4 Ways Your CX Can Boost Travelers’ Trust & Bookings
As the world reopens, travel is slowly resuming. But the travel industry faces some tough realities and challenges. One is the damage to consumer trust. The up and down nature of travel restrictions and political instability abroad are causing lingering concerns about travel flexibility, safety, and health. The good news? People want to travel. 37% of Americans are planning both domestic and international vacations in 2022. With the right approach, you can regain traveler trust, and bookings, through your customer experience (CX) teams. Here are 4 ways that travel brands can use CX to win travelers back.
1. Become a Source of Information
Since November 2021, travel restrictions began to ease for vaccinated visitors. However, not every country is opening at the same rate. Travelers still face uncertainty and confusion about local mask mandates, COVID-19 testing requirements, or whether proof of vaccination is needed for certain venues. Outside of COVID-related uncertainties, the travel landscape has also changed. Visitors may need more current information about the latest attractions, restaurant options, and local businesses.
Customer service teams will need to act more like consultants and travel agents, supplying up-to-date information about COVID-19 requirements and protocols. This could be supplemented with relevant FAQ sheets and customer resources that offer helpful tips for travelers, such as entry requirements, how to access affordable or free PCR or rapid COVID testing, a list of local health clinics and pharmacies, and up-to-date notices of any short-term travel restrictions or border closings.
2. Reassure Travelers About Health & Safety
Cleanliness and safety are now the #1 purchasing drivers for travelers, especially for families with young, unvaccinated children, seniors 55+, and anyone with serious health conditions. In fact, a recent survey found that families, and even younger consumers, were willing to pay up to 60% more for a safety-conscious travel experience and almost 85% said their travel decisions depended on the communications they receive from hotels and airlines about safety.
Until COVID variants are well controlled, there will always be consumers who are wary of resuming their pre-pandemic level of travel. Airlines and hotels can go a long way toward restoring traveler trust by readily supplying customers with information about health & safety protocols, and COVID sanitization practices. But it won’t be enough just to supply general information. Travelers will want details about their accommodations, car rentals, and things like social distancing options on flights. Answers should be provided throughout the customer interaction cycle, including information about any health & safety changes that may come into effect.
3. Increased Flexibility & Communication from Companies
When asked what would increase their travel comfort and what changes customers would like to see in the post-COVID travel industry, most people indicate that they would prefer more flexibility when it comes to flights, hotel reservations, and travel insurance. The ability to change your bookings last minute, or to refund trips if faced with an emergency, can be a great incentive for travelers to book early or for larger trips.
This is where communication comes in. You don’t want your customers waiting on hold for hours when they’re in the middle of a crisis, especially if they’re away from home. If they need to rearrange travel plans, they should be given the flexibility to do so. They also need the reassurance of knowing they can easily access customer service teams if something goes wrong. Travel and hospitality brands should offer 24/7 toll-free support lines, with agents who are trained and empowered to make changes to bookings and flights, as necessary.
4. Take Advantage of GOAT
In Expedia’s Travel Trends 2022 Report, researchers identified a new mindset in post-COVID leisure travel, called GOAT (Greatest of All Trips). After cancelled trips and postponed celebrations, this "no-regrets" style of travel involves splurging on big, dream vacations to places such as Bali, Paris, or Rome. Over 40% of U.S. travelers report that they are planning to spend more on luxurious experiences, room or flight upgrades and one-of-a-kind adventures.
Travel brands can capitalize on the GOAT trend by positioning their travel offerings as exciting, unique, and luxurious. Every traveler likes to be treated as a VIP. Sales and customer service agents should offer highly personalized and targeted offerings, such as free upgrades or tailored packages that cater to consumer segments that are willing to travel and spend more. This includes high income travelers earning over $100,000, who are twice as likely to travel, and Millennials, who travel more days per year than any U.S. segment.
How itel can Help
Travel can make a comeback, but it will require a new model of customer experience, one where agents assume a travel consultant role, diverging from the more traditional, transactional “sales” process of travel bookings and payment.
But, with the industry still in flux, and a full return to pre-pandemic levels of travel not expected until 2025, you may not want to invest in large, in-house customer service operations. itel can offer travel brands a flexible, cost-efficient outsourcing option.
Experienced, multilingual customer service and sales teams can provide 24/7 support through voice and digital channels, such as text, email, live chat, and social media. Also, our Innovation Lab can provide you with digital experience development, automation, data analysis, and operations strategies that will allow you to scale with ease.
Contact us to learn more.