The staycation era is well and truly over. Building on two years of sustained resurgence in international travel, a return to pre-pandemic levels of passenger volumes is on the cards for 2024. With global restrictions all but gone, and consumers browsing the widest choice of direct flight destinations seen since 2019, globe-trotting tourism is back. Yet the gathering momentum is likely to wrong-foot many travel providers, as they struggle to overcome both familiar and new obstacleswhile servicing significantly increased demand.

With geopolitical tensions mounting, and extreme weather events growing more common, travel providers need to be prepared. Your customers are going to demand more. More convenience, more excitement, more value, and you need to be able to provide that. Expectations are soaring in the post-pandemic world. CX has changed, and travellers now expect seamless interaction experiences from their travel providers.

So, what comes next? How do you meet and exceed customer expectations? How can your CX take to the skies?

Supporting travellers over any channel, at any time

Whether they’re reporting missing luggage, querying a hotel booking, or switching flights, you have to meet the customer on their terms. Where a query is complex and highly emotive, voice is the go-to channel of contact. When a flight or hotel booking is cancelled, customers will want to speak to a human agent who can empathise and advocate for their needs. For other, less urgent enquiries, you have a broad range of alternatives. Social media, such as WhatsApp, Facebook, and X, are common entry points for customers seeking quick and easy support.

When it comes to solving the most routine enquiries, AI-powered chatbots are an efficient option. Supported by customer data and organisation-specific knowledge articles, these chatbots can answer a wide range of specific questions, such as ‘What is my luggage allowance?’ or, ‘What time can I check in?’ Giving customers the option of AI-powered self-service reduces pressure on other communication mechanisms, allowing your human agents to focus on the more complex, emotive questions.

Getting on the front foot with proactive updates 

Effective proactive communication reduces incoming contacts and the reason why is simple. If a customer’s queries have already been answered, they won’t need to call you up, seeking answers. Updates and reminders related to a particular booking will keep your customers from contacting you in confusion. In the event of a disaster, outlining next steps can also be helpful. If a flight is cancelled, plan for the next likely action and provide your customers with a link to rebook. Automatically apply relevant compensation to their next booking. Resolve the customer’s issue, without them having to go through the contact centre.

Despite the best efforts of travel providers, not everything can always go to plan. Getting on the front foot with customers by proactively offering solutions to their challenges is the short route to fast and effective problem resolution, and happy customers. 

Personalised updates and insights 

Every trip is different. Customers need updates relevant to them, and requirements will differ by destination. Different countries have individual visa or documentation requirements and should come with tailored travel advice. The factors in play are also constantly changing. You need to provide your customers with up-to-date personalised information. Whether that’s the location of a reliable car hire firm or the timings of airport transfers; in supporting customers, you also create valuable up-sell opportunities.

Equally important is the volume of communication. Customers get sick of irrelevant, generic updates. Providers must ensure that they’re adding value and support with each communication tailored to the customer’s needs or interests. Any updates have to come over the customer’s preferred channel of contact for the situation, whether that’s via email, SMS, voice, or WhatsApp.

Going the extra mile   

The global travel market is set to grow to $15.5 trillion by 2033, and new and established providers are looking to cut aslice of the booming market. These competitive conditions mean that travellers are more likely to switch to a different provider, particularly if they aren’t happy with the service they currently receive. Travel operators should use this summer to hone their CX strategies, building on effective omni-channel capabilities and using data-driven insights to meet and anticipate the needs of the modern traveller.

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