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(MSN via The Points Guy) – When the coronavirus releases its grip and we slowly start to emerge from quarantine, the world we see won’t look the same as it did when we entered a quasi-hibernation in March 2020. When we can begin to reenter society, will face masks be as ubiquitous across the U.S. as jeans? Will we all have secret stashes of toilet paper and Lysol wipes tucked away, just in case? Will we ever stop jumping when someone near us coughs or sneezes? Many of these — and other even more pressing questions — don’t yet have firm answers. But we do know that the coronavirus will certainly change the future of travel. From how we book, to where we go, to why we travel, our seat selections on the plane and what financial and safety risks we’re willing to assume, we will emerge from this worldwide crisis different travelers than before the pandemic began. “As we did after Sept. 11, we will once again need to change how we travel following the coronavirus outbreak. Packing humans into small spaces like sardines and not checking people for even the most rudimentary symptoms like fever will become things of the past,” wrote TPG’s founder and CEO, Brian Kelly, in a recent article on the future of travel. But what will change when we scan our next boarding pass and check into our next room? Here are some ways travel will change in the future.

3. Multigenerational travel will grow

When this is over, it will have likely been many months since families have really gotten a chance to be together. They say that absence makes the heart grow fonder, and the post-pandemic world may see an already-growing travel trend of bringing many generations together rise to the next level. According to a trend report released in October by Virtuoso, a luxury travel agency network, multigenerational travel was already the most popular travel trend of 2020. Nearly 60% of Virtuoso travel specialists surveyed in February said they expected family travel sales to increase — and that was before we were all told to stay inside and only hang out with our loved ones on Zoom. It takes planning, coordination and commitment to make a multigenerational trip work, but we bet that families are going to break those barriers down and head off with parents, grandparents and children to enjoy the world beyond the confines of their own backyards. The value of time together (as well as photos together), is apparent and we’ll see no shortage of multigenerational trips and travel providers catering to that demographic.

4.Third-party bookings will shrink

Over the years, travelers have been fans of using third-party booking sites, known as online travel agencies (OTAs), to book all sorts of travel in one place. These companies (think: Expedia, Orbitz, and others) act as middlemen, allowing travelers to compare prices across airlines, hotels, car rentals and more. If you book through an OTA and something goes wrong, however, you have not only the travel provider’s policies to contend with but also the rules of the agency through which you booked. Though major agencies have altered their cancellation and change policies in kind with changes in airline, hotel, cruise and car rental policies amid the coronavirus pandemic, it’s an extra piece of the puzzle that needs to be figured out before a trip is changed or canceled successfully. We’ve seen reports of people having difficulty changing and canceling trips booked through OTAs, often involving hours of calls to the OTA, then to the airline, then back to the OTA and so on. We predict that, in the future, people will feel more secure booking directly through the travel provider of their choice so that in the event something goes very, very wrong like this again, customers will only have to deal with the company that’s providing the transportation or lodging.

5. Frequent flyer accounts will be drained

While the process of living through COVID-19 is far from over, we’ve already seen some contraction in how you can use miles from some programs and even banks. So far, that’s just largely meant the removal of some gift card redemption options from select travel-related loyalty programs. But time will tell if the cuts go deeper. When you combine the 2019 trend away from set award charts to dynamic award prices that can vary day to day with the economic implications and pent-up travel demand caused by COVID-19, we expect to see people use their frequent flyer miles in droves when it’s safe again to travel. It’s not just us. View from the Wing’s Gary Leff said, “There’s definitely going to be a desire to travel after being cooped up, to experience places and things that have been off-limits and to connect with friends and family that we haven’t seen. There’s also going to be a tendency to want to rebuild household balance sheets, conserve cash and replace some savings, and that means miles and points take on greater importance in making trips happen.” “There’s going to be fantastic award availability, travel won’t all come back at the same time [and] planes are going to be empty for a while,” Leff added. Speaking from personal booking experience, TPG’s Mommy Points has been saving up United miles since … forever. It was already getting harder to find well-priced international business class awards flights before the coronavirus, which are the ones she often loves to take using miles. Now, she has cashed in more than 200,000 miles while sitting on the couch in the hopes of future trips to Disneyland (just 7,000 miles per ticket) and for a potential end-of-year trip to Hawaii in lie-flat seats with the family. The thought process? Why wait — you just never know what your miles will be worth later and when such opportunities will come again. To that point, Leff also said that, while programs will likely be “printing points to encourage travel” further down the road, devaluations may follow, so sitting on miles isn’t advisable.

Source: The Points Guy via MSN