April 14, 2021

Masks: The New Face of Travel

Long before the COVID-19 pandemic you may remember seeing one or two people at the airport wearing a mask and thinking “what’s that all about?” Yet today, masks are the new face of travel.

It is not fun wearing a mask for the entirety of a trip, but it is necessary. It can be also fun seeing all the different types of masks out there, from simple surgical masks to those supporting their college teams, On one recent trip I even saw a full blown gas mask (seriously, I did a triple take on that one).

For many of us air travel was a weekly routine for which we were totally preconditioned. Packing a case, traveling to the airport, going through security, it was all second nature. Then, suddenly, it virtually stopped for almost a year.

Now, travel is back! It is true, business is up and running and professionals are flying again. The new travel routine will probably take a while to get used to again. Your first trip may be a little dysfunctional, you may even feel like that annoying amateur traveler who used to be ahead of you in the security line, asking “what’s taking so long???”.

We may feel that business has changed permanently when it comes to the need to travel. Zoom and Microsoft Teams have for the most part satisfied the need for in-person visits. We can expect this virtual communication to continue even once the pandemic is behind us and we are back to some level of normality. The utilization of digital tools has been key to the continuation of business communication. New ways to have meetings, to issue and documents, to introduce yourself and to say thank you, have all been made possible with the evolving digital communication platforms.

Nevertheless, there is still a place for in-person meetings which offer another dimension of interactive communication. You simply cannot replace the opportunity to be in front of a customer. You get to see some of their facial expressions (masks make it more fun), their body language, how busy their business is, and frankly, their joy to have someone visiting them in person!

Of course there are procedural hoops to jump through, but it is worth it.

Wearing masks, fist bumps and social distancing are the order of the day for now, but it will not be long before there will be some welcome reacquainting hugs – oh the joy and value of relationships!

Yes, the new face of travel will include a mask for a good amount of time going forward, but it’s not a bad new normal. Travel always exposed us to recycled cockpit air and the germs of all our seatmates. Wearing masks may make travel healthier! After 9/11 we had to adapt to body scanners, removing shoes, belts watches and coats etc., and we got used to it. These helpful tips were useful when I prepared for my first trip.

Now, if I can just figure out how to get all this PPE and hand santizer into a tiny carry-on I will be off to the airport to visit some customers face-to-face.