Travel brands haven't exactly had it easy recently. Terrorist attacks in Paris, Berlin and Brussels have got people's backs up, with 30% of UK travellers now rating the security and safety of a destination as the most important factor when booking a holiday, as per Travelzoo research from last year.
That's not to say travellers won't travel regardless or opt for what they perceive as a 'safe' destination, but it's clearly having an impact.
At one of France's top tourist destinations, the Mont-Saint-Michel, business at the Sodetour Group - a chain of local hotels and restaurants - slumped by up to 70% for months after the 2015 terrorist attacks in Paris. The New York Times suggests business has never fully recovered.
In the UK, the travel industry is having to deal with all the ramifications arising from Brexit. Since Britain voted to leave the European Union, the pound has had a pretty torrid time.
This has left travellers questioning whether they can afford a holiday abroad this year. More than four in ten holidaymakers say they are planning a 'staycation' this year, according to a study from Columbus Direct.
All the while, travel firms are being forced to notch up prices to cover costs.
Arguably, then, it's never been so important that travel firms use the tools available to them to offer customers a seamless brand experience. It takes quite a lot to put customers off travel altogether; but it doesn't take much to put customers off a brand.
Here are three expectations customers have of travel brands:
1. Unbroken interactions
Travel firms are making themselves more available to customers than ever before meaning people are able to pick whichever channel best suits them to get in touch: email, telephone, social, or even chatbot.
However, with that comes the expectation from customers that the travel brand will keep a record of all the times that they have made contact with them to insure against having to start from the beginning the next time they reach out.
2. A quick response
As far as customers are concerned, they can't get a response quick enough when they reach out to brands for help or information. Twitter research reveals that customers who receive responses from a business on the platform are 30% more likely to recommend the brand to others.
A quick response is especially important when brands have an unhappy customer on their hands, taking to social media to vent. Brands need to be monitoring mentions in line with how frequent they receive them.
3. A balance between automated and real
Artificial intelligence is playing an increasing role in travel, from chatbots to robotic receptionists and beyond. However, as exciting and vital as this technology is proving to be, human interaction is still seen as the pillar of customer service.
A study by Accenture shows that 83% of consumers who switched providers say if the company had provided better live support then they may have retained their business. Brands, then, need to strike a balance between automated and real when it comes to interacting with customers.
Here at Digital Trip, we offer tailor-made solutions that can be adapted to suit your business. We can even offer a virtual travel assistant (chatbot), if that's what your customers are craving.
For quick responses, our advanced CMS allows you to easily send automated trigger emails, perfect for reengaging customers leaving your site before completing their booking.