As the appetite for travel begins to rise again, some of the latest trends have been shaping the industry. Anish Kapoor, EVP Travel Operations – Teleperformance India, sheds light on the importance of a ‘High-Touch, High-Tech’ approach to ensure a seamless digital customer experience.
Over the past two years, the travel industry has been critically affected by successive lockdowns, only opening up briefly before rising infection rates forced authorities to close their borders again. Whilst the travel industry was undergoing one of its biggest crises ever, business leaders took the opportunity to improve their capability to provide seamless experiences for customers, who are only now starting to normalise travel again.
In an era when each interaction matters, enhancing employee and customer experience should be the top priority for travel companies. It is important to consider that in 2018 alone, 82% of travel bookings happened through a website or a mobile app. With this growing preference for a digital approach, many companies are increasingly looking to robotics and artificial intelligence (AI) solutions to give their customers a better, digitally-powered, and seamless experience.
As the appetite for travel begins to rise again, some of the trends that have been shaping the industry, and will continue to do so going forward into 2022 are:
24/7 Customer Service – ‘Anytime Anywhere’
Now that flight cancellations and delays are more common than ever, automation is one of the key travel trends to watch. Many tasks that were once handled by humans are now being taken over by robots or automated systems. Now customers are expecting not only an automated booking process but also access to customer services anytime and anywhere.
Travel companies and airlines are turning to chatbots, as they are able to quickly solve the most common issues without delays and update the customers as the situation evolves. They can also collect all the necessary information regarding complaints before relaying more complex issues to a human worker. As more and more companies are recognising the value of processing high volumes of real-time customer interactions through automated conversations with a chatbot, the technology is increasingly becoming the go-to assistant to offer unbeatable customer experience to travellers.
The opportunity to interact with customers 24/7 not only lessens customer frustrations but also frees up back office staff to deal with more demanding tasks. Companies can now use AI and chatbots to improve their customers’ journeys and make travel more convenient.
Customer-Centric Digital Approach–‘Personalised Experience’
With 90% of travellers seeking personalised travel recommendations while planning their trip, companies are now focused on offering flexible experiences that can be tailored to a traveller’s needs. Customers are now looking for experiences that feel tailor-made and have been improved through previous feedback from a varied and increasingly interconnected community of travellers. In turn, they will also share their experiences and impressions online. As a result, personalising the travel experience is a prime concern for businesses all over the world.
Personalisation can happen through all channels, from dedicated apps and telephone contact, to email campaigns, dedicated portals and social networks. Data analytics is central to this process. Using data to show the right offer to the right person at the right time is everything personalisation strives to achieve and, by harvesting consumer data, businesses can better understand their customers and drastically improve their customer satisfaction levels.
By using these data-driven insights to improve each interaction, companies can provide a seamless experience throughout the entire customer journey, keeping travellers happy and their competitive edge intact.
Advanced Technology – ‘Simpler, Faster, Safer’
AI technology in the travel industry has steadily transformed the way we travel today. Travel companies have turned to AI to make their journeys efficient and smooth, while maintaining customer satisfaction at the highestlevel. Despite this increasingly digital environment, the unique combination of a ‘High-Touch, High-Tech’ approach remains a critical business component and provides the ‘human touch’ needed to make each interaction simpler, faster, safer and more cost-effective.
Matching technological developments with a warm and skilled human workforce is the key to building brand loyalty while reducing inefficient time-lags and getting an edge on rivals in the fiercely competitive travel sector. Now more than ever, ambitious companies must not only take advantage of technological innovations but combine them with human empathy in order to future-proof their businesses.
Travel has had to adapt to numerous challenges over the past two years, with restrictions coming and going unexpectedly. The pandemic has reshaped the future of how we travel and it is time for companies to create omnichannel and customer-centric digital experiences from the very first contact.