Two years after the devastating blow dealt by COVID-19, the travel and hospitality sector is bouncing back as people embark on new adventures. Still, the industry returns to a very different environment that requires a new approach to customer experience (CX) delivery.
The first challenge is dealing with growing demand. According to a study by Deloitte, 22% of travelers held back on spending in 2021 to save cash for the eventual reopening of international travel. The World Tourism Organization also found that global international arrivals rose 130% in January 2022 compared to 2021, signifying that the floodgates were officially open.
Additionally, customers have many different expectations. For example, people expect travel and hospitality brands to offer rapid booking processes, online visibility, total flexibility, and exclusive services combined with relationship-building and human-to-human communication.
As a result of these trends, travel and hospitality companies face significant pressure to serve the influx of new customers while offering exceptional CX, but scaling and innovating in unison is no easy task. Thankfully, there are several ways to meet customer expectations while reducing stress with a few targeted changes to CX delivery.
Pinpoint Ways to Eliminate Friction
Whether your customers travel for business or pleasure, brands should find ways to limit the friction and uncertainty customers associate with the process. For instance, you could provide up-to-the-minute information on travel restrictions, delayed or canceled flights, reservation mistakes, event schedules, and everything in between.
Regarding CX strategy, brands should provide digital self-help channels backed up by a team of 24/7 customer support specialists who understand the industry, the brand, and the challenges customers might face.
An effective way of reducing friction is by ensuring your CX Ambassadors can empathize with all types of travel customers and have the right tools at their disposal when problems occur. But, of course, if they’re also knowledgeable and passionate about travel, that’s a huge plus.
Great employee experience is directly related to enhanced CX, so companies must provide their Ambassadors with the necessary resources to thrive while maximizing team productivity, performance, and engagement. For example, our SmartVirtual™ platform ensures our virtual Ambassadors have access to the same optimized solutions across all channels, empowering them to answer questions quickly from any location.
Keep Things Personal
Personalization is a critical element of great CX in travel and hospitality. Travel is an emotional, memorable experience for most people, so customers respect brands that can enhance that experience through personalized communications, offers, and support.
Most travel and hospitality companies have access to masses of customer data that tell a story of each customer’s journey. These insights allow brands and their CX delivery partners to understand travelers and find ways to improve the customer journey at every step.
For example, suppose a customer calls to discuss a new booking. In that case, your front-line brand Ambassador should show passion for the customer’s upcoming adventure and might encourage them to enhance their trip with recommendations based on their purchase history. Why not go one step further and establish the Ambassador as a high-touch concierge reachable through any mobile device?
At Activus Connect, our Ambassadors are travel experts, ready to elevate the customer experience during every interaction. Our SmartVirtual™ capabilities enable customers to reach our Ambassadors at any moment, where they will find whatever assistance they need to enhance their travel and hospitality experience.
Stay on Top of Customer Trends
If the pandemic showed us anything, it’s that everything can change in an instant. As we mentioned before, travel and hospitality customers have transformed forever. One clear example is the rise of remote work and “laptop luggers”.
Many travelers now pack their laptops along with their bathing suits. People want to work in new locations, enjoy the flexibility of extending a vacation, or simply embrace the digital nomad life. Business trips have also become more about visiting prospects and networking at conferences, rather than traveling for internal meetings or training. On the CX front, travelers in this segment want support from Ambassadors who are familiar with remote working and can understand their unique challenges.
This growing trend is one of many opportunities for travel brands to evolve their CX delivery by adapting to the needs of emerging customer segments. The key is working with dedicated travel experts who live and breathe these trends and are capable of supporting customers on their level.
Overall, travel and hospitality brands must remain agile or risk falling behind on their CX ambitions. Customers want to enjoy stress-free adventures with the peace of mind that their airline, hotel, travel agent, or any other touchpoint is there to back them up. Not only does this build customer loyalty and trust, but it also enhances the positive memories of their trip, which, in the end, are what every traveler wants.