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Customer Experience is King in Travel and Tourism

Summer is a great chance to get away from the stresses of work to somewhere nice.  But the anticipation of a relaxing getaway can be spoiled through poor customer experience delivery.  Companies involved in travel and tourism need to be conscious that consumers of their services expect straightforward interactions in order to get on their way to enjoyment.  If providers of these services cannot deliver, the result will be lost loyalty and long-term revenue erosion.

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I recently had the chance to take a family trip to California, and I was pleased at how well things went, from planning to no booking glitches during the getaway. For me, as an experienced traveler, it’s not difficult navigating the jungle that is vacation planning. 

But what about those consumers that travel less frequently?  They are likely to need help from representatives to make their plans uncomplicated and affordable.  All too often though, things go awry, leading to the end-user searching for an alternative provider. 

To be clear, loyalty is key in the travel and tourism sector.  I love the article written by contact center analyst Michael DeSalles, who speaks about his own fondness for a particular air carrier due to their superb customer service.  More broadly, look at how airlines, hotels and car rental agencies have developed some of the world’s most comprehensive loyalty programs.  But the investment made in these programs will be for naught if travel and tourism operators cannot generate the levels of service needed to keep customers wanting to come back.

A great starting point in this discussion is the interaction quality that travel operators can provide.  Much of this comes down to agent quality – our advisory board member Peter Ryan recently published a survey that indicates the primary contact center challenge in travel and tourism relates to talent management. In an ideal world, operators in this space could invest the needed funds to minimize these pain points.  But Ryan’s study concludes that most firms in this vertical are suffering from flat or shrinking CRM budgets.  This makes it increasingly difficult to provide the right amount of resources to agents on the front-line to maintain customer loyalty.

I advise my contacts in the travel and tourism sector to think pragmatically when it comes to customer experience delivery.  If they have the funding needed to provide consumers with the augmented, cross-channel service levels required, they need to get busy.  If not, then they need to look to alternative business models.  That may mean finding a third-party to deliver some of these needs.  The benefit to this approach is enhanced service levels, without heavy capital investment, while seamlessly maintaining the loyalty of discerning travelers.  Anecdotally, more enterprises in this space are using this strategy.  In fact, Golden Gate BPO was recently engaged by HotelPower.com to develop their multichannel contact center in a manner that would ensure the best customer experience possible, whether the customer needs assistance or advice on booking new reservations or requires customer service help.  I expect that as the need to retain consumers grows among travel and tourism operators, so too will their enthusiasm for working with contact center partners that are capable of driving loyalty and long-term relationships.

Written by Stephen B. Ferber

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