How improving travel CX can increase customer loyaltyby
Evelyn Hamilton discusses the ways in which customer data can streamline the customer experience of travellers, and in doing so, enhance customer loyalty and revenue.
The travel industry could be one of the most emotive industries to work in. Customers are travellers or guests that expect a seamless journey, one that is relaxing and enjoyable – whether they are taking a vacation or going on a business trip.
The traveller’s experience starts before they even step foot outside of their homes, when they start dreaming of a place to go and begin booking a variety of services, including taxis, flights, hotels, car rentals, excursions, and more.
Naturally, travel customers become stressed and more emotional when their trips are disrupted or they experience challenges. This heightened stress can start when they are heading to the airport with their bag and passport in their hand and face challenges such as struggling to find the correct gate, checking-in or experiencing ticket issues. And for some customers, this stress doesn’t end until they arrive back home.
While human connection is essential for supporting travellers, technology can also play a huge role. The key to meeting customer service demands in 2023 and beyond is data. Here’s why:
- Booking information helps to explain each trip; for example, it indicates if the traveller has a young family, is on a business trip, or has mobility issues. Service providers do not share data and agencies can’t monitor a trip in real time to minimise issues.
- Historical data is usually lost because customers switch providers while on vacation and data isn’t shared. So when a flight delay affects hotel check-ins or car rental availability, it’s hard to help a traveller with all the information needed on their journey and this affects the customer experience.
Below, I have outlined some ways in which data can improve the traveller's journey and customer experience:
Streamline the online booking process
Customer journey mapping and data can help travel companies cut down on the number of times a customer has to click, or type in information.
People who travel really hate having to put in the same information twice. Journey mapping consultations could teach the travel service provider when to use automation to pre-fill data, when to ask the right questions at the beginning of a trip, or when to use artificial intelligence and machine learning to predict traveller-specific choices based on the data submitted. All of which could help customers and agents make stronger decisions that are better tailored and personalised.
Enhance customer service
Customer feedback is very important for artificial intelligence and machine learning to help predict and analyse trends.
Services would be better if they used customer information from similar types of travellers. It can help divide customers into groups for flights and show travellers which flights are best for them. Whether it's a family booking that includes information about the traveller group so that services can be improved to meet their needs, or a business booking that includes information about the upgraded services that business travellers would like to see on planes, in hotel rooms, or lounges – the information can help.
Data can help provide a personalised experience – strengthening brand loyalty and enhancing the company's reputation.
When all of the information is put together, it makes a personalised experience that can include services and products that can help the traveller on their trip. This can bring in extra revenue, improve services and products, build brand loyalty, and enhance the company's reputation.
Optimise the customer experience
By putting information about all parts of a person's trip in an itinerary, it’s easy to find and explain how all travel decisions affect the trip and manage the traveller's expectations.
It could mean letting the traveller know that the trip from door-to-door will take more than 20 hours and that they should book a taxi ahead of time for when they arrive. Or even asking if the traveller would choose another flight time to avoid peak airport traffic or offer them the option to buy lounge access for a more relaxing experience.
Conversational and translation AI can seamlessly integrate with any platform used to quickly and accurately translate voice or text without the need to know a foreign language.
It makes it easy for clients, customers and agents to communicate, which will help travellers who’d prefer to talk to an agent or text in live chat or messaging services in their native language.
Use mobile technology
Putting a mobile device's settings to good use could be very helpful:
- Turning on data location to send alerts if there's a travel disruption, or to track travellers' trips and predict if they need to make changes while they're on the way.
- Having chat functionality available at every point of the trip.
- Allowing historical journey information to be given to an agent to help them understand the traveller stresses faced at each journey point.
- Having an airport map at the customer’s fingertips so that finding the elusive check-in counter is easier.
Monitor social media
When they are on vacation, a lot of people use Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram. Some people even write about how bad their trip was on sites like TripAdvisor. By giving travellers live, real-time data for customer service 24-hours-a-day, 7-days-a-week, you can reduce their stress and protect your brand's reputation.
Keep up-to-date website information
It's important to keep a traveller on track. This includes making sure that the information on websites, such as pictures and descriptions of services, is correct and up-to-date. This helps travellers set realistic expectations for their trip.
Get personal with email communication
When we get information from a traveller, we learn a lot about them as a person and as a possible market segment. This means that you can use data analytics to predict trends for each segment and send personalised emails to customers, offering them products and services they'd be interested in buying.
Revelling in the chaos
People can't wait for the summer break, but they hate the chaos. However, where there is chaos, there are chances for travel brands to make things better and figure out how to fix them to increase customer loyalty and airline revenues.
Small changes to plans, predictions, and data can solve a lot of problems. An increasing number of technology companies and creative working groups are being set up to help solve problems with travel brands, and governments are focusing on making policies that will help the industry.
What are some new ideas and inventions that will make travelling easier? Here are just a few:
- Airlines like Lufthansa are partnering with automated bag pre-operations to reduce mishandled bag costs.
- Delta Airlines has hyper-personalised airport gate information with a "parallel reality experience".
- Canary Technologies has created contactless check-in, upselling, and guest messaging solutions, and is developing a new digital tipping product.
- EU policy is influencing the future of the industry. The EU is creating a commission in 2023 to introduce planning for multimodal transport in the EU to compare and better integrate different options across public transport and rail services. It’s called multimodal digital mobility services (MDMS). The aim is to achieve seamless digital services across route planners and ticket vendors so that we can all travel sustainably in the future.
The travel industry is always changing, which brings both new challenges and opportunities.
By figuring out where they can make changes in the ways that I’ve mentioned in this article, travel brands can give their customers a more enjoyable and smooth experience. This not only makes people more loyal, but it also helps airlines increase their revenues.
Moreover, by using technology and data analytics, travel brands can learn a lot about their customers' habits and preferences, which helps them make their services fit their customers' needs.
In the end, the key to success in the travel industry is to know what customers want and change to meet those needs. By doing this, travel brands can gain a competitive edge that sets them apart from their competitors and helps them grow in the long term.