How Travel Business Owners can Give 5-Star Service and Save Money at the Same Time

Charley Mendoza
October 19, 2023
 min read

Imagine this: you're all set for your dream vacation, but a flight delay throws a wrench in your plans, making you miss your connecting flight and tours. 

Frustrated, you might take to social media to vent. 

And here's the thing – that’s exactly what a lot of customers would do. 

And as any business owner knows, bad reviews can deal a hefty blow to any business. 

In fact, according to Expedia’s 2023 report, a whopping 46% of travelers pick travel options based on customer reviews rather than great deals.

So, what’s the secret sauce to shield your travel business from bad reviews and ensure top-notch service? 

Let’s spill the beans in this article. 

Optimize for Multiple Channels

Today’s travelers are tech-savvy and picky. They want a seamless experience. 

Research shows that 57% of travelers prefer a one-stop app for all their travel needs. If they can get tickets, hotels, and tours on one website or tour operator, great! For them, that’s time and money saved. Plus, less hassle checking different services. 

And guess what? They want the same convenience when it comes to customer service. 

So online travel companies and tour operators need to embrace multiple channels – think click-to-call buttons on websites and apps, and the ability to get their questions answered whether on Facebook, Instagram, or email. 

When customers inquire about a 5-day European adventure posted on your Facebook page, they want to get answers as quickly as if they’d reach you on the phone. 

Of course, this goes beyond responding in different channels. Your team also needs to have a uniform response to questions. 

You can do this even if you’re not Agoda with a fully-manned 24/7 call center supporting you. Here’s how:

  • Give your team a cheat sheet on how you’d want them to respond to inquiries
  • Train your team on your packages and service options like the tours you provide, the add-on services, and what’s allowed or not 
  • Give agents soft skills training like placating irate customers, empathizing when someone has delayed flights, and solving other problems they might encounter
  • Train agents in up-sell and cross-sell opportunities 

Learn more about training your new-hires in sales and customer service in this article: The Minimalist 30-60-90 Day List of Onboarding Best Practices.

Communicate Proactively 

Communicate with your clients even before they need your help. 

KLM Airlines’ 'Family Updates' service is a good example of this. Going beyond mere traveler updates, this service provides real-time WhatsApp notifications to travelers, keeping them informed about their trip status. 

And it’s not just for the traveler, it also ensures their families and friends are kept in the loop about departures, arrivals, delays, cancellations, and more. It's a brilliantly simple yet incredibly considerate way to delight customers and their loved ones.

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You’re not an airline, but you can still do this. Just send flight and hotel details, and some local travel tips to your clients a day before their scheduled trip.

Active communication doesn’t just apply to travel updates, FAQs can help here too. Include a resource section on your website with FAQs about common travel questions, and even FAQs on common destinations you service. As long as these FAQs are prominently displayed on your website and social accounts, the amount of customers who’ll contact you for common questions will decrease, a win-win. 

Hire Empathic Problem Solvers 

Here’s a reality check: not everyone can ace customer service. 

The best in the biz share common traits – empathy, emotional intelligence, and problem-solving skills. 

The people you’re dealing with are either business travelers in a hurry to go places, or people traveling for leisure, the last thing they need is to get stressed out on some details. 

Your team will face problems like unexpected issues like flight delays, missed connections, or accommodation problems. 

Understanding the client’s unique situation while maintaining a cool and empathic demeanor will make your customers feel valued, appreciated, and hopefully less stressed. Because if the person on the other end of the line sounds panicked, they’d feel that too. 

Plus, keeping a cool head will help your team find creative ways to solve the problem, preferably without offering a refund or travel credit straight away. 

Hire or Train Your Agents to be Local Travel Experts 

Travel buffs know their stuff. Your clients won’t have confidence in you if your customer service team can’t even make local restaurant or tour recommendations. 

Whether your customers seek adventure, relaxation, cultural experiences, or culinary delights, a knowledgeable agent can match them with the perfect destination, ensuring a memorable trip.

They should also be able to answer concerns about local customs, travel logistics, safety issues, and even local weather. All this knowledge will alleviate any concerns your customers might have and build their trust on you. 

Save Customers Time

We all crave simplicity and time-saving hacks, right? 

Hilton nailed this with their 'Stop Clicking Around' campaign. They cut the fuss and asked customers to book directly through their site for the best prices. 

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And it worked, Hilton’s app went from 1.5 stars to 4.7 stars with over 3.64M members from the launch of the campaign. 

It’s not just Hilton, a study published in the Harvard Business Journal showed that airlines that respond to a customer’s tweet in less than 5 minutes are more likely to earn $20 from that customer in the future. 

Research backs this up – 62% of consumers are willing to pay more for a hassle-free experience. 

Start offering premium packages with assured premium customer service and see how your clients respond to the offer. 

Build automation to Lessen the Burden of Routine Questions

Let’s talk about automation. Many queries are routine stuff – cancellation policies, safety measures, special requests. 

Chatbots and conversational AI can handle these like a pro. 

Here are a few examples of what you can automate: 

  • Booking confirmation: Automatically send a booking confirmation email including the check-in policy and procedures
  • Day before check-in or flight: Send an email reminder with the correct time as well as check-in procedures, and an option to add special requests
  • During the trip: Create time or behavior based trigger messages that will give them ideas for where to eat or local excursion offers. You can also set-up the automation to handle the whole booking process. 
  • After an excursion or trip: Automatically send a feedback form so they can give suggestions 

With automation, your team won’t have to spend as much time doing manual administrative tasks so they’ll have more time to provide excellent customer service to those with complex travel problems. 

Travel is Back, Labor isn’t Catching Up

The travel industry, once a major job provider, faced a severe setback during the pandemic, losing 62 million jobs globally according to the World Travel & Tourism Council. 

As travel restrictions ease and demand surges, the industry is rebounding faster than the economy. This revival has created a labor shortage with only 18.2 million travel-related jobs added in 2021 globally, a far cry from the 62 million jobs before the pandemic.

Understandably, more businesses are trying to cut costs because of rising prices. But with outsourcing, you don’t have to sacrifice your operations. 

You can still have a good customer service team and even a few people to do your marketing, while saving about 50% off what you’d normally pay in salaries. Contact us for more information. 

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