Catalyst

The virus of fear has to be fought as strongly as the virus of Corona

Deepak Jolly | Updated on May 27, 2020 Published on May 27, 2020

As we start travelling, it’s important to start reposing faith in brands that are taking precautions

The entire country is heaving a sigh of relief as airports are operational and flights have started. Trains too have started moving. This will be a collective relief to millions across the country. Until Lockdown 3, people had a feeling of safety inside the home. With lockdown 4, as travel and economic activities have started, it was important that people start feeling safe outside homes as well. We can now start wishing our near and dear ones, “Have a safe journey.”

The latest video released by the travel and hospitality fraternity on having a safe trip is timely indeed. Kudos to my friend Deep Kalra, of Makemytrip.com, who says, “Have a safe trip. These are familiar words in unfamiliar times.” Several other industry names and leaders who are close friends of mine also come together to wish customers a safe trip. This is a great example of a well-executed ‘moment marketing’ idea because of the highly relevant content and the correct timing of the video.

You all must have recently seen a viral photo of an aircraft entrance with flight attendants looking like doctors. The scene reminds us of an ICU and not a flight. This image is actually a reminder that such safety and precautions are the requirement of the hour.

The entire travel industry has created and implemented a very strict and comprehensive set of safety protocols that can possibly make the travel experience safer than the trip to your neighbourhood grocery store. I am amazed at the new gadgets and methods that are now being used to create a highly regulated movement of passengers, and build in social distancing into the entire passenger journey.

It all starts from even before the point of entry. The latest and most popular of apps today is the “Aarogya Setu” app and passengers are only allowed to enter the airport or travel on trains, if they have installed it. There are also many new gadgets and technology-enabled equipment that have created a safer and socially distant travel experience.

The latest technology deployed in cameras can measure the temperature of many passengers at once, check for social distancing and sound alerts or control access if there is lack of distance between people. Airport authorities are deploying remote-sensing technology from Hikvison and other companies to check if someone is not wearing a mask

Other new features at airports, like the new contactless ticketing gadgets, no-contact technology to scan and print boarding tickets, and no-contact security checking, now seem to come straight out of sci-fi thrillers. The new normal of social distancing in travel is a technology-powered process that creates safe zones for passengers and travel workers.

Reassuring images

India seems to be getting back on track in putting public transport services on road. Taxi services like Uber, Ola and Blue Smart Cabs and even three-wheelers are back on the road with social distancing norms. Blue Smart cabs have created a mini cocoon with protective transparent plastic shields so that there is no contact between passengers and drivers. The drivers follow a protocol for giving hand-sanitiser to each passenger and also have been trained to open and close doors so that there is minimal contact with door handles. The reassurance factor of watching these safety protocols is high indeed.

Just yesterday, I went for a haircut at a well-known salon chain. I was pleasantly surprised to see the levels of care being taken to maintain the safety of customers and the staff. The salon had created and implemented SOPs with a detailing that would impress even a production line manager or a quality standards professional. Distances created for seating, protective gear, masks, fresh gloves for each customer, were just some of the initiatives they had undertaken. And customers have responded to this by reposing their faith in the chain and at similar stores and chains, which are taking adequate safety precautions for malls and customers. The implementation of norms of social distancing is being observed by most sections of the population because they are aware and taking steps to comply with norms.

Malls across the country have also developed similar SOPs that take into account every aspect of safety. Shopping Centres Association of India (SCAI) has also prepared adequate procedures that can make the visit to the mall considerably safe as it is a regulated environment, which is protected, and allows for better visitor control.

Air-conditioning is one of the biggest fears of people and also multiple stakeholders in the entire country. Just yesterday, SCAI conducted a webinar for busting the myths and dispelling fears around air-conditioning. With all the details shared, it is quite clear that a properly maintained air-conditioning environment actually provides far higher levels of safety than that of an unregulated outdoor environment.

As the popular TV spot goes, “Fear and bias are even more infectious than the Corona.” We as a society must come together to fight non-rational fears and bias, especially when it is rooted in incorrect information. The virus of fear has to be fought as strongly as the virus of Corona. This is the only way we will be able to move ahead and sustain a safe opening up of the economy.

(Deepak Jolly is the Founder of Consocia Advisory. He has been a leading Corporate Affairs, Communications, Sales & Marketing professional with a career spanning over 34 years across top Multinational companies).

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Published on May 27, 2020
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