We live in an era where economy is increasingly driven by superior customer experiences. Consumers across industries, including the travel industry, are considering options that provide them delightful experiences. Consequently, there is a need for airlines and travel companies to embrace digital transformation and leverage advanced technologies to drive customer delight and positive business outcomes.
Leveraging Technology to Tap into Experience Economy
Despite the best efforts of travel companies to make travel stress-free and more comfortable by providing solutions powered by technology, travelers continue to face numerous problems. These could include their inability to quickly modify their itinerary, waiting in long queues for baggage drop, or security check. Some other issues are not being able to catch a flight due to traffic, missing connecting flights, or losing baggage in transit. Travel companies and airlines may also spam travelers with irrelevant offers. All these have the potential to ruin a travel experience.
The fact that smartphones account for over 25% of travel industry’s revenues shows that travelers are increasingly turning to apps to improve their travel experience. But unfortunately, they may not always find the functionality they are looking for in the apps available to them.
Despite the existing gaps in app performance, the use of technology has opened up new revenue streams in the travel industry. “Ancillary revenue” like Wi-Fi, insurance, extra baggage, etc.—is now a USD 50+ billion market. Due to growing popularity of mobile transactions, companies that do not make mobile user experience (UX) a priority will eventually lose potential travelers to competitors that provide superior mobile UX. By utilizing technology in the right way, travel service providers can convert many problems into opportunities and deliver unmatched customer delight and experience while tapping into new revenue streams.
How to Make Travelers Feel Special on Every Journey?
- Delivering Superior Multi-channel Experiences Travelers today use multiple channels to research trips and consequently it is important to deliver best experiences through digital solutions across devices, channels, and touchpoints. Increasing adoption of online channels to plan and purchase travel is a reflection of the fact that many companies are focusing on enhancing online customer experiences. Moving forward, the ability of an enterprise to provide superior experiences across channels will differentiate it from competition.
- Easing their Pain Points with a Mobile Travel Assistant Travelers need someone to manage their entire journey by taking care of nuances that they might miss out on. Conversations with a digital assistant aka chatbot can drive everything related to travel, thereby making the journey smooth and hassle-free.
The efficacy of a digital assistant based solution lies not in its features or capabilities, but in the fact that it employs natural language conversations to offer only the most appropriate features. This aspect of the solution provides an unmatched human touch despite it being able to bring out so many other aspects in aggregation. That is what makes this solution simplistic and yet highly effective Natural language conversations driven UX ensures that the traveler is never lost in large number of tabs, features, or content that are irrelevant. They also provide monetizing opportunities, boosting an airline’s sales as well as non-sales objectives.
- Engaging Travelers with Hyper-Personalized Offers No traveler wants an airline to keep throwing offers at him or her. The more relevant and collaboratively driven the offers are, the more positively they impact the experience and the chances of conversions. Hyper-personalized offers, which translate into more ancillary revenues for the airline, are driven by natural language conversation and deep analytical insights and not merely by a predicted need. This is achieved by utilizing artificial intelligence (AI) to dynamically create best-suited offers, such as fast track check-in (via user location alert), extra baggage offering, in-flight Wi-Fi, extra leg space, etc., for the decoded persona.
- Transcending Physical Boundaries to Deliver Customer Delight Bad experiences get transferred across journey phases. If a traveler misses the flight because of traffic conditions, the whole travel experience turns bad and does not have a positive impact on his or her relationship with the airline. Consequently, the value, which an airline adds at these touchpoints, can take it a long way in improving its relationship with the traveler. Knowing more about the traveler and consequently delivering more value to the traveler also has the potential to add to an airline’s revenue. Airlines can proactively ensure smooth journeys for their customers by intervening at touchpoints such as providing weather updates to plan for travel and traffic information to ensure that the traveler does not miss the flight among others.
Enhancing Customer Experience, Productivity and Revenues
In the graphic outlined below, touchpoints marked in red are the ones that are conventionally considered to be within an airline’s purview. The others, however, are equally important for contributing towards a traveler’s experience, which could be good or bad.
Imagine an airline trying to delight its travelers in touchpoints that are not marked in red in the above diagram as well. But before we get there, we need to understand why solving these issues can reap great benefits for an airline.
Personalized Offers: A well-designed solution incorporating natural language processing, Mobile Travel Assistant, and analytics should help airlines and travel companies to deliver superior travel experiences by proactively identifying stress-creating touchpoints and deliver customer delight. It should also help enterprises transcend conventional functions under their purview and help deliver an end-to-end travel experience that results in customer delight and retention. Airlines and travel companies should also be able to offer highly personalized deals that can push conversion rates.
More Sales: Enterprises can directly boost sales through better conversions of smartly placed cross- and up-sell offers at various monetization points. Once airlines and travel companies understand their target segments better and derive actionable analytical insights into customer preferences, they are able to drive superior business outcomes and explore new revenue streams, while retaining customers and market share.
Capabilities that Every Airline Needs Without getting into the details of each of the capability of the solution, the below mentioned capabilities ensure that the above interventions are brought out in the most efficient way.
The Coforge Thought Board:
Leveraging Technology to Up the ‘Special’ Quotient for Airline Customers
Implications for the Travelers and the Airlines
Effective use of digital technologies to enhance CX has a positive impact on both travelers and airlines.
Travelers receive enhanced experiences as all the stress-creating touchpoints are identified and proactively converted into moments where they feel special. They develop an increased confidence in the airline because getting assistance across touchpoints which are not under the airline’s conventional purview helps them to rely on a brand which can be trusted to manage their end-to-end travel. Additionally, superior personalization through offers driven by conversations rather than one-way offers removes wrongly placed offers which can deteriorate the experience.
Airlines benefit through direct boost in sales through better conversions of smartly placed cross- and up-sell offers at the respective monetizing moments. They also gain better understanding of target segments by more direct engagement with travelers. This enables them to improve the way they engage with their customers by calibrating and constantly improving each touchpoint experience with each kind of traveler at different stages of their respective unique journeys. The interactions nuances and outcomes of millions of unique journeys become the drivers for the next strategic focus/campaign/ revolutionizing product with insights which come directly from interactions with their most important travelers.
About the Author
Nitin Rajpal, Enterprise Architect, leads the Mobile CoC, Digital services practice in Coforge. He brings more than 15 years of experience in giving enabler solutions on various mobile technologies such as cross platform technologies, platform SDKs, MEADP, MBaS and MADP platforms. He remains instrumental in designing solutions in Mobility domain for various verticals such as Travel, Insurance, Manufacturing, etc.