The significance of customer experience remains a notable factor that sets businesses apart across various industries. However, in certain sectors, the ability to offer exceptional interactions could be the determining factor for survival.
Over the past couple of years, the travel and hospitality sector has been severely affected by the pandemic and its associated restrictions. While consumers are eager to return to the industry as lockdowns ease, companies must put in extra effort to regain trust.
Although there was improvement in the travel sector's performance in 2021 compared to 2020, it still lags by 35% when compared to levels before the pandemic.
To rejuvenate the sense of excitement and possibility in the "experience" industry, brands need to completely reconsider their existing customer experience strategies.
Harnessing CX for the Revival of Travel and Hospitality: Travel and hospitality enterprises are navigating unparalleled global changes. From 2020 to 2021, everything from travel bookings to available destinations underwent drastic shifts. Consumer trust plummeted, resulting in numerous cancellations of flights, train rides, and bus journeys.
Now, as we approach a future where the travel and hospitality industry can slowly embark on a path to recovery, experts like McKinsey emphasize that this resurgence hinges on a strong foundation of customer experience.
Brands of all sizes must contemplate how to adapt their offerings to align with the new priorities and expectations of their target audience. The challenges faced by travel and hospitality groups today include:
Trust and safety: Even as the pandemic threat recedes, it will take years for consumers to feel completely secure traveling and accessing hospitality services. Companies must employ a range of tools to ensure safe, hygienic, and trustworthy customer service.
Evolving regulations: Apart from meeting evolving consumer expectations, travel and hospitality companies must stay updated with the latest rules and regulations set by local and national governments.
Distributed teams: These industries have long relied on flexible, distributed teams working both in the field and directly with customers. This trend is expected to continue, with more remote and mobile work setups.
Omnichannel communication: Customers now seek diverse ways to interact with travel and hospitality providers. As a result, two-way messaging experiences are becoming more prevalent, along with the potential for video-based interactions.
Trends Influencing Travel and Hospitality: Customer experience technology will play a pivotal role as travel and hospitality companies strive to consistently enhance customer experiences. Whether it's a hotel ensuring a safe and welcoming stay or an airline keeping passengers informed about delays, the right technology can make a significant difference.
Several notable trends in the customer experience space include:
Contactless experiences: As contactless interactions become more commonplace, travelers will seek ways to minimize direct contact with staff. This might involve self-service check-ins at hotels or messaging staff on flights for assistance.
Automation and AI: Automation and AI are emerging as valuable trends in various industries, including travel and hospitality. These technologies will enable self-service options and streamline repetitive tasks, allowing human employees to focus on more creative and empathetic aspects of their roles.
Continuous innovation: To stay ahead in this complex landscape, travel and hospitality companies must innovate rapidly. From extended reality experiences to AI virtual assistants and apps, the industry is continuously evolving to offer unique solutions.
Challenges in Enhancing CX for Hospitality and Travel: Every industry striving for exceptional customer experience faces challenges. In the current era, a major concern is cultivating customer loyalty and emotional commitment while minimizing face-to-face interactions.
To overcome this, engaging customer service experiences can be crucial. For instance, instead of simply messaging a client about their upcoming vacation, hotel leaders could offer a virtual reality tour and hold video conferences to address concerns.
Technology will play a key role in enhancing safety for consumers and employees. Biometric scanners could enable self-service check-ins, while cameras and sensors monitor temperature and capacity in various settings.
Embracing CX for Travel and Hospitality Success: The hospitality and travel sectors are undergoing uncertain transformations. Survival in this landscape hinges on prioritizing customer experience. With the right CX strategy, the love for unique experiences among consumers can be reignited, and it all begins with adopting the appropriate technology.