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March 31, 2020 29 mins

We’re a few weeks into the fast-moving coronavirus pandemic, and things that were looking rough a week ago seem dismal and dire today. As we’re all sheltering in place and struggling to find a new normal, we can’t help but wonder, are we ever going to travel again? We will, of course, but how? Just as 9/11 changed forever our experience at the airport, what impact with coronavirus have on the way we travel? In this episode, Fathom co-founders Pavia Rosati and Jeralyn Gerba look into their crystal ball to make predictions about what the future might hold.

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Speaker 1 (00:04):
But the one thing that you can't do over zoom.
You can't walk on a beach with your family over zoom.
You can't you can't hike codachrom State Park on zoom.
Welcome to A Way to Go, a production of I
Heart Radio and Fathom. I'm Jerlyn Garba and I'm Pavio
Rosatti Caylyn Pavia. We're a few weeks into the coronavirus

pandemic in the United States, and things that we're looking
not good even a week ago are looking dismal to
terrible today, and it's hard to see how things will
get better. We hope the listeners out there are safe
and that the people you love are safe and healthy too.
We're taking things day by day here, recording podcasts from
our homes and trying desperately to have some kind of normalcy,

though I've kind of given up on feeling like things
are normal. It's kind of a strange time to be
in the business of encouraging people to travel, don't you think. Yes?
That springs you to an important question, care Lyn, are
we ever going to travel again? Of course we are.
I don't think you have to be so dramatic about it.
I think the question really is are we going to
be traveling in the same ways? I think, you know,

just as going to the airport is forever different from
how it was before nine eleven, I think there's going
to be lasting changes after the coronavirus in what ways.
We just don't know yet, And what we want to
do in this episode is a little different from what
we usually do, and just talk about what we think
based on what we've been hearing from colleagues and travel
industry folks. We've been talking about about what travel will

look like when we come out of this. Before we start,
let's just take a moment to acknowledge all the travelers
out there who have lost that on their destination weddings,
their honeymoons, their first trips abroad, or the trips they've
been planning for a lifetime. It is. It's so disappointing,
it's so frustrating. In some cases, it's so expensive, and

it really sucks. So we feel your pain, and that's all. Yeah,
And let's also take a moment of self awareness to
remind you that we know that in the middle of
a global pandemic, are canceled and our unplanned future vacation
should probably not be in the top five list of
things we're thinking about right now. Doing what we can
to stay healthy and to modify our behavior to ensure

the collective health of our communities, our countries, and by
doing so, the rest of the world. That's what should
be top of mind. We should also acknowledge the medical
professionals on the front lines, including your pediatrician father Jerelyn,
who are out there risking their own health to care
for others. We tip our hats to you. Yeah, I
mean speaking of good health. That also brings us to
speaking about the importance of having access to good health

care in general. You know, when it comes to travel,
something goes wrong when you're in your own country, at
least your health insurance will follow you, assuming you have
some health insurance. We talked about this on the coronavirus
episode we did with Dr Jen Hayth a few weeks ago,
which feels like a few years ago, which was super helpful,
but already seems kind of outdated since things are moving

so fast. I know, we were talking about whether or
not I could go to Brazil the spring, and she's
mentioned that a good litmus test would be to ask
myself if I would be comfortable if I had to
go to a hospital in Brazil, and I wouldn't, not
because I don't trust their medical system, but because my
Portuguese isn't that good and well, but this, you know,
she made that offhand comment, and I haven't stopped thinking

about that because that would have never been a consideration
factor for me when I was thinking about where I'm
traveling and where I'm going. And I might also add,
because people don't know this, I have woken up in
the hospital in the Dominican Republic in the middle of
the night when I had a terrible car accident. So
I've lived this before, but it isn't something that ever

crossed my mind. However, it's this may be a consideration
that people think about more carefully moving forward, moving forward
knowing that they want to go to places that are
within a medical system, that they have access to and
that they understand. Which brings us to one of the
outcomes we've been talking about with travel, which is we

think people are going to be spending more time traveling
within their home country, so domestic travel, we think eventually
will be on the rise. People are concerned about their healthcare.
It's one of the reasons why this kind of travel
should go up. Even when the restrictions are limited, people
might be hesitant about getting on a plane and want
to stay a little bit closer to home. You know,

if China is an accurate indicator of what will happen
in other countries. The travel industry in China is already
reporting early signs of recovery in terms of the number
of people who are searching for and making bookings for
an upcoming May fet holiday. One of the online travel
agencies we were talking to has seen an increase of
in just one week. And so while a lot of

the travel industry in China is bouncing back in terms
of the hotels, the restaurants, the things that were projected,
and tourist sites, they're really starting to see an uptick,
but it is almost primarily domestic travel and not in
bound foreign travel. I mean, it's also interesting because that
number sounds really incredible, but when you're starting at zero,

might not be that dramatic of an uptick. I mean,
I think the other thing to keep in mind is
every country is handling this in a different way, and
America is so huge, and each state is like its
own country. It will be interesting to see how things
play out from one region to the next. In keeping
with that domestic travel trend, road tripping will probably be

on the rise, because if you're already quarantining with your
family of four, you might as well stick them in
the car and head up to the countryside or head
to the mountains where you could be alone together in wider,
more open spaces. To be interesting to kind of track
what car rental business looks like after this, and whether

home rentals on Airbnb and other sites like that go
up in ways that we haven't seen before. I mean,
car feels like a much more controlled and controllable environment
than say a plane. I mean, I know that the
next time that I get on a plane, I'm really
going to be aware of the passengers around me and
wondering where they're coming from, and where they've been and
who they've been in contact with. I know. I mean,

I'm not the only one who is very aware of
my personal space. And I'm also incredibly aware of what
six ft away from someone looks like now in a
way that I wasn't a couple of weeks ago. I
wonder if we're going to see this reflected in the
destinations and the places that people go to. So instead
of planning a vacation to a place that I know

is going to be crowded, like Disney World or London,
maybe people will start looking at nature escapes and state
parks and places where they can feel like, Okay, there
is a lot of room around me. I'm not sitting
on top of someone else. The picnic tables in the
parks are separated from other people. So I wonder if

we're going to see an uptick yeah in nature travel.
I mean, maybe it'll even be on the positive, a
time for smaller parks to shine, because during the summer,
especially in the United States, these national parks can be
really crowded, and maybe people will be digging a little
harder to find some of those lesser known gems so

that they can have that extra space to themselves and
just be mindful of what happens when lots of people
are together in an area. Right. Yeah, When my husband
Ben and I went road tripping, we went on a
triffic three or four day road trip through Utah a
couple of years ago, and we were in Zion, which
is one of the most magical places I've ever been to,
but it was pretty crowded. Then we took Scenic Route

twelve and ended up in Kodacrum State Park. We were
the only people there. I mean, it was almost a
little bit scary, but Kodachrome State Park, it was this
unbelievable vast expanse and we were the only people there.
That's so nice. Pavia. I've kind of been fantasizing, well,
as you know, we're both obsessed with exploring the America's
but I have been fantasizing anyway about doing these big

road trips now that I have kids, and thinking, all right,
what are ways that we can see see more stuff
without having to get on a plane. So my mind
was kind of going in that direction anyway, just by
the fact that I have two small people to drag
around with. Carolyn, are you finally going to get on
the r V that you've been dying to do for
years and years and years? You know, my mother in
law has this air stream and has been kind of

threatening to take us camping for years, but I do
want to take her up on it at some point.
I just think it's really charming and and I think
this vintage Americana theme. I would not be surprised if
that becomes more of a thing, I think in the
coming seasons, because I would say from a travel perspective,
I could see, especially as the summer comes, if we're

able to get get out and about kind of having
a picturesque, quaint Americana vacation of Easter year will be
really soothing to a lot of people. And I think

your point about how other countries feeling the same way
is also really relevant. I was talking with my friend Antonia,
who owns an incredibly popular restaurant and hotel on the
Amalfi Coast, and she said, all the reservations have just
dried up for the summer and they're really concerned about
their business. And I said to her, you know what
you're gonna see though, You're probably going to see a
lot of Italians coming, and the Italians who are not

going to go to Greece, who are not going to
go to the Seychelles, who are not going to travel
the world for their usual summer trips, they're gonna say, Okay,
well let's just get in the car and go down
to the Amalfi Coast. Yeah. I mean, there's all these
sorts of feelings that I have about this. From a
personal standpoint, I mean, I'm thinking, all right, well, if
we ever make any money of her again, I think

I want to use it to boost my local economy.
I want to spend money in the places that are
really important to me, that are near me, and that
will extend to the places that I'm visiting in domestic sense.
But I do feel like it's really important to keep
a lot of the dollars, you know, nearby so that
the things that we love can remain, you know, or
can pick back up again. That's interesting that you're focused

on local things because when we've been thinking about where
we're going to go next, not that we're talking about
it overly much, but in my mind, I'm going to
Italy this summer. I'm going to London this summer, I mean,
partly because we have family there, but I am not
changing my mind about spending my money globally. Also, you know,
the travel shows that I was invited to in May

have been rescheduled for Africa this fall, and my first
reaction when I got the email was I'm going I
think in general, people are going to want to travel
to feel good because no one's feeling all that great.
And maybe one way this will manifest itself as in
more of a focus on health and wellness trips, which
are already have been rending for the last couple of years.

But maybe people are becoming more conscious of how precious
good health is, and as a consequence, health minded travel
will see an uptick. So for some people that will
mean hiking or going to the beach or surfing, but
for a lot of other people that will be going
to a spa or a health center or retreat, or
maybe saving up and splurging on going to health resort

like the incredible Shaw in Spain on the southeastern coast,
which the Shaw is actually opening up one in Mexico
in which I think looks really, really nice. So maybe
integral health will become a bigger part of travel in
some ways, and people will want to do that in
small groups and just kind of keep an eye on

how they're feeling mentally, physically, spiritually. That's right, and I
think we're already seeing this in Asia. Again, if we
want to go back to if Asia is a month
or so, I head of where we are, what's happening there.
So the luxury hotel. The Upper House that I that
we've both been to in Hong Kong focused its activities
around the theme March Month of Wellness, and what they

did was create experiences with partners like Lulu Lemon and
other local partners to help guests reconnect to the body
and the mind through things like yoga, mindfulness practices, dynamic workouts,
I V therapy, massage, and healthy cuisine. A lot of
the resorts that we know. You mentioned Shaw in Spain,
which is a hotel that's not necessarily just a spa

that you would go to, but a real proper medical
center that you only go to. I mean, doctors are
a big part of your days. There other places that
we know about like Split Apple in New Zealand or
Sangha in Shanghai. These are resorts and I put that
in quotes that really build themselves as vacation experiences focused
on optimal health. Split Apple you can't even go there

if you're sick, like you have to submit your lead
test and your certain medical exams before they even let
you go. And if you're not well, they don't want
you to go there. Their whole purpose is you come
here to begin a commitment to yourself to be as
healthy as you can be for the rest of your life.
And I bet that we're going to see this as

something that more and more people want to take care of.
We should mention those are some pretty fancy, absolutely fancy
pants places, right, and some of the hotel some of
the other luxury hotel companies like six Senses, that are
already devoted to this will probably see an increase. Well.
I wonder if people will really take more consideration before
they travel if they're not feeling well. The question will

be though, I think a lot of this will be
contingent on whether the airlines and the hotels will be
more forgiving of people of travelers who are sick or
are not feeling well, because we know now that it's
not only good etiquette, but it's good health benefit to
society to stay home when you're not feeling well. Right,

But there's so much pressure, and often that pressure is
financial because you do not get a refund, you do
not get a credit if you miss your flight's a
big expense. So people are like, all right, final, just
get on my plane. Right, Here's something everybody in the
industry wants to know. Once things do calm down. How
will the travel businesses react? Will the airlines stick around?

I mean Delta has dropped down to junk stock. They're
always I feel like on a wobbly precipice anyway, Delta,
are you kidding me? You're saying bad things about my
beloved Delta. I love me some Delta. I'm just saying
airlines in general are suffering that it's tough business. Yeah,
it's a tough business. But you know our hotels. Are

we going to see hotels become more affordable? Will they
be more deals when people want to stay isolated? Will
they oper home rentals again? Will there be changes in
policy where if you are ill or you are sick,
they'll be a little bit more compassion around that. We're
seeing We're seeing different reactions so far. Right, So dar
Alam in Morocco, which you've been to, garylyn Um send

an email to me yesterday saying that they would honor
any reservations throughout and that they wouldn't be subject to
a rate increase that was already scheduled for next year.
I think that's fantastic. I've seen some other companies around
the world say you can move your reservation to one,
but you will be subject to rate increases, and I
think that that's not as great. Remember how I had

gotten a slot at Lightning Field this, Yeah, you've been
on hold for that for a year, for years. It's
very you know, you have to apply. Only six people
could stay in this small cabin in New Mexico at
a time we finally got a reservation. Of course, they
canceled all the reservations for this year, but they are
honoring our place in the system so that next year

we have first dibbs on booking that same exact date,
so we don't lose our place, which is really good
taste a little bit of the burn off. When we've
been speaking with other travel agents and advisers, something that
keeps coming up is the idea that people who can
afford it will want to maybe charter their own flights,

rent a private villa, keep things a little bit more
isolated than usual, and maybe take more quick trips just
to get away and to refresh and save some of
the big bucket list things for another another time. I mean,
it's certainly the province of the wealthy to be able
to charter a private plane and to you know, not

that all villas are pricey, but saying let's go on
a build a vacation, that's a that's a pricier trip
than staying at say an all inclusive. But there certainly
is something very appealing to being in a villa or
in a home rental. Airbnb has certainly seen an uptick
right now, just in people who want to get out
of cities and be in foreign places. I have a
lot of New York friends who have just fled and

gone up to random airbnbs upstate, as if as if
that's going to keep them away from anything or safer.
But it's interesting what everybody's reaction is, right right, And
it's interesting how some people are choosing to shelter in
place like we're doing, and other people are choosing to
make travel their means of staying healthy by saying I'm

leaving home to stay healthy. Another thing that I feel
like you and I talk about all the time, Pavia,
is how in the travel business for years we have
heard and also have adhered to ourselves at Fathom, the

idea that people just want experiences over things, you know.
And this is the theme of every trade show, in
every hotel conference we attend, and I'm I'm really curious
if on a broader scale, you know, in a more
macro way, if that will if that will still hold true,

or after this, if that era is like a little
bit over. You know, I don't know about that, because
if you think about I'm interested, what's going to happen
to business travel? Right, So we're all now having zoom
conferences and we all know what each other's living rooms
look like in the way that we didn't before. And business,
while have having been severely impacted, it hasn't ground to

a halt. Right. People are still doing business overseas. My
best friend manages teams in San Francisco and she's been
doing it from her apartment in Chelsea. These are meetings
she would have otherwise had to fly to San Francisco
to do. And it'll always be it will always be
better to be able to meet with people in person.
But maybe one's business to see how much money they're
saving exactly. No, that's totally the point that I'm making.

I think companies might be like, well, why do you
have to get on a plan? Why do I need
to spend five grand to send you to San Francisco
for a two hour meeting that you can now do
over zoom. So maybe business travel is going to really
take a hit. But the one thing that you can't
do over zoom, you can't walk on a beach with
your family over zoom. You can't you can't hike Coachrum
State Park on zoom. Like, I do think that as

much as we're experiencing things virtually like museum tours of
the Louver, it's really different if you are actually standing
in the pyramid underneath the shadow of these beautiful places.
So I think the experiences, I think we're maybe even
going to be more appreciative of it, having gone through
a few months without having Okay, so that I agree

with But I do think that the way I guess
more of the consumer angle of travel I feel like
could change. So I do think I agree with you
that I think people are going to want to get
out into nature, see beautiful things, maybe be more appreciative
of the places that they're seeing, whether they're an incredible
landmark or a natural phenomena. But other things like maybe

this whole festival, little circuit um, you know, these meeting
meetings in the desert, these kinds of things that feel
much more like just like consumers Instagram commodities like I
won't be surprised and I will actually be a little
bit happy if those kinds of enterprises dry up. Let's

also just think about the density and cities, right, I mean,
have you seen the photos of venice, dolphins and swans.
I think that is how like Psyche, the Venetians must
be on some level to just might not have people
in their roly suitcases at five o'clock in the morning
like the over the cobble exactly exactly, and I mean,
you know the waters are clear. This is I mean,

imagine if we could see venice in this way. And
now this means that the government would have you know
that governments all around the world would have to take
some lessons and maybe swallow some bitter pills that they
don't want to take. But in terms of long term,
better long term consequences, imagine if the venice that people
could see, if it was more limited, if there were
fewer cruise ships scaring the dolphins away, and you know,

disgorging tens of thousands of people onto the streets at
a go. I'm not saying that people shouldn't get on
boats to see the world, because there are many reasons
why that's a good way of doing it, but in
smaller numbers, maybe more limited capacities. I mean, you know,
I don't want to talk about silver lining, but that
would be really nice if the world uses this as

an opportunity to learn some lessons that in the rush
to always be bigger, better, stronger, faster, nobody wanted to
pay any kind of attention to being able to see
Beijing on a clear day like that didn't even seem
possible at all. Well, you know, we're spending a lot
of time thinking about this, about how we will be
thinking differently about travel, and how this crisis will change

how we even think about travel. Right, So, one of
the things I've been fascinated about is how fifty is
the age that's considered the cut off to be at
risk for COVID nineteen Right, fifty, Are you kidding me?
Fifty doesn't feel old to me, Fifty doesn't feel fragile
to me. I mean, I'm staring at fifty. It's very
close on the horizon. The age group of the you know,

people in their fifties, sixties, seventies. A lot of the
boomers would have said that their retirement years, these are
the prime years for them to travel. Right. They have
they've saved up their money, they no longer have kids
in the house, they've stopped working. Fine, this is where
I'm going to do all the things that I've never
had a chance to do. I wonder, however, if this
crisis will make people more aware of their potential physical limitations.

I wonder if one of the consequences of this is
going to be people being more aware of what their
physical risks and limitations are. And if we're going to
see on the other side of this, airlines, cruise ships,
hotels ask their guests before they arrive certain health questions
just to determine what there risks, if there are any,

are not only for the comfort of the guests, but
also for the security of the other guests in the
in the hotel, on the plane. So that raises really
tricky privacy questions. Oh, Jerlyn, the privacy question is huge,
and we're gonna get into this in an upcoming episode
with Meredith Whittaker uh, the co founder of n y
U s Ai Now Institute, talking about specifically the cross

section and the dangers of artificial intelligence. Privacy and how
that relates to travel. So stay tuned for that one. Yeah,
But in regards to what you were talking about earlier
with the boomers, I also think it will be interesting
to look at what's happening in terms of the COVID
domino effect um on other generations, like the millennials and
even people who are younger. You know, there is a

lot of there is a lot of talk in the
media about how millennial travelers were not originally taking the
coronavirus seriously and we're itching to take advantage of travel
deals when everyone else was staying home. Some people are
obviously not going to learn anything in this time period.
But if we are, in fact, you know, isolated for
the next couple of months, you know, will will this

generation in general be kind of humbled and take things slower?
Will they be the first ones out of the gate
to travel there? There's already a phrase for this genre
of travel, you know, called fiasco travel or storm chasing.
You know, storm chases are the ones who look for
five star vacations at two star prices and are the
ones who touched down in places like right after a

natural disaster. In a way, you know, they're helping to
pick up the economy. But you know, they're kind of
early adopters, but for places instead of instead of things.
But it'll be really you know, I'll be curious to
see exactly who is traveling and when We've covered a
lot of that on Fathom over the years. It's like
right after a hurricane, that's a good time to go

to the tropical island. It's also when they need the
most money and when the tourist dollars should come back.
The health crisis. It may have some different overtones to it,
but I know that one of the themes that I've
been thinking about personally is just the whole notion of
travel with a vengeance. You know. I wonder if a
side effect of not being able to go anywhere will
be to want to get out as much as and
as fast as possible. My cousin, who has been self

isolating with her family and her home in Verona, told
me that she told her husband the other day, when
this whole thing is over, I'm going to come to
this house only to sleep. I never want to be
in this house again, right. I mean, I do think
there will be definitely a group of people who have
that reaction. My take is that will also see a
trend of people focusing on other kinds of things and

and traveling less. I just think it's going to be
a different era. It might be a different era, But
do you remember after nine eleven where there were all
these articles about how irony is dead and sarcasm is dead,
and we're all going to go back to being nicer
people and as hopeful and as nice as that was.
That lasted for a little bit, and then we went
back to our normal selves. And after the horrible recession

in two thousand and seven, it was like, luxury is dead,
nobody wants to do conspicuous consumption anymore. And then for
a while people put their product cloaths and brown bags.
But the industry bounced back everything with a band a pychle.
There's nothing new going on, but I do think we'll
see maybe it'll be a miniature and a miniatureant listen.
I hope, I hope we emerge from this more aware.

I hope we emerge from this more um sensitive to
the health of those around us. I hope we emerge
from this more caring of the people who are taking
care of us, the service workers and the bus drivers
and the uber drivers, and the pilots, and the nurses
and the grocery store clerks who didn't have a choice
to stay home throughout all of this, who were considered essential.

How great would it be if we are more appreciative,
sensitive to, and caring of everyone around us. I'm sorry,
I'm sounding a little like shiny happy. I'd like to
buy the world a coke right now, and I'm sorry
about that, but it would be nice if we learned
good less. Right, Let's be hopeful about that for just
one just for this episode, we'll go back. Let's be hopeful. Okay,

So we're all stuck at home, so you know we
can't go anywhere. What should we do in the meantime?
What should we do? Well, we're biding our time, you know. Well,
a lot of the stuff we've been focusing on on Fathom,
and we're not the only ones doing this, are virtual travel,
Like what can you do at home to stoke your wanderlust?
And so some people are like, I'm going to use
this time to master my Portuguese with duo lingo. There's

you know, we've published all of these articles about movies
that you can escape with and that story was Gangbusters
story did so well for us. Right, all these movies
everything from Grant Budapest Hotel to Tampopo to the Adventures
of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert. I mean, we have
all these movies. We just put a story up about
live concerts that you can stream and have a party

for just you and your loved ones in your living room.
We did a feature about podcasts that can transport you,
so virtual travel. We're seeing a lot of this right now,
and this is something that will be delving into a
little bit more on future podcast episodes. So thank you
for tuning in, and depending on how long this coronavirus lasts,
we may revisit this topic in the future in other ways.

In the meantime, we'll be sure to include the helpful
articles that we've read and the many travel ideas that
we have on the show notes that you can always
find at fathom away dot com. In the meantime, we'd
love to hear from you what you're doing to travel.
You can always find us on Instagram at at fathom
Way to Go. Tag us, tell us what you're up to,
tell us how we can be helpful, tell us if

there's anything else that you'd like to hear, Stay safe,
stay sane, and we'll get through this. Thank you for listening,
and that's our show. Thanks for listening. If you like
what you heard, please subscribe, and you know, leave us
a five star review. Oh Wait Ago is a production
of My Heart Radio and Fathom You can find the
details we talked about in the show notes and on
our website fathom away dot com. Don't forget to sign

up for our newsletter when you're there. I'm Jarrelyn Gerba
and I'm Pavio Rosatti and we like to thank our producer,
editor and mixer Marcy to Peanut and our executive producer
Christopher Hasciotes. For more podcasts from I Heart Radio, visit
the I heart Radio app, Apple Podcasts, or wherever you
listen to your favorite shows. H M h m
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