The travel industry has been on a steady growth trajectory, maintaining its upward momentum throughout 2021 and 2022. Presently, we are witnessing a surge in the travel volume, with several sectors surpassing 2019 levels.1 As the demand for travel inches closer to pre-pandemic levels, businesses must re-evaluate strategies to engage with travelers more effectively.

Providing customers with an exceptional experience is becoming critical, as highlighted in the State of the Connected Customer report by Salesforce.3 This report emphasizes that an overwhelming 88 percent of respondents believe that the experience a company provides is just as crucial as the product or service they offer. Moreover, the report finds that younger generations, comprising millennials and Gen Z, are increasingly relying on digital-first engagement options to connect with businesses. Resultantly, the customer interaction landscape is rapidly evolving – 41 percent of customers prefer live chat support compared to 32 percent who prefer phone support.3

The Growing Importance of Chat Services in Travel

A recent US-based survey highlighted just how important chat has become to the travel industry, with a whopping 87 percent of travelers expressing their preference for mobile messaging when communicating with travel companies.4 An overwhelming 92 percent of respondents prefer to use mobile messaging to communicate with hotels. In comparison, 89 percent expressed a similar preference when interacting with airlines. 85 percent favor mobile messaging for interactions with rental car companies.

But it’s not just about convenience; travelers also seek self-service options that allow them to take control of their travel plans. Airlines and hospitality companies are being compelled to adapt and offer a broader range of services through self-service channels, supplemented by the convenience and immediacy of real-time chat. According to Gartner, chatbots are predicted to become the primary customer service channel for approximately 25 percent of organizations by 2027,5 highlighting the growing importance of conversational AI / AI-powered chatbots in the airline industry and travel sector.

The Business Value of Deploying Chat

As the travel industry strives to recover from the pandemic’s impact, they face a severe challenge in the form of a talent crunch. According to a report by Barclays Corporate Banking, staffing and recruitment is the most significant business disruptor, with 37 percent of respondents citing it as the top obstacle to recovery.6

To address this challenge, the travel sector has turned to chat technology, which enables agents to manage multiple conversations simultaneously and streamline operations for better customer support. Chat also helps overcome language barriers and accent challenges that often hamper traditional communication channels, making it a quick and efficient support solution.

By combining a live chat solution with chatbots, the travel industry can reduce operational costs while improving customer satisfaction. For instance, a combination of live chat and messaging may be appropriate for fare inquiries and new bookings. In contrast, voice and live chat may be necessary to support cancellation, refund and change requests. Notifications can also keep customers updated on aircraft seating and room readiness, further enhancing their experience.

Crafting a Successful Chat-led Strategy

Creating a successful chat-based strategy necessitates a thorough and meticulous approach that involves evaluating every aspect of the customer journey (to comprehend their pain points), assessing the efficacy of self-service options and scrutinizing customer calls to the contact center. Doing so makes it possible to devise an efficient self-service ecosystem that deflects calls away from the contact center and focuses on improving and accelerating problem resolution.

Robust Chat Strategy Vital for Travel Business

Best-in-class travel and hospitality companies are implementing robust chat enablement strategies, working alongside strategic partners to seamlessly integrate live chat capabilities with their website and social media platforms. This ensures that they can proactively address customer concerns or pain points and deliver exceptional service during those crucial moments of truth that can make or break a customer's loyalty.

For instance, WNS enabled a leading global Online Travel Agency to introduce chat as part of its omni-channel customer journey strategy. This helped the company deflect calls and improve first-call resolution while also tapping sales opportunities. Similarly, we worked with a North American Airline major to implement a quality management system to streamline process management for the chat channel, ultimately enhancing overall customer satisfaction. These industry leaders recognize that by providing outstanding support when customers need it most, they can create truly remarkable experiences and win enduring loyalty.

Powering Ahead with Data & Analytics

Such winning digital strategies being employed by leading organizations are supported by a robust data fabric that mines data across customer touchpoints and leverages artificial intelligence to generate predictive insights. This enables agents to understand and engage with their customers more meaningfully. Forward-thinking businesses are also training their executives to lead customer conversations, transforming each point of contact into an opportunity to upsell or cross-sell the right products and services.

Travel Business Live Chat Strategy With Data and Analytics Travel Industry Recognized Approach for Chat

Collaborating with a Strategic Partner

Having a flawless execution strategy is crucial to achieving higher customer satisfaction. Strategic considerations such as whether to have a reactive or proactive approach; whether a passive-assist or active-assist approach in live chat is suitable must inform the chat strategy. These decisions will influence how the customer journey is defined.

Clearly, live chat in travel is a great platform to manage customer experiences smartly and cost-effectively. Businesses must select the right chat platform with advanced capabilities to balance the customer-to-agent ratio and push chat depending on agent availability. Implementing a live chat strategy entails extensive planning and process and workflow management expertise. An experienced partner with deep industry expertise and capabilities in digital and analytics can enable travel and hospitality businesses to implement a well-defined, intelligent chat strategy.

To know how WNS is helping global travel and hospitality companies drive successful chat-led strategies, visit WNS TRAVOGUE | Travel BPM








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