The global coronavirus pandemic has indeed become a crucible for innovation in practically every walk of life. As concerns about the current health crisis ebb – sooner rather than later, we hope – some things will recede into history; other changes will be longer-lasting. The good news is, a number of innovations will become part of our lives for the long haul, solving problems for years to come.

And as Larry Clark, managing director of global learning solutions at Harvard Business Publishing Corporate Learning, points out in a recent blog post, problem solving is always at the heart of innovation. However he adds, a crisis is more than an opportunity to solve problems.

“Crises present us with unique conditions that allow innovators to think and move more freely to create rapid, impactful change,” Clark says. There four key shifts, Clark explains, that turn a crisis into a petri dish for new thinking and doing:
• Uniting Around a Purpose – During a crisis, Clark says, the massive spike in creative energy focused toward a clear purpose can produce a wave of new ideas and actions that would be unthinkable in times of calm.
• Seeing the System Differently – When a crisis hits, we are forced to confront the truth about how our systems work (or don’t). All of a sudden, opportunities for innovation are staring us in the face.
• Unfreezing the Organization – Crises change the hardened structures of organizations encouraging fresh thinking to quickly to address the challenge.
• Creating a Bias Toward Action – The crisis forces organizations to allow the freedom to test different thinking, to fail fast, to learn and to move forward – in short, to innovate.


Innovation & Travel
As COVID-19 spread, travel as we knew it had come to a standstill. As the months have passed, industry numbers are rising, albeit slowly, and there is increasing confidence that the world will travel once again – eventually. However travel post-COVID-19 will not be the same, caution Andrea Serra, project lead of Known Travelers Digital Identity, World Economic Forum and Christine Leong, global blockchain identity lead and managing director, Accenture.

Writing in a World Economic Forum paper, Serra and Leong warn, “Even if borders reopen, travelers must trust that boarding a plane is safe and that they will be able to enter the destination country.” The answer, the two argue, may lie in digital technologies which will shape the future of travel.

The most immediate and visible change will be a shift to touchless travel from airport curbside to hotel check-in. Automation across the entire sector will become the new norm. Biometrics, already widely accepted, will become more widespread as more touchless options come into play such as contactless fingerprint, iris and face recognition. Moreover, technology for touchless data-entry such as gesture control, touchless document scanning and voice commands are already being tested.

Another technology solution with broader implications for the industry is the concept of the digital traveler. “Integrated digital identity solutions are key to realizing touchless travel,” Serra and Leong write. “From now on, health could be embedded in every aspect of travel.”

In a contactless world, standardized digital travel credentials and initiatives like the World Economic Forum’s Known Traveller Digital Identity and IATA’s ONE ID concept, which rely on biometrics for a smoother journey, can be adapted to this new context. A traveler could carry verifiable immunization records or their health status in their digital identity wallets.

New health-screening and tracking tools offer hope of a return to relaxed and confident travel. Of course, Leong and Serra point out, any such solution would have to provide privacy protections and safeguard personal data. Transparency and security must be paramount in order for travelers to embrace them.


Serko Signs LUXE as Zeno Reselling Partner
Serko Limited, an online travel and expense management company, announced the signing of LUXE Travel Management, a Frosch company, as a Zeno reselling partner for North America. Zeno is Serko’s travel management application. The reseller agreement, according to an announcement, is part of Serko’s TMC Community Program, which provides benefits to agencies that sign reseller agreements for Zeno. The Community Program is designed to provide TMC’s a competitive edge against online travel and expense disruptors through accelerated onboarding, deferred implementation fees and zero minimums until 2021, as well as significant referral commissions for Zeno Expense.

Norway to Offer ‘Touchless’ Airports
Avinor, which operates 44 state-owned airports in Norway, is rolling out an end-to-end touchless program for many of the facilities to deal with the pandemic and help restore traveler confidence. The program, which uses new technology from Amadeus and ICM (an Amadeus company), allows passengers to check in, drop their bags, pass through security and board aircraft without interpersonal contact or the need to touch machines. Passengers check in remotely and receive a boarding pass barcode on their mobile phones, which also acts as a coupon to print the passengers’ bag tag. On arrival at the airport, the passenger presents the barcode at a self-serve kiosk and the baggage tag is automatically printed. The passenger attaches the tag and deposits the bag into the baggage system with no interaction with agents required. The new touchless experience will be available initially at Norway’s four hub airports, beginning with the introduction at Oslo.

Dinova Launches Safety-Focused Mobile App and Guide 
Dinova, the business dining platform, has released a new mobile app and guide to help diners make safe decisions when dining out during the pandemic. The new Business Dining 2.0 is available at no charge, and features a guide that focuses on three areas of responsibility:• What restaurants are doing – safe food handling, sanitizing dining rooms and complying with government rules.• What diners need to do – planning ahead, knowing what to expect and complying with restaurant rules.• Shared responsibilities – hand hygiene, social distance, staying home when sick. And diner screening – temperature taking, health declaration forms, social distancing, partitions, seating arrangements, call-ahead seating, signage and outdoor dining. Alison Galik, CEO, said that as states reopen the situation remains fluid; Dinova is in a unique position to offer these guidelines, which combine feedback on corporate duty of care requirements and insights from a network of more than 20,000 restaurants.

Tripbam Creates Certification For Managed Travel Consultancies
Tripbam, the hotel shopping, benchmarking and analytics provider, announced a new certification program for managed travel consultants to use Tripbam’s technology to source and manage corporate hotel programs. Travel consultancies participating in the program to date include Areka Consulting, Direct View Consulting (a division of Direct Travel), GoldSpring Consulting, KesselRun Consulting, Nina & Pinta Consulting, Opteva Consulting, Partnership Travel Consulting and PivotPoints Consulting. The program was established in response to client requests for resources that will enable savings opportunities identified by Tripbam’s technology. The network of consultancies will help interested buyers migrate to The Tripbam Way – a method that enables companies to switch to majority dynamic hotel agreements that renew automatically each year, eliminating annual hotel RFP’s and saving money in the post-COVID-19 environment.  n