Creating an engaging travel experience
This year we have seen both domestic and international travel gaining speed and returning towards pre-pandemic levels. The factors contributing towards this are multifold -business, tourism, family trips, and even revenge tourism.
While the travel has resumed amidst standard precautions, the technology aiding an enhanced experience in this journey has seen partial improvement over the last couple of years.
We all have at one point or other might have faced a situation where our flight would have got delayed or canceled, or we have been unable to trace our luggage or might have even got stranded due to missed connecting flights. The action offered by the airline in such circumstances doesn’t necessarily fit all our requirements.
The airlines have taken significant steps in this regard to ensure safe and secure travel experiences for all of their customers. Tech enabled solutions which not too long were considered disruptive, have become a new normal. Let’s take for example, the case of self service.
In 2020, Gartner reported that though 70% of customers use self service at some point in their resolution journey, only 10% or less were actually able to get a full resolution.
I would agree and have myself seen this at play, not just in travel sites, but across industries -retail, food, banks, insurance, telecom, healthcare…
I don’t think lack of contextual data is a problem here, as it was may be about half a decade ago. Neither is the technology, nor the enablers. The learning curve here to get significant improvement in results seems much longer than was earlier anticipated. I have observed that solutions employed by most organizations are primarily driven from a product perspective rather than consumer perspective involving their targeted segment behavior, psychology, desires.
In the recent years, the fringe aspects seem to have taken the center stage of development rather than the core. If you look at the ASCI report, you would find that the gains have come across the app and web experiences rather than the primary needs such as seat comfort, better food, in-flight services and convenient schedules.
Similar aspects have been observed with the OTAs as well. It is not just about booking or payment convenience. The travel offers and promotions aren’t necessarily personalized, though they are somewhat contextualized. Customer support option through their channels are far from desired, and customers need to resort to live support for desired closures. The cancellation policies of the agency and the provider are cumbersome as well. There is a quite a journey ahead to create a memorable hassle-free experience for travelers.
What Next ?
Global travel across leisure and business is bound to bounce back and grow further. We have seen huge technology advancements in analytics, machine learning, front end experience, commerce, content, creative, cross-channel campaigns, data management, 3PD integration in the last 3–4 years. The factors of convenience, speed, flexibility, real-time and being proactive will continue to drive customer engagement. When these are applied to truly personalize and create journeys that are attuned to the purpose of the travel, and not to just focus on improving individual means, there will be game changing outcomes.
When considered from the point of view of customer purpose, these collaborative technologies across the contributing industries can significantly aid in providing a comprehensive gain to all stakeholders.
The potential of providing personalized travel experience looks very promising and very likely to become revolutionary in this decade.