As countries and destinations start the process of reopening, and people start feeling comfortable making travel plans again after months of lockdowns, there is still a significant amount of confusion and uncertainty about what travelers and travel advisors can expect in the future.
To help advisors track these changes, Sitata, one of the world’s most comprehensive travel health and safety apps, is launching its new COVID Checker tool for advisors, which provides up-to-date coronavirus statistics and tracks travel restrictions across the globe.
Sitata is just one of a myriad of technology companies developing tools to help combat fear and health and safety questions pertaining to COVID-19. Sitata’s tool allows advisors to present information to their customers, and give them a better understanding of the situation at their desired destination, and as things continue to change, it will become even more important to stay informed and update their clients about what changes are happening all over the globe.
“We’re trying to do our best to support the industry, and we’re hopeful for the day when faith in healthy travel can return,” said Adam St. John, CEO of Sitata. “And we’re doing our best to help restore the confidence in travel again.”
How the COVID Checker tool works
The Sitata app utilizes AI technology to monitor global happenings 24/7 and keep travelers updated in real time. The company used the technology to track the spread of the coronavirus back in December, and published its first warnings to its users before even before the World Health Organization.
The app works by collecting relevant information from destinations and sources worldwide, including travel disruptions, and giving advisors access to the information in a concise, relevant manner. It tracks changes based on five categories: airport closures, border closures, social distancing information, curfews and transportation, providing upwards of 100 updates a day.
“So whenever a country announces that things are changing, we pick up on that and boil that information down in a very easy to use way, to give you an understanding of if you can get into the country, if public transportation is running, if you’ll need to wear a mask, will you be put in quarantine… all of these questions can be answered with a quick search through the tool.”
Future travel predictions
“We are seeing enormous pressures on governments to reopen, and restore the economy, and at the same time, most want to keep everyone safe and healthy,” said St. John. “There’s a balance there, and different countries are taking different approaches, but broadly speaking, we’re seeing the loosening of travel restrictions.”
He said that while it is encouraging to see countries and destinations opening up, there is also a potential danger if it is not handled correctly.
Sitata's COVID Checker tool can provide up-to-date destination-specific travel details like border closure, social distancing measures, and more. Photo: Sitata
“Before international travel picks up, what we’re seeing is secondary and tertiary outbreaks starting to form, and the goal for most countries is to squash those outbreaks as they pop up, and contain them as much as possible,” said St. John. “We’re anticipating a world where there will be a loosening of restrictions, and then a retightening as [outbreaks flare up].”
He also said advisors should look to how the outbreak has been handled across Asia, to have some indication of what to expect in the near-future. “They’re a couple of weeks ahead of us, so it’s always a good idea to see what might be happening in the next couple of weeks.”
St. John predicts the industry will see a wave of changes happening across the industry, “That’s really where our strength comes into play… that’s where we think our tool can bring a lot of value for advisors.”
Adding value for advisors
The tool is freely available to travel advisors, and it is backed by an API (application programming interface), which can allow users to embed the program into their own websites and customize them at will to better fit their company’s aesthetic.
“Any advisors can go to the COVID Checker site and receive an embed code they can add to their website or portals. It’s really up to them how they use it. If they want a more customized approach, maybe putting this on their app or personalize for their own brand,” said St. John.
The COVID Checker tool also utilizes a travel chatbot company called Eddy Travels, to help address user’s needs quickly and efficiently.
And as the industry continues to change in preparation for the return of travel, it will become more important than ever for advisors to keep their clients updated, and to stay as informed as possible about what changes are happening all over the globe.
“We’re trying to do our best to support the industry, and we’re hopeful for the day when faith in healthy travel can return. And we’re doing our best to help restore the confidence in travel again,” said St. John.