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Tourists Would Rather Cancel A Trip Than Have To Wear A Mask On Vacation

According to a recent study, the travel industry is set to take a large economic hit in the coming months as the seasons change and more tourists opt to cancel their holiday trips.

Virtual Travel

Virtual Tourism Is The Future Of The Travel Industry, Research Suggests

Researchers at the Medical College of Georgia recently released a new proposal for a virtual travel experience that they claim to be the future of the travel industry. In 2020 alone, the coronavirus pandemic has caused the tourism industry to dwindle greatly, along with many other industries in the world. During a global health crisis that requires everyone to stay home in order to keep everyone safe, travel lovers are trying to get creative, and this pair thinks they have the solution. 

The proposal was published in the scientific journal, Cell Patterns by Dr. Arni Srivasa Rao, director of the medical school’s Laboratory for Theory and Mathematical Modeling, and co-author Dr. Steven Krantz, a professor of mathematics and statistics at Washington University. The proposal claims that by using the billions of existing photos and videos online of travel hotspots throughout the world, and some advanced mathematical techniques, the current internet-based tourism experience could improve tenfold. 

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According to the proposal, the two have a technique that digitally measures the shapes, angles, and curvatures of certain objects in these images, as well as determines the distance between the camera and the object itself. Using drone footage, photos, and other videos compiled from online resources, the two believe they could make virtual travel experiences “more realistic for viewers that will help revitalize the tourism industry.”

The specific technology involved in these measurements is referred to as Live Streaming with Actual Proportionality of Objects, or LAPO for short. LAPO implements what’s known as “information geometry,” which essentially refers to measuring the actual dimensions of a given object in an image, and “conformal mapping,” which uses that information geometry to measure distance between objects and create more realistic imaging of people, places, and objects. 

“This is about having a new kind of technology that uses advanced mathematical techniques to turn digitized data into more realistic photos and videos with more of a feel for the location than you would get watching a movie or documentary.”

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Rao used the example of seeing the Statue of Liberty from a boat in the Hudson River versus watching a video of it, and how those two experiences greatly differ. However, with LAPO technology, Rao and his colleagues are able to measure and preserve “multiple angles and digitize that into video form so consumers can visualize it from multiple angles.” This will make people at home feel like they’re really there. 

The two main authors really wanted to emphasize their belief in this technology’s ability to help the tourism industry remain afloat/recover from the Covid-19 pandemic. They believe virtual tourism is the future based on the fact that overall it’s simply cheaper, safer because it can be done from home, easily accessible for all, and eliminates any risks that may arise from traveling to a new area of the world. 

“Virtual tourism also creates new employment opportunities for virtual tour guides, interpreters, drone pilots, videographers and photographers, as well as those building the new equipment for virtual tourism.”

People would pay for these experiences the same way they would pay a hotel or airline to take them somewhere, however, it will be monumentally cheaper based on the fact that you’re not actually going to the location itself. Rao and Krantz claim their next step is going to be to bring in some new investors and partners in the hospitality and tourism industry.

Delta Airplane

Delta Planning To Furlough Nearly 2,000 Pilots In The Coming Months 

Delta Air Lines is currently projected to furlough 1,941 pilots by October 1st due an over-staffing problem amid the Covid-19 pandemic. The decision is basically official, as the airline sent a memo to all employees this past Monday claiming the only way the furlough’s won’t be happening is if some sort of deal can be reached with their union. 

Delta currently has around 11,200 active pilots working for them. By next summer the company is projecting they’ll only need about 9,450 for next summer based on travel data that’s been collected throughout the past six months during the pandemic. Senior Vice President of flight operations, John Laughter, wrote the memo to pilots where he broke the news. 

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Next summer we expect to see the peak flying for the next 12-18 months. We are simply overstaffed and we are faced with an incredibly difficult decision.” 

Airlines, and the travel industry in general, has been hit especially hard during the coronavirus pandemic, which makes sense considering the main way individuals can avoid potential infection is by staying home and not travelling at all, especially if it means travelling with a big group in an enclosed space. 

Delta received over $5.4 billion from the CARES Act in order to maintain proper payroll for their employees. The financial aid also came with a promise from the company that they would avoid furloughing employees until at least October 1st, and now that the date is approaching and the pandemic has only worsened in America, they realized that they would need to follow through. 

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20% of Delta’s workforce – around 17,000 employees – took the company up on a voluntary buyout package as the October date got closer and closer. It’s currently projected that all airline companies in America will likely come out of this pandemic much smaller than they were in the beginning of it, Delta included. 

These projections have caused airline executives to urge their employees to take the voluntary buyouts or a voluntary unpaid leave of absence until the future became more clear. 1,806 Delta pilots took early retirement packages, however, Laughter claims that still isn’t enough to avoid the furloughs. He claims that Delta is currently earning about 1/4th of the revenue they made this time last year.

Pilots that were hired after July 17th, 2017 are the most at risk for being furloughed due to contractual obligations between Delta and its more established pilots. While the pandemic isn’t showing any signs of slowing down, Laughter claims that the airline does have the full intention of bringing back all furloughed employees when things return to normalcy. 

“Though we expect a multi-year recovery, we will work diligently to bring you back to Delta as soon as we can, if demand recovers better than we are anticipating.”

The memo added that if the airline and the pilot’s union can reach an agreement that allows Delta to reduce costs, furloughing may be avoided. It can also be avoided if the CARES Act extends their payroll support program.

Blockchain Tech

New Technology Will Alter The Way We Stay In Hotels Post-Pandemic

The hotel and travel industry has been scrambling within the past few months of the pandemic to not only adjust their schedules to accommodate the many cancellations and rescheduling of individuals who can no longer travel, but also to figure out ways in which new technology can be implemented into hotels to ensure all guests/staff remain healthy and safe. 

Many major hotel chain’s are offering a combination of new health and safety procedures and technologies that are specifically designed to make staying at a hotel during the pandemic easy and safe. These new technologies work to take the extra step beyond just wearing a mask and sanitizing to really make guests and employees feel secure. 

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Compliance Monitoring is a new policy many hotels are undertaking to ensure that every guest and staff member is wearing their mask at all times when in common spaces. Tech company Cyberlink recently released a new product known as FaceMe. FaceMe is a facial-recognition engine that has the ability to detect if an individual is wearing their mask or not, and can identify an individual’s face through their mask as well; something many iPhone users have complained about. 

The purpose of this technology in hotels specifically is to notify management when someone enters the building without a facial covering. The technology can also be used to take an individual’s temperature from a distance.

Global tech provider, Nevotek is giving their new “Grace” platform to hotels as a way to easily get hotel staff and guests to communicate without any in-person interactions. “Grace” essentially allows guests to message hotel staff through an app of their choice (WhatsApp, Messenger, WeChat), making it so guests don’t need to download an extra app just for their visit. This way, guests can simply text the front desk “need more towels,” and a fresh set will be delivered to their room’s door without any person-to-person interaction. 

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Radar Labs is another tech giant that specializes in building geofences and geo-based apps. Essentially they provide location detection services for a multitude of companies. For hotels specifically, geofences can be used to notify management when a guest is about to arrive for check-in, which can then be completed remotely. This technology can also be used when guests want to check-out, so instead of going to the front desk they can view their bill on their phone and pay it easily before leaving. 

Hotels have already begun implementing more sanitation stations, technologies, and procedures to make guests feel comfortable, as well as staff. Many chains have taken to hiring “hygiene managers” that hold an executive position specifically for enforcing proper health and safety measures in every hotel. 

Beyond the managers, many hotels are also implementing advanced air purifiers and filters in their common spaces that literally clean the air. HEPA filters have been some of the most popular, as they are capable of filtering out 99.9% of all airborne viruses and bacteria. Electrostatic disinfectant sprayers have been used in combination with these filters to make common spaces as sterile as possible throughout the day. 

Finally, many hotels in Asia specifically have begun using robotic maids to minimize the amount of time hotel staff spends going to occupied rooms. The KT Corporation specifically released their second generation of what they call the GiGA Genie hotel robot. This robot can deliver water, fresh towels, and many other amenities directly to guests doors. The artificial intelligence software within the Genie also equips it with communication technology and advanced information allowing it to easily move throughout the hotel and even speak to guests about certain offers and accommodations.