While July 4th celebrations will look different this year during the coronavirus pandemic, vacation goers should still be mindful of their interactions with hospitality workers during this stressful and busy time, says Virginia Tech travel and tourism expert Mahmood Khan.

Khan offers the following travel tips for consumers:

  1. Pack a lot of patience, particularly holidays and long weekends. Recognize that it becomes very difficult for service providers to handle large groups, particularly with PPE and preventive gears and practices.

  2. Do not forget to say thank you or pass on a positive comment. Thank you and appreciation are important considering the difficult and unprecedented times. Consider all the stress, risks and sacrifices servers face due to COVID-19.

  3. Follow rules as much as possible, such as wearing masks, wash hands, keeping safe distance.

  4. If you are asked to accommodate others such as moving to another seat in plane, please be forgiving and oblige. This is a time to be as accommodating as possible.

  5. Maintain safe distance while participating in 4th of July celebrations such as outdoor concerts or fireworks.

  6. If necessary, convey your appreciation in writing on either a comment card, payment receipt or feedback form, particularly with COVID-19 front-line workers (even restaurant servers are essential task performers).

  7. If you happen to see any COVID-19 front-line workers (doctors/nurses/hospital workers/flight attendants) please convey your appreciation by words or actions. 

  8. Remember when wearing a mask, the eyes can convey your feelings, such as winking, or by folded arms. 

  9. Reward the server with appropriate and generous tips or gratuities as and when needed. Consider all dimensions of service such as tangibility, responsiveness, knowledge and empathy.

  10. Do not shoot the messenger! Service providers on front-line often get the brunt of the anger or frustrations. This is particularly true in the case of air travel. The person, who is responding to a delayed or cancelled flight might have absolutely no control over the circumstances.
  11. Plan ahead and make reservations. Give your preferences for food orders, table preferences, and hotel stays as much in advance and as clearly as possible. Because of the coronavirus, there are restrictions as to the capacity and tables in restaurants, so advance reservation might be necessary.

  12. Where appropriate, provide contact information if asked. This information may be necessary to contact in case of any exposure to contaminants. 

  13. Be prepared for unexpected situations. Be careful and take care of all safety precautions especially if travelling with or for those travelling with small children.

  14. If there is more than one restroom, such as in rest areas or airports, use the one that is farthest away. Chances are fewer people will go that far and will use the nearest one. 

  15. Enjoy the 4th of July, but be cautious. Precautions are not prohibitory to enjoying the festivities. This is the best time to enjoy “freedom!”

About Khan

Mahmood Khan is a professor and director of the Pamplin College of Business Master of Science in Business Administration/Hospitality and Tourism Management program in the Washington, D.C., metro region. Major areas of his research include hospitality franchising, services management, customer relationships, food service and operational management, and consumer preferences in hotels, restaurants and institutions.

Interview

To secure an interview with Khan, please contact Shannon Andrea in the media relations office at sandrea@vt.edu or 703-399-9494.  Find additional Virginia Tech expertise related to COVID-19 here.

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