For travel and hospitality brands—airlines, hotels, online travel agencies, and more—their businesses triumph or suffer based on the number of bookings their customers make. The online travel market is expected to reach $1,091 Billion Globally by 2022, and in the US there were up to 65% more daily bookings in the first quarter of 2017 over the previous quarter. There’s a huge amount of business to be won, but also fierce competition. If companies can even get a fraction of their users to complete a booking when they otherwise wouldn’t, that’s a huge incentive to invest in a full CX strategy. How can travel brands deliver an experience over digital that will encourage customers to follow through and book that hotel room, flight, or tour?
Follow customers across platforms and sites.
Travelers don’t like to stay in one place—whether that’s on vacation or their customer journey. They often bounce from site-to-site doing research while switching from mobile to desktop and back before booking. More than a quarter (28%) of bookings via online travel agencies are preceded by a click on another device, while the same is true for almost a third (32%) of direct bookings, according to Criteo. That means you need to have a platform that can follow your customers wherever they go, and make it easy to provide support or answer questions over the phone, SMS, proprietary chat, or email.
Mobile is especially crucial for sudden bookings.
Up to 80% of last-minute bookings and purchases are made on mobile devices. Whether this is because a customer missed their flight or had to book an extra night in a different hotel, your mobile experience has to be streamlined to easily and quickly surface the information customers need when they need it most. It also helps if agents can know the context of a customer’s recent order, because helping to book the next flight out when a customer is on their way to the airport requires more urgency and different insight than if they’re calling about a trip that’s been planned months in advance.
Desktop is still where customers make their final decision.
When given the option, it seems like customers are just more comfortable hitting “buy” when they’re at their work or home laptop or desktop computer, rather than a phone or tablet. While the data shows search and evaluation takes place across multiple devices, a strong two-thirds of travelers (66%) prefer to book accommodations on their desktop, with only 34% favoring a mobile device or tablet. If you know which device customers are using, then you can adjust your service and experience accordingly. You can even use proactive chat to encourage them to book something they’ve been looking over on one device when they get back to their screen of choice.
Make sure your experience is transparent and straightforward.
Hiding important information isn’t going to encourage your customers to finish booking. If anything, it will do the opposite—prolonging the process and increasing the chance that they’ll abandon the interaction entirely. Be upfront with costs and extra fees, doing so will streamline your experience and decrease the number of requests to your support team asking for clarification. Also make sure that when those requests do come through, that your agents are equipped to clearly describe the ins and outs of your pricing and regulations.
Pair customers with the right team members.
With a robust understanding of your customers and their needs, you should be able to route them to agent or subject matter expert who can help them with their specific request, no matter who that might be. If a customer begins a conversation about billing with an agent through your site’s chat function, it should be easy to route them to the accounting department if needed. An advanced customer engagement platform should be able to track every conversation and the associated data across any channel—your site, on mobile, over email, and across your contact center. This is the only way to create a real-time data repository that your CX team can use to deliver even better service and booking experiences.
There is a great deal of opportunity out there for travel brands of all types, and all it takes is a bit of innovation and inventive spirit to gain an edge in the market and get more customers to convert. The travel experience starts long before a customer reserves their flight, and it’s crucial to pay just as much attention to your CX before your customer books their trip as you do after.
To see how Kustomer can improve your experience, request a demo.