Going Beyond the Ticket — Meaningful Customer Service for Online Travel Agencies In decades gone by,
In decades gone by, consumers may have had few choices when it came to researching and booking their travel arrangements. They would schedule a trip to their local travel agency to sit across from a knowledgeable agent and get their flight ticket. They'd browse tour and cruise brochures stacked on the agency wall and turn to another agent for advice.Much has changed since then, as these consumers can now research and book online with access to much more information than they had in the old days. Yet this has also hastened the rise of the online travel agency and given agency owners more opportunities than they ever had before. So, how can they make the most of these trends and ensure that the digital approach to travel agency customer service is equally beneficial to the consumer?
Replicating the Personal Touch
It pays to understand why some travellers still prefer the personal touch. They may want to schedule a visit to that high street agent because they value the extra snippets of information that a seasoned agent can provide. They may want a much fuller, concierge-type experience when they book their travel and believe that through a one-to-one conversation, the agent may be able to accommodate some of their unique needs and requests. In this case, the agent can be an adviser more than simply a person who can print out a flight ticket. They may be able to give insider information about the local cuisine, sightseeing destinations, cultures and other elements. So, how can an online travel agency seek to replicate this level of service and provide other "add-ons" that make it more likely for the consumer to buy online going forward?
Understanding Consumer Needs
When someone visits a travel agency to book travel, they will be there for a given amount of time and can pick up a certain amount of information they may not otherwise have been able to. However, there is a limit to that interaction and, therefore, to what they can learn. On the other hand, when best presented, an online travel agency represents a limitless treasure trove of information. The agency could help optimise that customer's journey, from initial interest to the checkout page if correctly structured. The agency can offer bundled services that the traveller may not have considered and allow them to make price comparisons so they can be more informed about a decision. Further, the consumer can easily scan for reviews, so they can effectively consult with their peers to see if they will be making the right decision.
Realising Online Potential
The pandemic forced consumers to do more of their research online. As travel becomes a reality again, consumers will likely use this newfound habit to schedule their trips. They’ll be looking for online travel agencies to give them a practical and easy way to book all of their travel, but they will still need to be carefully serviced.
Introducing New Customer Service Technology
When looking at customer service for travel agencies, owners can take advantage of new technologies to markedly improve the experience for online shoppers. For example, live chat and messaging bots are far more practical than they used to be due to advances in artificial intelligence. These solutions can quickly direct a busy traveller if they are looking to alter a reservation, make cancellations or need additional support.
Exploring Omnichannel Capability
When it comes to customer service for travel agencies and tour operators, some platforms have omnichannel capability. Thus, incoming queries can be integrated into one comprehensive trail, so there's no risk of anything falling between the cracks. The platforms can match email, voice, social media and live chat, together with internal admin tools. They can also create ticketing prompts, generate private notes and reference consumer habits or preferences. If need be, templated responses can be triggered by certain keywords so that a reply can be immediate and meaningful if needed.
Crafting Self-Service Content
Agencies can also develop self-service content that can help answer various questions alongside carefully crafted FAQ pages. These solutions will allow customers to get their answers right away and at their convenience and may limit the amount of time those consumers may need to spend on the phone. Agencies should go out of their way to craft these pages and FAQs carefully and present them in the most logical fashion, so harried consumers can easily find what they're looking for.
Reaching into Social Media
Online travel agencies can also link online portals with their social media presence. They can then perform customer service from some of these channels, where most consumers may "live" anyway. Then, consumers can reach out to the agency through the social media platform wherever they may be in the world to get answers as quickly as possible. They can also use the sophisticated search facilities within those channels to look for additional answers within your social media account.
Careful attention to detail can certainly help to service long-term, loyal customers and ensure that they keep returning. However, with a well-structured virtual helpdesk, AI-driven chat and other meaningful tools, an agency can convert a one-off customer into a repeat client.
Still, while infrastructure and support mechanisms are crucial, the agency must also provide good raw materials. They must present plenty of airline, cruise, tour, inclusive holiday and rental car solutions while also giving access to other travel opportunities.To do this work effectively, agency owners should work with companies like ROAVER, which has developed a solution to help market campervan and motorhome holidays across Australia. ROAVER has a tool that can be seamlessly integrated into an online travel agency site, giving consumers a much more efficient way to search and compare motorhome and campervan rental opportunities.This market is increasingly buoyant, and ROAVER provides a sophisticated booking engine alongside real-time search results. Agency owners can white-label this solution so they can sell it under their own brand and integrate it with their backend CRM for ongoing customer management.
Getting More Information For more information about ROAVER, get in touch today.