Last Mile Is Being Disrupted Again: Here’s How Retailers Can Hold Their Ground

Last mile delivery: It’s been quite an interesting road to travel these past couple of years, indeed!

Amazon did an end-run around UPS and Fedex by ramping up its own-fleet delivery to 72% of its total shipments. Uber and Lyft drove into the last mile, bringing everything from restaurant orders to auto parts right to their existing riders’ doorsteps. And the Covid-19 pandemic famously heralded in an explosion of last mile grocery delivery via Instacart, Shipt, Peapod and others.

In 2021, however, last mile disruption was itself severely disrupted. Gopuff barnstormed its way to a $40 billion valuation with a curated assortment and ultra-fast delivery model that rendered Walmart’s two-hour express delivery “so last year” and made Amazon’s same-day delivery service seem positively ancient.

Some leading last mile players, meanwhile, encroached on first-party offering territory. Instacart’s setup of micro fulfillment centers (MFCs) drove speculation that it would soon begin selling products directly to consumers, while DoorDash has already begun doing just that, growing its ranks of new DashMarts nationwide.

However you view it, the disruption of last mile has become the flywheel, driving a larger transformation of retail. For traditional brick-and-mortar stores, who were already under pressure to adapt to changing consumer expectations and increased competition, this disruption represents both threats and opportunities.

Barry Clogan, Chief Product Officer at Wynshop. Read Barry Clogan’s full executive profile here.

Source: Last Mile Is Being Disrupted Again: Here’s How Retailers Can Hold Their Ground

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Critics:

Elina Geller, Sam Kemmis

Know your travel goals

This is an important consideration when evaluating what you would like to get out of your points and miles hobby. Do you want to travel several times a year to an exotic location, flying in first class on miles and paying for your hotel on points? Do you want to fly to visit friends and family using miles (but don’t care if you sit in economy or business class)? Or do you just want to learn what travel rewards are all about?

The good news is that regardless of your travel goals, understanding the basics of these currencies can make those goals a reality. Using points and miles to see the world can save a lot of cash. And when you get into this hobby, you begin to realize that all sorts of travel is affordable and within reach.

Setting clear travel goals can also help focus your attention and investigation. If you want to visit Japan, you can focus on relevant airlines and hotel programs while ignoring the rest (for now). This can help avoid overwhelm and the paradox of choice.

Think of points and miles (travel rewards) as another type of currency. Just like stocks, crypto, bonds or foreign currencies, travel rewards present a way to pay for your travel experiences and invest in your travel goals without using cash.

Each travel reward currency has its own value, just like a country’s currency. Many points and miles are worth roughly a cent apiece, but values vary … It’s important to do the math whenever you’re considering a particular offer or promotion to figure out the approximate cash value. 100,000 points might sound like a lot, but it depends on what kind of points they are…..more

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The Future of Travel in the Covid-19 Era

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After being shut down for nearly a year and a half, international travel has started to pick up again, with countries in the Caribbean, Africa, and Europe paving the way. The reopening of borders has been far from straightforward as the world negotiates inequities in Covid-19 containment, vaccine access, and economic recovery. And everything can change in an instant.

For airlines, airports, cruise lines, and hotels, the new normal is increasingly looking like the old normal; While advanced cleaning protocols are (happily) here to stay, social distancing and even mask requirements have started to peel away. A lack of cohesive guidelines from governing authorities mean that protocols are being patched together by individual properties and companies, leaving consumers to wade through fine print and determine what fits their risk thresholds.

If the wealthiest initially set the tone for the future of nonessential travel, the masses are now unleashing a storm of pent-up demand that has caused prices to multiply and availability to evaporate. Compounding those issues are labor shortages in many popular vacation destinations, already slim inventory gobbled up by last year’s cancelations, and a hampered import market that’s making it impossible to get a rental car or wrap up that hotel renovation. Consumers may feel safe traveling again, but it’s going to be a bumpy rebound.

Those of us who remain stuck in place can still daydream. According to the National Institutes of Health, simply planning a trip can spark immeasurable joy—and there’s high hope that the ongoing challenges of availability and border restrictions will iron themselves out by 2022. Getting into an adventurous frame of mind can remind us of the power of travel—not only in the billions of dollars in daily economic activity but also to forge cross-cultural connections and bring us closer to those we love.

By The Numbers

  • $150 million The amount of cash U.S.-based airlines were losing on a daily basis as of March 2021.
  • 1.2 million Average increase of daily travelers passing through TSA checkpoints in June 2021, compared to June 2020. The number still represents roughly a 30% decline from 2019 figures.
  • 67 Percentage of people who would feel confident traveling once vaccinated.

Why It Matters

It’s not just your vacation or business trip that’s on the line. The travel industry customarily accounts for 10% of the global economy, rippling to the remotest corners of the world. Each trip a person takes sets off a domino effect of consumption that directs dollars to airlines, hoteliers, restaurateurs, taxi drivers, artisans, tour guides, and shopkeepers, to name a few. In all, the tourism industry employs 300 million people. Especially in developing countries, these jobs can present pathways out of poverty and opportunities for cultural preservation.

In 2020, the pandemic put a third of all tourism jobs at risk, and airlines around the world said they needed as much as $200 billion in bailouts. By December, the World Tourism Organization had tallied $935 billion in global losses from the tourism standstill, and was estimating that the ripple effects would result in a total economic decline exceeding $2 trillion. Even with international tourism now cautiously reopening, the organization expects that the world will not return to 2019 tourism levels until 2023.

According to data from the World Travel and Tourism Council, every 1% increase in international arrivals adds $7.23 billion to the world’s cumulative gross domestic product. Any improvement in this sector is significant—and it’s just beginning.

Americans, who have easy access to vaccines and command an overwhelming share of the international travel market, are back on the road; two-thirds intend to take a trip in 2021. In the U.S., flight capacity has climbed back to 84% of 2019 levels. The questions are what it will take for the rest of the world to catch up and how the industry must evolve to be flexible at handling future Covid-19 variants so travelers will feel safe and willing to spend.

Grounded for many months, airlines are beefing up their summer schedules—though the number of flights will be a fraction of their pre-pandemic frequency. Airports are still mostly ghost towns (some have even been taken over by wildlife), and international long-distance travel is all but dead. Around the globe, the collapse of the tourist economy has bankrupted hotels, restaurants, bus operators, and car rental agencies—and thrown an estimated 100 million people out of work.

With uncertainty and fear hanging over traveling, no one knows how quickly tourism and business travel will recover, whether we will still fly as much, and what the travel experience will look like once new health security measures are in place. One thing is certain: Until then, there will be many more canceled vacations, business trips, weekend getaways, and family reunions.

Travel will normalize more quickly in safe zones that coped well with COVID-19, such as between South Korea and China, or between Germany and Greece. But in poorer developing countries struggling to manage the pandemic, such as India or Indonesia, any recovery will be painfully slow.

All this will change the structure of future global travel. Many will opt not to move around at all, especially the elderly. Tourists who experiment with new locations in their safe zones or home countries will stick to new habits. Countries with strong pandemic records will deploy them as tourism marketing strategies—discover Taiwan! Much the same will be true for business, where ease of travel and a new sense of common destiny within each safe zone will restructure investment along epidemiological lines.

With the support of IATA and others, the International Civil Aviation Organization developed a global restart plan to keep people safe when traveling. Restart measures will be bearable for those who need to travel, with universal implementation the priority. It will give governments and travelers the confidence that the system has strong biosafety protections. And it should give regulators the confidence to remove or adjust measures in real time as risk levels change and technology advances.

Contributors: Nikki Ekstein

Source: The Future of Travel in the Covid-19 Era – Bloomberg

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Critics:

The COVID-19 pandemic has impacted the tourism industry due to the resulting travel restrictions as well as slump in demand among travelers. The tourism industry has been massively affected by the spread of coronavirus, as many countries have introduced travel restrictions in an attempt to contain its spread. The United Nations World Tourism Organization estimated that global international tourist arrivals might decrease by 58% to 78% in 2020, leading to a potential loss of US$0.9–1.2 trillion in international tourism receipts.

In many of the world’s cities, planned travel went down by 80–90%.Conflicting and unilateral travel restrictions occurred regionally and many tourist attractions around the world, such as museums, amusement parks, and sports venues closed. UNWTO reported a 65% drop in international tourist arrivals in the first six months of 2020. Air passenger travel showed a similar decline. The United Nations Conference on Trade and Development released a report in June 2021 stating that the global economy could lose over US$4 trillion as a result of the pandemic.

References

Where To Find a Green Vacation Rental

Where to Find a Green Vacation Rental

If you’re thinking about booking a vacation before the leaves begin to change colors, then consider doing something a little different this year – try renting a green vacation home! Vacation rentals, instead of a hotel or campground, can let you live like a local in whichever city you choose to visit. No matter whether you’re looking for Southern charm in a city such as Charleston, South Carolina, or midcentury class in Austin, Texas, a green vacation home is just a click away thanks to the internet.

There are plenty of online marketplaces to find vacation rentals, but it takes some commitment to wade through their listings to find eco-friendly rentals. Don’t worry, we’re here to help. Below you can find a few sites that cater to those who want extended leisure without being harmful toward the environment.

GetawayGreen

Whether you’re in the mood to hike a mountain, canoe down a river or relax by an ocean, GetawayGreen can get you close to nature without harming it. This community of vacation rentals spans the globe and focuses on sustainability. The site, getawaygreen.com, is exclusive to rentals with environmentally friendly features, and everyone who stays with GetawayGreen helps fight climate change thanks to the company’s green initiatives.

Every month GetawayGreen donates 10 percent of its proceeds to a charity or organization that works to reverse global climate change. If it’s just you and your significant other or an entire group that’s interested in vacationing green, then explore what GetawayGreen has to offer.

Green Vacation Hub

With an expansive list of green hotels, houses and bed-and-breakfasts, Green Vacation Hub is an efficient way to sift through hundreds of rentals with sustainable features. What makes Green Vacation Hub unique are its six areas of evaluation for lodgings: energy efficiency, water efficiency, recycling, air quality, food and fragrance-free. The site offers listings all over the world;  if there is a place you want to visit, you can do so in an environmentally friendly fashion. By visiting greenvacationhub.com, you can see all the site has to offer. It even offers tips to be more Earth-friendly when travelling.

Carolina Mornings

While this site is region-specific, Carolina Mornings offers many vacation rentals for those interested in visiting the colorful Blue Ridge Mountains in the Asheville, North Carolina, area. Carolina Mornings has many places for people to stay across the Asheville area, but distinguishes those that are eco-friendly.

Through its EcoFriendly certification program, rentals are evaluated on several criteria such as low-flow toilets, solar panels, LEDs, composting and recycling. You can see Carolina Morning’s entire list of green property features, and all of its green listings, at carolinamornings.com.

EnvironmentallyFriendlyHotels.com

Since 2005, EnvirontmentallyFriendlyHotels.com has offered green places to stay for travellers and eco tourists. Managed by HealthyStatys.com, the company has thousands of hotels and vacation rentals for people to choose from. It has a search engine that allows you to choose what you’re looking for in a rental, and ranks rentals based on a green leaf rating system.

The company also participates in 1% for the Planet, an alliance committed to donating 1 percent of sales to environmental groups across the globe, and is committed to being an eco-conscious and health-oriented business to help travellers stay green and healthy.

Other options:

Sites like Airbnb and VRBO have thousands of vacation rentals, but you’ll have to search around to find places that are specifically eco-friendly. Sometimes these sites curate lists, such as Airbnb’s “It’s Easy Being Green,” but more often than not, a quick internet search will do the trick.

By: Arthur Murray

Source: Where to Find a Green Vacation Rental – Save On Energy Blog

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New Europe Travel Bans: Covid Red Lists, Here’s What To Know

As Covid creeps up again across Europe, many countries are reimposing travel restrictions on neighbours.

As this happens, the map of Europe is being color-coded red, green and yellow.

Travelers on high-risk red lists are being shut out, either with total travel bans or quarantines. Those on green lists meantime have a green light to travel.

But n a sign of the times, Norway for example no longer ranks any zones as green in Europe or beyond.

Hungary First In EU To Reinstate Blanket Ban Foreigners

Police control EU travelers at Hungarian borders as Hungary closes to foreigners Covid
Police officers control car drivers at the Hungarian-Slovakian border on September 3, after Hungary … [+] AFP via Getty Images

The most spectacular and controversial return to shutdown EU borders came with Hungary’s decision to add all countries to its red list from September 1.

Barely two months after reopening to Schengen travelers, it’s defying the bloc’s recommendations on internal borders and travel freedoms. The measures will stay in place at least until October 1. Recommended For You

Green Lists Shrinking, Red Growing

Links to government restrictions are included in the country headings. See useful details on the Reopen Europe website too.

PROMOTED

BELGIUM

Man at Brussels airport in Belgium with mask as Covid Travel Bans return to Europe
“Travelling within Europe: pay attention to the colour code of your destination,” urges the Belgium … [+] AFP via Getty Images

Belgium in early August added many parts of Romania, France and Spain to its red list. That means a total ban on non-essential travel to those places. Travelers returning must both quarantine and test on return.

  • The current red list includes Andorra, Croatia, Denmark, Hungary, Romania, many parts of Spain and France, and Scotland’s Aberdeen.

CYPRUS

  • Countries are divided in 3 categories: A (no restrictions), B (some), and C (no entry other than for citizens/residents).
  • Banned C list countries include France, Luxembourg, Romania, Serbia and Montenegro.
  • Germany, Norway, Hungary and Slovenia are among the A listers.
  • B countries must show a Covid-19 test result taken within 72 hours. They include Austria, Belgium, Denmark, Portugal, Sweden, Switzerland and the U.K.

CZECH REPUBLIC

Czech Republics Green Red covid risk zones and destinations for travel in Europe
The same quarantine rule applies to Czech citizens returning from the red countries Czech Republic Ministry of Health

DENMARK

Denmarks yellow blue green Covid map Europe for travel bans
The Danish government’s health map of the EU, Schengen zone and the U.K. indicates “open” and … [+] Danish Police/Statens Serum Institut

FINLAND

Finland covid travel restrictions green red yellow lists for Europeans and others
Residents from mixed red-green countries face no travel restrictions either to Finland. They include … [+] Finnish Border Guard

Finland too has a red, green, yellow system, updated on August 24.

  • Italy, Hungary and Slovenia are currently among the handful of welcome green countries.
  • Most other EU/Schengen countries and the U.K. fall on the yellow list, allowing onlyessential travelers including workers to visit.
  • Family members, parents, siblings, spouses and couples are among the exceptions.

HUNGARY

A boy on scooter looks on as Hungarian police officers control drivers at border Europe
Exemptions from Hungary’s wide-reaching new travel restrictions include freight transport, … [+] AFP via Getty Images
  • Almost all foreign tourists are now on Hungary’s Red List for a month.
  • The government advises its citizens against travel to some 40 red list countries in Europe and overseas.
  • Those who do must self-quarantine for 14 days, or until they can show two negative tests taken with a two day interval.
  • Exemptions include transit passengers and Visgrad Group travelers (Poland, Czechia, Slovakia) with a negative Covid test taken within five days.

IRELAND

Men in masks by holiday advertisement Ireland no non-essential overseas travel Europe
Ireland has a Green List for travel, and a not green list, which it doesn’t officially call a red … [+] PA Images via Getty Images
  • The Green List just shrunk, even for Europeans. As of August 31, “normal precautions” and a green “security status rating” says the government, applies only to Estonia, Finland, Greece, Greenland, Hungary, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Norway and Slovakia.
  • With the EU Covid seesaw, this could change at any time. The list is constantly under review.

LATVIA

Latvias red list was super-sized in past days.

  • The list from the Latvian Centre for Disease Prevention and Controlshows red and yellow countries, with infections above the required threshold of 25 cases per 100,000.
  • Some 25 European red list countries include Austria, Belgium, France, Greece, Ireland, Portugal, Spain, Sweden and Switzerland. They are classified as a “Serious threat to public health”.
  • Even those who transit these countries must quarantine on return. The state “discourages” travel to those places.

LITHUANIA

Map of red list countries in Europe EU and world travel bans restrictions in Lithuania
A map of “red painted” countries shows on Lithuania’s KORONA STOP government website shows how the … [+] Lithuanian Government
  • The red list of countries grew on August 31, with travelers from Belarus, Italy, Slovenia and Slovakia now also facing mandatory self-isolation on arrival.
  • Norway, Lithuania, Estonia, Finland, Hungary and Latvia are the only EU/Schengen countries on the green list, due to less than 16 cases/100,000 in the last 14 days. face no quarantine requirement.

NETHERLANDS

Travelers with face masks at the Schiphol airport in the Netherlands Europe during Covid
Given red and green lists are based on relative Covid risk levels, countries rated Yellow for travel … [+] SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images

The Dutch government zones countries for Covid as Yellow (OK) and Orange (not ok, quarantine required). “Foreign travellers from countries where the health risks are similar to or lower than in the Netherlands can enter for tourism,” it says.

  • Andorra, Bulgaria, Croatia, Malta, Romania , Spain, Monaco and various departments in France are on the orange list.

NORWAY

Norwegian Health map of EU Europe Covid red green yellow countries
The Norwegian Institute Of Public Health map shows there are no longer any green, totally safe Covid … [+] Norwegian Institute Of Public Health

Norway has a red, green, yellow Covid map. Currently no country is marked as a restriction-free green zone. Many more Europeans were added to the “high transmission” risk red list on August 29.

  • Red List: 10-day quarantine for travelers from France, Switzerland and Sweden since August 11. Now applies to most EU/Schengen arrivals–from Portugal to Poland–and to the U.K. The few exceptions include Hungary, Slovakia, Italy and Norway.
  • Yellow list countries are exempt from quarantine, but the Norwegian Institute of Public Health still classifies them as “increased risk”.
  • The government currently advises against all overseas travel.
Norwegian people sit by lake in Oslo amid Covid EU  travel bans no travel in Europe
With Norway adding nearly all EU and Schengen countries to its red list – some 20 in all – … [+] AFP via Getty Images

SLOVENIA

Slovenia too has a color-coded system with green, yellow and red lists.

  • Those in the green category like Canada and Australia can enter restriction-free.
  • Red list countries with more than 40 Covid cases per 100,000 must quarantine for 14 days.
  • The yellow list applies mostly to EU/Schengen citizens, who face no quarantine–provided they are not coming from a red destination.
Temperature control for Covid in Slovenia amid new Europe virus wave and travel bans
Slovenia’s updated red list includes several Europeans – Albania, Andorra, Belgium, Croatia, … [+] AFP via Getty Images

U.K.

The U.K. red list comes in the form of quarantine for a growing number of countries. The Czech Republic and Switzerland are among the latest Europeans to join others like France, Croatia and Austria who no longer enjoy a quarantine-free travel corridor with England.

Showing the nation’s quarantine policy disarray, Scotlandand Wales are imposing quarantine on Greece and Portugal–both of which remain on England and Ireland’s corridor lists.

Further Reading: More Covid Tests, No Travel Bans: EU Urges Europe To Make Common Rules

empty tables on Greek island amid Covid resurgence and new wave of travel bans EU Europe
The empty tables on Meis Island in Greece say it all about the new wave of Covid travel bans and … [+] Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

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Tamara Thiessen

Tamara Thiessen

I have three decades of experience as a journalist, foreign correspondent and travel writer-photographer. Working for print, digital and radio outlets on four continents, I am also a veteran hotel industry reporter and author of travel guides and cultural histories to Australia, France, Italy, Spain, Switzerland and Borneo. Very often on the road between my Paris and Australian bases, I write for Forbes with a globetrotters perspective and newsy edge on travel, culture, hotels, art and architecture. My passion is capturing the distinctive people, places and events I encounter along the way, both in words and pictures. I hold a degree in Professional Writing from Canberra University, an MA in European Journalism from the Université Robert Schuman Strasbourg, and am a member of the Society of American Travel Writers. A love for my wild home-island of Tasmania fuels my commitment to sustainable travel and conservation.

United Airlines Is Getting Rid Of Fee To Change Flights, Permanently

United Airlines is getting rid of change fees on domestic flights, as a measure to give passengers more flexibility with scheduling during the current coronavirus pandemic.

On Sunday, August 30, the Chicago-based airline announced that it will permanently let customers change flights for free on all of its standard Economy and Premium cabin tickets for travel within the United States, effective immediately.

The new policy is applicable on these types of tickets for travel within all 50 states, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands. It is said in a media release that customers will not be limited in the number of times they adjust their flights.

This move by United is said to be in response to a top request from passengers.

“When we hear from customers about where we can improve, getting rid of this fee is often the top request,” said Scott Kirby, CEO of United Airlines, in a video message. “Following previous tough times, airlines made difficult decisions to survive, sometimes at the expense of customer service. United Airlines won’t be following that same playbook as we come out of this crisis. Instead, we’re taking a completely different approach – and looking at new ways to serve our customers better.” 

Flying on Standby for Free

United's removal of change fees is said to have come from being a top customer request.
United’s removal of change fees is said to have come from being a top customer request. United

Starting next year, United will enable passengers additionally to change their flights at no additional cost in another way — same-day standby.

Beginning on January 1, 2021, United customers can choose to add themselves to the standby list for free to travel on a different flight earlier or later on the same day as their original departure. If a seat opens up, they will be able to take that other flight instead.

United’s previous flight switch fee for domestic U.S. travel was $200, and the fee to be listed for standby travel was $75; however, the carrier’s Basic Economy cabin is not included in this new policy but with the pandemic its change fees have been waved.

Southwest Airlines has preceded United in not charging change fees, even before the pandemic hit.

Extending More Waivers

United is also extending its waiver for new tickets issued through the end of 2020, to permit unlimited changes with no fee and applying to both domestic and international ticket types issued after March 3, 2020.

For MilagePlus members, United will waive all redeposit fees on award travel for flights changed or cancelled more than 30 days before departure and allowing all MileagePlus Premier members to confirm a different flight on the day of their travel. On January 1, all Premier members will be able to confirm a seat for free on a different flight with the same departure and arrival cities as their original ticket. This expanded option will allow MileagePlus Silver members and above to confirm a new seat in the same ticket fare class if space is available.

Michele Herrmann

 Michele Herrmann

Michele Herrmann develops guides on U.S. and international destinations and writes about travel trends, food and culture for various print and digital media outlets and travel companies.

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