The official kick-off of summer travels begins this Memorial Day weekend and industry experts predict it could be one of the busiest travel seasons in nearly two decades. That means travelers should pack precaution and patience before traveling to their planned vacation destination, says Mahmood Khan, a travel and tourism professor at Virginia Tech.

“Many people have been waiting for the past several years to safely resume travel; so the demand may get overwhelming,” says Khan. “Travelers can expect that some services have returned to normal while others will remain as a stark memory of the pandemic.”

To prepare, Khan offers the following advice for vacation planners. 

1.  Pack a lot of patience, particularly on holidays and long weekends. Many places are still recovering from pandemic regulations, closures, and furloughs, and guests could find a lack of service. Recognize that it becomes very difficult for service providers to handle large groups, especially since many restaurants and hotels are short-staffed.

2.  Call ahead before making hotel reservations. The lack of available workers and contactless options at hotels will require longer waits for guests to receive the services they are used to receiving. Many hotels are informing guests about irregular room cleaning services. Some hotels are providing reward points if guests decide not to have their room cleaned during their stay. 

3.  Consider available public space. Many lobby areas have undergone changes and are no longer gathering places to connect with friends, network with colleagues, or enjoy downtown to contemplate because seating has either been reduced or reconfigured to safe distances. 

4.  Travel to parks and destinations that provide outdoor access to walking trails, hiking, or water sports to enjoy activities as well as contemplate what we have been through and how to prepare for the future. 

5.  Call ahead for dinner reservations. Provide your food preferences for orders and table location prior to arrival. Many restaurants still have capacity restrictions and limited tables, so advance reservations might be necessary.

6.  Be prepared for unexpected situations. Be careful and take care of all safety precautions especially if traveling with or for those travelling with small children.

7.  Stay up-to-date with vaccinations and boosters to prevent severe sickness and the spread of COVID. Bring proof of COVID vaccination cards and keep travel documents available for when needed. 

8.  Do not forget to say thank you or pass on a positive comment. Thank you and appreciation are important considering the difficult and unprecedented times. Consider all the stress, risks and sacrifices that servers are facing during this time.

9.  Reward restaurant servers with appropriate tips or gratuities. Consider all dimensions of service such as tangibility, responsiveness, knowledge and empathy.

10.  Do not shoot the messenger! Service providers on the front-line often get the brunt of anger or frustrations. This is particularly true in the case of air travel. The person who is responding to a delayed or cancelled flight might have absolutely no control over the circumstances.

About Khan

Mahmood Khan is a professor and director of the Pamplin College of Business Master of Science in Business Administration/Hospitality and Tourism Management program in the Washington, D.C., metro area. Major areas of his research include hospitality franchising, services management, customer relationships, food service and operational management, and consumer preferences in hotels, restaurants and institutions. More here.

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