September 28, 2021

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Covid-19: Crisis-Inspired Innovations in Travel, Retail, Food

4 min read

Necessity is the mother of invention, or so someone famous once said. So while Covid-19 created new needs we had never imagined — and revealed many we didn’t actually require — the crisis also inspired innovations that promise better living over the long run, giving us more resilient economies, cleaner cities and healthier offices. Staying home when you’re sick is here to stay, while unnecessary business travel is not; how we shop and how we consult with our doctors have changed forever, too. What else will our post-pandemic future bring? 

How We Live

relates to Covid Has Been Miserable. It’s Also Been Innovative
  • How the Pandemic Revealed the Power of Live Video: “One of the most thrilling parts of entertainment was mostly missing from the video world until the pandemic hit: the power of truly ‘live’ streaming content.” — Scott Duke Kominers
  • Five-Star Meal Kits Are Here to Stay: “The world’s finest eateries now routinely offer gourmet home kits, with prices sometimes running to four figures.” —  Bobby Ghosh
  • Even Engagement Rings Are a Curbside Purchase Now: “There is at least one way in which shopping was vastly improved during this transformational year: Retailers now offer consumers more choice about how their online orders are fulfilled.” — Sarah Halzack
  • Airline Change Fees Shouldn’t Return After Covid: “Airlines need passengers more than passengers need airlines at the moment, but that dynamic is likely to flip in time and carriers’ new resolve to forego these extra fees may weaken. Even so, this is one pandemic change that should — and likely will — stick.” — Brooke Sutherland

Economics

relates to Covid Has Been Miserable. It’s Also Been Innovative
  • Fintech Uprising Will Define Post-Covid Banking: “With the public less inclined to visit physical branches, consumers flocked to mobile apps to serve their financial services needs.” — Tae Kim and Brian Chappatta
  • Let’s Cut Capitalism Some Slack: “When [the pandemic is] finally behind us, we might decompress a little — and choose to be less devoted to the notion of peak efficiency.” — Andy Mukherjee
  • Why an RV Is a Better Investment Than Bitcoin: “The most compelling reason to choose campers over crypto is pure utility. Sure, Bitcoin can now be used to buy a Tesla, but it won’t get you into a national park.” — Frank Barry
  • Museums Sold More Art During Pandemic. Why Go Back?: “Museum boards and professional staff deserve the flexibility to make the trade-offs appropriate to their institution’s circumstances, with or without a pandemic.” — Virginia Postrel

How We Work

relates to Covid Has Been Miserable. It’s Also Been Innovative
  • Covid-19 Taught Me to Stay Home When I’m Sick: “If I have a cough and look like hell, the expectation will be for me to head home. If I am sneezing on an airplane, the passengers will notice.” — Michael R. Strain
  • Covid Showed the Excesses of Business Travel: “Vacationers are important to the airlines — but they’re not nearly as important as business travelers, who often buy tickets at the last moment and are far less price-sensitive because their companies are picking up the tab. … A lot of those profits are never coming back.” — Joe Nocera
  • Keep Job Interviews Virtual After Covid: “A three-day hybrid might not be as dramatic as an all-day marathon, but it should be able to accomplish the same results — and make everyone’s life easier.” — Virginia Postrel
  • Leftovers Are a Pandemic Habit Worth Reheating: “Leftovers can mean eating healthier, saving money and wasting less food, and while they, too, can be sad, they don’t have to be!” — Justin Fox

A Healthier World

relates to Covid Has Been Miserable. It’s Also Been Innovative
  • Keep the Fresh Air Flowing After Covid-19:  “Here’s where the pandemic has helped: It’s led many of us to get more fresh air than we’ve had in years.” — Sarah Green Carmichael
  • Telemedicine Will Be Great After Covid, Too: “As the pandemic wanes, some of those visits will no doubt go back to being face to face. But many won’t — and shouldn’t. Telemedicine is too convenient for both patients and doctors.” — Virginia Postrel
  • After Covid, Let’s Keep Our Masks On: “I am not fond of masks. And, in the steam-bath summers of north India, wearing something on your face can be stifling. And yet I find myself hoping that once this pandemic ends, the habit of mask-wearing will remain.” — Mihir Sharma
  • Never Stop Cleaning Like It’s 2020: “Standard MTA practice pre-pandemic was to lightly clean subway cars once a day, and deep-clean them every 72 days. For a system that carries more than 5 million riders every day, all I can say is: Ew.” — Sarah Green Carmichael

This is the Theme of the Week edition of Bloomberg Opinion Today, a digest of our top commentary published every Sunday. New subscribers to the newsletter can sign up here.

This column does not necessarily reflect the opinion of the editorial board or Bloomberg LP and its owners.

To contact the author of this story:
Brooke Sample at [email protected]

To contact the editor responsible for this story:
Tracy Walsh at [email protected]

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