In Summary

These tips and additional information you can provide to your guests will go a long way in ensuring that they not only enjoy the physical safety of your premises but also the psychological safety of being well-informed.

Kudos to you, they’ll leave the embrace of your hospitality all the better and all the savvier - as travellers in a pandemic-turned-endemic.