The State of CX in Travel and Hospitality for 2022

Rebekah Carter

Learn how CX is evolving with travel and hospitality

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The State of CX in Travel and Hospitality for 2022

Customer experience continues to be a major differentiator for businesses in all sectors. However, for some industries, the ability to offer excellent interactions could be the key to survival.

During the last couple of years, the pandemic and its accompanying restrictions have had a disastrous impact on the travel and hospitality sector. Though consumers are willing to return to the industry when lockdowns and rules soften, companies will need to work harder to regain trust.

Currently, while 2021 performance in the travel sector was an improvement over 2020, it’s still 35% lower than pre-pandemic levels.

To revive a sense of excitement and opportunity in the “experience” industry, brands will need to rethink everything they thought they knew about CX strategies.

Using CX to Revive Travel and Hospitality

Travel and hospitality companies are responding to unprecedented change on a global scale. Over 2020 and 2021, everything from the way we book trips, to the countries available for travel began to turn upside down. Consumer trust dwindled to practically nothing, and endless flights, train trips and busses were cancelled.

Now, we’re heading into a future where the travel and hospitality industry may be able to start a slow yet steady path to recovery. However, industry experts like McKinsey believe this revival will only be possible if built on a strong foundation of customer experience.

Brands of all sizes will need to think about how they can tailor their services and products to suit a new series of priorities and demands from their target audience. Just some of the major challenges facing travel and hospitality groups today include:

  • Trust and safety: Even when the threat of the pandemic begins to subside, it will be years before consumers feel fully safe travelling to different locations and accessing hospitality services. Companies will need to ensure they’re implementing as many tools as possible to serve their customers in a way considered to be safe, hygienic, and trustworthy.
  • Evolving rules and regulations: Aside from staying up-to-date with consumer expectations, hospitality and travel companies will also need to ensure they’re following the latest rules and regulations introduced by local and national governments. This could mean introducing new social distancing strategies when dealing with customers or taking advantage of more contact-free interactions and technology.
  • Distributed teams: Hospitality and travel companies have long worked with highly flexible, distributed teams, working in the field, on the floor, and face-to-face with customers. As we head into the future, these teams will continue to grow increasingly versatile, with more people working remotely, and in mobile environments.
  • Omnichannel communications: Customers are increasingly looking for a wider variety of ways to communicate with their travel and hospitality solution providers. This has led to the introduction of more two-way messaging experiences instead of voice or face-to-face interactions. In the future, video may also be a valuable investment for some brands.

The Trends Influencing Travel and Hospitality

As ever, travel and hospitality companies will be reliant on CX technology as they search for ways to consistently improve the customer experience. Whether it’s a hotel providing a safe and welcoming stay to travellers, or an airline keeping customers up-to-date about delays, the right technology can make a world of difference.

Although there are many examples in the current landscape of how technology is influencing the way we travel, the following represent some of the most significant trends in the CX space.

  • Contactless experiences: Travel and hospitality companies have always spent a lot of time face-to-face with consumers. However, as contactless experiences become more mainstream, people will be increasingly looking for ways to reduce their interactions with staff. This could mean hotels allow people to access self-service tools for checking in, or that airlines allow their passengers to message members of staff on a flight for assistance, rather than trying to grab an employee in-person.
  • Automation and AI: AI and automation are valuable emerging trends in many industries today, but they could be particularly important in the travel and hospitality sector. AI will pave the way for the self-service experiences mentioned above. Still, it will also be extremely helpful when dealing with repetitive tasks and issues that would otherwise consume the time of critical team members. More automation and AI in the travel and hospitality sector will give human employees more scope to work on the tasks demanding their creativity and empathy.
  • Endless innovation: Tourism and hospitality groups will need to innovate quickly to stay ahead of the curve in this increasingly complex landscape. We’ve already seen several travel companies experimenting with things like extended reality, to give their customers more unique, meaningful experiences when they’re unable to travel in a traditional sense. Companies have also introduced AI virtual assistants, bots, and apps, to help customers serve themselves more effectively in a world of contactless interactions. These innovations will only continue as we discover a new era of hospitality.

The Challenges to Overcome in CX for Hospitality and Travel

There are challenges to overcome in any industry in the search for exceptional customer experience. For instance, the biggest concern for many companies in this era will be figuring out how to earn the loyalty and emotional commitment of customers, while reducing face-to-face interactions.

Providing more engaging customer service experiences may be an important step in overcoming this challenge. For instance, rather than just messaging with a client about their upcoming vacation, hotel leaders could give these customers a chance to visit the hotel in VR and discuss any concerns they might have over video conferencing.

All the while, we’ll be relying on technology to make life safer for both consumers and employees. Biometric scanners may be the key to self-service check-ins in the future, improving opportunities for contactless travel and tourism. Cameras and sensors will need to be used to track things like temperature and capacity in aeroplanes and restaurants. The more we innovate, the safer we can be.

Embracing CX for Travel and Hospitality

The hospitality and travel spaces are going through an uncertain period of transformation. The only way for this landscape to survive going forward is with an investment in customer experience. With the right CX strategy, we can re-ignite the love consumers have for amazing experiences. It all starts with finding the correct technology.

 

 


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