As the winter slips away and the days start getting longer and warmer, your customers start thinking about summer. Whether their ideal destination involves discovering the back streets of a new city, or sipping a cocktail by the pool, ‘Are you going away this year?’ is the first question on everyone’s lips this time of year.
Travel and tourism can be difficult areas for retaining customer loyalty, with websites set up exclusively to pit brands against one another on the best deals for hotels and rock-bottom prices on flights. But is it really all about the dollars and sense? The Qubit Future of Travel Report 2016 shows that investing in customer satisfaction can be equally as important as competing on price points.
Inspiring Real Loyalty, No Cards in Sight
Many businesses in the travel industry have tried out loyalty schemes and reward programs with varied success. But did you know that 77% of these schemes fail within the first two years?
E-consultancy believe that the success of your relationship with a customer depends upon the human loyalty you can create, rather than the corporate loyalty that these schemes often engender. The way we feel about our friends, family, even our favorite baseball team or our pets, is more than points being racked up on a card.
Take a look at JetBlue. Time and time again they top the list of airlines to which customers feel loyal. And when you look at their rewards scheme, it’s all about seeing the customers as individuals.
One great example is how frequent fliers with elite status on other airlines can make the jump to JetBlue and start reaping the rewards of the premium Mosaic status immediately. JetBlue also allows for customers to donate points to a charity they feel connected to or passionately about, a great personal touch to show they understand it’s not all about dollars and cents.
With the average American signed up to 29 loyalty programs and only active in 12, this human element is more essential than ever.
When it comes to the personal side of things, big data ensures that the sky really is the limit to dazzle your visitors and create enviable customer service in travel and tourism. However, businesses need to be able to pinpoint the exact information that is both relevant and actionable from a sea of content.
The right analytics does this for you, adding to the knowledge base of information with every interaction your customers have with your business, grouping questions by trends, and extracting what you need to know and act upon from your own pre-defined business goals.
This can then be used to glean insights from, answer key business questions with, and build loyalty programs that do more than simply rack up unused points in a metaphorical drawer for your most loyal customers. You may even figure out how to build loyalty programs that your customers would actually want to be part of, that would actually (gasp!) engender loyalty!
How Can You Build Human Loyalty to Beat the Competition?
According to a recent Google report, 65% of leisure travelers and 69% of business travellers head online to research and plan their travel itinerary.
As travel is something which customers enjoy researching, creating a seamless experience on all channels is essential to encourage this human loyalty. More than half of browsing is done by mobile, so the importance of integration can’t be undervalued.
Flights and accommodation are not usually impulse buys, so it follows that customers will want to be able to pick up and put down ideas and possibilities for travel while they consider their options. This might take days or even weeks to finalize, and as a business, you want to make it as easy as possible for visitors to pick up where they left off.
Group Head of Operations at Thomas Cook, Graham Cook comments to The Guardian that their omnichannel strategy is to “make sure our customers can be served in a seamless way through whatever channel they wish – online through mobile, tablet, desktop or offline in a store or over the phone.” Customer service in travel and tourism clearly needs to follow your customer wherever they might be.
Customer Service Travel and Tourism… So, Where Were We?
Support bots are an effortless way to encourage this seamless customer experience as well as provide opportunities to grow this human loyalty which can feel so elusive to large travel or tourism companies.
Intelligent support bots can interact with your customers on every channel, from mobile website to app, and from desktop to social media. They can simultaneously handle thousands of bookings and inquiries, and have all the information at their fingertips to make customers feel heard and valued.
Not only this, but the channels on and through which bots interact with your customers are well proven to be the most successful to build lasting customer engagement. In fact, live chat has a 92% satisfaction rate for customers, while Facebook messenger comes in just below at 84%.
We don’t have to tell you that in 2017 travel agents are almost obsolete, which creates a huge opportunity, with millennials 23% more likely to travel abroad than previous generations, and expected to spend $1.4 trillion on travel by 2020. More than 80% of holidays are now booked online.
Support bots are the travel agents of the future, with the data on hand to create and manage flights and hotels, as well as entertainment and dining, or even currency and local transport. In short- they hold everything your traveler might need to bask in the five-star treatment, through the channels they want to interact on the most.
A Digital Future for Customer Service in Travel and Tourism
There have been huge digital leaps forward in customer service and travel and tourism industries in recent years. From e-passports and online check in, to Airbnb, online travel guides and tourism apps alike. But digital is more than just marketing and technology. Inspiring your customer to feel a connection to your brand starts with your digital presence and the face of your company through your technology.
If keeping on top of your big data through powerful actionable analytics, and creating a unique voice for your brand with omnichannel support bots aren’t top of your to do list-they should be.
This is keeping up with the competition on a more innate level than simply beating price points. These are measures to ensure that your organizational structure is aligned towards specific business goals for both customer engagement and bottom line success.
In short? We’re putting your business firmly back on the map.