With Conversational AI, travel and hospitality companies will be better prepared to greet the post-pandemic traveler.
Travel and hospitality were among the most hard-hit industries during the COVID-19 pandemic. In fact, the hotel industry is not expected to fully recover from the adverse effects of the pandemic until at least 2023.
However, as travel restrictions begin to lift, travel companies, airlines and hotels are looking for ways to boost their operational resiliency in preparation for the influx of people returning to travel. In an industry that is facing labor shortages, new travel guidelines, and customers with more questions than ever before, the travel and hospitality companies that prioritize customer experience and digital transformation will be best equipped to face the uphill climb to recovery.
Bolstering Travel Contact Centers with Conversational AI
While the return of travel may instill within us a sense of normalcy, the post-pandemic travel experience is unlike anything anyone has experienced. According to McKinsey, even people with years of travel experience will need assistance as they navigate new travel protocols. Travel companies’ contact center agents are facing increasingly higher volumes of customer calls, many of whom likely have complex and multi-layered questions, such as, “If I am vaccinated, do I need to provide a negative COVID-19 test to fly?” or “If I test negative for COVID-19, do I need to wear a mask in the hotel?”
Hiring more human agents to manage call volume spikes is a costly option, especially for the recovering industry, and chatbots and IVR systems cannot handle high volumes of complex customer questions. However, if travel and hospitality companies don’t act now to reduce call wait times, they run the risk of frustrating, and even losing, their customers.
By deploying a Conversational AI agent as a first point-of-contact, contact centers can scale as customer call volumes spike. As a result, customers can receive answers in real-time and are never left waiting in a long, frustrating queue. For example, Amelia, the industry-leading Conversational AI, can relieve the burden of repetitive customer requests from her overwhelmed human colleagues and is available to provide instant customer support around the clock. She is also equipped with years of experience in customer care, making her the ideal Digital Employee for contact centers.
By deploying a Digital Employee, contact center agents will have more time to deliver personalized customer service with every interaction. When human and digital colleagues work together, travel and hospitality companies can reduce wait times, ensure better compliance with procedures and increase customer satisfaction.
Hiring a Digital Employee
Customers’ expectations for streamlined digital experiences extend beyond the contact center. Travelers now expect digital experiences across all touchpoints of their journeys, from booking their trips to arriving back home.
For the airline industry, Deloitte recommends that airports allow passengers to complete components of the check-in process before their arrival at the airport. To ensure that new self-service check-in procedures are as easy as possible, airports can deploy Conversational AI agents through their websites or mobile apps to guide passengers through the entire process. In doing so, airports can mitigate the risk of crowded airport lines, and passengers can get to their flights safely and on time.
Once travelers arrive at their hotels, they expect to be greeted with instant, frictionless, white-glove service that continues throughout their entire stay. After more than a year of staying inside and managing the stress of the pandemic, hotel patrons likely want nothing more than to be pampered, and have an enjoyable and relaxing stay. It is critical for hotels to deliver excellence throughout every touchpoint, because even a small misstep can taint patrons’ perception of a hotel company in the future.
For this and other reasons, hospitality companies need to invest in a solution that can mitigate the risk of falling short of guests’ expectations, especially as guest traffic increases. Hotels that deploy a Conversational AI agent as a 24/7 Digital Concierge can deliver superior guest services to every hotel patron, helping them to differentiate their services from more traditional hotels — or those without full-service Digital Concierges.
Amelia is an experienced concierge herself, providing guests at a leading luxury hotel company with personalized 24/7 guest services. She can manage guests' check-in and check-out, deliver extra towels and toiletries on request, book dinner reservations, handle room service requests and more. Amelia is an extremely effective representative for any hotel’s customer service operations, reflecting the kind of high-quality experiences that hotels want guests to enjoy.
The return of travel is on the horizon (indeed, in some countries it’s already here). Now is the time for airlines, travel companies, and hotels to say “bon voyage” to outdated operations and procedures, and to give a hearty welcome to Conversational AI-powered customer service.