As the travel industry continues to build toward recovery, travel customers want to be reassured that the right health and safety measures are in place throughout all stages of their journey, including the pre-book discovery period when they’re evaluating whether it’s safe to travel again. A recent traveler sentiment study from Expedia found that 9 in 10 travelers will make decisions based on health and hygiene protocols within a destination.
According to a series of global surveys launched by Singapore Airlines since May 2020, “health safety” is one of the top value drivers for customers, just below “price level”, “airline safety record,” and “seats.” Customers cited health screening checks at the airport and the mandatory donning of masks by all passengers as top measures that would alleviate some of their travel concerns.
To earn loyalty and help customers gain confidence about traveling again, travel brands must demonstrate how they’re addressing these concerns at every stage of the customer journey. SkiftX spoke with Lee Lik Hsin, executive vice president commercial at Singapore Airlines, to better understand the company’s enhanced health and safety measures, which start with digital touchpoints before airport arrival (the website includes travel advisories that help make planning easier) and carry through to the airport, on-board, and arrival experiences. A link to an e-brochure outlining these measures is sent to all customers seven days before their flights.
“The Covid-19 pandemic has irrevocably changed air travel,” Lee said. “We have reimagined the end-to-end customer journey in this ‘new normal’ environment by implementing a slew of precautionary measures, which will allow customers to travel with peace of mind and leverage digital technology to ensure a safe and seamless journey.”
Data from consulting firm McKinsey suggests that travel companies should respond to growing consumer sentiment about health and safety by delivering contactless experiences. For airports and airlines around the world, the pandemic has accelerated the development of contactless technologies throughout the customer journey.
Pre-flight, customers can use the SingaporeAir mobile app for a wide range of services, including check-in and generating their own mobile boarding pass – but the enhancements extend beyond practical flight experience to other high-value airport experiences, like shopping. Even though duty-free shops are not available for most passengers traveling through Changi Airport, Singapore Airlines’ customers are able to pre-order their duty-free shopping on KrisShop.com and have them delivered directly to their seat onboard select flights.
Investing in contactless experiences can be key to rebuilding traveler confidence. A July travel sentiment survey from Collinson revealed that 80 percent of travelers would like to see contactless payment options across the journey the next time they travel. Other contactless experiences available via the SingaporeAir app include access to the airline’s e-Library in lieu of physical copies of newspapers and publications, as well as KrisWorld, the inflight entertainment system that customers can remotely control via their personal device on select flights.
“Other initiatives such as a digital menu to view inflight meals, and the capability to print boarding passes and baggage tags at airport self-service kiosks in a contactless manner have also been rolled out,” Lee said. “More digital initiatives are in the works and will be implemented in the coming weeks and months.”
HEALTH AND SAFETY MEASURES
Upon arrival at the airport, Lee said passengers can expect temperature screenings, hand sanitizers at check-in and immigration counters, safe-distance markers, and enhanced cleaning at lounges. On the plane, enhanced cleaning procedures and the implementation of High-Efficiency Particulate Air (HEPA) filters, which remove more than 99.9 percent of particles including airborne viruses and bacteria, have become standard. In addition, each passenger will receive a complimentary kit containing a face mask, hand sanitizer, and disinfectant surface wipe.
“Robust health and safety measures, together with enhancements in digital technologies, are important enablers of Singapore Airlines’ premium experience,” Lee said. “Some of these measures are likely to continue to be in place even when the situation improves.”
Indeed, with other challenges on the horizon, including climate change and the ever-looming threat of another health crisis, operational experience born out of the Covid-19 crisis will make companies like Singapore Airlines more resilient.
“Our customers say that they are increasingly confident about air travel, given the robust health and safety measures that are in place, as well as testing regimes to protect them and our staff,” said Lee. “The fundamental importance of air travel in bringing people together and supporting economic growth remains unchanged despite the pandemic. That gives us confidence about the medium- to long-term prospects for the industry.”