Change is the nature of the travel industry. Businesses must evolve to stay relevant. But, this transformation has accelerated during the pandemic. Although the amount of travelers has nearly returned to pre-pandemic levels, it has forever changed how people travel and what they expect from their service providers. It has also changed how companies view their labor force and the way travel contact centers operate. We realize COVID-19 isn’t going away, so we must adapt and find a way forward.
What has changed since the pandemic?
The most apparent way travel contact centers have changed is in the ability to adapt. New travel restrictions have made it difficult to keep reservations. So, the travel industry has had to review long standing policies. Travelers need more flexible cancellation policies and the ability to change their reservations quickly.
On the service side, it has also drastically increased the call volume. There is an influx of customers calling in because they need to speak with an agent. With more flight cancellations, people need to change and cancel reservations at the last minute. And if your call center has substandard self-service options, this means even higher call volumes and longer wait times.
Another aspect customers overlook is that the people who their service providers employ are also getting sick. So, there are times when companies are short staffed. For the airlines, this means more flight delays and cancellations. However, it means all employees are starting to feel overworked and burnt out. Over time, this leads to higher attrition rates and less satisfied customers.
How are travel contact centers responding?
One way travel contact centers are tackling these issues is by moving to a remote or hybrid workplace. This addresses many health concerns. However, it has also impacted service goals and KPIs.
Unfortunately, many of the strategies that once worked in a brick-and-mortar environment no longer apply. Therefore, travel contact centers must rethink the way they operate and reconfigure their budgets. By embracing AI and recent technological advances, companies are better prepared to navigate the transition.
However, change isn’t always a negative thing. With more agents working from home, this saves a ton of money on building maintenance and utilities. It also frees up funds so companies can invest in the right equipment and technology so employees can continue to service their customers.
What is on the horizon for the travel industry?
As the travel industry looks to the future, the reservation centers are a key area for new opportunities. In an effort to cut costs, many companies overlooked much needed upgrades for their operating and telephone systems. However, these basic systems can no longer function in a digital world.
The industry trends are moving away from on-prem to cloud-based systems with omni-channel communication. Not only does it offer customers greater flexibility and agility to navigate systems, but it also gives them more options. Companies can now connect with their customers via text, chat, and voice operations. Some even provide virtual assistants that allow you to better manage your reservations and perform more functions than self-service menus.
For travel contact centers that are still lagging, it’s time to review strategies, optimize channels, and look to the future. However, if you don’t know where to start or experience information overload, you’re not alone. Companies like P3 bring years of expertise in the travel industry. Our consultants can help determine which technologies best fit your needs and sort through the minutiae to achieve the results you want for your business.