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Travel + Leisure

Three ways the travel industry can benefit from the 2021 holiday booking buzz

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As holidaymakers look forward to sand between their toes, there are exciting opportunities for travel agents and holiday providers.

For the first time in months, the heady scent of hope is in the air. It smells like sun cream, seawater and sangria. After the Prime Minister’s announcement that foreign and domestic holidays could begin soon, holiday providers and airlines reported a surge in bookings.1

Holidaymakers and travellers want to be reunited with friends and loved ones. Others simply want to escape the UK for new experiences and warmer weather. But while a holiday might sound blissful, many people will be feeling cautious. There will be knock-on effects from the last 12 months of lockdowns and uncertainty when travel resumes:

  • Demand for accommodation will be high. Holidays that were postponed in 2020 will hopefully take place this year, as well as holidays that are booked in 2021.
  • Holidaymakers’ budgets will be bigger. With the money saved from months of being at home, many holidaymakers will have more cash to splash on accommodation, extended stays or extra activities.
  • Customers will need extra support when they make their bookings. People will have questions about everything from quarantine restrictions and refunds to what to do if something goes wrong while they’re away.
  • More people will rely on travel agents and holiday providers. Those who organised their own holidays in 2020 faced a logistical or administrative nightmare. Meanwhile, those who’d booked a package with a trustworthy provider were given regular updates to help them get home safely or rearrange their planned holiday. The holiday providers who got it right will have an even more loyal customer base. There’s also the chance to reach new audiences who want to avoid the potential hassle of a DIY holiday.

This heady mix provides three exciting opportunities for travel agents and holiday providers hoping to see their business recover and grow.

1 – Take the opportunity to upsell

Bigger holidaymaker budgets mean the travel industry can offer bigger, better holidays. This could include upgraded flights, five-star accommodation or extras such as spa days and full-board.

You can upsell to current customers with upgrade packages to increase the value of your current bookings. You could also target customers who have booked with you in previous years with tempting special offers.

This can be done via traditional marketing activities, but there are also opportunities to market to customers via your call centre IVR. As it collects initial customer data, the IVR can play targeted, relevant, holding messages. These can prompt customers to ask their agent about upgrading or special offers.

2 – Use technology to improve your customer experience

Many travel contact centres are experiencing a high volume of calls, and the average call handling time has increased. That’s understandable, as holidaymakers try to navigate complex ‘what if’ scenarios and travel restrictions.

But customers who need a quick answer don’t want to spend precious time on hold. And contact centre agents want to prioritise the calls that add the most value and result in a higher spend.

In this situation, contact centre technology is your friend. Our contact centre performance solutions help to improve both productivity and customer satisfaction through more effective contact routing. With the right technology in place, your agents can spend time with the customers who need in-depth advice or information. Your other customers can get the answers they need quickly and easily. It’s win-win.

For customers trying to find answers online, a Virtual Assistant can answer routine queries. With a well-designed chatbot on your website, you can cut enquiries to your contact centre by up to 30%.

3 – Build on customer trust using video

In pre-pandemic days, customers looking to book a big trip or needing travel advice would pop into their nearest travel agent. If you’re spending big on the holiday of a lifetime, you want to be sure you’re booking the best experience from people you trust.

Despite the year we’ve had, I’d argue that there’s never been a better time to be a travel agent. We’ve seen that people will flock to holiday providers in the coming months to minimise stress or disruption. So how you can build that trust and reach new customers when your stores are closed?

The alternatives to a face-to-face session are phone calls, emails, website and video calls. I would strongly advise you to offer video calls as the next-best-thing. It’s the closest we can get to an in-person meeting and it helps to build customer trust. But if customers can see your agents and build a rapport, they will feel more reassured in making an expensive booking.

Support for the travel and leisure sector

See all the ways we support the travel and leisure industry to empower contact centre agents, help customers and deliver a fantastic customer experience.

Source:
1 https://www.independent.co.uk/travel/news-and-advice/summer-holiday-bookings-travel-tui-easyjet-b1806035.html

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