As most of have settled into the “new reality” of life during COVID-19, many of us are wondering what life will look like after the current crises passes. History has shown that major events like this result in global changes in social behavior. Those of you reading are RVers or considering an RV. Hensley, of course, is part of the RV industry, which is a category of the travel industry.
And that’s the key word: travel.
Up until this year, most of considered various options for travel. We could take a cruise, fly to another country, stay in a resort, the list goes on. But what will the rest of 2020 look like? And will these changes in our behavior become a permanent part of our culture? Let’s look at the options with our new perspective:
Air Travel: the white elephant in the room. How many people will feel comfortable flying after 2020? Air travel spread this virus at a rate that would have been impossible prior to the 1960s, when air travel began to dominate as the preferred method of travel. It will still be essential for business (though scaled back) and visiting far away loved ones, but as a means of vacationing, I suspect a lot of people will shy away from the risks involved.
Cruise Ships: this is not the first time that cruise ships have become floating petri dishes. We’ve all watched, in horror, as cruise ships full of infected passengers were denied entry into ports. That image won’t go away soon. While I pray that the cruise ship industry survives, I can’t imagine they’ll return to their former glory.
Hotels: I was in a hotel in Ohio in early March. The COVID-19 news was just started to ramp up. By the end of the week, I was pressing elevator buttons with my elbow and refusing room service. Again, they’ll still be a necessary service, but as a vacation option, I suspect it will be a long time before people feel safe in a room that is inhabited by hundreds of others throughout the year.
Then there’s RVing. Here is the one area in the travel industry where you are completely self-contained. We can hook up to our trailers and 5th wheels, tow our sanitized second-home to a park, and unhook it in a site that has likely been empty for several days, with the sun, rain, and wind cleansing every surface. If we avoid the restrooms, the only points of cross-contact are places like the dump station, the guy who refills our propane tanks, and the gas station. The time spent at these places is very short and well defined. We know how to protect ourselves with the use of gloves (doggy poo bags are also handy if you don’t have gloves), face masks, and social distancing, something we’ve all become experts at. Am I just trying to convince myself and fellow Hensley employees that everything will turn out fine? I don’t think so. We’ve been down this road before and have taken drastic measures to save our business. This time feels different. We don’t feel a looming disaster like we did in ’08, when $4 per gallon gas prices created the perfect storm. Looking past the next few months, we see our industry as the one that will rise to the top as the preferred method of travel.
And won’t we all be desperate to get out of the house for a while? What do you think? Are we entering the Golden Age of RVing?