A key factor in securing long-term growth in this sector has been the emphasis on customer experience, as businesses recognize that memorable and satisfying interactions are instrumental in retaining clients and fostering loyalty.
When the Covid vaccine arrived, many economic commentators suggested that we would soon see a ‘roaring twenties’ with strong economic growth as the world recovered from the lockdowns. The reality has been more nuanced, and the economy certainly has struggled more than expected, but the travel industry is seeing very strong growth.
People want to travel again. There was a long period where planes were placed into storage and hotels were empty. As 2023 gets going the largest problem now is finding enough employees to cope with the level of industry growth.
Airbnb posted their first ever profit in 2022. Their most recent letter to shareholders said: “Guest demand remained strong throughout 2022. All regions saw significant growth in 2022 as guests increasingly crossed borders and returned to cities on Airbnb.”
The Marriott hotel group has reported that their growth has now taken the business to be 7% bigger than it was back in 2019. So, we are no longer looking at pandemic recovery – that happened last year. Now travel companies are seeing real growth.
Although the largest initial problem is finding enough people for vacant positions in airlines and hotels, there is also a need to develop an improved customer experience. Travelers have seen how brands responded to the pandemic and their expectations have been raised.
It is not an option to just keep on delivering a travel experience from the 2010s now we are getting further into the 2020s. So, what can travel companies do to focus on delivering a better customer experience?
Here are a few suggestions that I would recommend:
One of the most effective ways to improve customer experience is by personalizing the travel experience. This can include offering personalized recommendations for activities, restaurants, and accommodations based on the customer’s preferences and past behaviors. Often companies have the data, but they are not using it for insight.
Streamlined booking process
The booking process can be a frustrating experience for customers, especially when it involves multiple websites or platforms. The travel industry can improve customer experience by streamlining the booking process and providing a seamless, user-friendly experience.
Effective communication is critical to the customer experience. Companies can improve customer experience by providing timely and relevant updates on travel arrangements, such as flight delays or changes in itinerary. This is a great way to demonstrate support to customers – help them proactively when plans change.
Providing excellent customer service is crucial to the success of any travel business. Companies can improve customer experience by investing in well-trained and knowledgeable customer service representatives who can quickly resolve any issues that customers may encounter.
Automation is improving, but in many cases when a customer faces a travel problem in real-time, they just want a reassuring voice on the phone.
Technology can play a vital role in improving the customer experience in the travel industry. Companies can leverage technology to provide customers with real-time updates, mobile check-in, and other features that enhance the travel experience. Use automation to make travel easier, not more complex.
Gathering feedback from customers after their trip is an excellent way to improve the customer experience. Companies can use this feedback to identify areas for improvement and make necessary changes to enhance the overall customer experience. It can even be from social media rather than more formal surveys – follow what people are saying.
The travel industry can improve customer experience by personalizing the travel experience, streamlining the booking process, improving communication, providing excellent customer service, leveraging technology, and gathering feedback from customers.
Let me know what you think about how to achieve sustainable growth in the travel industry. Leave a comment here or get in touch via my LinkedIn.