Yet, despite what may come across as a devastating blow, this sector has a strong history of perseverance. Even now, airlines and hotels are gathering resources, enhancing their digital experiences, and exploring alternate ways to remain afloat in this new age. But before travel and hospitality companies can return to pre-pandemic levels of service, they must first win back customer trust.
Adding to the challenge are the wide variety of touchpoints in this industry that impact the quality and completeness of customer data that can be captured and used. Whether collected in person at a front desk or via an online platform before booking travel, the data can be subject to incorrect or missing information (no phone number, wrong ZIP code, etc.)
Loqate's address verification solutions can help to identify and fill those gaps. Our type-ahead predictive technology and back-end address validation provide travel and hospitality companies with the tools needed to collect accurate customer data, deliver valuable insights, and most importantly, communicate with their customers. Here are some best practices to restore traveler trust at every stage of the customer journey.
Pre-Booking: Safety First
Personal safety and comfort are top of mind for today's travelers—and although many still have their doubts about the wisdom of travel, it's not too late for the industry to get back in consumers' good graces.
Now more than ever, it is essential to make every customer experience as warm, dependable, and frictionless as possible. To put it in perspective, according to a recent PwC survey, only 10% of the consumers said they trust the safety guidelines of private companies, such as airlines, hotels, and restaurants. Travelers are still struggling to grasp the full ramifications of the pandemic on their health and habits; to prevent the spread of fear and loss of brand trust, hospitality groups must offer full transparency and hold detailed conversations around the safety measures they have in place.
Given the inherent in-person nature of travel and hospitality, airlines and hoteliers should promote proper health and safety measures, including:
- Making face masks a requirement by both staff and guests
- Social-distancing measures in place for seating arrangements and during check-in
- Additional housekeeping and sanitation efforts
- Contactless or contact-free operations such as cashless payments and digital menus
Travel and hospitality companies will not only need to stay abreast of and adhere to new health and safety standards, but they will also need to adopt new ways of planning, managing, and communicating their trustworthiness to tentative travelers. Consider offering premium, contactless or socially distanced journeys that provide higher levels of privacy in favor of reduced levels of concern. Airlines and hoteliers like Delta and Marriott are already building unmatched customer experiences via onboard tools for information distribution, personalized frequent flyer programs, and smart rooms that allow guests to customize their stay. To remain competitive in this new age of travel, brands will need optimized digital processes and the right tools to make data-driven decisions and quickly communicate with travelers and employees.
There is no doubt that customers are eager to get back to traveling, but many will still be apprehensive about flying and staying in hotels. To assuage consumer fears, travel and hospitality companies must leverage technology to meet and communicate with travelers on their preferred channels.
Luckily, digitally transformed businesses are not limited in the number of communication channels that can be utilized. In fact, aside from the usual methods such as email and direct mail, many travel and hospitality businesses find that travelers also prefer channels that include real-time or live chat capabilities like SMS and social media apps.
Customer support is a number one priority, but this a time where socially distanced travelers might not feel comfortable asking questions at the front desk. Instead, equip your guests with the tools to make them feel safe and informed. Encourage them to message you on social media channels to limit face-to-face interaction and provide a source for organic customer content and positive reviews that your followers, guests, and travelers will appreciate. Use live chat to handle multiple digital interactions at once. Many companies have even created self-service hubs where up-to-date information can be found and shared amongst travelers.
Providing omnichannel communication to your guests is the best way to keep your brand at the forefront of customer's minds. Airlines, hotels, agencies, and others in the travel and hospitality sector must ensure that the data they're collecting is clean and that they can respond accurately and nimbly to any inquiry. By aligning your brand messaging and communications across multiple channels, your audience will get a clear picture of the services and amenities you offer, and you'll gain a better chance of turning nervous travelers into future brand advocates.
The hospitality industry now faces the challenging task of adapting its offerings to not only ensure that guests' have exceptional experiences but also to keep them coming back. This is where communications in the form of personalized offers come in. Re-engaging today's travelers requires precision in communications at the right time to the right person.
Today's travelers expect brands to anticipate their digital and in-person needs. 87% of consumers are more likely to do business with travel companies that personalize experiences. It's critical that personalization happens throughout the customer journey, from booking to checkout. Since the pandemic, travel and hospitality companies are investing in their digital transformation efforts, and as such, most have more touchpoints with customers than ever before. Every interaction is another opportunity to observe customer preferences, identify concerns, and gather feedback that will help improve the guest experience.
This data, plus ever-evolving technologies, makes it easier than ever to get personal. Customer and demographic data can be used to target specific offers to individual customer segments by offering a picture of the experiences that travelers desire and identifying particular services or amenities those guests may be interested in. Personalization is vital to engaging and creating loyal customers, and therefore dependent on clean and up-to-date data. Beginning every customer journey with accurate, verified data such as email addresses, home addresses, and zip codes can positively affect both the efficiency of your analytics and the deliverability of your communications and offers.
Geodemographic segmentation datasets can help those in this sector obtain the best insights into traveler habits, develop an advanced understanding of audience segments, and build stronger customer relationships. If you'd like to learn more about how Loqate can help your business with personalization and data segmentation, take a look at our Data Maintenance service.
Rebuilding trust with travelers is key
Creating safe, fast, and seamless experiences for customers is the essence of a post-pandemic travel and hospitality industry. However, this is only possible if companies use customer data and all the resources at their disposal to cultivate trust with each and every guest. People-centric brands will need to rethink and adjust customer programs and offers as we move into the "new normal" of travel. Travelers want us to earn their trust as much as we do, and we have an opportunity to not only deliver an experience that makes them feel comfortable but one that makes them excited to be traveling once again.
Loqate provides the tools necessary to help you learn, capture, and analyze your customer data on the way to rebuilding customer trust. Sign up for a demo to learn more about our address verification and data maintenance solutions.