Seamless Customer Experience Will Be Key to COVID-19 Recovery, Clear CEO Says
"I'm very optimistic on this year, I'm optimistic on vaccines, and I'm optimistic on people never wanting to travel more."
As the coronavirus pandemic continues to have a grasp on our everyday lives, security companies like Clear are developing gateways to normalcy right from our smartphones — and its CEO is doing so with high hopes.
"I see the back half of 2021 being materially better than the front half," Clear CEO Caryn Seidman-Becker told Travel + Leisure. "I'm very optimistic on this year, I'm optimistic on vaccines, and I'm optimistic on people never wanting to travel more."
Known for vibrant signage leading to shorter lines at airports, Clear was first developed after Sept. 11, 2001, as an extra layer of security where participating travelers would utilize biometric identification before boarding a plane. Its launch of Health Pass in 2020 — as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic — is a separate in-app product that stores users' information like test results, potential vaccine information, and credit card information, ensuring a seamless experience at participating venues with the scan of a QR code.
Since its debut, Health Pass has been up and running at dozens of venues, including restaurants owned by Danny Meyer and corporate office buildings, and at numerous sports arenas including the AT&T Center, home to the San Antonio Spurs, and the Amway Center, home to the Orlando Magic.
"I think it is a real moment," she said. "People miss traveling, they miss their experiences, they want to come back together and they want to do it in a way that is safer and better."
A user can enroll in Health Pass by downloading Clear from the Apple App Store or Google Play, creating an account, and linking any relevant COVID-19 information such as recent test results, and Clear will "take care of the rest," Seidman-Becker said.
If there's anything to learn from 2020 and the effects the pandemic had on the travel industry, the CEO explained that an efficient — and contactless — consumer experience is more important than ever.
"Making it harder for people doesn't encourage them to come back," she said. "I think all of these groups — whether it be an airline, a cruise, a hotel, a restaurant, or a sporting event — want to improve the fan experience, and incorporating Health Pass into their already existing technology and our already existing platform allows them to do that, so I think there's not only a focus on reopening safely but bringing it back better."
She added that the concept of vaccine passports, which is integrated into the product, was something the company was mindful of since the start of the pandemic.
"Our view was, 'vaccines are coming,'" she recalled. "We're going to live in this complex, hybrid world for quite a while... You can't have one product for testing and then a different product for vaccines, we have to link to them all and we do, Clear can be considered a vaccination passport."
Vaccines — which were always necessary for travel to certain places around the world — are becoming increasingly prevalent for everyday travel as inoculation may be required for entry to certain countries or venues. Recently, the Seychelles and Romania have announced that they'll be allowing vaccinated tourists to visit.
"I think this is going to be a long-term solution and there's going to be different kinds of requirements along the way," Seidman-Becker said.
Besides, the resiliency of the travel industry isn't something to be messed with, she added.
"I think there is a love of travel and experiences — betting against the travel industry is a really bad decision at this moment."